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Justice by Reliance on Non-Violent Courage

By Chris Doebbler

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 9, 2012


The past year has been as turbulent as it has been inspiring for human rights defenders and social justice activists around the world.
The Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions renewed hope in the masses of peoples' ability to reassert their right to participate in their governments. Brave citizens stood up, non-violently to their governments' violence and whatever the final outcome, made their voices and their concerns very much heard. But while these 'uprisings'
succeeded, others were high-jacked by foreign interests or succumb to oppression.
In Libya and Syria, what may have once been legitimate efforts by the people of those countries to gain greater participatory rights in their own governance, have turned into proxy foreign interventions.
The NATO-led rebels in Libya, already seen as foreign puppets by many Libyans, have now declared war on the indigenous people of Libya and their practices. In Syria, reports by the opposition themselves show a significant contribution of foreign weapons and encouragement to violence. Both of these 'uprisings' have been characterized by recourse to violence and massive civilian causalities.
In the US and Europe, governments used more complex and covert ways to stifle their citizens' efforts to gain a greater role in their own governance. Governments such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland have been caught red-handed interfering with the very right to freedom of expression that they profess to protect. The Occupy Movement in the US, for example, has been hacked and attacked by government institutions ranging from local police to national security institutions. In the UK, the government has been compliant with Swedish and US pressure to silence Wikileaks, after these young independent media activists embarrassed the cooperate media for its failure to report news honestly and with even a minimal effort to obtain the truth.
Perhaps most depressingly, as the year ended, the rich Northern countries of the world, told the almost a billion Africans on their own continent at the Durban Climate Talks that the rich are too selfish to act to protect the 100 million Africans that are projected to perish because of our collective failure on climate change.
In such a variable world it is hard to find much certainty, even in the year ahead. That's why this year I had only one New Year's resolution.
It is that I will strive to distinguish justice by reliance on non-violent courage rather recourse to violence, right from wrong by depending on the consented and consensually agreed rules of international law, and humanity from inhumanity by asking myself if there is really love for their fellow human beings in the motives of international actors.
These are pretty basic questions, even if the answers might be more complex, but in a time of turmoil and uncertainty, sometimes relying on fundamentals is best.
Curtis Doebbler
Venice, Italy




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