EU defends Western Sahara fisheries agreement

Eneko Landaburu, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Morocco, defended the controversial EU-Moroccan fisheries agreement at a press conference in Casablanca last Thursday, claiming the agreement posed “no problem” to the EU’s adherence to international law.

Unfortunately, this statement is only one of many European Union statements that constitute a de facto recognition of Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara, however much the EU claims otherwise. Read more of this post

Lithuanian Gay Pride parade defies homophobic hysteria

8 May 2010 saw Lithuania’s first ever Gay Pride Parade, Baltic Pride. The parade was clearly inspired by similar annual parades elsewhere, such as the Mardi Gras parade  in Sydney, held since 1978 and now the largest pride parade in the world, and Joburg Pride, Africa’s only pride parade, and these events were in turn inspired by the success of the Gay Rights Movement  of the mid-sixties. There were several attempts to stop the parade from going ahead, and when it did due to pressure from Amnesty International and the EU, as well as because of a ruling by the Lithanian Supreme Administrative Court, hundreds on counter-demonstrators shouted abuse, threw smoke bombs, and attempted to attack the participants of the parade. Lithuania has recently implemented discriminatory legislation against homosexuals, that amongst other things makes the “promoting homosexual relations” a punishable offense,  and the country is well known for its intolerance towards sexual minorities. Read more of this post

Human Rights – an account from the democracy movement in Swaziland

He is a fast speaker, and is always short of cash. “Why is this door locked?” – “What is this guy doing?”  – “Why are these chickens not in the garage?”. He is a Human Rights lawyer and believes that he should therefore be entitled to a car. “We are in the struggle, but we need not be poor!”

But Thulani Maseko is not rich – and “the struggle” has definitely lasted too long, he believes. So he is short of cash. At the maternity clinic he complains about the price of the bed that his wife is confined to during her hospitalization, and while we are discussing the price of antibiotics her water breaks.

The newborn girl is in an incubator, which is also expensive. “You see doctor, I don’t have this kind of money” – “What are we talking about. Just give me a rough figure so we know – how much is it?” The doctor has no idea what this costs so Thulani has to ask the receptionist. Read more of this post

The Secretary General – an account from the democracy movement in Swaziland

It is certainly not a dream come true, having to meet the king. Definitely not a privilege, though everyone else would think so. The last time he did so, he was more or less on his knees and in the middle of putting his case to King Mswati, when he king suddenly interrupted him as asked, ”excuse me, but who are you?”It would have been even worse to have been asked to become an MP in Swaziland’s parliament, however. Refusing such an “honour” is not an option!

When you visit Vincent Ncongwane, General Secretary for Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), you have to first pass through a back yard, a mechanic and a hair dressers shop. Read more of this post

Broken promise: The Danish government slashes Development Aid budget

Som frygtet, valgte den Danske regering i sin såkaldte genopretningsstrategi for Dansk økonomi at spare på udviklingsbistanden. Udviklingsbistanden bliver således sat ned til 0,76% af BNP – i dag er den på 0,83 – hvilket er en besparelse på 1,4 milliarder kroner i 2011, eller som regeringen vælge at kalde det, en ”nominel fastholdelse af udviklingsbistanden”. Regeringen havde ellers lovet, at udviklingsbistanden ikke ville komme under 0,8% af BNP i sit eget arbejdsgrundlag. ”Regeringen vil sikre, at Danmark ikke kommer under 0,8 pct. af BNI i udviklingsbistand i de kommende år”, lyder det således i arbejdsgrundlaget. Read more of this post

Disobedience is our truest virtue

Those who follow whatever conventional political observance is currently in vogue, whether nationally or internationally, always tend to see any alternatives as being utopian. I grant them that it is always easier to explain or argue for any political system or ideology that is widely employed.  The results and benefits of any such system always seem self-explanatory – especially if any dissent towards it has been more or less silenced or ridiculed.

The problem with such an orthodox frame of mind, however, is that it is reactionary and at odds with all attempts at any true progress. To truly believe in the infallibility of the powers that be and the ideology that they promote or follow is in effect to believe that all that is, is all that will ever be and that no further progress can be made. As George Orwell wrote in 1984, “Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness”. Read more of this post

Mario Masuku arrested in Swaziland

PUDEMO-leader, Mario Masuku, was arrested and charged with terrorism after having mentioned the name of PUDEMO during a speech at Sipho Jele’s funeral yesterday, May 22.

As I left, we found a roadblock along the way and they just picked me up from the vehicle and I was shoved into the back of the police van and taken to Malkerns police station … I was then charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act because I mentioned the name of the People’s United Democratic Movement, Pudemo, and according to the law that was an offense”, Masuku told Agence France-Press. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: The people’s game?

Just when I thought that the commercialisation of football and the disregard for its fans couldn’t get any worse, the unimaginable happened: Football’s “main event”, the World Cup that FIFA has branded the “people’s game”, is no longer available to all. In Denmark where I live, 21 of the games played at the 2010 the World Cup can only be seen on an obscure commercial channel called Canal 9 that was launched as recently as 2009 . This channel initially had TV-ratings so low that they couldn’t be measured, and only a fourth of the population can see it today. Football fans elsewhere find themselves in the same pickle as in Denmark: Brazilians will have to have access to five channels to be able to see all matches, including three commercial channels;   and Argentinians, Chileans, the Chinese, Colombians, the Japanese, Norwegians, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Americans will all need to have access to at least one commercial channel to be able to see all the games of  the 2010 World Cup. Read more of this post

Swazi student leader still missing

Swazi student leader and democracy activist, Pius Vilakati, who fellow students believe has been abducted by police following police disruption of the funeral of Pudemo member Sipho Jele, is still missing. Vilakati had held a speech at the funeral criticising the Swazi regime, and had to be smuggled out of the funeral in the hearse to avoid being arrested. His disappearance was first noticed when he didn’t turn up for a written exam last Monday (May 17) at the University of Swaziland where he is a student. Vilakati’s girlfriend, who understandibly wishes to remain anonymous, and his friends have not heard from him and are getting increasingly worried. Read more of this post

Three of the Sahrawi hunger strikers freed

Yesterday, the May 18, three of the six Sahrawi Human Rights activists that had terminated their hunger strikes on April 27 were released from Sale prison in Morocco. The three are: Yehdih Terrouzi, Rashid Sghair and Saleh Lebeihi. Both Yehdih Terrouzi and Rashid Sghayer have explained that their release had been due to international pressure and the mediation of Human Rights activists. The other activists, who are still in Sale prison, will be released shortly, according to Terrouzi. Read more of this post