Tagged Activism

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The World Coup: THIEFA vs Brazil

Molly Ivins said “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful.”

In this excellent video, The Juice Media aptly summarize what is happening in Brazil with mega-event related human rights abuses: forced evictions, diverted public monies, police violence, and increased surveillance, all reported in Juice Media’s traditional style – a hip hop news report! This is truly exceptional, so do yourself a favour and check it out!

Juice Rap News – delivering a bulletin to restore your faith in the fourth estate, make you nod your head to the beat even as you shake it in disbelief.
Written & created by Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant in a suburban backyard studio in Melbourne, Australia.

p.s. please check out our Indigogo campaign to raise post-production funds for State of Exception. 

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State of Exception Campaign Update

JUST 11 days left for our State of Exception Indiegogo Campaign

We are entering the home-stretch of our campaign, just 1.5 weeks left!

Today, we are announcing some new campaign perks and launching a video update. Please share this video far and wide, and encourage others to donate so we can reach our goal! As most of you know, this is a grassroots project that is being funded completely outside of the corporate broadcast model – funded by YOU and others who want to take a stand against human rights injustices and the tyranny of corporate interests.

We have had tremendous success so far and we have less than $10,000 to raise! We’re asking everyone to please dig your heels in and do some personal outreach within your networks to help give our campaign a final push.

Please continue to SHARE THE CAMPAIGN on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, as well as directly emailing anyone who would connect with this story. The statistics demonstrate that direct email is the best for inspiring people to take action, so if there’s anyone you know would be interested in joining our growing community, please send them a message today.

Please stay posted to our Twitter feed and blog at stateofexception.com for regular content posts.

As always, THANK YOU!

P.S. A huge shout out to one of our favorite NGOs: Witness.org for producing the animation in our video


The Business of Repression in Brazil

The fastest growing sector of the international arms industry is what are referred to as “Riot Control and Public Order Weaponry.” One of the world’s largest international suppliers of these weapons – Condor – is based in Rio de Janeiro, and has expanded its business by 30% in the last 5 years. Condor supplied many of the weapons deployed in uprisings in Egypt, Turkey and Bahrain, where the products were repeatedly used against protocol and to systematically torture people.

Condor secured itself an exclusive $22 million contract as part of the security budget for the World Cup and provides Brazilian security forces with 27 different categories of “non-lethal” weapons of repression including rubber bullets, tear gas, tasers, light and sound grenades. Condor has an exclusive deal with Brazilian Defense and Security Industries Association: “That means all public defense and security public institutions, such as the Brazilian police, may purchase without a government procurement process,” says investigative reporter Bruno Fonseca.

Condor categorizes its products as “non-lethal” despite a growing number of deaths of both protestors and bystanders as reported by the UN. The categorization is important because it allows Condor to circumvent the Chemical Weapons Convention restricting the uses of toxic gases. Often classified as policing equipment, these weapons fall outside of arms sales restrictions and are mostly unregulated, with hundreds of thousands of such weapons being funnelled directly to Brazilian security forces without oversight. It seems that repression is good for business in Brazil.

Source : wagingnonviolence.org/feature/repressing-world-cup-protests-booming-business-brazil


Guerreira (Woman Warrior): Vik Birkbeck

Amongst the community of media activists in Rio, one of our dearest comrades is Vik (pictured above), who we like to call Guerreira (Woman Warrior).  Vik embodies what seem at first to be irreconcilable opposites: she is gentle and soft-spoken,  yet fearless and uncompromising in her activism.

Born in the UK in 1951, Vik moved to Brazil in 1975. Though she didn’t know it at the time, she is still living there 40 years later. In the 1980s, Vik was actively filming and photographing the Black Resistance movement in the North Eastern state of Bahia, and last year was awarded a prestigious award by the internationally acclaimed Afro-Brazilian cultural group Olodum for this early activism.

Vik is 63 years old, a point that is hardly worth mentioning because she’s so well integrated in the activist community composed of mostly young people, but I mention it only because it is so impressive!  As you can see from the above picture, Vik is well and truly a fearless guerreira – she is an inspiration and has become a dear friend. Please check out this excellent article Vik wrote about the forced evictions for roarmag.org, featuring an illustration by Luciano Cunha:



Police Brutality and Race: A Personal Reflection (Video)

A lot of people have been asking me to comment on recent events in Ferguson and now this week, with the uprisings around the case of Eric Garner in New York.  I am all of the sudden supposed to be an authority on police brutality, as I inadvertently became the victim of this kind of violence when I was beaten by a number of military police in July in Rio de Janeiro, after just having completed a documentary focused on the topic of police brutality (rhythmsofresistance.info). When a privileged white foreigner receives a mild beating at the hands of Brazilian police, it makes international headlines, whereas the same police carry out summary executions every day in the favelas with complete impunity. I was also in the streets of Toronto during the now infamous G20, a rare moment where we saw police brutality reach beyond our ghettos and arrive on the main streets of Toronto, so even us privileged white folks could get a taste of the kind of repression long suffered by poor communities the world over.

Of course, the police brutality we saw on the streets of Toronto during the G20 is much the same as what I have been encountering recently in Brazil: rubber bullets, tear gas, water canons… all the types of non-lethal weapons of repression which constitute the fastest growing category of international arms sales. The new weapons are not for fighting foreign enemies, but rather are used to repress and silence one’s own people, the so-called “internal enemy.”  This term, borrowed from dictatorial politics, applies equally to silencing political dissent in many modern day “democracies” like Brazil and Canada. It’s difficult to raise one’s voice when you are choking on tear gas.

While these weapons are not without harms, my own experiences with such “police brutality” have been a picnic when compared to the far more egregious police violence perpetrated against mostly black and mostly poor people every day. As far as I can see, the discussion we should be having right now is not about police brutality, it’s about racism – two uncomfortable bedfellows. Read more


Justice for Bhopal: The Yes Men Show Us What It Could Have Looked Like (Video)

As we pointed out in the blog post earlier today, this is the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, when Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) leaked toxic gases, including methyl isocyanate, into the city of Bhopal, India. Thousands died immediately, and thousands more have died from the ongoing complications from the poisonous gas exposure and the shoddy clean-up job. No responsibility has been taken by Dow, an official sponsor of the 2016 Rio Olympic games, and no compensation given to victims.

If only The Yes Men ran Dow Chemical. Check out the video below for an example of what Dow’s response could have – should have – been.

Featured image from http://www.bhopal.org – Photographed by Colin Toogood


Brazilian Hip Hop as Activism (Video)

From the first steps of the samba that were developed by escaped slaves to the hyper-politicized modern-day hip-hop movement, music has always played a fundamental role in liberatory struggles in Brazil.

While initially a form of protest music, samba was in many ways co-opted and commercialized, assisted by Carnaval, becoming a dominant form of mass culture. Unsurprisingly, many in the favelas feel samba no longer has the capacity to express their identity or frustrations. Perhaps inevitably, other musical styles more acutely focused on protest, anti-authoritarianism and anti-oppression have emerged to fill the gaps left by samba’s co-option. By the end of the 20th century, samba had taken a backseat as a powerful counter-narrative emerged in the form of hip-hop, telling stories of racism, violence, poverty and injustice.

Check out this excellent hip hop video made by a collective of young women in Brazil (Construção Coletiva) who poetically sum up the social injustices imposed by the World Cup.