Global South

13 August 2011Feature

PN interviews Habiba Issack, coordinator of the Habiba International women's rights group in the largely Somali population of Mandera district in north-east Kenya.

PN How are Habiba International Women and Youth Affairs struggling for women's rights?

HI By building Somali women's capacity to know and understand their human as well as legal rights, thereby promoting their self-determination and effective involvement in community affairs.

By awakening, stimulating and empowering the Somali women to systematically and effectively assert, claim and defend their legal and human rights and address, monitor and effectively respond to abuses and…

13 August 2011Feature

Passengers hurrying into the main check-in at Edinburgh International Airport on August 22nd were greeted by an unusual sight. A massive banner proclaimed: “MEXICO... Sun… Fun… bloomin’ nice beaches…”, alongside a painting of a palm tree. A somewhat eccentric Mexican tourist board initiative perhaps?

Not exactly. “Torture… Death squads… Human Rights Breaches…” continued the lower half of the banner, with a carefully painted AK47 illustrating the point.

Demonstrators from…

13 August 2011Feature

Continuing our recent focus on Colombia, Peace News met with Soraya Gutierrez Arguello, president of CAJAR (the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective, based in Bogota) for a chat about the struggle of human rights defenders operating in one of the most violent countries in the world, and the pros and cons of using the legal framework to challenge the culture of impunity.

Soraya began her human rights work when she became a lawyer in 1986 -- a period which she describes as “a very hard time in Colombian history; it was a time when political assassinations and massacres of a great part of the people's social movement of Colombia were on the rise”.

The collective has been protected by Peace Brigades International (PBI) volunteers, as Soraya and her colleagues suffer threats and intimidation on a daily basis from Colombia's security and paramilitary…

13 August 2011Feature

Justice for Colombia!

Since the Colombia Project was set up 11 years ago, Peace Brigades International has maintained a continuous presence in the regions most affected by the armed conflicts in Colombia.

PBI's aim has been the protection of internally displaced people and of human rights in general. In order to accomplish these aims, the project uses various different working strands. Some of its main “forces” are the presence of observers/international accompaniers, as well as the provision of mental…

13 August 2011Feature

Justice for Colombia!

In early October, Colombian conscientious objector Juan Carlos Montoya Munera was forcefully recruited by the Colombian military in the city of Antioquia, and taken to the barracks of the Batallon Bombona Coronel Diaz, where he is being forced to perform military service.

During the same week the Colombian military forcefully recruited a number of youths in the cities of Medellin and Antioquia, also taking conscientious objectors. On 10 October Alejandro Piedrahita, a conscientious…

13 August 2011Feature

Colombia: Human Rights defenders

The XVII Brigade of the Colombian Army - the brigade responsible for the killing of eight members of the peace community of San Jose' in February and another leader in November - will not receive US military aid next year, or at least not officially.

The US State Department notes an improvement in the human rights record of various units of the Colombian Army, but the XVII Brigade will receive no aid until it has satisfactorily responded to the complaints about its actions concerning…

13 August 2011Feature

Justice for Colombia!

The settlement that was once at the centre of the peace community of San Jose' de Apartado' is now occupied by police, soldiers and paramilitaries.

However, 15 minutes walk away, the peace community lives. San Josesito de la Dignidad - a new settlement with some 40 wooden houses and around 350 people - has been built up since April as its new centre.

Maintaining daily life

Times have become even tougher since the February massacre. Fire-fights between state forces and the FARC…

13 August 2011Feature

On 12 October a national General Strike was held by Colombian trade unionists, studentgroups and indigenous people. Hundreds of thousands took part in protests and rallies allover Colombia and, in characteristic fashion, the Colombian regime reacted with violence in several parts of the country. Solidarity actions took place around the world.

On 12 October people gathered outside the Colombian embassy in London to protest in support of the strike in Colombia.

The General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Jeremy Dear, as well as other senior trade unionists and representatives of Justice for Colombia, handed a letter to the acting Colombian Ambassador Cesar Castro to demand that the rights of peaceful protesters in Colombia on the day of the strike be respected and that the security forces not use…

13 August 2011Feature

This is one interview from Marina Sitrin's new book Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina, based on two years talking to the people who have taken over factories and neighbourhoods in response to the Argentinian crisis.

We are all older women here [at Brukman, an occupied textile factory], almost all of us are over 40, and our only source of employment is this factory. What we know how to do is work with the machines that are inside.

Because of this whole experience I have now begun to wonder why the worker always has to keep quiet? The boss doesn't pay you, the boss owes you money, and you're the one that has to leave, to hang your head and go.

Well, we made the decision that we weren't going…

13 August 2011Feature

What is it like to work in the mainstream media? What are the opportunities for reaching a wide audience with progressive ideas? These questions and more were put to occasional PN contributor Beena Sarwar - a print and TV journalist working in the mainstream media in Pakistan.


PN: Tell us a bit about yourself, what kind of work you do and what your focus is - in terms of the reports or opinion pieces you write.

BS: I am a full-time journalist with a visual arts background, but over the last decade the painting has been sidelined bymy professional involvement with journalism - as well as activism in human rights issues, which includes, of course, women's issues and peace issues - and, for the past couple of years, television documentary. (I did an…

13 August 2011Feature

As pressure mounts for military intervention in Darfur, Alex de Waal, an Africa expert, tells PN why war won't work and how tantalisingly close Darfur came to peace. When peace diplomacy happens, our movements need to know about it, and support it at every level.

PN: What is your background in relation to Darfur?

ADW: I travelled extensively in Darfur when I first went as a PhD student in 1985. I wrote my first book on famine in Darfur. Subsequently I've spent almost all of the last 22 years working on the Horn of Africa.

PN: What are the origins of the Darfur crisis?

ADW: The underlying factors are the economic and political marginalisation of Darfur, including both Arabs and non-Arabs. Darfur…

1 July 2011News

Festival inspired by Victor Jara fuses Welsh and Latin American music.

The El Sueno Existe music festival is held from 11-13 August in Machynlleth in the beautiful Dyfi valley. It is a vibrant fusion of Welsh and Latin American music, dance, poetry, film and political discussion, taking inspiration from Victor Jara, the Chilean theatre director and singer-songwriter who has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights and justice across Latin America.

This year, the festival will feature workshops and talks from on the theme Latin America rising: “…

1 July 2011Feature

The rise and rise of the internationalist left in Latin America

In a meeting of the UN security council in May, Nicaragua’s UN ambassador said that the UN charter does not include any reference to the right of humanitarian intervention, but considers the respect of sovereignty to be paramount. She wondered how civilians will be protected by bombing them. She also asked where the determination of the security council was when it came to protecting the heroic, victimised Palestinian population.

Palestine is a useful way to look at how Latin America…

1 June 2011News in Brief

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is ready to enter negotiations over his country’s nuclear weapons without any preconditions, announced former US president Jimmy Carter after a three-day visit to Pyongyang at the end of April. “The sticking point, and it’s a big one, is that they won’t give up their nuclear programme without some kind of security guarantee from the US,” wrote Carter, who was accompanied by three fellow “Elders”: former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari; former prime…

1 March 2011Review

(AK Press, 2010; 384pp; £14)  

The poetics of the Zapatistas should have been a perfect read. I’ve been fascinated by the Zapatista movement, ever since they stormed into San Cristobel in January 1994, and my sister Lucy (who lived in Mexico at the time) has often enthused of the literary quality of Subcomandante Marcos’s writing. So why was this book such a let down in parts?

Part of the problem was, I think, the author isn’t quite sure who his audience is. The title and front cover (a masked Zapatista doll…