Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category

I was worth 50 sheep

November 29, 2013

In Afganistan, women are chattels, to be bought and sold.

Sabere was only seven years old when her father died in war. Her cousin inherited her, and following a long-practiced tradition in Afghanistan, he sold her when she was 10 years old to Golmohammad, a man in his 50s and a member of the Taliban. Over the next six years, she became pregnant four times, miscarrying each time. The cause may have been her youth, or the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. On a trip to Mazar-e sharif, Sabere managed to escape and make her way to a women’s shelter.

Meanwhile, Sabere’s mother needed to remarry quickly to avoid bringing shame on the family with her widowhood. According to tradition, ownership and betrothal of a widow transfers to the deceased’s cousin. So Sabere’s mother marries the cousin, and gives birth to a daughter named Farzane (Sabere’s half-sister). The family struggles to make ends meet, so when Farzane is 10 years old, her father sells her to a man in western Afghanistan. Her price: 50 sheep and a piece of dry-farming land. As a kind of installment plan, the buyer pays Farzane’s father 10 sheep per year, and will take possession of her when she is 15 and the full amount has been paid.

After six months of searching, the women’s shelter tracks down Sabere’s mother and her stepfather and invites them to the shelter for a meeting. When they discover the deal to sell Farzane, the shelter’s managers realize they not only need to help Sabere, but Farzane as well.

I Was Worth 50 Sheep is the tale of these two sisters and their struggle for human dignity and freedom in a war-torn country caught between ancient traditions and a modern world.

It begs the question, why has the US and UK sacrificed many young men for these evil people, men who sell-off ten-year-old girls to be raped.

The Bookseller of Kabul describes similar treatment of women and girls.

A few years ago, at an international film festival, I asked a young Afghan film-maker who had gone under cover in Afghanistan to film, one advantage of wearing a burka, she explained, I asked her if what I had read in The Bookseller of Kabul, was a true reflection of life in Kabul, the treatment of women. She said no, it is far, far worse.

This is not Islam, it is what fundamentalists practice as Islam. In The Koran, women are granted rights.

Não pare na pista

November 17, 2013

A brief snippet of the film being made of the life of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho.

It is due for release in Brazil in January 2014, then the rest of the world.

Today, marked The Alchemist two hundred and seventy-seven consecutive weeks in the New York Times best-seller list. Not bad for a book that was first published twenty-five years ago.

Where is Nadya?

November 5, 2013
Pussy Riot punk band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova standing in the defendant's cage in a court in the town of Zubova Polyana, Mordovia in April this year

Pussy Riot punk band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova standing in the defendant’s cage in a court in the town of Zubova Polyana, Mordovia in April this year

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of Pussy Riot, was put into a car on the 22 October. Her whereabouts remain unknown. She is somewhere ‘lost’ in the Russian gulag system. Neither her lawyers, nor her family, know her whereabouts.

She had been on hunger strike, in protest at the harsh prison conditions. She had agreed to end her hunger strike, if transferred to another prison.

She is now halfway through her prison sentence.

Amnesty International has launched an urgent appeal, only their website is so baldy designed, it cannot be read.

Please sign the petition to Vladimir Putin demanding to know the truth of he whereabouts of Nadya.

No Woman, No Drive

October 26, 2013

Full support to brave women in Saudi Arabia who today decided to take on the repressive, corrupt regime of the House of Saud.

And what did the brave women do? They drove their cars in a public display of defiance.

Muslim fundamentalists have attacked the women saying, the Koran forbids woman to drive a car.

Yeah right, and The Prophet drove around in a Mercedes.

Muslim fundamentalists call it a conspiracy by women.

It is not only the bastardisation of women in Saudi Arabia. The corrupt House of Saud are propping up the repressive regime in Bahrain, are responsible for much of the bloodshed in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Sexual harassment and violence in India

September 11, 2013

Vithika Yadav talking about sexual violence towards women in India, anything from sexual harassment up to and including gang rape.

Vithika Yadav was first sexually harassed when her breasts were pinched. She was 12 years old.

An Indian woman has to be on her guard every moment she is in a public place. But it is not only in public places, women and girls are not safe in the family home either.

One woman is raped or gang raped in India every twenty minutes (and that is only the reported rapes).

Rapists are serving in the Indian parliament.

In the Asia-Pacific rim, one in four men admit to rape, they see it as an entitlement, for sexual gratification and punishment.

Malala opens a library and gifts The Alchemist

September 8, 2013
Malala opening library

Malala opening library

Even God, chose the medium of a book to send a message to his people. — Malala

Last week Malala (the Pakistani girl the Taliban shot and left for dead) opened a library in Birmingham. She gifted to the library her personal copy of The Alchemist.

Schoolgirl Malala was shot in the head and left for dead by the Taliban, because she campaigned for the right of girls to have an education.

The content of a book holds the power of education and it is with this power that we can shape our future and change lives.

There is no greater weapon than knowledge and no greater source of knowledge than the written word.

It is my dream that one day, great buildings like this one will exist in every corner of the world so every child can grow up with the opportunity to succeed.

When Paulo Coelho learnt Malala had gifted to the library her personal copy of The Alchemist, he was very moved.

We do not defeat terrorists and religious fundamentalists with guns, we defeat them with books, with ideas.

Today, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has notched up two hundred and sixty-eight consectutive weeks in the New York Times best-seller list. Not bad for a book that was first published twenty-five years ago.

Girls going wild in red light district

August 31, 2013

So you think you will dance? Sometimes things are not what they seem. Men, women and children are trafficked – tricked, forced and exploited in the sex industry. Awareness campaign created by Duval Guillaume Modem and produced by monodot in support of STOP THE TRAFFIK.

Music: a-shja by Raveyards vs. DJ Uinkxxx

March on Washington

August 28, 2013

Fifty years ago to the day, half a million marched on Washington to demand equality and jobs.

At exactly three o’clock in the afternoon, Martin Luther King delivered his now famous I have a dream speech.

This Train Rides Again

August 24, 2013

Recreation of one of the Freedom Trains 50 years ago.

Trains, buses, chartered palnes, all headed to Washington for a mass rally on Wednesday 28 August 1963.

It was at this rally, Martin Luther King gave his ‘I have a dream speech’.

One woman on the train spoke of her hopes for a better future for her relatives, “after I am gone.”

In 1963, the legendary American broadcaster Studs Terkel, presented a radio programme, ‘This Train,’ in which he followed African Americans (or Negroes as they were called at the time) travelling on a train from Chicago to Washington. They were part of the March on Washington, which culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The thousands who took part wanted to achieve jobs and freedom for Black Americans. One woman on the train spoke of her hopes for a better future for her relatives, “after I am gone.”

Jessie Jackson recounts the turning point for him was sat at the front of a bus, and the driver refusing to move until order is restored on the bus. Jessie Jackson thought the driver meant kids on the bus misbehaving, but no, it was that he, a person of colour, had to sit at the back of the bus.

What is shocking, is few in America even know of the March on Washington.

For the march, Washington was in lockdown as no one knew what to expect. All police leave was cancelled, National Guard and Army were on standby. An estimated half a million people took part.

What did it achieve?

Martin Luther King was fighting for equality, equality for all, an end to oppression, an end to the US fighting foreign wars and oppressing people of colour in other lands.

In the few years until his death, Martin Luther King grew angry as he saw no progress. Those who returned home from the march, were set up and beaten.

Fifty years on the US has a Black President, a Black President who is waging wars in foreign lands against people of colour, a Black President who is creating a police state, for every dollar a White man earns a Black man earns 60 cents, the gap between rich and poor is growing.

The march was organised with no internet, no e-mail, no social media, no twitter. I remember in the late-1960s, if you wanted to organise anything, there were no photocopiers, you had hand-operated duplicating machines, you had to cut a stencil, put in the ink. And yet, only a couple of days ago, the excuse of someone for not organising a demonstration, was how difficult it would be, too much effort.

BBC documentary making at its best.

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

August 24, 2013
Charlie's house: Two month death sentence because the, "benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside"

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

Charlie, who built this beautiful straw bale roundhouse, is a young man with a young family and like many finds it impossible to afford a home. In Charlie’s case he had three things going for him. First his father owns a big enough plot of land for Charlie to build a home. Second, the land was right next door to Lammas ecoVillage in Wales where there is plenty of natural building experience, inspiration and community spirit to help Charlie.

Finally, Charlie had been living with his partner Megan in a damp caravan for the past 4 years. With a baby on the way Charlie felt he had no choice but to build his house without the approval of the planning authorities, convinced permission for his home would be refused. The lack of affordable homes and strict planning regulations touches many lives.

Hundertwasser the famous architect, designer and artist wrote:

The individual’s desire to build something should not be deterred! Everyone should be able and have to build and thus be truly responsible for the four walls in which he lives.

Jon Jandai, Director of Pun Pun Organic Farm said at a TED presentation in Thailand:

I want to be equal to animals. The bird makes a nest in one or two days; the rat digs a hole in one night, but clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house… that’s wrong.

Charlie’s home is designed from the natural resources available on the land rather than by building industry professionals that often specify homes using processed materials with high embodied energy.

This method of building is what SunRay Kelly calls Evolutionary Architecture and what Ben Law teaches to architects who want to learn about sustainable natural building.

It took Charlie a little over a year to build his home with a reciprocal green roof and lime plastered straw bale walls. All in all it cost Charlie about £15,000 ($23,000). Watch this short video from film makers Living in the Future where Charlie tells his story.

Charlie and Megan applied for retrospective planning permission from Pembrokeshire County Council who decided that this wonderful, unobtrusive, sustainable home should be demolished consigning Charlie, Meg and their child back to their cold and damp caravan.

As of the 1st August 2013 Pembrokeshire County Council’s enforcement say the property must be demolished within 2 months because: “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”.

The Welsh government has guidelines for development of settlements in the open countryside called ‘One Planet Developments’. This is the Technical Advice Note 6 (PDF 6Mb) Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities, otherwise known as TAN6 with Tony Wrench’s roundhouse on the cover which was itself once under demolition threat but was eventually granted planning permission in September 2008.

plan of Charlie's house

plan of Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Published by Natural Homes.

There is something very very wrong with our corrupt planning system corrupt councilors and officials in the pocket of greedy developers.

It is ok to destroy countryside, level woodlands, for ugly development, but not ok for a house like Charlie’s that has minimal impact on the environment.

It would be difficult to imagine a house as attractive as Charlie’s.

We need more houses like this, not less.

I know of minimal impact houses in Cornwall and Sussex, assuming they are still there. The location is kept secret, as otherwise the too would be under threat as is Charlie’s house.

Charlie’s house look like a house built for a Hobbit.

To claim Charlie’s is harmful to the environment is arrant nonsense. This couple should be applauded for what they have built.

Please sign the petition to save Charlie’s house, calling on the local planning authorities to grant Charlie’s house retrospective planning permission.

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Charlie's house

Charlie’s house


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