Tag Archives: Civic freedom

Petitions: do they really work and how?

By Angelina Cecchetto on 7th April 2013

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

The straight answer to this question is yes, petitions do work!

Successful petitions put pressure on corporations, governments and other local authorities.

How? By helping information circulate in an unbiased way, petitions keep people informed of what is going on and help spread the word on particular aspects of information that may not be covered by the mainstream medias. The great thing about petitions and particularly about online petitioning or e-petitioning is that it makes it very easy for people to do something about a cause they may have at heart to defend and to force groups or institutions who may not want to hear to actually listen to people’s opinion.

How does the petition process work exactly? To create an e-petition it’s very simple; you can go on different online petition websites such as www.avaaz.org , www.care2.com , www.change.org  and many others. Should you want to find a petition site in your country, you just need to search for the petition in your own language in Google and you find many in your own language or related to your country. Before creating a petition, make sure that there is not one already existing which defends the same cause.

Some people think that signing e-petitions will not make any difference in the great scheme of things, well, they are simply wrong and I am going to give you some examples showing that in a couple of clicks and less than a minute people can make a positive difference in society. Of course, I am not talking about “all heroic happy-ending” unrealistic scenarios like “petitions-will-save-the-world” type of scenarios, I am saying that thanks to e-petitions, people can easily gather as a powerful group of individuals whose voices and opinions cannot be ignored by institutions.

In the UK for instance, when an e-petition reaches 100 000 signatures, the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee receives a notification from the Leader of the House of Commons (Parliament) about the petition which is then taken into consideration and discussed during the weekly hearing of MPs representations. MP’s have to make the case for the e-petition consideration.

Here are a few examples of successful outcomes thanks to e-petitions:

In December last year, thanks to a WWF[1] “I Will If You Will” campaign for Earth Hour 2012 which gathered the voices of 120,000 Russians and presented it to the government, the Russian Parliament voted a long-awaited law to protect the country’s seas from oil pollution.

On March 8th 2013 the California Coastal Commission (CCC)[2] who heard people’s outcry and petitions voted unanimously to reject the US Navy’s request to maintain military testing, sonar and bomb deployments throughout Southern California, Hawaii, Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast. Many dolphins and whales have been killed already but should the CCC have approved the maintenance of the Navy’s project, millions of cetaceans would have been killed in the next 5 years so this is a prime example of how efficient petitioning helped towards life preservation of numerable cetaceans.

In his very comprehensive article “Slacktivism: Why Snopes got it Wrong About Internet Petitions”[3] Randy Paynter gives a few good examples of how petitions can make a positive difference like the striking story of independent journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who were imprisoned in North Korea, charged with grave crimes against the state, and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. As Randy Paynter relates, “Their friends and family created petitions on “Care2” to raise awareness and call on North Korea to free the women. Close to 90,000 people signed these petitions, helping to keep the story in the national spotlight for months and eventually former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea and negotiated Laura and Euna’s release”.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/slacktivism-why-snopes-got-it-wrong-about-internet-petitions.html#ixzz2PagpvGwg

I personally sign about 2 to 3 petitions a day on average because this is a great way to help causes and raise awareness about things that are happening in the world and that people may not know about, because people don’t necessarily have the time to get informed or simply because some issues receive very low mainstream media coverage. So, if like me, you care about justice and want to get involved, then, think about petitioning as a first easy step to make a positive difference!

To conclude, I will cite Margaret Mead’s famous words:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I will finish with a petition working towards Nature and Ocean Conservation which mainly pleads to ban non-biodegradable packaging for food which would help reducing the dramatic impact of plastic on nature and a whole array of animals and especially aquatic life:

http://signon.org/sign/ban-non-biodegradable.fb23?source=c.fb&r_by=1333790

Many thanks.

Angelina Cecchetto

 

The New Shakespeareans Diaries

By Angelina Cecchetto on 14th February 2013

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto  Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: ©2013 Angelina Cecchetto. All Rights Reserved.

We have all heard about William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet tragedy. Although there is no accurate record of the exact date when it was written it is alleged that it has been written in the mid 1590’s. We are now in 2013, so about 420 years have passed since Romeo and Juliet died in the name of their forbidden and impossible love.
One would think that over 400 years after, things would have changed drastically and many things must have changed however I have been the incredulous witness of what I would call the “New Shakespearean’s diaries”. The story can be perceived as totally hilarious or totally pathetic depending on perspective.

I have been living and working for a couple of months in a very small island resort-hotel in the middle of the Indian Ocean, in the south of the Maldives. On the island there are about 160 members of staff working in different departments of the hotel. The majority of the staff working for the hotel is either from Sri Lanka or Bangladesh and either work at the service in the restaurant or as cleaners, cooking staff or gardeners. There is a small front office management team from Sri Lanka and a small team of Europeans working in the dive center, the spa or as travel reps. The hotel customers are mainly Europeans and Chinese.

Despite the fact that European staff can enjoy quite a certain degree of freedom compared to the rest of the non-European staff, people are not free to do many things. To my great surprise I found out that certain member of European staff could not go out or have any sort of relation with Maldivian staff. This is not officially written in anybody’s contract of employment prior to arrival but is discovered once on the island. This is where I became aware of the new Shakespearean’s diaries. One of the young female European staff who has been working on the island as a manager started seeing a member of one of the boats crews. Unfortunately for them she is European (I will call her Juliet1) and he is Bangladeshi (I will call him Romeo1). Despite the fact that they are both responsible for their actions and willing to be together, they can’t. One day Romeo1 and his whole team were dismissed and sent back to their island. Now his presence on the island is not allowed. Juliet1 is not allowed to leave the island at night to go and see him. A few days ago he came to pick his Juliet up with a small fisherman boat at night only to be able to spend a few hours with her. Many would think this as ultimately romantic I guess.  Two lovers lost in a fisherman’s boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I guess it would make a great story line for a Bollywood movie.

Last year the marine biologist of the hotel a young Italian woman had a relationship with the Maldivian barman. He got dismissed from his functions in the hotel and declared “persona non grata” on the island as well. The things they invented to see each other were unbelievably funny for some and sad for others. I was told that one day Romeo2, we will call him, came to pick up his Juliet2 but the island security team refused the authorization for his boat to moor (just to moor) on the pier to prevent them to see each other so, against all expectations, she jumped fully dressed in the lagoon and swam up to the outer reef were the boat was waiting for permission to moor. The current staff on the island finds this anecdote hilariously funny. I guess it can be seen as funny however I also find it very disturbing somehow, considering we live in 21st century. I guess William Shakespeare would be right at home here even over 400 years after his time.

Many things I really cannot understand. Maybe someone can tell me in the name of what law, rule or what work contract are two people who like or love each other forbidden to see each other?

What law, rule or contract can justify that someone or a group of people limits or deprives someone else’s from their freedom? And who is doing anything about this?  I guess nobody is so it’s down to each individual to stand up for their right and defend their freedom the best they can because if they don’t do it themselves no one else will to do it for them.

Happy St Valentine’s Day to all.

Angelina Cecchetto.