Help Obama Help Gaza

Barack Obama brings new hope for peace in the Middle East. But no US president can become a fair mediator while the US media remains strongly biased on this conflict. We urgently need to meet this challenge as Obama makes historic choices on Israel-Palestine.

Avaaz is funding and assisting a small number of experts and former journalists to engage top US media decision-makers on this issue - providing facts, information and opportunities to hear sensible voices for peace from both Palestinians and Israelis. $40,000 will hire a respected advocate, $15,000 will fund an opinion poll of Palestinians and Israelis to US media, $50,000 will build a large "peace wall" in Washington DC, Gaza and Jerusalem.

Pro-war media organizations have deep pockets, but if each one of us who signed the Gaza petition gives just $2 (1.50 euro), we'll raise $1 million -- enough to meet the challenge of this historic moment.

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Avaaz Campaigns
Highlights from a 3.3 million-strong people-powered global movement, launched January 2007
Click below for updates on the biggest Avaaz campaigns! (For background about Avaaz, click here.)

CLIMATE | BURMA | TIBET | ZIMBABWE | FOOD CRISIS | ISRAEL & PALESTINE | IRAQ | MUCH MORE!

Stop Climate Catastrophe


UK Environment Minister Hillary Benn addresses an Avaaz-led petition delivery in front of world media at UN climate negotiations in Bali
 
The threat of catastrophic climate change is at the top of Avaaz members' concerns -- and bold action on climate is supported in nearly every country in the world. In January 2007, many leaders still refused to even recognize the crisis -- so Avaaz launched a "climate wake-up call" TV ad in four continents, kicking off a multi-year campaign for a strong successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Avaaz has since delivered millions of climate petition signatures to key leaders, including the environment ministers of all the G8 countries, top members of the US Congress, leaders in Brazil and Germany, and, in coalition with partners, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda before the Hokkaido G8 summit.
 

Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest paper, reports that Avaaz ad helped shift Japan climate policy  
Avaaz members' petitions have also been amplified by high-profile media campaigns, including a full-page ad in the Jakarta Post at the height of the 2007 UN climate negotiations in Bali. This ad was reportedly waved at the Japanese cabinet meeting that led to Japan's adoption of medium-term carbon emission targets: according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the Environment Minister held up the ad and asked the prime minister, "are we letting the world see Japan as blocking targets for 2020?"

Canada's position at the Bali negotiations was similarly targeted with a national ad campaign in December of 2007, as well as one of the largest online actions in Canadian history. After Prime Minister Harper reversed his position on emissions targets, opposition leader Stephane Dion filmed a message to Avaaz exclaiming "Avaaz members, reversing the bad policy of a government, this is great... join Avaaz, because it works!" For more information about Avaaz campaigning in Bali and throughout 2007, click here.
 

Avaaz newspaper ad from 2008 G8 summit in Hokkaido reprinted in Nikkei Business Daily news story  
Avaaz continued its climate campaign in 2008 with a new petition and full-page colour ad in the global Financial Times during the Hokkaido G8 summit, targeting Canada, Japan, and the US on 2020 targets. The ad, a satire using the Hello Kitty cartoon character, was reported on in the New York Times, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nikkei Business Daily, and in other outlets around the world.

 

 
Avaaz campaigning on climate change has taken other forms as well. Avaaz worked with Al Gore as the global online partner of Live Earth, with members organizing 2500 Live Earth events in 139 countries. Avaaz members in Canada have filed thousands of public comments on a proposed law regarding the country's proposed Kyoto implementation. At the APEC summit in Australia just before the 2007 elections, Avaaz worked with GetUp.Org.Au to highlight then-prime-minister Howard's opposition to binding emissions targets with a 1000-square-foot target banner, unveiled at Bondi Beach and floated above the Great Barrier Reef (which will be destroyed in the next 20 years by climate change unless drastic action is taken). And Avaaz led the high-profile presentation of the Climate Action Network's "Fossil of the Day Awards" at Bali, given to the countries most responsible for impeding progress towards a new climate treaty. Throughout, Avaaz has worked closely with partners including Oxfam, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Climate Action Network, the Global Call to Action against Poverty.
 


Burma uprising

 
When monks and democracy protesters filled the streets of Burma in October 2007, Avaaz members rose in support of them worldwide. More than 800,000 members from every country on earth signed a petition urging China and the UN Security Council to oppose the violent crackdown and support genuine dialogue and reconciliation, a message publicly delivered to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and sent through diplomatic channels and newspaper ads to Chinese officials. Thousands of Avaaz members in Europe successfully pressed for stronger targeted EU sanctions on the Burmese junta, more than 2000 members in Singapore sent messages to their foreign minister urging a stronger stance with Burmese officials, and 50,000 pledged to boycott Chevron and Total Oil for doing business with the Burmese regime. When the junta banned cameras, cell phones, and internet connections as part of its crackdown, Avaaz members donated more than US $320,000 to provide technical support and training to the democracy movement -- funds distributed within the country by Avaaz partners at the Open Society Institute. Avaaz sent a mission to the Thai-Burma border to meet with key democratic leaders and ensure the wise use of member support. To learn more about Avaaz democracy campaigning in Burma, click here.

 

Burma cyclone relief

 
When Cyclone Nargis struck in May 2008, killing as many as 200,000 people, Avaaz contacted its friends in monk networks to see how best to help. The head of the International Burmese Monk Organization recorded a video appeal to Avaaz members, and in just ten days, more than 25,000 people from 125 countries donated more than $2,000,000US to support the monks' relief efforts -- bypassing the junta's blockade on international aid workers by giving directly to existing networks within the country. These funds purchased medicine, food, and other emergency supplies for distribution by civil society to those who needed it most. As Slate.com later wrote, "while the international world was focused on the military junta's reluctance to allow foreign aid, Burmese citizens and monks were busy carrying out large relief efforts that many now credit with preventing mass starvation." Avaaz members, who donated more than most world governments in the critical period immediately following the cyclone, played a crucial role in supporting these activities. Click here to read more about the cyclone aid initiative.
 


Tibet: Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

 
Sparked by China's violent crackdown on the March, 2008 protests and riots in Tibet, Avaaz members built the largest global online petition in history -- a call for meaningful dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama that reached 1.5 million signatures in three weeks. The petition was delivered privately to Chinese officials and publicly in an 84-city global Day of Action, coordinated with Tibet advocacy groups around the globe. (Click here for larger photos and more information.) Following the outcry, China restarted talks with the Dalai Lama -- reportedly in response to international pressure.

 

 
Within China, however, the global protests and media coverage fueled a nationalist backlash, with Chinese state media and public opinion denouncing the pro-Tibet sentiment as "anti-Chinese" efforts to undermine the Olympics. To counter this sentiment, Avaaz launched an appeal for a "Save the Olympics" campaign, raising $150,000 to fund online outreach by a Mandarin-language team and deliberative ads in overseas Chinese community publications. Avaaz also organised a "Give Peace a Hand" handshake, with more than 2,000 Avaaz members in "One China" t-shirts forming a human handshake chain running from the Dalai Lama to the Chinese Embassy in London -- a tangible gesture of goodwill that culminated in a rally with a moment of silence for victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Thousands of Avaaz members also lit virtual candles for earthquake survivors and donated for tents and other emergency supplies.
 


Zimbabwe: Democracy and Human Rights

 
Prompted by appeals from members in the region, Avaaz launched a Zimbabwe democracy and human rights campaign following the 29 March elections. Robert Mugabe made no secret of his hostility to international opinion, so Avaaz sought to pressure South African president Thabo Mbeki, a key Mugabe ally and the SADC-appointed mediator between Mugabe and the opposition. As Mbeki was chairing a UN Security Council Session (where he refused to discuss Zimbabwe), more than 150,000 Avaaz members signed a petition urging him to act -- and Avaaz flew a 3000 square foot banner over United Nations headquarters in New York reading "Mbeki Time to Act: Democracy for Zimbabwe." The stunt earned intensive coverage in South Africa, as well as the BBC, CNN, wire services like Reuters, AP, and AFP, and other major media outlets worldwide. (See the photo and links on the lower right of this page.) The next day, for the first time, Mbeki's spokesperson called for an immediate release of the election results.

 

 
Over the following weeks, Avaaz led or contributed to a range of actions to support democracy and Zimbabwean civil society groups. When South African dockworkers refused to unload a Chinese arms shipment bound for Zimbabwe, Avaaz coordinated with Southern African labor unions and the Control Arms coalition to track the shipment, connect regional groups, and rally international support for the union-led resistance. Ultimately, finding no port willing to unload the arms, China recalled the ship. Avaaz also launched a rapid-response effort to mobilize global pressure around specific human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, alerting members worldwide to specific atrocities in the country and enabling them to flood Zimbabwean embassies and consulates with messages -- a demonstration that the world was watching and would hold rights violators to account. And as it became clear that the approaching June run-off would be a charade, Avaaz ran newspaper ads in key countries in the region calling for Southern African emergency summit to restore democracy to Zimbabwe.
 

 
Following Mugabe's sham victory in the June 2008 run-offs, more than 2,500 African Avaaz members contacted their governments and urged AU member states to withhold recognition from Mugabe's regime. Avaaz amplified this message with a full-page ad in the high-circulation weekend edition of the international Financial Times, calling for world leaders to isolate Zimbabwe. More than 100,000 Avaaz members worldwide reinforced this message by contacting their foreign ministers, calling for non-recognition of the sham election and supporting meaningful talks. Since that time, Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have finally met for in-person negotiations, but violence continues and the diplomatic process moves in fits and starts. Avaaz will continue to support Zimbabwean civil society groups and democracy activists, in close dialogue with members and partners in the region.
 


Global food crisis

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon receives Avaaz food crisis petition from Sam Sesay, Sierra Leone's agriculture minister, and Avaaz's Ricken Patel  
With food prices soaring, Sierra Leonean foreign minister Zainab Bangura recorded a video appeal to Avaaz members asking for help in pressing their governments to action. More than 360,000 members responded, signing an online petition that was delivered to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at an emergency food summit in Rome. Bowing to global pressure, donor governments pledged billions in emergency food aid and joined a process to reconsider agricultural policy. More than 60,000 Avaaz members also sent messages to their governments urging sustainability standards for biofuels that would end the practices of burning food as fuel and of displacing food crops to make room for fuel crops. This July, the G8 pledged to "ensure the compatibility of policies for the sustainable production and use of biofuels with food security" -- but more pressure is needed to make this pledge a reality.
 


Israel and Palestine

 
Israeli and Palestinian Avaaz members, like other Avaaz members and the general public around the world, firmly support a peaceful, just, two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and respect for human rights on both sides. To support these goals, Avaaz has run extensive local, regional, and global campaigns -- launched by the "Stop the Clash of Civilizations" video in March 2007. The video, which has been viewed more than 2.5 million times across nine different language versions, was voted YouTube's Political Video of the Year for 2007, among other awards, and has been televised around the world.
 

 
Avaaz members have also funded innovative billboard campaigns in Jerusalem and newspaper ad campaigns in major Israeli and Palestinian papers, signed more than 375,000 names to petitions urging peace talks, an end to the blockade on humanitarian aid to Gaza, and a ceasefire with Hamas. These petitions have been delivered directly to key decision-makers in Israel and around the world. In May and June, Avaaz members funded a major online and offline ad campaign, which was seen by an estimated 1 million Israelis, calling for a Gaza ceasefire. Hamas and Israel began a ceasefire in the Gaza strip on 19 June, 2008.
 


Iraq: stop the escalation, end the war, don't steal the oil

 
The first Avaaz campaign brought flags and huge banners representing 87,000 "virtual marchers" against escalation in Iraq to a peaceful protest in Washington, DC. Avaaz also placed a full-page ad opposing the escalation in Washington's Congressional newspaper, and, in consultation with local members and international experts, developed a "NEW" plan to end the war: all-party Negotiations, mediated by Empowered international actors like the United Nations, and complete, responsible Withdrawal of US troops on a timeline matching the Iraqi people's wishes. The NEW plan, endorsed by 150,000 people worldwide in response to an email appeal from an Iraqi Avaaz member, was delivered to key Iraqi, regional, and international leaders at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit in May 2007. Avaaz has also worked with Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish parliamentarians to build an international campaign supporting Iraq's right to determine the future of its oil reserves -- rather than accept the dictates of outside governments and corporations.
 


Banning cluster munitions -- and other campaigns

 
As world leaders met in Dublin, Ireland for final negotiations on an international ban on cluster munitions, cluster-bomb survivor Branislav Kapetanovic sent a video appeal to Avaaz members -- and 164,272 of them responded, sending email messages to government leaders urging a strong ban free of loopholes and delays. The government of Finland, which opposed a complete ban, received 50,000 messages from Avaaz members -- sparking news coverage there and around the world. When more than 100 nations signed a strong treaty, advocates at the talks told Avaaz that Avaaz members had made a difference -- and that governments were taken aback by the citizen outcry. Now, the campaign to ratify and extend the treaty continues.

Other Avaaz campaigns include:
  • a push to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay supported by over 80,000 members, and delivered in an ad campaign targeting the new Democratic party-led Congress in the US.
  • support for a democratic resolution to January 2008's election crisis in Kenya, in which tens of thousands of Avaaz members asked their foreign ministers to refuse to recognize any President until Kofi Annan's negations could produce an acceptable compromise.
  • worldwide pressure for democratic rights in Pakistan during the November 2007 crisis, and an ad campaign in Pakistan calling for President Musharraf to end the state of emergency.
  • a global call for a WTO ruling to ban subsidies for dangerous corporate overfishing of the world's oceans, in which Avaaz members sent tens of thousands of messages to their trade ministers.
  • an effort to increase transparency in the UN's selection of the next High Commissioner for Human Rights that made international headlines through a blog and a fake job advertisement in The Economist.
  • a petition, rally, and protest video supporting efforts to oust Paul Wolfowitz from the World Bank after the May 2007 corruption scandal
  • a call for regional governments to increase aid donations to help Mexico cope with flooding in November 2007
  • co-hosting, with Chatham House, David Miliband's first speech as UK Foreign Secretary -- and bringing him questions from Avaaz members around the world. (Read his answers here.)
 
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