World Social Forum 2009: A hectic end to a great day

28 January 2009 - 5:20pm

We finally made it to the tents and events. We had been hoping to attend a meeting organised by Stop the Wall, the Palestinian Farmers Union and Via Campesina on the displacement of indigenous peasant people. We thought it would be held in the Stateless People's Tent, but instead found the World March for Women setting up their event there. So after a short rest we decided to brave the sun and made our way to the last corner of the site in search of our meeting. Despite the WSF volunteers being incredibly friendly and going out of their way to help, we still could not find the location. About two hours and three bottles of water (each) later, and just as we were going to give up, we saw a small sign by a small building marked 'Prefietura' - the place which no one could find!


World Social Forum 2009: Break on through to the other side

28 January 2009 - 1:12pm


After a bit of exploring we took the free shuttle bus to the other university campus where we first registered. We had little idea just how much more walking was in store for us. All the tents and buildings holding events were located on the other side of the campus and we had to walk through the youth camp to get there. As we walked past we had to remind ourselves that on the 'other side' there would be exciting and provocative seminars and meetings we had long been looking forward to.


World Social Forum 2009: Taking stock of our surroundings

28 January 2009 - 11:45am

We spent a good portion of the morning familiarising ourselves with the rest of the (very big) university site where our workshops would be held the next day. Only then did we begin to truly appreciate the enormity of the site, its proximity to the river and the strength of the sun. As we reached the other side of the site, we saw Jamal Jumaa from the Stop the Wall Coalition, a War on Want partner organisation, reading traditional Palestinian poetry on the stage.


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.




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