World Social Forum 2009: Pan-Amazonian Day

28 January 2009 - 10:50am

wsf_-_pan-amazon_dayToday has been designated the day of the Amazonian People and most of the day's events relate to themes around indigenous peoples and the environment. First we watched presentations and cultural activities by various groups that have long been defending their land and cultural heritage from exploitation by extractive companies and governments in Latin America. These included a presentation criticising the growth of biofuels and another on the socio-environmental impact of oil and mining companies.

The day is a celebration of indigenous peoples and as we  walked around observing the various events it felt  strange yet comforting to see the mingling of tribal peoples in traditional dress, body paint and weaponry (there were some very sharp spears around) with other WSFers. These were their ancestral lands and we were welcome.]]>

Blogging from the WSF

27 January 2009 - 5:50pm

War on Want campaigner Nadia Idle wrote a blog from Belém, Brazil, the site of the 2009 World Social Forum. The WSF is the world's largest gathering of social movements and civil society groups promoting global justice and equality.


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War on Want protests the Israeli detention of Palestinian activist in Jerusalem

27 January 2009 - 5:07pm

War on Want is protesting the detention of Mohammad Abu Humus, a Palestinian activist from East Jerusalem who was taken from his home on 22 January by Israeli security forces. Abu Humus, who works for the Alternative Information Centre, a Palestinian-Israeli rights group and War on Want partner organisation, had led several demonstrations against the Israeli attacks on Gaza. A copy of War on Want's letter to Israeli Attorney General Mani Mazuz can be found below.

War on Want Letter to Attorney General Mazuz

Tuesday 27 January 2009

FAO: Attorney General Mani Mazuz
Fax: +972 (0)2 646 7001

Dear Attorney General,

I am writing to express grave concern over the arrest and detention of Mohammad Abu Humus on Thursday 22 January.

Whilst all the material pertaining to Abu Humus's arrest is classified, information received from the organisations we work with suggests that he is being detained because of his role in organising and participating in peaceful protests against Israel's brutal assault on Gaza. Abu Humus is a Palestinian activist who works with the Alternative Information Centre, and who has helped organise lawful demonstrations in East Jerusalem.

We believe the detention of Abu Humus is part of a wider campaign on the part of Israel to repress the right of Palestinians to protest against the military attacks on Gaza. Since the beginning of the Israeli attacks in December last year, more than 300 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have been detained and interrogated by Israeli security forces.

War on Want is a charity which believes in human rights for all, including the right to freedom of speech and expression. Palestinians and Israelis have a right to express their opposition to Israeli policies, in particular the military assault on Gaza which has left an estimated 1,300 people dead and thousands more injured, including women and children. We call on the Israeli government to act in accordance with international human rights law and to release Abu Humus and all other Palestinians who have been detained as part of Israel's crackdown on demonstrations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The right of Palestinians to protest peacefully against the attacks on Gaza as well as the Israeli occupation must be respected.

Yours sincerely


John Hilary
Executive Director

cc Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Foreign Secretary
cc Ron Prosser, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom

World Social Forum 2009: Marching for justice

27 January 2009 - 2:22pm










After a healthy lunch at a nearby vegetarian comida (pay-by-weight), we headed back to the hotel to get the War on Want banner in preparation for the march and opening ceremony. We heard loud music and amplified chants, reminiscent of the Notting Hill Carnival - at least to those of us who had never been to a Latin carnival. Little did we know just how carnival-like it would become!


World Social Forum 2009: Getting started

27 January 2009 - 7:14am

After a hearty breakfast with fellow WSFers in the breakfast room in our hotel, we headed out to the university to register. Along the way we saw several large WSF billboards welcoming participants in various languages, as well as others that declared 'The rich can pay for their crisis' which although not an official theme of the forum was nevertheless a reoccurring slogan.


Brown call to Davos ‘threatens millions'

27 January 2009 - 12:00am

Wednesday, 28 January - Sunday, 1 February 2009 World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland Tuesday, 27 January 2009

PM's globalisation appeal sparks job fears

The charity War on Want today warned that British prime minister Gordon Brown's appeal to the World Economic Forum this week threatens to deepen the global economic crisis and cost millions of jobs around the world.

The warning came as Brown announced his agenda for further liberalisation of markets and a new deepening of globalisation at the forum, which opens in Davos tomorrow (Wednesday).

Brown plans to join a record 41 government leaders and heads of state among 2,500 delegates from 96 countries at the forum's annual meeting in the Swiss mountain resort, which is being seen as a precursor to the G20 summit in London on 2 April.

The prime minister is promoting the resumption of the stalled Doha round of world trade negotiations as a means of opening up new business opportunities for UK financial service companies in emerging economies such as India, Brazil and Chile.

Yet this pursuit of further globalisation and the British prime minister's resistance to anything but ‘light touch' regulation of financial markets threatens to exacerbate the crisis already sweeping the world economy, says War on Want.

And revived world trade talks would put millions more jobs in jeopardy by exposing producers in developing countries to overwhelming competition from rich nations' multinational companies.

War on Want's Executive Director John Hilary said: "Gordon Brown's call for even more globalisation threatens working people around the world with disaster. Millions are already facing unemployment and long-term poverty due to the failures of the free market system. It beggars belief that Brown is calling for more of the same."

Hilary continued: "No country has pressed harder than the UK for the deregulation of financial markets and trade rules. These are the very policies which have caused the current crisis and brought misery to millions. Rather than defending the failed policies of globalisation, Gordon Brown should listen to the growing number of voices calling for a new agenda based on principles of equity and democracy, not corporate greed."

Interviews are available with John Hilary in London, and with War on Want representatives at the World Social Forum, which takes place in the northern Brazilian city of Belem from today (Tuesday, 27 January) until Sunday, 1 February 2009.

Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

World Social Forum 2009: Arrival at last!

26 January 2009 - 4:00pm

wsf 2009 - abahlali

After over 24 hours of travel, we finally arrived in hot, humid Belém and we are taking in the atmosphere. There is a live band and dancers at the baggage carousel which surprises us and sets the tone and friendly mood.




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