Category Archives: Gen Z

Afghan Girl Fights Taliban

A Girl’s Heroic Battle Against the Taliban Was Also a Family Feud

A teenage Afghan girl was celebrated for killing Taliban who attacked her home. But the story of her heroism is steeped in pain, and reveals the complicated crosscurrents of the Afghan War.

By Asadullah Timory, Najim Rahim and Mujib Mashal

  • July 22, 2020

 

The teenage girl was the hero of a night of carnage that left her family’s hillside home in western Afghanistan strewn with bodies. Qamar Gul, 15, fought to her last bullet, gunning down Taliban attackers who raided the house and killed her father and mother.

In the days after the attack last week, Afghan social media was full of slick posters celebrating her as “My Hero.” Some users compared her to the Kurdish women of Kobani, Syria, who fought the Islamic State. Local officials put out pictures of Qamar Gul posing with her rifle. Afghanistan’s vice president praised her for defending against “the enemies of the nation.”

But the story of her heroism is steeped in pain, in a culture that often treats women as property, and in the confusion of an Afghan war that has twisted families into knots of complex loyalties and feuds.

One of the attackers she killed was her own husband, who was fighting on the Taliban’s side and apparently seeking her forcible return after a falling out with Ms. Gul’s family, according to relatives and local officials.

Chinese climate activist Ou Hongyi not allowed to attend high school

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/20/chinas-first-climate-striker-cant-return-to-school

Ou Hongyi, who took part in the #FridaysforFuture protest, says she has been told she cannot return to school unless she stops her activism

As the first young person in China to engage in Greta Thunberg-inspired Fridays For Future climate strikes, Ou, 17, has become a target for the authorities who see that activism as a challenge to their control.

Ou claims she has been told by authorities to ditch her climate activism as a condition for her restarting studies at Guangxi Normal University affiliated high school in Guilin, where she studied until late 2018.

Ou, who also goes by the English name Howey, suspended her studies in December 2018 after being told she was “not suitable” for the international programme there and decided to study for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and US college admissions SAT test on her own.

But, following the wishes of her parents, and with dreams of pursuing higher education, she has been attempting in recent months to re-enter the school.

Her parents have been called several times by provincial education authorities, Ou told the Guardian, urging them to stop her climate activism and not to conduct interviews with foreign media.

Ou said her principal, Li Linbo, also told her in a meeting on 29 May that she must promise to end her climate activism before being readmitted, a claim corroborated by her father.

Several attempts to reach her principal, including calls to his office and personal number, as well as faxed questions, were not responded to.

“I don’t want to stop,” Ou said of her climate activism. “I want more people to know.”

Authorities also required Howey to have a psychological test before applying for readmission. “The only negative thing it said was I’m stubborn,” she said.

Ou Jun, her father, told the Guardian that her parents would not force her to give up her beliefs, but added that they were worried about her obsession and how it could derail her future. “She has anxiety about the climate,” he said. “We hope that she can graduate from high school, enter university, and hope that she can pay less attention to climate change issues.”

While currently the top global carbon dioxide emitter, China is expected to meet its Paris Agreement pledge of peaking carbon emissions at or before 2030. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has also put the development of an “ecological civilisation” at the core of his policies, which would appear to be a natural fit with Ou’s own obsessions.

It is not necessarily her concerns for the climate that have sparked a pressure campaign from authorities, Kecheng Fang, an assistant professor at the school of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the Guardian.

“Most importantly, because it is about collective action,” he said. “No matter what kind of collective action it is, it’s considered highly sensitive.”

While expressing concern about climate change is not forbidden, there has been a narrowing of discourse on the subject, particularly if it calls into question the ambition of authorities, Fang said. “The underlying logic is that basically you can talk about those topics that are considered less sensitive, but it matters how you talk about it.”

While she waits to return to school, Ou has started her own initiative called Plant for Survival, whereby she is encouraging young people in China to plant more trees. From last November through to this January, the group planted more than 300 trees in and around Guilin.

 

youth climate activists in the Global South

Stories from the Youth Climate Movement in the Global South

Inés M. Pousadela

Jul 17, 2020

https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2020/07/17/youth-climate-leaders-global-south/?

In early 2020, as millions went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the environment experienced temporary relief from the impacts of human activity. As skies cleared and birds and animals claimed city spaces, it became apparent that the young people who had mobilized for the climate across the world in 2019 were right: Much environmental damage is the result of human action, and as such, can also be reversed through human initiative.

The experience of 2020 has made clear that whether the threat is climate change or a pandemic, humanity won’t survive its challenges unless people act collectively on the basis of scientific consensus.

Before the pandemic hit, the climate emergency had made headlines and had become part of everyday conversation. It all started when one determined young girl, then 15 years old, walked out of school and staged a solo protest outside her country’s parliament. But it wasn’t a solo protest for long, because hundreds of thousands of young people quickly took up the initiative.

Driven by inspiration rather than imitation, young people throughout the Global South organized their own local climate actions, feeding into the global climate movement. They used this global platform to draw attention to—and infuse new energy into—long-standing, under-acknowledged Indigenous movements defending land, water, and air against extractive industries and agribusiness.

In Ghana, Perk Pomeyie of the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement used graphic design and social media to mobilize young people around #FridaysforFuture and #SchoolClimateStrike. He also collaborated with the International Youth Climate Movement in the region to mobilize during the United Nations’ Africa Climate Week in Accra in March 2019. “As a grassroots activist in Ghana, this was the first time I gained a strong personal conviction that my work in the little corner of my community has a potential to cause change at the top, if supported with the right tools, capacity, and resources,” he explained.

Perk Pomeyie leads chants at a climate march in central Accra, Ghana. Photo from Perk Pomeyie.

Climate activists protest against mining in central Accra, Ghana. Photo from Perk Pomeyie.

Junior high school students in Ghana participate in an awareness-raising and tree planting session. Photo from Perk Pomeyie.

Across the Global South, activists have adapted their tactics to their local situations, all while shaking off delegitimization attempts that characterised the climate movement as driven by privileged people from the Global North.

“Although it is a very progressive thing to hold strikes in Global North countries, in a country like Sudan, going to school is a privilege for a lot of students. It doesn’t make any sense for people to strike from a school they got into after a huge struggle,” said Nisreen Al Sayeem, of the Sudan Youth Organization on Climate Change and Youth and Environment. “Young people in Sudan are taking three different paths for climate action: policy, activism—including advocacy, campaigning, and work in civil society organizations—and community-based work.”

The latest State of Civil Society Report from CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, puts the spotlight on this rising generation of young climate leaders, who are giving fresh impetus to persistent struggles in countries including Colombia, Ghana, and Sudan. They may not have received the same media attention as Greta Thunberg, but these youth activists are every bit as committed, engaged, and important.

In their collective undertaking, these climate leaders have cast aside stereotypes of young people as impulsive and immature. They have come to embody the voice of reason by embracing science, encouraging evidence-based decision-making, and challenging disinformation. They are offering a lesson to their governments on what it means to act responsibly.

Young people like Nisreen Al Sayeem are forging their own local forms of action. Photo from Nisreen Al Sayeem. Nisreen Al Sayeem, a junior negotiator at UN Climate Talks for the African Group of Negotiators, speaks at a climate event. Photo from Nisreen Al Sayeem.

Young people face considerable risks when they take action in countries where civic and democratic freedoms aren’t widely respected, and where environmental, Indigenous, and land rights activists have long experienced violent and even lethal repression. One young environmental activist from Colombia vividly described the dangers he faces daily in a country where “people live in a state of incredible anxiety due to the systematic murders of social and environmental leaders,” leaving them “afraid to speak, organize, and protest.” Demonstrating how dangerous climate activism can be, he asked not to be named for security reasons.

One way in which young climate leaders try to mitigate such dangers is by building alliances that may offer safety in numbers, and by connecting their domestic struggles to global climate concerns. In Colombia, major domestic issues are deforestation and population displacement, linked to the troubled implementation of the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, which sought to put an end to a half-century-long armed conflict.

Young Colombian climate activists organize local communities against deforestation. Photo from Fridays for Future Colombia.

Climate activism in Colombia received a boost during the mass anti-government protests that erupted in November 2019, as climate activists encouraged protesters to embrace environmental demands. “In a country where people are afraid to speak,” said the Colombian activist, the fact that millions took to the streets in what was considered the largest mobilization in several decades was “a unique opportunity” for the climate movement to push its agenda. “We may not be able to mobilize people specifically around climate, but we can take advantage of these mass mobilizations and put our issues out there … so that they understand that our issues also concern them and they start mobilizing for them as well.”

In this activist’s experience, global inspiration led to local action, which in turn led to participation in regional processes to build a Latin American climate network. These regional efforts then led to the creation of a national environmental network, bringing together young people from all over the country to work for climate action. Still a work in progress, the national environmental network succeeded in getting the protest movement to include among its demands the declaration of a national climate emergency. Coming full circle, Colombia’s national environmental network now also views global policy-making arenas as a battleground for future struggles.

Climate activism happens simultaneously at all levels, connecting the local to the global—from the streets of Bogotá and Manila to the sites of environmental damage in Bangladesh and Nepal, to high-level international forums such as the United Nations. In country after country, climate activists operate within institutional systems, and employ disruption tactics when necessary and possible, to communicate their message: The climate is in crisis, and going back to business as usual after the pandemic is not acceptable.

Filipino activists prepare banners for their anti-coal campaign. Photo from Young Bataeños Environmental Advocacy Network.

The climate movement has suspended street action because of COVID-19, but activism continues online. The movement has already succeeded in turning a political nonissue into an urgent agenda item. Now the pressure is on to promote a green recovery from the pandemic, countering the existing inertia to pursue a carbon-fueled dash for growth.

When it comes to the key decisions that will shape human lives in the post-pandemic world, this new generation of activists will continue to pressure decision-makers into giving them a future worth fighting for.

Inés M. Pousadela is a Senior Research Specialist at CIVICUS and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report 2020. She has written several books and articles on political representation, social mobilization, participation and accountability, and civil society.

 

Video Interviews with youth climate activists

International Gen Z climate activist young women are found on my YouTube channel. They are featured in my new book “Climate Girls Saving Our World.”

The following are interviews with climate activists in the US.

Additional Climate Activist Interview videos

Naomi Klein’s new book is On Fire in support of the Green New Deal. In a talk at CSUChico with Geography professor Mark Stemen on 9-28-19 she listed three major fires: climate disruption; political fires of hatred, division, and pessimism; and “our fire,” the youth-led climate movement. The spirit of fire must be used to clean the debris: The main problem is the economic powers want us to give up so we don’t rise up. For example, many films about the future as dystopias where the 1% live in walled compounds and the masses suffer from disaster, like The Hunger Games. Hopeful actions are college endowments divesting from fossil fuels and organizations like the Sunrise Movement. Her previous books: The Shock Doctrine, No Logo, This Changes Everything, and No Is Not Enough. Here are 23 minutes of excerpts from her talk. https://youtu.be/WEN1mvBlM4Y

Bill McKibben at the Rise for Climate march in SF, 9-8-18. I ask him about youth activism in the environmental movement.  https://youtu.be/SSmjQynlN5w

30,000 people march to prevent climate change in San francisco, part of 900 global marches the same day. SF march organized by 350 Bay Area, 9-18-18. https://youtu.be/1TVhWvNzgsk

plaintiffs in the suit against the US gov. re: climate change Plaintiffs Tia Hatton, 21, and Kelsey Juliana, 22, discuss youth environmental activism, 9-18-18. https://youtu.be/WdhphmtE33k

Motherearthproject.org collects young people’s comments on climate change drawn on parachutes. They represent every continent but Antartica. Co-organizer Kallan Benson is 14, from Maryland. The interview occurred at the climate march in San Francisco on 9-8-18, one of over 900 marches in 80 countries. Over 30,000 participated in the march. https://youtu.be/U-TOxBLdxWg

Sunrise Movement Rally in Chico, April 27, 2019. Led by Varshini Prakash, national co-founder, and Steven Marquart, founder of the Chico hub. The rally’s goal was to mobilize activism for the Green New Deal. Also see interview with organizer Jeremy Ornstein, 18, also from the Boston area https://youtu.be/BqAHg4i7kmo Tactics: *Personal stories from two of the organizers, a local Mechoopda Native American, and a video of another activist and Camp Fire burn victims, *An animated video about a desired future narrated by Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, *Discussion with the people seated around about what you want to preserve from climate change and later local organizations to lobby to support the Green New Deal, *Action items from the local organizer Steven Marquardt such as request to attend City Council meetings to support the environment and national co-founder Varshini Prakash showed slides with websites to support the Green New Deal such as http://www.sunrisemovement.org/GND *Local candidate for Congress Audrey Denny pledging to support the Green New Deal Pledge for candidates, *Video documentation of the event to share with others, *Photo opportunities such as members of the local Sunrise hub on stage with Denny and photos of the large audience holding up manila folders printed with “We need the Green New Deal.” *Printed material in the folder: a pamphlet “Your Guide to Build a New Day for America,” and the magazine In These Times article about the Green New Deal. * Request to purchase “merch” such as T-Shirts, as well as tickets for admission *Followed by a live band with a dance floor and beer for sale. For a history of the movement see Inside the Sunrise Movement (it didn’t happen by accident) by Mark K. Matthews, Nick Bowlin and Benjamin Hulac, E&E News reporters Climatewire: December 3, 2018 https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060108439 https://youtu.be/tKoxJ8E7R0I

Chico Sunrise strike for climate at California State University, Chico, 12-6-19 A young woman speaks her anger at older generations and expects her generation to be the problem solvers. https://youtu.be/6mcP1mtB69I

Sunrise Movement Chico, Chico 350, and students organized the Chico strike, 9-20-19 part of a global movement of millions of protesters against climate change. Steven Marrquardt and Varshni https://youtu.be/IfrL0In8rUQ

Jeremy Ornstein deferred Harvard to be a Sunrise organizer for action to protect the environment. Interviewed at a Sunrise rally in Chico, CA. 4-27-19.

https://youtu.be/BqAHg4i7kmo

Steven Marquardt, 24, organized the youth climate change activist Sunrise Movement hub in Chico, California. He discusses organizing tactics and goals. (See my ebook Resist! Goals and Tactics for Changemakers for more on effective organizing.) https://youtu.be/T5K1aTeqEu8

CC Maher, high school student; Abraham Renteria, political science community college student; Jacob Defant, CSUC ag student, and Mary Kay Benson, activist discuss climate change activism tactics and the Sunrise Movement. https://youtu.be/EGSifZ4tVpk

Susan Suntree, the author of “Sacred Sites,” a poetic history of Los Angeles from the Big Bang to the present, discusses how to do effective grassroots organizing including have fun, serve food, create effective visuals, get community support including influential people, follow an agenda. For more on social change, see “Resist: Goals and Tactics for Changemakers,” an ebook by Gayle Kimball. https://youtu.be/XZ81kHp4-k8

Alexandra describes the Camp Fire in Butte Creek Canyon in Butte County. It’s the most deadly fire in California history. Luckily, her house made it but it will be a long time before she and her family can return. https://youtu.be/q7BGwcpRDOI

dense urban forests help with heat, planted by youth

WorldEarth Science

City of Trees

April 17, 2020

Rebecca Katzman

FANTASTIC FORESTS Shahzad Qureshi is the founder of Urban Forest, a group that plants trees in Pakistan.

COURTESY URBAN FOREST

Karachi, Pakistan, is one of the hottest cities on Earth. In June 2015, more than 1,000 people died there during a heat wave, when temperatures reached nearly 113°F. “It was a terrible time,” Shahzad Qureshi told TIME for Kids. “We needed to do something about it.”

Following that heat wave, Qureshi took action. He started Urban Forest, a group that plants native trees, without the use of pesticides, in cities in Pakistan.

Trees help cool the air by providing shade and releasing moisture through their leaves. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, they can help lower summer temperatures in cities by 2° to 9°F. The cooling ability of trees is crucial in cities, where concrete roads and buildings absorb large amounts of heat.

For its first project, Urban Forest planted about 1,300 trees in a park in Karachi. The group uses a method that helps the trees grow quickly. In just three years, the trees were 30 feet tall. Qureshi hopes that one day, this park will become a forest of 50,000 trees.

TREES, PLEASE Karachi Grammar School student Sophiya (left) gets help planting a tree.

SHAHZAD QURESHI

Keeping Things Cool

Since 2015, Qureshi and his team have cooled the air by planting 14 urban forests in Pakistan, 12 of which are in Karachi. The trees also provide a habitat for a variety of animals. In addition, they provide food for the community and a place where people can kick back and relax.

In 2017, Qureshi helped plant an urban forest at Karachi Grammar School. He met with students to teach them about how trees help the environment. Then the students pitched in, helping to plant saplings in the schoolyard.

“They were excited about the project,” Muneeza Shaikhali says. She’s a headmistress at Karachi Grammar School. “They themselves had been experiencing the high temperatures in the summer months. And our school is not all air-conditioned.”

The trees attract birds and colorful butterflies. Students go outside during science class to study the forest. “It’s like a library of native trees in front of the kids all the time,” Qureshi says. “They can identify the native species, https://www.timeforkids.com/g56/city-of-trees-2/ugs, and insects that are around. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”

 

 

Hong Kong Protests: women’s role, recent action

A look at women in Hong Kong’s anti-China extradition protests

The Stand News, July 7, 2020

https://medium.com/adinkra/a-look-at-women-in-hong-kongs-anti-china-extradition-protests-ae032b8f35c5

https://globalvoices.org/2020/07/02/hongkongers-braved-the-newly-enacted-national-security-law-with-a-leaderless-protest/print/

Hong Kong’s anti-China extradition protests are now a year old.

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/710/umbrellas-down interviews young protesters who lack hope but protest on the weekends.