05.12.2019 – Human Rights Watch

Greece: Camp Conditions Endanger Women, Girls
(Image by Gemma Bird)

Women and girls face relentless insecurity in Greece’s overcrowded Moria “hotspot” for asylum seekers and migrants on Lesbos island, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a video that shows the dire conditions. The Greek government should take immediate action to ensure safe, humane conditions for women and girls in line with their international human rights obligations and standards for humanitarian emergencies.

As of December 2, 2019, the Moria Reception and Identification Center was holding nearly 16,800 people in a facility with capacity for fewer than 3,000. Overcrowding has led authorities, as well as some asylum seekers and migrants themselves, to erect shelters outside Moria’s fenced boundaries, first in the adjacent area called the Olive Grove and now in a second olive grove, which has no water and sanitation facilities. In all areas, women and girls, including those traveling alone, are living alongside unrelated men and boys, often in tents without secure closures.

“Just going to the bathroom feels too risky for women and girls in Moria,” said Hillary Margolis, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Their lives are defined by fear, and that won’t change unless the Greek government addresses the pervasive dangers they face.”

During research on Lesbos in October, Human Rights Watch found women and girls in and around Moria lack safe access to essential resources and services including shelter, food, water and sanitation, and medical care. Interviews with 32 women and 7 girls, as well as 7 representatives of aid agencies working on Lesbos, revealed a threatening environment, with few protections from sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

Women and girls said they avoid leaving their shelters or using the toilets, bathing, or waiting in food distribution lines due to fear. Parents said they do not allow their daughters to go out unaccompanied, including to attend school. “I don’t go out [of the tent] alone,” said Naima, 12, who lives in the Olive Grove with her mother and 14-year-old sister. “The men and boys looking at me, I don’t like it…. [If I need the toilet at night], I have to wait all night – I have no choice.”

Women with disabilities face additional barriers because the toilets and showers are far from their shelters over rough terrain or are not adaptable for people with disabilities. Aid workers handling cases of sexual and gender-based violence said protection systems are virtually nonexistent, exposing women and girls to high risk that has increased with overcrowding.

A high-level Greek official said during a call with Human Rights Watch that maintaining adequate conditions in the camps is impossible, especially following recent large numbers of arrivals, because Greece is hosting asylum seekers and migrants well beyond the facilities’ capacity. He noted the pressure on Greece and lack of support from other European Union countries. “Greece cannot be the gatekeeper of Europe, as it is being asked to be by the EU, and also be expected to respect human rights fully,” he said.

Conditions in Moria violate Greece’s obligations to migrants and asylum seekers under international law and fall far below standards of treatment developed for humanitarian emergencies around the world, Human Rights Watch said.

With the intent of facilitating speedy processing and return to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal, Greece has adopted a “containment policy” that traps people in under-resourced camps on the Aegean islands while awaiting the outcome of their asylum claims or return, which can take months or even years. Combined with a lack of government-supported services, this creates an inordinate burden for aid agencies, which provide almost all camp services, interviewees said.

The government’s move in July to stop issuing social security numbers to asylum seekers exacerbates the situation, obstructing their access to public health services except in emergencies. Aid agency representatives said overwhelming demand means they sometimes have to turn away all but the most extreme cases for medical care and gender-based violence support. “Organizations just can’t respond anymore to the increased needs,” said one service provider. “People are being pushed to make horrifying decisions.”

Under Greek law, the authorities should identify “vulnerable” people, including pregnant women and new mothers, survivors of sexual and other serious violence, single parents with children under 18, and people with disabilities, and refer them to appropriate support services and accommodation. This may include housing in apartments outside of Moria.

Human Rights Watch interviewed women and girls who meet current vulnerability criteria but said they had not been screened for vulnerability or identified as vulnerable after weeks or even months, including survivors of gender-based violence, pregnant women, new mothers, women with disabilities, and women alone with children under 18. Since late 2018, staff resignations and shortages at the government agency conducting vulnerability screenings in Moria have led to lengthy delays in identification of vulnerable individuals, and resulting delays in any additional support.

The Greek government should urgently improve security and living conditions for women and girls in Moria, ensuring safe access to secure shelter, food, adequate water and sanitation, and specialized medical care. The government should identify and assist vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants on Greek islands, including survivors of gender-based violence, women alone with children under 18, pregnant women, new mothers, and people with disabilities. It should prioritize awareness-raising about existing services and availability of trained female interpreters.

Other EU countries should share responsibility for accepting asylum seekers and migrants, processing their asylum applications, and facilitating family reunification.

“Women and girls who have come to Greece seeking safety are finding the exact opposite at Moria, and the situation is only getting worse,” Margolis said. “The Greek government has a duty to make sure women and girls don’t have to hide in tents all day out of fear.”

For more information on risks for women and girl asylum seekers on Lesbos, please see below.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Greece, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/europe/central-asia/greece

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on women’s rights, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights

Additional information at this link

Non siamo chiesa, non siamo protestanti o evangelici così ho risposto come soli laici religiosi ad una domanda su Messanger in facebook. Temiamo che fonti informative distorte circolano sul web a proposito di presenza di quaccheri.
La verifica delle fonti è sempre necessaria in internet.

I just read a long thread on a Quaker Facebook page, filled with semi-hysterical advice-giving about elaborate steps for paranoid parents/grandparents to take NOW to keep their precious sons out of the iron clutches of the military draft, and smooth their path into the safety of C. O, (Conscientious Objector) status. Threads like this pop…

via A recipe for calming parental panic about the military draft — A Friendly Letter

05.12.2019 – Democracy Now!

Brazilian Indigenous Leader Davi Kopenawa: Bolsonaro is Killing My People & Destroying the Amazon
Brazilian Indigenous Leader Davi Kopenawa (Image by Democracy Now)

Democracy Now! sat down with Indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa, one of this year’s Right Livelihood Award honorees, along with the organization he co-founded, Hutukara Yanomami Association. Kopenawa is a shaman of the Yanomami people, one of the largest Indigenous tribes in Brazil, who has dedicated his life to protecting his culture and protecting the Amazon rainforest. He says indigenous people in the Amazon are under threat from business interests as well as politicians, including far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has a long history of anti-indigenous statements and policies. “He doesn’t like indigenous people. He does not want to let the Yanomami people to live at peace, protected. … What he wants is to extract our wealth to send to other countries.”

AMY GOODMAN: We are going to play now the words of Davi Kopenawa, the fourth Right Livelihood winner, the laureate, tonight. I want to thank you, Ole von Uexküll, for joining us today, executive director of the Right Livelihood Foundation based here in Stockholm, as we turn to this indigenous leader in his own words.

Last night I sat down with Davi Kopenawa, who is a Right livelihood laureate, along with his organization Hutukara Yanomami Association. Kopenawa is a shaman of the Yanomami people, one of the largest indigenous tribes in Brazil, dedicating his life to preserving his culture and protecting the Amazon rainforest. I began by asking him to talk about the threats facing the Yanomami people.

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] My name is Davi Kopenawa Yanomami. I am a representative of the Yanomami people in Roraima and Amazonas states in Brazil. My people, the Yanomami, is a sacred people. Up until today, the non-indigenous peoples have not recognized where we come from, where we were born. And that is why the non-indigenous society is always messing up with our homes, destroying our land, our territory, contaminating our rivers, killing our fish and hindering the health of the Yanomami people, who are now contaminated by men, men who came and contaminated our home.

AMY GOODMAN: The recent election of Jair Bolsonaro as the president of Brazil, how has that affected indigenous people?

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] President Bolsonaro was elected by his own people. As indigenous peoples, we haven’t participated in it. We have not voted for him. But he is now there. And he is preparing a trap. He is preparing a trap for my Yanomami people in order to fool us and manipulate us.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain more what that trap is.

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] It is a trap, just like the one you use to hunt an once [sp], Brazilian jaguar, or a snake when they are sleeping at their homes. Men prepare a trap to get the animal. So it is a trap to mistreat us. He threaten us to make my people fall ill, to make our children fall ill and get diseases. That is what I mean by trap. That is the trap he always uses, to any kind of indigenous people. And to planet Earth.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain Bolsonaro’s latest moves, trying to get a law passed that would allow for more gold mining, and what that means for the Yanomami and other indigenous people?

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] Before he was able to become a president, he already had this thought, this intention of reducing the size of our land. He says it is too much land for just a few indigenous peoples and it is a land very rich in minerals, in wood. He says that the land is good for plants such as crops of soybeans or sugarcane. They want to use the land to plant things that they use for food. Food for the city. That is his reasoning. He wants to extract things from the underground. That is his concern. He wants to extract the wealth from the earth, right from the land where Yanomami people have been living for many, many years. That is why he keeps talking about it. He created a legislation. It is a bill for mining. And he wants to get it approved at our national Congress. And I am aware of it. I know that if they let it happen, this is really a worry for me.

AMY GOODMAN: Mercury—what’s used in the gold-mining process—how does it make people sick?

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] I am going to explain it to you. This mercury that they use, they use it when—they actually got it from somewhere else, from Japan or from here in Europe, and then they use it in their mining activities. The machines come to dig a huge hole to extract minerals, and then it goes on the rivers. The rivers are full of minerals, full of gold, full of sand and mud. The mercury is then dropped on the rivers, and they use it to separate mud and sand so that the only thing left behind is gold. That is what they use it for.

And the mercury is then left inside of the river. It won’t melt like sugar does. It stays there. It is a disease that stays within our rivers. And then fish come and eat smaller fish, just like fruits that fall into the rivers, and then fish get contaminated. And us Yanomami who live by the rivers, we use the water to make food or to bathe in it and to drink it. And after, we get sick. We get cancer. And our children then born smaller than usual, underdeveloped. That is what mercury is causing. Our health is terrible in Yanomami people because of it.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Brazilian indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa, cofounder of the Hutukara Yanomami Association. He will receive the Right Livelihood Award tonight here in Stockholm, Sweden. We will continue with our conversation with Davi in a minute.

[MUSIC BREAK]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. In our next segment, we will be speaking with the former U.N. rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, about the new study on the imprisonment of children around the world. But first, we continue our conversation with Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami indigenous leader in Brazil, receiving the Right Livelihood Award tonight here in Stockholm, Sweden.

Davi, I wanted to read a few of Bolsonaro’s quotes. In 1998 he said, “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] The president of the United States, they exterminated our indigenous peoples who lived over there. He is doing just the same. He is repeating it. He wants to kill my people. He wants to get rid of the forest. He wants to destroy our health. That is the role he is playing. That is a law that came from the United States and the Brazilian government is using it as a copy, like you call it.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to read another quote from a few years ago, 2015. Bolsonaro said, “The Indians do not speak our language, they do not have money, they do not have culture. They are native peoples. How did they manage to get 13% of the national territory?” And he said “There is no indigenous territory where there are aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians,” Bolsonaro said. If you could comment?

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] He heard other people talking, and that’s why he says that us Yanomami people do not speak Portuguese. Of course we don’t speak Portuguese, because we are not from Portugal. We are Yanomami from Brazil. We have our own language. It exists. It is Yanomami. Yanomami do not need any money. Yanomami do not need money to go on and steal from others, to steal from friends, from your own relatives and brothers. We don’t need that. Yanomami has a different way of thinking.

He wrote things against us. He has wrote things because he lost when we had our victory, when we were able to have again, to get back for us our land that had been stolen from us. And that is why he talks against us and he speaks these bad things about us. And I defend myself and my people. On behalf of my people, I defend the name of my people and our language. What is the use for the Yanomami to speak Portuguese? We are not interested in it. We are interested in our own language, our knowledge. The knowledge of our people who uses its own language, that is what is interesting for us.

But I wanted to respond to the second thing that you read about, his words when he speaks of our wealth. Of course there is a lot of wealth. Brazil is very rich. Our country Brazil is very rich. Rich in good land, in forests. Rich in mountains and waters. The natural medicines that we use and beautiful places. That is where we are rich as Yanomami who lived there, who have never experienced hunger before people who came to invade our land, to invade Brazil.

When they first met us, we were healthy. They found us healthy with lots of food—banana, manioc, sugarcane, palm heart, kara [sp] fruit, and all the fruits you find in the forest, animals, game that we hunt, tapir, fish, everything that we are rich in. It is not the kind of wealth that you need to dig a hole in the earth to find it, to destroy the land. Our people is different. That is why he speaks against us.

And I don’t want to say bad things about him, but he attacked us so I will attack him. I am not going to attack him with a bow and arrow. However, I am going to fight using my mouth and paper. He uses words and the word that he use, which is prejudice. He does not like indigenous people. He does not want to let the Yanomami people to live at peace, protected.

He does not want that. He doesn’t want to let it happen.

What he wants is to extract our wealth to send to other country. The wealth of our Yanomami land, he will take it and send it to China, to Japan, to Germany and other places. That is his way of thinking. That is his concern—making money, earning money so that he can become rich. And when he becomes rich and when he dies, he won’t take any of it with him, not even his underwear.

AMY GOODMAN: Bolsonaro calls the climate crisis a hoax. President Trump calls the climate crisis a hoax. Can you talk about what the climate crisis means for the Yanomami people, for the people of Brazil?

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] They are a sick group—the president of the United States, the president of Brazil and the president of Venezuela. They are talking to each other and discussing and then they tell people there are no problems in Brazil because they want to hide it. This is very clear. Everyone knows it is taking place, climate change. He sees the fire burning up our forests, but he is not concerned about it. He is not worried when he sees the forest burning up. He is taking advantage of it. Because the fire burns at the forest and the trees burn up and then workers come and take advantage of it and bring trees down. Yeah, that’s his way of thinking. But it truly took place. It is happening. Wildfires in the forest and deforestation are increasing.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the murder of Paulo Paulino Guajajara, the indigenous forest protector? Your organization has worked with him for some time. Recently, a group of experts released an open letter to Bolsonaro warning a genocide is underway against the indigenous tribes of the Amazon Rainforest. Do you feel threatened yourself? And respond to that murder.

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] Well, I am the leader, a leader who fights. I have been fighting for 40 years. And I am threatened. I am threatened by a group of illegal gold miners and also farmers and politicians. Politicians have a way of finding someone who enjoys killing and who kills indigenous peoples. And I am persecuted. Our indigenous leaders who really fight, they want to get rid of us. So I am threatened. And I think that this will happen again. We have talked about his name, Bolsonaro. He will know that we are talking about him, about his name, Bolsonaro. So I am asking your help in order to protect us so that we won’t let it happen again as it happened to other leaders who got murdered. It is a very dangerous struggle. In Boa Vista, well, it is a small town, so the Bolsonaro people, they pay others to go after the leaders who are fighting.

AMY GOODMAN: What message do you have for the leaders of the U.N. Climate Summit, the thousands of people who come from around the world? And what message do you have to the people of the world?

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] Well, I would like to give a message, a message from the Yanomami people. I would like to ask the leaders, the non-indigenous leaders from here, to gather with other leaders who are at their homes, their cities, their capitals. I would like to take this opportunity to send them a message so that they can know about what is going on so they won’t let it happen again, something very bad to my Yanomami people. So that they won’t let people destroy the environment, so that they won’t let people destroy the lungs of planet Earth. That is my message to everyone, all of those who fight, all of those who love the forest, all of those who like to protect, to take care of nature for their children, grandchildren, and the other generations.

I also need help. I need help on that, because we have grandchildren, so that they have their protected land, so that they have the protected land for them. That is why I am giving you this message, to ask for your strength, your strength, your European people to talk to Bolsonaro, to talk to the president of Brazil so that he takes care of his country, so that he can take care of it. protecting it together with the indigenous peoples and together with the people who lived in sacred land, and also the Yanomami peoples who have never seen the white man, uncontacted Yanomami people who live in sacred land. So I would like you to protect us, protect the isolated indigenous communities.

I do not want the president of Brazil to destroy the lungs of our forest, our real Amazon. It is unique. Lots of people are trying to get their hands on the Amazon. Just like bees who collect honey and take it to their homes, I do not want to let him do just the same. That is my message. This is a message for women who fight for having the right to land, men who fight for their forest, their education, their health. Nowadays, the young people, the youth is fighting and they are the ones who will keep on fighting. It is a struggle, a fight so we can keep alive. Because without the struggle, we won’t live. There will be no forest. So we need to fight for it so we can live.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does the Right Livelihood Award mean to you? Why you’re here in Stockholm, Sweden.

DAVI KOPENAWA: [translated] I think this award is really important. It is very interesting. It is interesting that the government of Sweden invented this and created this award. This award is important to bring recognition to my struggle, to bring recognition to my Yanomami people so that people from the city and the people of the planet get to know us. This is really important that the people from here are offering me this award. I never asked for it. You offered it and I am happy to accept it. It is really important. It is the result of our fight.

AMY GOODMAN: Brazilian indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa, cofounder of the Hutukara Yanomami Association. He will receive the Right Livelihood Award tonight along with the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Sahrawi human rights leader Aminatou Haidar, and Chinese women’s rights lawyer Guo Jianmei. When we return, we speak to the former U.N. special rapporteur on torture who just released a devastating report on the more than seven million children worldwide deprived of their liberty, from immigration jails to orphanages to prisons. Stay with us.

05.12.2019 – Human Wrongs Watch

The Huge Potential of Agriculture to Slow Climate Change
(Image by Neil Palmer, CIAT)

Soil’s contribution to climate change, through the oxidation of soil carbon, is important, and soils—and thus agriculture—can play a major role in mitigating climate change.

“Through multiple agricultural practices, we could help store vast amounts of atmospheric carbon in the soil, while at the same time regenerating soil fertility, plant health and whole ecosystems. This is a no regret option that offers multiple benefits and deserves high-level visibility,” says a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Foresight Brief titled Putting carbon back where it belongs – the potential of carbon sequestration in the soil.

Industrial farming systems succeed in producing large volumes of food for the global market. However, they cause significant soil erosion, biodiversity (including pollinator) losses and pollution of freshwater bodies. They promote a high dependency on the agro-industry and its products and require huge amounts of freshwater and fertilizer. Agriculture contributes about 23 per cent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with the livestock sector representing 14.5 per cent of such emissions.

The fragility of soils, the thin layer of the earth which is the foundation of nearly everything growing and almost all that we eat, puts the “sustainability” of industrialized agriculture into question. One major problem is that we are losing soil due to poor land management practices.

“Overall, soil is being lost from agricultural areas 10 to 40 times faster than the rate of soil formation, imperiling humanity’s food security,” says UNEP soil and landscape expert Abdelkader Bensada. “A quarter of the Earth’s surface has already become degraded.”

Fertile topsoil equivalent to a land area almost the size of Greece or Malawi is being lost every year, says the UNEP Foresight Brief.

image
Photo by Neil Palmer, CIAT

Around 33 per cent of our global soils are degraded, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, new research in Germany suggests that warmer, drier conditions expected under ongoing climate change will reduce the rates at which soil fauna (such as earthworms, springtails and mites) and microbes (such as bacteria and fungi) break down dead plant matter.

This may have important implications for agriculture and natural ecosystems worldwide, as plant decomposition is a key process in cycling and distributing nutrients throughout ecosystems.

Sustainable land and soil management require an understanding of the fundamentally important relationship between plants and soil life. Plants interact intensively with a vast number of microorganisms, in particular microbes and fungi, in the soil. “In a single gram of healthy soil one can find 108–109 bacteria, 105–106 fungi and much of other microscopic life which influences the plant’s growth and health, as well as nutrient and water storage in the soil,” says the UNEP Foresight Brief.

image
Left: 10 years no-till with cover crops and rotational grazing. Right: Conventionally tilled wheat-fallow-wheat rotation. Both soils are silt loam, 50 metres apart. Photo by Michael Thompson

A key conclusion of the Foresight Brief is that agricultural practices that increase soil organic matter are supportive of enhanced food production, increased biodiversity, enhanced water retention, drought resistance and other important ecosystem services.

Upcoming global report on soil pollution

“Soil pollution is one of the main threats to soil health,” says Bensada.

“It jeopardizes the ability of soils to provide key ecosystem services and endangers human health and well-being. Human activity is the main source of soil pollution. Industrial and agricultural activities, mining, manufacturing, transport and waste disposal are all sources of soil pollution which is becoming a global emergency,” he adds.

United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution 3/6 Managing soil pollution to achieve sustainable development calls on Member States to take steps to address soil pollution. Specific areas for action include: the evaluation of the extent and future trends of soil pollution, and of the risks and impacts of soil pollution on health, the environment and food security; promoting a coordinated approach to combat soil pollution through a strengthened science-policy interface; and information-sharing at national, regional and international levels.

UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization are working together and with other international, regional and national institutions on a global report on the status of soil pollution in the world and its trends, including the impact of fertilizers and pesticides on human health. The aim is to launch the report at the United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2021.

image
Photo by Pxhere

Healthy, fertile soils will help to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1 (No Poverty) and Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), better soil management will help achieve Goal 13 (Climate Action) and Goal 15 (Life on Land), and eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of chemicals and hazardous materials into the environment will help achieve Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) by contributing substantially to reducing soil pollution.

“There is, therefore, a clear link between soil health and most Sustainable Development Goals, requiring governments, the private sector and civil society to join forces to prevent new pollution, minimize its negative effects, and remediate polluted sites and soils that pose a risk to human health and the environment,” says Bensada.

04.12.2019 – Democracy Now!

My Generation Needs to Say “Enough”: A Swedish Climate Striker Speaks Out About Fridays For Future

From Stockholm, Sweden, we’re covering the 40th Anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” This year’s recipients include 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose school strike for climate started in Stockholm when she began standing outside the Parliament building every school day to demand bold climate action more than a year ago. Her act of resistance soon became a global movement, with millions of youth around the world leaving school and taking to the streets to demand swift action to halt the climate crisis. Greta has just arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, after a nearly three week-long boat journey across the Atlantic Ocean to participate in the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, in Madrid, Spain. We speak with Ell Jarl, an 18-year-old climate activist with Fridays For Future Sweden and high school student who marched with Greta Thunberg in Stockholm. Along with other youth climate advocates, Ell will accept the Right Livelihood Award Wednesday on Greta’s behalf.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re on the road in Stockholm, Sweden, where we’re covering the 40th anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards, widely known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. This year’s award recipients include 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose school strike for climate started right here in Stockholm, where she began standing outside the parliament building every school day to demand bold climate action more than a year ago, when she was 15. Her act of resistance soon became a global movement with millions of youth around the world leaving school and taking to the streets to demand swift action to halt the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg is not here in Stockholm for the award ceremony. In fact, she just arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, today after a nearly three-week-long journey by boat across the Atlantic Ocean to participate in the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference—that’s COP25—in Madrid, Spain. She was on her way to Santiago, Chile, where the climate talks were supposed to be held, when Chilean President Sebastián Piñera canceled the conference amidst mass anti-government protest. It was then rescheduled to Madrid, causing Greta to reverse course and head back to Europe. Greta and her father Svante sailed aboard the 48-foot catamaran La Vagabonde, refusing to fly because of the high carbon footprint of air travel.

In September, I sat down with Greta Thunberg in our Democracy Now! studio in New York. She explained how she launched the school strike for the climate last year.

GRETA THUNBERG: The more involved I got in the climate movement, the better I feel, the happier I feel because I feel like I am doing something important, something meaningful.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about what happened, what you did just about a year ago now. You were 15 years old. You went in front of the Swedish parliament every single day at the beginning?

GRETA THUNBERG: Yep. First—I mean, every school day. Not Saturday and Sunday, but every school day for three weeks until the upcoming election. And then that was my plan, to stop after the election. But then on Friday, September 7th, that’s when Fridays for Future started because then I thought, “Why not continue? Why stop now, when we are actually having an impact?” So then I and some other school strikers thought that we should go on, and we should call it Fridays for Future, and it should be on Fridays.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaking earlier this year in Democracy Now!‘s studios in New York. Right now we are in Stockholm where she began her activism. The Right Livelihood Award ceremony is taking place here on Wednesday. In a statement, Greta said, “I’m deeply grateful for being one of the recipients of this great honor. But of course, whenever I receive an award, it is not me who is the winner. The Right Livelihood Award is a huge recognition for Fridays For Future and the climate strike movement.”

So we are joined right now in Stockholm by Ell Jarl, a climate activist who has marched with Greta Thunberg here in Stockholm. She’s an 18-year-old high school student who began participating in the climate protests last December. Along with other youth climate activists, Ell will accept the Right Livelihood Award on Greta’s behalf. She is an activist here with Fridays For Future Sweden. Ell, it is great to be with you here on this first day of our broadcast in Stockholm, for you to be our first guest to place us in the place where you and Greta have really helped to lead this movement that has gone global. Why did you get involved last December?

ELL JARL: I got involved because I read up a lot about the climate crisis. And it was such a big problem, and I wanted to do something, and I wanted to help make a change in the world. Then I saw that she was striking, or my father showed me, and I was like, “That’s something I can do.” And it seemed to be making a change and people were talking about it. Then I went, and I stuck around.

AMY GOODMAN: So I should say as we are speaking here, your pal Greta is in Lisbon. She has just made landfall. She is about to actually speak. Others are speaking first at the news conference. And if she does begin to speak as we are doing this segment, we will go directly live to her. Your father is a scientist?

ELL JARL: Yes, he is. So I have always grown up with lots of scientific talking around the house, and it has made me really curious to learn more.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of our president, President Trump in the United States, saying climate change is a hoax?

ELL JARL: Well, yeah, listen to the united science. It’s out there. And it’s their responsibility to read up and educate themselves, all leaders of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s what you were telling Swedish parliamentarians when you joined Greta on the steps of the Swedish parliament. How did the MPs, how did the members of parliament respond to you? How many were you last December?

ELL JARL: When I first joined, there were about 30 people there that day. But most of them don’t say much. They ignore us, or quite a few of them just walk by the strike. Others—yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: What has it meant to you that this has gone global? That so many young people are going out on Fridays, leaving school and demanding change?

ELL JARL: It’s fantastic. I joined just before the movement fully exploded, so I really saw the change and it spreading to more and more places around the world. It is something that my generation needs. We need to say enough and force action to a fair future. And we are doing that now.

AMY GOODMAN: So you have been outside the parliament week after week. But then were you invited inside to address the parliament?

ELL JARL: No, we haven’t been.

AMY GOODMAN: Ever?

ELL JARL: No.

AMY GOODMAN: So what is it like for you to see Greta addressing the European Union, addressing the United Nations?

ELL JARL: It’s really powerful that we are just teenagers but we manage to speak to all these people, world leaders and hopefully make them listen and make them change. And I hope that COP25 will manage to do something important.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn right now to the opening of the U.N. Climate Summit in Madrid. Will you be going there, by the way, to the summit?

ELL JARL: I sadly will not be going.

AMY GOODMAN: This is António Guterres, who is the U.N. secretary general.

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: What is still lacking is political will. Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon, taxing pollution instead of people. We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s António Guterres speaking in Madrid, Spain, at the beginning of the U.N. Climate Summit. What message do you have for world leaders?

ELL JARL: Listen to what the science is saying. We need to drastically reduce our carbon footprint and take care of our environment. It’s your responsibility to do that and not put it on us. We can’t wait any longer.

AMY GOODMAN: What will you be saying at the Right Livelihood Awards ceremony tomorrow, on Wednesday?

ELL JARL: Of course we are very grateful for this, but we need politicians to take action and we will keep fighting. Yeah, that’s what we will say.

AMY GOODMAN: You helped write an article, an op-ed piece?

ELL JARL: Yeah, together with the Right Livelihood and Fridays for Future Sweden, we wrote a debate article about Sweden and the politics we are having now.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you say in it?

ELL JARL: That we are really far away in Sweden from the goals or where we need to be to reach the Paris agreement.

AMY GOODMAN: What are you demanding specifically should happen in Sweden?

ELL JARL: We need to reduce all of our carbon emissions and we need to create a fair change and help everyone change their jobs to more environmentally-friendly.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn right now back to Greta Thunberg in the New York studios and when I asked her about her message for young people.

GRETA THUNBERG: My message to the young people of the world is that right now we are facing an existential crisis—I mean, the climate and ecological crisis—and it will have a massive impact on our lives in the future, but also now, especially in vulnerable communities. And I think that we should wake up, and we should also try to wake the adults up, because they are the ones who—their generation is the ones who are mostly responsible for this crisis, and we need to hold them accountable. We need to hold the people in power accountable for what they have been doing to us and future generations and other living species on Earth. And we need to get angry and understand what is at stake. And then we need to transform that anger into action and to stand together united and just never give up.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Greta Thunberg in our New York studio when she first arrived in New York, when she first took a zero-emissions sailboat across the Atlantic to New York. I want to turn right now to Lisbon, Portugal, where a young climate activist is speaking before Greta addresses the crowd, where she has also just landed.

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: My name is [inaudible]. My name is Matilda [sp]. We are here in representation of Fridays for Future in Portugal [inaudible].

AUDIENCE: [applause]

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: First of all, we would like to give a warm welcome to Greta and their crew, and we hope you enjoy Lisbon and [inaudible].

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: I’m here to present [inaudible]. Sorry. We are a youth movement that fights for climate justice. We fight for climate justice because our house is on fire. And because our house is on fire, we have organized and striked for the climate together with thousands of students many times this year. Our demands are simple. In Portugal, we need to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. We need to keep fossil fuels, including gas, on the ground. We need to provide clean energy for all and we need to cancel new airport projects, Montijo included.

AUDIENCE: [cheers and applause]

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Because we need a system change, not a climate change.

AUDIENCE: [cheers and applause]

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: We are still far from winning. We know that change disturbs the ones in power. They tell us our country’s ambition is in climate policies, but we know it isn’t. They tell us they are doing what they can, but we know they are not. But we also know that this is the struggle of our generation and we will not give up. We all have raised like a wave to demand climate justice for all, and we need everyone to join us. If we lose, everybody loses. Now we are, like Greta, heading to COP25 in Madrid. We will meet with thousands of other climate activists from many countries, including the Global South. There, we will be protesting once again against the priority given to profit over our lives.

AUDIENCE: [cheers and applause]

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: The seas are rising and so are we. Greta, thank you for having inspired the youth. Thank you for being radical in your speech. Thank you for showing politicians and corporations that we will no more accept the climate chaos they have provoked. Greta, don’t stop, because together we are going to change the system and demand climate justice for all. We are the ones we have been waiting for and we will put out the fire in our house. Thank you, and welcome.

AUDIENCE: [cheers and applause]

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Now we have a brief remark—because social justice is climate justice, we have a brief remark from [inaudible] from Amazonia.

AUDIENCE: [cheers and applause]

CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Thank you, everyone. Hello, Greta. Welcome to Lisbon. Hello, everybody. So, my name is [inaudible]. I am from Amazon Rainforest. Basically, I want to say that the world needs to know that the Amazon Rainforest is being killed by corporations, by injustice corporations. And I have to say to the world that the people from the Amazon Rainforest are being killed every day and the world needs to know this. I want to say I’m very thankful to Greta to be the biggest and most active voice in this battle. And I want to ask for all of you, we need to save the Amazon Rainforest, please.

03.12.2019 – Berlin, Germany – Reto Thumiger

This post is also available in: German

Quo vadis East Side Gallery?

Despite its enormous popularity, the East Side Gallery has been neglected, left to decay, and hacked into pieces, parts sold off and the rest declared a dead museum piece. This work of art and the symbol it represents for the non-violent overcoming of walls between people and the walls in their minds still lives on, for it resonates with us and our modern needs.

In November 1989, German artist Dave Monty was inspired by an illegal painting project on a piece of wall at Potsdamer Platz and launched the art project East Side Gallery. He found himself an assistant, Christine MacLean, a Scot living in Berlin. MacLean was passionate about the project from the very beginning and as she was most likely the only applicant, got the job which came with neither a works contract nor pay.

That passion for this unique open-air gallery still burns within her today, 30 years later. When Monty retired from the project a few months later, MacLean persevered and struggled on rightly earning her the unofficial title “Mother of the East Side Gallery”.

With the permission of the border guards who were responsible for the Wall at that time, Monty and MacLean called on artists in East and West Germany to come and paint the 1.3 km long section.

There was no selection procedure, everyone was free to paint. Racist or discriminatory images were naturally not allowed to be painted. However, such images were not submitted and did not correspond to the mood of the time.

Two artists who painted at ESG, Teresa Casanueva and Sabine Kunz, sat next to MacLean and told their story at a discussion event on November 7 in the Inselgalerie. Another artist, Rosemarie Schinzler, sat in the audience. All three felt that it was a life-changing experience to have participated in this art project.

“The young artists got to know each other at the East Side Gallery and their youthful vitality formed an international community,” explained Sabine Kunz. You have to imagine that 115 artists came together in a very short time and created a 1.3 km long work of art. “Thoughts of freedom were in the air and hope of a new dawn perhaps,” Kunz concluded.

“The East Side Gallery is exactly the opposite of what this wall stood for,” Teresa Casanueva added. “Separation became connectedness, democracy and freedom. Some pictures warned or cautioned about the dangers of the future. It is the expression of this new era which is visible at the East Side Gallery, and not the past that no one wanted anymore,” Casanueva continued.

The longest open-air gallery in the world is one of the most visited places in Germany. The Berlin Senate has allowed this piece of wall to deteriorate over the years, permitted plots of land to be sold between the Wall and the Spree, and missed opportunities to buy it back. Even a loud international protest in 2013 could not prevent the luxury residential tower “Living Levels” or the monstrous complex of hotel and luxury condominiums of investor Heskel Nathaniel (Trockland Management GmbH). Both construction projects were pushed through by the Berlin Senate against the will of the majority of Berliners, even though the Berlin Denkmalschutzgesetz (Monuments and Historic Buildings Act) actually prohibits any new building if it would encroach upon the sensitivity and effective area of a historic monument. Originally, a total of 24 wall segments, i.e. approx. 3.5 pictures, were to be pulled out of the East Side Gallery, which once again shows that laws in Berlin do not apply equally to everyone. Tired of the discussion and protests about this unpleasant piece of remembrance culture, the parts of the site that had not been flogged off were transferred seamlessly to the “Stiftung Berliner Mauer” (Berlin Wall Foundation).

Some readers will perhaps at this point shrug their shoulders in resignation in view of the masses of Selfie-taking tourists.

The East Side Gallery stands for a culture of remembrance that reminds us of the “afterwards”; of euphoric days of self-conquered freedom, and not of the “before”; of land-mined no man’s land. To my knowledge, it is the only memorial in Berlin that stands for transformation. Not simply as a memorial to the crimes and sufferings of the past, but to the overcoming of oppression and suffering. It is a piece of wall that originally stood for subjugation and oppression and has turned itself into a symbol for the opposite, freedom, awakening, democracy and hope. Something that only art and the creativity of people can achieve. That is why the ESG is so unique and worth protecting, to keep alive the spirit and transformative power that we need today more than ever.

Although the “Stiftung Berliner Mauer” will make a better effort to maintain the gallery than the Berlin Senate it will also transform it into a dead museum piece where only restorers are allowed to lay their hands on it.

At the end of the evening in the Inselgalerie, through which Kathrin Schrader led with great sensitivity, Christine MacLean expressed the following:

“The Berlin Wall Foundation is an institution and it is very restricting. The ESG is unique and thus does not fit into the narrow definitions of the current monument protection laws. You could call it street art because it was art on the street, but it really isn’t, because street art is fleeting and only temporary. The ESG does not fit into any category and requires another solution that has not yet been found. In my opinion, the best solution would be a Monument to Joy. Joy, delight, was the feeling that everyone felt at that moment. And how many monuments to joy are there in the world? Isn’t it more ethical to spread joy than horror and terror?”

Politicians and institutions who want to maintain the status quo are rightly afraid of the sense of joy that can awaken the masses from their resignation and make them walk the streets, non-violently and creatively shake the foundation of the destructive and oppressive system which benefits a small minority, and continue the search for a better and more humane world.

Just because we don’t know the exact route doesn’t mean this new, more human world doesn’t exist. And the East Side Gallery reminds us of that with its paintings.

Translation from German by D. Ryan Haskill


More about the history of the East Side Gallery to the present can be found in Christine MacLean’s book Christine MacLean „Berlin East Side Gallery Berlin – Two Berlins One Wall“.

More articles about the East Side Gallery at Pressenza

03.12.2019 – International Peace Bureau

This post is also available in: German

COP25 Madrid: No free pass for military emissions anymore – Military is a climate killer!

There are few activities on earth as environmentally catastrophic as waging war. One of the biggest culprits of burning oil is the military and, whenever and wherever there is a conflict or a major military exercise, the amount of oil burned increases also releasing an increased burden of smoke. War and militarism, and their associated ‘carbon boot-prints’, are severely accelerating climate change.

Regardless of what was learned about climate change through scientific research reports, little was done to include the contribution of the military to climate change or to reduce it. If we are serious on combating climate change, we need to make sure to count all carbon emissions, without having exemptions based on ‘political inconvenience’.

The military’s significant contribution to climate change has received little attention. According to a recent report from Brown University, the US military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than many industrialized nations like Sweden or Switzerland.

This “dirty game” of not including military emissions is over!

IPB stresses the COP25 to include the military in its climate action work and to adopt provisions covering military compliance. The COP25 must include military emissions in their calculations and the CO2 emissions laundering has to stop. It should also include a blueprint to reduce military emissions.

IPB urges the State Parties to the Paris Agreement to adjust its provision to military emissions, not leaving decisions up to nation states as to which national sectors should make emissions cuts.

IPB calls for an inclusion of military greenhouse gas emission into climate change regulations. Moreover, countries need to be obliged, without exemption, to cut military emissions and transparently report them.

IPB calls for more academic studies (in line with the study from Brown University report) and an IPCC or equal special report. The report needs to be a common project of academics and the civil society.

IPB Information Paper: Military & Environment – the “carbon boot-print”

We had a great time in San Diego a couple weeks back for the annual Quaker Theological Discussion Group meeting at the American Academy of Religion. There were a number of great papers given and stimulating discussions that followed. One of the highlights (this is Wess writing) was Cherice Bocks’ paper “Friends and Watershed Discipleship: […]

via QTDG 2019 – A Success! — Quaker Religious Thought and Quaker Theological Discussion Group

02.12.2019 – Countercurrents

Why We Strike Again

Co-Written by Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer and Angela Valenzuela

After more than a year of grim scientific projections and growing activism, world leaders, and the public alike are increasingly recognizing the severity and urgency of the climate crisis. And yet nothing has been done.

For more than a year, children and young people from around the world have been striking for the climate. We launched a movement that defied all expectations, with millions of people lending their voices – and their bodies – to the cause. We did this not because it was our dream, but because we didn’t see anyone else taking action to secure our future. And despite the vocal support we have received from many adults – including some of the world’s most powerful leaders – we still don’t.

Striking is not a choice we relish; we do it because we see no other options. We have watched a string of United Nations climate conferences unfold. Countless negotiations have produced much-hyped but ultimately empty commitments from the world’s governments – the same governments that allow fossil-fuel companies to drill for ever-more oil and gas, and burn away our futures for their profit.

Politicians and fossil-fuel companies have known about climate change for decades. And yet the politicians let the profiteers continue to exploit our planet’s resources and destroy its ecosystems in a quest for quick cash that threatens our very existence.

Don’t take our word for it: scientists are sounding the alarm. They warn that we have never been less likely to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the threshold beyond which the most destructive effects of climate change would be triggered.

Worse, recent research shows that we are on track to produce 120% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with the 1.5°C limit.The concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has reached a record high, with no sign of a slowdown. Even if countries fulfill their current emissions-reduction pledges, we are headed for a 3.2°C increase.

Young people like us bear the brunt of our leaders’ failures. Research shows that pollution from burning fossil fuels is the world’s most significant threat to children’s health. Just this month, five million masks were handed out at schools in New Delhi, India’s capital, owing to toxic smog. Fossil fuels are literally choking the life from us.

The science is crying out for urgent action, and still our leaders dare to ignore it. So we continue to fight.

After a year of strikes, our voices are being heard. We are being invited to speak in the corridors of power. At the UN, we addressed a room filled with world leaders. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, we met with prime ministers, presidents, and even the pope. We have spent hundreds of hours participating in panels and speaking with journalists and filmmakers. We have been offered awards for our activism.

Our efforts have helped to shift the wider conversation on climate change. People now increasingly discuss the crisis we face, not in whispers or as an afterthought, but publicly and with a sense of urgency. Polls confirm changing perceptions. One recent survey showed that, in seven of the eight countries included, climate breakdown is considered to be the most important issue facing the world. Another confirmed that schoolchildren have led the way in raising awareness.

With public opinion shifting, world leaders, too, say that they have heard us. They say that they agree with our demand for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis. But they do nothing. As they head to Madrid for the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we call out this hypocrisy.

On the next two Fridays, we will again take to the streets: worldwide on November 29, and in Madrid, Santiago, and many other places on December 6 during the UN climate conference. Schoolchildren, young people, and adults all over the world will stand together, demanding that our leaders take action – not because we want them to, but because the science demands it.

That action must be powerful and wide-ranging. After all, the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all. Our political leaders can no longer shirk their responsibilities.

Some say that the Madrid conference is not very important; the big decisions will be made at COP26 in Glasgow next year. We disagree. As the science makes clear, we don’t have a single day to lose.

We have learned that, if we do not step up, nobody will. So we will keep up a steady drumbeat of strikes, protests, and other actions. We will become louder and louder. We will do whatever it takes to persuade our leaders to unite behind science so clear that even children understand it.

Collective action works; we have proved that. But to change everything, we need everyone. Each and every one of us must participate in the climate resistance movement. We cannot just say we care; we must show it.

Join us. Participate in our upcoming climate strikes in Madrid or in your hometown. Show your community, the fossil-fuel industry, and your political leaders that you will not tolerate inaction on climate change anymore. With numbers on our side, we have a chance.

And to the leaders who are headed to Madrid, our message is simple: the eyes of all future generations are upon you. Act accordingly.

Greta Thunberg is a youth climate strike leader in Sweden.

Luisa Neubauer is a German climate activist.

Angela Valenzuela is a coordinator of Fridays for Future in Santiago, Chile.

Blog Stats

  • 12,445 hits
December 2019
S M T W T F S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Support 2007, 2008 and 2009

More Light Presbyterians

Visite recenti

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)

Blog Stats

  • 12,445 hits
Follow Ecumenics and Quakers on WordPress.com