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31.01.2021 – Countercurrents

Rosa Parks and Equal Rights
Rosa Parks

by Sally Dugman

Rosa Parks learned to stand her ground for which she was hauled off to jail. This incident wasn’t the first time, nor the last time, that an Afro-American would be incarcerated for an act of civil disobedience.

Her arrest was due to this event: A bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama ordered her to give up her seat in the “colored” section of the bus to a white skinned passenger. In relation, she refused after which she was both jailed and fined for her defiance of the law. It was in 1955 and, thus, started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. After all, why should there be public transportation and it not be available in an equitable way to all people?

Rosa throughout her life was no stranger to racial discrimination and resistance to it. As a child, she had to walk to school while white children got to ride on a school bus. Her grandfather, an emancipated slave, stood outside of their home with a shotgun when the Ku Klux Klan tramped down the street near their home. Indeed, many experiences that she had endured during her life led her to fight for equal rights and become a substantial activist.

A friend of Martin Luther King and E. D. Nixon, she stated, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired … the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” She also shared, “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free … so other people would be also free.” Put another way, she wasn’t only thinking of her own situation, but wanted others to have comparable fair conditions.

That in mind, she also said, “As I look back on those days, it’s just like a dream, and the only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest and to let it be known, wherever we go, that all of us should be free and equal and have all opportunities that others should have.” So it is unfortunate that our collective fight for equal rights is still ongoing at present since racism still deeply infects the US with hatred and acts of violence. In short, racism should have disappeared years ago.

Despite her stance, it was hard and took many years to dismantle segregation laws, called “Jim Crow Laws,” that existed in the southern US states. Moreover these discriminatory laws mandated that Blacks and brown people must use separate bathrooms and water fountains than do whites. In addition, they weren’t allowed access to many restaurants, motels, gas stations and other places of congregation in the South. Accordingly it could be perilous to live in or travel to certain locations if one showed any indication that he weren’t white skinned.

In any event, her case languished in court. Then finally a decision was made in November, 1956 that bus segregation was illegal due to the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution containing an Equal Protection Clause. (Unfortunately Rosa had died prior to to this landmark ruling.)

Just as happens now, it took place back in Rosa’s time in reaction to the protests for civil rights: Black Churches were bombed. The King and Nixon homes were bombed to rubble and many people got arrested. Back then, they were even imprisoned for simply boycotting public buses as part of the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted for 381 days.

In addition, the buses became largely empty on account of the boycott and the bus service was floundering financially. In relation, lots of Blacks and browns carpooled to work or took taxis run by “colored” drivers (until the insurance company cancelled taxi insurance). Then even more people walked to work to join the many who already trudged up to twenty miles a day to get to and from their jobs.

As an aside, I am regarded as white, but I can guarantee that I am not white. White is the color of some bedsheets, books and school paper.

Surely I’d look mighty peculiar if I were truly white like those items. Moreover I would have been proud as a child while living in Florida in the early 1960’s to use a colored only water fountain or bathroom. So what if I would had gotten arrested by police for my act? After all, family friends, who were lawyers in New York, would have represented me in court. Yet, this happening was not to be.

That’s because no “colored” bathrooms or water fountains were near where I lived in Florida. Likewise there were absolutely no dark skinned children in my school. Besides, there were only lots and lots of so-called whites as far as the eye could see where I lived down south.

So on Rosa Parks Day, February 4th (her birthday date), let us commemorate the courageous action to defy racism that she undertook. It is only fitting that we celebrate her deed since public transportation became a United States civil right on account.

As Dr. M. L. King, commented, “urban transit systems in most American cities have become a genuine civil rights issue because the layout of rapid-transit systems determines the accessibility of jobs.” It can also determine whether your home, the grocery store, restaurants and more are easily reachable.

Sally Dugman lives in Massachusetts, USA.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

30.01.2021 – The Conversation

Germany may not give the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to over-65s, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work
(Image by Studio Romantic/Shutterstock)

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been receiving a lot of attention recently. The EU has been dissatisfied with production hold-ups, while the German health ministry has raised questions over its efficacy in older age groups. As a result, Stiko – the German Standing Committee on Vaccination – has suggested in a draft recommendation that the vaccine should not be given to people over 65.

If Germany does decide not to authorise the vaccine for over-65s, this will be because it considers there were insufficient people over 55 included in the vaccine’s phase 3 trials to give a good estimate of efficacy in older age groups. This is an issue that has been raised before.

In fact, in the peer-reviewed write-up of the Oxford-AstraZeneca trials, the authors admitted that following their tests, “vaccine efficacy in older age groups could not be assessed”. But while this isn’t ideal, it’s not a reason to panic.

Indeed, the European Medicines Agency has now authorised the vaccine for use in Europe in all adults over 18, despite German concerns. The EMA acknowledged that efficacy data for over-55s was lacking, but said that it expected the vaccine to be protective “given that an immune response is seen in this age group and based on experience with other vaccines”.

Over-65s should still take the jab if offered

Even though there’s not currently sufficient data in the public domain to estimate efficacy of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in older age groups, there is still a lot of evidence that the vaccine will be effective in older people.

As we grow older, we tend to respond less well to vaccines and natural infections, in a process known as immunosenescence. But this is not a sudden drop in immunity once you get past a certain age. For example, the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 made by Pfizer and Moderna – for which there is more data – show very little drop, if any, in effectiveness in older age groups.

We also know from Oxford’s earlier phase 2 trials (which checked that the vaccine stimulated an immune response in humans) that there is very little difference in the amount of “IgG” antibodies produced in people over 70 years old compared to people in the 18-55 and 56-69 age groups. And there’s emerging evidence that these IgG antibodies protect against severe disease, thanks to trials that are looking at using certain antibodies as a treatment for COVID-19.

There’s also good evidence that the vaccine is safe in this age group. And older people report fewer side-effects from it than younger people.

The vaccine makers have since recruited more older people into their ongoing phase 3 trials, and so better data on efficacy will be available soon. The UK is also putting a lot of effort into post-vaccine surveillance, and this should lead to good data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in the UK in coming weeks – especially in the 80+ age group, who were initially offered the vaccine.

What about the 8% efficacy claim?

A further claim – made by the German newspaper Handelsblatt – that the vaccine is only 8% effective in older age groups is almost certainly false. The German ministry of health has suggested that this figure arose from a misunderstanding of the vaccine’s trial data by the newspaper.

Indeed, looking at data available in the public domain, it seems there were only two cases of infection reported in older people during the trials. One was in the group receiving the vaccine, and one in another group receiving a placebo. With this data, it’s just not possible to estimate the true efficacy with any precision.

The overwhelming balance of evidence is that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe in older people and will provide high protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Speaking as someone in his mid-60s, I would happily accept whatever vaccine I am offered when I eventually make it to the front of the queue.

Clint Witchalls Health + Medicine Editor

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30.01.2021 – Human Rights Watch

77 Lashes for a Gay Couple in Indonesia
Image by Pixabay/No attribution necessary /Free for commercial use

Troubling Trend of Anti-LGBT Actions

Authorities in Indonesia’s Aceh province publicly flogged two gay men 77 times each on Thursday after a vigilante mob raided their apartment in November, allegedly caught them having sex, and handed them over to the police. The whipping—recognized as torture under international law—was punishment under the province’s Sharia (Islamic law) regulations, which forbid same-sex conduct.

The floggings are part of a longstanding pattern of targeted abuse by Acehnese authorities against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

In 2012, then-Banda Aceh deputy mayor Illiza Saaduddin announced a “special team” to make the public more aware of the “threat of LGBT,” posting an image of herself on Instagram holding a handgun and vowing to flush gays out of Aceh. In October 2015, special Sharia police arrested two women, ages 18 and 19, on suspicion of being lesbians for embracing in public, and detained them for three nights before sending them to religious “rehab.” An episode nearly identical to this week’s flogging happened in 2017 – including vigilantism, police involvement, prosecution under grossly discriminatory Sharia regulations, and public flogging.

The abuse also is part of a five-year anti-LGBT campaign driven by many of Indonesia’s national and local leaders with harmful rhetoric and repeated failure to punish abusers.

Aceh is the only one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia (though such provisions are spreading elsewhere in the country). Over the past decade, Aceh’s parliament has adopted Sharia-inspired ordinances that criminalize everything from non-hijab-wearing women, to drinking alcohol, to gambling, to extramarital sex. The province’s 2014 Criminal Code bars both male and female same-sex behavior.

And while the spectacle of public torture in Aceh is horrific, authorities across the country continue to lead or participate in arbitrary raids and arrests in private spaces. Increasingly, authorities are using a discriminatory pornography law as a weapon to target LGBT people. The crackdown has contributed to a major public health crisis: HIV rates among men who have sex with men were already spiking, and the attacks of the last five years have stoked fear and inhibited vital HIV prevention work.

The Indonesian government has made commitments in principle to protect LGBT people. But it seems President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s slogan of “unity in diversity” does not genuinely extend to protecting everyone – including the two men mercilessly flogged today.

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29.01.2021 – Pressenza London

Stansted 15 defendants have their terror convictions quashed
(Image by https://freedomnews.org.uk/)

The activists who blocked a deportation flight on Stansted Airport in 2017 had their convictions quashed today in the Court of Appeal.

The appeal judgement states that ‘The appellants should not have been prosecuted for the extremely serious offence under section 1(2)(b) of the 1990 Act because their conduct did not satisfy the various elements of the offence. There was, in truth, no case to answer’.

In March 2017, 15 activists performed a direct action at Stansted Airport, blocking a Titan Airways aircraft hired by the UK government for the purpose of deporting people.

During the original trial in 2018, 15 activists from End Deportations group admitted that they had trespassed in order to perform a lock-on around a plane chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

Initially, the activists were charged with aggravated trespass, which later was changed to “endangering safety at aerodromes”: a serious terror charge.  The activists denied this charge and said they took the non-violent action in order to prevent a breach of human rights. However, the judge in the trial instructed the jury not to consider an argument of necessity defence – where defendants admit breaking the law in order to prevent a greater harm – and asked the jury to instead focus on the direct action endangering the safety of the airport staff and the disruption of international air travel.

The 15 activists were subsequently convicted, but luckily avoided prison sentences. Instead, twelve defendants were handed 100 hours of community service each (with victim surcharge of £85), while three others, who had a prior history of similar kind of activism, got nine-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months (with surcharges of £115) and community service. Total surcharges for the group was £1,365. This verdict is now quashed.

UPDATE: The Stansted 15 have released a statement on their convictions being quashed via Twitter, which you can read below:

Original article: https://freedomnews.org.uk/standsted-15-defendants-have-their-terror-convictions-quashed/

29.01.2021 – Fridays For Future

This post is also available in: Italian

No more empty promises! It’s a global strike for climate on March 19
(Photo by Fridays for Future)

In the midst of the health, economic and social crisis that the world is still facing at the beginning of the new year, the people in power are still cheating the younger generation. The necessary actions to fight the climate crisis still look like a mirage. Health and education are left aside to ensure the profits of a few.

As a result, climate activists are announcing the first global climate strike of 2021, on 19 March.

They call on world leaders to take immediate, concrete action, and in line with the most accurate scientific studies, in response to the climate crisis that we are experiencing.

These necessary measures can no longer be postponed.

Weather and climate disasters have affected far too many countries as far back as last year– from the fires in parts of Australia, North America and Latin America, to the hurricanes and floods never seen before in Africa, to the storms that devastated Central America and Southeast Asia, as well as much of Italy. Long-term emission reduction targets are of no use if they are not followed by real measures today.

“We need Next-Generation EU funds to be used for policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that worsen the climate crisis,” say activists.

Last December, Fridays for Future launched the campaign “Non fossilizziamoci” (Let’s not Fossilize) – fridaysforfutureitalia.it/non-fossilizziamoci/- for a Recovery Plan that is able to fight the climate crisis and to ensure a future for young people – an idea already widely described in the document “Ritorno al Futuro”(Back to the Future) – ritornoalfuturo.org/ – with dozens of proposals to make economic recovery the beginning of an ecological transition.

Apart from a few positive but isolated investments, the decisions taken are still going in the wrong direction.

In fact, despite the promises and empty words of the ministers and President Conte, Italy continues to pay subsidies to fossil fuels and in various areas of the country new infrastructure for fossil gas is rising. These projects would make it impossible to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement: it actually means surrendering to catastrophe without even trying to stop it. The funds of the Next Generation EU are at risk of ending up with the most polluting companies and activities such as the Useless Major Projects and are way too inadequate to support such fields as renewable energy.

“The climate crisis is here now. Heatwaves, droughts, floods, hurricanes, landslides, deforestation, fires, loss of housing and the spread of disease: this is what the people and the most affected areas are facing more and more often today. Our lives depend on immediate action,” says João Duccini, a Brazilian boy.

For over two years, young women and young people around the world have been on strike and have been taking to the streets to demand climate justice. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, actions will take different forms in different places, but the kids invite people to join with the same goal as before: taking urgent actions for the climate, demanding for Nothing More Empty Promises (#No More Empty Promises).

“If we don’t move now, we will not even have the chance to get those goals by 2030 and 2050, which the world leaders keep talking about”, said Mitzi Jonelle Tan from the Philippines.

“What we need now is not empty promises, but binding annual carbon targets and immediate emission cuts across all sectors of our economy”. “When your house is on fire, you would not wait 10 or 20 years before you call the fire department, but rather, you act promptly and by any means,” said Greta Thunberg from Sweden.

Do follow updates, actions and messages on Telegram, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, on the website of Fridays For Future Italia and on the ones of local groups active in many Italian cities.

Contacts:

italia@fridaysforfuture.org

Translation by Roberta Mereu,  from the voluntary Pressenza translation team. We are looking for volunteers!

28.01.2021 – Deutsche Welle

WHO team leaves Wuhan quarantine to start COVID probe
The WHO team had first gone into a two-week quarantine after arriving in Wuhan (Image by DW)

World Health Organization experts have begun their fact-finding mission on the origins of the global coronavirus pandemic. But it is not yet clear where they will be allowed to go and who they will get to talk to.

World Health Organization (WHO) team emerged Thursday from a Wuhan hotel used for 14 days quarantine and boarded a bus to begin its probe into the first known coronavirus cases.

Outside the hotel, reporters were kept distant by yellow entrance barriers.

It was not immediately clear where the team’s masked members were headed in the central Chinese city. Despite a tough early lockdown, nearly 3,900 people died from the virus in the city, according to Chinese figures.

Read more :

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

27.01.2021 – Hamilton, Ontario – World Beyond War

Activists block trucks at company transporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, demand Canada stop fuelling war in Yemen
Light armoured vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, in London, Ontario, are being transported to port by Paddock Transport International, where they are loaded onto Saudi ships (Image by World BEYOND War)

Members and allies of anti-war organizations World BEYOND War and Labour Against the Arms Trade blocked trucks at Paddock Transport International, a Hamilton-area transportation company involved in shipping Canadian-made, light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

The activists were calling on Paddock to end its complicity in the brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has killed almost a quarter of a million people, and called on the Canadian government to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

“The demonstration is part of a global day of action against the war on Yemen featuring more than 300 organizations in 17 countries,” said Rachel Small of World BEYOND War.

“People across Canada are demanding the federal government immediately end arms exports with Saudi Arabia and expand humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen.”

Yemen today remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Over 4 million people have been displaced because of the war, and 80% of the population, including 12.2 million children, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. To add to the already dire situation, Yemen has one of the worst Covid-19 death rates in the world – it kills 1 in 4 people who test positive.

This humanitarian crisis is a direct result of the Western-backed, Saudi-led war and indiscriminate bombing campaign that has raged against Yemen since March 2015, as well as an air, land and sea blockade which prevents desperately-needed goods and aid from reaching the people of Yemen.

Despite the global pandemic and calls from the United Nations for a global ceasefire, Canada has continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has exported over $750 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, part of a $15 billion arms deal.

“Most Canadians don’t realize that weapons manufactured here continue to fuel a war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Simon Black, a professor at Brock University and member of Labour Against the Arms Trade, a coalition of peace and labour activists working to end Canada’s participation in the international arms trade.

“Countries like Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden have all cancelled their weapons deals with Saudi Arabia,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason why Canada can’t do the same and help end this war.”

“A child in Yemen dies every ten minutes because of this horrific war. As a parent, how can I ignore that tanks made in Canada are rolling right by me on their way to the worst humanitarian situation on earth?” said Small.

“Working people in Canada want jobs that contribute to a better society, a clean environment and a peaceful world, not those that manufacture weapons of war and hurt and kill innocent men, women and children,” said Black.

“Canada must join other democracies throughout the world and immediately end its production and export of weapons to Saudi Arabia.”

BACKGROUND

UN agencies and humanitarian organizations have repeatedly documented that there is no military solution possible in the current conflict in Yemen. The only thing the constant supply of arms to Yemen does is prolongs hostilities, and increases suffering and numbers of the dead.

In September 2020, a report by the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen specifically named Canada as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen through ongoing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

On September 17, the one-year anniversary of Canada’s accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of civil society organizations representing a cross-section of Canadian labour, arms controls, human rights, international security and peace organizations wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau reiterating their continued opposition to the Liberal government’s issuance of arms exports permits to Saudi Arabia. The letter was part of a pan-Canadian day of action against arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the second of its kind in 2020.

The ATT is an international treaty that governs the arms trade. It requires states to assess weapons exports and determine if there is a risk they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law. It also prohibits weapons exports to countries where there is a “substantial risk” they would undermine peace and security. Canada has been a state party to the ATT for one year and is legally bound by the treaty.

The September 17th letter to Prime Minister Trudeau was the fourth such letter raising concerns about the serious ethical, legal, human rights and humanitarian implications of Canada’s ongoing weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. The signatories have yet to receive a response from the Prime Minister or relevant Cabinet ministers on the matter.

Legal obligations under the ATT have not deterred the Liberal government’s support for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. In the same year that Canada acceded to the ATT, its arms exports to Saudi Arabia more than doubled, increasing from almost $1.3 billion in 2018, to almost $2.9 billion in 2019. Arms exports to Saudi Arabia now account for over 75% of Canada’s non-US military exports. Canada’s pledged humanitarian aid for Yemen, $40 million, pales in comparison.https://www.facebook.com/v3.0/plugins/like.php?action=like&app_id=&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df1d57c58ce1654%26domain%3Dwww.pressenza.com%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.pressenza.com%252Ff1a1fb432138de8%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=0&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com%2F2021%2F01%2Factivists-block-trucks-at-company-transporting-weapons-to-saudi-arabia-demand-canada-stop-fuelling-war-in-yemen%2F&layout=button_count&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&share=false&show_faces=truehttps://www.facebook.com/v3.0/plugins/share_button.php?app_id=&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df33d1b4848a184%26domain%3Dwww.pressenza.com%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.pressenza.com%252Ff1a1fb432138de8%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=0&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com%2F2021%2F01%2Factivists-block-trucks-at-company-transporting-weapons-to-saudi-arabia-demand-canada-stop-fuelling-war-in-yemen%2F&layout=button_count&locale=en_US&sdk=joeyhttps://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.96fd96193cc66c3e11d4c5e4c7c7ec97.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&original_referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com%2F2021%2F01%2Factivists-block-trucks-at-company-transporting-weapons-to-saudi-arabia-demand-canada-stop-fuelling-war-in-yemen%2F&size=m&text=Activists%20block%20trucks%20at%20company%20transporting%20weapons%20to%20Saudi%20Arabia%2C%20demand%20Canada%20stop%20fuelling%20war%20in%20Yemen&time=1611756284403&type=share&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com%2F2021%2F01%2Factivists-block-trucks-at-company-transporting-weapons-to-saudi-arabia-demand-canada-stop-fuelling-war-in-yemen%2Fhttps://apis.google.com/u/0/se/0/_/+1/fastbutton?usegapi=1&size=medium&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com%2F2021%2F01%2Factivists-block-trucks-at-company-transporting-weapons-to-saudi-arabia-demand-canada-stop-fuelling-war-in-yemen%2F&gsrc=3p&ic=1&jsh=m%3B%2F_%2Fscs%2Fapps-static%2F_%2Fjs%2Fk%3Doz.gapi.it.PEsbfaTdrM4.O%2Fam%3DwQE%2Fd%3D1%2Fct%3Dzgms%2Frs%3DAGLTcCPXGA_pTZEJDJXJNjx80GQ37vEYTA%2Fm%3D__features__#_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe%2C_renderstart%2Concircled%2Cdrefresh%2Cerefresh%2Conload&id=I0_1611756282783&_gfid=I0_1611756282783&parent=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pressenza.com&pfname=&rpctoken=13203650

26.01.2021 – Santiago de Chile – Tomás Hirsch

This post is also available in: Spanish

Juan Guzmán Tapia: A Coherent Man

Over the years, the impossible becomes reality: Juan Guzmán does justice. At the cost of cutting his judicial career short, at the cost of losing promotions and opportunities typical of that office, but with the advantage of receiving, as few do in Chile, the affection of the people and the recognition of his peers in the world.

This week the great judge has left our time and space: Juan Guzmán Tapia. I immediately remembered the tribute we paid to him at the Laura Rodríguez Foundation 15 years ago, in 2005, when we presented him with the Coherence Award. I want to share part of my words spoken that day at the former National Congress, in a simple ceremony, but full of deep meaning:

Six years ago, when I was a candidate for the Presidency, I travelled to London to support the surprise detention of Pinochet by the British police, following an order that Scotland Yard received from Spain from Judge Baltasar Garzón. I must tell you that, like many, I thought at the time that no one in Chile would be able to judge the dictator. Well, today we will pay tribute to the Chilean judge who leapt above the pressures and prejudices of that time, which placed above all personal prestige the human rights of those who suffered in prison, torture, exile and murder.

Many of us fought against this dictatorship. Laura Rodriguez was one of those fighters and we like to remember her and follow her example. We remember her together with those who suffer most, those who are discriminated against, the woman in the slums opening up with all their strength a future of their children, the Mapuche people asking for centuries for the return of their land, and we also remember her raising the muffled voices of the victims of human rights violations. It is not easy to be consistent within a context of violence, injustice and discrimination. To be fair when the environment is unjust, to be honest in the midst of hypocrisy, to be non-violent when violence has been unleashed. These is essential, and these are the models we want as an example for ourselves and for the new generations.

Coherent action is not just any of the actions we take in our lives. They are actions that define existence and give meaning to it. Coherent action produces profound agreement within oneself and gives direction to life because they are actions that we want to repeat forever. They have the taste of proportion because in making them, all areas of life move forward together and not just one aspect of it. They have a sense of opportunity, because many times we retreat in the face of the enemy, but when their strength is weakened, we advance with total resolution. They also have the characteristic of being increasingly adaptive actions, because we must carry them out in a context of violence from which we cannot free ourselves, but neither can we accept it. It is the attempt to transform the environment in which we live, the attempt to transform the violence in us and outside us that gives coherence to our action. Finally, they are actions of solidarity aimed at overcoming the suffering of those around us. This is the direction of life that we recognize in Judge Guzman. We admire a kind of heroism of a man who, being a judge, went to the limit of his own function, tying his destiny to a just decision. He did as a judge what simple people and common sense recognize as justice. Against all convenience, against all “prudence”, against all “reasonable advice”, Juan Guzmán Tapia put Augusto Pinochet, the dictator, on trial. That fact alone made him stand out among his peers and made him a target for the established power. Because we all know of the unlimited power that the accused had. It has the power that comes from the weight of caste, the world of money, the world of favors and prebends. From networks of all kinds. Some are still unknown, but are real and continue to operate.

To know the man behind the judge, we have his voice expressed in his memoirs with the suggestive title From the Edge of the World. It is there that childhood appears, not tied to any one place, as the son of an ambassador of his country. There we can see the strong influence of the older poet who was his father, alive in his works and in the memory of his readers, from whom our judge gathers the sensitivity of the artist and the strength of his principles. But it is from his mother that he finds stability and dreams. An unconvinced law student, as time went by he became a judge, to become a model of what we understand a judge should be: a man who says what is right. For this reason, the civil servant destiny of his diplomatic father was born in El Salvador, and he traveled through many countries in his youth. In Paris, in the midst of the young revolution of May 1968, amidst the walls that demanded the impossible and imagination from the powers-that-be, he met love and what is today his wife and mother of his two daughters.

Over the years, the impossible becomes reality: Juan Guzmán did justice. At the cost of cutting his judicial career short, at the cost of losing privileges and opportunities typical of the function, but to the advantage of receiving, as few do in Chile, the affection of the people and the recognition of his peers in the world. Judges from all latitudes, universities from all continents, shine by bringing to their chairs a man who, above all, respected himself and his profound humanist vision of the world in which he was to be an actor. We understand that from the suffering, “monstrous and amorphous” reality of the exploited peoples – that is, everyone on the planet – the human intention can have a transforming effect of such supposedly natural and unchangeable conditions, to achieve the perfection of a society, in which the values of solidarity, diversity, justice, never again absent, establish a truly human world, in which needs are met according to shared rational and spiritual priorities, in a process of growing personal and social coherence, which makes us treat others as each one wants to be treated, for the construction of a true Universal Human Nation.

This is part of what we said at the time. Today, 15 years after the award, we thank this wise and courageous man once again. His coherent actions will never stop.

25.01.2021 – Human Rights Watch

Top Human Rights Tweets of the Week
(Image by Pixabay/No recognition necessary)

Jim Murphy

Israel is excluding 4.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from its COVID vaccination efforts; civilians in Tigray, Ethiopia, have faced massive restrictions on food access for more than two months; President Biden reverses the odious #MulimBan and more after his inauguration; and Russian authorities should free Alexi Navalny immediately.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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