Today is a day for celebration. Tomorrow the work begins anew.
And while the people of Egypt have a long road ahead of them to continuously push for reform and work to dismantle a pervasive sub-culture of official corruption and impunity within the ruling systems, they also have great cause to dance in the streets.
They have done what few would have believed possible one month ago. With amazing grace, determination and demonstrations of love towards each other, the Egyptian nation put aside internal differences to band together. They fought off physical challenges. They fought off political challenges. They stood. And stood. And stood.
And by failing to allow the situation to disintegrate into the bloodbath many feared, Egypt has set the example for the Arab world.
No longer will political leaders be free to act with impunity. No longer will the “Arab street” be viewed unfairly by Western pundits as a symbol of chaos and fear. No longer will the people of the Arab world have their spirits crushed by the grind of greedy political systems that function only to repress.
Is everything in Egypt now suddenly roses and daisies? No.
The country’s economy needs work. Reform of the judicial system and security forces is paramount. And it’s human rights record? Ai yai yai, abysmal doesn’t even come close. Favoritism, nepotism and the entitlement of the few? Yeah, that’s going to need work too.
But today is a day to celebrate.
Egypt has spoken …. Damascus, Amman, Sana’a, Tehran, are you listening???
I’ve been a bit silent here as the news of the first week of a new year washed over me in a literal flood. From the tragedy in Arizona and the floods in Australia, to the referendum in Sudan and political assassination in Pakistan.
Each and every one of those stories worth a blog post (or three) on their own.
But this morning as I did my daily news search one story jumped out at me — an interview/profile of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng – and I just had to comment.
It wasn’t his tale of official intimidation and abuse that grabbed my attention. Sadly, beatings and electric shocks to the genitalia in custody are hardly enough to surprise regular China watchers anymore. Nor was it the fact that this individual – known for defending the defenseless – has been repeatedly placed under detention….again, hardly surprising in the criticism-phobic corridors of power in Beijing.
No, what got me was that this interview was conducted by The Associated Press eight months ago in the condition that it not be released unless Gao was able to secure asylum in another country OR he disappeared again. As it turns out the interview took place during a brief period of time that was Gao’s only taste of freedom in the last two years.
This story comes just days after Chinese authorities made it plainly clear that they no longer feel the need to sit through human rights lectures from Western officials. Apparently Beijing feels it has enough economic and soft power on the international stage to begin flexing muscle in this arena despite an abysmal record. And, of course, this comes just a few short weeks after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo – or rather, to an empty chair representing Liu.
The truth is that “Western officials” haven’t the political will, the moral authority or the legal grounds to really challenge Beijing significantly. But that doesn’t mean any individual, group or country should stop trying ….
Beijing needs our markets as much as we need their products (and investments) and there is little doubt politicians could do more to place public pressure on China and keep the spotlight fixed on Beijing’s record. As China continues to edge out from the protectionism of yesteryear and becomes more comfortable with the worldwide engagement and interconnectedness of the new global reality, Beijing will loosen the reigns…in the meantime we all have an obligation to continue to speak for individuals like Gao and Liu as long as Beijing views them as a threat.
Congo Week: Day Five
Guest Post from:
Professor of Women’s Studies and African Studies,
Chair of Dept of Women’s Studies
This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.
Today – Emory University Professor Pamela Scully examines “economic Warscape” — the use of rape as a weapon of war and a means of driving profit. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.
The Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a perfect example of what I call an economic Warscape—a place where individuals, groups, and companies profit off systemic and systematic violence. Structures of exploitation in the DRC now depend on fermenting and regulating “chaos.” What look like random acts of rape and terror, are in fact part of complex negotiations and structures that have emerged in the eastern DRC in the conflagration of the region in the wake of Rwandan genocide of 1994.
Continue reading Warscape: Rape and Commerce in the DRC
Every once in a while one of those tag-every-blogger-you-know-and-hope-they-respond challenges floats through my inbox. While they are always amusing and sometimes intriguing, the requests usually fall into the Internet void of my overcrowded inbox – left to languish until some faraway day when, during a spell of frenzied cleaning I happen upon them and… “oh yeahhhhhh.”
Well, not this time!
I got the ole tag-a-roo from my good Twal @kysilka, author of the ever-delightful It’s All Good If You Can Laugh.
Answer one of the following: Why do you write? Or 10 reasons why should people read your blog.
I chose “10 Reasons” because I thought if I cannot come up with a solid answer, then I need to rethink the why, what and how of my personal blog-ventures.
And here is where I landed:
- Global Citizen, my little contribution to the blogosphere, will keep you informed on issues that are important to all of us as members of the global family – and provide information and action items you can use on the issues that matter most to you.
- Who is Luis Moreno-Ocampo? What does UDHR stand for? And, where in the world you can find Goma? Most normal people probably have no idea. Well, for good or ill, I do without looking to Google for a single second and I can tell you why it all matters.
- I spent 12 years living “overseas” working in war zones in the Balkans, South Asia and the Middle East. So many of the places, people, cultures I write about, I write from having experienced them first hand.
- I can relate zombies and vampires to anything. Don’t believe me? Try this one on for size. Still not convinced? Challenge me, go ahead …. Just remember the stakes (see reason below)
- I am a woman with a plan. Not for global domination. Oh no, no, no. Something far more important. I am the unofficial leader of the #zombiesurvivalcrew and as such am fully prepared with a battle plan for the zombie apocalypse. I also – on occasion – will divulge strategic planning tips (like these) on my blog.
- I stand for free speech, the protection of rights for us all, and a kinder, gentler world…oh! And, of course, the assault of furry monsters!
- I am, according to TBFF @AspiringMama, THE AWESOME. And because I first laughed – then loved – the moniker, I’m going to run with it.
- Write not for numbers but to make a difference, which (again) according to @AspiringMama brings us back to the previous answer ….a-hem. *pause for dramatic effect*
- You can say you “knew me when.” What does that mean? I’m not sure, but it sounds good!
- I listen … so let me know why you read my blog, what you like, what you don’t like and whether or not you think I have lost my mind …
This week – for the first time since the United Nations adopted a resolution affirming the fundamental human right to water and sanitation in July – representatives of governments, the private sector, NGOs and academia are gathered at a major international water event, the Stockholm World Water Week.
Ensuring access to clean water for everyone is one of the most critical challenges facing our global community. It is a complex goal, but one that must remain a core focus if we are to avoid severe shortages, social unrest and needless deaths in the decades to come.
(I know … you know what’s coming don’t you?)
All week long I’ll be featuring water-related content from myself and guest bloggers looking at topics such as the right to water and pollution in China, as well as a running blog-commentary from Alex McIntosh who is in Stockholm attending the event! (For more on Mr. McIntosh’s experience, click here.)
Continue reading Turning on the Tap …
“I have signed up to participate in the Clean Water Blogivation campaign. If my blog receives the most votes, I will win an opportunity to join Dr. Greg Allgood on a clean water expedition to Africa and a $15,000 donation to my favorite charity tackling water issues.”
Few days ago, Proctor & Gamble’s GIVE HEALTH program launched the Clean Water Blogivation campaign asking bloggers to post about water issues and their desire to foment change – and to then urge their friends and readers to vote for the entry. The post with the most votes wins $15,000 to donate to their water-related charity of choice.
EVERY TIME YOU VOTE, (and you can vote EVERY day) P&G will donate
a day’s worth of clean drinking water to an individual in a developing country.
You can vote now, here:
(NOTE: Remember to click through boxes OR the verification email they send! I didn’t … so my own vote didn’t count the first time!)
Per the campaign’s rules, I am supposed to say why I am, or want to be, a Change Agent to help provide clean drinking water to people in developing countries.
Continue reading Are you Blogivated?!?
Ok, truth time.
The run-up to the BlogHer conference later this week in New York City, and all the pre-conference #dayjob meetings I have after coming off a 6 a.m. flight into JFK airport have got my brain a bit scattered.
Full disclosure? I’m so frazzled I freaked myself out earlier today when talking to #TBFF @AspiringMama when I got it in my head that I am leaving tomorrow. It is actually @AspiringMama who is leaving tomorrow. With all the packing, the organizing, the regular day job tasks, house cleaning, vet visits, prescription filling and dead camera batteries, can you blame me?
What I find particularly amusing about my current state of mind is that while I am attending a major blogging conference where I have been named a Voices of the Year finalist no less, I am not really blogging this week! How’s that for irony? Or slacking? Or …. Well, you get the picture.
But I always post on Mondays so I didn’t want to leave you all with nothing to show for visiting my little blog. (… and, honestly, with 4 minutes left in the day on the U.S. East Coast I won’t make it … but Central and Pacific time zones can still read this on Monday so that counts. Right. Right?!? Yes, right.)
Continue reading Raising a glass for a good cause
The battle lines are drawn. Tension is running high. Passion is only slightly behind. The world is abuzz with the vuvuzela. We are on the verge of the first knock-outs of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
As football (soccer) fans around the world gear up to roar their chosen sides onto victory, there is one team people around the world should all be rooting for:
This side, put together by the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization Amnesty International, features a roster of true heroes – individuals who see wrong in the world around them and choose to stand up and act.
Continue reading The Real World Champions
I thought it was an easy question ….
And after ummmmm….like …(I’m 29 … I tell ya, 29!) … 30 plus some odd years on this earth you would think that I’d know better.
Every day for going on 15 years I have spent hours focused on a constantly (r)evolving variety of human and environmental rights issues as part of my “day job.” This tends to put me in regular contact with academics, government officials, activists, specialists and others equally (and often more) focused on the issue at hand.
Most often the issues I am writing about are near and dear to my heart on a personal level as well (hence, my propensity to suddenly ejaculate massive amounts of passionate information on subjects that have little to do with the actual conversation I am having at the time). Many of my live and virtual friends find this endlessly interesting and a bit odd. As a result, I tend to attract a lot of questions and requests for explanation on issues.
That started me thinking (yes, yes, I know … that’s always a dangerous undertaking):
What does the average person know about human and environmental rights? What are the issues they think about? And then, finally, what are the issues that your average person passionately believes everyone else should also be aware of?
Continue reading Tweeps exercise their rights! (and I learn a lesson)
One of the most wonderful things about social media tools like Twitter and Facebook is the ability to locate and connect with people who care about the same issues as you do – and try to do something about them.
The Twitterverse is loaded with great individuals and groups hoping to raise awareness and campaign on everything from human trafficking to health care, from sports teams draft choices to saving favorite television shows.
(Yes, #heroes fans, I’m getting there!!!)
Here’s just a sampling of my evergreen favorites:
- Women’s issues/rights: @safeworld4women, @thewip, @GlobalFundWomen and @Womens_eNews are just a few of the tweeters out there raising awareness on women’s issues
- Rare Disease: @GlobalGenes and @rarediseaseday are among those raising awareness about #raredisease and what families face in battling rare, debilitating conditions
- Autism Spectrum: @autismtoday and @AutismMomExpert are among hundreds campaigning for #autism awareness and acceptance
- HumanTrafficking: @27millionslaves and @TrafficInPeople are among those campaigning to end #humantrafficking
- Human Rights: @witnessorg , @EnoughProject, @AmnestyUK and @jonhutsun
Continue reading Social Media: Heroes on the Campaign Trail