Daily News — CANVAS

Daily News and Updates 

Crumbling Democracy and Protest Movements in Evo Morales’ Bolivia

Recently, CANVAS reported about the rising tension in Honduras, after the November 2017 elections turned into a true stand-off. A little further to the South in Bolivia, citizens are also faced with an increasingly authoritarian government. However, Bolivian citizens are rising to restore democracy in their Andean country, using nonviolence as one of their main weapons.

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Tension is Rising in Honduras, as Election Standoff Continues

Tension has been rising in Honduras, over the 26th of November election results. Nevertheless, the United States of America have recognized the re-election of Honduran President Hernández, despite massive allegations of fraud. Nonviolent protest efforts have been observed all over Honduras. What do you need to know about the developments in the central-American country?

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Inauguration Day Protesters’ Trial Could Set Dangerous Precedent For Government’s Handling of Civil Disobedience

Almost a year ago, Donald Trump’s inauguration-day saw mass protests all over the United States. Where most protest-efforts in Washington D.C., better known as J20, were focused on disrupting the official event in a nonviolent way, over 200 people were arrested that day. Now, the first bunch of them is up for trial. The outcome of these courtcases could set a very dangerous precedent for activists and protesters all over the US.

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Music as a Tool in Protest and Nonviolence? – Yes!

As Christmas songs might be filling our ears, let’s also think about other music. While some say protest songs have been largely missing in the US and its political sphere, others have taken a different perspective and even assembled examples of such songs for 2017. In any way, music has played a crucial role in nonviolent movements around the world, of which the Civil Rights Movement, the Singing Revolution or 2013 protests in Turkey have only been some examples. Find out more about the current state of protest songs in the US, and when and how music has played and can play a role in nonviolent civic engagement.

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Palestinian Nonviolence in the context of Trump’s Jerusalem announcement

A week ago, President Trump’s announcement of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital and moving the US Embassy there has sparked strong reactions globally and in the region, fostering ongoing tensions. While some might have a contrary perception, articles have been highlighting a tradition of nonviolence in Palestinian resistance.

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Fighting Big Corporations – Attac-Activists Occupy Apple Store Paris

Protest at the Apple store in Paris on Saturday Credits: Christophe Archambault/AFP  Published on 05/12/2017 Over the weekend, Apple was the target of a wide-spread protest-campaign. Groups of activists all over France protested against alleged tax-evasion by the US-based multinational technology company.  The occupation of the Apple store in Paris was the event that generated most media-coverage. About a hundred activists invaded and occupied the expansive two-level store near the Paris Opera for several hours. Activists demanded that the US technology giant pays billions of euros of overdue taxes.   The actions came after the August 2016 reporting by the European Commission, in which it estimated that the company owed $14.5 billion in taxes after it negotiated highly favourable tax arrangements with the Irish government. Last month “Paradise Papers” shed light on Apple’s tax avoidance strategy, by which the company transferred funds to the small island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income and is largely exempt from European Union tax regulations.   The French protesters were a part of Attac, an international organizational network of activist groups that seeks alternatives to unbridled globalization, particularly opposing its neo-liberal aspects. The group held about 30 demonstrations across France on Saturday. “From Rennes to Marseille, from Dijon to Saint Brieuc, Lille or Velizy”, Attac was everywhere in France over the weekend. The direct actions were mostly directed at physical Apple-stores, ranging from public display of discontent to exchanging ideas and information with Apple customers.   But how does one fight the big corporates of this world? What is the ‘Grand Strategy’ used to curb the power-structures on which their malpractices rely? These companies represent immense economic interests and their powerful leadership seems to have no direct interest in seeing the current power-structures to be altered. Despite the fact that Apple might know it does something which is morally questionable, the company supports its actions by structurally stating that it follows the law... read more

With Zimbabwe, other African states are shifting into spotlight!

Photo: People demonstrating their support for Ugandan President and the removal of the presidential age limit, in September (Associated Press, via Washington Post) Published on 01/12/2017 As the world is watching developments in Zimbabwe, attention has also turned to other longtime rulers on the African continent. Martina Schwikowski for Deutsche Welle thought about the question which has now been raised “Will Africa’s autocrats stay in power?”, while Rodney Muhumuza’s article for the Associated Press titled “After Mugabe, Africa’s other longtime leaders feel a chill.” The latter could have already been shown by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986. Seemingly startled “by the sight of Zimbabwe’s military takeover that ended the rule of the 93-year-old Mugabe” (Muhumuza), he initiated promotions and a raise of salary for Uganda’s military and officials. “As in Zimbabwe, the military is seen as the most powerful institution in Uganda” wrote Muhumuza further, and quoted a Ugandan academic at the University of Toronto saying that Museveni is aware of the support of the army he needs to stay in power. The 73-year-old Ugandan President is currently hoping for the passing of a bill which lawmakers are working on to remove the age limit of 75 set by the constitution to be able to stay in power. Other examples of African leaders who have been in power for more than three decades can be found in Cameroon with Paul Biya, Equatorial Guinea with Teodoro Obiang and in Republic of Congo with Denis Sassou Nguesso. Especially Cameroon could be “a powder keg that may very well explode” especially if more were to join... read more

Thousands in the streets on Sunday – Romanian protests continued!

Photo: “People hold placards reading ‘All for justice’ during a protest in Bucharest” (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images, via the Guardian) Published on 29/11/2017 Sunday night, a typical time for protests in Romania, about 30,000 protesters went out on the streets of Bucharest while up to 20,000 demonstrated elsewhere in the country, according to the Guardian. The people were protesting a government draft law which is criticized for possibly putting the judicial system under political control, reported Euronews. Earlier this year, these latest protests had been preceded by Romania’s biggest protests since the 1989 revolution. To learn more, you can consult this article about Lessons for democracy from Romania’s protest movement by Srdja Popovic and Cristian Sallai, also featured on CANVAS’ page in June. During the protests on Sunday which included brief scuffling with police in Bucharest, wrote the Guardian, Romanians demanded “rights and prosperity”, shouted “Thieves” and “We want justice not corruption”, blowing whistles while they marched. An especially creative and humorous protest sign read “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA”, as seen on Euronews. According to the Guardian, new protests on Friday, a national public holiday in Romania, have been called for on social media. And not only protesters are criticizing the proposed bill. Their criticism has been joined by the European Commission, foreign diplomats and thousands of magistrates, wrote Euronews. The news outlet further reported about Laura Kövesi, head of Romania’s anti-corruption directorate (DNA), saying that “’If voted through it will have a serious negative impact on the independence of justice and it will result in political control of prosecutors’ activity’”. She added that “’It will lead to... read more

Lessons from radical, political art in Russia: Pussy Riot, Pyotr Pavlensky and Co.

Photo: “Petr Pavlensky sewed his mouth shut in protest of the incarceration of a Russian punk band” (Gleb Husky, via Politico) Published on 28/11/2017 CNN just published an article by Marat Guelman, son of Russian playwriter Alexander Guelman, and art curator living in Montenegro, who recently opened an exhibition in London titled “Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism is dedicated to Russian protest art over the past 25 years.” In the CNN article on “Why Russia produces (and quashes) so much radical art”, Guelman addresses the above topic and states that “Artists have always held a special place in Russian society.” He describes how developments during Glasnost in the mid-1980s and the return of writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn after exile in 1994, as well as rock music taking over the roles previously occupied by theater and literature, were signs of change, opening and a call for a new, open world. Recently, “contemporary art and provocative performances have proven the most effective medium for influencing public opinion. Artists have their fingers firmly on the pulse of the rapid changes taking place in Russian society”, according to Guelman. The probably most well-known performance has been that of Pussy Riot in Moscow’s largest cathedral in 2012, when they made a statement for Putin to leave his position or rather, to not be reelected. Pussy Riot’s trial and two members going to prison then captured global attention for Russia’s seemingly biased judiciary and Russia’s increasingly authoritarian path. Noah Sneider who published an article in the 1843 Magazine from The Economist Group last year, quoted Guelman saying that “From that moment, [the regime] began to seriously address the... read more

With Mugabe down, the real struggle for New Zimbabwe has just begun! – [In Depth Analysis]

Photo Credits: BBC Published on 23/11/2017 Coup, resignation, celebration-good news or the bad news for Zimbabwe? Despite the dancing people in the streets of Harare, we must be aware that the coup in Zimbabwe which led to resignation of its long sitting president Mugabe, was not committed in their best interest. Not in the first place, at least. And where most analysis of the recent military intervention focuses on the outcomes of the coup, maybe we should start by realistically looking at its roots. If the ultimate goal is to create a more free and democratic society in Zimbabwe, there is both good news and bad news for the country. Only when we understand that the military intervention is focused on the continuation of ZANU-PF rule in the first place, can we decide what the role of the political opposition, civil society and international community should now be. Let’s start with the bad news.   The difference between the Party and the State In Zimbabwe, ruling party and state have been interwoven for over 37 years. With ZANU-PF being supreme over state institutions and -structures, whatever happens in ZANU-PF directly affects the state (Msindo 2016). The lines between the ruling party and the state have become blurred, and as a result of ZANU-PF’s monopoly on power, Zimbabwe has become a de-facto one-party state. The ruling party uses “both tangible and intangible” state-resources for its campaigns during elections, giving ZANU-PF a decisive advantage over opposition political parties.[i] Furthermore, the party’s thorough control over state institutions such as state-media, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and Registrar General’s Department has enabled ZANU-PF to... read more

Throwing a Pie – More than a Simple Act of Protest

Published on 22/11/2017 The art of creative and humorous nonviolent resistance methods, laughtivism if you will, has been a popular topic for readers all around the world. Pie, and then especially the throwing of the object, could be considered a prototype political provocation, and a powerful punchline when staying on the surface of the act itself. David against Goliath, an “act of punching up”, mostly against a higher status person, showing that, with our face covered in pie, we all look alike, and nobody would dare to claim a superior position with a face full of cream.   An unprecedented piece of journalism by Ben Paynter shows us the history of throwing pie as a form of nonviolent activism.  Although the record of political pie-throwing dates back to at least the mid-1600s, the recipe (of both the pie and the protest-method), have not changed much. Although maybe for one factor. Over time, “each hit became a surreal must-share moment for news agencies,” and pie-throwing “became an early political meme.” Communicating with their followers, but also more neutral audiences, “activists made sure to videotape or take pictures of each delivery, which with the growing reach of the internet were easily passed along to embolden others,” according to Paynter.   But why exactly is throwing pie funny? Paynter claims that it is good to emphasize this for a bit, given the fact that some people involved in the act “felt the pie throwing was theater of such poor quality that it required a violent response.” To explain the humorous nature of pie, we can use something called the Benign Violation Theory, and was developed by Peter McGraw, marketing and psychology professor at the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. According to McGraw, “for something to be funny in the eyes of the audience,... read more

Zimbabwe’s Unity of Purpose (in Protest-Signs)

Photo: Protesters demanding President Robert Mugabe stands down march towards State House in Harare. The fact that Mugabe has to go seems to represent most Zimbabweans. But what will happen after the 93-year old is put aside? Photograph: AP (via Independent.co.uk) Published on 20/11/2017 This weekend, Zimbabweans all over the country took to the streets. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters came out to demand an end to Mugabe’s rule, but seemingly also to simply celebrate that change was finally coming. And change is coming, that is for sure. An official source with direct knowledge of the ongoing negotiations told CNN that Zimbabwe’s long-time president has agreed to the terms of his resignation and a letter has been drafted. According to the source, the aim of Sunday’s televised speech, in which Mugabe amazed and infuriated the country by apparently resisting calls to step aside, was to ensure the veteran leader openly declared the military’s actions to be constitutional. Despite the disappointing speech, the end of the Mugabe era is only a matter of time.   Saturday’s protests were described to represent an unprecedented diversity within Zimbabwean society. From war-veterans to displaced white farmers, from ZANU-PF supporters to social-movement leaders, protesters seem to agree on this one point: Mugabe has to go! However, when Mugabe goes, several different scenarios could develop. In very simple terms, the spectrum goes from continued ZANU-PF autocracy under a different leader on the one side, to a transitional coalition authority leading the country into free and fair elections on the other (most positive) side. Considering this spectrum of possibilities, it should be doubted if every Zimbabwean who found him- or herself in the streets on Saturday would still be so united as to the future of Zimbabwe.     Unity of Purpose  If we look at the role nonviolent strategy could... read more