Saturday May 29th marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, a day to recognize the efforts and the sacrifices made by multinational peacekeepers all over the world. The past 15 years have marked both an exponential increase in the number of missions and peacekeepers deployed, and an overwhelming transformation in the very nature of peacekeeping. It has changed from relatively simple monitoring missions to complex, multidimensional efforts to stabilize conflict, support the implementation of peace agreements, re-build governments and – in the meantime – protect civilians from harm.
Any one of these tasks is easier said than done, particularly in the punishing political and geographical spaces that the largest missions have been deployed to.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.
and admit political prisoners might be human after all. Apparently the Castro government will move Cuban political prisoners closer to home and some into hospitals where they belong, given their health conditions. So far, this is only a rumor based on a promise. I’m not optimistic about any promises that has the name Castro attached to it, even if The Miami Herald calls this “a stunning concession”:
The Cuban government has promised to move sick political prisoners to hospitals, and other jailed dissidents closer to home, in a stunning concession to the recent avalanche of criticisms of its human rights record, an independent journalist said Sunday.
Guillermo Farinas, who has been on a lengthy hunger strike demanding the release of 26 ailing political prisoners, said Havana Auxiliary Bishop Juan de Dios Hernandez told him the changes would begin Monday, and that eventually some jailed dissidents could be freed.
UPDATED: And tweeted today by @yoanisanchez on this subject: With these negotiations between the church and the Cuban Government, some political prisoners could be freed but the intolerance will not be eliminated.
Original: Con esta negociación entre iglesia y gobierno cubanos, pueden salir liberados algunos presos politicos pero no se eliminará la intolerancia.
Two years ago I bought a little browned book for twenty-five cents; it was published in 1968, and it was a war journal.This past Thursday, when my purse only allowed a thin, small something the size of a day planner, Daniel Berrigan’s Night Flight to Hanoi: War Diary with 11 Poems was the only book that would fit. I am not one for superstition; I usually laugh when someone speaks heartily of coincidence. Yet, in many ways, the happenstance of my reading this book has changed that–it has, if I may, made me believe.
Daniel Berrigan, who turned eighty-nine on May 9th, is a Roman Catholic priest who has spent his life protesting against violence, writing essays and poems that reflect his hope for societal and political change. He has been arrested many, many times for his peace protests, but also for more radical actions–he spent eighteen months in jail after burning draft notices during the Vietnam War. In Night Flight to Hanoi Berrigan describes his imprisonment, as well as his time spent in Vietnam, when, along with the late Howard Zinn, he accompanied three American prisoners on their release–this was an offering of peace from the Vietnamese–back to the United States.
World Press Freedom Day (May 3) provides an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate the fundamental human right to freedom of expression, defend the media from attacks on their independence and honor the memory of journalists who have lost their lives because of the peaceful exercise of their right to speak and write freely.
Amnesty International works to protect journalists from harassment and death threats, free them from arbitrary detention and guarantee them their right to freedom of expression. TAKE ACTION now on behalf of these journalists around the world.
Amnesty International has urged Cuban President Raúl Castro to ensure the safety of a group of female relatives of prisoners of conscience ahead of a scheduled demonstration today (18 March).
The call came after a protest by the Damas de Blanco (‘Ladies in White’) was forcibly broken up by Cuban police on Wednesday 17 March, who briefly detained several women.
After the incident, some of the women said they had been beaten by the police. They include Reyna Tamayo, mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died on 22 February 2010, having spent several weeks on hunger strike to demand the release of prisoners of conscience.