Daily News Archives — CANVAS

George Clooney: How Congress Can Help Stop the Killing in Sudan

George Clooney and John Prendergast are Co-Founders of The Sentry (www.thesentry.org), which follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system. Traveling throughout the Sudanese region of Darfur and neighboring refugee camps during the mid-2000s, we saw firsthand evidence of the monster the Sudanese regime had built to carry out a genocide. The government organized, armed and deployed militias, known then as the “Janjaweed,” alongside the regular army as the primary instruments of its killing machine. Ethnic cleansing and mass rape were the Janjaweed’s weapons of choice. Fast forward to the present: Massive peaceful protests that erupted throughout Sudan in mid-December led to the removal in April of Sudan’s 30-year dictator, Omar al-Bashir. In May, the protesters’ leadership and the military leaders who assumed power after the coup reached a tentative deal to establish civilian rule in the country, agreeing on a three-year transition to democratic elections and granting power to civilian-controlled institutions. Massive peaceful protests continued during and after the negotiations, as demonstrators kept pushing to dismantle the violent, undemocratic kleptocratic system built up during al-Bashir’s reign. But there was one big problem with the deal. The big losers in such an arrangement would be al-Bashir’s allied generals, who had looted the country with impunity for 30 years, and the Janjaweed militias, who would no longer have free, lawless rein in their areas of deployment. As a result, on June 3, Sudanese security forces spearheaded by the Janjaweed attacked a major protester encampment. Now known by the deceptively anodyne term...

Press release from CANVAS regarding latest developments On Illegal Crackdown of Zimbabwean Civil Society

“Nonviolence is a basic human right” The Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) firmly condemns the illegal arrest of seven (7) Zimbabwean civil society activists on their way home from attending a training workshop organized by CANVAS in the Maldives from May 15 to 19, 2019. All of them have been denied bail so far. Six are remanded in person. The seventh person has serious health issues – she is remanded in a public hospital and denied the right to seek treatment in her preferred private clinic. Their names are George Makoni, Nyasha Frank Mpahlo, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Gamuchirai Mukura, Farirai Gumbonzvanda, Stabile Dewa, and Rita Nyampinga. During the workshop, the State-controlled newspaper, The Herald, published an article that falsely accused participants of plotting to unleash violence in Zimbabwe in a bid to overthrow the Government. CANVAS would like to inform Zimbabweans and the international community that the charges against these activists are blatantly false. The charges include: “subversion”, “counterintelligence”, and “being trained in use of small arms”. The activists could face up to twenty years in prison for these charges. The workshop focused on advocacy and civic engagement capacity building such as: Developing Shared Vision of Tomorrow; Civic Engagement; Effective Communications; Protecting Privacy and Security; and Organizational Planning. For a decade and a half, CANVAS’ mission has been focused on the fact that nonviolence is morally and ethically superior to violence, and more likely to produce constructive outcomes and build strong and stable societies. The arrests clearly violate provisions of the Zimbabwean Constitution on freedom of assembly and expression, and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Basic...

Mike Pompeo Is Needed in Sudan

They deserve more U.S. support; Photographer: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP The U.S. secretary of state could help the cause of democracy with a timely visit to Khartoum. Since Sudan’s dictator Omar al-Bashir was forced out of office in April after months of popular protests, a struggle has played out between the country’s generals and civil society leaders seeking a full democratic transition. The Trump administration has encouraged that democratic transition. On May 8, for example, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan toldthe chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, General Abdel Fattah el-Burhan, to “move expeditiously toward a civilian-led interim government,” something el-Burhan had initially promised to do in negotiations with the democratic opposition. In the last several weeks, however, the generals have reneged on their promises. Some military units have fired on protesters. Negotiations to share power between civilians and the military have stalled. On Tuesday, the opposition called for a general strike. As a headline in Foreign Policy put it, Sudan is now in the midst of a “counterrevolution.” It doesn’t have to be this way. A well-timed visit to Khartoum from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can stop the momentum for a counterrevolution and get Sudan back on the right path. First, Pompeo should meet publicly with leaders of the Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that began the anti-Bashir protests in December, and the allied Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change. Meeting these activists first will help counter the pseudo-legitimacyconferred in the last week by America’s Arab allies: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. All three countries have hosted leaders of the transitional military council. Srdja Popovic,...

A Small Spark of Hope for Democracy in the Indian Ocean

Maldives President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih participates in celebrations after winning the presidential elections on Sept. 29. (Ahmed Shurau/AFP/Getty Images) From the genocide of the Rohingya, to the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Nicaragua, to the surprising success of right-wing populism in Brazil, to the increasingly virulent strains of isolationist nationalism that have been taking root in eastern Europe, it’s a grim time for democracy around the world. But an unexpected source of hope has emerged from the Maldives, an island nation known for little more than its idyllic beaches and long history of authoritarian rule. Since 2013, the reign of President Abdulla Yameen brought mass abuses of human rights to the Maldives: the jailing or exiling of opposition leaders, increased control over state institutions, withdrawal from Commonwealth, and widespread corruption are only the tip of the iceberg for the small, tropical country. But on Sept. 23, over 90 percent of Maldivians voted in the first general elections since Yameen came to power five years ago—and voted overwhelmingly for the opposition, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party, who won after receiving 58 percent of the votes. But while a celebration is in order, it’s worth remembering that the Maldives has been here before. When two of us first came to work with Maldivians in 2006, we were impressed by the brave and committed Maldivian people, who acted time and time again with courage and talent to defend democracy within their country. And though both of us spent more than a decade with brave Serbian activists fighting the Slobodan Milosevic regime, and years after that training and educating democracy defenders from Kiev, Ukraine, and...

In Celebration and In Protest—Queer People’s Power in Turkey

An activist waves a rainbow flag in Istanbul, Sunday, July 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel) Despite Governor Vasip Sahin’s recent ban of the Istanbul Pride March, approximately 1000 people chose to participate in a rally on Sunday, both in celebration of their identities and in protest of the government ban. Police, dogs, and armored vehicles confronted the protestors, blocking off avenues and side streets, shooting rubber bullets, and attacking them with tear gas. However, protesters continued to march. Eleven people were detained and have yet to be released. Prior to Sunday’s march, the organizers of Istanbul Pride rightfully identified the government’s ban of the event as discriminatory and illegitimate. In fact, the ban violated fundamental human rights and freedoms of expression and assembly. It also marks the fourth consecutive year of a ban of the Istanbul Pride March. This time, the government cited security reasons and public “sensitivities” as its justification. Such violent government and police responses to the event may seem like a jarring regression from 2014, when the march had notable popularity, participation, and even some political support. However, starting in 2014, intolerance and oppression reemerged in the political foreground. Recently re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began repressing Pride marches in 2015 when he rose to national political power. In November of 2017, Ankara’s government banned all LGBTI-related activities, including the 2017 German gay film festival, “to ensure peace and security.” Furthermore, the 8th Trans Pride March was banned in 2017, although it did not deter activists from coming onto the streets. Pride is a mechanism for visibility, and in Turkey—a country with very few spaces for...

Hypocritical (Non-)Commitment to Human Rights Plagues White House

Avi Selk, Washington Post The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) on Tuesday amidst growing criticisms against Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies. This move, which US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has defended as an act of support for global human rights, has aligned the United States with Eritrea, Iran and North Korea, three of the world’s worst human rights offenders and the only other countries that have refused UNHCR membership. In the past six weeks, American customs officials have separated more than 2000 children from their asylum-seeking parents at America’s southern border. Many of these children are now housed in tent cities and converted warehouses, unable to see or communicate with their parents. In early June, the UN deemed these separations illegal under international law and called for their immediate halt. The US has since accused the UN of political corruption and incompetence and has withdrawn their membership from the Human Rights Council (HCR) as a whole. This decision is just the latest of many by the Trump Administration which disregard international treaties and human rights standards, setting an alarming precedent for the remaining years of Trump’s presidency. Ambassador Haley endorsed the withdrawal, stating “the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights. In the end, no speech and no structural reforms will save the members of the Human Rights Council from themselves.” However, the US’ departure from the world’s leading humanitarian organization arguably limits, rather than enables, the country’s ability to positively impact human rights. In her speech, Ambassador Haley cited...