The World Says No to War
New Board Member
Grantee Profile: Lawyers Defend Immigrants and Dissenters
Banners for Peace
New Grants, Dec. 2002 - Jan. 2003
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Past editions of Muste Notes are here
March 20, 2003
This is what made an impact on me last year. Along with each of you, I watched war escalate. I watched as the devastating effects of U.S. foreign policy, which we have been crying out against all these years, played in horrifying relief in the mainstream media. I have heard those voices in the world who still believe that military force will solve instead of make problems, big ones. And here at the Institute I have seen, up real close, the mobilization of a mass movement for peace and social justice.
This is the fourth and last letter for Muste Notes that I will write during my stay at the Institute. In each letter I tell you how much it means to me to support a movement as it gathers old and new groups to stand against outrageous acts of war and repression. Giving that support means something to the groups who need money to organize, and it means a lot to those who of us who give.
This is what made an impact on me last year. I was given the gift of being able to help, even in a small way, the fight for peace and social justice. I was given that gift at a time when choosing to do otherwise is not an option. The Muste Institute made it easy for me, as it does each of us. My year here is up in April. I will leave thoroughly energized by working around people who give all of themselves each day for what I believe in.
No matter what else I do, I will keep giving to the Institute, out of gratitude for its sustenance of a very wide range of organizations on my behalf. I hope that you will join me and that you will allow me to say once more, as I did in my first letter a year ago, that in this time of seemingly overwhelming hatred, your gift to those who counter with kindness is needed more than ever.
With great faith in our work for peace,
The World Says No to War
Organizers believe at least 350,000 people attended the February 15th anti-war demonstration in New York City. More photos and eyewitness reports can be seen at nyc.indymedia.org. United for Peace and Justice, the national coalition that coordinated February 15 rallies throughout the US, was formed in October 2002 by more than 70 peace and justice organizations, including the War Resisters League, the 80-year old pacifist organization which is fiscally sponsored by the Muste Institute and based at our building in Manhattan. Also involved is the New York-based "Not In Our Name" campaign, which is hosted in our building by the New York Metro chapter of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).
For more information:
New Board Member
The Muste Institute Board of Directors welcomed a new member in January. Rebecca Libed, 26, worked for the Institute as a part-time administrative assistant until last fall, while completing her degree work in nonprofit management at New School University's Milano Graduate School. A pacifist, Rebecca is now the Community Development Project Manager at Cypress Hills Local Community Development Corporation, a community-based housing organization that provides counseling, development, and human services programs to families in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Rebecca also serves as co-coordinator of GABRIELA Network New York/New Jersey Chapter, a U.S.-Filipina women's solidarity organization which recently became a sponsored project of the Muste Institute.
The Muste Institute staff and Board are pleased to have Rebecca back with us. We would also like to thank former Board members Mark O'Brien and Lisa Vives, who both left the Board over the past year, for their dedicated service to the Institute.
Lawyers Defend Immigrants and Dissenters
Last September, the Muste Institute granted $1,500 to the Post 9-11 Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) San Francisco Bay Area chapter, for its work in defense of immigrants and activists affected by the recent curtailing of civil liberties. This article was written by Riva Enteen, the chapter's program director.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the San Francisco office of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) received calls from activist groups saying "We fear for our civil liberties." That afternoon, we had 10 activists and 10 Guild attorneys meet in our office to discuss what the Guild could do. We decided to set up a hotline to provide free legal help for people contacted by the FBI or the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and to produce and distribute brochures advising people of their rights. The brochures have been translated into at least five languages, and the hotline has expanded its referrals to help those targeted for INS "Special Registration" interviews.
The post 9-11 era is steeped in constitutional questions, and the Guild gets at least two requests a week for speakers. So we created a Speakers Bureau and produced a packet with background and contact information on speakers who are available to address issues ranging from the "Patriot Act" and "Homeland Security," to international law and the Guantanamo detainees, to draft counseling and resisting military recruitment on campus.
One member of our Speakers Bureau is Morton Sobel, co-defendant of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. He spent 18 years in prison, and believes times now are much worse than during the McCarthy period of the 1950s, for two reasons: the Constitution itself is under attack, and there is a wider net for those targeted by the government. The Guild itself was under attack during the McCarthy era, almost listed as a "subversive" organization. Sobel also cautions that the greater the resistance, the greater the repression--but that we have no choice, we must resist.
The Guild's long history--protecting immigrant rights and the right to dissent since 1937--makes us able to play a significant role in this period. We helped initiate the campaign to repeal the Patriot Act. The Immigration Committee of our San Francisco chapter has held four legal clinics to provide free consultations about the Special Registration process, under which people on temporary visas from 25 (mostly Muslim) countries must go to the INS to be fingerprinted, photographed and interviewed. Chapter staff and volunteers have worked with Iraqi, Bangladeshi and many other groups to translate and distribute materials about their rights.
Nationally, the Guild has gone on record that we will defend protesters engaging in civil disobedience, using the defense of necessity when appropriate. The San Francisco Chapter is working with community groups planning massive civil disobedience against the war, and has set up a legal office in our building with capacity for 24-hour phone staffing. Our members are calling, eager to help defend demonstrators who get arrested.
We are frequently called upon to publicly denounce this illegal preemptive war. What we assert is that the way for the world to be safe from terror is, as the Guild constitution of 1937 declares, to work so "that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests." The first road to peace is to end the obscene disparity of wealth on this earth. Never have these contradictions been more stark, and never has the resistance been so massive on a global scale. People of conscience must take their place in history, and demand an end to exploitation and a commitment to human rights and dignity.
Some useful websites:
National Lawyers Guild: www.nlg.org
Northampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee: www.bordc.org/
Center for Constitutional Rights: www.ccr-ny.org
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights: www.lchr.org
American Civil Liberties Union: www.aclu.org
Central Committee for Conscientious Objection: www.objector.org
Banners for Peace
The Muste Institute is sponsoring a banner design contest for high school sophomores and juniors in the New York City metro area. The contest is the brainchild of Lee Brozgold, a volunteer photo archivist at the War Resisters League and a New York underground artist. The winner will be responsible for making and hanging a 4' X 12' banner on the roof of our building in Lower Manhattan. The banner should have the text: "An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind" - Gandhi. The letters should be large enough to be read from a distance of a city block. The Institute will provide the winning contestant with all needed materials, technical assistance and a cash award of $50. For details, check out the contest announcement on the Muste Institute web site.
New Grants, December 2002 - January 2003
EDUCATORS FOR PEACE
Porto Alegre, Brazil: $5,000 (SFE)
This grant from our special donor-directed Sheilah's Fund East goes for the publication of a Portuguese-language version of the "From Violence to Wholeness" training manual, originally produced by Pace e Bene, a US-based Franciscan nonviolence organization. Educators for Peace and other partner groups in Brazil plan to use the manual in their nonviolence trainings.
HOWARD ZINN VIDEO DOCUMENTARY
Burlington, VT: $1,000
Our grant goes for post-production expenses of "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train," a one-hour video documenting the life of historian and social justice activist Howard Zinn, co-produced by Deb Ellis & Denis Mueller.
J.K. EDUCATION COUNCIL
Orissa, India: $2,000
This grassroots womens' organization provides nonviolence education and training to rural young women in the districts of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar, in the Indian state of Orissa. Our grant went for the Education for Peace and Human Rights Program, which trains women to serve as promoters of peace, justice and equality in their communities. The trainings encourage women to confront gender and caste inequalities, diminish religious conflicts and address terrorism.
PENNSYLVANIA ABOLITIONISTS UNITED AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
Philadelphia, PA: $1,000
Pennsylvania Abolitionists was founded in 1997 in response to Governor Tom Ridge's zeal for signing death warrants. Our grant goes for the Death Penalty Moratorium Campaign, pushing for a halt to executions in Pennsylvania using education and nonviolent action. The campaign featured a recent statewide tour by three Pennsylvanians who were released from death row after evidence of their innocence was revealed.
New York, NY: $2,000
This grant goes for a grassroots promotion and distribution campaign for "Civilian Casualties," a 60-minute documentary film about the civilian victims of the US bombing of Afghanistan following September 11, 2001. The story is told through the eyes of four members of "September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows" who lost relatives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The four traveled to Afghanistan in January 2002 to share their grief and offer condolences to the Afghani victims' families.
Atlanta, GA: $2,000
Since its founding in 1986, Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide has focused on nonviolent action for social justice in partnership with other grassroots organizations across the southeastern US. The Project South Youth Council was formed in fall of 2001 by a group of young people who participated in an all-day movement-building workshop. This grant goes for the Youth Council's "Living & Working in Peace" program, reaching out to encourage local youth to use nonviolent action to make change in their communities.
SERVICIO PAZ Y JUSTICIA (SERPAJ)-AMERICA LATINA
Montevideo, Uruguay: $15,000 (SFE)
This Sheilah's Fund East donor-directed grant goes for the regional coordinating office of SERPAJ (Peace and Justice Service), a network of nonviolence organizations in Latin America. SERPAJ chapters focus on such issues as human rights, the environment, labor rights, women's rights, indigenous rights and conscientious objection to military service.
Santa Cruz, CA: $3,000 (SFE)
SIPAZ (Servicio Internacional por la Paz) works to support the peace process in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas through violence-reduction and peacebuilding strategies and efforts to inform and mobilize the international community. This Sheilah's Fund East donor-directed grant went for SIPAZ' board meeting in Chiapas in February of this year.
SUPPORT TEAM INTERNATIONAL FOR TEXTILERAS (STITCH)
Washington, DC: $2,000
Since 1994, STITCH has worked to build solidarity between women unionists and activists in the US and Central America. This grant goes for a six-month training institute with Honduran women workers organizing at export assembly plants (maquiladoras).
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is May 2, 2003. To read our grant guidelines, click here.