Citizens speak out – 15 May 2011

Citizens speak out – 15 May 2011


Citizens speak out. People worldwide are risking
safety and even their lives as they stand up for democratic principles and human rights
in nations that include Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. In Chile, an estimated 100,000 students, professors
and other citizens engaged in a nationwide protest on Friday, May 13 calling for education
to remain state-run and free of charge. Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated Saturday
in eastern Nangarhar province, angered by the rising toll of innocent deaths by foreign
troops. The most recent was a 15-year-old local boy who was mistakenly killed by North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops on Friday. The boy’s death comes after a policeman
and a girl were killed Thursday by NATO-led troops in the same province. Saturday’s protest
also left at least one other person dead and several more injured when police fired to
quell the crowd. A United Nations report states that 2,777 innocent people were killed in
2010, making it the most deadly year thus far for Afghan citizens. As Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli
police and security guards on Friday in a neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a Palestinian
teenager died after being critically injured by a shot that witnesses say was fired from
within one of the houses being protected by the police. Conveying their solidarity for
Palestinian brethren, hundreds of Jordanians rallied in Amman Friday, while Turkish Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called upon the international community to accept the Palestinians’ bid
for membership in the United Nations and to recognize Palestine as an independent state.
Australians meanwhile rallied in calls for the government to impose an arms embargo on
Israel, citing the country’s lack of compliance with international law in its dealings with
Palestinian and other Arab neighbors. The British government issued a statement
Friday saying it was deeply concerned over reports of widespread abuse of human rights
in Bahrain, as it called on the government to allow medical personnel to treat patients
without political interference and to ensure that the detained have access to legal counsel
and will be tried before independent and impartial courts. Meanwhile, protesters continued to
take to the streets on Friday, shouting that neither tanks, attack helicopters nor guns
could stop them from calling for their rights. In ongoing attacks by Syrian security forces
which killed at least 19 people this week, an estimated six more demonstrators were killed
on Friday as thousands of people held protests in several cities. Human rights activists
stated that the Syrian troops opened fire despite President
Bashar al-Assad’s promise that they would refrain from doing so. The number of people killed by security forces
in Yemen’s southern city of Ibb on Friday rose to at least 3 with 15 more wounded. The
US has meanwhile announced support for the departure of President Ali Abullah Saleh,
as protesters across the nation continue to call for his resignation. On Friday, the Russian government urged Libya’s
conflicting parties to begin dialog without preconditions toward a peaceful agreement.
Meanwhile, the International Organization of Migration air-lifted nearly 4,000 stranded
migrants, mostly Chadian, many of whom were suffering from dehydration, exhaustion and
illness. On Friday, some 1,000 additional migrants arrived on Italy’s Lampedusa Island
seeking asylum. In sadness for the loss of precious life,
we pray for an end to all conflicts and that people in every country join in choosing peace
so that all may live in shared safety, freedom and tranquility�

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