Citizens speak out – 4 Jul 2011

Citizens speak out. Rallying for reforms that include improved living conditions, more job opportunities and a voice in government, people continue to gather in countries such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Greece, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, United States and Yemen.

GREECE – With the Greek Parliament having last week approved austerity measures required as part of a loan agreement from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, Eurozone finance ministers agreed to release the next €12 billion portion of the loan while also pledging support beyond the original €110 billion total amount.

UNITED STATES – After legislators in Minnesota, USA were unable to reach an agreement with Governor Mark Dayton by Friday on a plan to bridge a US billion annual budget gap, the government and all services except emergency and disaster response have been shut down until talks resume next week. Meanwhile, in the southern state of Georgia, an estimated 15,000 people participated in a march Saturday protesting the state’s new anti-immigration laws, saying that they create an inhospitable environment for people of color and for those seeking better economic opportunities.

PALESTINE – Despite Greece having halted the departure of flotilla boats for Palestine as well as arresting the captain of a US ship that tried to leave without permission, activists report they are still determined to set sail and continue on their mission to deliver medicine, construction equipment and other humanitarian aid to Gaza. Meanwhile, the Spanish Parliament on Friday urged the nation’s government to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

MOROCCO- During a general vote held on Saturday, July 2 to ratify constitutional amendments that would reduce the absolute power of the monarchy, an estimated 72% of the country’s 13 million registered voters came to the polls, with 98% approving the proposed reforms. On Sunday, thousands marched to demand more reforms that include further limits on the king’s powers and increased standards of accountability to end corruption.

MALAYSIA – PressTV reports that Sauram, the largest human rights group in Malaysia, began a campaign to raise awareness of detainees being tortured following various types of lock-ups and arrests, while encouraging Malaysians to persuade the government to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture.

BAHRAIN – Following several months of protests and nearly two months of martial law, a national reconciliation conference was initiated Saturday, with participants hoping to resolve issues diplomatically.

SYRIA – A day after massive protests Friday in the city of Hama, President Bashar al-Assad dismissed overseeing Governor Ahmad Khaled Abdul-Aziz, with activists stating that the dismissal was likely related to the governor having refused to allow policemen to fire at the huge rally of over 400,000 people, which was spared casualties while at least 24 citizens died in other cities. On Sunday, two days after the protests, thousands of Syrian troops in dozens of tanks were deployed to the city where they began arresting an unknown number of suspected activists, with residents reporting sounds of gunfire in the streets.

LIBYA – Head of the Libyan Transitional National Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil stated that the revolutionaries no longer seek Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s exile following his resignation, but would agree to his retirement within the country with international supervision.

YEMEN – On Sunday, dozens of Yemeni troops were reported to have gone missing following clashes with illegally armed men in the nation’s south. This news came a day after Yemeni officials stated that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is being treated in Saudi Arabia for injuries sustained in a June 3 attack on the presidential palace, remains bedridden with difficulty both breathing and talking, making it unlikely that he could resume his duties for months. Meanwhile, as thousands continued to protest in the streets of cities like Sana’a, a coalition of six minority groups known as the Joint Meeting Parties was set to meet on Saturday to discuss a transitional council to begin forming a new government.

As we mourn the loss of precious life and sincerely sympathize with those who suffer, we pray that the turmoil in all nations is halted and that people everywhere may decide their futures in freedom, dignity, and peace.