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Nobel Laureates Call on "Militaristic" United States to Renew Pledge to Protect Human Rights

Democracy Now - Mon 07 48 AM

As we broadcast from the World Forum at The Hague, a statue has just been dedicated to Dutch suffragist Dr. Aletta Jacobs, who 100 years ago organized an extraordinary meeting known as the International Congress of Women that took place as World War I raged across the globe. We are joined by three women who have won the Nobel Peace Prize and are gathered to mark the anniversary and discuss how to build peace in the future. Mairead Maguire was awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her actions to help end the deep ethnic and political conflict in her native Northern Ireland. Leymah Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in leading a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. And Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Williams notes President Barack Obama has authorized more drone strikes during his first three months in office than President Bush did during his entire administration.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Launches Campaign to Stop Killer Robots After Winning Ban on Landmines

Democracy Now - Mon 07 34 AM

In 1997 Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 2013 she helped launch the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. "Who is accountable? Is it the man who programmed it? Is it Lockheed Martin, who built it?" Williams asks in an interview at The Hague, where she has joined 1,000 female peace activists gathered to mark the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Williams notes how some "spider-like" robots that spray tear gas are now used for crowd control, but could be stopped before they become widespread. She recalls how she was previously able to "force the governments of the world to come together and discuss [landmines]. They thought they would fly under the radar … A small group of people can and do change the world."

Liberian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee: How a Sex Strike Propelled Men to Refuse War

Democracy Now - Mon 07 16 AM

Liberian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, one of the 1,000 female peace activists gathered to mark the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, recalls her work in leading a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. "We were constantly trying to imagine strategies that would be effective," Gbowee says. "The men in our society were really not taking a stance. … We decided to do a sex strike to kind of propel these silent men into action." Gbowee notes the idea for the strike came from a Muslim woman and was inspired in part by the civil rights movement in the United States. Gbowee shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow Liberian Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemeni native Tawakkul Karman. She is the founder and president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa based in Liberia.

No to Violence, Yes to Dialogue: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire on Path to Peace Today

Democracy Now - Mon 07 10 AM

We broadcast live from The Hague, where over 1,000 female peace activists gathered from around the world 100 years ago this week to call for an end to war. The extraordinary meeting, known as the International Congress of Women, took place as World War I raged across the globe. Today, as wars rage on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries, women from around the world have gathered again in The Hague to call for peace and to mark the 100th anniversary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we speak with three Nobel Peace Prize laureates. "Their agenda is to end militarism and war, and to build peace and international law and human rights and democracy," says our first guest, Mairead Maguire, who was awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 32 for her actions to help end the deep ethnic and political conflict in her native Northern Ireland. She shared the award with Betty Williams. They helped start Peace People, a movement committed to building a just and peaceful society in Northern Ireland. At the time, Maguire was the youngest recipient of the peace prize. She is the author of the book "The Vision of Peace: Faith and Hope in Northern Ireland."

A People Expunged: Marking the 100th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide amid Ongoing Turkish Denials

Democracy Now - Fri 07 39 AM

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. On April 24, 1915, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic, premeditated genocide against the Armenian people — an unarmed Christian minority living under Turkish rule. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Today, the Turkish government continues to deny this genocide, and since becoming president, President Obama has avoided using the term "genocide" to describe it. We’re joined by Peter Balakian, professor of humanities at Colgate University and author of "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response"; Anahid Katchian, whose father was a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide; and Simon Maghakyan, an activist with Armenians of Colorado. We also play a recording of Armenian broadcaster and writer David Barsamian’s mother recalling her experience during the Armenian genocide as a young girl. Araxie Barsamian survived, but her parents and brothers did not.

Watch: Explosive Footage from Inside Rikers Jail Shows Guard Beating Teen Accused of Backpack Theft

Democracy Now - Fri 07 26 AM

Explosive video obtained by The New Yorker depicts extreme violence inside New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex. Surveillance camera footage shows former teenage prisoner, Kalief Browder, being abused on two separate occasions. In one clip from 2012, the teenager is seen inside Rikers’ Central Punitive Segregation Unit, better known as the Bing. As a guard escorts Browder to the showers, Browder appears to speak, and then the guard suddenly violently hurls him to the floor although he’s already handcuffed. In a separate video clip from 2010, Browder is attacked by almost a dozen other teenage inmates after he punches a gang member who spat in his face. The other inmates pile onto Browder and pummel him until guards finally intervene. In an exclusive interview, we are the first to speak about the video with New Yorker staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman, who told Browder’s story in The New Yorker last year, describing how he spent nearly three years at Rikers after arriving there as a 16-year-old high school sophomore following his refusal to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit — stealing a backpack. "Footage [from inside Rikers] like this never, ever comes out," Gonnerman says. "This is what goes on when nobody is looking."

Pentagon Speeds Efforts to Resettle Guantánamo Prisoners Ahead of Vote on Two-Year Transfer Ban

Democracy Now - Fri 07 23 AM

The Washington Post reports the Pentagon plans to increase its efforts to resettle dozens of detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo in the coming months before Congress can block future transfers and derail President Obama’s plan to shutter the U.S. military prison. As a first step, officials plan to send up to 10 prisoners overseas, possibly in June. In all, the Pentagon hopes that 57 inmates who are approved for transfer will be resettled by the end of 2015. We get reaction from Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, who says the new legislation would make it nearly impossible to close the facility.

As Obama Apologizes for Deaths of Hostages in Drone Strike, Does the U.S. Know Who It Is Killing?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 10 AM

A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan has reportedly accidentally killed two hostages who were being held captive by al-Qaeda. The White House says U.S. government contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan in January. On Thursday, President Barack Obama took "full responsibility" for the botched operation and described it as a painful loss he profoundly regretted. According to the White House, the operation also reportedly killed an American al-Qaeda leader, Ahmed Farouq. A separate strike apparently killed another American al-Qaeda member, Adam Gadahn. Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, the White House said it had no reason to believe the U.S. and Italian hostages were being detained in the al-Qaeda compound targeted during the operation. "In neither of the strikes … did the government actually know who it was killing," says Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU. "Yesterday’s disclosures just provide more reasons to question what kinds of regulations the government has governing these strikes." The botched operation comes on the heels of a new report chronicling civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes in Yemen.

U.S.-Backed Saudi War in Yemen Continues as Aid Groups Describe "Catastrophic" Humanitarian Crisis

Democracy Now - Thu 07 47 AM

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition struck the Yemeni cities of Aden and Ibb early today despite a claim by Riyadh that it had ended the military operation known as Operation Decisive Storm. Saudi Arabia and nine Arab allies began bombing Yemen on March 25. The United States provided intelligence and logistical support for the attacks and accelerated the sale of new weapons to its Gulf allies. Earlier this week, the United States deployed two additional warships off the coast of Yemen. The bombing began after Houthi rebels seized control of the capital Sana’a last year and deposed President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the humanitarian situation in Yemen is "catastrophic." We speak to Toby Jones, associate professor of history and director of Middle Eastern studies at Rutgers University.

"Running While Black": Protests Swell over Death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore Police Custody

Democracy Now - Thu 07 14 AM

Protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray have entered their fifth day. The 27-year-old African-American man died Sunday from spinal injuries, one week after Baltimore police arrested him. His family and attorney say his voice box was crushed and his spine was "80 percent severed at his neck." A preliminary autopsy report showed Gray died of a spinal injury. Video shot by a bystander shows Gray screaming in apparent agony as police drag him to a van. Another witness said the police bent Gray like a pretzel. While the police union has described the protesters as a lynch mob, former Black Panther Eddie Conway says Gray is the one who was lynched. "There was a lynch mob. There is a body. There was a death without a trial, without a jury, without a sentence. There was an execution. That’s lynching," Conway says. "They’re blaming the victims. They’re blaming people that suffered the lynching for protesting."

How Many More? 116 Environmental Defenders Were Murdered Last Year, Mostly in Latin America

Democracy Now - Wed 07 49 AM

As we continue to mark Earth Day, we look at a new report that finds killings of environmental activists on the rise, with indigenous communities hardest hit. According to Global Witness, at least 116 environmentalists were killed last year — more than two a week. Three-quarters of the deaths occurred in Central and South America. Just recently, three indigenous Tolupán leaders were gunned down during an anti-mining protest in northern Honduras, which has become the most dangerous country for environmental activists. We speak to Billy Kyte, campaigner for Global Witness and author of their new report, "How Many More?"

Earth Day Special: Goldman Prize Awarded to Burmese Photographer Who Fought Dam Project

Democracy Now - Wed 07 42 AM

The Asia 2015 Goldman Prize has been awarded to Myint Zaw, a Burmese journalist and activist who used photographs and art to organize protests against a dam on the Irrawaddy River that would have displaced 18,000 indigenous people and impacted millions more.

Kenyan Mother Wins Goldman Prize for Anti-Lead Protest After Her Own Breast Milk Made Baby Sick

Democracy Now - Wed 07 32 AM

As the world marks the 45th Earth Day, we speak to Kenyan activist Phyllis Omido, who was just awarded the Africa 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award. Omido organized protests to close a lead plant in Mombasa, Kenya, that was exposing the community to toxic chemicals. Her son was one of those affected. She is the founder of the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action.

"It Was Worth Risking My Life, My Freedom": Campaign Reform Activist on Flying Gyrocopter to Capitol

Democracy Now - Wed 07 13 AM

Last week U.S. mailman Doug Hughes made national headlines when he flew a tiny personal aircraft known as a gyrocopter on to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in an act of civil disobedience. Hughes was carrying letters to every member of Congress urging them to address corruption and to pass campaign finance reform. The letter began with a quote from John Kerry’s farewell speech to the Senate: "The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself." After landing on the Capitol Mall, Doug Hughes was arrested and could now face up to four years in prison on charges of violating national defense airspace and operating an unregistered aircraft. Despite being under house arrest and forced to wear a GPS monitoring device, Doug Hughes has decided to keep speaking out about the need for campaign finance reform.

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Inside the U.S. Crackdown on Pedro Albizu Campos & Nationalist Party

Democracy Now - Tue 07 23 AM

Commemorations are being held today to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pedro Albizu Campos, popularly known to many as Don Pedro, the former head of the Nationalist Party and leader of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Albizu Campos spent some 26 years in prison for organizing against U.S. colonial rule. He was born in 1891, seven years before the U.S. invaded the island. He would go on to become the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School. Once he returned to Puerto Rico, he dedicated the rest of his life to the independence movement, becoming president of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in 1930. It was a position he held until his death in 1965. In 1936, Albizu Campos was jailed along with other Nationalist leaders on conspiracy and sedition charges. His jailing led to protests across Puerto Rico. On Palm Sunday, March 21, 1937, police shot and killed 21 Puerto Ricans and wounded over 200 others taking part in a peaceful march to protest Albizu Campos’ imprisonment. The event became known as the Ponce massacre. After his eventual release, Albizu Campos was arrested again in 1950, just days after a Nationalist revolt began on October 30. Pedro Albizu Campos would spend almost the rest of his life in prison, where he repeatedly charged that he was the subject of human radiation experiments. We hear Albizu Campos in his own words and speak to three guests: Rep. José Serrano (D-NY); Nelson Denis, author of the new book, "War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony"; and Hugo Rodríguez of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.