Democracy Now! reports from the streets of Baltimore, where an overnight curfew has taken effect following Monday’s riots sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-American man who died of neck injuries suffered in police custody. Tuesday night, police in riot gear fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who defied the curfew when it began at 10 p.m. At least 10 people were arrested. But overall, the Baltimore Police Department declared "the city is stable." Thousands of forces, including National Guard troops, have deployed throughout the city streets. Monday’s unrest led to more than 200 arrests, dozens of cars set on fire, and many buildings badly damaged. Democracy Now!'s Aaron Maté and videographer Hany Massoud speak with locals as they take part in both the clean-up effort and the continued protests over Freddie Gray's death.
We are broadcasting from the World Forum in The Hague where 100 years ago this week over 1,000 female peace activists gathered from around the world to call for an end to war. The extraordinary meeting, known as the International Congress of Women, took place as World War I raged across the globe, and marked the formation of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. It was organized by Dutch suffragist Dr. Aletta Jacobs. The event took place in The Netherlands because of its neutral position during World War I. Two future Nobel Peace Prize winners took part in the U.S. delegation: Jane Addams, the co-founder of Hull House, and the sociologist Emily Greene Balch. "They saw, quite rightly, that the absence of women in making decisions in government meant there was greater likelihood of war. And they were right," says our guest, Madeleine Rees, WILPF’s secretary general. She has joined thousands of women from around the world who have gathered again in The Hague to call for peace and to mark the group’s 100th anniversary as wars rage on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries.
As peace activists gather in The Hague, Japan is moving toward taking a more active military role internationally despite having a pacifist constitution. On Tuesday, President Obama hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a White House state dinner. The two nations have just unveiled new guidelines for military cooperation. We examine Japan’s growing military role with Kozue Akibayashi, the newly elected president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She also discusses opposition to the presence of some 25,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Okinawa. "The U.S. military has been granted almost diplomatic immunity to whatever they do. Crimes are committed, but they are not punished. They get away."
In Nigeria, hundreds of bodies have been found in the northeastern town of Damasak, after an apparent massacre by the militant group Boko Haram. Local sources say the death toll exceeds 400. We speak with African women’s rights activist Hakima Abbas about Boko Haram, militarization and fundamentalism. "In your own country, the white supremacist and Christian right fundamentalisms is also exacerbated by the gun culture and the promotion of an armed police force which is killing black women, men, trans people, and children in the U.S.A.," Abbas notes. "So fundamentalisms is really something that we have to address globally, and the people at the forefront of that battle are women’s rights organizations and women’s rights organizers." Abbas is the director of programs for the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.
Amy Goodman interviews Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima, who has covered her country’s armed conflict for more than 18 years. She received the International Women of Courage Award in 2012 after she came forward about being kidnapped, tortured and raped by a paramilitary group while she reported on the arms trade, and notes, "I refused to go into exile after this, and I continued to work as a journalist." Bedoya Lima went on to found the group Survivors United for Action.
As Yanar Mohammed, co-founder and the director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, attends the Women Stop War conference in The Hague, she describes the current situation in Iraq. "The country is under a prevailing culture of militias, which have the upper hand. … They say, ’It’s either us or ISIS.’" Mohammed says civil society is sandwiched between Shia and Sunni extremists, and argues a secular approach is the only way to resolve the conflict in her country.
Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://www.freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.
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