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Articles from the Peace News log: Global South

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

An important perspective on last November's 'People's March for Climate, Justice and Jobs'

San Sebastián Bachajón on the anniversary of the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán

Juan Vazquéz Guzmán Vive!Last year, Peace News featured the story of the assassination in Chiapas, Mexico, of the community leader and defender of the land, Juan Vázquez Guzmán. In recognition of the first anniversary of his killing, 'Two Weeks of Worldwide Action: Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!', have been called, from Thursday 24 April to Thursday 8 May. As part of this initiative, the screening of the film Bachajón - Dispossession is death, Life is resistance is being promoted internationally.

'What the government does is send people to jail or order their killing like Juan Vázquez Guzmán. Our struggle is not for economic or political power. It is for the people, the mother earth and the territory.' – Marcelo Mariano López

On 24 April 2013, Juan Vázquez Guzmán, much-loved spokesperson and activist in defence of the people, the land and the territory of the ejido (communal landholding) of San Sebastián Bachajón, was killed with six gunshots in the doorway of his home, in what was widely interpreted as a political assassination. His killers, and those who ordered his killing, remain unpunished, and the plans of the government and corporations to dispossess the ejidatarios (common landholders) of their territory, in order to construct a luxury tourist development, continue. But the indigenous Tzeltal community of San Sebastián Bachajón is staying organized, carrying on the struggle for their rights and keeping alive the memory of Juan Vázquez Guzmán and his work in the service of his people.

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Milan Rai interviews a key speaker at the 2011 Rebellious Media Conference.

Taesun Kwon was a co-founder of South Korea’s only non-corporate national daily newspaper, the Hankyoreh, born of South Korea’s democracy movement in 1988. She is now executive editor of the paper, which has a circulation of 300,000 (South Korea has a population of 49 million). Taesun Kwon will be speaking at the Rebellious Media Conference organised by Peace News, Ceasefire, the National Union of Journalists, Red Pepper, Undercurrents, and visionOntv. Peace News interviewed Taesun Kwon by email ahead of the conference.

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Rai Ko Ris, a punk band from Nepal, toured Europe last autumn. Frontwoman Sareena Rai describes how the anarchist scene surprised her.

ImageRao Ko Ris in Paris

 

“WHITE MAN DESTROYS CULTURE” is printed in big letters on a sticker at a venue in West Germany where we played. This phrase became my “theme” as we continued to tour throughout Europe. I realized how just reading about stuff or about people’s lives is simply not enough. There’s nothing more important than meeting people from different worlds. I talked a lot about how white man may have destroyed something in the past, but right now I felt that white people can give something back by teaching folks like us the tricks of parallel existence in new capitals because you’ve gone through it and we’re just entering it, and we need hints or tools on how to cope with the shocks.

Also, people are inspired by song. I was amazed when a big long-haired metal head in denim who organised one of the shows came to hug me afterwards, with tears in his eyes, saying how much my words about having sympathy for people living in the fortress and having to fight moved him. Just days before his city had come to a standstill when the National Bank was occupied by workers’ resistance. I was amazed and humbled when I saw the anarchist booklet we managed to translate into Nepali displayed at an infoshop in Amsterdam. I was amazed that someone who lived in his truck in Europe would want to drive us around Europe for two out of the six weeks for free because he totally supports what we were doing. And what were we doing? Meeting, talking, singing, eating, dancing. These are important elements that inspire resistance.

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Rai Ko Ris, a punk band from Nepal, toured Europe last autumn. Frontwoman Sareena Rai describes how the anarchist scene surprised her.

ImageRai Ko Ris in Paris

 

One of the most amazing things that struck me was that 95% of all the shows were organized by people who were just hitting 40 or were beyond it. We were amazed to see such necessary collaboration between ages and sexes. I was sure we were going to be the only oldies (+37) at each show but in fact it is mainly “the oldies” keeping many underground venues and squats going.

I was totally inspired by that.

In one city in France I met three women who all played music or sang in at least three different bands, all above 40-years-old. They were politically active, loosely associated with different solidarity groups – one of them is also apparently a history teacher.

There was such a variety of people from different backgrounds and experiences that were pretty much doing the same thing, but not together.

People in more organized anarchist circles commented how having tattoos and wearing anti-fa badges and “beating up” nazi skinheads was just a macho load of shnoof. However we talked to folks from East Germany who said their lives depended on their display of violence. When you’ve got nazi skinheads walking down your street who are out to attack any liberal-minded punk or queer, you have to be ready. For both men and women, the tatooes and spikes were their armor to defend themselves.

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Rai Ko Ris, A punk band from Nepal, toured Europe last autumn. Frontwoman Sareena Rai describes how the anarchist scene surprised her.

ImageRai Ko Ris in Paris

 

Much of my time in Europe was spent drinking… drinking tons of their best herbal teas and not-so-good chalky hot water. It was not until I got back to Nepal that I thought, maybe that chalky stuff all boiled up and hot probably didn’t help my voice recover one bit.

Drinking alcohol is big in Europe, I decided. There is no party without a drink. And there is no gig without drink. There are band names about drink; there are band names named after beer, or drinking, or about being drunk, or having a hangover.

If I listed them that would be my 2000-word article for ‘Pissed News’ right there. And show organizers make more money from selling beer than selling tickets at the entrance to a show, so I can’t argue.

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Milan Rai reports from the WRI Triennial in India

One of the most poignant moments of the conference so far was Samarendra Das’s cry to the audience: “We do not want your research! It is not useful to us. We have simple questions, such as: what should the price of bauxite be?”

The interesting things here are “useful research” and “we – you”. What is that polarity?

Before talking about that, I should explain about the pricing question.

Bauxite is often found on mountain tops; it’s the raw material for aluminium. In India, these mountains are for some reason often in tribal areas, and are sacred mountains. The bauxite has the capacity to retain water and release it gradually (Samarendra told us), so that there are perennial streams even in the hot season. After the bauxite has been mined, this capacity is lost, and whatever water does run in the streams is polluted (I think he mentioned arsenic).

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Rai Ko Ris, A punk band from Nepal, toured Europe last autumn. Frontwoman Sareena Rai describes how the anarchist scene surprised her.

“To exist as a band without the corporate music industry is in itself a political feat” – sticker stuck on a wall at a venue in North Germany

Sitting in a village on the edge of Kathmandu happily listening to the Subhumans, I had this yearning to go to Europe.

A good friend of ours from Holland calls the West “the fortress”; he said the people, the culture, and the way the whole place works is like a fortress, sealed and intimidating. I agreed with him and so why would I want to leave my six-year-old son behind for six weeks to travel in hostile territory? Not for work, nor for a better life, or for fortune but because I am “virused” and I am a little punkish.

In 2009, we got an email from somebody who’d been following our band for a while, asking us to gig at some shows for a festival organized by the ministry of culture in Denmark, all expenses paid. Though the other half of my band (my partner, who is also the drummer) was totally sceptical about a government-funded offer – the fact that some comrades of a similar “virused” nature happened to be part of the organising committee gave us confidence that we weren’t going to become sell-outs just yet.

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Milan Rai reports from the WRI Triennial in India

On the second morning (the third day) of the Triennial, we had our first “reflectors” session. The reflectors were five people who had been chosen to give their reaction to the conference so far. There were four women (all English-speaking, one African, one Australasian, one European, one North American) and one man (Spanish-speaking, Latin American).

Incidentally, this reminds me of something Jai Sen said about the book he co-edited: World Social Forum: Challenging Empires. They set themselves a very difficult standard in terms of contributors: achieving balance between continents and genders. (For more about the book, and other valuable publications on the way: http://www.cacim.net)

Two of the women (I didn’t catch their names, but later found out one was Vanessa Boaz of the International Centre for Nonviolent Conflict) said that we had so far had a lot of “the problem”, but not a lot of “the solution”. One said that we had not lived up to the “nonviolent livelihoods” element of the conference. The other said we had not been sharing the many successes of small movements, no exchange of strategies and tactics. At the moment it felt like the problems were so big, there was no impossible to succeed by nonviolence.

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Milan Rai reports from the WRI Triennial in India

What was the “breaking news” I promised at the beginning of the last posting? Well, yesterday I sat in on a discussion group that decided to put forward a major proposal to the council of War Resisters International, suggesting an investigation of the feasibility and desirability of WRI addressing the extent to which climate change, and in particular the threat of runaway climate change, affects the anti-militarist and social justice struggles it is currently involved in, or supporting.

The peace movement, by and large, operates on the assumption that the basic fabric of life will continue to be much as it is, with perhaps some deterioration or some improvement. (I only know of the British and US peace movements, but my impression is that this is a more general phenomenon.) We assume a continuing stable climate framework within which our opponents and ourselves will continue our struggle.

This is not a tenable assumption.

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