Petition for human rights defender facing life in prison

Frontline Defenders: April 4, 2012


Free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja JOIN THE CAMPAIGN


Dear friends and colleagues,

A former colleague of mine and staff of Front Line Defenders, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, is facing a life imprisonment in Bahrain for leading a peaceful demonstration last year. He has been severely tortued while he was arrested, including sexual assault by the prison guards.

He is currently on an indefinite hunger strike, currently into his 52 days. We are collecting a petition to be submitted to King of Bahrain calling for him to be release and to receive urgent treatment. This will be submitted through the Bahraini embassy some time next week.

If you are interested to join this cause, please send your name and your affiliation to by Mon 9 April.

The information about Abdulhadi and his arrest can be found at:


HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa
Office of The King
The Amiri Court, Rifa’a Palace
PO Box 555

Your Highness:

I am writing to express my deep concern for the health and welfare of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is a prisoner at the Jaw Prison in Bahrain. He has been on hunger strike since the night of February 8/9 and his health is deteriorating.

I know that the Foreign Minister of Denmark has made the specific request for Abdulhadi to be released to Denmark on humanitarian grounds, so that he can receive treatment both for the effects of the hunger strike and the ongoing pain he suffers as a result of the torture he suffered during his detention (BICI report, Annex B, Case #8).

Abdulhadi is well known as a human rights defender, and his work to support other human rights activists and victims of abuse is highly respected around the world. His conviction in a Bahraini court has been deemed unfair by the panel you empowered to review the cases that were brought before the National Safety Court.

Your Majesty, you are in the unique position of having this man’s life in your hands. I urge you to show mercy and grant his release from prison so that he may go to Denmark for urgent treatment.

Thank you for your consideration.




Pokpong Lawansiri, Protection Coordinator for Asia, Front Line Defenders

109 Soi Sittichon, Sutthisarn Rd, Huaykwang, Bangkok 10310

Tel: +66 (0) 2 275 4231, Mobile: +66 (0) 84 388 8110

Fax: +66 (0) 2 275 4230




Follow Front Line Defenders on Twitter: @FrontLineHRD


Free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja


The US Congress is sneaking in a new law that gives them big brother spy powers over the entire web — and they’re hoping the world won’t notice. We helped stop their Net attack last time, let’s do it again.

Over 100 Members of Congress are backing a bill (CISPA) that would give private companies and the US government the right to spy on any of us at any time for as long as they want without a warrant. This is the third time the US Congress has tried to attack our Internet freedom. But we helped beat SOPA, and PIPA — and now we can beat this new Big Brother law.

Our global outcry has played a leading role in protecting the Internet from governments eager to monitor and control what we do online. Let’s stand together once again — and beat this law for good. Sign the petition then forward to everyone who uses the Internet:

Under the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), if a cyber threat is even suspected, companies we use to access the Internet will have the right to collect information on our activities, share that with the government, refuse to notify us that we are being watched and then use a blanket immunity clause to protect themselves from being sued for violation of privacy or any other illegal action. It’s a crazy destruction of the privacy we all rely on in our everyday emails, Skype chats, web searches and more.

But we know that the US Congress is afraid of the world’s response. This is the third time they have tried to rebrand their attempt to attack our Internet freedom and push it through under the radar, each time changing the law’s name and hoping citizens would be asleep at the wheel. Already, Internet rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have condemned the bill for its interference with basic privacy rights — now it’s time for us to speak out.

Sign the petition to Congress opposing CISPA. When we reach 250,000 signers our call will be delivered to each of the 100 US Representatives backing the bill:

Internet freedom faces threats everyday from governments around the world — but the US is best placed to attack the rights of Internet users because so much of the Net’s infrastructure is located there. Our movement has, time and time again, proven that global public opinion can help beat back US threats to our Net. Let’s do it again.

More information

Move over SOPA & PIPA: Here comes CISPA — Internet censorship (Digital Journal)

CISPA: Congressional plan to censor Internet concerns critics (Examiner)

Good freedom, bad freedom: Irony of cybersecurity (RT)

Internet SOPA/PIPA Revolt: Don’t Declare Victory Yet (Wired)

H.R. 3523: Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011

They still just don’t get it. Chris Dodd — the head of the Hollywood Lobby — is bragging that he’s working on a new insider deal to push through SOPA-like legislation.

Please click here to tell Obama to oppose censorship and reject Hollywood’s backroom deals.

He had this exchange with the Hollywood Reporter this week:

THR: Are there conversations going on now?

Dodd: I’m confident that’s the case, but I’m not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.

THR: Did you feel personally blindsided by Obama over SOPA?

Dodd: I’m not going to revisit the events of last winter. I’ll only say to you that I’m confident he’s using his good relationships in both communities to do exactly what you and I have been talking about.

Hollywood and Obama should’ve learned by now:

No form of censorship will be acceptable to Internet users, and we’re fed up with corrupt, back-room deals that are driven by the rich and well-connected.

And any major Internet policy changes should be negotiated in the light of day, so the millions of people who’d be affected can have their say too.

Please tell President Obama to reject Hollywood’s backroom deals — click here.

Thanks for fighting for our rights.

-Demand Progress

PS: Please urge your friends to join the fight by forwarding this email or using these links:


If you’re already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.


If you’re already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

Rick Falkvinge Nominated For The TIME 100 – Online Poll In Progress

Rick Falkvinge

Falkvinge on Infopolicy: March 29, 2012



I’ve been nominated to the list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as determined by the prestigious TIME Magazine. 200 people have been selected as finalists in the nomination process, me being one of them, and the final list will contain 100 people. The poll is currently online: you can vote.

After being picked as one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine last year, it’s certainly an honor to be considered one of the 200 most influential people in the world (across all categories), with an opportunity to make it into the final list of the 100 most influential.

Vote for me here right away (“Should Rick Falkvinge be on the list? Definitely!”). It’s just one click on the page, and makes a difference for how seriously the ideas are taken at a crucial time in our growth phase.

From what I can see, two Swedish people have made it as finalists – myself and Spotify’s Daniel Ek. Looking through the list of people, it’s certainly a prestigious company to be in.

But the most important thing here is that I’m not primarily on the list as an individual, but as a carrier of new and important ideas – as a symbol for a large movement demanding civil liberties for the next generation.

You can help that cause of net-generation civil liberties by making sure that the only pirate on the list makes the final 100. That is a statement in itself.

Danish hippie haven struggles to raise cash to survive

Agence France-Presse: March 25, 2012




“Become a Christiania stockholder today!”: on its Facebook page Copenhagen’s “free city”, long a refuge for hippies and artists and a popular tourist destination, pleas for help to save the 40-year-old enclave.

Following a court ruling, the self-governed hippie community needs to come up with 76 million kroner (10.2 million euros, $13.4 million) to buy the area at the heart of the Danish capital.

Christiania was founded on September 26, 1971 when a band of guitar-laden hippies made an abandoned army barracks in central Copenhagen their home. They raised their “freedom flag” and named their new abode “Christiania, free city”.

It is one of Europe’s last remaining hippie enclaves, counting around 1,000 artists, activists and misfits as residents. There are restaurants, cafes, shops, a flourishing drug trade and some colourful, psychedelic-looking homes designed by residents.

The area attracts more than a million visitors annually.

On the emblematic Pusher Street, misfits and tourists saunter among stalls decorated with colourful pictures of hemp leaves and decked out with small plastic baggies of hashish and cannabis seeds.

If not for a ban on taking photographs, which might dissuade drug purchases, the boulevard would look like your average village shopping street on market day.

But Christiania’s existence is now threatened.

The enclave needs to raise more than 50 million kroner by July 1, otherwise the Danish state will move in and shut it down. The state wants to get its hands on the lucrative property and put an end to the illegal drug trade which some claim is run by international biker gangs.

Residents created the Christiania Foundation last July to raise funds and apply for a bank loan.

According to the free city’s lawyer Line Barfod, the state has promised to guarantee 100 percent of the cash borrowed for the project, so getting a loan should not be difficult.

But the squatters are balking at the deep cuts to their cultural activity budget that would be required to help cover the heavy monthly payments, explained Risenga Manghezi, a Christiania spokesman.

The commune pulls in about 20 million kroner each year from voluntary rent payments from residents, many of whom have have normal professions on the outside.

To raise more cash, the free city started last September selling online and on site “Christiania shares,” or small posters stating in several languages: “Christiania Share — worth more than money.”

Nulle, a 47-year-old acupuncturist who refused to give her last name, handed over 100 kroner at a colourfully painted wooden booth on a side street, sheltered from the commotion on Pusher Street.

“It’s wonderful to have a place that is not necessarily regulated and where all kinds of different people live together,” said Nulle, a regular at the many concerts organised in the enclave.

Birthe and Kurt, a couple in their mid-60s who also refused to provide a last name, said they rarely venture into Christiania, where dogs run free and bikes speed across grassy paths off-limits to cars.

But when they read in the paper that donations to save the commune were lagging, they decided to help by adding 500 kroner to the pot.

Some 50,000 people have so far donated money, but by the beginning of March, the Christiania Foundation had raised less than seven million kroner.

“It has always been understood that the foundation would need to borrow most of that (76-million-kroner) sum,” lawyer Barfod stressed, insisting the amount gathered so far was “fantastic.”

Of course, some people refuse to pitch in because of the drug trade run by “organised criminals”, Manghezi acknowledged.

“As long as they haven’t kicked out the Hells Angels, I won’t invest!” insisted Torben Vemmelund, a 37-year-old communications consultant, referring to the notorious biker gang.

Manghezi, who works part-time outside the commune at a Copenhagen school, meanwhile, was quick to point out that the residents themselves are the ones who suffer most from the criminal activity in their neighbourhood, stressing that the squatters receive none of the drug trade money.

Kjeld Amundsen, a 72-year-old artist, however said he considered the residents accomplices, since they rent out homes to the drug traders.

The free city “has lost the sympathy of the Danes,” since it has become “the biggest criminal den in Denmark,” he insisted.

Tanja Fox, a 44-year-old former gardener who has lived in Christiania since she was a young child, doesn’t agree.

As she sells Christiania shares from her booth, she voices optimism the efforts will pay off, insisting donations will take off “in the spring when the sun and tourists return.”



Chula asks us Lido-lovers to feel the pain

Kong Rithdee

Bangkok Post: March 24, 2012

SIGN THE PETITION:จุฬาลงกรณ-มหาวิทยาลัย-ขอแบ-งปันพื-นที-สร-างสรรค-เราต-องการลิโด-และสกาล-า

Alarmed and despondent, readers have sent feedback to me regarding last week’s column on the forthcoming demise of the Lido Theatre. For a second, I thought I had struck my Kony moment, though I’d promised I’d never end up the same way as that video-maker who was caught naked, drunk, and allegedly performing al fresco masturbation just days after his socially-conscious campaign had gone viral. Don’t let the urge to save the world short-circuit your head, that’s the lowdown.

And yet, the reaction of Lido lovers is passionate. So please allow me another take at the issue this week, for among those who wrote in, there were calls for protests, petitions, a siege, while many were simply outraged at what they see as the “wanton” destruction of an icon. Lecturers, students and media personalities share their anguish, and even war cries. Right now, there is at least one online petition urging Chulalongkorn Uni, which owns the area around Siam Square and has unveiled a plan for a major facelift that will affect the iconic cinemas, to reassess it.”Spare a creative space: We want Lido and Scala,” reads the title of the campaign. A Facebook page has been created to ruminate on the cultural loss if the theatres actually come down. On the popular Pantip website, fans have shared pictures of old and extinct movie houses that once graced Bangkok, not just the Lido or the Scala, but a fantastic array of modernist architecture of the Chalermthai, Odeon, Chalermburi, Empire, Paramount, Athens, all fossilised in sepia photographs and funereal melancholy. Many point out the fact that nearly all the functional stand-alone theatres in Bangkok – except the Scala – have metamorphosed into seedy venues of pornography, since to live underground has become the only way to live at all.

We’ll weep later; let’s take a deep breath first.

For a start, no one will touch the Lido until late 2013. And although the prediction that the Scala will become the next target isn’t merely a hunch, the fate of that majestic dame hasn’t been decided. Earlier this week, Assoc Prof Permyot Kosolbhand of Chulalongkorn’s Property Management Office gave an interview to Matichon newspaper in a tone that was more compromising than when he first talked about the Siam Square overhaul and showed the sketch of the planned development – published in this newspaper – that seems to obliterate the Lido and the Scala.

“We will try to find a way to preserve the symbols of the area, but at this point we have no details,” he said.

The academic cited safety reasons for the need to renovate the buildings in Siam Square, but he stressed that he would need to talk to the operator of the Lido and Scala – the Tansacha family – before deciding what to do with them. He didn’t mention whether Bangkok really needs another mall.

When Sala Chalermthai Theatre was demolished in 1989 to make way for the re-aestheticisation of Ratchadamnoen Avenue, there was an outcry and protests. They didn’t work, and how monumental, how historical that cinema was! Likewise, a number of grand old movie houses were felled and replaced by (hideous) buildings. This doesn’t mean that we should just whine and wait for the first blow to strike the Lido and the Scala; the protest movement today, should we really come to that, would be more efficient. The voice of opposition has to be maintained, yes, but at the same time, I believe it’s worth taking time to examine the complex relationship between the past and present, between the promise of change and the impermanence of today.

History has given us this lesson: 50 years ago when Chulalongkorn decided to develop the area that is now Siam Square, the neighbourhood was a tangle of slums. There was a fire – there’s always a fire – and the inhabitants had to move out. It is recorded that at that time, Chula students formed a resistance and patrolled the area to prevent the slum-dwellers’ return, so that the development plan could commence (Rangsan Torsuwan, a controversial architect and Chula graduate, said this in an interview years ago with Positioning magazine).

So the teeming youth hub of today, including the Lido and the Scala, came into existence at the expense of a group of people whom we have already forgotten. In the name of urban makeover, the slum residents had to sacrifice. Now Chula is asking us – Lido-lovers – to do the same. It must’ve hurt then as it does now. If not more.

Kong Rithdee writes about movies and popular culture for the Bangkok Post.


Stop C-30 and C-11!

The Conservative Party has introduced two pieces of legislation to Parliament that threaten the future of the Internet in Canada.

The Orwellian surveillance enabled by Bill C-30 combined with loss of rights as consumers and Internet users in Bill C-11 casts a dark shadow over the future of the Internet in Canada… Unless we fight this legislation! Whether you are a member of the NDP, Liberals, Greens, are a Pirate, or don’t vote, come out with us on March 24th and fight for our Internet freedom.


Full Text of Bill


The first is the well known warrantless surveillance bill, also known as “lawful access”. It made headlines when Conservative MP Vic Toews told Liberal public safety critic Francis Scarpaleggia he could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers.” The ensuing backlash gave way to public humiliation of Toews on social media.

For a good summary on Lawful Access and why it is awful for Canada, we recommend this short documentary.


Full Text of Bill
This legislation would see Canadians treated like criminals by making it illegal to jailbreak your phone with the digital lock provisions, and by allowing up to $5000 in statutory damage fines for copyright infringement like downloading a movie or some music. Efforts to introduce Bill C-11 were also nearly completely driven driven by the same American entities that supported the Internet censorship legislation SOPA.



The US copyright lobby is pushing for powers that include website blocking, Internet termination for unproven allegations of infringement, and huge threats for sites that host user-generated content (like YouTube) in addition to the most restrictive digital lock provisions in the world via international treaty. The decisions are made behind closed doors and without public input.

ACTA (The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is the result of long and secret negotiations between the United States copyright lobbyists, and unelected trade representatives to create a legal framework to safeguard the copyright monopoly against new technology. When a working draft leaked in 2008 to Wikileaks, it became clear the startling civil rights implications of the agreement. Recently, there have been large coordinated European protests against ACTA.

Similar provisions have been slipped into the TPP (trans-pacific partnership. The proposals have been accused of being excessively restrictive, providing intellectual property restraints beyond those in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and could limit developing countries’ access to affordable medication.

How can I help?

Sign these petitions:

Stop Online Spying – on Bill C-30

No Internet Lockdown! – on Bill C-11, ACTA, and TPP

How else you can help:

If your city isn’t confirmed on the list on this page, organize your own local demonstration for this day. Make a post on the Canada-wide page about your event. Contact the admins of any local pages to ask how you can help. We also need information (pamphlets, posters, etc.) created for distribution at these events. This information can be posted on the Canada-wide event page. Most importantly, spread word of this legislation! Educate others about how their Internet freedom is being taken from them and how they can fight it.

See Also: Pirate Party Privacy and Censorship Circumvention Solutions

Operation Electronic Leviathan

As a response to warrantless surveillance Bill C-30, Bill C-11, SOPA, and all similar future legislation the Pirate Party of Canada is initiating Operation Electronic Leviathan. This operation aims to establish mass decentralized distribution of information on anonymity networks and encryption tools people can use to share files and chat anonymously and privately.

Confirmed Cities













Dear international supporters in solidarity with the Campaign Committee to Amend Article 112 (CCAA 112) in Thailand,

It has been a little over a month since the release of the letter that all of you signed in support of the struggle and work of our colleagues in Thailand to amend Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. While it may be impossible to gauge the precise impact of the letter, it primarily has served as a sign of solidarity and support to our colleagues. Prime Minister Yingluck did not reply, but several members of her government did reply with criticism. A series of links to English- and Thai-language coverage of the letter are listed below.

In the last month, our colleagues in the CCAA 112 continued to collect signatures and speak and exchange ideas publicly, but other action challenging repression under Article 112 has taken place and various royalists inside and outside the state have responded with harassment and violence.

Notably, beginning with the son of a lese majeste defendant currently undergoing trial [Somyos Pruksakasemsuk], tens of people carried out hunger fasts in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok to call for bail to be granted to those facing charges or undergoing trial for alleged violations of Article 112. In nearly all cases, the Criminal Court has denied bail on the basis that the crime in question is a serious crime of national security and the defendants are flight risks.  Given the pace of the Thai judicial system, this means that a person might be detained for up to a year before his or her trial begins, and then another year while the trial is taking place, and then several more years while an appeal takes place. Those accused and convicted of violent crimes are routinely granted bail.  Despite the large number of people fasting, the judges have refused to budge on the issue of bail. In addition to the fast, events about the amendment of Article 112 have taken place around the country and are ongoing. Interest is growing, despite the dangers of dissenting.

One signal of the dangers of dissenting can be seen in the physical assault of Professor Worachet Pakeerut, one of the seven law lecturers in the Khana Nitirat who drafted the amendment to Article 112 that the CCAA 1112 is using as the basis of their campaign.  On 29 February, he was assaulted in front of the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University by two young men. The next day, the two young men confessed to the police.  Prachatai online newspaper reported that one of the young men claimed that he attacked Professor Worachet because he “disagreed with Nitirat which is running a campaign on Article 112.” The two men pled guilty and were quickly prosecuted for the assault, and given prison sentences of three months [reduced from six months as they confessed, per the Thai Criminal Procedure Code]. They were granted bail, however, while they appeal the decisions. A series of articles on the assault of Professor Worachet is included below also, as are several additional resources.

Thank you again for signing the solidarity letter in support of our colleagues in Thailand working to amend Article 112. I suspect that the work needed to make the amendment possible, and to end repression in the name of securing loyalty to the monarchy, will need to continue for a long time.


Very best wishes,

for justice,

tyrell haberkorn

Selected coverage of the letter in English:

Prachatai, 1 February 2012, “Over 200 international scholars, writers, and activists support the call to reform Article 112,”

Nation, 1 February 2012, “Some 224 international scholars back Campaign 112,”

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT), 1 February 2012, “Over 200 international scholars, writers, and activists support the call to reform Article 112,”

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT), 1 February 2012, “International academics petition Thai PM to amend lèse majesté laws, free political prisoners,”

Nation, 2 February 2012, “Foreign-based academics, experts back Nitirat group,”

Bangkok Post, 2 February 2012, “Calls mount to overhaul 112,”

Bangkok Post, 2 February 2012, “ ‘No need’ to respond to academics,”

Reuters, 2 February 2012, “Chomsky, scholars urge Thai reform of lese majeste law,”

TVNZ, 2 February 2012, “Noam Chomsky urges Thai PM to revise laws,”

Nation, 3 February 2012, “Govt distances itself from Nitirat,”

Suluck Lamubol, 4 February 2012, Prachatai, “In conversation: Tyrell Haberkorn and Kevin Hewison,”

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, 7 February 2012, South China Morning Post, “Thai University Row Raises Fear of Violence,”

Amnesty International, 9 February 2012, “Protect academic freedom at university,”

Suluck Lamubol, 10 February 2012, University World News, “Government slams international academics’ support for lèse majesté reform,”

Selected coverage of the letter in Thai:

กรุงเทพธุรกิจ, 1 ก.พ. 2555, “224รายชื่อ หนุนนิติราษฎร์แก้ม.112,” /433455/224รายชื่อ-หนุนนิติราษฎร์แก้ม.112.html

ประชาไท, 1 ก.พ. 2555, “นักวิชาการ นักเขียน และนักกิจกรรมทางสังคมนานาชาติกว่า 200 คน ลงชื่อหนุนแก้ม.112,”

มติชน, 1 ก.พ. 2555, “224 นักวิชาการ-นักเขียน-นักกิจกรรมทางสังคมนานาชาติ หนุนนิติราษฎร์,”

มติชน, 1 ก.พ. 2555, “224ปัญญาชนต่างชาติหนุนครก.112, “เกษียร” ตอบทำไมคนว่านิติราษฎร์ล้มเจ้า, ข้อคิดของ “เหยื่อ 6 ตุลา,”

คม ชัด ลึก, 1 ก.พ. 2555, “’224นักวิชาการ’หนุนนิติราษฎร์แก้ม.112,”นักวิชาการหนุนนิติ ราษฎร์แก้ม.112.html

Voice TV, 1 ก.พ. 2555, “224 นักวิชาการทั่วโลก หนุนนิติราษฎร์,”

กรุงเทพธุรกิจ, 2 ก.พ. 2555, “’เฉลิม’ไล่นักวิชาการต่างชาติเสนอแก้ม.112,” /433758/เฉลิมไล่นักวิชาการต่างชาติเสนอแก้ม.112.html

Coverage in English of the assault on Professor Worachet Pakeerut:

Prachatai, 29 February 2012, “Lèse majesté leading campaigner physically assaulted,”

Nation, 1 March 2012, “Nitirat leader assaulted,”

Prachatai, 1 March 2012, “Rights Organizations Condemn Assault against Assoc. Prof. Worajet, core leader of Nitirat Group,”

Prachatai, 1 March 2012, “Twins temporarily released after surrendering to police,”

Prachatai, 1 March 2012, “ASTV-Manager readers’ comments about assault on Worachat,”

Nation, 2 March 2012, “Chalerm: No conspiracy behind Worachet attack,”

Asian Human Rights Commission, 5 March 2012, “THAILAND: Threats to political freedom intensify with assault on HRD and law professor,”

Pravit Rojanaphruk, 7 March 2012, The Nation, “Still no room for differing points of view,”

Prachatai, 9 March 2012, “Twins get jail terms,”

Additional resources that may be of interest:

On 9 March 2012, a conference on ‘Democracy and Crisis in Thailand,’ organized jointly by McGill University, the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University and Thailand Democracy Watch was held. The final panel of the conference was on the topic of ‘Monarchy and Democracy,’ with three excellent papers by David Streckfuss, Thongchai Winichakul, and Pavin Chachavalpongpun.They can be watched/listened to on Youtube at the below addresses:

** David Streckfuss, “Lese Majeste and Monarchies”:

** Thongchai Winichakul, “Hyper-royalism: It’s spells and its magic”:

** Pavin Chachavalpongpun, “May Thainess Save the King: Lèse-majesté Law and Its Foreign Critics”:

** Benedict Anderson’s keynote address, on “Modern Monarchies in Global Perspective,” may also be of interest:

Additional sites to follow for continued news on the general topic of lese majeste remain as follows:


Political Prisoners in Thailand:

New Mandala:

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT):

Petition: Rescind Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

War Is A Crime: March 1, 2012

SIGN THE PETITION! Endorse as an organizationEndorse as an individual.


Dear Members of Stockholm’s County Administrative Board:

The signers of this petition include an array of peace groups and peace activists based in the United States.   The undersigned wish to endorse and support the investigation that Stockholm’s County Administrative Board has reportedly begun based on it supervisory role over the Nobel Foundation and information received from Norwegian peace researcher/author Fredrik Heffermehl.  We understand your Board has formally asked the Nobel Foundation to respond to allegations that the peace prize no longer reflects Nobel’s will that the purpose of the prize was to diminish the role of military power in international relations.  According to Heffermehl, “Nobel called it a prize for the champions of peace,…and it’s indisputable that (Nobel) had in mind the peace movement, the movement which is actively pursuing a new global order … where nations safely can drop national armaments.”

The undersigned non-profit peace organizations and activists base their endorsement of your inquiry on the following facts:

Alfred Nobel’s will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

After only a few years, however, a disastrous trend was begun of awarding the prize to government officials and political figures who had done more to promote war than peace.  For instance in 1919, the Nobel “prize for peace” went to Woodrow Wilson who had needlessly dragged his own nation into the worst war yet seen; who had developed innovative war propaganda techniques, conscription techniques, and tools for suppressing dissent; who had used the U.S. military to brutal effect in the Caribbean and Latin America; who had agreed to a war-promoting settlement to the Great War; but who, in the war’s aftermath, promoted a “League of Nations” in the hopes of resolving disputes peacefully.

Although the Nobel peace prize came to be heavily, but by no means entirely, dominated by elected officials, yet some excellent award choices occurred in the ensuing years: that of Jane Addams as co-recipient in 1931, Norman Angell in 1933, and organizations, such as the Red Cross in 1944 (and again in 1963) and the American Friends Service Committee in 1947.  It’s worth asking, however, why even more principled war opponents including Gandhi were never deemed worthy.

In 1953 the Nobel went to General George Marshall.  In 1973 a co-laureate was none other than Henry Kissinger and whatever their merits, these were major makers of war who would almost certainly have also won the Nobel War Prize, were there such a thing.  This insanity competed, however, with the bestowing in other years of the prize on leaders who were not holders of high office, not necessarily born to wealth, and not only opponents of war but also advocates of the use o f nonviolent resistance to violence and injustice.  Thus the peace prize went in 1964 to Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1976 to Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, in 1980 to Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, in 1983 to Lech Walesa, in 1984 to Desmond Tutu, in 1991 to Aung San Suu Kyi, in 1992 to Rigoberta Menchú Tum, etc.

The Kissinger style “peace” laureate, and the MLK type differed in that one was the path of peace activists who dedicated their careers to international fraternity and demilitarization and the other was the path of powerful figures and makers of war who had either shown some restraint in a particular instance or had appeared (accurately or not) to have acted on behalf of peace in a particular situation.  Honoring both nonviolent human rights advocates and mass murderers has moved the prize away from advocacy for the elimination of standing armies and is at odds with the words in Nobel’s will as well as the early tradition of awarding the prize to true advocates of peace.

In 2006 and 2007, Muhammad Yunus and Al Gore took home peace prizes for work that, at best, bears only an indirect connection to peace.

Despite these previous examples of falling short of Nobel’s original intent in establishing the Peace Prize, at least from 1901 to 2008, no peace prize was given to anyone who had neither done nor even pretended to do anything significant for peace nor done any other good and significant thing that some people might believe would indirectly contribute to peace.  That all changed in 2009 when US President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Obama had just been placed in a position of great power promising to expand the world’s largest military, to escalate a war, and to launch strikes into other nations without any war declarations.  He showed up to collect his winnings and gave a speech justifying and praising war.  His acceptance speech rejected a previous laureate’s (MLK’s) speech as too peaceful.

The 2009 Nobel Prize recipient, President Barak Obama, did not even attempt to earn his award as some had hoped but has instead followed through on his speech justifying and praising war.  This hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed by many other people in the world, prompting 1980 Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel’s recent letter to the 2009 peace laureate bemoaning the fact that Obama is waging wars on behalf of the military industrial complex and “burying himself more and more in violence and devoured by the domination of power”.  In addition to directly contradicting the terms of Alfred Nobel’s last will, the awarding of the world’s foremost peace prize to a militarist who states his intent to wage war, perniciously serves the opposite purpose.

We therefore commend your investigation of the betrayal of the award in order to re-establish criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize that is aligned with Nobel’s original intent.   We also suggest your Board communicate with the Nobel Foundation urging them to rescind Obama’s award so that the Nobel Peace Prize does not serve to sugarcoat, obfuscate and enable more use of violence and military force, the exact opposite purpose for which it was created.   

We will keep you apprized as more US peace groups and individuals sign this endorsement.

Endorse as an organization.

Endorse as an individual.


Veterans for Peace (Leah Bolger, National President)

Minnesota Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions (Jack Rossbach, Director, who adds that MCBL was part of the International C ampaign to Ban Landmines which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 deservedly)  (Adrien and Ed Helm, coordinators)

New Hampshire Peace Action (Will Hopkins, Director)

Eagan and Burnsville (Minnesota) Peace Vigils

Dr. Michael D. Knox, Chair, US Peace Memorial Foundation (in his individual capacity)

Women Against Military Madness (Director Kim Doss-Smith)

National Security Whistleblowers Coalition  (Sibel Edmonds, Founder)

Grand Rapids Area Peace Circle (Vicki Andrews, member)

Vets for Peace, Itasca Chapter #148

Come Home America

Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, Global Exchange and CODEPINK (in her individual capacity)

Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war

Ray McGovern, veteran Army officer and former CIA analyst

David Swanson, peace activist-researcher and author of War Is A Lie

Military Families Speak Out– Minnesota Chapter (Mike Perkins, member)

Other links:

The Betrayal of the Nobel Peace Prize | Let’s Try … – David Swanson

The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted  by Fredrik S. Heffermehl

“Puppet Obama prize an infomercial for war”

“Clinton, Manning among Nobel Peace Prize candidates”


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[FACT comments: All netizens need to consider whether spending $10 million to block 50 million web pages (!) is what society needs. What we need is a FREE Internet…]

Pakistan: Fighting the Great Firewall

Sana Saleem

Global Voices: February 29, 2012



Internet freedom and communication technology in Pakistan has struggled with numerous attempts of censorship, surveillance and at times a blanket ban. The recent spate has been the announcement by ICT R&D Fund under the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT), in newspapers and on their website, of a request for proposal (RFP) for national “URL filtering and blocking system”.

Ironically, the National ICT R&D Fund that describes it’s core focus as a fund that promotes ”Use ICT as a tool for wealth creation and upward mobility for economically challenged groups of citizens and spread the ICT activities on a true national level”, is willing to spend $10 million on a “URL filtering and blocking system” able to “handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

The RFP as seen in Pakistani newspapers. [Electronic Frontier Foundation]

Authorities have in the past used national security, blasphemy and obscenity as a pre-requisite for blocking content online. However, the process lack transparency, civil rights groups demanding transparency have been met with deafening silence. Several petitions have appeared online demanding the government reconsider its decision and put an end to censorship, people have used the platform to register their protest.

On the petition titled, Pakistan to stop the firewall, stop the blanket ban, put an end to censorship, citizens have registered their protests demanding the government to reconsider the decision:

Mirza Abeer from Karachi, Pakistan writes:
Freedom of information is our right! Take that away and people will finally revolt!!

Usman Masood from Lahore, Pakistan:
Do not put restrictions on the internet. We do not trust your members to be competent enough to know what is important.

Hamad Dar  from Islamabad, Pakistan:
By saying no to blanket ban, we’re not only putting an end to censorship, encouraging freedom but also helping in saving Pakistan both technologically and politically.

For a country of 187 million people with only 20 million with Internet access, spending $ 10 million on a filtering and blocking systems could be extremely damaging:

Fazal Khan, Costa Mesa, CA, signed the petition and registered his protest:
Stop wasting the country’s resources on useless things and actually do something for the benefit of the people who you represent.

Tariq Khan, Pakistan:
The Govt. should take into account the fact that it has been democratically elected and any ban on the Internet regardless of the pretext will only strengthen non-democratic and obscurantist forces in this country which will ultimately make the Government and political class more insecure and prone to any extra-constitutional threat. The answer to creating a more pluralistic democratic society lies in more access to information rather than blanket bans.

Other’s have found humor and satire as a way to register their protest:

Haroon Riaz, from Rawalpindi, Pakistan:
Dear Sir Blocking internet is not a good thing for anyone. If you consider yourself democratic, put a ban on bans. Sincerely yours. A citizen.

Shehryar Hydri, Islamabad, Pakistan:
Instead of filtering URL’s why not just shut the internet. We were fine with letters and trunk calls to America. As it is, media freedom was a curse brought upon us by Musharaf, the enemy of PPP. Please ban all TV and Radio channels as well and just have the PTV Channels for us patriotic Pakistanis.

Mariam Bilgrami, Karachi, Pakistan:
I have a a request for proposal for a hack to the national “URL filtering and blocking system”. If we can’t stop them, think one step ahead.

The deadline for the proposal is March 2, 2012, besides actively signing and tweeting the petition entrepreneurs and citizens have registered their protest on twitter comparing the URL filtering and blocking systems to SOPA:

@rrafiq:Clay Shirky: Why #SOPA #PIPA is a bad idea >>conversely why #Pakistan MoiT #censorship proposal is a bad idea #TED

@rahmamian: Headed China’s way? A national firewall is absolutely dangerous for Pakistan. #internet #censorship #digitalactivism

@thekarachikid: Because Democracy is the Best Revenge, Pakistan seeks to build the Great Firewall of censorship

@fouadbajwa: Great #Firewall of #Pakistan under construction to ban millions of websites urls #censorship #netfreedom #infopolicy

Civil society organizations have also suggested (see petition) that people should engage with international companies providing surveillance and censorship tools and get their CEOs to commit to to apply for the proposal, in the light of human rights violations.

The fear that this system will be used to curtail political dissent is not unsubstantiated. Pakistani authorities regularly block and filter out Baluchistan related content and sites run by Baluch activists under the notion of ‘national security’.

There has been no official list of the number of websites currently blocked by the government, except for data crowd-sourced by activists. Needless to say if the authorities succeed in implementation of the filtering and blocking system, a considerable number of voices will be silenced.

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