Uncategorized Archives — CANVAS

Weekly Report: April 13 2018

Photo: Women at the memorial of Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The Guardian. Syria Russia reports that Syrian forces have retaken Eastern Ghouta, the heavily besieged suburb of Damascus. This means that now, Assad’s power is the most secure it has been since the start of the Syrian civil war. Furthermore, while this is a victory against extreme rebel groups that have held the territory for years, it comes at an immensely high cost. The UN refugee agency reported this week that more than 133,000 have fled Eastern Ghouta since the escalation of this siege. Moreover, the Assad government is again accused of using chemical weapons in its attempts to retake this area. While the use is thus far unconfirmed officially, it is strongly substantiated. 500 people in Eastern Ghouta have demonstrated symptoms consistent with chemical attacks; residents reported hearing things falling from the sky, leaving strange smells; videos coming out show people sprawled on the floors of their homes, killed by apparent suffocation; of 70 killed while taking shelter in basements, 43 showed signs of “highly toxic chemicals” according to the World Health Organization. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog, is on its way to Syria to investigate and uncover whether chemical weapons were used, and if so, to find out what was the nature of the attack. Many governments in the West have expressed abhorrence over the chemical attacks, generally agreeing on the need for action, and in some cases threatening a military response. Assad has, however, both denied the use of chemical weapons and warned these governments against intervention of any kind. “Any...

World’s Longest-Jailed Journalist Freed in Uzbekistan, but Media Struggle Continues

Photo: Shamil Zhumatov. Reuters. Via The Committee to Protect Journalists. It has recently been announced that the longest-jailed journalist in the world is free. After 19 years, Uzbekistan has released Yusuf Ruzimuradov, now 64 years old. The journalist had originally been detained for his work at an independent newspaper called Erk, or Freedom. The government, seeing this paper and its writers as a political threat, arrested Ruzimuradov and his editor, Muhammad Bekjanov. Both reporters were sentenced originally to 15 years in prison after a sham trial that convicted them for publishing and distributing a banned newspaper, which by extension was considered part of an attempt to overthrow the government. Those sentences were arbitrarily extended in the prisons until finally both journalists were recently released. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has confirmed that Ruzimuradov was freed in late February, even though the news is only just emerging. The organization sees this as a definite victory, but is not consumed merely by celebration. “Today, we can breathe a sigh of relief that Yusuf Ruzimuradov–the longest imprisoned journalist in the world–has finally been released in #Uzbekistan, but we remain outraged at the grave injustice that robbed him of 19 years of his life,” the CPJ tweeted. The organization is calling further on the Uzbek government to release the other journalists still being held as political prisoners. Two such trials are set to begin sometime this week. Yet one of the journalists on trial, Bobomurod Abdullaev, has had his court date postponed after undergoing harsh torture inside the Uzbek prison. The independent journalists concerned have been charged with “conspiracy to overthrow the...

Bonn Protests at COP23 – How do mass-protests cause change?

Photograph: People march during a demonstration under the banner “Protect the climate – stop coal” two days before the start of the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji but held in Bonn, Germany November 4, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay Published on 07/11/2017 A smartphone without an operating system. Or a brand-new car without the road-network to drive it on. The 2015 landmark Paris agreement at COP21 delivered the first truly global deal to tackle climate change, but national action needs to be significantly toughened to meet the goal of keeping global temperature rise on the low. That is why half of the world moves to Bonn this week. Where the Paris agreement set out principles, the 23rd annual ‘conference of the parties’ (COP23) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is looking to build structures and rules that will enable the Paris deal to work.  With all the world-leaders and influencers in the field of climate in one place, Bonn seems to be the place where everybody wants to show their stance. As the COP23 Climate Summit has started on Monday, several activist groups and protesters have tried to make their mark. Over the weekend, thousands of people had gathered in Bonn ahead of Summit, calling for the measures set out in the accord to be implemented faster. For Germany specifically, this means a move away from coal to renewable resources. More protests were staged in the nearby town of Kerpen on Sunday.   Early July, we have seen similar forms occurring, with mass protests surrounding the G20-Summit in Hamburg. In most recent years the G20 has caused mass protest in the host-city. And also the 2015 Paris based COP21 saw thousands defy a protest ban to call for climate action. Where the nature and goals of these protests differed from those...

UK: School Boys Place Health First, Gender Norms Second

On Thursday morning a group of high school students from Isca academy confidently strutted into school clad in skirts. In spite of temperatures exceeding 30C in this last week, school authorities cautioned that the boys must keep to their regular school uniform, which as of yet does not allow for shorts. Acknowledging that the school would likely remain uncompromising in its stance, a group of boys opted to wear the school skirt in lieu of their long trousers, allowing them to partially resolve the issue, all whilst respecting the school uniform. Media pounced on the story, and the school soon came under fire for not being more mindful of student health. Although it would be easy to dismiss this story as nothing more than a charming little tale, there are nevertheless some important takeaways from this wee rebellious act. In the first place, it highlights the potential to act in a way that challenges authority without necessarily acting outside of the law. Although such action is perhaps still limited, it might nevertheless prove to be more inviting, allowing for greater people to join your cause. In the second place, it underscores the power of humor in activism, or as we like to call it here at CANVAS, “laughtivism.” In their cheeky, albeit lawful action, the boys used to humor to underscore the absurdity of the school’s response and accordingly draw to it criticism. Finally, this anecdote serves to remind readers that protest at its best is fundamentally intersectional. Whilst these boys might have only been protesting a Kafkaesque school bureaucracy, doing so involved challenging gender norms, inevitably also drawing...

Hong Kong Youth Activist: We Will Continue Our Fight
By Carol Off and Jeff Douglas

Read more here: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-friday-edition-1.4164029/we-will-continue-our-fight-why-hong-kong-activist-joshua-wong-will-keep-speaking-out-for-democracy-1.4165073. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images. Piece by Carol Off and Jeff Douglas. Joshua Wong was 17 years old when he gained global attention as a leader of the Umbrella Revolution, a series of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that took place in 2014. Wong, who is the subject of a new documentary on Netflix Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, plans to plead guilty for his role in the revolution and says he’s proud of his involvement in pressuring his government for change....

Yes Magazine: Pop-Up Schools to Train Amateur Activists in U.S.
By Chuck Collins

Read more: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/how-to-go-the-resistance-distance2014pop-up-schools-for-new-activists20170612. Photo: shaunl / iStock. Article by Chuck Collins. Opened on May 4, 2017, the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership will provide in-person training opportunities in activism in Western Massachusetts. The Truth School is one of a number of new schools emerging to meet the demands of a new wave of activism and resistance that has swept throughout the United States since the Trump election. People have offered free venues for the classes to operate; the Truth School is now popping up in art studios, libraries, and community centers. The school is similar to the Citizenship schools and Freedom schools formed during the Civil Rights movement to fight for voter registration and teach youth about Black history and civic engagement....