Friday 13 December 2013

Santa Claus Arrested for Child Slavery Crimes

Santa Claus - "Jolly Old Saint Nick", "Father Christmas", or "Papá Noel" - has been arrested and faces extradition after being convicted of sending poor tiny children up chimneys to do his dirty work.

The popular figure was caught red-handed while forcing a boy down a chimney with a large pointy stick.

The child was later found to be carrying mysterious 'gifts', which a police unit destroyed in a controlled explosion. "I'm innocent", said Santa, as he was led from court in chains, "I spread joy to the World!"

"Mister Claus is being charged of child slavery", said the Prosecutor," The child found at the scene has been indentified as Tiny Tim, who went missing almost 250 years ago in Old London Town. We suspect Claus of being behind a whole bunch of child abductions."

"They do all the dirty work and he takes all the credit. He claims he goes down each and every chimney - but come on, it's impossible. He's much too fat."

Sunday 8 December 2013

The Life You Are Capable of Living

Mandela (1918–2013): A Man Committed to Transforming Society

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Extract from article. Bob Herbert. 2013. Jacobin Magazine. A critique of the “feel good” and “sentimental stick figure” misrepresentations of Nelson Mandela and Dr. King in mass media.

Mandela was an authentic revolutionary who refused to cower in the face of the most malignant of evils.

The tributes after his death would be pouring in immediately from around the world but most of them would try to do to Mandela what has been done to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: turn him into a lovable, platitudinous cardboard character whose commitment to peace and willingness to embrace enemies could make everybody feel good. This practice is a deliberate misreading of history guaranteed to miss the point of the man.

The primary significance of Mandela and King was not their willingness to lock arms or hold hands with their enemies. It was their unshakable resolve to do whatever was necessary to bring those enemies to their knees. Their goal was nothing short of freeing their people from the murderous yoke of racial oppression. They were not the sweet, empty, inoffensive personalities of ad agencies or greeting cards or public service messages. Mandela and King were firebrands, liberators, truth-tellers—above all they were warriors. That they weren’t haters doesn’t for a moment minimize the fierceness of their militancy.

Ronald Reagan denounced him as a terrorist and Dick Cheney opposed his release from prison King was hounded by the FBI, repeatedly jailed, vilified by any number of establishment figures who despised his direct action tactics, and finally murdered. He was only 39 when he died. When King spoke out against the Vietnam war, characterizing the American government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” the New York Times took him to task in an editorial headlined, “Dr. King’s Error.”

Thursday 5 December 2013

Christmas Solidarity Marches for Justice

The Christian Cultural Movement, SAIn Political Party, and Youth Solidarity Path, invite you to join more than 30 solidarity marches organised throughout the month of December in Spain and Latin America, with the purpose of representing the voice of the impoverished in the streets and of emphasising that hunger and other attacks on human life can be eradicated if the political will exists.

Extracted from:

Every day, more than 100,000 people -half of them children- die of hunger

Campaingn for Justice in North-South Relations
Thou Shalt Not Kill (God)
More than 2,500 million people in the world live on less than 1.50 euros a day, and 90% of the world’s population owns only 17% of its wealth. As a result, the economic North has built walls and fences along their borders with poorer nations in an attempt to fence in hunger. Along these borders, violence and death await the millions of migrants who try to cross through Central America, across the Strait of Gibraltar, into Melilla, or over to Lampedusa.
Amidst the reorganisation of the imperialist economic system (or “crisis” as they call it), the world’s wealth has increased, while hunger has multiplied and the gap between rich and poor has grown. And as the richest 10% owns 83% of the world’s total wealth, the 3 biggest fortunes are equal to the GDP of the 48 poorest countries.
But yet again, the media machine of the First World would love to convince us that climate change is the main cause of hunger, tens of thousands of deaths, and the suffering of millions of families affected by the illness, loss of homes, famine and drought after typhoons or hurricanes.
The IMF and World Bank have been responsible for the implementation of the plans of “Structural Adjustment” that are now arriving on European shores but have been impoverishing Latin America, Asia, and Africa for over 25 years. These adjustments are provoking and increasing unemployment; precariousness; exploitation; the death of immigrants within our borders and evictions. And these measures help us to understand more and more what the oppressed of the Earth have been suffering for decades.
The Millennium Development Goals have been being used as a weapon against the poor, presenting them as the ones who are responsible for the injustices they suffer. On the other hand, they hide the robbery and exploitation of the economic North over the economic South. Meanwhile, instead of ending hunger (which is its main responsibility), the UN tries to exterminate the hungry by referring to abortion and contraception as “sexual and reproductive health”. That is how they refer to more than 2,000 million children aborted in the world in the last 25 years.

Converting a Public Park into a Night School and Teaching Impoverished Children for the Last 25 Years for Free

At individual level, we often think that a single person can’t do any good for society, particularly at large scale level – that too with no external moral and physical support, inspiration and funding. However, there are people in this world who achieve the glory that hundreds of others can’t reach together.

Master Ayub, one of those extraordinary examples, has been teaching un-privileged and poor children of Islamabad, Pakistan for last 25 years without receiving a single penny.

Converting a Public Park in Islamabad into a Night School, he has been able to teach these young children who will one day be the backbone of Pakistan.

“If Master Ayub leaves, no one will ever teach us again. He gets us books, stationary and teaches us everything,” Shahzeb, a seven-year-old student, said.

Many of these children are forced to work. Yet, every evening more than 100  children gather in a park to learn, to get education.

Master Ayub has his own levels for grades. Syllabus of this school may not equalize the outer world’s standards, but graduates of his school can easily read, write, do complex calculations, even they can speak foreign languages (such as English).

Students are taught special courses, for instance Mathematics, Social Sciences, to meet professional requirements and real life implications of studies.

Some of the children he has taught are now working in government institutions like the Capital Development Authority (CDA) while others are running their own private businesses.

Each student praised Master Ayub and said if it weren’t for him, they wouldn’t even know how to spell their names.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

The Difference A Teacher Can Make

100 years ago in French Algeria, on November 7th of 1913, author Albert Camus was born. The second son of Lucien and Catherine Camus, he was just 11-months-old when his father was killed in action during The Battle of the Marne; his mother, partially deaf and illiterate, then raised her boys in extreme poverty with the help of his heavy-handed grandmother.

It was in school that Camus shone, due in no small part to the encouragement offered by his beloved teacher, Louis Germain, a man who fostered the potential he saw and steered young Camus on a path that would eventually see him write some hugely respected, award-winning novels and essays.

Soon after winning the Nobel Prize, Camus used the occasion to write a touching note of gratitude to this hero in his life…

19 November 1957

Dear Monsieur Germain,

I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honour, one I neither sought nor solicited.

But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened.

I don’t make too much of this sort of honour. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.

Albert Camus

Friday 15 November 2013

Jan Satyagraha, 2012

Five years after Janadesh –their first 350-km-foot march involving 25,000 people who demanded rights on their lands, once more, the landless peasants of the Ekta Parishad Union met in Gwalior, India, to march to Delhi.  The march started on October 2, 2012, and arrived in Delhi on October 29, 2012. They needed 70,000 participants to demand new rights over land, water and natural resources. But, millions in Indian villages would hear the message. There were also many support activities in Europe and the rest of the world with local marches, meals, conferences and meetings.

We have often heard the cry we learned from Gandhi: JAI JAGAT! Victory for the world! But what is this victory? The agreement reached in Agra? The million land titles given to Adivasis (tribal people) since 2008? Or standing, walking, and facing the holders of power, without hatred or contempt but with determination?

These landless' peasants of Ekta Parishad with their leader Rajagopal on one side and on other, the Indian state and its government, all contributed to this victory, without violence and with respect.

It was hard for everyone; this victory could not be taken for granted. Victory against fear, indifference, poverty, and the inevitable fatigue is a daily task.

Janadesh March, Jan Satyagraha March and the twenty years of Ekta Parishad’s nonviolent struggle do not only mean the million property titles distributed to Adivasis since 2008 but much more than that, the transformation of Adivasis’ lives, opening doors to a dignified life, joyous awakening and the return of their confidence.

Thursday 14 November 2013

2014 SOLIDARITY MARCH: 2,000 reasons

Second fortnight of July 2014

to denounce the causes that provoke: 
Child Slavery, Unemployment and Exploitation

Let’s join against a radically unfair international economic and financial system, international organizations, parliamentary political parties and trade unions which legitimize wars, impoverishment and devastation and do nothing to put an end to child slavery and unemployment; and against a first world society that turns a blind eye to these barbarities.

Let’s march for Justice and Solidarity.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Vatican Focuses on Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery, at Pope's Request


An international workshop on human trafficking, modern slavery, held at the Vatican last weekend, examines the real dimensions of this criminal activity, with a view to better combating it.

The Vatican is hosting an international workshop on human trafficking this weekend (November 2-3), at the request of Pope Francis. The aim is to get an accurate picture of “the real state” of this heinous criminal activity against human dignity in order to explore new ways to better combat it.

Recent trends reveal that trafficking in human beings, which includes forced labor and sexual exploitation, has become the most profitable criminal activity in the world, surpassing both drugs and arms trafficking, according to Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and for Social Sciences.

Pope Francis is well aware that this criminal trade destroys the lives of so many millions of human beings. He was directly involved in combating it in Buenos Aires, where he also actively supported the work of the Fundacion Alameda, a lay, non-confessional organization in Argentina, headed by Gustavo Vera.

When, soon after his election as pope, the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), the Argentinean Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo, asked him if he would like the PAS to focus on any particular issue, Francis immediately responded with a hand-written note saying “it would be good” for the academy “to deal with the trafficking in persons and modern slavery”, adding that it might also include in that study “the trafficking in organs”.

The result is this weekend’s international workshop on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery. Destitute peoples and the message of Jesus Christ.”

We Can’t Forget Malala… We Can’t Forget Iqbal… We Can’t Forget There Are 400 Million Child Slaves Who Don’t Receive Education

The assassination attempt on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai has put her situation in the spotlight. But she’s not the first, writes Dr Ekaterina Yahyaoui.


Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for the right to an education.

Dr Ekaterina Yahyaoui writes: DO YOU KNOW who Iqbal Masih is? And do you know who Malala Yousafzai is? I believe the majority of you would say no to the first question and wonder why they should know this name. The majority of readers will know the story about Malala, a 14-year-old girl from Pakistan shot by the Taliban last week for her activism for girls’ right to education.

However, both cases are very similar in many regards. Iqbal, like Malala, comes from Pakistan. Iqbal’s name became known in western countries when he was a ten-year-old boy. You know about Malala because she started talking about girls’ rights to education and her diary was published on the BBC Urdu blog when she was eleven.  The attempt was made to assassinate Malala when she was fourteen. An attempt to assassinate Iqbal was made when he was twelve.

And this attempt was successful. Iqbal died at the age of twelve. We all hope that Malala will survive, but why did I recall Iqbal when I heard about Malala’s case?

Iqbal had not had a chance to go to a school. He came from a very poor family which sold him into the carpet industry when he was four.  Together with other children, he spent days working very fine looms on hand-made carpets in slave-like conditions. For instance, children were undernourished so that they would not grow and have small fine fingers required for making good quality fine carpets. Once Iqbal managed to escape he was able to mobilise public opinion not only in Pakistan, but most importantly in the West, including the USA. Malala’s activism also goes beyond Pakistani borders and reportedly she made appeals to the West and the USA.

Friday 1 November 2013

Marching Towards a Child Slavery-Free Zone

ON WAY TO SCHOOL Hundreds of children who have earlier supplemented
the family income have adapted to a new routine in Odisha.
Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

March 23, 2013


Hiramani Bentkar, 12, will no longer work on the fields in her village in Kendujhar district or help with domestic work. She now proudly walks to school, carrying a bagful of books.

Hundreds of children like Hiramani, who have earlier supplemented the family income by working at roadside eateries, garages, brick kilns, in cattle rearing and in collecting minor forest products have adapted to a new routine in Odisha, thanks to groups of children who worked to persuade their parents.

According to Hiramani, the children have formed a club in her village, Kumulabahali, in the mineral-rich Kendujhar district, about 250 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, and put up a determined fight against various social evils, including the widespread practice of encouraging girls to drop out of school to supplement family income.

The club ‘Himalaya Sisu Sabha’ has a total of 44 members, all of whom are below 18 years of age.

Weekly meeting

The children meet once a week, usually on a Saturday, and discuss the issues they face and possible actions to better their lives. The village has a population of about 1,500; most of the villagers are tribals.

The children were encouraged to form the club and work as a group after volunteers of the Peoples’ Cutural Centre (Pecuc), a non-government organisation, met them and told them that children too could take matters into their own hands and demand their due.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman's Life in Slavery

Harriet Ross was born into slavery in 1819 or 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland. Given the names of her two parents, both held in slavery, she was of purely African ancestry. She was raised under harsh conditions, and subjected to whippings even as a small child. At the age of 12 she was seriously injured by a blow to the head, inflicted by a white overseer for refusing to assist in tying up a man who had attempted escape.

At the age of 25, she married John Tubman, a free African American. Five years later, fearing she would be sold South, she made her escape.

Her Escape to Freedom in Canada

Tubman was given a piece of paper by a white neighbor with two names, and told how to find the first house on her path to freedom. At the first house she was put into a wagon, covered with a sack, and driven to her next destination.

Following the route to Pennsylvania, she initially settled in Philadelphia, where she met William Still, the Philadelphia Stationmaster on the Underground Railroad. With the assistance of Still, and other members of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, she learned about the workings of the UGRR.

In 1851 she began relocating members of her family to St. Catharines, (Ontario) Canada West. North Street in St. Catharines remained her base of operations until 1857. While there she worked at various activities to save to finance her activities as a Conductor on the UGRR, and attended the Salem Chapel BME Church on Geneva Street.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Solidarity Forever. For the Union Makes Us Strong.

"Solidarity Forever", written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915, is perhaps the most famous union anthem. It is sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body". Although it was written as a song for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), other union movements have adopted the song as their own. The song has been performed in recent years by musicians such as the late Utah Phillips, and was redone by Emcee Lynx and The Nightwatchman. It is still commonly sung at union meetings and rallies.

(Lyrics in English and Spanish)

Solidarity Forever. Solidarity Forever. Solidarity Forever
For the union makes us strong

When the union’s inspiration
through the workers blood shall run
There can be no power greater
anywhere beneath the sun
For what force on earth is weaker
than the feeble strength of one
But the union makes us strong

It is we who ploughed the prairies;
built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops;
endless miles of railroad laid.
Now we stand outcast and starving,
’midst the wonders we have made;
But the Union makes us strong.

Saturday 12 October 2013

FIFA in Conspiracy with Qatari Authorities over Salvery: 2022 Qatar World Cup is Built on a Graveyard

Qatar’s construction frenzy ahead of the 2022 World Cup is on course to cost the lives of at least 4,000 migrant workers before a ball is kicked, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has claimed.

However, this dramatic situation, which received great press coverage last week due to an investigation published by The Guardian newspaper, is not new. In May and June 2011, a Human Rights Watch research team travelled to Qatar to conduct in-depth interviews with migrant construction workers. They interviewed local residents who help migrant workers in distress, representatives from four embassies of countries that send significant numbers of migrant construction workers to Qatar, local employers, local recruitment agents, and Qatari government officials. Through their research, they found that in Qatar workers are forced to work in slavery conditions, which led to their deaths in many cases. See Abridged HRW's Report Despite their reports, letters and requests for governments, companies and the FIFA to take steps to protect workers from abuse and exploitation, nothing has been done in these two years, and the situation is getting worse rather than better.

The key factors which trap migrant workers in Qatar in exploitative jobs are:

Friday 11 October 2013

Lampedusa Deaths Are No 'Accident'

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Last week’s catastrophe is the latest in a series of incidents that have left 19,142 people dead over the last 24 years – this includes only reported and documented deaths. Many others, having died and disappeared at sea, will never be part of these statistics.

October 3rd, 2013 will go down as one of the deadliest days at the European external borders in decades. 363 people are now thought to have died in one single, tragic incident early that Thursday morning. And while the continuous, everyday deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean are met by silence, the magnitude of this ‘blood bath’ spurred the Italian and international media to report on it widely.

It was around 3.30am on Thursday morning when a boat with 518 people, most of them from Somalia and Eritrea, got into distress about 550 meters off the Lampedusa coastline. The motor had broken down, and water started flowing into the ship. Survivors say that their mobile phones had been taken away from them for the journey to avoid detection, so they used their ship’s horn and signaled SOS also optically.

Three fishing boats passed in their vicinity and did not help, nor did they notify the coast guards.

At around 6.20am, somebody on the boat lit a blanket to attract attention. The fire spread and panic broke out. When people moved to one side of the ship, it capsized and sank. Alerted by screams of people in the water, a boat of local fishermen came to their help and rescued 47 people. The fishermen assert that they informed the coastguard by 6.40am, and that it then took 45 minutes for them to arrive at the scene – despite its vicinity to the harbour. This delay is not the only accusation made against the coastguards. According to local newspapers, legal charges have been filed against them for failure to assist people in danger. Two boats of the Guardia di Finanza nearby did not join the rescue effort. In addition, some of the fishermen report having been hindered in rescuing more people. While the coastguard denies these accusations, it would not have been the first time that help to migrant boats in distress came too late.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Donkey Mobile Libraries

The Donkey Mobile Library is the brainchild of Ato Yohannes Gebregeorgis and was designed to address the urgent need of supplying books to children in rural areas. Ato Yohannes discovered that donkeys were plentiful in these rural areas and that books were not. Similar in concept to bookmobiles in the United States, Donkey Mobile Libraries run a circuit from school to school and from village to village bringing books to eager children. The first Donkey Mobile Library was put into operation in 2005 and five more have followed with a further commitment of more in the immediate future.

The donkey cart is designed to exacting specifications. It must hold a treasure trove of books, have space to hold stools for seating, and contain a special compartment for food for the donkey. The Donkey Mobile Library is parked underneath a large tree, the thirty or so stools placed in the shade with space for as many as 200 children to sit in the grass or dirt nearby. A trained librarian or library assistant distributes the books to the children and the children take turns reading to themselves or reading to ach other under the guidance of the librarian. When the session is over, the books and stools are packed up and the Donkey Mobile Library is off to the next reading site.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Serving Christ Hidden in the Poor

It is not how much we do, 
but how much love we put in the doing. 
It is not how much we give, 
but how much love we put in the giving.
“As you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25: 40). This Gospel passage, so crucial in understanding Mother Teresa's service to the poor, was the basis of her faith-filled conviction that in touching the broken bodies of the poor she was touching the body of Christ. It was to Jesus himself, hidden under the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, that her service was directed. Mother Teresa highlights the deepest meaning of service — an act of love done to the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, prisoners (cf. Mt 25: 34-36) is done to Jesus himself.

Mother Teresa's biography

This luminous messenger of God's love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia, from Albanese parents. The youngest of three children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916.

From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father's sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter's character and vocation. Gonxha's religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland, known for their missionary work in India. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on January 6, 1929.