Tag Archives: Avaaz.org

Not the Fluffy Chair


Three Colours: Red

If my foggy memory serves me right, the title I use here comes from Monty Python.  Tell me if I’m wrong.  In one hilarious scene someone is being whisked away to be tortured to death, apparently.

The person shouting orders goes “Take him to the fluffy chair!”

The victim begs “No!  Not the fluffy chair!!!!”

Imagine the rest of the sequence for yourselves.

This morning I was asked by Avaaz.org to sign a petiton to stop the stoning to death of a woman in Iran.  Here is part of the text:

Yesterday an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, was saved by global protests from being stoned to death.

But she may still be hanged — and, meanwhile, execution by stoning continues. Right now fifteen more people are on death row awaiting stoning in which victims are buried up to their necks in the ground and then large rocks are thrown at their heads.

–Avaaz.org

Back when I was still giving lectures to university students, the matter of the death penalty came up.  I think it was around the time it was being debated by lawmakers.  The government through the years had been pressured by various differing lobby groups to either abolish it or have it reinstated – a number of times, if I remember correctly – like it was a game of table tennis, with the rules changing as the game went on it seemed.

One of my students posted the question: what if you were the child of a person set to be killed by the state?  What would you feel towards the government?

In the film Three Colours: Red (the final part in the magnificent trilogy) by the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski, one of the main characters is a former judge who monitors his neigbour’s secret conversations.  It asks us how much do we know the people around us, or the people we may encounter very briefly?  In the end, how do we, indeed, how can we judge another person to a certain fate?  By appearance, police records, media, religious stands?  Yes, all of us tend to weigh each person’s worth, each person’s relevance to our lives.  Often it is a matter of perspective.

Here is a leap.  Why feel horrified by a pile of stones reserved for a person buried in the ground up to the neck?  Is lethal injection or the electric chair a more humane option?  (bitter laughter please)  How about torture (yes, I see that as slow killing) in a secret detention centre – no, what about a known detention centre, say Guantanamo and others like it in other countries?  Would that be more palatable?

Let us not forget that it is not just the act of stoning someone (a mere head protruding from dry ground, apparently) that should be seen as disgusting, but the very notion of capital punishment (which, in historical and literal fact, means severing the head!).

If you sign the petition, keep these thoughts in mind.  And be surprised at this list of countries that continue to impose the death penalty.

Yes, I did sign the petition.

Now, can someone tell me what that Monty Python movie is called so I can get it out of the video shop?  Please?

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Lives in Ruins

Surgical teams of the international medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) are continuing to work round the clock to treat victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Avaaz has started a campaign to raise funds for the victims.  These funds are meant to go directly to particular organizations that have been working in Haiti for over 20 years.


Was the Global Wake-Up Call too Festive?

Looks like great fun wasn’t it?

Initially it felt good taking part in this activity — but will this make a difference?  What about a targeted boycott of major products and industries that are major pollutants?  Are we willing to take a walk for a day?  Campaign for cleaner airplane fuels?  Dismantle the military industry?  Wait, how is that relevant?  You can’t put aside the War on  Terror (or was it War and Plunder?) just because of climate change.   Forgive the babbling.


Global Wake-Up Call

Today I called President Jacob Zuma’s Office – yep, I did! – as part of the international action called the Global Wake-Up Call, asking leaders to commit to go to the Copenhagen climate meeting in December and agree on a global climate deal that is FAIR, AMBITIOUS and BINDING (“FAB”)

Hey, it wasn’t that hard to gather up courage to get hold of a political leader — or at least the switchboard/secretary… ok, grim thoughts going to the laughing bin.

The staff at the Water and Environmental Ministry seemed more clued up though – thankfully – and said they welcomed this campaign.


Pigs in Geneva, Not in Space

CLICK HERE FOR SLIDESHOW OF PIGS IN GENEVA

THIS LINK TAKES YOU TO THE RELEVANT AVAAZ.ORG PAGE

Miss Piggy was one of my favourite characters from Jim Henson’s “The Muppet Show” – oh, so many years ago.  “Pigs in Space” gags still run in my head with that echoing voice over of the title.  One particular scene has to do with a wall of their space ship that had been damaged.  Props are being sucked out to space.   Panic ensues, one thing leads to another until Miss Piggy ends up plugging the hole with her snout.  Problem solved.  You have to consider that I am recalling these scenes from a childhood memory, so the details may not be as accurate as they should be.  But I am pretty certain about that snout in the hole.

Now how did we get there?  Ah,  the pigs in Geneva!  Some weeks ago I signed up on Avaaz.org’s campaign to try and convince the WHO (World Health Organization, not the band) to verify the link between the “Swine Flu” or H1N1 virus (are they expecting more, hence the seemingly ‘Episode 1’ title?) and an American-owned factory farm in Mexico.

Well here’s the thank you note from Avaaz, and perhaps a better explanation of the campaign.

-o-

We stopped traffic in Geneva on May 27th as we descended on the World Health Organization (WHO) with a herd of cardboard pigs to deliver our petition! The 225 cardboard pigs represented the 225,000 Avaaz members that had signed the petition. We certainly got our message across — our campaign delivery went out around the world on ABC news, EFE TV, the Wall Street Journal, France 24, Kuwait News Agency, and Intellasia – as well as many other major news outlets.

When we handed over our petition, it became apparent how important our campaigning was and how valid our concerns were. Initially, the World Health Organization’s Food Safety and Zoonoses director, Dr. Jørgen Schlundt, told us that the WHO and the FAO had not found a definitive link between the H1N1 virus and a factory farm and that the source was still under investigation. But he then admitted scientists have seen more disease breeding and mutating between animals and humans with the massive increase in industrial meat production; he agreed that certain company’s farming practices (Smithfields in this case) were dangerous; he warned that new operations propagating in developing countries could make ‘mistakes’ in food safety that could be seriously risky to human health; and most importantly he indicated that the political processes that determine the research and rules on factory farm biosafety are dominated by the industrial meat lobby. He said strong global regulations were essential, but, to date, unless there is a huge scare like BSE and people die, scientists are unable to push through the laws needed to prevent animal borne pandemics.

The message was clear – our public campaigning for investigation and regulation of factory farms is vital to ensure our food safety and counter the powerful meat industry. Our action showed the WHO that the world does not want to wait for another disaster – we want funding for scientists to investigate factory farms and we want preventive measures put in place that ensure public heath standards.

-o-

They could have made the campaign more effective and classy (har har) if they had invited the dame of pigdom, Miss Piggy.  Snort.  Snort.

Click this sexy photo and see one of her amazing performances.