JASS Blog Archives for December 2020

by JASS on December 4, 2020 on 1:46 am

This year, we are proud to be celebrating the 10th year of JASS’ annual regional campaign One Day, One Voice (ODOV), which aims to unite the initiatives of women across Southeast Asia around the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. 

The ODOV as a campaign continues to build from regional partners’ common ground and to strengthen sisterhood solidarity among Southeast Asian women around social and gender justice. It remains a vibrant testament to the power of sustained grassroots and local-to-regional organizing.

For 16 days (Nov. 25 – Dec. 10), thousands of women from Cambodia, Indonesia, Burma/Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor-Leste will spotlight this year’s ODOV theme, “People are the Solution!” through street protests, photo exhibits, murals, writing competitions, peace marches, online dialogues, panel discussions, Facebook live chats, Twitter rallies, and media events. 

Below are quotes from regional partners who share with us how being a part of ODOV for the past 10 years has impacted them. One Day, One Voice 2020 image - women united

“One of the biggest changes we are seeing is that more women are taking the lead in terms of movement building and being involved in political and social actions. The past ten years, many problems have remained more or less the same, however, women have become more vocal and have risen up as leaders in different movements. One factor for this is the continued efforts of women activists and organizers in educating people about women’s issues. Women have become more confident because they are now empowered with knowledge and skills. They are now more aware of their fundamental rights.”

“Today there are more opportunities for women activists to reach across transnational boundaries and unite with women in other countries. The expansion of this network of women’s organizations that JASS has helped in forming has been significant in uniting women and finding solutions to women’s issues. Workshops and the exchange of knowledge has helped in capacity building of women leaders in different communities both in their own countries and across borders.”

One Day, One Voice 2020 image - women in a protest“As a regional campaign, One Day One Voice (ODOV) has helped in raising the calls of women as: advocates, activists, human rights defenders and community leaders who have been given a platform in order to raise awareness about issues they feel strongly about. ODOV has also helped members test their new capacities for organizing and mobilizing, putting into practice movement building from the grassroots. JASS in particular has been instrumental in bringing women across countries together, and has been helpful in providing support - financially and through capacity building - to organizations keen on carrying out their projects: social media, creative and cultural activities, community discussions and actions.”

“One Day, One Voice (ODOV) is an opportunity for us to voice against tyranny, militarism, foreign intervention, misogyny, and all other concerns that threaten our human rights. This is a moment for sisterhood and a space for solidarity.”

“One Day, One Voice (ODOV) showcases the local-to-global organizing of women of Southeast Asia. We are proud to be part of the militant tradition of activism of the women’s movement of the Philippines.”

“It is a movement platform that joins diverse networks together across the region. It is a space to strengthen our power, to collect our voice, and to solve injustice and all kinds of violence against women. We are one. We stand together for our rights.”  

“Violence against women has been in existence for a long time. It has become worse in recent times. I invite you all not just to come celebrate with us the ODOV and the 16 One Day, One Voice 2020 image - women in the forest protecting their landDays of Activism against Gender-based Violence -- but also to fight with us -- especially women as women human rights defenders and as land defenders who fight for life.”  

The solidarity actions kicked off on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25) and will culminate on the International Human Rights Day (December 10). For 16 days, JASS highlights the importance of collective strength by continuing to speak out to end violence against women defenders, sexual violence, and other human rights violations. JASS is also centering women-led responses to address the pandemic, the disasters, as well as the gender-based violence and state-sponsored violence in the communities.

You can also be a part of the conversation! Let us know “Why are you joining this year’s ODOV?” Share your answers with us by posting it on Facebook and Twitter, tag @JASSSEA and use the hashtags #1Day1Voice and #PeopleAreTheSolution. Help  us share the messages of hope and resistance, generated by JASS and our many partners and allies around the region. Cheers to another ten years of feminist movement organizing to end violence!

 

 

Written and compiled by: Hoda Baraka

 

 

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by JASS on December 1, 2020 on 9:55 am

El impacto de los huracanes Eta y Iota no se dimensiona aun cuando una nueva crisis, producto de un acumulado histórico en el país, estalló en Guatemala. La crisis política es el resultado de la indignación de amplios sectores de la población por la corrupción y la impunidad que se da en el Estado y se expresa particularmente en el Congreso de Guatemala.

Las movilizaciones pacíficas de miles de personas este sábado 28 de noviembre empezaron sin incidentes. Después de las críticas nacionales e internacionales de la violencia policiaca hace una semana, en horas de la mañana el ministro de Gobernación dijo que garantizaría la seguridad de la población, dando un giro ante la presión de la población para que sea destituido por la brutal represión del sábado pasado. Al igual que durante la semana, la presencia de mujeres y jóvenes fue notoria en varias plazas del país, pidiendo la renuncia del presidente y sus ministros, y de la directiva del Congreso, entre otras demandas

Sin embargo, según denuncias, videos y fotos del lugar, a las 17:15 de la tarde un grupo incendió un autobús frente al Palacio Nacional, mientras la Policía Nacional no intentó impedirlos. La población logró controlar la situación, pero este grupo agredió a varias personas de las organizaciones de derechos humanos y otros

Un comunicado de la Convergencia por lo derechos Humanos, una asociación de varias organizaciones de la sociedad civil, señaló: “La Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos repudia las acciones provocadas que se conciertan para deslegitimar el derecho de reunión y manifestación pacifica y se solidariza con las personas agredidas por el grupo de provocadores infiltrados. Señala como autores de misma al Ministro de Gobernación Gendri Reyes, al Viceministro de Seguridad Carlos Franco Urzúa, al Director General de la PNC José Antonio Tzubán, al Sub Director General Adjunto de la PNC Edwin Adriano, y, sobre todo, al Presidente Alejandro Giammattei.”

La gota que derramó el vaso

El miércoles 18 de noviembre el Congreso de la República aprobó en sesión del pleno y durante la noche, un presupuesto que tendría que ser ratificado en el Ejecutivo, que entre otras cosas reducía los fondos para los programas sociales, particularmente para el combate a la desnutrición, y aumentaba los fondos para los diputados. Varios de ellos tienen un historial de corrupción e incluso demandas en su contra en el seno del mismo congreso y entidades del organismo judicial y otros organismos del Estado en lo que se ha dado por llamar “el pacto de corruptos”.

La noticia se fue filtrando a la prensa y provocó la indignación y enojo de muchos sectores del país; poco a poco distintos sectores se fueron pronunciando, incluyendo el CACIF (la coordinadora de empresarios más poderosa del país) y llamaron a manifestarse el día sábado en todas las plazas, incluyendo la plaza central de la Ciudad de Guatemala.  Notoriamente, mujeres y jóvenes llamaron a denunciar la situación y a pedir la renuncia del presidente y de los diputados que aprobaron el presupuesto.

El 21 de noviembre se reunió una multitud en la plaza central de la Ciudad de Guatemala y en otros departamentos-Alta Verapaz, Quetzaltenango, Sacatepéquez, Huehuetenango entre otros. La manifestación nutrida y pacífica, la mayoría con mascarillas de protección, estaba rodeada por elementos de la policía nacional civil.  Cerca de ahí, frente al Congreso de la República, se reunió un grupo de manifestantes y en un momento dado algunos hombres jóvenes se subieron a las ventanas y rompieron los vidrios y se provocó un fuego en esa sección frontal del Congreso. 

Existen numerosos videos y evidencia gráfica de que las puertas del congreso se abrieron por dentro y de que estaban preparados con extintores, además de que la fuerza policial que rodeaba el edificio no se movió en el momento para impedir los daños al edificio.  Además, más tarde el ministro de gobernación admitió que en el interior del edificio había 40 miembros de la PNC preparados para cualquier eventualidad. 

El suceso está bajo investigación del Ministerio Público, pero cada vez se acumulan mayores evidencias de que fue una acción alentada por gente infiltrada en la manifestación para justificar el uso de la fuerza que se dio posteriormente.  Horas antes se había suscitado un evento similar frente a la municipalidad de Guatemala en donde algunos jóvenes prendieron fuego al monumento a Álvaro Arzú- ex presidente del país que al momento de su muerte (por causas naturales hace dos años aproximadamente) estaba también bajo investigación durante su mandato como alcalde de la ciudad capital.

La reacción ante este hecho de las fuerzas policiales fue de represión brutal.  Dispararon gases lacrimógenos contra los y las manifestantes, golpearon con sus bastones a mucha gente y persiguieron a periodistas y gente que estaba documentando la situación.  Dos jóvenes perdieron un ojo por el impacto de las bombas lacrimógenas; varias mujeres fueron golpeadas y arrastradas por la policía y más de 40 personas (jóvenes y mujeres en su mayoría) fueron detenidas.  Al momento, solamente uno se encuentra todavía en prisión (porque según se explica cambió de abogado y el proceso está en marcha).  Las manifestaciones denunciando estos hechos, las evidencias gráficas que existen y las continuas movilizaciones de diversos sectores han continuado desde entonces.

Horas antes de estos hechos, el vicepresidente Castillo, empresario con reputación de ser una persona moderada, dio una conferencia de prensa donde compartió que le había planteado al presidente que ambos renunciaran en aras de la estabilidad del país.  Su postura de distanciamiento del presidente no es nueva y denuncia falta de voluntad del ejecutivo para atacar la corrupción, además de que ha sido apartado de sus funciones por la creación de una Oficina de Gobierno que en la práctica lidera el gabinete y que preside quien según se dice es la pareja del presidente. 

Es posible que, de renunciar el presidente, Castillo sea la figura de cierto consenso en el sector empresarial para suceder a Giammattei, quien podría ya no representar los intereses y la estabilidad que al empresariado le conviene.  Dar marcha atrás a la propuesta de presupuesto enfrenta problemas legales- sólo puede darse si el pleno del congreso lo aprueba.

Los diputados de oposición del Congreso han pedido la renuncia de la Junta Directiva y el presidente ha convocado a “diversos sectores” del país a discutir la propuesta presupuestaria, algunos de los cuales se han negado a participar.  Los pueblos indígenas, siendo al menos la mitad de la población, no han sido convocados y las autoridades ancestrales y otras organizaciones han manifestado también frente al palacio durante estos días expresando su descontento.  Las mujeres y feministas de diversas organizaciones se manifiestan también de manera notable junto con jóvenes en todo el país.

Las demandas de la población

Contrario a lo que se pensaba de que la situación no podía ser peor, la destrucción de los pocos espacios democráticos se sigue profundizando en el país con repetidos intentos de romper con la endeble institucionalidad del Estado, y ante la falta de respuesta a la población cada vez más empobrecida y vulnerable del país.  La ausencia del Estado en las zonas rurales se hizo más evidente con la pandemia y con la falta de respuesta articulada para auxiliar a la población por los impactos de los huracanes.  A este momento, muchas comunidades continúan estando aisladas debido a las inundaciones, la pérdida de infraestructura de comunicación y agravada por la pérdida de cosechas, cuyos impactos se verán más claramente con el paso del tiempo.

Desde la población y la sociedad civil organizada hay muchas y diversas propuestas- unas que apuntan a cambios estructurales más radicales y otras a acciones inmediatas que abonen a cambios en un proceso de más largo plazo.  Las que parecen consensuar más opinión hasta este momento son:

  1.  La renuncia del presidente
  2. La renuncia del Ministro de Gobernación y del Director de la Policía Nacional Civil.
  3. El castigo a los responsables de la represión y el respeto a la libre expresión
  4. El veto a la propuesta presupuestaria


Se prevée que continúen manifestaciones públicas en los siguientes días desde distintos sectores.

 

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by JASS on December 1, 2020 on 8:44 am

The country was still reeling from the impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota when a new crisis hit Guatemala last week, this one the product of a history of accumulating pressure in the country. The political crisis revealed public outrage of broad sectors at government corruption and impunity, particularly aimed at the Guatemalan Congress.

The peaceful demonstrations of thousands of people across the country on Saturday, Nov. 28 began without incidents. Following national and international criticisms of the violent police crackdown a week ago, in the morning the minister of Government announced that the administration would guarantee public safety during the protests. His statements represented a major departure from the brutal repression up to then and reflected the impact of public pressure calling for his removal from office. 

During the past week and then again at the large demonstrations on Nov. 28, the presence and leadership of youth and women stood out. In plazas in nearly all major cities, they called for the resignation of the president and his ministers, and for the Congressional leadership to step down, among other demands.

However, later in the day trouble broke out. According to denouncements, videos and photographs taken on the spot, at 17:15 in the afternoon a small group set fire to a bus in front of the National Palace, as the National Civil Police stood by. The protesters managed to control the situation, but the same group went on to attack several representatives of human rights groups and others.

A communiqué of the Convergence for Human Rights, a coalition made up of numerous Guatemalan civil society organizations, stated: “The Convergence for Human Rights repudiates the provocations carried out to delegitimize the right to assembly and peaceful demonstration. We also express our solidarity with the individuals attacked by the group of infiltrated provocateurs. We identify those behind these actions as the Minister of Government Gendri Reyes, the Vice Minister of Security Carlos Franco Urzúa, the General Director General of the PNC José Antonio Tzubán, the PNC Adjunct General Sub Director Edwin Adriano, and above all, PresidentAlejandro Giammattei.”

The catalyst

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Congress of the Republic met in a plenary session during the night and approved a budget to send up for ratification by the Executive. The national budget reduced funds for social programs, particularly to combat malnutrition, and increased funds for the deputies themselves. Several of the promoters of the budget have long records of corruption, including lawsuits pending against them within congress, courts and other state agencies as a result of what has been called "the Pact of the Corrupt."

News of the budget leaked to the press and provoked the indignation and anger of many sectors of the country. Gradually, different sectors spoke out, including the Coordinating Commitee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial and Financial Associations (CACIF, by its Spanish initials), the country's most powerful business association. They called for a demonstration on Saturday in public squares throughout the country, including the Guatemala City’s Central Plaza. Women and young people took the lead in the call to denounce the move and demand the resignation of the president and the deputies who approved the budget.

On Nov. 21, crowds gathered in the central plaza of Guatemala City and in other departments, including Alta Verapaz, Quetzaltenango, Sacatepéquez, Huehuetenango and others. The large and peaceful demonstration downtown, in which most participants were wearing protective masks, was quickly surrounded by elements of the national civilian police. Nearby, in front of the Congress of the Republic, a group of protesters gathered and at one point some young men climbed on the windows and broke the glass and a fire was started in the front section of the Congress building.

Many videos and photographs show that the doors of the congress were opened from the inside, and that occupants were already standing ready with fire extinguishers at the door. They also demonstrate that the police force surrounding the building did not move at the time to prevent damage to the building. In addition, the Minister of the Interior later admitted that 40 members of the National Police were inside the building prepared for any eventuality.

The Public Ministry is currently investigating the event, but meanwhile more and more evidence has accumulated that indicates that individuals who had infiltrated the demonstration encouraged the action to justify the use of force that took place subsequently. Hours earlier, a similar incident took place in front of the Guatemalan municipal building where several young people set fire to the monument of Alvaro Arzú, a former president who at the time of his death by natural causes approximately two years ago was also under investigation for corruption during his term as mayor of the capital city.

The police forces reacted with brutal repression. They fired tear gas at the protesters, beat people with batons and chased journalists and others who were documenting events. Two young men lost an eye due to the impact of tear gas canisters. Several women were beaten and dragged away by the police and more than 40 people (mostly young people and women) were arrested. At present, only one is still in prison, according to the explanation because he changed lawyers and his case is still being processed. Demonstrations denouncing the repression, publication of further graphic evidence and on-going mobilizations of various sectors continue.

Hours before these events, Vice President Guillermo Castillo, a businessman with a reputation for being a moderate, gave a press conference where he informed the pubic that he had asked the president that they both resign for the sake of the country's stability. His decision to distance himself from the president is not new—he has denounced the president’s lack of willingness to attack corruption. Giammattei essentially removed the vice president from his duties by creating a Government Office that in practice leads the cabinet and is presided over by a person said to be the president's partner.

It is possible that if the president resigns, a consensus could emerge among the business sector to support Castillo to succeed Giammattei, who might no longer represent the interests and the stability that the business community needs. It may be difficult to revert the budget proposal though. Any move in this sense could face legal problems since only a vote of the full congress can approve a budget.

The opposition deputies in Congress have called for the resignation of the congressional leadership board and the president has summoned “various sectors” of the country to discuss the budget proposal. Some of the invitees have refused to participate. Indigenous peoples who comprise at least half the population, have not been summoned, and the ancestral authorities and other organizations have demonstrated in front of the palace during these days to express their discontent. Women and feminists from different s organizations are also demonstrating actively alongside youth throughout the country.

The people’s demands

Just when most people thought that the situation couldn’t be worse, the few democratic spaces left open in the country have come under renewed attack, with repeated attempts to break with the already weak institutional framework of the State. In the context of the crises, the government has failed to respond to a population that faces ever greater poverty and vulnerability. The absence of the State in rural areas became glaringly clear with the pandemic and with the lack of an articulated response to help the population after the devastation of the hurricanes. To date, many communities continue to be completely cut off due to flooding, loss of communication and infrastructure. Their plight is exacerbated by crop failure, the harsh impacts of which will be felt over time.

Many differing proposals have emerged from the population and organized civil society, some that point to more radical structural changes and others to immediate actions that contribute to changes in a longer-term process. Those that seem to have the most consensus among organizations and public opinion so far are:

1. The resignation of the president
2. The resignation of the Minister of the Interior and the Director of the National Civil Police
3. Punishment of those responsible for the repression and respect for freedom of expression
4. The veto of the budget proposal

Public demonstrations are expected to continue in the following days, called by a growing number of sectors and citizen groups.  

 

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