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Entries tagged "Letelier-Moffitt awards"Page Previous 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 Next
We’d love to see you Wednesday, October 17, at the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards reception and ceremony at the Carnegie Institution. It will be an uplifting evening, with generations of social justice activists on hand to enjoy the artistry of DC’s most powerful and visionary youth poets and the music of Patricio Zamorano and his band as we celebrate national and international voices for justice.
Tickets may sell out soon, so purchase yours now or support this important event even if you can't attend.
We are thrilled to honor two amazing organizations in 2012 with much in common. Just as the Chilean Students Movement is challenging Augusto Pinochet's legacy and free-market ideology, City Life/Vida Urbana is standing up to Ronald Reagan's legacy and ideology. These struggles are also united in building a better world rooted in the rights to education, housing, and other core needs. And they are planting the seeds of transformative change.
Both groups remind us of what so many of you know so well: Powerful social movements equipped with bold ideas are the catalysts for positive social change. IPS is proud to belong to dynamic coalitions forging powerful new approaches that are making a difference.
The great actor and activist Danny Glover will present the City Life/Vida Urbana award to Curdina Hill and Steve Meacham. Tiffany Loftin, president of the United States Student Association, will present the award to the Chilean student leaders Camila Vallejo and Noam Titelman.
Fun fact: Readers of the UK's Guardian newspaper chose Vallejo as "the person of the year."
If you've attended in recent years, please take note of our new venue, located at 1530 P Street, NW in Washington, DC. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the ceremony will get underway at 7 p.m.
The Institute for Policy Studies has honored human rights heroes for 36 years in the names of our colleagues Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, who were assassinated in 1976 by agents of the Chilean dictatorship. John Cavanagh is the Institute's director and Joy Zarembka is its associate director. IPS-dc.org
The 2012 Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards and ceremony will take place Wednesday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m. — a week earlier than we initially planned. Please save this new date and update your calendars.
We urge you to attend this Institute for Policy Studies event, where we'll celebrate two of the great student leaders of our time. They are Camila Vallejo and Noam Titelman. These two dynamos have led hundreds of thousands of Chileans into the streets to demand free higher education.
IPS is bringing them to the United States to tour college campuses and brainstorm about common strategies with student leaders here who are fighting the student debt trap and tuition hikes that are making college diplomas out-of-reach for too many Americans. We will honor them with the international Letelier-Moffitt award at the Carnegie Institution for Science on October 17, and we invite you to join us at this new venue, located at 1530 P Street, NW, for our biggest yearly event. Buy your tickets now for our early-bird discount, and spread the word.
Our dynamic domestic Letelier-Moffitt awardee this year is a group whose members put their bodies on the line to stop home foreclosures. Boston-based City Life/Vida Urbana brings dozens of activists to the homes of people who banks have slated for eviction. They stay with these families until the banks renegotiate. This incredibly effective movement is spreading across Massachusetts and into Rhode Island. Its victories build public and political pressure that drives legislative reform, and sparks similar campaigns. We'll bring several City Life/Vida Urbana leaders to Washington to meet with anti-foreclosure activists.
We also invite you to join us September 23, at 10 a.m. at our yearly outdoor memorial service as we honor the legacies of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean ambassador, and Ronni Moffitt, a young IPS colleague. Orlando and Ronni were on their way to work at the Institute in 1976 when they were assassinated in a car bombing on Massachusetts Avenue, near Sheridan Circle. The bomb, planted by agents of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, brutally took their lives but not the memory of their contributions to the quest for equality and justice through reason, not violence. For more than three decades, the pursuit of justice for their murders has been a symbol of hope for victims of tyranny everywhere.
Every year the human rights community, friends, family, colleagues, and supporters gather in remembrance of these tragic assassinations. This moving program takes place at Sheridan Circle, in Northwest Washington, D.C., and ends with the collective laying of flowers on the Letelier-Moffitt memorial plaque across the street.
December 17, 2011 · By Ted Lewis and Manuel Perez-Rocha
An unprecedented number of Mexicans have received international recognition over the past year for their courageous work on behalf of migrants, workers, and the millions of victims of the country’s spiraling violence, institutional decomposition and appalling inequality.
Most recently, Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, received a nod from TIME Magazine, which proclaimed that "the protester" was the 2011 "person of the year."
Below, we profile some of these movement leaders, artists, grass roots organizers, labor leaders, and clergy people who are working in the front trenches of the struggle for human rights. Through them we can hear the voices of millions more Mexicans crying out for justice and for the very soul of their nation.
They urge us to respond to the frightening militarization of Mexico, the hyper-exploitation of the poor, indigenous, and working classes; and the infuriating impunity enjoyed by well-connected and ruling-class criminals. They embody the struggle to end the profound injustice — both economic and legal — at the root of the murderous crime wave sweeping the country.
These eight distinguished advocates have been recognized because the Mexican government has failed to respond to a growing national emergency. As Mexico’s crisis deepens, these patriots have gone abroad to sound an urgent alarm — amplified by the human rights, labor, and cultural groups who invited them — that Mexico is at the breaking point.
These are the kinds of Mexicans that President Obama, the U.S. Congress, the media, the American public, and philanthropic foundations should be listening to and taking their cues from. These are the voices of those who have lived the tragic consequences of bad bi-national policies — so unlike President Calderon and his supporters north of the border who echo the hollow victories of the drug war and repeat market based delusions of success in the face of NAFTA’s bitter harvest.
The need for profound systemic changes on both sides of the border is painfully clear. 50 thousand Mexicans have died since President Calderón escalated the drug war. Millions are displaced by the economic disaster of “free trade.” In Mexico, as in the United States, ultra-rich plutocrats have hijacked the political system and are trying to foreclose on a dignified future for the poor and middle classes.
We need intelligent strategies and urgent action to end the “war on drugs,” level the economic playing field, and to make real our democratic aspirations on both side of the border. We must not let the inheritance of Mexico’s NAFTA generation be a disintegrating society where neither jobs nor educational opportunities exist for an expanding and politically repressed underclass.
In 2012, both Mexico and the United States will hold presidential elections. These elections, while no doubt important, won't bring the kind of deep changes needed in both countries. Such change and the movement necessary to make it happen must be driven from below — by those who bear the greatest burdens of inequality and have the most to gain by shattering the toxic status quo.
During 2011 movements led by victims of violence and those who are alienated from politics as usual have broken through the discourse of silence, altered the political landscape, and brought calls for revolutionary change back into view in both our countries.
The new struggle for fundamental reform is just getting underway and will take many forms, some of them unpredictable. But you can be sure that, as resistance to war and inequality grows on both sides of the border, the Mexicans leaders profiled below will be on its frontlines. They'll join their voices together with millions more on both sides of our shared border.
- Abel Barrera, an anthropologist and human rights defender of indigenous and rural communities, who founded the respected and successful NGO Tlachinolan in the southern and impoverished state of Guerrero, was honored by the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights;
- Javier Sicilia, a leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, was awarded a “people’s choice” human rights prize by Global Exchange; The movement is led the victims of the “drug war”. He was also profiled in TIME Magazine’s 2011 Person of the Year issue.
- Gael Garcia, a well-known Mexican actor, and AMBULANTE, an organization he co-founded, headlined the Washington Office on Latin America’s (WOLA) annual gala in recognition for his passionate and committed work to give visibility to the plight of migrants who undertake the perilous journey north and to the organization’s work to promote documentaries and to bring these films to the Mexican population;
- Father Pedro Pantoja received the Letelier–Moffitt International Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC on behalf of Bethlehem, the Migrants’ Shelter of Saltillo, for its work to protect migrants in Mexico from kidnapping, extortion, sexual abuse, and murder — courageously challenging organized crime and corrupt public officials.
- Marta Ojeda, a long time maquiladora activist, was saluted by the New York Radio Festival and received an award for her organization, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras and “La Frontera,” a documentary investigation of organized crime, violence and impunity and injustice along the Mexico-U.S. border; Marta connects the dots between the neoliberal policies, economic dislocation, arms industries, money laundering corruption, and impunity that have submerged Mexico in a deep crisis.
- Napoleon Gómez Urrutia is the president of Mexico's mine workers union. He received the AFL-CIO Kirkland Award in recognition of his brave work, which included accusing the Mexican government of industrial homicide following a mine explosion that killed 65 miners — and whose bodies remain buried. The government retaliated with bogus charges, and he has been forced into de facto exile in Canada.
- Sister Consuelo Morales, who received the Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for her work in Mexico to defend victims of human rights violations and hold their abusers accountable. She has worked with indigenous communities and street children, and she founded Citizens in Support of Human Rights (CAHDAC) in her native Monterrey.
- Tita Radilla was granted an award by Peace Brigades International and the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk for her relentless struggle for human rights.She has worked for more than 30 years with the Association of Relatives of Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Violations (AFADEM), demanding justice for the victims of enforced disappearance in Mexico.
October 31, 2011 · By Phyllis Bennis
This is an extraordinary time. The astonishing Occupy Wall Street movement emerged as the heart of our 99%, claimed the little scrap of earth in Zuccotti Park on behalf of all of us, and created a live-in soapbox from which to challenge inequality — how the 1% controls our economy, buys off our government, imposes their wars, and avoids paying their taxes. It both reflects and marks an end to the popular desperation that had taken over so much of our political life — instead, it applied the lessons of the Arab Spring, unexpectedly shaping a connection reaching far beyond the activist core, quickly moving from Wall Street to Main Street to the small parks, the steps of government buildings, the public squares from Oakland, California to Ames, Iowa, from Chicago to DC, to cities and towns across the country.
The challenges facing this new and different movement are legion, but joining its pop-up iterations is an incredible gift to those of us fighting that same outraged despair that first brought this vast disparity of folks to occupy what is now the people’s squares. In New York City, I huddled with GritTV’s Laura Flanders and Peace Action’s Judith LeBlanc, in the driving rain at the smaller-than-usual general assembly at Occupation Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park the other night. It was hard to see over the sea of umbrellas, and the meeting was pretty short. But the people’s mic functioned fine in the rain, as folks discussed a variety of ways to act in solidarity with our Oakland contingent, who had faced a particularly brutal police assault, critically injuring a young Iraq War veteran from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace.
A couple of weeks ago while speaking at several places in Iowa, I visited the activists of Occupy Des Moines, who had regrouped in front of the state capitol after bailing out 37 of their number who had been arrested by state troopers at the order of the governor. While they stood with their signs, the progressive mayor of the city pulled up, offering a nearby city park as an alternative site, one that would be outside the right-wing governor’s jurisdiction. After a consensus decision, they moved their encampment, demonstrating again how this movement is creating new divides among the powerful.
In Washington, we have two Occupy encampments. Both have been amazing in bringing new permanence and new breadth to the political resistance long present/absent/present in this city. With other IPSers and a variety of close friends and comrades, we’ve marched with the Occupy folks to protest at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and elsewhere. We’ve done teach-ins on the Iraq troop withdrawal and the renewed threats against Iran. We’ve had amazing discussions with folks occupying the squares.
Spending a day with the Institute’s Letelier-Moffitt human rights awardees, representatives of Wisconsin's progressive movement, I hung out for a while at Freedom Plaza, one of the Occupy sites, talking with a brilliant homeless woman. She taught me more about homeless policy in DC than I had ever known. She described life in the shelters, saying that “yeah there’re bedbugs, and there’s no security and they’re way too crowded, but that’s not the real problem. The real failure is that the city government’s mandate is to advocate for our rights, and it’s the rights of homeless people that are being ignored. Their mandate isn’t just for charity, they’re supposed to be advocates for our rights.” She knew the details of the city mandate and what obligations were being ignored — I hadn’t had a clue. This is what this new movement looks like.
Occupying the Future
There are huge uncertainties, of course. Will the encampments figure out how to survive the encroaching winter? Can the iconic center, at Occupy Wall Street’s Zucotti Park, remain the symbolic heart of the national, indeed global movement, as its working groups and caucuses extend out into other parts of the city? Will the Occupy movement figure out how to balance the focus on new ways of living with each other, creating new democratic norms that are, in the new dictum, horizontal instead of vertical, while simultaneously figuring out how to escalate the challenge to power that the creation of the Occupy sites began?
We won’t know for a while. But we do know now, already, that Occupy Wall Street — and Occupy DC, Occupy Des Moines, Occupy Los Angeles and Chicago and Atlanta and Taos, New Mexico — have already shaken up our political stasis in a critically important new way. I’ve been thinking a lot about the first Palestinian intifada, the nonviolent, society-wide mobilization that transformed Palestine’s nationalist struggle beginning in the late 1980s. Palestinian activists chose “uprising” as the logical English equivalent, but intifada doesn’t really mean that — it means something closer to “shake-up” or “shaking out” — exactly what Occupy Wall Street has done to our body politic. It’s our intifada, and it’s shaking up that money-glutted, war-mongering, tax-avoiding 1 % like nothing in a couple of generations.
Milestones: Iraq Withdrawal, Qaddafi is Killed, Prisoners Go Free
In the meantime, the news is full of milestones. President Obama’s announcement that almost all of the U.S. troops still occupying Iraq will come home by the end of the year certainly counts as a huge milestone-to-come. It’s not complete, but it’s a huge victory for our U.S. and global antiwar mobilizations, and especially for the people of Iraq so desperate to see an end to eight years of occupation. It means almost all the U.S. troops, and all the Pentagon-paid contractors will leave by the end of this year — so even with the biggest U.S. embassy ever built, with 5,000 staff, and thousands of security contractors (paid by the State Department this time, abiding by the letter though clearly not the spirit of the get-them-all-out-by-the-end-of-2011 agreement) this is a huge tribute to our years of work. I talked about the troop withdrawal on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR, including some of the history of what the years of war and occupation, plus the 12 years of Washington’s crippling economic sanctions, have meant for the people of Iraq. Also on RT, I examined the consequences of the war for Iraqis.
And of course the killing of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, after he was captured alive, marked another grisly milestone in the Libyan civil war. In my article on salon.com, I wrote about how vulnerable Libya remains: still oil-rich but more divided than ever, after Qaddafi’s death. Far from “liberation,” Libya continues to face a host of serious dangers.
We also had a nice victory for popular mobilization. CTV, the Canadian network that had given in to pressure and removed my interview on Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian UN statehood bid, put it back on the website when they got enough letters of protest to decide they had to reverse their decision. And they just invited me back, this time to talk about the consequences of Qaddafi’s death. You can watch that CTV interview here.
Occupy Wall Street, Not Palestine!
That’s the slogan coined by the BNC, the Palestinian leadership of the now-global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions — BDS — that challenges Israeli violations of international law and human rights. And we have yet another milestone, this one on the Palestine-Israel front, the prisoner swap that saw the first 400 or so out of a total of 1027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the one Israeli soldier held by Hamas. It was certainly a "win-win" at the human level, but of course there are political causes and consequences too. Here's the link to the "Inside Story" show I did on al-Jazeera English, discussing the prisoner exchange with my old friend and Palestinian civil society leader Mustafa Barghouti as well as an Israeli colonel. Al-Jazeera also published my commentary on the prisoner swap.
Just as this newsletter was getting ready to go to press, we also got word from Paris that UNESCO voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a full Member State. According to U.S. policy, that will trigger an immediate cut-off of U.S. dues to the UN’s cultural, education and science organization, as well as ending U.S. dues payments to (and perhaps thus voting rights in) several other important UN agencies — possibly including the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors nuclear production around the world. Stay tuned for more analysis next time…
The Occupy movement is bringing new energy, new activists, new ideas, new strategies into our movements for peace, justice and equality. One of the chants I heard last week, from folks at Brooklyn for Peace where I was speaking, seemed to capture the moment particularly well: “How do we end the deficit? End the wars and tax the rich!”
It’s good advice. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get there.
October 21, 2011 · By Joy Zarembka
At the end of August, I headed over to the opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial right before the hurricane. I returned this past weekend for the official dedication, which brought more than 10,000 people to what now is sacred ground.
During the ceremony, President Obama drew several parallels between the obstacles that King and the nation faced 50 years ago and our current economic challenges. Sounding again like a proponent of real change, Obama said, "If he were alive today, I believe he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there; that the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company's union without vilifying the right to collectively bargain."
But while Obama was quick to pay lip service to King's work for civil rights and economic justice and play to the popular sentiments of those "Occupying Everywhere," Obama didn't mention King's equally important efforts to stop the Vietnam War and end U.S. militarism.
This omission probably wasn't a mistake. Obama sent 100 U.S. troops to Uganda on Friday and over the weekend he encouraged the incursion of Kenyan military troops into Somalia, a continuing target for U.S. aerial drone strikes.
Noting the U.S. interest in securing oil in Uganda, and viewing Somalia as part of the "global war on terrorism," IPS Africa expert Emira Woods says that Obama, dubbed the "Son of Africa" by many in the region, is betraying many of the core values his fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for.
Also, as the weekend set upon us, two women who are longtime peace advocates on the African content joined King and Obama as Nobel Peace Prize winners: Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, along with Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman.
Appearing on PBS News Hour, Democracy Now and other outlets, Woods was quick to acknowledge the similarities between these awardees and Obama. Gbowee was a tireless community organizer. Johnson-Sirleaf was the first woman in Africa to serve as a democratically elected president. Unfortunately, Johnson-Sirleaf also shares Obama's agenda of establishing a permanent U.S. military command, AFRICOM, showing that the Peace Prize isn't always about peace.
It was wonderful to see so many of you at our Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards reception and ceremony last week. That night, the Wisconsin Progressive Movement and Bethlehem, The Migrant's Shelter (Mexico) showed what can be possible with faith, love, and determination.