Wednesday, June 25, 2008


In elections this March, the people of Zimbabwe sent a clear message: Morgan Tsvangirai, not Robert Mugabe, should lead their government.

Since then, through a campaign of violence, fraud, and intimidation, Mugabe's government has undermined any hope for a legitimate run-off on June 27. The MDC has, appropriately, withdrawn. But this is not a concession of victory -- it is an acknowledgment of reality.

Now, the world's eyes turn to the leaders of Southern Africa -- without whom even Mugabe cannot retain power. Please sign on to this message to Thabo Mbeki and other Southern African leaders, and Avaaz will deliver it this week in newspaper ads throughout the region

You can take action!

Monday, June 23, 2008

China's Olympic torch puppet play in Tibet reaffirms why world leaders should boycott the Olympic opening ceremony

How long will it take the international community to respond to the fact that the Olympic torch procession is a political propaganda tool aimed at shoring up internal domestic support for the dictatorial hold exerted by the Chinese Communist Party?

The farcical torch procession in Lhasa confirms the worst fears of regime critics. While Tibetans were ordered to stay away from the ceremony a conga line of regime apparatchiks demonized the 'Dalai Lama clique' as the cause of unrest.

Whilst an Olympic boycott may not be the most appropriate gesture it is beholden on the world leadership to do something to signify the regime's violations are unacceptable. The mealy mouthed appeasement that passes for 'human rights dialogue' with China is clearly inadequate. The apologists tell us that human rights are improving. In a relative sense they are, but this is from such a low baseline that it beggars belief that the international community is satisfied. The situation of client states such as Burma and North Korea are a clear manifestation of what a world run by the Chinese dictatorship would look like.

As a recent article published in Canada put it, "Let's not forget that China bears a major, albeit indirect, responsibility for the ongoing genocide in Darfur. And only China would bestow an honorary degree on Zimbabwe's tyrannical dictator, Robert Mugabe." This latter point is not quite true as a Western University did the same to Mugabe when he was considered a genuine democrat. However, the university has recently rescinded the degree.

The opening ceremony of the Olympics should be boycotted as this is the regime's showcase. Do not provide these autocrats with an unfettered propaganda vehicle to trumpet their hyper-nationalism.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tony Kevin: "Asking awkward questions: the uncomfortable terrain of moral dissent"

In his recent address to a writers' conference Tony Kevin spoke on the consequences of activism. Though his talk received a warm reception from the National Library audience of some 300 people, he has so far been unable to publish the text of this talk. He has agreed to publication on the RAC website, because he feels that what he said here ought to be read as widely as possible.

The risks inherent to dissent from the policies of any particular government are a conundrum faced by any public servant whose integrity and ethics are compromised by official policies and/or actions. However, failure to be true to one's self can have have bleak consequences for the dark nights of the soul.

Career damage and mental illness are just two possible scenarios faced by the disaffected officer. A severe loss of morale and a sense of guiding purpose are less tangible but equally debilitating outcomes. Someone thoroughly committed to their career can suddenly find themselves less than enthusiastic to carry out their duties and inclined toward a path of covert resistance to the dominant paradigm.

As someone who experienced this syndrome in the face of the Howard government's asylum seeker policies I empathize strongly with Tony Kevin's position and encourage readers to purchase his books.