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Thursday, December 29, 2011

33 Heroes of a leaderless revolution

A Canadian's viewpoint of Uprising 2011

North African uprisings and Arab Spring

1. Tunisian fruit vendor Mohammed Bouazizi deserves first mention as he is the highest profile martyr of the Arab Spring of Hope. He immolated himself on December 18, and died from the severe burns on January 4th, 2011. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt both gained significant momentum from Mohamed's actions.

2. On December 22nd, 2010, Houcine Falhi, a 22-year-old Tunisian, committed suicide by electrocuting himself in the midst of another demonstration over unemployment in Sidi Bouzid, after shouting "No to misery, no to unemployment!"

3.Khaled Said died in Egypt from a police beating in 2010, but rose to prominence through the We Are All Khaled Said webpage on Facebook, created by “ElShaeed” (meaning “the witness”, “the struggle” or “the martyr”). ElShaheed was later revealed to be Google executive Wael Ghonim (see Hero #5)

4.April 6th leaders: Isra Abdel Fattah, Ahmed Maher, Asma Mahfouz, Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Salah

The April 6 Youth Movement began as an Egyptian Facebook group founded by Isra’a Abdel Fattah, 29, and Ahmed Maher, 30, in spring 2008 to support the April 6 workers strike in el-Mahalla el-Kobra, an industrial town along the Nile Delta. Ahmed Salah was also an early supporter of the April 6th Youth Movement. Another associate, Mohammed Adel, "Dean of the Dead" was arrested at the age of twenty, detained and placed in solitary confinement for over 100 days because of his political activities on the Internet.

On January 18th, 2011, a video that changed the world was uploaded by Asma'a Mahfouz, for in it the young Egyptian urged her countrymen to take to the streets to protest the injustice. Take a look:

5. Wael Ghonim, ElShaeed

During the Arab Spring I was posting to my Original Joe College blog 3 to 5 times per day, and the arrival in Egypt of Wael Ghonim, and his subsequent arrest, sent shockwaves through the country and around the world. These were no street raggamuffins, but rather included a senior executive from the most powerful company in the world! After Ghonim's release from detention by Egypt's secret police, his DREAM TV interview electrified the nation.

Wael Ghonim with the mother of Khaled Said

6. Mona Eltahawy

International journalist returned to her Egyptian roots to cover the initial Tahrir Square and other Cairo events, herself being arrested and assaulted during the 2nd wave of uprisings in November 2011. Mona's many appearances on global news programs provided an eloquent window into events, adding a charming human face to Egypt's revolution.

7. Gigi Ibrahim

A citizen journalist from American University of Cairo, the stunningly beautiful Gigi Ibrahim was one of the most prominent of many Egyptian youth utilizing modern technology and social networks to report on events in Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt.

8. Tawakkul Karman, a female icon of the Yemen protest movement, won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her brave efforts. She has been called by Yemenis the "Iron Woman" and "Mother of the Revolution."

Tawakul Karman wins Nobel Peace Prize

Bringing It All Back Home – North America revolts

9. Mark Miller, the Wisconsin Senate 14, and the Wisconsin Democratic and union leadership incl police, firemen, teachers. Several decades of collective bargaining progress was about to be wiped away by a reactionary politician with wickedly conspiratorial right-wing business allies, and the people rose up as one to be heard, loudly and clearly.

10. MSNBC's Ed Schultz

Most talking heads on TV do not even comprehend the issues. Ed does, he's mad as hell, and he's not taking any bullshit from anyone. What is it about the name Ed? Canadians will remember the earnest and profound Ed Broadbent, while Americans know and respect Ed Asner, a member of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Democratic Socialists of America, and two-time president of the Screen Actors Guilkd. Honest Ed...

11. NDP leader Jack Layton

For anybody in Canada this needs no explanation. For others, Jack was a well-loved and highly regarded social democrat whose untimely death and emotional funeral united Canadians of all political stripes, even for just one day. In Mr. Layton's honour, I am working with other progressive Canadians to unite the NDP and the Green Party, and form the Green Democratic Party of Canada.

We miss you Jack...

12. NDP MP Charmaine Borg – The election of many 20-something MPs in the last Canadian federal election shocked many, however the NDP surge in La Belle Province delighted young activists across the nation. Charmaine Borg is a conscientious young lady dedicated to human rights and social justice, in Canada and globally.

13. NDP MP Mylene Freeman – Also elected in Canada's 2011 election that saw the NDP surge in Quebec vault them into Official Opposition status, Mylene has been a tireless advocate for Native Canadian rights and equality for women, and is a fiery and diligent representative for her Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel riding.

14. Kalle Lasn / Adbusters publisher – Likely the most influential person on the planet that almost nobody has ever heard of, the publisher of anti-consumer magazine Adbusters issued the call for the Occupy Wall Street protest, and remains a key contributor to new directions for the burgeoning social movement. Kalle and Adbusters partner Micah White continue to provide valuable direction to OWS and Occupy Together.

15. Micah White in California (Adbusters Senior editor), Kalle Lasn's confidante and co-creator of OWS – Micah is the Senior Editor at Adbusters, and a humble, covert contributor to Occupy Wall Street planning and success. Micah keeps a low profile but will likely be a key contributor to social progress in North America for many years to come.

16. OWS facilitators and spokespeople, incl Marisa and Ketchup … Marisa Holmes, the “quiet leader” of Occupy Wall Street, a 25-year-old freelance documentarian who hewlped organize and guide New York City's pioneering occupation.

Ketchup, spokesperson for OWS, is a 22 year old redheaded gal from Chicago, and her earnest and no-bullshit explanations of OWS goals and methodologies helped the outside world begin to understand what all the ruckus was about.

17. Julian Assange exposed the underbelly of global diplomacy and shook some ivory towers and fortified bastions in the process

18. Michael Moore - the first person to bring a mainstream network news crew to OWS, he insisted that if a major TV network wanted to interview him about OWS, they do it at Zuccotti Park

19. Amina Waheed, Occupy Oakland spokesperson and journalist.

20. Freedom from Occupy LA – She is also founder of Visionary Activists Network; during the eviction of the Occupy LA camp, about 2,000 viewers watched her eloquent live reporting via a web feed.

21. George Strombolopoulos - My first visit to Occupy Toronto was on day three and it was encouraging to read later that evening that George S was there about one after I left, and his show was very balanced regarding goals, tactics and effectiveness of Occupy Canada protests.

22. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine played at both Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA. Here he is in New York:

23. Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel – OWS. Here's Jeff performing at Occupy Wall Street:

24. Down By Riverside – Essentially became house band for Occupy Toronto, the Nozuka brothers' group and its members supported the park, the rallies plus any and all Occupy Toronto events more than any others. Props to Jesus Las Vegas, Flow Dan and all the other park musicians I was fortunate to jam with during the occupation.

25. Faith Nolan – Performed and jammed at occupy Toronto a bunch of times. Faith is a talented and conscious singer-writer and a lady our city can be very proud of.

Faith Nolan and Bill Bourne perform together at Occupy Toronto

26. Sid Ryan, President, Ontario Federation of Labour, and Occupy Toronto supporter..

Our message to the Occupy Toronto protesters is this: While the mayor of Toronto may not care about the public services we all rely on, you do. While the mayor, the corporations and those at the top may not care about affordable post-secondary education, public pensions, living wages, quality public health care and basic entitlement to democratic rights, you do. 

Your view that every single human being deserves an opportunity to work, to contribute to society and to a life filled with hope and the opportunity to live up to their full potential is what has fuelled the public’s imagination to support your efforts.

The OFL stands in solidarity with you. We will do everything possible to support you in your desire to make the lives of the 99% of the people in your community better. 
We pledge to be there with you, shoulder to shoulder, to defend our right to free speech and free assembly. 

27. Joe Shithead Keithley - Performed solo at Occupy Ottawa and Occupy Regina, and with his band DOA at Occupy Vancouver. For over thirty years, Joe has been the conscience of Vancouver and of the Canadian punk scene. We old punks waited more than three decades for Occupy to get rolling, and we are not about to let this opportunity for freedom and justice slip away. Fight on young brothers and sisters!!!

28. & 29. Even today in Egypt, dissent is not tolerated and activists like Michael Nabil and Alaa Abdel Fattah remain in jail for critiquing the army.

30.Yennesew Gebre … here we go again. On 11/11/11, 29-year old Ethiopian teacher self-immolated in protest against his students and other young Ethiopians being held in jail without charge, entirely because they expressed and interest in politics and justice. Democracy advocates in Ethiopia will be well-advised to keep Anonymous informed of their plans for next July 21st to July 23rd, as they may need to have certain government websites and communication systems shut down for a few days.

100 years from now, when our great-great-grandchildren ask their parents what happened on 11/11/11, they will reply “Let me tell you about a noble man named Yennesew Gebre, and his gift from the past to the future.”

31.Alexey Navalny – Russia's truth-telling blogger rose to international prominence after the flawed 2011 parliamentary elections. This 35 year old anti-corruption crusader braves arrest and imprisonment every day. Like many things in Russia, even here there is a darker side … as Navalny is a nationalist and has associated with anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim groups. Bears watching...

32.Justin Trudeau – Most people will find it a stretch to include Young Trudeau as a hero of 2011's global uprisings, yet his dissing of the PC blowhard resonated on Main Street. With the NDP currently leaderless, JT appears ready to stand up to the PCs and is the overwhelming fave to become the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Justin will turn 40 on Christmas Day.

33.Fadwa Suleiman – Syrian actress spoke at a rally in Homs and began a hunger strike to protest against the oppression and violence of the Syrian regime, risking her own life for the sake of her people and her nation. God Bless this Light who has her own heart, mind and soul.

Honourable mentions: Razan Ghazzawi, Dorothy Parvaz, Alexandrine Latendresse, Laurin Liu, all Occupiers, and especially all those who have lost their lives in the North African and Syrian revolutions.

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