Monday, February 14, 2011

From the Spinning Wheel -- to Facebook

From the Spinning Wheel -- to Facebook

Ahimsa -- the Gandhian Politics of street protest through NonViolence

Take it back all the way to the source -- to Gandhi -- Ahimsa -- the Politics of Non Violence.

Not mere Passive Resistance.

Not mere Civil Disobedience.

But DYNAMIC REFLECTIVE ETHICAL NONVIOLENT ENGAGEMENT by We the People, against the Repressive state.

Gandhi developed the philosophy-in-action of Ahimsa, non-violence.

The Rev. Martin Luther King practiced what he learned from Gandhi's example.

Gandhi used the spinning wheel to spin the Brits right out of India.

Gandhi marched to the sea with We the People to make salt, to defeat a Brit repressive tax on salt that hit the poor most.

Now that historic march by Gandhi has gone all the way to Tahrir Square -- via Facebook!

The spinning wheel was the earlier Technology of Defiance against the repressive state.

Now Facebook is the borderless Technology of Defiance against the repressive state.

First the spinning wheel, now Facebook.

Way to go.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
City University of New York [CUNY]

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History
Holly Pickett for The New York Times

Tunis, Jan. 14 Demonstrators climbed the walls of the Interior Ministry as thousands gathered outside to demand the resignation of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The protests that brought down Mr. Ben Ali that day began on Facebook.
Published: February 13, 2011

Egyptian Military Dissolves Parliament (February 14, 2011)
Tunisians Turn to Everyday Matters (February 14, 2011)
Yemeni Youth Square Off With Forces (February 14, 2011)
Iranian Leaders Vow to Crush March (February 14, 2011)
Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down (February 12, 2011)
Tunisia Leader Flees and Prime Minister Claims Power (January 15, 2011)

Video: Tahrir Square, a Forum for All (Feb. 14, 2011)

Cairo, Feb. 3 After more than a week of unrest, anti-Mubarak protesters clashed with supporters of the president for control of Tahrir Square. When confronting the police, the protesters wore armor made of cardboard and Pepsi bottles.

The exchange on Facebook was part of a remarkable two-year collaboration that has given birth to a new force in the Arab world — a pan-Arab youth movement dedicated to spreading democracy in a region without it. Young Egyptian and Tunisian activists brainstormed on the use of technology to evade surveillance, commiserated about torture and traded practical tips on how to stand up to rubber bullets and organize barricades.

They fused their secular expertise in social networks with a discipline culled from religious movements and combined the energy of soccer fans with the sophistication of surgeons. Breaking free from older veterans of the Arab political opposition, they relied on tactics of nonviolent resistance channeled from an American scholar through a Serbian youth brigade — but also on marketing tactics borrowed from Silicon Valley.

As their swelling protests shook the Egyptian state, they were locked in a virtual tug of war with a leader with a very different vision — Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak, a wealthy investment banker and ruling-party power broker. Considered the heir apparent to his father until the youth revolt eliminated any thought of dynastic succession, the younger Mubarak pushed his father to hold on to power even after his top generals and the prime minister were urging an exit, according to American officials who tracked Hosni Mubarak’s final days.

The defiant tone of the president’s speech on Thursday, the officials said, was largely his son’s work.

“He was probably more strident than his father was,” said one American official, who characterized Gamal’s role as “sugarcoating what was for Mubarak a disastrous situation.” But the speech backfired, prompting Egypt’s military to force the president out and assert control of what they promise will be a transition to civilian government.

Now the young leaders are looking beyond Egypt. “Tunis is the force that pushed Egypt, but what Egypt did will be the force that will push the world,” said Walid Rachid, one of the members of the April 6 Youth Movement, which helped organize the Jan. 25 protests that set off the uprising. He spoke at a meeting on Sunday night where the members discussed sharing their experiences with similar youth movements in Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Iran.

“If a small group of people in every Arab country went out and persevered as we did, then that would be the end of all the regimes,” he said, joking that the next Arab summit might be “a coming-out party” for all the ascendant youth leaders.

Bloggers Lead the Way

The Egyptian revolt was years in the making. Ahmed Maher, a 30-year-old civil engineer and a leading organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement, first became engaged in a political movement known as Kefaya, or Enough, in about 2005. Mr. Maher and others organized their own brigade, Youth for Change. But they could not muster enough followers; arrests decimated their leadership ranks, and many of those left became mired in the timid, legally recognized opposition parties. “What destroyed the movement was the old parties,” said Mr. Maher, who has since been arrested four times.

By 2008, many of the young organizers had retreated to their computer keyboards and turned into bloggers, attempting to raise support for a wave of isolated labor strikes set off by government privatizations and runaway inflation.

After a strike that March in the city of Malhalla, Egypt, Mr. Maher and his friends called for a nationwide general strike for April 6. To promote it, they set up a Facebook group that became the nexus of their movement, which they were determined to keep independent from any of the established political groups. Bad weather turned the strike into a nonevent in most places, but in Malhalla a demonstration by the workers’ families led to a violent police crackdown — the first major labor confrontation in years.

Just a few months later, after a strike in the Tunisian city of Hawd el-Mongamy, a group of young online organizers followed the same model, setting up what became the Progressive Youth of Tunisia. The organizers in both countries began exchanging their experiences over Facebook. The Tunisians faced a more pervasive police state than the Egyptians, with less latitude for blogging or press freedom, but their trade unions were stronger and more independent. “We shared our experience with strikes and blogging,” Mr. Maher recalled.

For their part, Mr. Maher and his colleagues began reading about nonviolent struggles. They were especially drawn to a Serbian youth movement called Otpor, which had helped topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic by drawing on the ideas of an American political thinker, Gene Sharp. The hallmark of Mr. Sharp’s work is well-tailored to Mr. Mubark’s Egypt: He argues that nonviolence is a singularly effective way to undermine police states that might cite violent resistance to justify repression in the name of stability.

The April 6 Youth Movement modeled its logo — a vaguely Soviet looking red and white clenched fist—after Otpor’s, and some of its members traveled to Serbia to meet with Otpor activists.

Another influence, several said, was a group of Egyptian expatriates in their 30s who set up an organization in Qatar called the Academy of Change, which promotes ideas drawn in part on Mr. Sharp’s work. One of the group’s organizers, Hisham Morsy, was arrested during the Cairo protests and remained in detention.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo, and David E. Sanger from Washington. Kareem Fahim and Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.
A version of this article appeared in print on February 14, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition.

* Tunisia
* Egypt
* Demonstrations, Protests, and Riots
* Mubarak, Hosni

Friday, February 11, 2011

For Aisha -- A Debt of Justice

A Debt of Justice

Note the unbearably dignified expression of the young woman, the brutally disfigured 18-year old Aisha, whose portrait by Jodi Bieber is appropriately awarded 2011 World Press Photo of the Year.

Aisha looks out at each of us, especially We her Sisters, and those of us who feel community with her, are fortunate to have developed the gift for empathy.

Please don't use ' Bibi' as a term of address for Aisha for it means 'wife' a form of servitude for many millions of women in many parts of the world. Call her girl, woman, not wife for wife proved to be a sentence, not a role or status.

The Taliban, under whose instruction allegedly, her husband and brother-in-law mutilated Aisha's face, cut off her nose and ears to humiliate and degrade her, to make her the butt of cruel comments, these criminals protected by patriarchy, lack access to Aisha's unflinching spirit as she faces the camera and calls to us.

She now lives in the US (where exactly I don't know, and that's fine, her privacy must be respected while she makes her life-changing transition), her nose and ears have been reconstructed and she is undergoing rehabilitation, which possibly included psychotherapy.

We owe Aisha a debt of Justice. Where are her perpetrators?

Chithra KarunaKaran

City University of New York

Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice

NYTimes copyright

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Satyameva Jayate: Core Ethical Principle of India's Foreign Policy

Any involvement of the US in any India-China dialogue is a recipe for disaster -- for India.
US foreign policy of extreme exclusive predatory profit-oriented self-interest would not benefit India.

On the other hand, China betrayed its own signature on Panch Sheel, and committed aggression on India. So China cannot be trusted, it is not an ally or partner, much less friend. China must be watched and handled with extreme wariness.

China is a dictatorship, it has suppressed Tibetan autonomy and human rights, China executes dissidents like the Uighur, so we know that the Chinese people have no say whatsoever, they are denied the right to assemble, they are denied the right to protest, the Chinese people are reduced to being puppet consumers of cheap, shoddy, throwaway, no-good Chinese goods.

China is a sweatshop nation to the world, with extremely limited human rights at home.
China lacks a moral compass.

India, the world's most populous democracy has a long long way to go to.

We have much to learn from our own history and our own development. India has much to learn from the mistakes of the US as well as its successes. India has even more to learn from countries with ethical domestic and foreign policies, like Sweden and Denmark.

India must forge her own foreign policy in accordance with her core ethical principle of Satyameva Jayate. India, despite her blatantly inadequate, unequal and inequitable DOMESTIC policy of TLTL -- Too Little, Too Late, far too little concern with the Greater Collective Good (GCG), India has done well so far on FOREIGN POLICY, so -- let India continue on the path set by Gandhiji and later, when we made an historic tryst with destiny at the stroke of the midnight hour and adopted Satyameva Jayate as our guiding political ideal.

see news report below: (Times of India copyright)

US says willing to assist India-China dialogue
PTI, Feb 3, 2011, 10.49am IST
WASHINGTON: The US is willing to take steps to improve relationship between India and China and wants to work closely with New Delhi on a wide range of issues in East Asia, a top Obama Administration official has said.

"We frankly support an improvement in dialogue between India and China, and we would seek to take steps to facilitate that as we move forward," the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell yesterday told foreign journalists here.

"Ultimately, we think that India's role in the Asian-Pacific region stands to be one of the most important new developments over the course of the next decade, moving forward," Campbell said in response to a question.

The United States, he said, believes that India's role, its policy to look east, is now really starting to bear fruit.

"We want to work closely with Indian friends on a range of issues: strategy for how to work together in the East Asia Summit, now that the United States is a full member; working together in the ASEAN Regional Forum; and increasing dialogue and discussions on a range of mutual security issues in Southeast Asia and in Northeast Asia as well," he said.

Campbell said that in recent days the US had seen increase in Indian activities with a variety of states in Southeast Asia.

"We have seen in recent months a substantial increase in Indian activities with a variety of states in Southeast Asia; but also, most notably, with Japan. And we would seek to support that going forward," Campbell said.

"We have also increased our deliberations with India about a variety of developments in Southeast Asia, and including the Pacific, and we think that this is a very important ingredient," he said.