High Court Show Cause on Government regarding constitutionality of ICT Act Powers to Block Websites

July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010

The High Court today directed the Ministry of Information Communication Technology among others to show cause as to why Sections 46 and 57 the ICT Act 2006, allowing for blocking of websites and electronic communications, and providing for prosecution of certain offences, should not be held to be ultra vires (beyond the authority) of the Constitution.

Arafat Hosen Khan and others v Bangladesh and others: Writ Petition No 4719 of 2010

The High Court today directed the Ministry of Information Communication Technology among others to show cause as to why Sections 46 and 57 the ICT Act 2006, allowing for blocking of websites and electronic communications, and providing for prosecution of certain offences, should not be held to be ultra vires (beyond the authority) of the Constitution, and in violation of fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association. The Rule has been made returnable in four weeks.

∑ Section 46 of the Act provides powers for the Government to block any website on the grounds of sovereignty, integrity, security of the state, public order and safety and ‘ the prevention of incitement of any offence under the Act’
∑ Section 57 establishes several offences under the Act including among others acts whereby any person who ‘sees, hears or reads any website or electronic communication and is thereby encouraged to become immoral or dishonest’ or ‘any harm is caused to the image of the country or of any person’

The petitioners are Arafat Hosen Khan, Barrister, Kazi Ataul-Al-Osman, LLM, and Rokeya Chowdhury, an LLM student at Dhaka University.

A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Md Imman Ali and Mr Justice Obaidul Hasan issued the Rule. Ms Sara Hossain and Mr Moin Ghani represented the petitioners. Md. Motahar Hossain (Sazu), Deputy Attorney General appeared for the state.

Background: The petition was filed on 06 June 2010 challenging the ban then imposed on access to the social networking site, Facebook, and also challenging the constitutionality of Sections 46 and 57 of the ICT Act. As Facebook access was restored at 11pm on the day before the writ was filed, the petitioners did not pursue the issue of the ban in the hearing. They however continued their challenge to the ICT Act provisions, comparing it to similar, but far less draconian, legislation from other countries. They asked the Court to strike down these provisions as being unconstitutional, focusing on its being a breach of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Art. 19 of the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression. It clearly provides that while this right may be restricted, any such restriction must be ‘reasonable’, ‘prescribed by law’ and further have a nexus/connection to specific constitutionally permissible grounds (for example, that it does not amount to defamation or incitement to an offence).

Analysing the challenged sections, the petitioners pointed out that these provisions are vague and uncertain in their terms, and incapable of definition; they provide the government with arbitrary powers as there is no objective standard or guideline to ascertain when these offences have been committed; they are unreasonable and there is no objective basis or guideline for determining when these provisions would apply; the penalties prescribed are disproportionate to the offence; they violate fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, the right to be treated in accordance with law, guaranteed under Articles 39, 38 and 31 of the Constitution, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

For further information, please contact
Arafat Hosen Khan: email: nls1081@hotmail.com or Mobile: +8801714130360
Kazi Ataul -Al Osman: email: kazi_osman@hotmail.co.uk or +8801711138057
Rokeya Chowdhury: email: c.rokeya@gmail.com

Advertisements

Legal notice regarding Facebook ban issued

June 4, 2010

By Fax/Email/Registered with A/D

3      June 2010

1. Secretary,

Ministry of Information

Government of Bangladesh

Bangladesh Secretariat

PS Ramna, Dhaka.

secretary@moi.gov.bd

moisecretary@yahoo.com

2. Secretary,

Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs

Government of Bangladesh

Bangladesh Secretariat

PS Ramna, Dhaka.

info@minlaw.gov.bd

3. Chairman, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC)

IEB Bhaban (5th,6th & 7th floor)

Ramna, Dhaka-1000

btrc@btrc.gov.bd

4. Secretary,

Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology,

Bangladesh Secretariat,

PS Ramna, Dhaka.

Section16@mosict.gov.bd

secretary@mosict.gov.bd

Re Notice Demanding Justice

Dear Sirs,

We write on behalf of our clients, 1) Mr. Arafat Hosen Khan, Barrister, of 229/1 West Dhanmondi, Road No. 19, Dhaka,  2) Mr. Kazi Ataul-Al-Osman, LLM, C.D.A. Agrabad R/A, Road-14, House-312, P.S.-Double Mooring, Chittagong, 3) Ms. Rokeya Chowdhury, LLM Student, of Bonosree- 7, Amberkhana, Sylhet-3100 to address you as under:

Our clients are citizens of Bangladesh, and young lawyers and law students, and regular users of the social networking site, Facebook,along with almost 9 lakh other Bangladeshis. They have been shocked to be denied all access to Facebook with effect from 30.05.2010 as a result of the action of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) They have learnt that BTRC has done so on the purported ground that the site contained content which was defamatory of ‘national and spiritual leaders’ and also hurtful to religious sentiment.  Further press reports indicated that BTRC had admitted in a letter to Facebook Inc. that it had “… already initiated a process to block the entire site [facebook.com], since blocking of the partial links for the groups have not been a success here in Bangladesh”.

Our clients believe that Facebook facilitates the sharing of knowledge, information and that Facebook users in Bangladesh, especially the young generation, through formation of groups, pages and event organization and wide circulation have built a strong network in engaging with national and international issues of public concern. 

It is submitted that BTRC’s said action of blocking the website is wholly without lawful authority inasmuch as it arbitrary, capricious and without any objective basis. It is further submitted that sections 46, 56, and 57 of the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006 (Act 39 of 2006) is illegal, arbitrary, and violative of Articles 38, 39, and 43 of the Constitution.

It is submitted that the said action of blocking access to Facebook is a violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression of our clients, and of all citizens, as guaranteed under Article 39 of the Constitution, which includes the right to receive and impart information, without any arbitrary interference, as well as the right to be treated in accordance with law, and the right to protection of correspondence as guaranteed under Articles 31, and 42 respectively.

In these circumstances, we are instructed to call upon you, as we hereby do, to immediately take steps to provide unrestricted access to the website Facebook as contained in the url http://www.facebook.com within 24 hours from the receipt of this notice, and to report compliance to the undersigned, failing which we have instructions to move an application to secure the fundamental rights of our clients under Article 102 of the Constitution, for the costs and consequences of which you shall be liable.  

Yours sincerely,

Moin Ghani

Advocate

Supreme Court of Bangladesh

Contact for further information: +8801711593919


Press Release: High Court Orders Vice Chancellor and Register in Charge of Jahangirnagar University to Show Cause Re Contempt for Disclosing Identity of Complainant

June 3, 2010

June 3, 2010

Summary:

The High Court today directed Prof. Sharif Enamul Kabir and Mr Abu Bakar Siddique to appear in Court on 10 June, and to show cause why proceedings for contempt should not be drawn up against them. The orders were issued in a petition filed by Ain o Salish Kendra, alleging that the University Officials had violated provisions of the Guidelines on Sexual Harassment Guidelines contained in the High Court’s earlier judgment dated 14 May 2008. Clause 8a and 9iii specifically require the University Authority not to disclose the identity of the complainant till the allegation is proven, and the Complaints Committee to keep the identity of the complainant confidential.[1]

Background:

Jahangirnagar University is currently conducting an internal inquiry into an allegation of sexual harassment against a university teacher. The inquiry is being conducted by a five person Complaints Committee headed by a senior woman teacher of the University.

During the course of the inquiry, an advertisement was published on behalf of the University, under the signature of the Registrar in Charge, in several national newspapers on 27 April 201 referring to the inquiry and disclosing the name of the complainant. In a news report broadcast on ATN on 1 May, the Vice Chancellor referred to the complainant and said she had not filed the petition herself but had been made to do so through others.

ASK then sent legal notices to the University, the VC, the Chairperson of the Complaints Committee, and the Registrar in Charge. In their responses the Registrar and the Chairperson of the Complaints Committee commented that the complainant’s name had been earlier disclosed in the media and also by certain teachers of the University. However, they did not given any specific response regarding the specific duty on them not to disclose under Clause 8 or Clause 10iii of the Guidelines.

For further information, please contact

Abantee Nurul, 01731 266624 ask@citechco.net

Sara Hossain, 01713 031828, sarahossain@gmail.com

 See High Court Guidelines contained in judgment dated 14.5.2009 in Writ Petition No. 5916 of 2008):

Clause 8(a): It must be ensured that the identity of the complainant and also that of the accused will not be disclosed until the allegation is proved.

Clause 10(iii) The complainant committee will keep the identities of the complainant/s confidential.


Israel’s Carnage At Sea: Shouts Are Not Enough

June 3, 2010

By Naomi Klein – June 1st, 2010

Around the world, there are protests and vigils against Israel’s shocking attack on humanitarian boats headed for Gaza. I attended one in Toronto and delivered this speech


World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

June 2, 2010

http://pwccc.wordpress.com/

Final declaration of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, 19-22 April 2010).

Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.

If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people.

The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.

We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution.

The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.

Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.

Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.

We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship.   To face climate change, we must recognize Mother Earth as the source of life and forge a new system based on the principles of:

  • harmony and balance among all and with all things;
  • complementarity, solidarity, and equality;
  • collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all;
  • people in harmony with nature;
  • recognition of human beings for what they are, not what they own;
  • elimination of all forms of colonialism, imperialism and interventionism;
  • peace among the peoples and with Mother Earth.

The model we support is not a model of limitless and destructive development. All countries need to produce the goods and services necessary to satisfy the fundamental needs of their populations, but by no means can they continue to follow the path of development that     has led the richest countries to have an ecological footprint five times bigger than what the planet is able to support. Currently, the regenerative capacity of the planet has been already exceeded by more than 30 percent. If this pace of over-exploitation of our Mother Earth continues, we will need two planets by the year 2030.

In an interdependent system in which human beings are only one component, it is not possible to recognize rights only to the human part without provoking an imbalance in the system as a whole. To guarantee human rights and to restore harmony with nature, it is necessary to effectively recognize and apply the rights of Mother Earth.

For this purpose, we propose the attached project for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, in which it’s recorded that:

  • The right to live and to exist;
  • The right to be respected;
  • The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue it’s vital cycles and processes free of human alteration;
  • The right to maintain their identity and integrity as differentiated beings, self-regulated and interrelated;
  • The right to water as the source of life;
  • The right to clean air;
  • The right to comprehensive health;
  • The right to be free of contamination and pollution, free of toxic and radioactive waste;
  • The right to be free of alterations or modifications of it’s genetic structure in a manner that threatens it’s integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
  • The right to prompt and full restoration for violations to the rights acknowledged in this Declaration caused by human activities.

The “shared vision” seeks to stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases to make effective the Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which states that “the stabilization of greenhouse gases concentrations in the atmosphere to a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic inferences for the climate system.” Our vision is based on the principle of historical common but differentiated responsibilities, to demand the developed countries to commit with quantifiable goals of emission reduction that will allow to return the concentrations of greenhouse gases to 300 ppm, therefore the increase in the average world temperature to a maximum of one degree Celsius.

Emphasizing the need for urgent action to achieve this vision, and with the support of peoples, movements and countries, developed countries should commit to ambitious targets for reducing emissions that permit the achievement of short-term objectives, while maintaining our vision in favor of balance in the Earth’s climate system, in agreement with the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The “shared vision for long-term cooperative action” in climate change negotiations should not be reduced to defining the limit on temperature increases and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but must also incorporate in a balanced and integral manner measures regarding capacity building, production and consumption patterns, and other essential factors such as the acknowledging of the Rights of Mother Earth to establish harmony with nature.

Developed countries, as the main cause of climate change, in assuming their historical responsibility, must recognize and honor their climate debt in all of its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution to climate change. In this context, we demand that developed countries:

  • Restore to developing countries the atmospheric space that is occupied by their greenhouse gas emissions. This implies the decolonization of the atmosphere through the reduction and absorption of their emissions;
  • Assume the costs and technology transfer needs of developing countries arising from the loss of development opportunities due to living in a restricted atmospheric space;
  • Assume responsibility for the hundreds of millions of people that will be forced to migrate due to the climate change caused by these countries, and eliminate their restrictive immigration policies, offering migrants a decent life with full human rights guarantees in their countries;
  • Assume adaptation debt related to the impacts of climate change on developing countries by providing the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their excessive emissions;
  • Honor these debts as part of a broader debt to Mother Earth by adopting and implementing the United Nations Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

We deplore attempts by countries to annul the Kyoto Protocol, which is the sole legally binding instrument specific to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries.

We inform the world that, despite their obligation to reduce emissions, developed countries have increased their emissions by 11.2% in the period from 1990 to 2007.

During that same period, due to unbridled consumption, the United States of America has increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 16.8%, reaching an average of 20 to 23 tons of CO2 per-person. This represents 9 times more than that of the average inhabitant of the “Third World,” and 20 times more than that of the average inhabitant of Sub-Saharan Africa.

We categorically reject the illegitimate “Copenhagen Accord” that allows developed countries to offer insufficient reductions in greenhouse gases based in voluntary and individual commitments, violating the environmental integrity of Mother Earth and leading us toward an increase in global temperatures of around 4°C.

The next Conference on Climate Change to be held at the end of 2010 in Mexico should approve an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period from 2013 to 2017 under which developed countries must agree to significant domestic emissions reductions of at least 50% based on 1990 levels, excluding carbon markets or other offset mechanisms that mask the failure of actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

We require first of all the establishment of a goal for the group of developed countries to achieve the assignment of individual commitments for each developed country under the framework of complementary efforts among each one, maintaining in this way Kyoto Protocol as the route to emissions reductions.

The United States, as the only Annex 1 country on Earth that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has a significant responsibility toward all peoples of the world to ratify this document and commit itself to respecting and complying with emissions reduction targets on a scale appropriate to the total size of its economy.

We the peoples have the equal right to be protected from the adverse effects of climate change and reject the notion of adaptation to climate change as understood as a resignation to impacts provoked by the historical emissions of developed countries, which themselves must adapt their modes of life and consumption in the face of this global emergency. We see it as imperative to confront the adverse effects of climate change, and consider adaptation to be a process rather than an imposition, as well as a tool that can serve to help offset those effects, demonstrating that it is possible to achieve harmony with nature under a different model for living.

It is necessary to construct an Adaptation Fund exclusively for addressing climate change as part of a financial mechanism that is managed in a sovereign, transparent, and equitable manner for all States. This Fund should assess the impacts and costs of climate change in developing countries and needs deriving from these impacts, and monitor support on the part of developed countries. It should also include a mechanism for compensation for current and future damages, loss of opportunities due to extreme and gradual climactic events, and additional costs that could present themselves if our planet surpasses ecological thresholds, such as those impacts that present obstacles to “Living Well.”

The “Copenhagen Accord” imposed on developing countries by a few States, beyond simply offering insufficient resources, attempts as well to divide and create confrontation between peoples and to extort developing countries by placing conditions on access to adaptation and mitigation resources. We also assert as unacceptable the attempt in processes of international negotiation to classify developing countries for their vulnerability to climate change, generating disputes, inequalities and segregation among them.

The immense challenge humanity faces of stopping global warming and cooling the planet can only be achieved through a profound shift in agricultural practices toward the sustainable model of production used by indigenous and rural farming peoples, as well as other ancestral models and practices that contribute to solving the problem of agriculture and food sovereignty. This is understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and food production, thereby guaranteeing, through forms of production that are in harmony with Mother Earth and appropriate to local cultural contexts, access to sufficient, varied and nutritious foods in complementarity with Mother Earth and deepening the autonomous  (participatory, communal and shared) production of every nation and people.

Climate change is now producing profound impacts on agriculture and the ways of life of indigenous peoples and farmers throughout the world, and these impacts will worsen in the future.

Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of global capitalist production and its logic of producing food for the market and not to fulfill the right to proper nutrition, is one of the principal causes of climate change. Its technological, commercial, and political approach only serves to deepen the climate change crisis and increase hunger in the world. For this reason, we reject Free Trade Agreements and Association Agreements and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, geo-engineering, nanotechnology, etc.) that only exacerbate the current crisis.

We similarly denounce the way in which the capitalist model imposes mega-infrastructure projects and invades territories with extractive projects, water privatization, and militarized territories, expelling indigenous peoples from their lands, inhibiting food sovereignty and deepening socio-environmental crisis.

We demand recognition of the right of all peoples, living beings, and Mother Earth to have access to water, and we support the proposal of the Government of Bolivia to recognize water as a Fundamental Human Right.

The definition of forests used in the negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which includes plantations, is unacceptable. Monoculture plantations are not forests. Therefore, we require a definition for negotiation purposes that recognizes the native forests, jungles and the diverse ecosystems on Earth.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be fully recognized, implemented and integrated in climate change negotiations. The best strategy and action to avoid deforestation and degradation and protect native forests and jungles is to recognize and guarantee collective rights to lands and territories, especially considering that most of the forests are located within the territories of indigenous peoples and nations and other traditional communities.

We condemn market mechanisms such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and its versions + and + +, which are violating the sovereignty of peoples and their right to prior free and informed consent as well as the sovereignty of national States, the customs of Peoples, and the Rights of Nature.

Polluting countries have an obligation to carry out direct transfers of the economic and technological resources needed to pay for the restoration and maintenance of forests in favor of the peoples and indigenous ancestral organic structures. Compensation must be direct and in addition to the sources of funding promised by developed countries outside of the carbon market, and never serve as carbon offsets. We demand that countries stop actions on local forests based on market mechanisms and propose non-existent and conditional results. We call on governments to create a global program to restore native forests and jungles, managed and administered by the peoples, implementing forest seeds, fruit trees, and native flora. Governments should eliminate forest concessions and support the conservation of petroleum deposits in the ground and urgently stop the exploitation of hydrocarbons in forestlands.

We call upon States to recognize, respect and guarantee the effective implementation of international human rights standards and the rights of indigenous peoples, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples under ILO Convention 169, among other relevant instruments in the negotiations, policies and measures used to meet the challenges posed by climate change. In particular, we call upon States to give legal recognition to claims over territories, lands and natural resources to enable and strengthen our traditional ways of life and contribute effectively to solving climate change.

We demand the full and effective implementation of the right to consultation, participation and prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples in all negotiation processes, and in the design and implementation of measures related to climate change.

Environmental degradation and climate change are currently reaching critical levels, and one of the main consequences of this is domestic and international migration. According to projections, there were already about 25 million climate migrants by 1995. Current estimates are around 50 million, and projections suggest that between 200 million and 1 billion people will become displaced by situations resulting from climate change by the year 2050.

Developed countries should assume responsibility for climate migrants, welcoming them into their territories and recognizing their fundamental rights through the signing of international conventions that provide for the definition of climate migrant and require all States to abide by abide by determinations.

Establish an International Tribunal of Conscience to denounce, make visible, document, judge and punish violations of the rights of migrants, refugees and displaced persons within countries of origin, transit and destination, clearly identifying the responsibilities of States, companies and other agents.

Current funding directed toward developing countries for climate change and the proposal of the Copenhagen Accord are insignificant. In addition to Official Development Assistance and public sources, developed countries must commit to a new annual funding of at least 6% of GDP to tackle climate change in developing countries. This is viable considering that a similar amount is spent on national defense, and that 5 times more have been put forth to rescue failing banks and speculators, which raises serious questions about global priorities and political will. This funding should be direct and free of conditions, and should not interfere with the national sovereignty or self-determination of the most affected communities and groups.

In view of the inefficiency of the current mechanism, a new funding mechanism should be established at the 2010 Climate Change Conference in Mexico, functioning under the authority of the Conference of the Parties (COP) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and held accountable to it, with significant representation of developing countries, to ensure compliance with the funding commitments of Annex 1 countries.

It has been stated that developed countries significantly increased their emissions in the period from 1990 to 2007, despite having stated that the reduction would be substantially supported by market mechanisms.

The carbon market has become a lucrative business, commodifying our Mother Earth. It is therefore not an alternative for tackle climate change, as it loots and ravages the land, water, and even life itself.

The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that the market is incapable of regulating the financial system, which is fragile and uncertain due to speculation and the emergence of intermediary brokers. Therefore, it would be totally irresponsible to leave in their hands the care and protection of human existence and of our Mother Earth.

We consider inadmissible that current negotiations propose the creation of new mechanisms that extend and promote the carbon market, for existing mechanisms have not resolved the problem of climate change nor led to real and direct actions to reduce greenhouse gases.   It is necessary to demand fulfillment of the commitments assumed by developed countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regarding development and technology transfer, and to reject the “technology showcase” proposed by developed countries that only markets technology. It is essential to establish guidelines in order to create a multilateral and multidisciplinary mechanism for participatory control, management, and evaluation of the exchange of technologies. These technologies must be useful, clean and socially sound. Likewise, it is fundamental to establish a fund for the financing and inventory of technologies that are appropriate and free of intellectual property rights. Patents, in particular, should move from the hands of private monopolies to the public domain in order to promote accessibility and low costs.

Knowledge is universal, and should for no reason be the object of private property or private use, nor should its application in the form of technology. Developed countries have a responsibility to share their technology with developing countries, to build research centers in developing countries for the creation of technologies and innovations, and defend and promote their development and application for “living well.” The world must recover and re-learn ancestral principles and approaches from native peoples to stop the destruction of the planet, as well as promote ancestral practices, knowledge and spirituality to recuperate the capacity for “living well” in harmony with Mother Earth.

Considering the lack of political will on the part of developed countries to effectively comply with commitments and obligations assumed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and given the lack of a legal international organism to guard against and sanction climate and environmental crimes that violate the Rights of Mother Earth and humanity, we demand the creation of an International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal that has the legal capacity to prevent, judge and penalize States, industries and people that by commission or omission contaminate and provoke climate change.

Supporting States that present claims at the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal against developed countries that fail to comply with commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol including commitments to reduce greenhouse gases.

We urge peoples to propose and promote deep reform within the United Nations, so that all member States comply with the decisions of the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal.

The future of humanity is in danger, and we cannot allow a group of leaders from developed countries to decide for all countries as they tried unsuccessfully to do at the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. This decision concerns us all. Thus, it is essential to carry out a global referendum or popular consultation on climate change in which all are consulted regarding the following issues; the level of emission reductions on the part of developed countries and transnational corporations, financing to be offered by developed countries, the creation of an International Climate Justice Tribunal, the need for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and the need to change the current capitalist system. The process of a global referendum or popular consultation will depend on process of preparation that ensures the successful development of the same.

In order to coordinate our international action and implement the results of this “Accord of the Peoples,” we call for the building of a Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth, which should be based on the principles of complementarity and respect for the diversity of origin and visions among its members, constituting a broad and democratic space for coordination and joint worldwide actions.

To this end, we adopt the attached global plan of action so that in Mexico, the developed countries listed in Annex 1 respect the existing legal framework and reduce their greenhouse gases emissions by 50%, and that the different proposals contained in this Agreement are adopted.

Finally, we agree to undertake a Second World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2011 as part of this process of building the Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth and reacting to the outcomes of the Climate Change Conference to be held at the end of this year in Cancun, Mexico.


International solidarity and the Freedom Flotilla massacre

June 1, 2010

Editorial, The Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2010

Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Early this morning under the cover of darkness Israeli soldiers stormed the lead ship of the six-vessel Freedom Flotilla aid convoy in international waters and killed and injured dozens of civilians aboard. All the ships were violently seized by Israeli forces, but hours after the attack fate of the passengers aboard the other ships remained unknown.

The Mavi Marmara was carrying around 600 activists when Israeli warships flanked it from all sides as soldiers descended from helicopters onto the ship’s deck. Reports from people on board the ship backed up by live video feeds broadcast on Turkish TV show that Israeli forces used live ammunition against the civilian passengers, some of whom resisted the attack with sticks and other items.

Israeli troops storm Gaza flotilla

The Freedom Flotilla was organized by a coalition of groups that sought to break the Israeli-led siege on the Gaza Strip that began in 2007. Together, the flotilla carried 700 civilian activists from around 50 countries and over 10,000 tons of aid including food, medicines, medical equipment, reconstruction materials and equipment, as well as various other necessities arbitrarily banned by Israel.

Israeli naval ships flanking the Mavi Marmara.

As of 6:00pm Jerusalem time most media were still reporting that up to 20 people had been killed, and many more injured. However, Israel was still withholding the exact numbers and names of the dead and injured. Passengers aboard the ships who had been posting Twitter updates on the Flotilla’s progress had not been heard from since before the attack and efforts to contact passengers by satellite phone were unsuccessful. The Arabic- and English-language networks of Al-Jazeera lost contact with their half dozen staff traveling with the flotilla.

News of the massacre on board the Freedom Flotilla began to emerge around dawn in the eastern Mediterranean first on the live feed from the ship, social media, Turkish television, and Al-Jazeera. Israeli media were placed under strict military censorship, and reported primarily from foreign sources. However, by the morning the Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli soldiers who boarded the flotilla in international waters were fired upon by passengers. Quoting anonymous military sources, the Jerusalem Post claimed that the flotilla passengers had set-up a “well planned lynch.” (“IDF: Soldiers were met by well-planned lynch in boat raid“)

The Israeli daily Haaretz also reported that the Israeli soldiers were “attacked” when trying to board the flotilla. (“At least 10 activists killed in Israel Navy clashes onboard Gaza aid flotilla“)

This narrative of passengers “attacking” the Israeli soldiers was quickly adopted by the Associated Press and carried across mainstream media sources in the United States, including the Washington Post. (“Israeli army: More than 10 killed on Gaza flotilla“)

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated in a Monday morning press conference that the Israeli military was acting in “self-defense.” He claimed that “At least two guns were found” and that the “incident” was still ongoing. Ayalon also claimed that the Flotilla organizers were “well-known” and were supported by and had connections to “international terrorist organizations.”

A passenger aboard the Mavi Marmara carries a bloody stretcher.

It is unclear how anyone could credibly adopt an Israeli narrative of “self-defense” when Israel had carried out an unprovoked armed assault on civilian ships in international waters. Surely any right of self-defense would belong to the passengers on the ship. Nevertheless, the Freedom Flotilla organizers had clearly and loudly proclaimed their ships to be unarmed civilian vessels on a humanitarian mission.

The Israeli media strategy appeared to be to maintain censorship of the facts such as the number of dead and injured, the names of the victims and on which ships the injuries occurred, while aggressively putting out its version of events which is based on a dual strategy of implausibly claiming “self-defense” while demonizing the Freedom Flotilla passengers and intimating that they deserved what they got.

As news spread around the world, foreign governments began to react. Greece and Turkey, which had many citizens aboard the Flotilla, immediately recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv. Spain strongly condemned the attack. France’s foreign minister Bernard Kouchner expressed “profound shock.” The European Union’s foreign minister Catherine Ashton called for an “enquiry.”

What should be clear is this: no one can claim to be surprised by what the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights correctly termed a “hideous crime.” Israel had been openly threatening a violent attack on the Flotilla for days, but complacency, complicity and inaction, specifically from Western and Arab governments once more sent the message that Israel could act with total impunity.

There is no doubt that Israel’s massacre of 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in Gaza in December 2008/January 2009 was a wake up call for international civil society to begin to adopt boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel similar to those applied to apartheid-era South Africa.

Yet governments largely have remained complacent and complicit in Israel’s ongoing violence and oppression against Palestinians and increasingly international humanitarian workers and solidarity activists, not only in Gaza, but throughout historic Palestine. We can only imagine that had former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni indeed been arrested for war crimes in Gaza when a judge in London issued a warrant for her arrest, had the international community begun to implement the recommendations of the UN-commissioned Goldstone Report, had there been a much firmer response to Israel’s assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai, it would not have dared to act with such brazenness.

As protest and solidarity actions begin in Palestine and across the world, this is the message they must carry: enough impunity, enough complicity, enough Israeli massacres and apartheid. Justice now.

Further Resources:

Israelis Opened Fire Before Boarding Gaza Flotilla, say Released Activists: First eyewitness accounts of raid contradict version put out by Israeli officials

Gaza aid convoy killings: Those responsible must be held criminally accountable

‘Rachel Corrie’ Aid Ship Headed Toward Gaza

Robert Fisk: The truth behind the Israeli propaganda

Phyllis Bennis: Israel’s Flotilla Massacre: Made in the USA

Press Release: CONDEMN ISRAEL’S BRAZEN ATTACK ON THE FREEDOM FLOTILLA

Israel Holds Hundreds Seized During Raid on Flotilla

Israel Reveals Its True Face by Ahdaf Soueif

Interview: At Least 15 Dead After Israel Attacks Gaza-Bound Aid Flotilla (DemocracyNow!)

The movement to hold Israel accountable continues to grow

Electronic Intifada

Free Gaza

Gaza Freedom March

Witness Gaza

Cairo Declaration

Please go to http://cairodeclaration.org/sign to sign on.

Global BDS Movement

Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

 


Invitation: Discussion Meeting on Contesting Sexual Harassment

May 22, 2010

FormerStudents.JU invites you to a discussion on Sunday 23 May 2010 at 6.00 pm at the Madhu’s Canteen, Dhaka University, to discuss and strategize future course of action relating to demands and campaign to make JU a place free from all kinds of oppression including sexual harassment, please join!

For further info please contact: Riyadh: +8801713-244341, Shahanka: +8801552-336469