Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Preval wins election with massive support from the Haitian people -- yet a threat from the elite class and the international community looms

The following update regarding the recent elections in Haiti was submitted by Shirley Pate of WILPF's Washington, DC, Branch on behalf of the Haiti Issue Committee:
Preval wins election with massive support from the Haitian people -- yet a threat from the elite class and the international community looms

On February 16, the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) recognized Rene Preval as Haiti's next president - something the Haitian people knew eight days earlier on election day. Massive fraud marred the election in a move by the elite and the international community to rob Preval and the Haitian people of an opportunity for a better, more secure Haiti. The fraud began with an orchestrated campaign of vote suppression. In the Haiti election of 2000, there were approximately 10,000 voting stations. On February 7, the IGH provided for only 807 voting stations for the entire country! This meant that many Haitians would have to walk hours to vote. In the poorest neighborhoods, where Preval'’s support is the strongest, numerous voting irregularities took place: many voting stations opened as much as five hours late, few election workers were available to answer questions, registered voters'’ names were missing from voter lists, election officials ordered last minute shutdowns of voting stations, etc. Needless to say, voting went smoothly in the elite neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.

Ballot counting was slow and the IGH encouraged Haitians to remain patient. But, Preval supporters smelled a rat and hit the streets by the thousands demanding that their candidate be declared president. This show of strength gave the IGH and the international community pause, but it was the scenes on Haitian TV of discarded, burned ballots at a Port-au-Prince dump, most marked for Preval, that brought the electoral house of cards down.

Yet, Preval does not have long to savor his victory and neither do we in the Haiti solidarity movement. Editorials are starting to pop up in US newspapers that attempt to detract from Preval's victory and mischaracterize his tenure as president of Haiti in the late 1990'’s. The international community did not kidnap Aristide; install a puppet government; supervise a two-year reign of terror; and spend $70 million on this election to have Preval come out as Haiti'’s next president -- now that he has, the elite forces and many members of the international community intend for his stay at the National Palace to be a short one. The Haitian people need all the support we can offer them as they struggle to retain their democracy and preserve the sovereignty of their country.

By Shirley Pate -- Washington, DC, Branch - February 18, 2006.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Updates on wilpf.org

A friendly reminder to check out wilpf.org for more news from US WILPF.

Recent updates include:
In response to Bush's State of the Union speech:
WILPF Calls for a Reality-Based Administration to Act for Peace and Security

Opinions on the Hamas Election Victory

We're also creating a twice-a-month update on all national WILPF programs. Hopefully, it will soon be available on WILPF's website. I'll keep you updated...

In the meantime, I wanted to let y'all know that the WCUSP (Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East) Campaign had an extremely successful strategy meeting in Portland, Oregon last weekend. We were hosted by the Portland and Washington County branches and created three initiatives to focus ourselves around: Human Rights at Home and Abroad, Dual Occupation, and Stop Caterpillar. More information will be on our website soon. In addition to observing the Palestinian elections and their repercussions, we are also concerned about violence that may have been sparked by Danish cartoons. I hope you share our desire for nonviolent communication and cooperation between different societies throughout the world.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Perspective from a National WILPF Staff Member

US WILPF has a small, extremely dedicated staff who work in our Philadelphia office. Our Leadership and Outreach Coordinator, Jody Dodd, wrote the following yesterday and asked me to post it to the blog.
Dear Friends,
Sitting in the position of being national staff for an international women's peace and justice organization, many of our days are filled with incoming news of war, injustice, violence and oppression .... an item, a story, a piece of legislation, much of which I find challenging to both the work of peace and justice and to me personally as a human being on the planet. We here in the office will talk about it, perhaps plan a part of our work to address it, or pass on the news, hoping that our colleagues and friends will join us in speaking out.

Today feels different.

Today I learned that the House passed a bill in December, The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 that would make it a felony to be undocumented in the US and would also make it a felony to assist anyone who is undocumented. In addition it calls for the permanent detention of all arrested undocumented peoples until they are deported.

It sounds so outrageous..... so improbable, both morally and practically..... then I get the next piece of information:

KBR, the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton Co., announced on Jan. 24 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded KBR a five-year $385 million "Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity" (IDIQ) contingency contract to support ICE facilities in the event of an emergency. The contract, effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to expand existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid development of new programs, KBR said. The contract may also provide immigrant detention support to other government organizations in the event of an immigration emergency, the company said. The competitively awarded contract will be executed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District. KBR held the previous ICE contract from 2000 through 2005. [MarketWatch 1/24/06; Business Wire 1/24/06]

And then from the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch......
"The week after a military jury in Colorado decided not to jail an Army interrogator even after they found him guilty of negligent homicide in the torture and killing of an Iraqi detainee, a federal judge in Columbus, Georgia is sentencing nonviolent activists to federal prison."

Three of the 32 people on trial are WILPF members.......
Chris Gaunt, age 49, sentenced to 6 months
Robin Lloyd, age 67, sentenced to 3 months
Rita Hohenshell, age 80, sentenced to 2 months

All of the above come on the heels of the news in the past couple of weeks of the indictments of over 20 folks out west who are in jail, no bail and are being charged with multiple felonies, accused of conspiracy to commit and/or committing arson. They are alleged members of Earth Liberation Front or Animal Liberation Front. Last week, Alberto Gonzales himself held a press conference to declare them "the number one domestic terrorist threat in this country." Even IF they did everything they are accused of..... not ONE PERSON DIED! Do you hear me, not one person! And, given the miserable track record of the police and feds in arresting many activists who didn't do a damn thing..... I suspect that is probably true in these cases as well. In fact, the 3 arrested in Sacramento were being held based on an FBI affidavit of probable cause based on the flat out lie that "they were in attendance at a demonstration in Philadelphia where demonstators assaulted a police officer that resulted in his death"..... those of us who were here in Philadelphia at that demonstration know that the officer died of a heart attack on a very hot summer day.Even the police commissioner here went on TV and said there was no evidence that the demonstrators has anything to do with his death!........

Then ...... we get word that last Friday the United States voted with Iran, China, Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe to deny Consultative status at the United Nations to 2 NGOs from Belgium and Denmark who address Human Rights of the global Lesbian/GayBisexual/Transgender community....

Alito just got confirmed and sworn in.

My brain literally feels like it is going to explode!!!!! Revolution anyone???

In Tears and Solidarity,