It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance

Many people across the United States are despondent about the new president – and the threat to democracy his rise could represent. But they shouldn’t be. At no time in recorded history have people been more equipped to effectively resist injustice using civil resistance.

Today, those seeking knowledge about the theory and practice of civil resistance can find a wealth of information at their fingertips. In virtually any language, one can find training manuals, strategy-building tools, facilitation guides and documentation about successes and mistakes of past nonviolent campaigns.

Material is available in many formats, including graphic novels, e-classes, films and documentaries, scholarly books, novels, websites, research monographs, research inventories, and children’s books. And of course, the world is full of experienced activists with wisdom to share.

The United States has its own rich history – past and present – of effective uses of nonviolent resistance. The technique established alternative institutions like economic cooperatives, alternative courts and an underground constitutional convention in the American colonies resulting in the declaration of independence. In 20th century, strategic nonviolent resistance has won voting rights for women and for African Americans living in the Jim Crow south.

Nonviolent resistance has empowered the labor movement, closed down or cancelled dozens of nuclear plants, protected farm workers from abuse in California, motivated the recognition of Aids patients as worthy of access to life-saving treatment, protected free speech, put climate reform on the agenda, given reprieve to Dreamers, raised awareness about economic inequality, changed the conversation about systemic racism and black lives and stalled construction of an oil pipeline on indigenous lands in Standing Rock.

In fact, it is hard to identify a progressive cause in the United States that has advanced without a civil resistance movement behind it.

This does not mean nonviolent resistance always works. Of course it does not, and short-term setbacks are common too. But long-term change never comes with submission, resignation, or despair about the inevitability and intractability of the status quo.

And among the different types of dissent available (armed insurrection or combining armed and unarmed action), nonviolent resistance has historically been the most effective. Compared with armed struggle, whose romanticized allure obscures its staggering costs, nonviolent resistance has actually been the quickest, least costly, and safest way to struggle. Moreover, civil resistance is recognized as a fundamental human right under international law.

Nonviolent resistance does not happen overnight or automatically. It requires an informed and prepared public, keen to the strategy and dynamics of its political power. Although nonviolent campaigns often begin with a committed and experienced core, successful ones enlarge the diversity of participants, maintain nonviolent discipline and expand the types of nonviolent actions they use.

They constantly increase their base of supporters, build coalitions, leverage social networks, and generate connections with those in the opponent’s network who may be ambivalent about cooperating with oppressive policies.

Crucially, nonviolent resistance works not by melting the heart of the opponent but by constraining their options. A leader and his inner circle cannot pass and implement policies alone. They require cooperation and obedience from many people to carry out plans and policies.

In the US on Tuesday, dozens of lawmakers have said they will boycott confirmation votes for Trump nominees. Numerous police departments countrywide have announced that they will not comply with unethical federal policies (particularly regarding deportations). And the federal government employs more than 3 million civil servants – people on whose continued support the US government relies to implement its policies. Many such civil servants have already begun important conversations about how to dissent from within the administration. They, too, provide an important check on power.

The Women’s March on Washington and its affiliated marches – which may have been the largest single-day demonstration in US history – show a population eager and willing to show up to defend their rights.

Of course, nonviolent resistance often evokes brutality by the government, especially as campaigns escalate their demands and use more disruptive techniques. But historical data shows that when campaigns are able to prepare, train, and remain resilient, they often succeed regardless of whether the government uses violence against them.

Historical studies suggest that it takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships. If that can be true in Chile under Gen Pinochet and Serbia under Milosevic, a few million Americans could prevent their elected government from adopting inhumane, unfair, destructive or oppressive policies – should such drastic measures ever be needed.

— source theguardian.com By Erica Chenoweth

Boycott Hyundai to end its complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev).

BDS48 is launching this boycott campaign at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab, on 18 January 2017, and in Qalansawa, further north, on 10 January 2017. According to Arabic media reports, the Israeli authorities are planning a second wave of home demolitions in Umm al-Hiran in the coming few days.

Despite being faced with documented evidence of its persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967, Hyundai has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement. It has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

In Umm al-Hiran, Israeli armed forces destroyed many homes in the village, forcibly removing its Bedouin Palestinian population for the second time since the 1948 Nakba, injuring tens of peaceful protestors, and murdering the educator Yaquob Abu al-Qiyan in cold blood. The objective of this bloody conquest is to establish a Jewish-only colony on the ethnically cleansed village’s lands.

This latest crime by Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid comes as part of its ongoing policy of gradual ethnic cleansing since 1948 and that has led to the forcible displacement of most of the indigenous Palestinian people from our ancestral land. Israel today has more than 60 racist laws that legalize and institutionalize its special form of apartheid against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.

Inspired by the massive global solidarity movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa, and stemming from the moral responsibility that falls on the shoulders of citizens and institutions everywhere to end any involvement in human rights violations, we, as Palestinian human rights defenders in Israel, call on:

People of conscience around the world to boycott Hyundai products;
Institutions, investment funds and churches to divest from Hyundai and local councils to exclude the company from public tenders;
Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights. Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law.

The achievements and impact of the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights have grown immensely in recent years, to the extent that Israel has recognized the movement’s “strategic” impact. BDS is today an essential pillar of the nonviolent Palestinian popular struggle for our inalienable rights under international law, most importantly the right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return to their homes of origin.

Through this campaign to boycott Hyundai and your effective participation in it, we can pressure the company to end its involvement in Israel’s violations of human rights, just as several multinational giants were compelled by effective BDS campaigns to exit the Israeli market.

Veolia was the first to end its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations in 2015, followed by Orange telecommunication, CRH, and most recently G4S, the largest security company in the world, which sold almost all its illegal business in Israel.

Our people have decided to besiege our siege. Our campaign against Hyundai is part of this nonviolent human rights movement that has proven itself to be strategic and effective in isolating Israel’s regime of oppression academically, culturally and economically in order to exercise and protect our right as a people to live on our land in freedom, justice and dignity.

— source bdsmovement.net

Palestinians call for boycott of Hyundai

Israeli authorities use a Hyundai bulldozer to destroy the home of a Palestinian citizen of Israel in the town of Lydd, 10 February 2015. The house was built with donations from relatives and neighbors, to help a single mother and her four children. It was built on family-owned land, but without a permit that is extremely difficult to obtain due to Israel’s discriminatory policies. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Hyundai over the company’s failure to stop its construction equipment being used by Israel to destroy their homes and communities.

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee of Palestinian Citizens of Israel (BDS48) calls upon our Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora, the peoples of the Arab world, and people of conscience worldwide to boycott and divest from Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), until it ends its involvement in Israel’s violations of our human rights, particularly in Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev),” says an action alert released on Tuesday.

The alert calls on people around the world “to boycott Hyundai products” and urges institutions, including investment funds and churches, to divest from Hyundai shares.

Municipal bodies should exclude Hyundai from public tenders, the action alert states.
Complicity in ethnic cleansing

While Israel’s abuse of the South Korean company’s products has been documented for years, BDS48 says the campaign comes “at this particular moment in light of the extensive use of Hyundai equipment by the Israeli authorities in the recent demolitions” of many homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the southern Naqab region, and in the town of Qalansawa further north, last month.

Another wave of demolitions in Umm al-Hiran is expected imminently, part of Israel’s plan to destroy the community and replace it with a town for Jews, to be called “Hiran.”

In December, Israel also used Hyundai equipment to demolish a home in the occupied Golan Heights.

The BDS48 action alert, which was disseminated by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), notes that Hyundai has been presented with evidence of its “persistent complicity in Israeli ethnic cleansing policies against Palestinians and Syrians in the territories occupied since 1967.”

But the company “has failed to stop its business-as-usual involvement,” the alert states.

Hyundai “has thus forfeited its responsibilities as stated in the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” – standards that are supposed to promote sustainable development and halt corporate complicity in state abuses.
Tarnished brand

Until the early 2000s, Hyundai was a single group encompassing such activities as vehicle production, shipbuilding, construction, steel, finance, retail, aerospace and defense.

It was broken up into five major companies, including Hyundai Heavy Industries, which makes ships and construction equipment, and Hyundai Motor Group.

But all the companies continue to be controlled by a few members of the founding Chung family as part of a complex web of entities.

All the spin-offs trade on the goodwill of the famous Hyundai name, a brand that risks being tarnished by association with Israel’s crimes.

Consumers around the world would be most familiar with cars made by Hyundai Motor Group and its affiliate Kia.

In recent years, Hyundai has shot into the world’s top five automakers.

It is a popular brand in Middle East countries, with Saudi Arabia accounting for more than 40 percent of its regional sales.

In 2016, Hyundai saw its first dip in auto sales in almost two decades. Its workers have also staged widespread strikes over wages.

The BDS48 action alert urges Hyundai workers and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions “to stand in solidarity with our peaceful struggle by pressuring the Hyundai management to stop the company’s complicity in Israeli violations of human rights.”

“Our campaign is not intended at all to harm the interests of the company’s workers but to protect the rights of our people as stipulated in international law,” it states.

— source electronicintifada.net

NYC Taxi Drivers Stage Airport Strike to Protest Trump

Bhairavi Desai talking:

We were outraged by the so-called executive order. I mean, it’s just—it’s absolutely inhumane and cruel. And we are a workforce that’s largely Muslim and Sikh. And we know that, you know, when the flames of Islamophobia are fanned, and now by the presidency, it has a ripple effect on everyday people in this country. We’ve known through the years that taxi drivers, who are 20 times more likely to be killed on the job than any other worker, have often been the workers that have been the victims of hate crimes.

it was an act of solidarity. It was an act of consciousness. What is happening in this country is not normal. We refuse to accept this as normalcy. You know, we are a better humanity than this.

in New York City, we have over 19,000 members, and it includes Uber drivers. But Uber, as a company, sought to take advantage of our strike. And, you know, of course, it’s backfired. People have been really outraged. But it’s not surprising, because the CEO of Uber is an adviser to the president, and, you know, Uber has an absolutely atrocious policy in its treatment of the workers.

Yesterday in Philadelphia, our—the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania went on a similar solidarity strike and stood with the protesters—in San Francisco, in Austin, Texas, in Houston. You know, one of the things that’s happened is, because of companies like Uber, we are a workforce that’s been so deeply fragmented and impoverished, right? And when workers are kept poor, it has an impact on civil society. It’s harder for people to rise up and take collective action. But we are at a moment of such deep urgency in this society. And, you know, I’m really proud of our members and of the drivers across this country. This was a real act of courage, you know, particularly to have a workforce that’s predominantly black and brown stand up in this time.

– Lyft, the competitor to Uber, did respect this work stoppage and said they were going to give a million dollars to the ACLU over the next few years

Omar Jadwat talking:

there’s been an outpouring of support, I think, for a variety of organizations, but also, you know, that’s a small part of what matters. What matters is people doing what they can to make a difference. And that’s what we’re seeing. That’s what we saw this weekend in every way, you know? Contributions are important, but, you know, getting out and standing up are really—

And mobilizing those people is what those people and the people they know and the people they know and the people these people know is what’s going to make a difference.
____

Bhairavi Desai
executive director and co-founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance

Omar Jadwat
director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

— source democracynow.org

Importance of the march against Iraq attack

14 February 2003
It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat.

The urgency is the saving of lives. First, let us stop calling it a “war”. The last time “war” was used in the Gulf was in 1991 when the truth was buried with more than 200,000 people. Attacking a 70-mile line of trenches, three American brigades, operating at night, used 60-ton armoured earthmovers to bury alive teenage Iraqi conscripts, including the wounded and those surrendering and retreating. Survivors were slaughtered from the air. The helicopter gunship pilots called it a “turkey shoot”.

Of the 148 Americans who died, a quarter of them were killed by Americans. Most of the British were killed by Americans. This was known as “friendly fire”. The civilians who were killed, whose deaths were never recorded by the American military because it was “not policy”, were “collateral damage”.

Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles. Its ragtag army is woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are “capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”.

This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. “Shock and awe” the Pentagon calls its “strategy”. Meanwhile the weapons inspectors and their morose Swedish leader go about their treasure hunt and a cartoon show is hosted in the UN by General Colin Powell (who rose to the top by covering up the notorious My Lai massacre in Vietnam).

It is all a charade. The Americans want Iraq because they want to control and reorder the Middle East. Their once-favourite dictator, Saddam Hussein, made the mistake of misreading the signals from Washington in 1990 and invading another favourite American oil tyranny, Kuwait. So belatedly, Saddam must be replaced, preferably by another Saddam, though more reliable and less uppity. There is no issue of “weapons of mass destruction”. That is a distraction for us and the media.

The wider significance of the promised attack is the rapacious nature of the American state. As Tony Blair has confirmed, North Korea is likely to be “next”. I think he is wrong and that Iran will be next. That is what the Israeli regime wants and Israel’s wishes are as important to influential members of the Bush gang as oil. Thereafter, there is China. Says Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Institute in Washington: “What radical US nationalists have in mind is either to ‘contain’ China by overwhelming military force or to destroy the Chinese Communist state.”

ONE of the Bush gang’s planners, Richard Perle, has said: “If we let our vision of the world go forth and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

September 11 2001 was their big opportunity. On September 12 Donald Rumsfeld wanted to use the Twin Towers tragedy as an excuse to attack Iraq, which was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell argued that “public opinion has to be prepared”. Afghanistan was the easier option and they were planning to attack it anyway.

The subsequent American endeavour to encircle al-Qaeda in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan was a fiasco and more than 20,000 people, estimates Jonathan Steele in the Guardian, paid the price of that country’s “liberation”.

Since September 11 America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has repudiated the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions, with the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states “if necessary” – incredibly Geoffrey Hoon, on Blair’s behalf, has said exactly the same.

Assassination is now legal. Virtually before our eyes, prisoners have been tortured to the point of suicide in an American concentration camp in Cuba. Under Donald Rumsfeld a secret group with the Orwellian name of the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group has the job of provoking terrorist attacks, which would then require “counter-attack” by the United States. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that the enemy to all our security is not a regional tyrant – there are plenty of those, many created by America and Britain.

And what of Blair? Do he and his craven Ministers understand any of this? It is difficult to know. Such is Blair’s evangelical obsession with Iraq, and perhaps his desperation in the face of overwhelming public opposition, that he is prepared to mislead and deceive not only the public but the armed forces he has sent to pursue his and the mad Perle’s “vision”.

Does anyone believe the Prime Minister any more? During his interview last Thursday with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, Blair lied once again that UN weapons inspectors were “thrown out” of Iraq by the regime in 1998. He knows the truth: that they were withdrawn when it was discovered the CIA had planted spies among them in order to gather intelligence for the subsequent Anglo-American bombing of Iraq in December 1998.

I MEAN,” said Blair last week, “(the threat of Iraq’s undiscovered weapons of mass destruction) is what our intelligence services are telling us and it’s difficult because, you know, either they’re simply making the whole thing up …”

Making it up, indeed. On February 7 Downing Street had to apologise when it was revealed that its latest dossier seeking to justify war – “Iraq: its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation” – was lifted word for word, including the grammatical and spelling mistakes, from an article written by an American student 10 years ago. As David Edwards of Media Lens has pointed out, “the only changes involved the doctoring of passages to make the report more ominous: a claim that Iraq was ‘aiding opposition groups’ was changed to a claim that Iraq was ‘supporting terrorist organisations’.” Like Bush, Blair lies that “we do know of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq”. An investigation by America’s National Security Council, which advises Bush, “found no evidence of a noteworthy relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda. On February 5 a Ministry of Defence document, leaked to the BBC, revealed that British intelligence had told Blair there was “no current link” between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Blair has even denied seeing this crucial report.

As a Christian, Blair says be is helping to build a “secure and hopeful world for all our children”.

The Labour MP Llew Smith recently asked the Education Secretary to explain “how we can find billions of pounds to increase our defence budget and go to war with Iraq but cannot find the money to scrap tuition fees?”

There was no intelligible reply.

LAST November a report by the School of Public Policy, University of College London, disclosed that “53 per cent of children in inner London are living in income poverty”. Yet Chancellor Gordon Brown puts aside “at least a billion pounds” as “a war chest” with which to attack not poverty but an impoverished people half a world away.

A peaceful solution in the Middle East is only possible when the threat of an attack is lifted and a total ban on so-called weapons of mass destruction and arms sales is imposed throughout the region, on Israel as well as Iraq. The economic blockade on the people of Iraq should end immediately and justice for the Palestinians become a priority.

The power of public opinion, both moral and political power, is far greater than many people realise. That’s why Blair fears it and why, through the inept Tessa Jowell, he tried to ban tomorrow’s demonstration. He fears it because if the voice of the people threatens the house of cards he has built on his obsession with Iraq and America, it may well threaten his political life and make mockery of the Anglo-American “coalition” and deny the Bush gang its fig leaf.

Should that happen, American public opinion, now stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.

Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look at how this week’s French and German “rebellion” almost seemed to change everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of overwhelming pressure from their people.

Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can begin to make it happen.

— source johnpilger.com