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Congo Torture and The Promise of U.S. Protection
E very day, reluctant immigrants the world over are forced to abandon their customs,and shed their very sense of identity, all in search of basic safety. Since the passage of the 1980 Refugee Act, over 1.6 million foreign nationals have journeyed to the U.S. and applied for refugee or asylum status. Each one has a chilling story to tell. Most narratives contain a combination of state-sanctioned intimidation, secret detentions, disappearances, torture, rapes, and killings. Mputa Mbundzu, a 45-year-old Congolese descendent of the Lari tribe whose family was the target of multiple atrocities, is a typical petitioner. In 2004 he narrowly escaped his tormentors, went into hiding, then managed to flee, ending up in Chicago.
Like most African nations, the Republic of Congo has struggled to emerge from under the yoke of its European colonizers. In 1960 the country finally gained its independence from France, but kept socialism as its governing principle and Brazzaville as its capital. The city sits on the bank of the Congo river opposite Kinshasa, its counterpart in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire, now generally referred to as “DRC”). Three hundred miles downstream is the port of Pointe-Noire, Congo’s economic gateway to the Atlantic.
Roughly the size of Montana, Congo is a land rich in oil reserves. But according to the World Bank, its per capita Gross National Income flutters around $770. Chevron and Exxon are among the major players involved in petroleum exploration and exploitation while the French company Elf Aquitaine still accounts for the bulk of Congolese oil production. Perhaps another remnant of French influence is the unusually high number of public sector jobs which, with a population of three million, peaked at around 80,000 a little over a decade ago.
Before fleeing, the Congo state bureaucracy was Mputa Mbundzu’s employer for 13 years. As an “industrial techniques engineer” he assessed license applications submitted by local mining companies and recommended those who met government standards to his superiors. After being promoted to section chief, Mbundzu began to supervise the field work and review the reports of a handful of employees. While the work did not yield generous salaries (a car remained an out-of-reach luxury item), Mbundzu and his colleagues managed to support their families. His five children were fed, healthy, and living safely in a typical Brazzaville house.
In 1991, around the time Mbundzu was hired at the Ministry of Mines, Congo officially abandoned its Marxist-Leninist heritage, turned its back on three decades of military coups, and transitioned to a multi-party democratic system. A new constitution was ratified, national elections were held, and Professor Pascal Lissouba was elected, defeating his main opponent, incumbent president and Army Colonel Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who had overthrown his predecessor in 1979. After being rejected at the polls, Sassou-Nguesso left Congo for a life of affluence in France.
The early 1990s saw incremental progress toward a more open and
efficient form of government. Lissouba’s economic platform
promised a redistribution of oil revenues away from the ruling class.
His modernization program called for increasing Congo’s 17
percent stake in its domestic oil industry to 50 percent in 4 years.
Religion was no longer banned from schools, churches were allowed
to open their doors, and people started to congregate and express
But old dictatorial habits die hard. Fueled by a complex mix of personal ambition, secret alliances, and powerful business interests, civil unrest percolated until June 1997 when Sassou-Nguesso returned with a rebel militia, the Cobras, and attacked government forces. Eager to protect his country’s oil assets, and opposed to Lissouba’s nationalization plan, thenFrench president Jacques Chirac brokered a deal with neighboring Angolan fighters to back the Cobras.
The civil war lasted four long months and devastated much of Brazzaville. In October Sassou-Nguesso declared himself president of Congo and appointed his own ruling council, prompting Lissouba and his elected officials to go into exile. After the official ceasefire, many Angolan soldiers stayed behind and effectively occupied the Pool region. They continued their assault on a defenseless population, pillaging and ravaging a rapidly disintegrating country. (To this day, most schools in Pool have not reopened.)
From his usurped position of power, SassouNguesso deployed small roving units who fanned across the countryside looking for alleged supporters of the previous regime. That is how on October 19, 1998 the Cobras appeared in Massembo-Loubaki, Mbundzu’s native village, a small hamlet without electricity or running water some 60 miles south of the capital. Shortly before dawn, a number of white flatbed trucks carrying armed men were spotted on the outskirts of the village. Word of the suspicious visitors quickly spread and inhabitants went to bed with their flimsy doors locked, fearing the worst.
Under the leadership of a commander named Bakana Vital, the Cobras began a random door-to-door search for young Lari men. Overcoming resistance from both a neighborhood chief and the village elder, the soldiers rounded up 23 of them. They lined them up against a wall and executed them. One of the men sustained critical injuries and another had the incredible presence of mind to drop to the ground a fraction of a second before triggers were pulled. All 21 others fell under a storm of bullets.
With limited resources, and anticipating a return visit by the soldiers, the village people buried the gruesomely disfigured bodies in haste. Many then left their huts and sought refuge in the surrounding forest where they lived precariously for weeks thereafter. In Brazzaville Mbundzu was contacted by relatives and was soon able to make his way to Massembo-Loubaki. What he encountered there was an overwhelming sense of loss. Everyone in the village was either related to or had been a friend of one or several of the slain men.
Having to provide for his children, Mbundzu could not risk losing his job by staying in the village indefinitely. After a few days, he went back to the capital and resumed his functions at the ministry. But a month later, along with two friends, he founded the “Association pour la Memoire des Innocents de MassemboLoubaki” (Association for the Memory for the Innocents of Massembo-Loubaki). The group had four specific mandates: first it would provide moral and financial assistance to the victims’ bereaved loved ones; it would undertake to prove to national and international observers that the victims were indeed innocent of any wrong-doing; it would attempt to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to justice, thus showing Congo’s youth that armed militias are not above the law; and it would try to discourage survivors from retaliating and taking up arms themselves.
Not surprisingly, these initiatives did not endear the new association’s leaders to the authorities. Over the months and years that followed, they were each arrested several times, interrogated without access to legal counsel, and detained for varying periods of time. Torture was a routine intimidation tactic used by military captors guarding prisoners. In some cases, the extreme physical abuse went so far as to cause death and such was the fate of the group’s other two founding members.
In May 2004, following an especially vicious series of blows, Mbundzu was taken to a hospital where he remained in a coma for ten days. When he miraculously regained his senses, he had no memory of being transported there. Doctors told him he had been dropped off in the night by men who left without identifying either themselves or their charge.
When he was able to walk again, Mbundzu was taken to a local jail for two more months before being granted a conditional release. But the intimidation did not stop. One evening in August, armed men came looking for him. In a state of panic, he escaped through a back window while behind him, amid screams and a frantic scuffle, two of his children were shot dead. That is when his life changed and he went into hiding.
In September, at the behest of concerned friends, Mbundzu began to plan his escape. A Congolese passport was made for him, but he needed to get a visa to enter the U.S. The closest U.S. embassy was in Kinshasa. Hiding from militia and police, he reached the river, where a man in a small boat was waiting to take him across. Once he set foot in the DRC, Mbundzu was not out of harm’s way. As detailed in a 2003 Amnesty International report, Congolese refugees who were smuggled into the DRC were fair game for authorities. If picked up, they were either sent to undisclosed detention centers, designated for extrajudicial execution, or returned to Congo where Sassou-Nguesso’s forces often made them “disappear.”
Because traveling from the DRC capital was considerably more expensive, Mbundzu embarked on a long trek back into Congo, through the regions of Bas-Congo, Pool, and then to the airport in Pointe-Noire. Completing different segments on foot and by car, truck, and train, he finally reached his destination. At the airport, fighting his nerves, he went through all the security checks without attracting any attention. When the attendants closed the doors and the aircraft finally pulled away from the gate, he knew he had made it.
If leaving Congo had become an essential means of staying alive, Mbundzu’s new life in the U.S. would soon take the shape of a different kind of survival. Because he was not applying from his own country, Mbundzu was considered an asylum seeker and not a refugee. This meant that, while waiting for a decision in his case, he would not be allowed to work or be eligible for financial support. That he managed to cope in an environment that is overwhelmingly hostile to poor and disoriented immigrants is in great part due to the benevolence of the Congolese community in Chicago. Some put him up on their couch for a few nights and fed him, others gave him basic goods and helped him adapt to the city’s fast pace.
It is through a Congolese ex-patriate that Mbundzu first heard of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture. Part of the not-for-profit Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, the center is also a leading member of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP). Since its inception in 1987, the Kovler Center has provided social, medical, and mental health services to over 1,300 torture survivors from more than 70 countries. Most of the center’s operating budget comes from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, but it also competes for foundation grants and receives money from corporate and individual donors. All services are delivered free of charge.
After a few introductory screening sessions with a case manager and a French-speaking interpreter, Mbundzu was put on a waiting list for an intake appointment. Following an extensive intake process, he was added to the center’s list of “clients” and a treatment plan was developed with his input. Implementing the finely-tuned Kovler response model, an experienced team made up of a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist, an occupational therapist, a nurse, and a doctor embarked with Mbundzu on what would be a long healing process. Beyond physical scars, Mbundzu displayed psychological and physiological symptoms that are typical of torture survivors: disturbed sleep (prolonged insomnia, recurring nightmares), chronic headaches, bouts of depression, feelings of guilt, and an instinctive and paralyzing fear of those in police or military uniforms.
When summer 2005 came around Mbundzu turned his energies toward petitioning for legal status, a process that U.S. Immigration Law stipulates must be initiated within one year of arrival. The first step is the filing of an “Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal,” which protects against summary deportation. To assist in this, the Kovler Center directed Mbundzu to the Midwest Immigrant & Human Rights Center (MIHRC), which is part of the Heartland Alliance’s network of service providers. His case was referred to an attorney with Winston & Strawn LLP, one of the country’s leading firms when it comes to pro bono work. Thus began the all-important documentation phase.
The main contention in Mbundzu’s case was that he was fleeing “persecution,” a concept that does not enjoy a universally accepted definition. But the UNHCR Handbook, as well as international human rights law and precedent, offers specific guidelines that the U.S. still follows, albeit not as closely as in the past. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Refugee Convention, no country shall extradite an individual to another country where he/she has been, or fears being, “persecuted” on account of a fundamental aspect of his/her identity—namely race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and political opinion.
Whereas foreign jurisdictions allow for an asylum claim to be based on any combination of those components, in the U.S. a bill introduced in January 2005 by U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) seeks to limit each claim to a single aspect. Commonly called “REAL ID,” the proposed legislation is on its third version and has now been referred to a Senate committee. It would, among other restrictive provisions, make document requirements considerably harder to meet by demanding that medical records from the home country be submitted in their original form. It is not clear what the bill intends in terms of recourse for the thousands of asylum seekers whose abusers did not keep detailed written records of their torture practices.
But until such changes are enacted, and if provisions are not applied retroactively, petitioners whose papers are in order will continue to move to the next step where, like Mbundzu, they receive a notice to appear at an Application Support Center to be fingerprinted. A thorough background and security check is subsequently performed and any applicant who is believed to have been involved with a terrorist organization is rejected and put in “removal proceedings.”
With the passage of the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, the definition of “terrorist activity” has been broadened and the grounds for inadmissibility have been expanded. While the great majority of asylum seekers are genuine victims of repressive regimes, some of them still run the risk of being associated with radical elements and falsely identified as enemies of the state. For those particular individuals, setting foot on U.S. soil may prove more dangerous than they realize. As Mbundzu had no link to any proclaimed “terrorist” group, his case proceeded.
It is worth noting that had the interviewing officer doubted any part of Mbundzu’s narrative, his application would have been sent to a federal immigration judge for further investigation and questioning. Much like French magistrates, immigration judges take on the dual role of interrogator and adjudicator. Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics show that such a procedure is undertaken in an increasing number of cases, sometimes keeping the applicant in limbo for more than a year. REAL ID attempts to strip federal judges of this function and speed up the removal process by limiting avenues for appeal.
In early October, as the seventh anniversary of the Massembo-Loubaki massacre approached, and not giving up on the goals of his association, Mbundzu tapped his friends and acquaintances in the local African community to collect money for the families of the victims. Contributing a large portion of his own monthly allowance, he was able to send almost $700 to pay for essential school supplies. Turning a sad date into an occasion for hope, a memorial service was held and an open-air reception was organized at which books and pencils were distributed. Mbundzu is now looking into registering the association with the state of Illinois. Eventually, Mbundzu wants to apply for support from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Survivors of Torture. A small grant could help provide vital health services and sponsor educational programs for the children.
A ll indications are that Mbundzu’s life will improve substantially in 2006. He is progressing rapidly through the five ESL proficiency levels and has completed Certified Nursing Assistant training. Not content with living off the government stipends, he obtained a cleaning job on the night shift at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Chicago. While he is in regular contact with his wife and children in Congo, he does not know when or even whether he will see them again. He has applied for family reunification, a process that promises to take several years and be significantly more expensive than his own. Before his children can be eligible to leave Congo, they will have to undergo a series of medical exams, including DNA testing. Then, Mbundzu will have to pay for travel documents and airfare for all of them.
In late January the African Union (AU) held its annual summit to elect a new chair. The organization’s mission is to foster democracy, instill respect for human rights, and encourage economic development. Sudan, the host and leading contender for the top position, was forced to withdraw its nomination when many member states refused to endorse it. Citing the Khartoum regime’s well-documented record of human rights abuses in the Darfur region, they lobbied for a less controversial choice. Looking for a brighter beacon of peace, the AU turned around and picked none other than Sassou-Nguesso’s Congo. When he heard the news, Mbundzu sat back in his chair and slowly closed his eyes in disbelief. For him and thousands of Congolese, this was adding insult to injury. Quite literally.
Mputa Mbundzu is an assumed name. Marie-Jo Proulx is a senior writer for the Windy City Times.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
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MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
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SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.