JASS Blog Archives for September 2009

by Daysi Yamileth Flores Hernandez on September 22, 2009 on 7:06 pm

We have been receiving message from Daysi, a young woman who is a feminist in Honduras, writing from the frontlines in Honduras.

22 September, 2009 - Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Early this morning, military forces attacked those of us outside the Brazilian Embassy. There are no words to describe the brutality of the attack—they chased us, threw bombs, beat us and now are hunting down everyone who took refuge in the surrounding area. There are 65 of us, mostly women and children here; we are under siege, our telephones are tapped, there is a squad three houses away and they are making rounds searching for signs of life to burst in. We have very little water and no food, the tear gas has permeated the atmosphere and our eyes and noses are irritated. Some of the women have been taken prisoners and according to the last communication they have been taken to a stadium called Chochi Sosa. The electricity went back on recently and so we are able to send this e-mail. We can hear the military movements outside, the cars, helicopters, bombs, shots, clashing of metal, stomping of boots, sirens and in a cruel joke on all Honduran citizens they are playing the national anthem at full volume over and over.

We call for support for all the people who are being protected by Feminists in Resistance and for the compañeras who are doing everything possible to get us humanitarian aid despite the fact that the armed forces won't let anyone through, not with medicines or food or anything. We're completely isolated; we want everyone to contribute by denouncing the violation of basic human rights being perpetrated by the military forces of the de facto regime.

This message was received later the same day.

Friends: We are living in an environment of war. Upon leaving the CEMH offices we can see that the atmosphere in the streets is tense and the demonstrations elevate the tone: in my mother’s neighborhood there are burning tires and although the streets are closed for the people that are not active in the resistance, they are announcing national electrical energy cuts for today at 7 pm and we don’t know how long it will last but there are rumors that it could go on for 48 hours. I mention this in case you can´t reach me via e-mail. We have cell phones but don’t know if they will be working. Some are saying that there will be a raid on the embassy when they cut off the electricity, but we don't know anything for certain. In any event, international pressure must continue in any way possible. There is already speculation of food prices.

We are preparing to confront these horrible attacks. It is truly sad and enraging to walk through streets where war, injustice, and madness reign through the power of weapons.

A resilient hug,

Daysi, Honduran Feminists in Resistance

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by Valerie Miller on September 17, 2009 on 9:50 am

Building personal and collective empowerment for women’s rights and action

 Building on the JASS' Mar de Cambios (Sea Change) region-wide gathering in July and the accompanying Wings of the Butterfly-sponsored play, Salvadoran Petateras by September had launched Rios de Cambios (Rivers of Change), a country level process to strengthen women’s movements and engage government in supporting and advancing women’s human rights. To pull off this amazing feat that brought together women from across society, they worked in collaboration with the Salvadoran Women’s Association (AMS), the Women’s Collective of El Salvador, the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Women (ISDEMU), and other regional colleagues and supporters. Mar de Cambios evolved and spilled over into Rios de Cambios rippling out from the region to San Salvador, the nation’s capital, and on to provincial towns across the country. Theatre performances that highlighted women’s stories of courage followed by dialogues that involved key government officials took center stage in a political context that is changing, in some ways rather dramatically.

Women in El Salvador are coming together in a new political moment – one that offers the promise of more effective governance and collaboration between civil society and government. The June inauguration of a reform administration made up of a mix of revolutionary, activist and business leaders has begun to put in place more participatory structures and responsive government programs aimed at reducing poverty and violence and promoting human rights for all. Yet from experience, we know that to keep women’s issues and concerns on the agenda, strong movements and voices for change are crucial for holding government accountable and keeping it honest.

The Rivers of Change process is designed to do just that. By surfacing the concerns of women at national and local levels, acquainting them with unsung heroines from daily life, and engaging them in dialogues with strategic government representatives, JASS and allies have launched an education and advocacy effort that supports women’s empowerment and sustained political engagement and action. Calling their initial effort, On the Threshold of Democracy, it brings together major women’s groups, feminists, and others in collaboration with the Wings of the Butterfly initiative. Inspired by the butterfly effect potential and the power of art and activism, it combines theatre performances that showcase the experience of women from El Salvador and around the world -- women who have challenged violence and discrimination and provided alternative visions of society based on human rights, solidarity, equality and harmony with humanity and nature. UNIFEM has supported the effort as part of an upcoming interagency campaign to eliminate violence against women sponsored by the UN Secretary General.

Valerie's reflections on Rios de Cambios and Mar de Cambios can be read on Facebook.

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by JASS on September 9, 2009 on 5:52 pm

Jody Williams with Atenco ActivistsFurthering our solidarity with the people of Atenco over the past two years, JASS, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and Mexican allies brought Laureate Jody Williams to San Salvador Atenco on September 8 to support women struggling for voice and land rights, and to pressure the Mexican government to halt repression and fulfill its promises. Jody Williams speaks from the frontlines.

The women -- I don't even know what to say. Strong, defiant, so sad because of the 12 political prisoners. They called me from prison. They sent me a letter. Here is one paragraph:

Al enterarnos de su presencia y participacion en Atenco hemos querido aprovechar esta oportunidad para pedirle a Usted que nos ayude en la medida de sus posibilidades para que sea nuestra voz que grite, anuncie y denuncie la injusticia que han hecho con nosotros el gobierno mexicano mediante la represion y tortura de la que fuimos objeto los dias 3 y 4 de mayo en Texcoco y Atenco.....

[When we heard about your presence and participation in this meeting in Atenco, we wanted to take this opportunity to ask you to help us, in as much as you can, so that our voices can be heard, loudly and clearly announcing and denouncing the injustices of the Mexican government, through the repression and torture that we were subjected to the 3rd and 4th of May in Texcoco and Atenco....]

Then they called again in the public event and one of the women held the microphone to the cellphone and we (mostly) could hear. Two women standing behind me with their machetes started silently crying. Mothers of two of the prisoners. I had to get up and hug one and she started sobbing on my shoulder. It leaves me like a limp dishrag.

It fills me with rage. Disposable people. As one described herself/them, "We are cannon fodder."

Separately Rachel and I spoke with three of the women who had been raped. More rage.

I bought one of the amazing drawings by the political prisoner who is now sentenced to 112 years in prison. Dona Trini's husband. Sorry his name escapes me.

I can't write more at the moment. The dishrag is emotionally spent.

Su companera en la lucha,

Jody

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