Category Archives: Justice and Peace

Nicaragua abandons social security changes after dozens killed in riots

with Nicaragua
A security guard outside a supermarket after protests against the Nicaraguan government’s social security reforms, which have now been dropped. Photograph: Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian
Source: Associated Press
22 April 2018

 

President Daniel Ortega says changes implemented on 16 April have been cancelled.

Nicaragua’s president has withdrawn changes to the social security system that triggered deadly protests and looting.

President Daniel Ortega said in a message to the nation that the social security board of directors had cancelled the changes implemented on 16 April. The overhaul was intended to shore up Nicaragua’s troubled social security system by both reducing benefits and increasing taxes.

The changes touched off protests across the Central American nation that escalated into clashes with police as well as looting. The demonstrations appeared to expand to include broader anti-government grievances.

Human rights groups said at least 26 people were killed in several days of clashes. Dozens of shops in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua were looted during unrest that extended into Sunday.

Unlike his appearance on Saturday with the police chief, Ortega announced the cancellation of the overhaul accompanied by business executives who account for about 130,000 jobs and millions of dollars in exports.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis said at the Vatican that he was “very worried” about the situation in Nicaragua and echoed the call of local bishops for an end to all violence.

Images broadcast by local news media showed looted shops in the capital’s sprawling Oriental Market district and at least one Walmart.

Police apparently did not intervene on Sunday, in contrast to what had been a strong response to earlier demonstrations in which dozens were injured or arrested.

“We are seeing social chaos in Nicaragua provoked by the absence of government leadership, and the crisis has been combined with poverty, and that in any society is a time bomb,” sociologist and analyst Cirilo Otero said.

Ortega had said on Saturday he was willing to negotiate on the social security overhaul, but said the talks would be only with business leaders.

He seemed to try to justify the tough response against protesters by the government and allied groups, accusing demonstrators, most of them university students, of being manipulated by unspecified “minority” political interests and of being infiltrated by gangsters.

Nicaragua has been one of the more stable countries in Central America, largely avoiding the turmoil caused by gang violence or political upheaval that has at times plagued Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in recent years.

But top Nicaraguan business lobby COSEP has backed peaceful protests against the government, and said it would not enter talks with Ortega to review the social security plan until he had ended police repression and restored freedom of expression.

A former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War antagonist of the United States, Ortega has presided over a period of stable growth with a blend of socialist policies and capitalism.

But critics accuse Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, of trying to establish a family dictatorship. The country remains one of the poorest in the Americas.

Priest campaigning for Brazil’s Amazon arrested for sex crimes and extortion

Karla Mendes

March 29, 2018 | RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Brazilian priest who risked his life campaigning for the landless has been arrested for sexual harassment and extortion but his lawyer said the charges are a ruse to stop his work.

Jose Amaro Lopes de Sousa, known as Padre Amaro, is regarded as the successor to American nun and environmental activist Dorothy Stang, who was murdered in 2005, an emblematic case for the many conflicts over land use in resource-rich Brazil.

A police statement said that Amaro was arrested on Tuesday in the city of Anapu in northern Para state, home to a vast Amazon rainforest reserve, following a court order and eight months of investigations.

“For us, there is no doubt that behind this investigation there is a ranchers’ conspiracy aiming to make Padre Amaro’s work unfeasible,” the priest’s lawyer, Jose Batista Afonso, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Wednesday.

“Padre Amaro personifies nun Dorothy’s work … He has been receiving death threats for a long time.”

Stang often criticized cattle ranchers for seizing land illegally and destroying the rainforest, highlighting tensions between farmers and environmentalists in the top global beef exporter. Local landowners were jailed for ordering her death.

The ranchers’ union in Anapu said they had nothing to do with Amaro’s arrest, adding that about 400 police reports, including videos and witness testimonies, support the charges.

“(Amaro) held meetings in the dead of night, encouraging people to invade land and then had an illegal trade in these invaded lands,” Silverio Albano Fernandes, head of Anapu’s ranchers union, said by phone.

“He was making profit from these sales as he kept a percentage. Everybody knows it here.”

London-based campaign group Global Witness said that Brazil was the world’s most dangerous nation for land rights activists in 2016, with about 50 people killed.

About a dozen land activists have been murdered since 2005 in Anapu, where Amaro is based, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), set up by the Catholic Church to combat violence against the rural poor.

Amaro’s opponents could not kill him because of the international outcry following Stang’s shooting, and because some are still in jail, said Afonso, who works for CPT.

“Of course, the way chosen to try to nullify the priest’s work would be different,” he said.

Afonso said he will file for habeas corpus, which requires Amaro be brought to court and released unless lawful grounds can be shown for his detention.

“We hope the arrest will be revoked,” he said.


Reporting by Karla Mendes; Editing by Katy Migiro; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-landrights-arrests/priest-campaigning-for-brazils-amazon-arrested-for-sex-crimes-and-extortion-idUSKBN1H52H6

Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.

Forty arrested at Catholic-led DACA Protest

Catholic News Agency
By Christine Rousselle

Protesters_for_Dreamers_in_Washington_DC_Feb_27_2018_Credit_Jonah_McKeown_2_CNA
Catholic-led DACA protest in Washington, DC, Feb. 27, 2018. Credit: Jonah McKeown, CNA

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2018 / 04:20 pm (CNA).- A group of about 100 people–including Franciscan friars, religious sisters, and laity–gathered in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Building in Washington on Tuesday, and were led away in flex cuffs in a planned act of civil disobedience.

The protest was intended to pressure Congress to take action on “Dreamers,” or people who were brought to the United States illegally as children. It was organized as part of the Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers, an event planned by Catholic social advocacy groups.

One of those arrested was Sr. Tracy Kemme, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. Prior to her arrest, Kemme told CNA that she considered her actions to be worthwhile to help protect the immigrant community.

“Myself, two of my sisters, and one of our associates will be doing civil disobedience,” said Kemme. She continued, “It’s a moral moment of truth and it’s worth it to us to try to raise the consciousness of our legislators.”

Registered “Dreamers” are afforded renewable protection from deportation under an Obama-era policy called the “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals” (DACA). President Donald Trump sought to end DACA in September of 2017 and gave Congress a six-month period to come up with a solution before the protections would expire on March 5.

Two federal courts have issued injunctions preventing the President from ending DACA.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to consider the Administration’s expedited appeal of those injunctions, ensuring that the program will remain as-is until a final court decision is made later this year.

Congressional legislators have been unable to pass compromise bills that would have codified parts of DACA into law. On Monday, the USCCB urged Catholics to call their Congressmen as part of the “National Call-in Day for the Protection of Dreamers.”

The PICO National Network, along with Faith in Public Life and the DC Catholic Coalition, organized Tuesday’s “day of action.” The day featured a prayer rally and peaceful civil disobedience, culminating with the arrests.

Kemme told CNA that she hopes Congress is able to pass a DREAM Act unconnected to other proposed immigration reforms, and that her faith inspires her passion of working with the immigrant community.

“As a Catholic, my end goal would be comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship that keeps families together,” she said.

Kemme’s desires were echoed by Sr. Elise Garcia, O.P., from the Dominican sisters in Adrian, Michigan. Garcia said she was in D.C. on Tuesday to pray for the Dreamers as well as for elected leaders, and she too would like to see comprehensive immigration reform.

“Ideally, I would like to see an entire comprehensive package of immigration reform. That’s the ideal. Short of that, I’d like to see justice for Dreamers,” who have only known the United States as their home.

Before the Capitol Police attempted to disperse the protest, Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington, addressed the crowd. Once the crowd began loudly praying a decade of the rosary, the police started to make arrests.

A total of 40 people were arrested and charged with “Crowding, Obstructing, or Incommoding.”

 

 

LA SITUATION EN REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE: LA SITUATION EN REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO

Posted by José Luis Gutiérrez Aranda | Fév 13, 2018 | Afrique | 0

Le Réseau Afrique Europe Foi et Justice (AEFJN) est un réseau de plaidoyer des congrégations religieuses de l’Église catholique en Europe et en Afrique.

RDC-Press-Release-Reuters-440x264
DRC – Reuters

Nous notons, avec un cœur douloureux, le climat politique actuel, chargé et inutile, en République Démocratique du Congo. La tension a commencé à la suite du refus du président Joseph Kabila d’organiser des élections à la fin de son mandat en 2016. Il a mis de côté un accord conclu et signé le 31 décembre 2016 sous les auspices de la Conférence épiscopale nationale du Congo (CENCO) à la Saint-Sylvestre pour lui donner l’opportunité d’organiser des élections en 2017. En guise de suivi, le climat politique de la RD Congo et la condition socio-économique des citoyens ont été affectés négativement. Le refus du président Kabila d’organiser des élections en 2017, comme convenu en 2016, et de démissionner, est une violation flagrante du droit du peuple à choisir son chef. Nous considérons le prétendu calendrier des élections du 23 décembre 2018 comme un écran de fumée et un moyen de prolonger le règne du président Kabila.

Nous avons également noté avec une grande préoccupation les autres violations des droits humains RD Congo, contraires à la déclaration du gouvernement Kabila. Selon l’ONU, il y a eu 1176 exécutions extrajudiciaires en 2017; 30% de plus qu’en 2016. Le 31 décembre 2017, le gouvernement de Kabila a ordonné aux fournisseurs de télécommunications de couper les services Internet et SMS à travers le pays avant les manifestations antigouvernementales planifiées. Le 31 décembre 2017, au moins sept personnes ont perdu la vie. Les forces de sécurité ont tiré et blessé des douzaines d’autres alors qu’elles envoyaient des gaz lacrymogènes pour disperser des manifestations pacifiques organisées par l’Eglise catholique. Au moins 600 personnes sont en prison! Les enlèvements, les meurtres, la torture, le viol et le déplacement de personnes sont devenus une décimale récurrente, portant le nombre de personnes déplacées à 4,25 millions en 2017. La manifestation organisée par l’Eglise catholique le 21 janvier 2018 et soutenue par d’autres communautés chrétiennes et musulmanes dans différentes villes n’a pas eu lieu sans pertes. Rien qu’à Kinshasa, selon des rapports, six personnes ont été tuées par les forces de sécurité, une cinquantaine blessées et plusieurs autres arrêtées. L’histoire n’est pas différente à Goma et Bukavu où, selon des rapports, environ 50 personnes ont été blessées, arrêtées ou tuées. La liste s’allonge encore et encore, mais les attaques de plus en plus violentes contre les travailleurs humanitaires et les forces de maintien de la paix forcent les organisations humanitaires à retarder la livraison de l’aide ou à suspendre leurs activités.

Nous condamnons ces suppressions violentes des droits humains fondamentaux et appelons le président Kabila à faire preuve de retenue, à libérer inconditionnellement tous les prisonniers politiques qui ont été détenus alors qu’ils participaient à des manifestations pacifiques et à organiser immédiatement des élections libres et équitables. Nous affirmons que c’est sa responsabilité constitutionnelle de protéger les vies et les biens du peuple de la RD Congo. Nous recommandons fortement la reconstitution de la Commission électorale du Congo CENI pour inclure les acteurs de la société civile et de l’Église et les autres parties prenantes. Nous condamnons également en termes très forts le projet de loi présenté à l’Assemblée nationale congolaise pour réglementer les ONG et les défenseurs des droits humains. Nous appelons les honorables parlementaires à rejeter le projet de loi et à assumer leur responsabilité de protéger les droits du peuple.

Si nous nous abstenons d’un jugement hâtif sur le silence de l’Union Européenne et des États membres sur la situation au Congo, il n’en demeure pas moins très préoccupant. En conséquence, nous implorons l’UE, ses États membres et la communauté internationale de s’opposer à ce comportement insensé et de tenir le président Kabila pour responsable de ses violations des droits humains. Nous nous félicitons à cet égard de l’utilisation de sanctions ciblées par l’UE et de l’utilisation de moyens supplémentaires, comme le prévoient les lois internationales en vigueur, si les progrès vers une solution pacifique restent insaisissables.

L’UE dispose d’un immense espace pour démontrer son engagement ferme à soutenir la démocratie et la protection des droits humains dans la région. C’est une valeur qui constitue une véritable valeur ajoutée de la coopération européenne par rapport aux autres partenaires internationaux de la RD du Congo. En ce qui concerne le soutien technique au processus électoral, nous demandons à l’UE de réitérer sa volonté de collaborer avec des partenaires internationaux pour s’assurer qu’un plan clair et complet soit mis en place pour financer les élections congolaises et de communiquer largement ce plan. L’UE devrait également être convaincue qu’il existe un calendrier crédible et une volonté politique claire de tenir les élections. L’objectif est de voir qu’un manque de ressources ne fait pas dérailler les plans pour les élections.

Enfin, nous saluons avec beaucoup de gratitude la contribution de l’Union Européenne aux résolutions des conflits et impasses internationaux. Alors que nous attendons l’intervention de l’Union Européenne dans l’impasse qui fait rage dans la République Démocratique du Congo, AEFJN reste attaché à tous les efforts pour accorder à chaque personne humaine les droits inaliénables et continuera inlassablement à exposer les structures économiques et sociales injustes.

Chika Onyejiuwa

Executive Secretary
chykacssp@hotmail.com
http://aefjn.org/en/home/

Document en PDF

Le Réseau Afrique Europe Foi et Justice (AEFJN) est un réseau de plaidoyer des congrégations religieuses de l’Église catholique en Europe et en Afrique. Nous travaillons pour la justice dans les relations économiques entre l’Europe et l’Afrique et notre Secrétariat international est au 174, rue Joseph II, à Bruxelles.

The Situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted by José Luis Gutiérrez Aranda | Feb 13, 2018 | Africa |

RDC-Press-Release-Reuters-440x264
RDC-Press Release (Reuters)

Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN) is an advocacy network of Catholic Church Religious Congregations in Europe and Africa.

(Press Release – February 13, 2018) We note, with painful hearts, the present charged and unhelpful political climate in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The tension began as a result of President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to organise elections at the end of his mandate in 2016. He has set aside an agreement that was reached and signed on December 31, 2016 under the auspices of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) at Saint-Sylvester to give him an opportunity to organise elections in 2017. As a follow-up, the political climate of DR Congo and the socio-economic condition of the citizens have been adversely affected. The refusal of President Kabila to organise elections in 2017 as agreed in 2016 and to step down from office is a gross violation of the people’s right to choose their leader. We consider the purported scheduling of election on December 23, 2018 a smokescreen and a device to prolong President Kabila’s rule.

We have also noticed with great concern the other human rights violations in DR Congo contrary to the declaration of Kabila government. The UN has it on record that there were 1176 extrajudicial killings in 2017; 30% higher than the record of 2016. On December 31, 2017, the government of Kabila ordered telecommunications providers to cut off internet and SMS services across the country ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations. On December 31, 2017, at least seven people lost their lives. Security forces shot and wounded dozens of others as they fired tear gas to disperse peaceful demonstrations organised by the Catholic Church. At least 600 people are in prison! Kidnapping, killings, torture, rape and displacement of people have become a recurrent decimal, bringing the record of displaced people to 4.25 million in 2017. The protest called by the Catholic Church on January 21, 2018 and supported by other Christian and Muslim Communities in different towns did not take place without casualties. In Kinshasa alone, six people were reportedly killed by security forces, about 50 wounded and several others arrested. The story in not different in Goma and Bukavu where about 50 people were reported wounded or arrested or killed. The list goes on and on, but the height of it is the increasingly violent attacks against aid workers and peacekeeping forces thus forcing humanitarian organisations to delay the delivery of aid or suspend their activities.

We condemn such violent suppressions of Fundamental Human Rights and call on President Kabila to show restraint, release unconditionally all political prisoners who were detained while engaged in peaceful protests and organise free and fair elections immediately. We affirm that it is his constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and properties the people of DR Congo. We strongly recommend the reconstitution of the Congo Electoral Commission CENI to include the Civil Society and Church actors and the other stakeholders. We also condemn in very strong terms the draft law introduced in the Congolese National Assembly to regulate NGOs and Human Rights Defenders. We call on the honourable lawmakers to throw out the draft law and live up to their responsibility to protect the Rights of the people.

While we refrain from a hasty judgement about the silence of the European Union and Member states on the situation in Congo, it is nonetheless very worrisome. Accordingly, we implore the EU, its Member States and the international community to stand up against this senseless behaviour and hold President Kabila accountable for his Human Rights abuses. We welcome in this regard, the use of EU-targeted sanctions, and considerations of employing additional means, as provided by extant International laws if progress towards a peaceful solution remains elusive.

A huge space is available to EU to demonstrate its firm commitment to supporting democracy and the protection of human rights in the region. It is a value that constitutes a truly added value of European cooperation in comparison to the other international partners to Congo DR. Regarding technical support for the electoral process, we call on the EU to reiterate its willingness to collaborate with international partners to ensure that a clear and comprehensive plan is put in place to finance the Congolese elections and to communicate this plan widely. The EU should also be satisfied that there are a credible timeline and a clear political will to hold the elections. The aim is to see that a lack of resources does not derail the plans for the elections.

Finally, we commend with high regards the input of the European Union in the resolutions of international conflicts and impasses. While we await the intervention of the European Union in the raging standoff in the Congo DR, AEFJN remains committed to all efforts to accord every human person the due inalienable rights and will tirelessly continue to expose unjust economic and social structures.

Chika Onyejiuwa
Executive Secretary
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network
chykacssp@hotmail.com
http://aefjn.org/en/home/
Document in pdf
Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN) is an advocacy network of Catholic Church Religious Congregations in Europe and Africa. We work for justice in the economic relations between Europe and Africa and our International Secretariat is at 174, Rue Joseph II, Brussels.

Women march through desert for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Reuters
Reporting by Rami Amichai and Mustafa Abu Ghaneyeh, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Peter Graff
October 8, 2017

Women celebrate inside a "peace tent" erected as part of an event organised by "Women Wage Peace" group calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, near the Jordan River, in the occupied West Bank
Women celebrate inside a “peace tent” erected as part of an event organised by “Women Wage Peace” group calling for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, near the Jordan River, in the occupied West Bank October 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

October 8, 2017: JORDAN RIVER, West Bank (Reuters) – Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women trekked through a biblical desert landscape on Sunday, converging on the shores of the Jordan River in a march for peace.

The women, many of them dressed in white, descended through the arid hills leading to the river, where they erected a “peace tent” named for Hagar and Sarah, scriptural mothers of Ishmael and Isaac, the half-brother patriarchs of Muslims and Jews.

“We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we will stop the next war,” said Marilyn Smadja, one of the founders of the organizing group, Women Wage Peace.

The organization was established after the 50-day Gaza war of 2014 when more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

Some 5,000 women participated in Sunday’s march, organizers said. It began last month at several locations across Israel and will culminate in a rally later in the day outside the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

The Tuxá Indigenous Paradise, Submerged under Water

By Fabiana Frayssinet
IPS News Agency

Tuxa families take a break...
Tuxá families take a break while building their new village in Surubabel, as part of what they consider the recovery of their ancestral lands, on the bank of what was previously the river where they lived, the São Francisco River, but which now is a reservoir on the border between the Brazilian states of Pernambuco and Bahía. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet / IPS

RODELAS, Brazil, Sep 30 2017 (IPS) – The Tuxá indigenous people had lived for centuries in the north of the Brazilian state of Bahia, on the banks of the São Francisco River. But in 1988 their territory was flooded by the Itaparica hydropower plant, and since then they have become landless. Their roots are now buried under the waters of the reservoir.

Dorinha Tuxá, one of the leaders of this native community, which currently has between 1,500 and 2,000 inhabitants, sings on the shore of what they still call “river”, although now it is an 828-sq-km reservoir, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, along the border with the state of Bahia, to the south.

While singing the song dedicated to their “sacred” river and smoking her “maraku”, a pipe with tobacco and ritual herbs, she looks dreamily at the waters where the “Widow’s Island” was submerged, one of several that sprinkled the lower course of the São Francisco River, and on which the members of her community used to live.

“This song is to ask our community for unity, because in this struggle we are asking for the strength of our ancestors to help us recover our territory. A landless indigenous person is a naked indigenous person. We are asking our ancestors to bless us in this battle and protect our warriors,” she told IPS.

The hydroelectric plant, with a capacity of 1,480 megawatts, is one of eight installed by the São Francisco Hydroelectric Company (CHESF), whose operations are centered on that river which runs across much of the Brazilian Northeast region: 2,914 km from its source in the center of the country to the point where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast.

After the flood, the Tuxá people were relocated to three municipalities. Some were settled in Nova Rodelas, a hamlet in the rural municipality of Rodelas, in the state of Bahia, where Dorinha Tuxá lives.

After a 19-year legal battle, the 442 relocated Tuxá families finally received compensation from the CHESF. But they are still waiting for the 4,000 hectares that were agreed upon when they were displaced, and which must be handed over to them by state agencies.

“What nostalgia for that blessed land where we were born and which did not let us lack for anything. The river where we used to fish. I have such nostalgia for that time, from my childhood to my marriage. We were indeed a suffering and stoic but optimistic people. We grew rice, onions, we harvested mangoes. All that is gone,” Tuxá chief Manoel Jurum Afé told IPS.

The new village is very different from the community where they used to live on their island.

“What nostalgia for that blessed land where we were born and which did not let us lack for anything. The river where we used to fish. I have such nostalgia for that time, from my childhood to my marriage. We were indeed a suffering and stoic but optimistic people. We grew rice, onions, we harvested mangoes. All that is gone.” — Manoel Jurum Afé

Only the soccer field, where children play, retains the shape of traditional indigenous Tuxá constructions.

But the elders strive to transmit their collective memory to the young, such as Luiza de Oliveira, who was baptized with the indigenous name of Aluna Flexia Tuxá.

She is studying law to continue her people’s struggle for land and rights. Her mother, like many other Tuxá women, also played an important role as chief, or community leader.

“It was as if they lived in a paradise. They had no need to beg the government like they have to do now. They used to plant everything, beans, cassava. They lived together in complete harmony. They talk about it with nostalgia. It was a paradise that came to an end when it was flooded,” she said.

Read the full article: http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/09/tuxa-indigenous-paradise-submerged-water/