Kimmy Baggelaar, former NVI Intern, is teaching English in Prague.
She kindly shared her take on Ukraine from that vantage point.
"The sound of bombs rang out over the cities of Ukraine." Using his new vocabulary words, my English student created an aptly harrowing sentence to describe the past week's events. We moved on with the lesson as if he had just told me what he had for lunch.
Here in Prague, about 1000km away from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, an existential dread grips the city. Over 1,000,000 Ukrainian civilians fled their homes as 2,000 Russian civilian protesters were arrested in what is now the most significant war in Europe since WWII. Last Saturday, newspapers reported a vast mobilisation effort across the Czech Republic as Prague witnessed the first train of Ukrainian refugees (predominantly women and children) arrive after their journey through Poland. Hospitals prepared to treat civilians and soldiers while neighbours quickly readied emergency accommodations, converting buildings into shelters and offering up beds in their homes. Czech Railways enlisted trains to help transport Ukrainian citizens to safety as donation sites materialised across the city, providing food and medical necessities to the new refugees.
Beneath this widespread humanitarian effort is a growing fear within former Soviet bloc countries. Many Czech people see the violent imperialism of Putin's regime as a threatening reminder of the occupation they endured not so long ago. Organisations throughout Prague are fundraising for Ukrainian military aid. Both domestic and international news media highlight the unwavering resolve of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has received public admiration for his courage this week. Instead of evacuating Kyiv at the directive of the United States, Zelenskyy responded, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,”.
This story, as well as Zelenskyy’s recent public addresses, have helped shape a charismatic narrative in support of the Ukrainian army's 'struggle for freedom and democracy'. It paves a well-defined path with a clear enemy and an arch towards justice. Of the 80,000 war protesters that took to the streets in Prague last Saturday, it seemed that most were open to US intervention and further militarisation of the region. It is difficult to find perspectives that challenge this discourse.
Another one of my English students fought back tears when I asked about her 19-year-old son. "He is still a child, he can't be called on to fight this war, '' she told me with warranted trepidation.
The time is overdue for us to collectively interrogate the roots of this conflict and commit ourselves to anti-imperialism. International solidarity will require us to divest from the global killing apparatus of US militarism and condemn NATO aggression in the 30 years leading up to its hegemonic power struggle with Russia. The implications of Western interventionism have not only contributed to the invasion of Ukraine, but also the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and more. Peace from these global wars must include divestment from the weapons profiteers that influence state violence and maintain the Military Industrial Complex. We must work towards a world that is free from nuclear threat. It is vital for the US government to shut down its military bases abroad. The Pentagon is currently deploying US armoured combat teams to eastern Europe as NATO is moving multinational battalion-size battlegroups further east- a move that is certain to escalate tensions in neighbouring NATO countries. We have an opportunity to confront Russian warmongering and Western interventionism with international support for all people who endure the violent impacts of imperialism. In the EU and US, we can provide safe refuge for the working class, youth and all vulnerable people who find no honour in sacrificing their lives for territorial expansion or patriotic duty.
As their bodies are brutalized by bombs and pierced by bullets, it is the masses who will suffer the death tremors of this war and the next. International solidarity with refugees of war starts with acting against imperialism.
Artist Ashley Lukashevsky
In this Spotlight interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Magaly Licolli, a labor rights activist organizing poultry workers in northwest Arkansas. Magaly is the Executive Director and co-founder of Venceremos, a human rights worker-based organization that works to ensure the dignity of poultry workers. We discussed how these "essential workers" are treated as expendable, how Magaly initially became involved in labor organizing with the International Workers of the World (IWW), the way the US government and big corporations like Tyson have endangered the health of poultry workers during the COVID pandemic, and how workers are taking action.
As a vegan, I'm deeply interested in the injustices of our modern system of industrial animal agriculture and in our interview Magaly highlights the human cost of the poultry industry. Magaly shares the horrific story of a woman who was disabled due to a chemical accident at a poultry plant, lost her job, and was then unable to receive disability benefits because of her immigration status. An immigrant herself, Magaly is fierce in her criticism of poultry companies and the government's negligence, with the clear-eyed confidence of someone who knows their fight is a righteous one. Magaly was an actress before she was an activist and speaking to her I got a glimpse of her deep reservoir of empathy, her ability to feel the pain and suffering of poultry workers as her own. Once a young radical, Magaly has grown in her activism to fighting for more achievable goals- paid sick leave, PPE, bathroom breaks, not the overthrow of capitalism but the basic human rights of workers. I appreciate how Magaly approaches labor organizing not from a place of paternalism but from a place of solidarity. She co-founded Venceremos alongside workers and follows their lead, not presuming to know more than them just because she is more educated. In her activism, Magaly travels the path blazed by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the farmworkers' movement, doing the hard and unglamorous work to build a better world. I found our conversation insightful and inspiring and I hope you will too.
0:00 Introducing Magaly
1:07 Magaly's Start in Labor Organizing
7:00 The Plight of Poultry Workers During COVID
14:20 Holding Companies Accountable
20:54 Workers Engaging in Nonviolent Direct Action
Follow Venceremos on Twitter- https://twitter.com/venceremosar
Follow Venceremos on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/venceremosarkansas/
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By Paige Wright and Lea Hilliker, Nonviolence International Interns
Gender-based violence and domestic violence have plagued the lives of women across the world. Lea and I take the opportunity in this article to walk through the ties between the stereotypes of masculinity and gun violence and how nonviolent action can promote nonviolent masculinity. We spoke with Ivan Marques and Amelie Namuroy of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) on masculinity and violence to better understand the causes of gender-based violence and what can be done to stop it.
Masculinity and Gun Violence
On February 19th, 2020, a shooter opened fire at a shisha bar in Hanau, Germany. The shooter killed nine people and injured more before returning home, to kill his mother and committing suicide. Before his death, the shooter wrote a manifesto detailing his racist and patriarchal motivations for the attack. The manifesto titled “Topic Women” contained 24 pages of misogynistic conspiratorial tropes in which the shooter objectifies women and believes they should be submissive to men. These patriarchal beliefs are widespread and are learned from an early age.
Men are socialized under misguided norms of masculinity in which they must be tough, unemotional, heterosexist, and aggressive. Boys live under this intense pressure to be “masculine” and develop more dominant, aggressive behaviors into their adulthood. Males use aggression and violence to assert their power over another or to defend their masculinity when it is threatened. Ivan notes that forcing men to identify with the “warrior” or “soldier” perception urges them to act aggressively and use guns to execute their. Men are overwhelmingly more likely to commit more gun violence than women.
Domestic Violence and Guns
In addition to widespread beliefs and socialization in male supremacy, the widespread availability of both legal and illegal guns in many countries often leads to high rates of gun violence and domestic violence. In the USA, women are five times more likely to be murdered by an abusive partner when the abuser has access to a gun. This problem extends beyond the U.S., and impacts many societies around the world.
In Australia, after a decade of violence and a terrifying climax of this individual’s partner threatening behavior, this survivor was brave enough to leave her husband. During her abuse, the abuser threatened the survivor with a gun on more than one occasion by holding the gun to her throat. While domestic violence is not always carried out with guns, guns in the household put women at greater risk of firearms violence perpetrated by an intimate partner.
A sign stating "Believe Survivors" at an anti-Kavanaugh protest in October 2018. The paid leave proposal in the Build Back Better plan would specifically provide paid leave for people who need to "find safety from assault, stalking and sexual violence." (Source: Ms. Magazine)
Moreover, women are not the only demographic group impacted by gun violence. The easy access to household guns poses a risk to young children. Around 41,000 individuals under the age of 24 are injured or killed by individuals that use firearms. Many of these casualties occur when weapons are not properly stored and secured in a household. These guns lead to accidental shootings and numerous suicides. We communicated the risks guns pose in school settings in our last article following the tragedy in Oxford, Michigan, USA. This incident is one of many examples of gun violence involving children, and unfortunately will not be the last. NVI believes that the heightened risk of gun violences and domestic abuse on women and children, and the potential for larger scale violence in their communities resulting from guns, demands significant reform to restrict the accessibility to guns.
Interview with IANSA
After researching information on the ties between masculinity and violence, Lea and I turned to Ivan and Amelie from the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) to discuss their work in ending gender-based violence and creating a nonviolent masculinity.
Ivan notes that the stereotypes of masculinity, a societal concept, identifies with the character of a “warrior” and “soldier.” Not only does toxic masculinity favor aggression, but it also favors the use of guns to express that aggression. The stereotypical version of masculinity prevents women from being part of the conversation on guns and gun violence– a problem IANSA seeks to solve through their advocacy.
When asked about the purpose of IANSA and their gender-based work, Ivan and Amelie noted that IANSA represents the voices of civil society on the proliferation and misuse of small arms. IANSA also addresses a deep flaw in gun violence discussions, as Ivan notes, “Violence affects the whole population which we know 50% is composed of women and women are not granted access to any of these decision making processes (i.e. conferences on violence, debates, etc.).” In response. IANSA created the Women’s Network, a project run by women, to push for this change.
The Women’s Network’s gender project continues efforts to “mainstream gender into this international agenda on small arms.” In particular, the gender project seeks to involve youth in the discussion of gender stereotypes and the pressure that surrounds masculinity and gun violence. Amelie described two creative projects the organization is working on: creating a coloring book that teaches boys and girls that do not have to adhere to gender stereotypes and publishing a comic book that transforms ideas of gender norms. Both of these resources counter the education of aggressive masculinity and encourages the inclusion of all genders.
While advocating against toxic masculinity, Ivan and Amelie note that it is important to pass effective legislation on firearms and domestic violence, provide educational material on what gender is and the transformation of gender norms, and promote the role of women and other gender identities in gun violence discussions. As Amelie says, “We must recognize there is gender equality… to masculinity, there is femininity.” While guns are part of reality for a majority of countries and the guns are tied to masculinity, IANSA examining gun violence through a gender perspective calls us to transform our notions of masculinity and promote a form of nonviolent masculinity where men’s emotions are valued and guns are not the solution to aggression.
Efforts from groups like IANSA will break the link between violence and masculinity while preventing gun violence around the world. IANSA recently launched their 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence that seeks to raise awareness to the issues related to gun violence. The Women’s Network also began the Gun Free Valentine’s Day campaign (February 14th - March 8th, 2022) to raise awareness of intimate partner violence, the increased risks to women when a gun is present in the home, and how laws can be used to save lives. We seek to challenge the status quo, and support initiatives that undercut gender based violence.
IANSA's Gun Free Valentine's Day Advertisement (Source: IANSA)
Educating men on male supremacy and showing how some of their behavior perpetuates the oppression of women all help prevent male supremacy and violence against women from continuing. Cultures and societies that push hypermasculine values must also shift their value system. Men must be allowed to be emotionally vulnerable and give space to have open and honest conversations about their struggles with their understanding of masculinity. It is a process of unlearning that must be made available to all men.
Here is what you can do to help:
- Join, Support, and Donate to our partner organizations like IANSA , Control Arms, and to Nonviolence International.
- Educate yourself on toxic masculinity and how you can contribute to nonviolent masculinity.
- Support men and women around you by giving them a safe space to share their emotions.
We are calling for action to change the socialization of men to allow men to be human and ensure women are protected and valued in society. We call for society to allow for men to be openly emotional and accept themselves beyond the oppression of ideal masculinity. We call for gun reforms to protect women and give them the right to live without harassment, assault, and death caused by male violence. We call on our leaders to raise women’s rights and take into account their perspectives on guns and gun violence. We call you to stand with us as part of all collective humanity, and may we collectively cut the ties between gun violence and masculinity.
By Nimesh Wijewardane & Rand Engel
Paula Green, a renowned peace activist, educator, and psychotherapist, passed away on February 21. She was the Founding Director of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, a nonprofit which facilitates post-conflict resolution, with active programs in more than 30 countries across South and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Paula was the Professor Emerita and founder of the CONTACT Program for Peacebuilding at the School for International Training in Vermont. The CONTACT program invited participants from opposing sides of war- Israelis and Palestinians, Indians and Pakistanis, Hutus and Tutsis- and trained them in the tools of peacebuilding. Paula served on the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the steering committee of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. She was a prolific writer, authoring a Training Manual for peacebuilders and several books, chapters, and articles. Paula gained international recognition for her peacebuilding work, receiving the Dalai Lama’s “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” award. Learn more about her incredible life and the many lives she touched on the Karuna Center website and Buddhistdoor Global's remembrance.
Paula meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town in 2009, Credit: karunacenter.org
"The roots of our wars can be understood through the examination of greed, hatred and delusion. It’s all about desire, about self. . . Until we change ourselves, and the unjust social structures in which we’ve embedded ourselves, we’re not going to have peace.” ~ Paula Green, Barre Buddhist Center, Spring 2002
Paula receiving the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2009, Credit: karunacenter.org
NVI supporter and volunteer Rand Engel shared this beautiful remembrance of Paula:
We’ve lost another lion of peace in a time of loss. Such is the passing of Paula Green.
I was truly fortunate to meet Paula at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) around 1985. I was a staff member, Paula a member of the Board of Directors. It was there too, during that time, that Paula met Jim Perkins, another IMS staff member, an anti-war activist and nuclear resister, and gardener with a heart big enough for the world, who became her husband and life partner.
Paula was a professor at the School for International Training and co-director of the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) program in Vermont, and founder of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. She was bridge-builder, a nonviolence trainer and activist who worked in conflict zones around the world.
I’ve slept many nights in Paula and Jim’s home, eaten their fresh vegetables from the garden and home baked bread, talked long hours. She was always open and welcoming, always encouraging – and pushing for – engagement for a better world. After all, she was relentless in seeing the possibility for peace and justice and embraced the responsibility to pursue it.
Of the many missions that Paula undertook around the world, I was fortunate to meet her in a few places over the years: a group she led to meet ethnic minorities in Burmese border jungle lands, 1990 – and then organizing a conference in Washington DC on Burma, which included meeting then a young student activist who made a lot of that conference happen, Michael Beer, now director of Nonviolence International; sitting in on her workshops with Palestinian and Israeli youth in Jerusalem, working with mixed ethnicity peace activists, and traveling through the West Bank in 1996; in Kosovo 2006. She brought experience and strategy, intelligence and vision, warmth and passion, and no-nonsense directness to teaching, facilitating and inspiring.
In recent years, traveling less around the world, she turned attention to being part of Hands Across the Hills an initiative that brought together people from western Massachusetts and eastern Kentucky, often separated by more than miles, in our fractured country, to meet deeply with each other. She was passionate about this realm of reaching out.
Paula was and is a great soul. She will be missed.
Rand Engel & Paula Green (center) at the Burma border, 1990
We Are All Part of One Another - Webinar Series
The Checklist to End Tyranny Book Event
Nonviolence International hosted a book launch event for The Checklist to End Tyranny by Peter Ackerman.
In the book, Peter gathers and arranges the best and most cutting-edge research on civil resistance and combines it with a checklist procedure which draws on his experience on Wall Street. This book is the culmination of 20 years of experience and research generated by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and provides a guide for activists facing severe repression, tyrants, and occupation.
Rafif Jouejati hosted and speakers included Peter Ackerman, Maria Stephan, Bayingana Simon Peter, and Mubarak Awad.
Sponsored by Nonviolence International
Cosponsored by the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict
Peter Ackerman is the Managing Director of Rockport Capital Incorporated, a private investment firm. Previously, he was Director of International Capital Markets at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Dr. Ackerman holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where he served 15 years as the Chairman of the Board of Overseers. He has also served on the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Freedom House. Currently Dr. Ackerman is a co-chair of USIP’s International Advisory Council and is a member of the Atlantic Council’s Executive Committee.
Dr. Ackerman is the founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, an organization that works to develop the understanding and encourage the use of civilian-based, non-military strategies that will be the catalyst for a transition from authoritarian to democratic rule.
Dr. Ackerman co-authored Strategic Nonviolent Conflict published in 1994, and A Force More Powerful: a Century of Nonviolent Conflict. The latter volume was a companion book for the Emmy-nominated documentary of the same title which appeared nationally on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in September 2000, for which he was the series editor and principal content advisor. Dr. Ackerman was also executive producer of Bringing Down a Dictator which in 2003 won the Peabody Award and International Documentary Association award for best film.
Rafif Jouejati is a board member of Nonviolence International and a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute. She is the co-founder and director of the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE Syria), and the principal architect of the Syrian Freedom Charter project, which surveyed more than 50,000 Syrians on democratic aspirations and political transition. She is also a founding member of the Syrian Women’s Political Network, a member of the Board of Directors of The Day After, and President of the Board of Directors of Baytna. Rafif is the CEO of a company that helps client organizations evolve to higher levels of capacity and maturity through business development, targeted training, and strategic communication.
Maria Stephan is the Co-Lead and Chief Organizer for The Horizons Project, which works to build relationships and connections between the social justice, peacebuilding, and democracy communities in the United States, with the goal of strengthening collective efforts to address systemic injustices and build a truly inclusive and pluralistic democracy. She also serves as an advisor to Freedom House and Humanity United. Stephan formerly directed the Program on Nonviolent Action at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Stephan is the co-author (with Erica Chenoweth) of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, which was awarded the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Prize by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in political science, and the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. She is the co-author of Bolstering Democracy: Lessons Learned and the Path Forward (Atlantic Council, 2018); the co-editor of Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback? (Atlantic Council, 2015); and the editor of Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization and Governance in the Middle East (Palgrave, 2009).
Stephan served in the U.S. State Department from 2009-2014; co-directed the Atlantic Council’s Future of Authoritarianism initiative; directed academic and policy engagement at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and taught at Georgetown and American Universities. She received her PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Bayingana Simon Peter is the Central Region Coordinator for Solidarity Uganda. He is a trainer in civil resistance and movement building and a member of Solidarity 2020 & Beyond, a global grassroots movement of activists. He is past fellow and mentor of the Rhize Global Coaching Fellowship, which works with grassroots activists to build people power.
Mubarak Awad co-founder of Nonviolence International, an organization which promotes nonviolence worldwide. He was a leader in the 1st intifada in Palestine before he was deported by Israel to the United States. He visited Western Sahara in 2015 where he provided training in nonviolent struggle. He has a PhD in psychology, and also is the founder of a number of organizations that have focused on advocating and providing support for troubled and orphaned youth.
Nonviolence International celebrates the life, legacy, and moral clarity of Desmond Tutu.
Along with many all over the world, we mourn the news of the death of one of our time's greatest advocates for active nonviolence. While we celebrate his enduring legacy, we must ask - what can we do to prove worthy of the example he set for all of us?
NVI’s Founder, Mubarak Awad, celebrates his friend Desmond Tutu & calls on us to not only remember his unflinching moral vision and joyous spirit, but also to take seriously his legacy by boldly facing the challenges before us.
“The Arch” as he was fondly known in his native South Africa was a shining light onto the nations. He put his unshakable faith into effective action. He should be remembered not only for his visionary, tireless, and loving activism against the brutal apartheid system, but also for his decades of moral consistency.
He was a person of enormous courage that few can match. It is hard to understand or emulate his greatness, but we know he would call on all of us to do whatever we can even when facing difficult circumstances.
We remember his distinctive laugh and his personal warmth and kindness, but also note that he was scathing in his critique of the powerful and his constant call for justice.
His profound faith led him to provide a moral compass for his nation and the world. His righteous indignation never ceased to amaze and inspire. He spoke with deep insights about the need to abolish all nuclear weapons, to raise up the humanity of Palestinians, and when some in his church questioned his support for gay rights he said, "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."
He stood along side young leaders seeking a better future and made clear his commitment to ending the climate crisis saying, “Through the power of our collective action we can hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up their mess. The good news is that we don't have to start from scratch. Young people across the world have identified climate change as the biggest challenge of our time, and already begun to do something about it.”
Personally, I've been inspired by his warmth and wisdom for decades. In 1994, when he first cast a ballot he danced with joy, I celebrated with him and wrote a piece for The Nonviolent Activist. I wrote that piece while serving on the National Committee of the War Resisters League along with Matt Mayer, who just wrote this beautiful piece for the International Peace Research Association and Waging Nonviolence. “The Arch” inspired many of us. Ken Butigan of Campaign Nonviolence shared this lovely remembrance. The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation posted this moving tribute.
We thank you for all you gave and will strive to build a world shaped by the values that guided your life. Your vision will light our path forward even as we mourn your loss.
In light of Desmond Tutu's passing, NVI founder Mubarak Awad recalls his relationship with Tutu and their support of each other's nonviolent actions in South Africa and Palestine. Please watch the following video to learn more about our founder's heartening relationship with Desmond Tutu.
As usual, Democracy Now does a wonderful job covering this great leader. They provide an important overview and then let us hear once again from him - in his own words.
Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, was the archbishop of Cape Town and chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He died on December 26th, 2021
Gene Sharp was an American political scientist and the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, a nonprofit dedicated to the study of nonviolent action. For six decades, Sharp focused on Gandhian principles and helped develop the academic field of nonviolent action. Through the Albert Einstein Institution, Sharp supported research and studies on strategic nonviolent action while also working with resistance groups across the world. NVI has built on Sharp’s legacy by adding to his 198 methods in our public database and producing a book, Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century.
Inspired by the anniversary of Gene Sharp's birthday on January 21st, NVI founder Mubarak Awad reflects on his relationship with Sharp. While Mubarak's first connection with Sharp was a dispute over Mubarak's translation of Sharp's work, their friendship grew as Sharp shared literature on nonviolence and Mubarak showed Sharp what nonviolent action looks like. Please watch the following video to hear Mubarak warmly discuss his relationship with Gene Sharp.
Dictatorships are never as strong as they think they are, and people are never as weak as they think they are.
Gene Sharp, "How to Start a Revolution" documentary
Gene Sharp was an American political scientist and nonviolence scholar who contributed significantly to strategic nonviolent action and resistance groups around the world. Gene Sharp passed on January 28th, 2018.
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Sharp
In this Spotlight, I had the privilege of speaking with Ghanaian LGBTQ rights activist Alex Kofi Donkor. Alex Kofi Donkor is the founder and current director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, a movement of mostly young LGBTQ persons who are championing a safe, inclusive and free society for LGBTQ persons in Ghana. In this interview, we discussed how he became involved with LGBTQ activism, the emergence of a dangerous and draconian bill currently being considered by Ghana's legislature which would attack the fundamental rights of LGBTQ people in Ghana, and the role of American evangelicals in spreading homophobia and transphobia in Africa.
As a queer person, the LGBTQ rights struggle is a cause I care deeply about and it was an incredible opportunity to be able to speak with an LGBTQ rights activist working in a much more hostile environment, facing a society far less accepting than America in 2022. Speaking from personal experience, I know the homophobia I have experienced is nothing compared to the homophobia queer people in Ghana are enduring. I was struck by Alex Kofi Donkor's passion and eloquence but what struck me the most was his tenacity. He has faced death threats. The community center he created in January 2021 was shut down by the police. If the draconian anti-LGBTQ law we discussed is passed by Ghana's parliament, he could face up to 15 years in prison. This young and fiercely intelligent activist is quite literally risking his life and liberty to fight for the rights of LGBTQ people in Ghana, and I am in awe of his courage and persistence. I was deeply moved by his statement that his activism isn't for himself, but for posterity, for the future generations of queer and trans Ghanaians. Reading about the history of the gay rights struggle in the US, I marveled at the incredible courage of the activists who came before me, struggling for LGBTQ rights in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Alex Kofi Donkor is a hero just as those activists were, and I hope that decades from now young queer and trans Ghanaians will open their history textbooks, see his name, and be as inspired by his activism as I am. I hope this Spotlight reminds us that the fight for LGBTQ rights is truly a global struggle and that we cannot be satisfied until every LGBTQ person on Earth is able to live with freedom and equality.
0:00 Introducing Alex
0:50 How Alex Became Involved in Activism
5:36 Ghana's Anti-LGBTQ Bill
26:08 Coming Out & Visibility
31:10 What Keeps Alex Going
Follow Alex Kofi Donkor on Twitter- https://twitter.com/ahuoden
Follow LGBT+ Rights Ghana on Twitter- https://twitter.com/lgbtrightsghana
A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support.
The people of Burma/Myanmar have spent the last year resisting military rule. Thousands are imprisoned and thousands dead and wounded. Covid-19 has ravaged the country. The economic collapse has caused enormous suffering. Ethnic minorities have been targeted with intense violence and have fled their homes. The Burmese people have used massive nonviolent resistance in strikes, boycotts, protests, and have created a parallel government. There are also many young men who are using bombs and guns to pressure the military to surrender or encourage an internal military revolt. Whether nonviolent or armed, the resistance to the military regime is on a massive scale across ethnic groups around the country. Internationally, the governmental and civil society support of the people and the parallel government have been strong. Nonviolent boycotts have forced many companies to stop financing the regime including Harry Winston Jewelry, Chevron and Total. Unfortunately, the regime stays in power hanging by a thread, with support from China, Thailand, and Russia.
Update: Watch NVI’s Director Michael Beer in an interview with student activist Me Me Khant.
The two discuss ideas on nonviolence and nonviolent action as it relates to the current struggle in Myanmar/Burma.
Nonviolence International continues its 30-year history of helping nonviolent social change efforts in Myanmar/Burma. Michael Beer, Mubarak Awad and NVI staff have met people from all over Myanmar who have suffered unspeakable crimes of torture, imprisonment, rape, and displacement by the Burma/Myanmar military. Ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya, Karen, Kachin, Shan, and Chin have been particularly brutalized. Michael Beer has provided extensive coaching and support to nonviolent activists. NVI has also helped facilitate the translation of many useful guides and materials on nonviolence.
People around the world are sickened by the sexist coup d’etat. Despite having enormous power, they were not satisfied with sharing power with a woman, Aung San Suu Kyi, whose political party won 83% of the seats in November.
Understandably, the people of Myanmar are resisting the military coup d’etat on an enormous scale. Many governments, including Southeast Asian nations, are protesting. Ethnic minorities are united in opposition. World-wide, citizens are planning to re-launch global boycotts. This coup will not succeed if enough pressure can be brought upon the coup plotters. Join NVI in supporting the people in Burma to challenge patriarchal and military rule.
Nonviolent resistance brought about an end to absolute military rule in Myanmar in 2008. Much progress has been made in the last generation in terms of freedom of speech and assembly, free elections, a huge improvement in the rights of women, labor unions, some ethnic minorities and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. This progress will not easily be reversed because the people of Myanmar will bravely defend these gains. Nonviolence International supports calls from Myanmar civil society in calling on all governments to impose targeted sanctions on the Myanmar military.
It is vital that governments and others cut the flow of weapons and money to the junta. Civil society and Burma’s NUG government continue calls for sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which represents an enormous source of revenue for the junta, fueling its atrocity crimes. On 31 Jan, Canada, the US, and the UK added sanctions providing for the freezing of funds or economic resources belonging to the sanctions targets. In addition, the US sanctions bar Americans from doing business with the targets.
Take Action: Don't be a spectator.
Michael Beer, Director of Nonviolence International, trained hundreds of people and guerrillas from Myanmar in nonviolent action and strategy in the 1990's. Co-trainers at various times included Gene Sharp, Bob Helvey, Eric Garcetti, and George Lakey. He is the author of Violent and Nonviolent Struggle in Burma: Is a Unified Strategy Workable, in Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective, Edited by Stephen Zunes, Lester R. Kurtz and Sarah Beth Asher, Blackwell Publishing, 1999. He has trained people in many countries and is the founder of NVI's Tactics Database and (in partnership with Rutgers University) our NV Training Archives, and author of forthcoming book on Civil Resistance Tactics of the 21st Century.
Michael taught nonviolent resistance to Burmese beginning in 1990 with George Lakey and then with Col Bob Helvey and Gene Sharp in 1992. He helped train more than 1000 guerrillas and civilians in NV struggle over 10 years. He organized some of the first Burmese solidarity efforts in the US beginning in 1990.
Nonviolence International Archives
Read: NVI Director Michael Beer quoted in this article in The Progressive, 4 days after the coup, Feb 5, 2021
Listen: "The Backlash Against the Military Coup from Brave Citizens in Myanmar"- Michael Beer featured on Background Briefing with Ian Masters, February 2021
NVI Canada Board member, Yeshua Moser-Puouangsuwan released an article in which he investigated the origin and transfer of Italian shotgun shells to Myanmar that were used to attack an ambulance.
NVI supports solidarity efforts around the world. On Dec 6, 2021, Michael Beer raised awareness about Burma in an interview on KPFK in Los Angeles about the "conviction" of Aung San Suu Kye and two others for violating covid-19 regulations and other spurious charges. All supporters of democracy are encourage to use nonviolent boycotts towards the Myanmar military.
Nonviolence International celebrates the life and legacy of Thich Nhat Hanh
Check out our Many Faces of Nonviolence profile of this great leader here.
His community at Plum Village shared the following note with the world.
"With a deep mindful breath, we announce the passing of our beloved teacher, Thay Nhat Hanh, at 01:30hrs on January 22, 2022 at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, at the age of 95.
Thay has been the most extraordinary teacher, whose peace, tender compassion, and bright wisdom has touched the lives of millions. Whether we have encountered him on retreats, at public talks, or through his books and online teachings–or simply through the story of his incredible life–we can see that Thay has been a true bodhisattva, an immense force for peace and healing in the world. Thay has been a revolutionary, a renewer of Buddhism, never diluting and always digging deep into the roots of Buddhism to bring out its authentic radiance.
Thay has opened up a beautiful path of Engaged and Applied Buddhism for all of us: the path of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. As Thay would say, “Because we have seen the path, we have nothing more to fear.” We know our direction in life, we know what to do, and what not to do to relieve suffering in ourselves, in others, and in the world; and we know the art of stopping, looking deeply, and generating true joy and happiness.
Now is a moment to come back to our mindful breathing and walking, to generate the energy of peace, compassion, and gratitude to offer our beloved Teacher. It is a moment to take refuge in our spiritual friends, our local sanghas and community, and each other."
For those interested in learning more about this amazing teacher, please visit their site. and check out the video below from Democracy Now to hear him speak in his own words.
He led each of us to be more true to ourselves and find our own path to peace.
Grateful for his glorious loving light and teaching.
His light shines on in the many he touched all over this beautiful and broken world.