This Week in Review is highlighted by gay xenophobia in Serbia, and the burgeoning “Occupy Wall Street” protests were marked by labor unions joining the fight along with 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and after seven years of victories one flagrantly partisan decision renders a landmark DADT case “moot.”
Belgrade Gay Pride Banned by Serbian Officials
The Serbian government’s National Security Council declared its police forces could not maintain public safety and protect LGBT Pride marchers in Belgrade today, because of the threat of violence by an array of ultra-nationalistic groups, empowering Minister of Interior Ivica Dacic to declare the historically marred event to be legally banned. European Union officials expressed their regret at the unsurprising action, noting the Belgrade Pride ban would be considered in Serbia’s EU accession review scheduled for early 2012.
Saudi Women Extended the Vote
Saudi King Abdullah in Abdulaziz al-Saud announced this week that women will be extended the right to vote and run for office in 2015. A bold action by the 88-year-old monarch who assumed power six years ago as a reformer, but has been cautious in his governing style. Notwithstanding the advance in women’s human rights in Saudi Arabia, for the time being, women remained banned from driving automobiles. So if a Saudi woman wants to get to the polls, or run for office, she will have to ask her father, husband, uncle or son to take her there. Could Suburu offer to send some of their auto makes and models to Saudi women, as an incentive for government reform? We could come up with a memorable commercial in Suburu tradition.
Anwar al-Awlaki Assassinated in Yemen
Radical Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American but considered an enemy of the United States, was assassinated early Friday morning somewhere in Yemen, by missiles launched from an unmanned drone aircraft, under orders by President Obama. Born in New Mexico, al-Awlaki became an influential recruiter of English-speaking home-grown terrorists via the Internet and was considered a key figure in the radicalization of Major Nidal Malik Hassan, the Ft. Hood Army psychiatrist who killed 12 people in 2009 and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “Underwear Bomber,” who attempted to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear while traveling on a Northwest plane, Christmas Day, 2009. This blog notes the sigh of relief that must be felt among U.S. government intelligence officers who have been tracking this bad guy for two consistent years.
The German Bundestag Votes to Support Euro Bailout
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor of Germany and all of Europe took a deep breath, when the Bundestag, the lower House, voted three days ago, overwhelmingly in support of a German government bailout plan of more than $598 billion that will also expand the authority of the European Financial Stability Facility, the main fund for bailing out indebted euro countries, including Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (known as the PIIGS). Europe continues to wrestle with reticent politicians across the continent, who have hesitated to cover the sovereign debt of the PIIGS countries, while more countries have been urged by the International Monetary Fund and Tim Geithner, the U.S. Treasury head, to contribute to the bailout fund. Additional parliamentary votes will take place over the next several weeks. America watches and waits for Europe to act.
OSCE Reviews Human Rights in Eastern Europe, Former USSR
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe began its annual “Human Dimension” meeting in Warsaw, on Sept. 26-Oct. 7, that includes a review of human rights record and practices by 56 participating member states from Europe, Central Asia and North America. Ian Kelley, the U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE, in his opening statement at the meeting, addressed the issue of violence against persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, calling it a “widespread problem.” Although LGBT rights are not on the formal meeting schedule, the informal side meetings are populated by organizations who work on LGBT rights in the OSCE region. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality traveled to Warsaw over the weekend to participate in the second week of the review. We will report Bromley’s observations to our readers next week.
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate Dies at 71
The first African woman to win a Nobel Prize, Wangari Maathai, leader of the “green belt” environmental movement, died this week in Nairobi, Kenya, after sucumbing to ovarian cancer. The most highly regarded woman leader on the African continent, Maathai, a feminist, politician and “rabble-rouser” rose to international acclaim, working with women to plant trees throughout and in the process uplifted many women and their communities, while raising mass consciousness about the vital role of the environment in support of human life.
Log Cabin DADT Cases Declared Moot
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the Log Cabin Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell challenge this week, ruling that the repeal of the statute rendered the legal challenge “moot”. DADT repeal activists were crestfallen in the decision, having banked on a legal strategy that could have rendered reparations to the 14,000 service members who were discharged under the law. SOme called the decision “as bad as it could have been.” The repeal legislation disallowed that option.
Wall Street Protests Grow, Unions Join
As the “occupy Wall Street” protests progressed into their third week, labor unions joined the growing effort when the Transit Workers Union of New York City declared their active support and joined the burgeoning grass-roots activists who had a number of confrontations with local police,culminating in the arrests of 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, while chanting “We got sold out, banks got bailed out!”
A major national union, SEIU 32BJ New York City, announced they would hold a rally in the support of the protesters on Oct. 12th. Other actions erupted in Los Angeles and social media activists have launched a website Occupy Together with a full complement of Facebook pages. Twitter handle @OccupyWallStNYC has become a new phrase in American social media vernacular that is migrating into everyday conversations. Is this the beginning of a new political movement in America? Stay tuned.
Nyad: Marathon Swimmer Withdraws in Third Attempt in Swim to Miami from Havana
Diana Nyad, the 61-year-old ultra-endurance athlete and lesbian heart-throb, reluctantly ended her third-time marathon swim quest from Cuba to Florida last Sunday,after sustaining life threatening stings by man-of-war jelly fish while attempting to swim the 103 miles to Miami’s South Beach. Nyad’s efforts were closely reported by the New York Times, Associated Press and USA Today, among others. Bye, bye Diana! We lesbians especially will miss you!
Obama Takes a Congratulatory Bow at HRC Dinner
President Barack Obama took a victory lap by appearing at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner last night just 12 days following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But to no activist’s surprise, Obama did not make news by announcing his full-throated support for marriage equality, or that he would sign an executive order to extend non-discrimination job protections to federal workers based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. It appears that those two perks, can wait, for now.
Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.