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Posts Tagged ‘ArabSpring’

These photos taken in a refugee camp in Zaatari document the joy of play. The beauty and spirit of youth, even during such terrible times. They show what is truly important in life, that we remember that we are all human above all else.

http://nyti.ms/1F7eoYV

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I found this article this morning while surfing the dreaded but unavoidable Facebook and it struck a chord with me. I remember the nights  directly after Obama won his first term as President. I was in Stockholm and everywhere there was a sense of enormous relief. Not only did it mean the imminent departure of Bush and Cheney, but we all wanted to believe it would bring about changes the likes of which we hadn’t seen for some time. The types of changes that we had been longing for, the types of changes that people were fighting and dying for. A government,  with a considerable amount of power, might turn back  to diplomacy as the first course of action. A government that might actually keep its promises, closing gitmo, ending the illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A government that finally would repair perhaps the biggest wrong in the 20th century, and force Israel to return to its 1967 borders, one that would force Israel to rethink the nakba and allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. A government that would free its political prisoners both those inside their own prisons and those illegally kept in prisons throughout europe. etc etc etc

 

Did we expect too much?   How much IS too much? What do we have the right to expect from our governments and from those who proclaim to be the world leaders?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts after reading this article..

 

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/10/obama-europe-s-biggestdisappointment.html

 

 

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Beautiful poetry from Palestine. I would highly recommend it to all my followers. His work truly puts a very real human perspective on their struggle.

 

A Stray Bullet.

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Making Peace

By Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”
But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” from Breathing the Water. Copyright © 1987 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Breathing the Water (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1987)

Making Peace by Denise Levertov : The Poetry Foundation.

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DUSTY DUSTY DUSTY!!  WHEW  WHO GAVE THE MAID THE DAY OFF??

OK,, let me clean up here a little, ok? In the meantime, have a look around,,

The Muslim Brotherhood in the person of Mohamed Morsi has won the first presidential election in Egypts history. While I am delighted the military didn’t win, I have to admit that I’m unsure what this will mean in the long run for the people of Egypt who fought for their freedom. The military will never just pack up and leave, I’ve never known a military that was willing to do that, once in power they want to stay. So far, Morsi seems to be saying the right things about the revolution and revolutionaries and honoring those who lost their lives in the struggle, but I am wary, I must admit. I truly hope that my wariness isn’t based upon religious bias. I hope that I have evolved past that and I think I have. My biggest concern is one that I have spoken of earlier in this blog as well as on twitter,, that you cannnot have a successful revolution nor can a society truly be free while part of it’s citizens are still oppressed, and by that I mean women primarily, and of course lgbt as well. The simple truth, dear reader is that no givernment can succeed without women in high ranking decision making postions.

There is more on my mind and hopefully I’ll be back more often, please don’t give up on me quite yet!!

love and peace to all

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Dreams In War

His dreams used to be quiet things

Meaning he slept through them

No special memory of what transpired

But he was young

What did he dream of at 4 or 5 or 6 years old

But that was before

Before the fighting

Before fleeing their home

Four times in three months

Seems the troops always knew where to find them

What does one dream of when at age 7

Without the toys his daddy gave him

Without the coloring books he loved to draw in

Without his dog to sleep beside him and protect him

He’s still afraid of the dark

And now of the daytime too.

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As so many around the world did, I watched the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, or as much as I could until work so rudely interrupted. It was a wonderful celebration of women and their various political and governmental roles, both on a grass-roots level and in leadership positions. I don’t feel that I’m going too far out on a limb to say that at no time in history has the effect of and possibilities of women in leadership roles been more apparent, especially in the political realm. The roles of women has changed considerably in this young century, changed to the point that they are finally getting the respect they deserve as it becomes more and more apparent that in no country can there be a true peace or democracy without the direct input, active participation and leadership of women.

However, as always in the cause of civil liberty, those gains have come at a very high price. In his ceremony speech to present the Nobel Peace Prizes, Thorbjörn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said this,

“Men and women have at all times experienced war in different ways. Although women, too, have fought in wars through the centuries, and today even engage in terrorism, it is the men who to a far greater extent have engaged in the actual warfare. In modern wars the majority of the victims are often civilian and very many of them are women and children.

Rape has always been one of the horrors of war. But in recent years, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Darfur, in Rwanda, and in Congo, among many other places, we have seen rape working not just as a massive violation in itself. Rape has become part of the tactics of war. The aim is to break down the enemy’s morale, to force populations to move, and to punish opponents also after the war is over.

This was defined as a crime against humanity and as war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has since reached the same conclusion.

Popular opinion in favor of this view must be strengthened, and that is what we are doing here today.

We are doing so by attracting renewed attention to the resolution adopted in October 2000 by the UN Security Council, Resolution 1325. The resolution for the first time made violence against women in wartime an international security issue. It underlined the need to have women become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general. Women had to break out of their roles as victims; they must themselves become players who will contribute to creating peace. These goals were then hammered out further in four new Security Council resolutions, 1820, 1888, 1889 and 1960.These resolutions must be given prominent and visible places on the desks of all heads of state.

For there is still a long way to go before the goals of these resolutions are reached. In recent peace negotiations in various parts of the world which are surveyed, fewer than 8 per cent of the participants in the negotiations and fewer than 3 per cent of the peace agreement signatories were women. No woman has ever been appointed chief negotiator in any peace negotiations led by the UN.

Meanwhile the rapes continue, thousands of them, day after day.”

One female journalist that I know from twitter, New York resident Mona Eltahawy was in Cairo on Nov. 23rd,where she was arrested and held for 12 hours and subject to beatings and sexually molested, not raped but groped and molested repeatedly by a group of 5 or 6 men while being called terrible names. Her left hand was broken and her right arm was broken so severely that it required surgery, including a titanium plate and screws to hold it together. She describes her ordeal in this article..  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/24/journalist-mona-eltahawy-sex-assault-cairo

Obviously her story is hardly the only one, and as she points out, it may have been her dual citizenship, (Egyptian and American) that kept her from suffering a worse fate. I bring this up not to minimize what is happening daily to other women, but to give those other women who suffer in silence a face and a strong voice. She has taken on the mantle of many oppressed women throughout the world and I applaud her for that.

On December 17, a video went totally viral over the Internet. It showed an Egyptian woman being grabbed by her black robe, dragged, beaten kicked and partially stripped at Tahrir Square during a protest calling for the end of the military rule. Women, who played a substantial role in the protests leading to the fall of Mubarak are now feeling as if they are being targeted.

During the Bosnian war, Serbian troops established houses for the entrapment of Bosnian women and young girls. The most infamous was what became known as the “Karamans’ House” where Bosnian women and girls were brought against their will, trapped as sex slaves and repeatedly raped, beaten and abused and extremely humiliated. The youngest victim being only 12 years old as the Muslim women were targeted only as a means for the Serbian troops to assert their superiority and feeling of victory over them. Estimates are that during the Bosnian war Serbian soldiers raped between 20,000 and 50,000 Bosnian women. This number doesn’t even factor the men and boys who suffered the same fate. In Somalia, women in refugee camps reported being afraid to even go outside to gather firewood for fear of being raped by Kenyan gangs waiting in the bushes to demoralize them. This barbarism is sadly commonplace in such places as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Sudan and numerous refugee camps.

War rape is a type of slow genocide that affects the victims in many forms because of the physical impact on the victims including vaginal fistula, seen in the widespread rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also unwanted pregnancy and sexual transmitted disease. It can lead to them being jailed as prostitutes in places like Afghanistan and being totally ostracized and outcast from society and family and left with an unwanted child and feelings of hopelessness fear and anxiety, shame and anger. The effects on the child can be catastrophic as well, Imagine having this as your legacy! Not to mention the enormous psychological effects on the victims themselves.

In Libya, during the conflict that saw the fall of Gaddafi, the International Criminal Court reports that as an official policy troops were given Viagra to ensure that they were prepared to rape at any time. The chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo reports that it is difficult to know exactly how often it was used but that certain areas reported rapes numbered in the high hundreds at least.

In fundamentalist Muslim countries such as Iran, women are still being stoned to death for being raped, the view being that it is the victims fault that the man is a total animal and unable to know right from wrong, and how to treat people with any modicum of respect.  Obviously this has to stop! This oppressive, inhuman treatment of women is the extreme male perspective, and supported by an extremist regime. There are people who are trying to fight against such hatred.  I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to stand up to such an oppressive barbaric regime.

But things are not all dread and doom, dear reader. Women are making incredible gains around the world.

I am inspired by the story of  Tawakol Karman from Yemen, who started the revolution against one of the most oppressive governments in the world, in one of the world’s poorest countries. It began in 2005 when she co-founded the group Women Journalists Without Chains. The groundswell, which became the revolution, was started in 2007 by, as she said in an interview during the Nobel Peace Prize activities, three women who had simply had enough.  (For more information please refer to the links below) Despite being arrested, beaten and chained for 36 hours, and having her life threatened numerous times, she held on to her belief and it led her to the Nobel Peace Prize.

It moved me tremendously to think that in Yemen, a country where women are not allowed to even be outside after 19:00, that three women could start a movement that would topple a ruthless dictator.  It is still very dangerous for women in Yemen, in Syria, in Egypt and all through the Middle East and Africa. In fact it is still dangerous for women all over the world.

Yesterday was Christmas. Today I want to believe in all the dreams I grew up with. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men and women, a safe place where Muslim children can play with Christian or Israeli children without fear, where men no longer victimize women for their own pathetic sense of self-esteem.

I began writing this with the memories of my own youth in my head. When women’s political involvement was, in the minds of many typically ill-informed and unsympathetic men, seen as little more than Greenpeace and green tea, where the idea of being environmentally aware for a guy was ok, but not always with the idea of actually accomplishing anything, but only as a way to meet women. I actually had a male friend suggest exactly that to me in college. Obviously he didn’t get the response he expected. We didn’t stay friends after that.  (Having said that, I want to say that I mean absolutely no disrespect to the wonderful work of Greenpeace, rather that at that time, in the early 80s they hadn’t gained the respect they were due among many American men.)

I am more and more convinced of the fact that there can be no peace without women being actively involved in government and decision policy making on every level. We’ve come a very long way in my lifetime. I am very aware of how far we have to go, of course, but I am so very buoyed by the confidence that as information flows and outside opinion becomes more accessible, as more and more women stand up against oppressive gender fascism, as tyrants are overthrown and democracy builds, that women may well be on the way to getting the power and support they so richly have deserved.

References and recommended reading;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawakel_Karman

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15216473

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/01/west-must-not-forsake-yemen

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19karman.html?_r=1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/08/revolution-saleh-yemen-peace-historic

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR16/002/2007/en/6e0e217b-d37f-11dd-a329-2f46302a8cc6/afr160022007en.pdf

http://womennewsnetwork.net/2011/08/10/genocide-war-rape-female-survivors/

http://www.bim.ba/en/39/10/1776/

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