To Our Readers:
2021 was a year of changes. It began with a violent attempt to overthrow a democratic election in the world’s most powerful democracy. The insurrection had been incited by an online propaganda campaign so effective that the participants, while throwing Capitol police down stairs, tasing officers with their own equipment, and smearing excrement on the walls of the US Capitol building, believed that they were saving democracy.
This was followed in February by a disastrous coup in Myanmar, which collapsed an important if fledgling democracy. The Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, gunned down peaceful protesters, killing thousands, and imprisoning tens of thousands. Myanmar had also been the stage for a covert and effective propaganda campaign run on Facebook for a decade before, one that worked up Buddhist mobs to attack the Rohingya minority, joining the military in what can only be described as a killing frenzy that left more than 6000 dead and more than 700,000 displaced to refugee camps in Bangladesh. The Buddhists, also, felt they were saving their nation.
For us 2001 was also a year of loss as our friend and our active human rights advisor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, passed away. He was not the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate we lost. The year before, we had said good-bye to John Hume, the driving force behind Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement and the disarming of the IRA. When José Ramos-Horta and I had begun collecting the statements of the Nobel laureates in response to 9/11, more than 22 years ago, Ramos-Horta sent an email out to his fellow laureates asking them to give me their statements. John Hume was the first one to call me — at 3am. I remember the excitement of picking up the phone and hearing that Irish brogue: “This is John Hume, do you want my statement?” For the next years, I had his cell phone number, and he always answered when I called. I met him twice in Derry and stayed in touch with his wife Pat, who after John fell ill, held the fort for him.
Others had gone before. Joseph Rotblat had become a close friend when he passed in 2005. But when we said good-bye to the Archbishop, it felt like the end of an era.
The end of 2001 saw the glimmer of a new flame in the world of human rights, conflict prevention, and conflict resolution. The Nobel Peace Prize that year was awarded to two journalists — Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov — who were courageously standing up to attempts by their governments to silence them.
In March, 2002, José Ramos-Horta returned to the helm at the democracy he helped to found, winning the popular election as President of Timor-Leste for the second time. He continues to advise us, and we continue to support his work at home.
The world has changed since José Ramos-Horta and I launched this site with the statements of the Nobel laureates after 9/11. We made a mark. Our section on the laureates’ statements after 9/11 went around the world. The site was selected the Number Two site of the year by USA Today. It was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress archive for 9/11. Our action in support of the formation of the new UN Human Rights Council also received international media. The UN General Assembly said that the support of the Nobel laureates had been the key factor in the bill for the council being passed. We produced billboards and videos on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we hope made some impact.
It has not been a string of victories. We asked the King of Saudi Arabia to extend the hand of mercy and stay the execution of some young dissidents sentenced to death for postings on a Facebook group. Sadly they were executed. We asked the Chinese government to stop “naming, blaming, and defaming” His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Nothing changed. But at least we raised some voices.
The struggle today is not what it was when we started twenty years ago. Today, across the globe, the fight is now between democracy an autocracy. Realistically the defense of democracy is our strongest tool in the prevention of World War III. And a key battleground is information. I believe the Nobel Committee realized this as well in 2022, when they awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Memorial, an organization dedicated to documenting Russian atrocities since the Stalin regime, The Center for Civil Liberties is a Ukrainian human rights organization led by the Ukrainian lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk.and Ales Bialiatski, co-founder of the human rights group Viasna, who the New York Times called “a pillar of the human rights community” in Belarus. Since the award, Memorial has been shuttered by the Russian government. Ales Bialiatski is a prisoner of conscience in Belarus.
We have adjusted our operations to face these new challenges, and invite you to join us today at our new site, The Democracy Report.
Thank you for your support and friendship. We look forward to continuing with you on this important new journey.
Standing for Democracy
José Ramos-Horta, Chairman of The Community’s Advisory Board, is a founding father of our millennium’s first new democracy, Timor-Leste. A freedom fighter whose work was integral to lifting a 24-year occupation of his nation, he was awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for his work. He then served as Prime Minister and President of the new nation.
At the end of his term he was asked by the UN Secretary General to serve as Special Representative of the Secretary General to Guinea Bissau, where he helped to sherpherd the nation from a military coup through democratic elections and the reimplentation of democracy. He co-chaired the UN High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.
Serving and aiding his people as one his nation’s valued “elders,” Ramos-Horta continues to use his international recognition and wisdom to support democracies under threat around our world. Some highlights of his recent work:
Global Leaders to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: Stop the Atrocities in Tigray
Seven highly respected international leaders in conflict resolutions, including José Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have issued a call to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for immediate action to bring a halt to the atrocities being committed in the Tigray region of his nation.
More from Ramos-Horta:
No Results Found
The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
1931 – 2021
He’s Left Us.
by Mary Wald
The last time I saw Archbishop Tutu, we sat together on the deck of a house in Laguna Beach, the conversation periodically punctuated by a crashing wave, our faces warmed by the autumn sun. He was concerned that I hadn’t been able to get one of my projects funded.
He told me he would send a message to one of his many celebrity friends, asking him to fund the project for $200,000. He would tell his friend: If you don’t fund this project, you’ll go to a very warm place after you die, and I don’t want to see you burn up. Then he let out his famous cackle, the contagious one, the one that warms your soul just remembering it. He sent the message after our meeting.
Tutu stopped signing letters about human rights and social justice issues years ago. He wanted his time to be his own, to take care of his wife. But even more importantly, he said it was time for others to pick up the baton.
He had been the human rights advisor for my web site for 14 years before retiring. We met in New York, Kalamazoo, Pasadena, Cape Town. He advised me on relationships. He didn’t like where I was living. For many years we corresponded weekly, sometimes two or three times a week. And trust me, this says much more about him than it does about me.
THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE
Archbishop Tutu was one of the two South African figures widely credited with bringing about the fall of South Africa’s oppressive Apartheid regime. The first Archbishop in South Africa’s Episcopalian Church, “the Arch” as he has been lovingly known, was an immutable voice for justice and minister to hundreds of thousands of Black South Africans. With his eloquence, humor but most of all his passion for justice, he kept his country on the road to non-violent change when it seemed at times a powder key ready to explode.
Tutu was appointed by Nelson Mandela to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a landmark national council that brought the light of truth to the atrocities committed during Apartheid and, often bringing victims and perpetrators together, ushered in a new age of forgiveness and reconciliation for South Africa.
His voice will continue to be heard. His work, as a revered activist and guiding light for justice and equality across the globe, will continue, in the hands of all of us who have been touched by him.
News from the Nobel laureates and world leaders.
Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, marks 90th birthday on Zoom
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, was set to throw a Zoom party in quarantine to celebrate his 90th birthday on Tuesday, as President Vladimir Putin hailed him as an “outstanding statesman” who influenced the course of history. Gorbachev,...
Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Appears Before Court As Supporters Continue Protests
Myanmar's detained former leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appeared for a court hearing Monday, a month after being ousted in a coup. Her supporters again staged protests calling for her release, despite a deadly crackdown by police. After 18 people were reportedly killed...
A World Adrift: Challenges and Leadership
Originally published on Wall Street International Magazine. Link below. Sheltered in this tranquil, magic Far East land, I follow developments across the globe, in particular the Covid-19 onslaught, and now with new mutations and variations. And whenever I shared...
Detained Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi hit with new charge
Police in Myanmar have filed a new charge against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer said Tuesday, as the military leaders who took control of the country in a coup attempted to defend their actions. The additional count against Suu Kyi came as Myanmar's...
Nobel Peace Laureate Satyarthi on the Global Campaign to End Child Labor
The United Nations has named 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor. That's as the International Labor Organization estimates that 152 million children - almost one-in-ten of all minors worldwide - are forced to work. In our weekly equality...
Artists shine a light on child labor in New York streets
Children’s faces appear locked in the jaws of a sinister factory robot or warily peeping out behind New York landmarks in an interactive street art campaign launched this week to raise awareness about child trafficking and underage labor. Nine striking pieces...
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar democracy icon who fell from grace
She was once seen as a beacon for human rights - a principled activist who gave up her freedom to challenge the ruthless army generals who ruled Myanmar for decades. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while still under house arrest, and...
2020 Nobel Peace Prize Award Presentation to World Food Programme
The Nobel Peace Prize Award Presentation was conducted in a virtual ceremony in 2020, from World Food Programme headquarters in Rome, and in Oslo at the Nobel Committee headquarters. It includes a Presentation Statement by the Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,...
Former Pres. Jimmy Carter responds to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory
Former President Jimmy Carter congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden for his victory over President Donald Trump. In a statement on Twitter from The Carter Center, the former president said he “looks forward to seeing the positive change (Biden and Vice...
More than 700 economists including Nobel laureates oppose Trump reelection
Over 1000 economists, including several Nobel Prize laureates, have come out against President Trump's reelection bid. "In just one term in office, Donald Trump has rendered the United States unrecognizable, and has faced no consequences for doing so," the...
Subscribe to The Community
Sign up to receive monthly updates on new posts and actions. Your information is never sold or shared, opt out is easy.