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Egypt, Social Media Connections, Human Rights and Dialogue

30 Jan

"Seems like the whole world is a 'twitter...and it's starting to scare me," said Egyptian President Mubarek. Photo by Pete Simon from flickr on creative commons

Just a Tweet Away from Democracy

Twitter, Facebook and You-Tube are powerful democratic social media tools for mobilizing people around various causes. However, not everyone agrees on what really caused the large passionate demonstrations by Egyptians this past week. Even though social media is important, some analysts claim widespread unemployment and years of repression were the primary reasons Egyptian protestors took to the streets. Then, through flyers and word of mouth, from home to home, people urged each other to join the demonstrations.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

According to January 2010 statistics of the growth of Twitter, comScore said nearly 75,000,000 people visited Twitter worldwide. Those stats are from 2010. Twitter has continued to grow both in unique visitors and people visiting Twitter worldwide. Twitter makes it easier to connect with people, organizations and movements. The interconnections of people have unlimited possibilities.

In spite of the Egyptian government’s attempt to shut down social media sites and cell phone airwaves, the Egyptian people still found ways to circumvent anyone trampling on their human right to free speech about their dissatisfaction with the status quo in their country.

Movements.org offers suggestions on how people around the world can help Egyptians.

People returning from Egypt give their experiences to ITN News:

Tourists witness Egypt Protests

Egyptian protests enter fifth day


ITN News reports that 74 protestors are reported killed with more than 1500 people injured. The police also suffered casualties with 3 people dead and more than 700 police injured. It’s now reported that some military troops have joined forces with protestors.

President Obama urges Egyptian Leaders to Respect Human Rights:


President Obama urged President Mubarek to respect the human rights of his citizens, particularly the right of assembly and the right of free speech. He called upon the Egyptian government to prevent loss of live and allow its citizens to engage in peaceful protests. President Obama stated:

“The people of Egypt have rights that are universal, that includes the right of peaceful assembly and association. The right of free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights and the United States will stand up for them anywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions they have taken to interfere with access to the internet, to cell phone service and social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st Century.”

President Obama urged protestors to protest peacefully without violence. He acknowledged the call of the Egyptian protestors for economic and other reforms.

President Obama urged Egyptian President Mubarek to create meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens in order to creatively solve their problems together. President Obama stated:

“Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.”


Pakistan Needs Massive International Assistance

21 Aug

Six to Eight Million Flood Victims in Pakistan Require Emergency Assistance.

According to reports from non-gonvermental organizations like Taangh Wasaib Organization (TWO) in Pakistan, there are millions of people suffering from lack of food, water, lack of shelter and from water borne illness and other medical problems.

Rubina Feroze Bhatti from Taangh Wasaib Organization http://www.taangh.org.pk/ reported the need to reach people in the high flooded areas such as Kalabagh, Mari Indus, Wandha Kukran Wala, Moch, Watta Khel, Daud Khel, Kamar Mashani, Tarrag, Kaloor Shareef, Khagian Wala and Essa Khel. The TWO provides Flood Updates on its website. In addition, TWO has assisted flood victims by providing needed food, water, shelter and medical assistance. TWO needs financial assistance and supplies to continue their work of helping people not being reached by larger non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross.

According to the United Nations, 6 to 8 million of the 20 million affected people in Pakistan need emergency assistance aid.

More Aid Begins to Flow into Pakistan

Here is a Map of the area affected and who still needs aid:

According to  ABC News the amount of people affected by the flood, 20 million people, is the same size as the number of people in Australia.

Pakistan Map: Flooded Affected Areas. Photo Credit: Map provided by the World Food Program (Click on Image for Larger Map)

This article reveals new Satellite Images of the Pakistan Flood on 8/16/2010. The images were taken by NASA’s Aqua Satellite “which uses a combination of infrared and invisible light to increase the contrast between land and water.”

The Tonic website provides a list of organizations that are helping the Flood victims of Pakistan.

Recent updates to the status of the Pakistan Flood are provided by the experimental Global Flood Detection System which is a joint initiative of the Dartmouth Flood Observatory and the European Commission. See the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System website at www.gdacs.org.

What Aid is Needed Now for Flood Victims

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has a website devoted to updates regarding the Pakistan Flood coordination efforts on the ground.

On August 15, 2010 United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the people of Pakistan affected by the surging waters from the Indus River. The UN Secretary General said of the destruction and human suffering caused by the floods:

”These unprecedented floods demand unprecedented assistance. I pledge my commitment and the support of the UN through this difficult period and on every step of the long road ahead”.

According to the OCHA website the following aid is urgently needed to help the people in the flood affected areas of Pakistan:

Water:

Clean water is an “urgent priority” especially due to the danger of diarrhoeal and other water-borne illnesses like cholera on the rise.

Food:

Millions of women and children urgently need food to survive the raging floods which have destroyed over 720,000 homes in Pakistan. More than half a million people have received food assistance through the World Food Program and other partners. However, this is only a fraction of the 20 million people affected by the flood. Hundreds of villages are still only reachable by air due to the flooding of roads. These and other areas require food and assistance with keeping livestock alive in order to prevent longer-term food assistance issues.

Shelter:

Even though more than 100,000 households have some form of shelter of either tents or plastic sheeting, more than 620,000 shelters are still needed due to the destruction of nearly 800,000 households from the floods.

In addition, the people need:

Clothing

Medical Assistance

Financial Assistance:

According to the Pakistan One Response website, as of 8/21/2010, the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP) is only 55% funded. Funds of $460 million have been requested to provide needed relief aid to victims of the Pakistan flood disaster.

The World Food Programme website reports that at least 40 helicopters are needed to bring food and water to people stranded by the flood waters in locations inaccessible by road in Pakistan.

According to the Boston Globe, Karen Allen, a UNICEF official in Islamabad said:

“The Indus River is at 40 times its normal volume. Whole cities of up to 250,000 people have been evacuated, and people have lost everything.”

More coordinated information about the Pakistan Flood situation and aid response can be found at the One Response-Pakistan website.

Remembering Dr. Elise Boulding: Great Mother of the Peace Movement

18 Jul

Dr. Elise Boulding, mother, peacemaker, educator, visionary, writer passed away on June 24, 2010 in Needham, Massachusetts at age 89.

Dr. Boulding, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Dartmouth College and Former Secretary General of the International Peace Research Association, dedicated her life to her family and students and to raising the next generation of peacemakers.  She also helped establish the National Peace Academy and served as the Honorary Chair of its Advisory Council.

Elise Boulding on a National Peace Academy: May 9, 2008

Elise Boulding: A Life in the Cause of Peace by Mary Lee Morrison

Her biographer, Mary Lee Morrison, founder of Pax Educare, Inc. wrote a profile on the webpage of the National Peace Academy that states:

Early perceptions of peace education were that it was education toward the abolition of war and that it was an “arm” of the peace research movement. In the years following the Second World War, and particularly in the last thirty years, new ideas have expanded the concept of peace education. Boulding’s writings and those of other feminists in the 1970s laid the groundwork for the work of later educators who embraced ideas of connectedness, caring and imaging and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally. Many of Boulding’s ideas predated contemporary thinking on the importance of ecological sustainability and the dangers inherent in “cultures of war.”

In 1979 President Jimmy Carter appointed Elise to the Congressional Commission on Proposals for a National Academy of Peace and Conflict Resolution, now known as the United States Institute of Peace. She was the sole woman appointed to the Matsunaga Commission. A look at Boulding’s role in the process leading up to the final Commission report and the subsequent founding of the United States Institute of Peace provides a fascinating look at the Commission process itself and the events leading up to it as well as a view of some of the inherent conflicts.


According to an article in the Boston Globe, she gave an interview with Alan AtKisson in 1990 called “Concentrating on Essence: From family to community to nation and biosphere, peace on our planet depends on the power of love” where she said:

“We can’t simplify the world.  There’s no wand we can wave to remove the complexities around us…So, in a profound sense, we have to take responsibility for living on the planet.”

Life of an International Woman Peacemaker:

In a 2003 interview with Julian Portilla of Beyond Intractability.org, Dr. Boulding said:

“I would say my 18 years as a full-time homemaker; peace building in the family, and raising kids to be peacemakers was a very important part of my life. I’ve always learned a lot from kids. I’ve done a lot of research on NGO’s and the role they have played on civil society; locally, nationally and internationally. I’ve studied a lot different fields, including women, fields of development, and especially the development of peace culture through history.”

Writings of Elise Boulding

Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen by Elise Boulding and Daisaku Ikeda

  • The Underside of History: A View of Women through Time (New York: Halsted, 1976)
  • Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World (New York, New York: Teachers College Press, 1988)
  • One Small Plot of Heaven: Reflections on Family Life by a Quaker Sociologist. (Philadelphia, Pendle Hill Press, 1989)
  • Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History (Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 2000)
  • Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen, Elise Boulding and Daisaku Ikeda (Dialogue Path Press, 2010)

Elise Boulding and the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue

Elise Boulding & Winston Langley, Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, & Dialogue, 9/20/08

Elise Boulding’s Message to Present and Future Generations

  • We have to learn citizenship in the United Nations and help develop it.
  • Go into any situation as an apprentice.
  • Remember women and children in any situation you are working for.
  • Include people of all ages in the conflict resolution process, but especially include young people.
  • Include art, music, dance, poetry and theatre in peacemaking. The human spirit needs that.
  • History books frequently emphasize “conflicts.” There are other stories that include cooperation and peacebuilding.
  • Have fun! If we get totally serious, it gets too heavy.  We have to lift our spirits.
  • Create a 200-year present envisioning process as a way to think about change.  Fred Polak believed that societies that have a positive image of the future are empowered by their own images to act creatively in the present.
  • I would advise people to spend some time doing some imagining about what kind of world they are working for. (Write it down and revisit it from time to time.)
  • There needs to be a second United Nations Assembly, a People’s Assembly made up of the 10,000 ethnic peoples that live across state boundaries.
  • Learn about the great role of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in peacemaking and creating treaties at the United Nations.

(See audio interview of Elise Boulding by Julian Portilla for detailed quotes.)