Happy New Year
I wanted to recommit to this blog in 2012. I didn’t want to do it at 4 AM. Isn’t there a saying that what you do on New Year’s Day, you will do all year long? I pleased if that means more blogging, I’m not so pleased if that means more insomnia in 2012.
I crested the hill of sixty-fours years since I last posted on this blog. Creeping up on Medicare makes one think about “have I made a difference in my life.” I do feel I have made small differences but that is something else I want to recommit to in 2012.
One of the organizations that I am most proud of being part of is Avaaz.org. Below is a letter to Avaaz members with a sample of the difference Avaaz is making world wide. I met Ricken Patel, the founder of Avaaz when I was the Sr. Advisor for Religious Outreach for the Democratic National Committee in
. Ricken was young, brilliant and on fire. I knew he would make a difference. Washington, DC
I hope you check out Avaaz.org and decide to make a difference in 2012. You can be part of this movement with the click of a mouse. Remember Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2012 was The Protestor. People in great numbers make a difference….it’s the only force that has ever made a difference…human beings.
Dear Amazing Avaazers,
Avaaz is on fire, at 10.5 million people and rising fast. But we're also deepening our activism -- and with the combination of depth and huge numbers, we're winning, over and over again. Scroll down to see some great examples from the last several weeks.
We're not just effectively delivering petitions, we're running safe houses and smuggling routes to protect democratic movements, challenging corporations by bringing lawsuits or calling all their shareholders, donating millions to equip human rights defenders with the latest technology, and powerfully delivering the voices of our community direct and in person to presidents, billionaires, ambassadors and cabinet ministers.
It's working -- scroll down to see how. In recent weeks alone, we've helped win victories on everything from banning cluster bombs and sanctioning
ON THE FRONT-LINE OF THE ARAB SPRING
Wissam Tarif, a friendly Avaaz campaigner -- called “the most dangerous man in the world” by
Avaaz has been at the heart of the struggles for democracy in the Arab world. Funded by $1.5 million in small member donations, we’ve broken the media blackouts that dictators tried to impose -- training a huge number of citizen journalists and equipping them with top flight technology to get information out. Top editors at BBC and CNN have told us that in cases like
When no other organization could, our network smuggled in over $1 million USD of vital emergency relief to communities under brutal siege in
We’ve also matched front-line support to democratic movements with fierce global lobbying of our governments to squeeze brutal regimes -- millions of Avaazers successfully campaigned for powerful European oil sanctions and Arab League sanctions on
PEOPLE POWER VS THE MURDOCH MAFIA
An Avaaz member sports our giant Murdoch head at a protest outside British Parliament. From
We took on the world’s most powerful and dangerous media baron, Rupert Murdoch, and won.
It was the biggest deal of Murdoch’s career, growing his extremist global media empire by 50% through acquiring a huge UK-based company -- BSkyB. Everyone said we couldn’t stop it, but Avaaz members thought differently, sending 668,784 messages and 30,000 phone calls to members of the UK Parliament, and running stunt after stunt as well as 2 opinion polls that showed massive public opposition.
Avaaz was also the only organization to promise to legally challenge the government in court if they approved the Murdoch deal. The Minister responsible for the deal was so rattled that he repeatedly postponed approval for months, publicly blaming Avaaz. The delay gave us space to build awareness of a huge corruption scandal in the Murdoch empire until finally, the deal was dead.
We haven’t stopped there -- we need to roll back the Murdoch threat and fundamentally reform our corrupt media. Avaazers recently used our new tool to call all the shareholders in Murdoch’s biggest companies, NewsCorp and BskyB, creating the largest shareholder rebellions in the companies’ histories!
A GLOBAL OUTCRY TO SAVE THE AMAZON
Leaders of the march closed their speeches by pointing to the Avaaz banner and stating: “We have the support of the whole world!”
Half a million of us joined more than 1,000 indigenous protesters in demanding that Bolivian President Evo Morales halt construction on a highway that would slice through the heart of the Amazon.
Avaaz staff delivered our petition to top Bolivian cabinet ministers in a long and stormy meeting. Our widespread solidarity strengthened the legitimacy of the indigenous protesters whom Morales tried to marginalize, and threatened his desired reputation as an environmentalist.
The pressure worked! After our campaign, Morales canceled construction, repealed the decision granting permission for the project, and pledged to protect the impacted TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory -- the crown jewel of the Bolivian Amazon -- forever! We'll hold him to that promise.
VICTORY ON CLUSTER BOMBS!
Our massive petition was delivered by a cluster bomb survivor to the French chair of the conference
Three years ago, Avaaz mobilized to help push through a global ban on cluster bombs, saving thousands of children. This year, the
Many delegates used our petition to strengthen their arguments in negotiations. Our powerful banner, placed right outside the conference room -- together with 1000 fliers that the Avaaz team plastered throughout the conference center -- sent an unmistakable reminder to the negotiators about the opposition they faced back home. The
CLIMATE CHANGE: KEEPING HOPE ALIVE
More than 800,000 Avaaz members fought to save the
At critical climate talks in
EU Climate Chief Connie Hedegaard said: "Thanks to the over 800,000 people from around the world -- your voices made a vital impact at the end of the talks.”
SAVE THE INTERNET - GREAT PROGRESS!
Avaaz campaigner Maria Paz Cambronero delivers our petition to top White House officials
In days, over 1 million of us worldwide signed a petition opposing a scandalous bill that would give the
President Obama’s team responded, and Avaaz organized a 1 hour meeting with top White House officials to deliver the petition.
We’ve now been told privately that Obama is likely to oppose the bill as it stands. When we started, insiders all told us the bill could not be stopped, now they’re all telling us the bill may soon be dead in its current form -- that’s people power!
TAKING ON CORRUPTION IN
Avaaz members campaign against corruption in India
Avaaz’s anti-corruption campaign in
We helped win that round -- a bill is coming before Parliament now! The Times of India hailed Avaaz as "a key player in the Jan Lokpal initiative."
Avaaz members and campaigner Giulia Innocenzi protest draconian limits on free speech
During his last months in power, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to gag democracy by enabling the government to shut down Internet websites on a whim. Our community fought back and won!
Italian Avaazers sent 200,000 emails and flooded Facebook and Twitter. We mobilized hard-hitting public demonstrations covered by top media and shelved the law for good! Now Italian democracy is free from Berlusconi -- and we are still going strong.
These are just a few of the victories we've won together in the last several weeks. Since launching almost 5 years ago, Avaaz has run over 1000 campaigns! And as our community has grown and deepened our commitment, we're winning on more and more of them. If we stay on this track, and keep hoping and believing in change and in each other, anything is possible.
Ricken, Dalia, Luis, Allison, Ari, Maria Paz, Wen-Hua and the entire Avaaz team
Ricken, Dalia, Luis, Allison, Ari, Maria Paz, Wen-Hua and the entire Avaaz team