Posts Tagged ‘US’
Agli – the The African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams is an incredible organisation working to promote grassroots peace, healing and reconciliation initiatives in one of the most pain-stricken parts of the world. I have been in touch with them regarding the use of mobile phones and other technologies to support citizen-driven early warning and response to violence around the upcoming elections in Burundi. I have met some of their inspiring activists in London, and others on-line. Today I received this report:
AGLI – Report from Kenya – March 14, 2010
I am not talking about the two million Americans currently in prison in the United States. I am talking about all three hundred million plus Americans. If someone cannot visit America, while the excuse is that the person may not be good for America, the real effect is that Americans are prisoners in their own country. The wall the US Government is building on America’s border with Mexico is part of this prison.
Dr. Alexia Nibona, doctor and director of the Friends Women’s Association’s Kamenge Clinic in Bujumbura, Burundi, was denied a visa by the US consular officer in Bujumbura. The consular officer wrote the following letter.
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Dear Mrs. Nibona,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the denial of your non-immigrant visa application. We appreciate the purpose of your planned travel to the U.S. on behalf of the Friends Women’s Association, however, this is not the only evidence considered in determining eligibility for a non-immigrant visa.
Your application was denied under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which states that applicants for nonimmigrant visas shall be presumed to be intending immigrants, unless they can establish to the satisfaction of the consular officer that they fulfill the various provisions of the nonimmigrant status which they seek. Such requirements for visitors include but are not limited to maintaining a permanent residence abroad. A refusal based on this section of law generally means that the visa applicant was unable to demonstrate strong enough family, social and economic ties to their country of residence that would compel them to depart the United States after a temporary visit. The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove that they overcome the immigrant presumption. Unfortunately, your application did not meet the qualification requirements for the particular type of visa for which you applied.
In many such cases, relatives and contacts in the United States or elsewhere wish to make guarantees that the persons applying for the visas will depart the U.S. and return to the residence abroad at the conclusion of their authorized stay. However, it is the applicant alone who must establish eligibility for a visa. Consular officers may not issue visas based solely on the assurances of third parties.
Please be assured that every possible consideration consistent with U.S. immigration law was given to the review of your visa application.
The Consular Section
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We had an extensive tour arranged for her between March 29 and May 2. This rejection was a tremendous disappointment to Alexia. As I wrote in my invitation letter, since 2001 AGLI has brought 21 African speakers on tours in the United States and all have returned as scheduled. Although Alexia presented documentation of employment for herself and her husband, title deeds to house, property, and car, marriage certificate, and bank statements, plus the intervention of a US Senator’s immigration officer, we still failed. Americans don’t realize that their country is becoming as isolated as it was when transport was by sailing ships. How can Americans know what is happening in other parts of the world, if the majority of the world is not allowed in because they are judged guilty until they can prove they are innocent in front of very partial judge?
In order not to disappoint those who worked so hard on arrangements for the tour, Alexandra Douglas, AGLI’s extended service volunteer at the Kamenge Clinic, will substitute for her. She will bring a short video presentation by Alexia so that she can have at least some presence in the US. Her tour will include Iowa, California, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, and DC. Please look at AGLI webpage, www.aglifpt.org for details of her presentations.
David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783 in US: 240/543-1172
Office in US:1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/647-1287
Dawn L Rubbert, Program Manager
St. Louis, MO, USA
You would think that in Obamistan an educated African woman invited for a speaking tour would be treated just like, say, a Belgian banker.. right?
Is there a name for that feeling you get on a day when you realize you are witnessing history? That the world is not the same as it was yesterday?
The USA has joined hands to end its dark days. Its people are victorious, and lucky, and we are grateful. I believe Obama will be a great president – intelligent, thoughtful, innovative and courageous. As a friend says, if he delivers %50 of what he promised, he will go down in history as one of the worlds great leaders. But in a way, it almost doesn’t matter what he does now. the fact that he was elected is such an inspiration that I’m sure we’ll see it’s consequences ripple through the globe.
First, there’s the issue of his skin colour. I know that should not be an issue, I know that it would be better if there was no point in mentioning it. But there is. He’s black. He’s the first black president of the USA. And he proves that the barriers that once existed should not be taken as given. Yes, there still are injustices, prejudices, and inequalities everywhere – and non-white people of America know that all too well. Yet these can be transcended, challenged and demolished. No, not can be. Need to be. Expect many a speech to begin with the words “if a black man can be the president of the USA…”, from political rally to supermarket checkout queue, from kindergarden to factory. If a black man can be the president of the US, there’s no reason I should take that ____.
Then there’s the issue of power, and who owns the government. Up until yesterday, US elections were decided by the candidates ability to bring in big money. Under that rule, the president’s first account was to the people who held the big money. Obama tells another story, of mobilizing masses, of an average donation of $80. This is not just a tactical issue. Its a matter of allegiance. A president who owes his presidency (in the literal, financial sense of “owe”) to grandmas across the country has the freedom to serve the interests of these grandmas. This sends a message to political systems across the world. It shifts the balance of power from the one who has millions to the millions who have one.
For quite some time, my response to Clay Shirky’s book was “so where is everybody“? Obama is saying “here they are, right here with me on this historic day“. If technology now gives us the power to self-orgenise, mobilise, and coordinate action, why are people still sitting back and allowing the world to run them over? Perhaps part of it was that they didn’t believe they had the power. Even if the $80 donation or masses of grandmas story is part fiction, it doesn’t matter. Because that’s the story that is going to define social dynamics from this day on. In Tel-Aviv, it’s already happening (Hebrew, ht Hananc).