Archives for posts with tag: Protest

Thousands of cyclists rode slowly past parliament in one of the bigger two-wheeled protests seen in Britain in recent years, timed to coincide with a Commons debate on measures designed to significantly boost cycling around the country. The mass event was timed to coincide with Commons debate after transport department junks Get Britain Cycling report.

The protest, organised by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC), will set off from the south bank of the Thames, before snaking around Parliament Square. It is hard to predict numbers, but they are expected to be high, with feeder rides joining from several other parts of the capital.

The event, billed Space for Cycling, has two purposes: firstly, to pressure London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, into speeding up a programme to make the city’s roads more cycle-friendly; and also to remind MPs and ministers in the Commons chamber that there is an appetite for change among two-wheeled voters nationally.

One of those waiting at the start of the protest, Holi-May Thomas, from Brixton in south London, was joining the event on a sturdy sit-up-and-beg bike, wearing a summer dress and no helmet (“I’ve got a sensible bike but I’m not a sensible girl”).

The 27-year-old cafe manager said she rode everywhere but wanted to call for more respect for cyclists on the road: “It can be scary, and there’s so many reasons why cycling is good for a city. We all need to be able to share the roads better.”


Tibetans have lost their right to self-determination over 50 years ago to China. The campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation, and for human rights, independence and the preservation of the Tibetan culture and language continues. Peaceful protests and resistance are met with harsh punishment by the Chinese authorities.

Teenage high school student jailed for four years after peaceful protest
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Wangchuk Dorje; four year sentence for an alleged role in a peaceful march

Wangchuck Dorje was sentenced for his alleged role in a demonstration of more than 4,000 young people in November 2012.

The peaceful march called for equality and language rights for Tibetans, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

He is a pupil at the Middle School of Nationalities in Rebkong County.

Other students detained at the protest have been released or sentenced already but the whereabouts and details of others are unknown.

Wangchuck Dorje was detained and interrogated for several months. His age is unknown, although, as he was a middle school student, he is likely aged between 16 and 19 years.

After the protest at least four Tibetan school principals were sacked from schools in the area, including the principal of Rebkong County Primary School.

79 Heather Doyle

Activists paddled a boat across the massive Shumate coal slurry impoundment in Raleigh County, in an attempt to draw attention to state inaction on the controversial and deadly 2.8 billion-gallon toxic cesspool that hovers precariously in the West Virginia mountains.

As part of a series of protests coordinated by the courageous Ramps Campaign, the two women held banners addressed to West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, “Slurry Poisons Appalachia” and “Gov. Tomblin, Put Health Over Profit.” Another Ramps activist has reportedly locked himself to a barrel of black water in front of Gov. Tomblin’s mansion.

“I’m participating in this action in solidarity with the Appalachian people who live every day slowly being poisoned by their own drinking water,” Pipestem, West Virginia-native Heather Doyle said in a released statement.

A federal study on slurry impoundments in West Virginia, released this spring, found that most earthen-walled impoundments failed to meet certain standards.

Earlier this summer, a broad range of citizens groups filed a formal petition for a federal takeover of the state regulatory program, citing “systemic failures to properly assess the risks of flooding from mine sites, drastic understaffing, and failure to assess meaningful penalties for violations of the law.”

In November, a coal miner died at a Harrison County coal slurry impoundment. His body wasn’t found for a week. In neighboring eastern Kentucky, the bottom walls of a coal slurry impoundment broke 13 years ago, releasing over 300 million gallons of toxic coal slurry into the Tug Fork River in Martin County.

Coal slurry impoundments abound in the West Virginia mountains–and in all coal mining communities, such as Illinois–including the nearby class “C” Brushy Fork impoundment, one of the largest impoundments in the nation. According to past mining records, down-slope residents below Brushy Fork would have less than 15 minutes to escape a 72-foot tidal wave of coal slurry, if a significant break occurred.

“I grew up in Eunice drinking water poisoned by coal slurry, went to Marsh Fork Elementary under that dam, breathed the dust from that prep plant, and I’ve suffered the lifelong health consequences of that,” said Junior Walk of Rock Creek, at today’s protest. “These same abuses are taking place today across our great state, and the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Gov. Tomblin.”

“Our politicians and regulators say that it’s safe to dump slurry in our communities, but they don’t want it on their doorstep. Gov. Tomblin could order to coal industry to install filter presses that would eliminate slurry while creating jobs for less than a dollar a ton,” said Chuck Nelson, a retired UWMA coal miner from nearly Glen Daniel. “That’s the way it also goes. Our Governor puts the interests of the coal industry above the health of our communities.”

74 Stop Animal Farming

Animal-rights groups worldwide carry out rescues and investigations into for example chicken, egg and pig farms, or commercial farms for dog-breeding (puppy mills), fur farming or breeding animals for research. The list is much longer….. animal-rights groups advocate against cruel sports such as bull-fighting or hunting, force feeding to create fatty livers for foie gras, keeping animals in inappropriate habitats, and more… The activists use civil disobedience and other tactics to draw attention to the plight of animals.

Groups include the New Zealand Open Rescue, formed in 2006 after a number of animal advocates became increasingly frustrated with the New Zealand government’s lack of real action for animals on factory farms. “Twenty years of campaigning against factory farming using legal means such as protesting and lobbying saw little to no changes for animals,” says Deirdre Sims, one of the group’s founders. New Zealand Open Rescue’s aims are to openly rescue animals from places of abuse, to expose hidden suffering and to consistently provide irrefutable evidence why factory farming should be banned.

In June 2012, after an undercover investigation revealed that the conditions hens endured inside colony cages were little better than battery cages, campaigners with New Zealand Open Rescue and the Coalition to End Factory Farming spent four months creating a protest against New Zealand’s biggest egg producer: Mainland Poultry. The company had been testing colony cages, which are set to gradually replace existing battery cages over the next 10 years.

Deirdre Sims, Marie Brittain, and Mengzu Fu suspended themselves from the top of steel towering tripods on the road and chained to a gate, forming a blockade. The action “effectively shut down Mainland Poultry and halted the distribution of cruelly produced eggs to their suppliers,” said spokesperson Carl Scott, who last year spent a month inside a cage to protest the eggs Mainland sells.

Deirdre says their long-term goal is to abolish factory farming, but in the meantime, they work to raise awareness. Their investigations and rescues are certainly doing that as they grab headlines and disseminate their own press releases. They also speak to the public.

Last Saturday, 17 August 90 animal rights activists gathered in Auckland’s Aotea Square, holding dead chickens stood vigil in Auckland to draw attention to the treatment of chickens farmed for meat.

They each held the carcass of a dead chicken to represent 90 million chickens killed every year in New Zealand, says Hans Kriek the executive director of animals rights organisation SAFE.

“On New Zealand farms nearly 10,000 chickens die of disease every single day,” he said. “Many of these chickens are so badly crippled that they can’t reach food or water and succumb to hunger and thirst.”

The chickens are bred for fast growth and slaughtered at six weeks old. This causes health problems including, heart disease, lameness and sudden death syndrome, Mr Kriek said. A consumer boycott was the only way to stop the factory farming conditions, he said.

“Due to the unnatural genetic make up of the bird, there is currently no commercially produced chicken product on the market that could be described as humane.” The dead chickens used died from disease and health problems at farms around Auckland.


The fate of Kanthoop, 20, who faces up to 15 years in jail for ‘having opinions’, highlights country’s harsh pro-monarchy laws.

She is the very embodiment of modern Thai youth, dressed in flip-flops, T-shirt and shorts, and sipping an iced coffee with friends after university lectures. But 20-year-old Kanthoop is not just another university student. The social welfare major has been spat at, publicly denigrated, threatened by police and faces up to 15 years in jail – for little more, she says, than “having opinions”.

“I know my case is symbolic, and I’m happy about that. There is good that comes from somebody standing up and wanting to make change – sooner or later people will start to realise that.”

To understand why Kanthoop might be so vilified is to understand Thai society. Twice a day – at 8am and 6pm – time stands still in this nation of 69 million as the national anthem sputters out of public loudspeakers and everyone is expected to stand in silent salute.

The routine testifies to the adoration Thai people feel for both their nation and their king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, or Rama IX, a man so revered that many shops and homes bear his portrait. But that reverence is backed up by the world’s strictest pro-monarchy regulations, which sentence anyone who insults, defames or threatens the king or his family to three to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Opponents argue that the law, known as Article 112, prevents healthy dialogue and is being used as a political tool to stifle dissent. Charges of lese-majesty, though in existence since 1908, have jumped since the military coup in 2006 that ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who was widely criticised for attempting to undermine the monarchy, an accusation he has long denied.

In 2010 – when royalist forces bloodily battled with Thaksin supporters – 478 lese-majesty charges were made and 75,000 websites blocked. Human rights groups, as well as the US, EU and UN, have voiced concern over the way the law is used.

A group of Thai academics and activists, called Nitirat, have since proposed amendments to the law, but current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, has vowed not to touch 112 — promising in January to “protect the [royal] institution, not exploit it”. The debate has consequently been left to rage in the streets, where Nitirat’s members face threats and harassment by royalists.

“This is about national security, not just about the king,” said royalist Dr Tul Sittisomwong. “Thai people are not that well educated … We’re not that open to layers of discussion without fear of violence [regarding this subject]. The king makes peace in our society.”

But the existing “hyper-royalism” in Thailand has spiralled out of control and may actually be working to the detriment of the nation, said Thongchai Winichakul, a professor of south-east Asian history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who spent two years in prison after participating in a 1976 pro-democracy protest that saw over 100 demonstrators killed.

“Just look at the hyperbole [used] to describe the monarchy, the religiosity with which Thai people love the monarch and the public participation of all this royalism,” he says. “People are now afraid of their colleagues” — because anyone can bring forward a charge of lese-majeste, he adds.

It’s an issue that Kanthoop knows well. Police began investigating her case in 2010 after she posted Facebook messages that were later cut and pasted by others, who she says distorted what she wrote and forwarded it by email to authorities. At her police summons on 11 February, Kanthoop was told that her case had been postponed to an unspecified date while police gather more evidence.

If charged, she may well be 112’s youngest offender, but she will probably not be the last. Last week a Thai court sentenced a 71-year-old redshirt supporter to 7½ years in prison, while last year a 61-year-old was jailed for 20 years for sending defamatory text messages, and a Thai-US citizen was jailed for 2½ years for translating a banned biography of the king.

Kanthoop’s political journey began in 2006, when she refused to stand up in the cinema for the royal anthem that plays before every film. “That was the moment for me,” she says. “I decided that I have the right to stand up or not, to pay respect to whatever I believe in.”

While her highly politicised views have not won her many friends at Bangkok’s Thammasat University, the only university to accept her even though she passed the entrance exams for two others, Kanthoop is not alone in her fight. A group of activists recently went on hunger strike outside the capital’s criminal court to demand that those detained on charges of lese-majesty be granted bail. “This law needs to be reviewed,” says 20-year-old Panitan Pruksakasemsuk, whose father Somyot is one of those detained. “Society needs to be open to change and willing to adapt to that change.”

As for Kanthoop, while the future is uncertain, her approach to it is not. “If I have to go to jail, I will,” she says calmly. “Even if it’s for life. But I won’t plead guilty to reduce my sentence, and I won’t ask for the king’s pardon. I am guilty only of freedom of thought.”

68 kingsnorth climber

Editorial – The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009

Sometimes, the most effective protest crosses the boundaries of law. That does not mean activists should be free to commit crimes just to draw attention to good causes. Rather, there are times when direct action can actually change the law, nudging it into closer alignment with what the protester sees as natural justice.

One such case is that of the Kingsnorth Six, who in 2007 broke into a coal-fired power station, shut it down and defaced it. They argued in court that the damage they caused prevented a worse harm: destruction of the climate.

The story is told in our Review section today and in a film collaboration between documentary-maker Nick Broomfield and Greenpeace, hosted by the Observer online. It shows the potential for extraordinary courage shown by ordinary people when motivated by ideals.

It so happens that the ideal of saving the world from climate change is a noble one. But the theoretical argument that direct action is justified in the name of a greater good leads on to morally complex terrain. It can be deployed by all sorts of zealots who think their cause trumps the law.

That is why the key to the Kingsnorth Six story is their trial by jury. Expert testimony and scientific evidence were presented to support the claim that closure of the power station, even for the few hours that the protest lasted, averted terrible harm to the climate. Such is the toxicity of coal smoke. The court concurred; the activists were acquitted.

That outcome would under any circumstances have made it a landmark case. But given the profound moral implications of the Kingsnorth Six defence – that burning filthy fossil fuels amounts to a crime against the planet – it is especially significant, and gratifying, that a jury of their peers agreed.


The nuclear powered USS Texas arrives in Auckland. The protests that greet it are, its captain says, the largest he’s seen in 19 years of sailing nuclear ships. In 1984, nuclear powered ships are banned from New Zealand waters.

Defend the right to protest at sea


by Elizabeth Renter

Some cynics write off citizen action including petitions and sign-carrying protestors. They don’t believe such small efforts can make any big difference. But the more than 600,000 people of Dutch city Rotterdam disagree. Their efforts, which began with a petition, have led to a “green initiative” in their city including the banning of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship product.

The petition campaign was called “Non-toxic Sidewalks for Our Children.” With support from that country’s Green Party, concerned citizens were able to make a significant change for their city and their future.

As we know, Roundup (glyphosate) is a dangerous pesticide that is used all over the world. Though its maker, Monsanto, would have you believe there’s nothing to be afraid of, research says differently. As a matter of fact, glyphosate has been connected to numerous health problems including respiratory distress, cellular damage, and even cancer. Check out this article which outlines just 7 nasty effects of pesticides.

    “It is bad stuff and I’m glad we’re giving it up,” says Emile Cammeraat, Green party leader in the council. “The producer Monsanto also provides genetically engineered seeds, Monsanto’s own plants are the only thing RoundUp doesn’t kill. In such a business district as you want to be, no Roundup is simply necessary, as there are organic alternatives.” (Translated by Fritz Kreiss)

Global consumers are getting wise to the dangers of Roundup and the GMO seeds designed to resist it. They don’t want Monsanto and other GMO-seed giants taking over the global food supply and have started grassroots resistance movements around the world. The problem lies in getting enough people to take actual action against the seed giants and local, state, and federal lawmakers who support them in one way or another.

Collectively, the people of Rotterdam were able to make their voices heard, essentially eliminating glyphosate from their local environment. There’s no reason similar cities in other areas of the world couldn’t do the very same thing.

Comically, the U.S. government has recently decided to increase the allowable amount of glyphosate in U.S. food crops, just as another place bans the substance. The new rule allowing for even greater use of this damaging ingredient would take existing limits on glyphosate and dwarf them with new, higher ones. These limits would truly only work to benefit the interests of one, and it’s not the American people, but Monsanto – the giant corporation who is making millions off of genetically modified crops and the destruction of agriculture and human health.

In addition to the Roundup ban, Rotterdam’s green initiative will provide new parks and play areas, and even get the city involved in planting fruit trees. There will be more flowers and environments to support bees and wildlife, and more places for the urbanites to take in nature without fear of contamination by Monsanto’s evil poster child.

Copyright Natural Society, 2013


Melissa Harris-Perry took a moment on her Sunday MSNBC show to offer women a creative solution to the Texas state capitol temporarily banning tampons.

Earlier this month, state troopers confiscated tampons, maxi pads and other potential projectile items from those entering the capitol to watch the debate and vote on the state’s highly controversial anti-abortion bill.

In light of the temporary ban, Harris-Perry’s producer made her tampon earrings. Harris-Perry proceeded to put her new jewelry and said, “Just in case that ever happens again, ladies, you can just bring them on your earrings.”

44 Patu

Merata Mita’s Patu! is a startling documentary record of the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against a South African rugby tour. Testament to the courage and faith of both the filmmakers and marchers, Patu! is a landmark in New Zealand’s film history. It staunchly contradicts claims by author Gordon McLauchlan a couple of years earlier that New Zealanders were “a passionless people”.

“The most controversial, and the most contested, event in recent New Zealand history was the 1981 South African rugby tour. Half the country was opposed to the tour, the establishment was determined the tour would go ahead, and the result was a country divided against itself almost to the point of civil war. This incredible documentary shows what happened. The actual filming was both dangerous and difficult and attempts were made to have the negative confiscated… [Merata Mita’s] achievement is as impressive technically as it is effective emotionally. A major documentary of our time.” – London Film Festival.

“Many people gave their time, money and equipment to see Patu! completed, and it could never have been done otherwise. I was asked repeatedly if I thought I was the right person to make the film, or why I was making it. The reason I was asked the question was that some people told me they feared that the film would not be accurate because it would have a Maori perspective! The Pakeha bias in all things recorded in Aotearoa was never questioned. The other reason they gave was that my politics extended no further than the Maori and the marae, and was I sure I understood the international ramifications of the tour. Yes, Patu! has a Maori perspective but it does not override the mass mobilisation of New Zealand’s white middle class, neither does it take credit from those who rightly deserve it, everyone who put themselves on the line. My perspective encourages people to look at themselves and examine the ground they stand on, while fighting racial injustice thousands of miles across the sea.” – Merata Mita.

“The year the Film Archive was founded was also the year the Springbok Tour revealed a huge division in New Zealand society. As thousands of New Zealanders took to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity with the victims of apartheid, battalions of film makers and photographers recorded the confrontations with police and rugby diehards. The credit list on this film is a who’s who of the renaissance of New Zealand cinema. Their contributions, running to many hours, were edited into an incredibly persuasive feature by Merata Mita. ‘You may even be in it’ ran the tagline on the posters, but the tone of the film is far from self-congratulatory. Mita was determined that Patu! screenings not become the RSA for anti-tour vets. Disgust at apartheid and dissatisfaction with New Zealand race relations are inseparable in her film.” – Bill Gosden, New Zealand International Film Festival, 2006