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Democracy goes grassroots in Montreal

North America’s longest student strike in Canada’s French-speaking province Quebec is leading to new and interesting social developments in the region. After Premiere Jean Charest passed an emergency law to quell protests in May 2012, communities defied this law by holding nightly “casseroles” marches – a phenomenon that is now spreading across Canada. The community-based activity is spawning neighborhood assemblies throughout Montreal, where residents are discussing ways to combat everything from social service cutbacks to police repression. Jerome Charaoui, an IT consultant at a Montreal college, got together with some friends to start the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area assembly.

Listen to the report by Carmelle Wolfson:

Democracy goes grassroots in Montreal

Jerome Charaoui

Jerome talks with assembly members

Jerome talks with assembly members

Agenda order for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Neighborhood Assembly

Agenda order for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Neighborhood Assembly

Date

Tuesday 31.07.2012 | 12:18

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North Korean defector works toward democracy

Emma, 18, managed to flee North Korea with her mother. Now she’s networking with other young political activists with hopes of eventually developing democracy in her home country.

Listen to the report by Roberto Tofani, presented by André Leslie:

North Korean defector works toward democracy

Here are some organizations that promote democracy in North Korea:

Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights
Ydank (in Korean)
The National Democratic Institute

Photos by PlanetNext.net

Date

Tuesday 08.05.2012 | 13:07

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Syrian activist uses mobile phones to campaign for freedom

Syria is not experiencing a Facebook Revolution; it’s more of a mobile phone uprising. And 24-year-old activist Rashid is risking his personal safety to fight for democracy in his country.

Syrian activist uses mobile phones to campaign for freedom

Ciwan Rashid

From reporter Reese Erlich:

Erbil, Kurdish Region, Iraq

I wasn’t sure what to expect when setting up an interview with a grassroots leader of the Syrian opposition. We were both staying in the relative safety of Iraq’s Kurdish Region, far from the long arm of Syria’s Mukhabarat (military intelligence).

But still, Ciwan Rashid didn’t want to meet me at home. We agreed to do the interview on a crowded Erbil street with a shopping mall and restaurants. He gave me his name, but it’s a nom de guerre.

Rashid lives in the predominantly Kurdish region of Syria. Kurds have long faced discrimination at the hands of the Syrian government. Rashid says all Syrians face repression, but “Kurds in Syria faced even more repression than others.”

Rashid, like many other Syrians, watched the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings with great anticipation. In Syria, demonstrations started in Damascus in March, caught fire in the southern town of Dara and ultimately spread to the northern Kurdish cities as well. Rashid immediately joined the protests.

“I wasn’t afraid,” he told me. I asked why not. After all, people were being arrested, tortured and killed. “There are two choices,” he said. “One is to escape and survive. The second is to die. If I survive, I will have my freedom.”

Date

Tuesday 25.10.2011 | 14:32

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Serb teen blogs about democracy

Unlike most teens, 13-year old Belgrade native Rastko Pocesta is concerned about the direction of his nation. So much so, that he’s devoted himself to the life of a political commentator and human rights activist.

Serb teen blogs about democracy

Rastko Pocesta is a politcal commentator for his blog Heimatlos. Here you can read all about his musings on the state of worldwide politics. Although it’s inspiring (and downright impressive) to read Raskto’s intellectual observations, he’s actually received threats from far-right groups in Serbia for sharing his anti-nationalist views.

Rastko Pocesta

Reporter Melanie Sevcenko on meeting Rastko:
I met Rastko one sunny Saturday afternoon in Belgrade. We exchanged a few text messages to arrange a meeting, but I suggested his flat downtown, since I wanted to get a glimpse of his liar, where he writes is proactive blog Heimatlos about Serbian and global politics. After googling Rastko online to get a little background information, I soon realized he was a bit famous, having appeared in the international media. So I have to admit, I was a little nervous gearing up to meet the boy wonder! At promptly 2:00 pm, Rastko opened the door to his ground floor apartment, which he shares with his mother, very shyly peeping his head through the crack in the door.

My colleague and I entered his humble flat and took a look around, attempting to make small talk while we set up the camera and microphone. Rastko was dressed in a suit jacket, collared shirt, neat slacks and shiny black shoes. His straight shoulder-length hair gave him a sort of scholarly sophistication, but it was obvious he wasn’t used to interviews. He is, I kept having to remind myself, only 13 years old. I asked him questions about his work, his blog, his political views on his nation and his thoughts about kids his age. Getting him to open up in a personal way was a challenge, but he spoke clearly and articulately about politics, so it was enough to understand his passions and his place within Serbia. But above all else, I was surprised by his nonchalance towards his endeavors and the public’s perception of him – some are quite supportive, while others have made violent threats.

But Rastko has vowed to never step down and to never stop fighting for what he believes in, which is a true test of democracy. For Rastko, it seems only natural to take on such a responsibility as he has, especially at such a young age. Raskto is a defender of human rights and a self-proclaimed Marxist, democratic socialist, pacifist and anti-capitalist, which is quite a hefty title for someone barely in his teens. But most important are Rastko’s intentions and visions. He seeks a more open society in Serbia and a better world for people who are oppressed – whether immigrants, minorities, or gays – and for people who think differently, like himself.

It was a delight to meet Rastko and an eye-opening experience to witness how much young people can actually do in their worlds, no matter how tiny they may seem to others.
 

Date

Monday 10.10.2011 | 15:40

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