Clampdown! Criminalizing dissent

A note from the editor

Richard Swift

Resisting the squeeze on public space

It’s hard sometimes to get the balance right.

At the New Internationalist we strive to tell the unvarnished truth which can be dauntingly negative. But we try to leaven it with positive news. When it comes to the subject of December’s Big Story on the authoritarian assault on democratic rights around the world, one is in danger of being swamped by negativity.

To balance, we sought out an example of a fertile political space with a record of creative alternative-building. Catalonia seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Then all of a sudden the determined but usually gentle Catalans became ground zero in the assault on democratic rights with bleeding senior citizens being dragged out of polling booths by Spanish police. Whatever the ultimate results of the current independence struggle, Catalans have a proud record of building radical democratic alternatives especially in their economic lives.

In this issue we make common, if informal, cause with the international NGO Civicus, which is leading the way in the fight to defend democratic space around the world. As the number of examples of state and corporate assault on the right to dissent mount it becomes crucial to build effective coalitions to defend our basic rights. This issue of the magazine is a contribution to the effort to do just that.

Elsewhere in this edition, we catch up with Pablo Beltrán, the guerrilla leader from the ELN at a critical point in the peace talks with the Colombian government; and we take a look at Port Augusta, the town in Australia that gave up coal for solar.

Richard Swift for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

In the US, police often decide who has the right to demonstrate and who doesn’t. In this case riot police in Durham, North Carolina form an armed phalanx to control people attempting to protest against a white nationalist rally.

In the US, police often decide who has the right to demonstrate and who doesn’t. In this case riot police in Durham, North Carolina form an armed phalanx to control people attempting to protest against a white nationalist rally.

Photo: Jason Miczek / Reuters

Whose streets?

The current clampdown on popular rights mirrors a profound malaise with our system of top-down political representation, argues Richard Swift.

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It beggared belief – a line of armoured St. Louis police chanting ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ But that’s exactly how they trumpeted their power in September as they cleared the streets of people protesting against police brutality.

The officers were celebrating the acquittal of one of their own on charges of the unjustified killing of a black motorist. Of course, it is no surprise to anyone that heavily armed police control US streets, often acting like armed militias occupying poor ...




Features.

Turkish riot police crack down on people protesting against the purge of academics, outside Ankara University.

From lectern to prison

İştar Gözaydın was a professor of law and politics in Turkey. Until her government decided she was a terrorist. She tells her story.

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Artist Kaya Mar with his satirical portrait Erdoğan, the Turkish Sun King – after France’s absolute monarch Louis XVI.

How Turkey’s citizens lost their rights

Turkish writer and analyst Hakki Mahfuz summarize the twists and turns that landed Turkey where it is today.

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Dissent is viewed as illegitimate. Rule of law matters less than edicts purported to reflect popular opinion.

You will agree: escalating repression

Mandeep Tiwana sorts through the many cloaks of authoritarianism donned by the political class as repression becomes the rule rather than the exception.

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Colonizing civil society

A group of political strategists gathers to brainstorm ways to remove democratic impediments to the plans of their political bosses. Text by Richard Swift, illustration by Jonathan Williams.

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Are we all terrorists?

Activist Scott Weinstein dances with the terrorist label and finds it a fickle partner.

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Indigenous and other activists gather in front of the Honduran embassy in London in response to the murder of anti-dam campaigner Berta Cáceres in 2016.

Defame, criminalize, murder

Grassroots environmentalists are being violently targeted in Latin America. Leny Olivera and Sian Cowman believe there is something we can do about it.

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Catalan revolutionaries get ready for action to defend their revolution from Franco back in 1936. Barcelona at the time was famously described by George Orwell as ‘a town where the working class was in the saddle’.

Homage to Catalonia

Recent events have thrust Catalonia into the global spotlight. Kevin Buckland tells the background story we don’t get to hear – about co-operatives, ‘fearless cities’ and the real challenges to authoritarian capitalism.

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Protesters, including First Nations people, blocking the road to Adani’s Abbott Point coal port.

While the world’s largest coal mine gets the go ahead…

With the Great Barrier Reef and climate targets under threat, Tom Anderson and Eliza Egret explain why this mega mine matters to all of us.

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An example of the proposed solar plant for Port Augusta.

...Port Augusta gives coal the boot

Port Augusta had long been South Australia’s coal-fired powerhouse. But a five-year-long community campaign has delivered solar success and an end to the smokestacks, reports Dan Spencer.

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Pablo Beltrán and others in the ELN’s peace delegation address the media during talks in Quito earlier this year.

Guerrillas gamble for peace

The clock is ticking for peace in Colombia. Next month a ceasefire with the ELN, the last remaining leftwing guerrilla organization in the country, is due to run out. Guerrilla leader Pablo Beltrán of Colombia’s ELN talks to Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marín.

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Arvind Gupta in his lab.

Toys from trash

Simple models by India’s ‘science magician’, Arvind Gupta, are making learning fun for young minds around the world. Priti Salian reports from a classroom in Bangalore.

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University students from the Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance resist police using water cannons during a protest in Jakarta, 1 December 2016.

‘Every signature was an act of courage’

How did West Papuan campaigners build a game-changing 1.8 million-strong petition in the teeth of government repression? Key organizers tell Danny Chivers how it was done and what’s at stake.

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Web exclusives.

The lives behind the label

Bangladesh is home to almost five million garment workers, making it the second largest manufacturer of garments in the world. Its factory workers make the clothes we wear every day. Meet the humans behind the big clothing brand labels.

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Read more web-exclusives...

Opinion.

Confronting a culture of sexual violence

To make this culture of sexual harassment a thing of the past requires organizing and mass mobilization, writes Mark Engler.

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Agenda.

A protester holds blood-stained images of government figures during a demonstration against the annulment of Law 180 in August 2017.

Against mother nature

A highway project threatens indigenous peoples' reserves in Bolivia. Aldo Orellana Lopez reports.

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CONIFA World cup of unrecognized nations and linguistic minorities. An Abkhazian football fan cheers at the 2016 tournament.

The Alternative World Cup

In June 2018, London is hosting an alternative ‘World Football Cup’ of linguistic minorities and unrecognized nations, organized by CONIFA. Alessio Perrone reports.

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Docs not cops

Docs not cops

Doctors and patients are fighting back against new rules to restrict migrants’ access to the NHS, writes Simon Childs.

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Introducing... João Lourenço

Angola has its first new president in nearly 40 years, but bringing change might prove difficult as long as the economy remains dependent on diamonds and oil. Richard Swift reports.

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Divided over driving

Divided over driving

Saudi Arabia has lifted its ban on women drivers, but there not everyone agrees it’s a good thing. By Lydia Noon.

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Arms trade loophole

Arms trade loophole

Shell companies are aggravating some of the world’s worst conflicts, writes Steven Shaw.

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Whiteness is not rightness

Whiteness is not rightness

Refugees in Germany complain about the lack of support by liberal and left-wing activists, writes Morgan Meaker

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Anti-gentrification saint

Anti-gentrification saint

Two artists have invented a saint to protect residents from gentrification. Yohann Koshy reports.

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Reasons to be cheerful

A breath of fresher air; Hope in sight; Frack off, say Scots.

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Regulars.

Letters

Praise, blame and all points in between? Your feedback published in the December 2017 magazine.

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When the post doesn't come

Bolivians have had to get used to doing without postal services. In her Letter From Cochabamba, Amy Booth writes how they manage instead.

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Open Window - #MeToo

Illustration by Doaa Eladl from Egypt

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Clockwise from top left: Aerial photograph of the luxury Ritz Carlton resort near Manama, with the skyline of the capital in the distance; a Bahraini law student – there are more opportunities for women than in neighbouring Saudi Arabia; locals horse riding in the desert; a demonstration by Bahrainis in London demanding democratic rights in their country; the modern souk in Manama.

Country Profile: Bahrain

The West finds much to celebrate about the country, but it has the largest prison population in the Middle East and world’s highest per-capita use of teargas. Zoe Holman reports on the state of Bahrain.

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A word with Nithin Sawhney

Acclaimed British-Indian musician Nitin Sawhney talks to Subi Shah about colonialism, music as a passport to possibility and why he wants to be known as ‘someone who gives a shit’.

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Dolores Huerta, mobilizing farm workers in 1960s US.

Mixed Media: Film

Dolores directed by Peter Bratt; Félicité directed and co-written by Alain Gomis.

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Daniel Mburu Muhuni (left) and Sven Kacirek (right) against a backdrop of how global trade policies affect African farmers.

Mixed Media: Music

Economic Partnership Agreement by Sven Kacirek and Daniel Mburu Muhuni; Syrian Dreams by Maya Youssef.

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Mixed Media: Books

1947 by Elisabeth Åsbrink; The Death of Homo Economicus by Peter Fleming; Of Women by Shami Chakrabarti; With Ash on Their Faces by Cathy Otten.

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