March 29, 2005
Found Upcoming.org today. It's a social events calendar web site. There's a handful of events in Portland, some more personally relevant than others. So far, it seems like a place to spread the word about local concerts, but the potential of such an app seems like so much more. I added a few events to "attend" and "watch" for good measure.
March 24, 2005
March Commuter Reading: Commission on Human Rights, Somali Bantu refugees, Dalits in India
It's time for another edition of Amber's commuter reading list. This edition is inspired by the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights, a new volunteer opportunity that I am starting soon (tutoring students from the Somali Bantu refugee community in Beaverton), and an upcoming presentation I plan to give to work colleagues about my recent trip to India in which I will talk about the situation of the Dalits in India. As I was remarking to my dear friend Leah the other day, "I am excited and hopeful about the future." There's a lot to be done.
From the 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights, which is going on right now, here are a few reports that I plucked out from the very extensive list of Human Rights Documents (these are all PDFs):
- Mission to Canada - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen (Indigenous Issues, Human rights and indigenous issues)
- Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Timor-Leste (I'm glad I printed this out because at this moment the link is missing from the list of documents of the 61st session...) Contains some interesting observations about problems training judiciary officials because of language barriers created by the establishment of Portuguese as one of the official languages of East Timor. (If they put the link back in, I'll update this post.)
- Press Kit: 61st Session of the Commission on Human Rights. The introduction contains some interesting background and historical information about the establishment of the Comission. It inspired me to put this book on hold at Central.
- Fact Sheet No.7/Rev.1, Complaint Procedures. Haven't started this one yet. It's on the list though.
- International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) - Conflict prevention and resolution
- Institute for War & Peace Reporting
- EurasiaNet.org - Central Asia, Caucasus News
And now, a more local focus: the Somali Bantu refugee community relocated to my neck of the suburban woods: Beaverton, Oregon.
- SOMALI BANTU - Their History and Culture. This material was developed specifically for people who are or will be working with this group of people (hey, that's me!). Very informative.
- The Trib has written several articles about the relocation of this refugee group to P-town:
Finally, I am planning to give a presentation to my work colleagues on my recent trip to India. Since awareness of the Dalits in India is low, if not nonexistent, in my workplace, I thought my audience would find it interesting to learn about the Dalits. To prepare, Leah has sent me several interesting articles written by Joseph D'souza and JJ at Village also gave me Joseph's book and the National Geographic issue with the article, "India's Untouchables".
Reading is good. Doing is better. But knowing how to do the right thing and knowing what exactly needs to be done is even better than that.
Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy. :-)
March 17, 2005
Geography is fun
Warning: Amber the wannabe pseudo-geek emerges from her shell...
Oh how I love playing these geography games. I think my love of these games even surpasses the Toboggan Jump infatuation of 2002.
Sheppard Software's got...
- Europe Geography Web Games
- South & Central American Geography Web Games
- Asian Geography Web Games
- African Geography Web Games
...and oh so much more. Hours of geography fun and adventure await.
I conversed briefly over e-mail with Scott Sheppard, the president of the software company behind these geographical bundles of fun and he said there are plans for Mexican state and Canadian province games in the future. (How exciting is that?!!) This summer, I'd like to take a crack at developing a game to learn the states of India. I think that would be a fun summer project. When Alex(andra) graduates from art school this Spring, I can get my Flash game development book back and take a swing at developing my very first Flash app. It's all about the drag and drop widget. Oh yeah.
Statements on human rights issues in Asia
The Asian Legal Resource Centre lists the documents they submitted to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights for the current (61st) session of the Commission. They address a variety of topics including caste-based discrimination, hunger, rule of law (or severe lack thereof), and many others. Here's the link:
All other written statements submitted to the U.N. from NGOs regarding human rights situations are found here.
Save Darfur: 100 Hours of Conscience begins this week
Please join the Save Darfur Coalition in calling for 100 Hours of Conscience - Voices to End the Violence in Darfur. Beginning with a minute of silence on college campuses across America on March 17th, and continuing over four days, we will be encouraging and supporting events to educate people about Darfur and give them the tools to take action.
We want people to learn more about Darfur and to support one another in acting to resolve the crisis. Groups will tailor their activities to suit their specific resources and backgrounds, but all will learn about the suffering in Darfur, and all will take action for change.
For most events, we ask that individuals write to Congress. We want each member of Congress to receive at least 100 letters from constituents with the message that Americans are appalled by the horrific conditions in Darfur. We ask Congress to call on President Bush to provide the necessary leadership, and to take immediate and decisive action to stop the killing, the rape, and the destruction of villages; to ensure that humanitarian relief reaches all those in need; to hold accountable those responsible for these crimes against humanity; and to ensure the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of the displaced to their homes.
Through our web site, www.savedarfur.org, the Save Darfur Coalition will support a wide range of activities, from individual letter writing to community-wide interfaith events.
We hope that you will participate, and we stand ready with support.
News bite: Assistance for Attapaddy tribal belt
[Source: Cultural Survival weekly indigenous news who got it from Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, March 16, 2005.]
In summary, a rep from Indian government laid the foundation of a girls' school in the Palakkad District in the state of Kerala (India) as a gesture to demonstrate gov't committment to this tribal region of India that has been fighting for years for economic support from the government.
The state of Kerala is located in a southwestern coastal slice of India, kinda how California is situated in the United States. Palakkad District reaches for the Arabian sea, but doesn't quite make it.
March 14, 2005
Black Hills woman in Geneva fighting for human rights for indigenous peoples
A Black Hills woman, Charmain White Face, is in Geneva lobbying for the ratification of the Draft Declaration on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples. According to the article, this draft instrument, if approved on April 11 would go to the UN Economic & Social Council before heading to the UN General Assembly.
Way back in the day...1997-1998 I discovered the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Groups which compelled me to compile some research on the relationship between missionaries and anthropologists, which compelled me to write a little research paper on the missionary responsibility to human rights for my gospel and culture class at Biola. This was back when the International Justice Mission was just getting started.
Currently the UN Commission on Human Rights is in its 61st session. I've been trying to get an XML feed of the recent documents from this session on the side of this site here using the MTGetXML plugin that I use to display my del.icio.us links, but it ain't working for this feed for a reason that currently alludes me. The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is one of the items up for discussion. That's why this woman mentioned in the article above is in Geneva.
March 11, 2005
Pray for peace in Northeast India
"After 50 years of bloody guerrilla campaigns, many civilians are tired and desperate for peace." BBC, October 4, 2004
The BBC's October 4th, 2004 Q&A: India's violent north-east tells a story that could very well be told today as well as back in the Fall of 2004. Violence has once again erupted in Assam this week, one of several states in India located in the space between Bangladesh and Burma, sharing borders with China and Bhutan as well. Imagine the ethnic diversity in a place like that...and all the political divisions...all those boundaries and no view of the sea. Well, conflict abounds in this place. Peace is needed urgently.
A larger view of this map will popup in a little window when you click on the image. This is a Meghalaya District Map [courtesy Maps of India], which shows the town of Guwahati on the Brahmaputra River in the neighboring district of Assam. (The map of Assam that I found didn't show Guwahati, one of the locations of "separatist attacks" on Thursday. I also used this map of Meghalaya district because I know some people who are living in this district, so this place is more personally meaningful. That is, it helps me to relationally connect what is happening in the news with real people, even if they live some distance away. Making this relational connection may help me to intercede more effectively. I don't know if that is true. But I hope anyway.) The BBC Q&A on violence in NE India also has a nice map of the area as well.
March 10, 2005
Day of Prayer for Burma: March 13
I've never been to Burma. This is no surprise to those of you who know methat my interest in global issues goes far beyond the few stamps in my passport. I'm just trying to do what I can, which right now, apparently, is get informed and get on my knees. So, I would like to do this one small thing and participate in the Day of Prayer for Burma on March 13 (Sunday). Maybe you will decide to participate as well. If so, here are some prayer requests taken from page 10 of Christians Concerned for Burma's Day of Prayer info doc that you might find helpful, as I do.
Some of the listed requests are:
- For God's light of truth and love to penetrate every part of Burma.
- For freedom and lasting peace for the whole of Burma.
- For justice and the desire within all those in leadership to work for the good of everyone they represent.
- For relief teams of all ethnic groups to be trained and sent to give help, hope and love to the oppressed. Please pray they will be effective in bringing relief to suffering people of Burma as well as building up understanding, reconciliation and unity between all the peoples of Burma.
- For friends around the world to stand up for the people of Burma.
- For the restoration of democracy, ethnic rights and freedom for all political prisoners.
Also, there are some great articles and resources on Burma out there just a Google search away. Here's a couple to get you started:
- Christians in Burma: 'We feel we are known by no one'
- Human Rights Watch: Asia: BurmaArticles and Background Info. Pick and choose the articles you want to read/skim. You might want to start with their Essential Background article.
Happy learning. Happy praying.
March 09, 2005
Found this site today, Global Envision, that tells economic development stories of different people in poverty worldwide. This story of the creativity and innovation of a rural man in India is featured this month on globalenvision.com.
A Mercy Corps Story: New Growth in India
A little good news for a change...
March 08, 2005
Finding Faith in Tijuana
You may find this article interesting, as I did. Malcolm Beith is a general editor at Newsweek International. He describes a recent interaction he had with some nuns in TJ and their mission to provide a home for abandoned and exploited women and children. His perspective on these faith-motivated actions as an agnostic makes his story unique and interesting.
Finding Faith in Tijuana (Global Perspective March 8, 2005)
March 07, 2005
Investigating Human Rights Abuses in Haiti
Today, a digression from the great subcontinent: in the mail I received an article by Mark Weisbrot of CEPR on the deplorable conditions for people in Haiti. One of Weisbrot's sources was this investigative report conducted by The Center for the Study of Human Rights at the University of Miami School of Law, November 11-21, 2004.
Weisbrot's article may be read on CEPR's site:
In Haiti, 'hunger in dark places' is real ... and ignored
U.S. media, rights groups silent on country's torment
March 03, 2005
Is there a future for Gujarat's textile industry?
This story caught me eye. The name of a particular community I visited last month is translated "a community of weavers" because of the former textile/weaving industry that used to flourish in this particular neighborhood. Indeed, Gujarat as a state is known for its textile expertise. So it was interesting to read an interview with a man who believes that 'After IT, await the textile revolution'.
This one's a tiny bit of a stretch, in my effort to focus on India. But here's the connection: while I was in India Nepal was all over the news because of the coup. The following extended quote is what I found interesting about this editorial, Choosing between revolutions:
There have been several attempts to provide new leadership. In the past few years, the left and liberal student unions have called for a constituent assembly, defying the more timid parties. The women and Dalit cadre and that from the indigenous nationalities have increasingly challenged the male elite caste's stranglehold over their parties. There is a progressive-minded party cadre waiting in the wings. Now is the time for them to step forward.
Given the serious breakdown of trust between the three political forcesand the very high stakes involvedinternational mediation may be required to achieve all this. Here India must be very careful. Because of Nepali sensitivities, there is no role at all for unilateral intervention by India. However, complete disengagement will only allow the present crisis to deepen.
March 02, 2005
This one's for you, Leah
Rice to visit India this month (March 2, 2005: The Times of India)
D'souza: Caste Divisions Still Asserted in the Midst of Disaster
In Christian Solidarity Worldwide's "Response Magazine," Joseph D'souza writes:
The scale of this tragedy is such that one would hope that India's age old caste divisions could be laid aside in order to help all the victims. Disturbingly, this has not been the case and we have received news that active discrimination has been occurring against Dalits (the 250 million people at the bottom of India's caste system, often referred to as 'untouchables'). One paper reports, "Dalits are not allowed to drink water from tanks put up by UNICEF. Even in relief camps, [upper caste people] don't want to sit with Dalits and have food. Some of them manage to get rice but other relief items...are denied to Dalits."
Read the full editorial here: The Human Tragedy Behind the Natural Disaster, Dr. Joseph D'souza
Interestingly, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a human rights organization focusing on religious freedom. I've just recently come across this organization and realized that at least person associated with CSW has written some articles for Sojourners magazine, one of which I posted back in April 2004. Inspiring and excellent work.
On the 'Net: Reflections on India Tsunami Response
On February 24th, 2005, AlertNet posted this perspective on lessons learned by a representative of an international NGO responding to the tsunami disaster in India. Response comparisons are made between the recent tsunami affecting the state of Tamil Nadu and the 2001 earthquake that hit Gujarat in 2001.
March 01, 2005
Still waiting for justice in Gujarat, India
One must be careful when expressing resolutionsespecially on one's web sitebut I have decided, in an effort to bring a little focus to "Awake," to indeed focus on a country or specific area of the world for one month complete. It's really half-experiment, half-resolution (ha! there's my "out"); so I'll see how it goes. Since I've just returned from India, I thought it appropriate to begin with the great sub-continent. So here we go...
Scoop: Indian: No justice for victims in Gujarat (Amnesty Internation press release, March 1, 2005)
- Related Amnesty background report: India: Justice, the victim Gujarat state fails to protect women from violence
The background report from Amnesty is quite lengthy; scroll down to the footnotes at the end for some interesting insights, both cultural and political.