An independent social-environmental movement NESEHNUTÍ was founded in the fall 1997 in Brno with the goal of being actively involved in human rights, environment and animal rights related issues. The local group is currently leading several long-term campaigns in selected areas of focus. In addition to that we initiate various ad hoc or short term projects in reaction to current events or participate in such activities initiated by other organizations.
Human rights CAMPAIGNS
Arms or human rights?
The focus of our antimilitaristic activities is to bring attention to the questionable arms exports from the Czech Republic. “We monitor weapon exports from the Czech Republic carefully and almost every month we notice very questionable exports i.e. to countries with civil wars underway where governments practice state terror against its citizens etc.,” says the campaign coordinator Milan Štefanec. NESEHNUTÍ tries to initiate a public discussion of this issue and want to break through the information blockade of the Czech ministries concerning the weapon exports. The main goal is to encourage a ban on exports into countries where arms could be used to violate human rights. In 2003 were organized a number of protest rallies and awareness raising events – demonstrations in front of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, lectures at schools, activities against the arms fair IDET and other. The most significant was the rally in front of the building of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Prague. While approximately 15 activists, with banners, held a protest gathering at the entrance of the building, two other people repelled down above the entrance and hung a banner “Czech arms kill in Yemen, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Angola, Syria and Columbia.” NESEHNUTÍ has been very successful at bringing the issue to the attention of the mainstream media (TV, press and radio).
WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS
The campaign inspects the traditional division of the male and female role in society and related issues. Activists of NESEHNUTÍ are trying to shift the discussion of feminism, women’s rights and gender studies from the academic circles to everyday life. The core of the campaign in 2003 was a series of 6 seminars on women’s rights. The seminars were in big demand. They covered topics from feminist history to gender role and stereotypes discussion, violence against women, equal treatment from employers, ecofeminism and international women’s movements. In the spring were published two new publications – “Equal employment opportunities for men and women” and “Equal educational opportunities for girls and boys.” NESEHNUTÍ joined 10 other non-profit organizations from various regions in the Czech Republic in “Campaign against domestic violence against women”. The goal of the campaign was to increase awareness of domestic violence phenomenon and to strengthen the attitude of its unacceptability. Educational events for the public were held throughout the year.
FOOD NOT BOMBS
“Each year billions of dollars are spent on new and more effective arms while millions of people around the world go hungry. To raise awareness of the issue we regularly distribute free food to the needy. We also want to draw attention to the value of compassion and altruistic help”, says Dušan Rosenbaum about the Food not Bombs campaign. NESEHNUTÍ distribute a vegan meal in Brno downtown once a month attracting the attention of homeless and socially impaired people. Apart from the food distribution activists also organize many other events in cooperation with an association Nový prostor (New Space) in Brno with the goal of helping homeless people develop normal social contacts (movie projections, Christmas parties etc.).
In early spring NESEHNUTÍ organized its second demonstration against the war in Iraq in cooperation with other Brno-based organizations (the first one was held in February). NESEHNUTÍ was one of the co-organizers of the 5th festival of documentary films festival “One World”, which takes place in Brno in mid-April and whose main organizer is the Člověk v tísni (People in need) foundation. Two of the NESEHNUTÍ activists were selected as independent OBSE monitors of the October presidential elections in Azerbaijan. They were able to give an independent testimony of the manipulated elections. During the week on December 8 till 13 the first annual festival called “The Days of Caucasus” took place in Brno. The goal of the festival was to present the rich history and culture of the nations of the Caucasus region and its current problems to the public. As part of the festival four public discussions were held, as well as three tastings of traditional meals, screening of documentary films, photographic exhibition, concert of ethnic music and protest rally in front of the Russian Embassy in Brno. The purpose of the protest rally was to draw the attention of the Czech public to the scandalous case when of a group of about 60 Chechnya refugees was expatriated from the Czech Republic after their application for asylum was denied. Thanks to close relationship with the Chechnya refugees placed in the refugee camp in Zastávka u Brna NESEHNUTÍ started organizing regular Saturday morning activities for children. On these days a group of volunteers prepares a program of games, contests and interest groups for children of the foreigners applying for asylum in the Czech Republic.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION CAMPAIGNS
FOCUS ON HYPERMARKETS
„We believe it is very important to provide informational support to those who decide to resist further building of hyper and supermarkets in their municipalities“, says Filip Fuchs, one of the coordinators of the campaign. In Brno NESEHNUTÍ regularly attends planning committee meetings for new building projects. Elsewhere, activists provide legal advice. In the spring of 2003 a Japanese Sasakawa Peace Foundation evaluated the project “Public discussion of hypermarkets” as the best environmental project in the Czech Republic. An exhibition created by NESEHNUTI toured the Czech and Slovak Republics the whole year bringing to the public information about the negative impact of hyper and supermarkets. Recently we have noticed an increased media demand for the campaign outputs, information and commentaries on various controversial cases.
CROSSING THE ROAD SAFELY
In 2003 we have continued our activities aimed at stopping the process of abolishing of crosswalks in Brno and their re-introduction in places where pedestrians frequently cross roads. Foundation Nadace Partnerství awarded this campaign as the project of the month. The first event of the campaign was a January seminar which brought together traffic experts from both governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations to enable a discussion of means to ensure pedestrian safety. In September, during a week of awareness raising of the negative aspects of automobile use NESEHNUTÍ submitted a petition requesting that the abolishing of crosswalks is reconsidered. Drawing attention to this problem was a goal of a protest cyclo-ride organized by NESEHNUTÍ and other Brno organizations on the “Car-free Day”.
SAFE THE WILSON FOREST
At the end of 2002 NESEHNUTÍ joined the dispute about a potential reconstruction and enlargement of a ski slope in the Wilson forest. This would mean logging 560 trees. In the spring NESEHNUTÍ initiated the formation of an informal “Coalition to Safe the Wilson Forest” where together with other organizations tried to have the plans squelched for good. On March 22 a celebration of the first day of the spring was held there. During the celebration paper trees were symbolically planted in the area of the current neglected ski slope. Contests for children and a guided nature walk were held. New live trees were planted right by the ski slope. At the end of 2003 it was almost certain that the plans for reconstruction of the slope had been abandoned and alternative locations were being discussed.
NESEHNUTÍ have continued to coordinate the project “Brno Traffic Circle” which brings together traffic experts and environmental organizations and participates in various traffic issues in Brno. In 2003 a local Brno group organized a total of 7 theme nights together with NESEHNUTÍ during which interesting environmental and human rights related films were screened, followed by a discussion. In 2003 NESEHNUTÍ Brno ran a theme public library and continue to publish a newsletter ALARM every 2-3 months with a print run in edition of 250-300 pieces.
The functioning of the local group Boskovice in 2003 was affected by a departure of several activists from the group. On the positive note they have managed to find a space for our meetings – Klubík centre on the Plačkova street every third Sunday in a month (11:00 a.m.).
On March 8 the Boskovice chapter of NESEHNUTÍ prepared posters “How to Enjoy Your Woman”. The posters contained eight entertaining suggestions for women and men on how to free themselves from preconceptions of traditional roles of men and women in society. Activists published an article on the history and the meaning of the International Women’s Day and on the status of respecting women’s rights around the world in the local newspaper. A party directed by women and with the most women performers too took place in the local music club Sklepy.
In November the first annual festival One World took place in Boskovice. The screenings lasted for 3 days and had a sub-title “Woman-World-Family”. NESEHNUTÍ Boskovice contributed by organizing an exhibition of photographs called ”Pictures of War” and facilitating a forum with Milan Štefanec from NESEHNUTÍ Brno about the situation in Chechnya.
Together with a local streetworker and Klubík centre was organized a hike over Boskovice tourist trails in April during which people picked garbage along the trails.
Car-free Day took place as part of the Healthy City of Boskovice project. Activists from NESEHNUTÍ took part in a cycling tour on local bike rails organized by the Czech Tourist Club.
NESEHNUTÍ Boskovice supported a campaign of Lungta society to save Tibet’s holy mountain Kailás. They managed to obtain nearly sixty signatures on petition postcards that appeal to UNESCO representatives to proclaim the mountain one of the world’s natural legacies and prevent a construction of a highway that the Chinese government plans to build in order to raise its profit from the tourism.
Why animal rights?
During the year activists held 2 lectures on animal rights and vegetarianism. The first one took place in the Klubík centre under the title “Animal Graveyard and Why Animal Rights?” in April. The second one was based on an invitation from a Special School and Children’s Home Boskovice for children at the primary school in December. The lectures were accompanied by a screening of a documentary film made by Association for Protection of Farm Animals from Prostějov. Vegetarian snacks were served during the program.
For the third time in a row NESEHNUTÍ along with friends from Yoga Association Blansko and with a financial support from the Healthy City of Boskovice project, participated in the October celebrations of vegetarianism. On October 1 (International Day of Vegetarianism) activists set up an info stall on the Boskovice square offering meatless spreads and informational leaflets. In three restaurants were arranged offers of vegetarian specials menu for discount prices. Days of Vegetarianism were completed on October 9 by a “Goulash potluck” with a sub-title “How vegetarians live” containing forum with vegetarian-guests and offer of vegan goulash..
In 2002 NESEHNUTÍ organised a number of info stalls with a materials about human rights, environment and animal rights. Along with the information vegan spreads were offered. NESEHNUTÍ operated the info stalls during a Day of Earth in Blansko, a cultural festival “Boskovice 2003” in July and at a festival “3+1” in Letovice at the end of summer. There they also presented an anti-war photo-exhibition and won a price for the second best non-profit organisation at the festival. One of the fundraising activities of the local group is a sale of vegan baguettes in a local music club Sklepy.
A Day for Tibet
On March 10 a traditional Day for Tibet took place in Příbram. Activists played music on the street, offered tibetian tea and created big “mandala” for Tibet.
One World Echo
NESEHNUTÍ and a local high school organized a festival of documentary films “One World” at the cinema-cafe from March 10 to March 15. Film screenings were accompanied by discussions and a concerts of art schools in Příbram.
Days for Africa
Some of the NESEHNUTÍ activists together with a tea-house “Club on Earth” helped organize a seminary “Days for Africa” in the autumn. Experts on African culture, languages and ethnicity gave presentations. There were also discussions, drumming workshop and an ethno-concert in Junior Club Příbram.
Throughout the whole year activists of NESEHNUTÍ Příbram organized several cleanings of illegal dumps. By one of them activists started cooperation with the municipal office in Chrást and has turned the clean up projects into regular events since then. These involved surrounding fields, meadows, forests and edges of roads that get poluted by insufficiently secured waste collecting trucks. The municipal office addressed this problem by imposing stricter regulations on the company operating waste collection. In March activists participated in burning of wooden sticks in cooperation with Forestry Příbram. In April they took part in tree planting project around the town in cooperation with the Waldorf School again.
In mid May members of NESEHNUTÍ as well as its supporters and pupils of the Waldorf School participated in a bike ride through Příbram and its surroundings.
Day of Music
Last year’s Day of Music in Příbram held on June 20 had a subtitle “Day of Music and Environment”. In the morning the Waldorf School participated in a clean up of an illegal dump at Svatá Hora. In the afternoon several local bands performed at various popular locations around town.
The Trutnov chapter of NESEHNUTÍ was founded in August 2003.
Day of Earth
Even prior to the official establishment of the local NESEHNUTI chapter Trutnov activists had participated in the so called “Igelitiáda” together with the Czechoslovak Husit Church. “Igelitiáda” is a well established tradition of a spring cleaning of the river Úpa. Last year a total of 150 people participated in Trutnov and Úpice.
Another of the projects activists participated in was a music and theatre festival for the vicarage and the church in Horní Maršov „Slunovrat 2003“. Proceeds from the festival was contributed towards a project of the Center for Environmental Education and Ethics “Sever” and the House for Restoration of Customs, Environment and Culture “Dotek”. At the festival of music and theatre “Pecka 2003” that took place near Nová Paka NESEHNUTÍ introduced its activities at an info stall.
NESEHNUTÍ Trutnov celebrated the Car-free Day by organizing a bike ride through the town during which were distributed leaflets and stickers informing about the negative aspects of automobile use.
Maršo performs in Zlín
The Zlín chapter of NESEHNUTÍ opened the year 2003 with organizing a concert of a Chechnya childrens‘ dance group “Maršo”. With a support from the director of the Big Cinema and a few other local interest groups activists prepared an interesting program not only for the visitors of the concert but also for the performers. Children had the opportunity to visit the Zlín film studios and screening of several films. They also met with the Chief of the Zlín county. Over 800 people came to see Maršo performation. They also had an opportunity to visit an exhibition of photographs of Iva Zímová and an exhibition of Chechnya children´s art. NESEHNUTÍ collected nearly CZK 15 000 on donations which were sent to support the citizens of Grozny, the Chechnya capital struggling with war.
Food not Bombs
At the beginning of March NESEHNUTÍ Zlín launched its the first Food not Bombs action. They prepared 50 doses of meal from donations from local small businesses. Along with the food were distributed leaflets informing about this project. Gradually the distribution of food became a regular event and now activists distribute food at the local bus station every first Friday in a month. They use this opportunity to recruit new distributors of the “The New Space” magazine which had until then been unavailable in Zlín too.
Day for Tibet
“Four Days for Tibet” in Uherské Hradiště commemorated the anniversary of the occupation of Tibet. NESEHNUTÍ organized an exhibition of photographs and offered information leaflets in the student´s club at the local high school. There was also screening of movies of the People in need foundation and music performances. The Zlín Magistrate joined the Flag for Tibet campaign and put up the tibetian flag at the City Hall.
Against the War
Zlín participated in the international protests against the war in Iraq. NESEHNUTÍ organized a “Day for the Victims of War in Chechnya”. Journalist Petra Procházková and an activist Jana Hradílková came from the Prague association Berkat to give lectures and there was a screening of a film „Chechnya lullaby“.
Day of Earth
With a support of the environmental department of the Zlín Magistrate Eco-market was organized as part of the Day of Earth celebration on April 18. A number of eco-product´s producers and merchants participated. There were demonstrations of handicrafts and presentations of Children of the Earth and NESEHNUTÍ too. One of the focuses was promotion of waste recycling. For children were prepared number of various games.
During April and May activists of NESEHNUTÍ Zlín organized several walks around the city and cleaned several waterholes and a drinking water tank in Slušovice and Nové Dvory.
Together with the Children of Earth Zlín NESEHNUTÍ organized a day of contests for children on September 16 with the goal of promoting ecological means of transport. This was followed by a bike ride through the city during which were distributed leaflets with an appeal “Leave the car at home”. Activists presented the City Hall with a bike rack in order to remind of the lack of those in the streets of the city. However, to date not even the one they donated has been installed in front of the building.
Together with the Association for Protection of Farm Animals (OHZ) from Prostějov the local group set up an info stall offering information about fur farms and treatment of laboratory animals. There was also an exhibition of photographs from Czech fur farms at the info stall. Visitors were offered the opportunity to sign a petition requesting a ban on fur farms in the Czech Republic and to sample vegan spreads and beauty products not tested on animals.
Day for Laboratory Animals
Day for Laboratory Animals was organized by NESEHNUTÍ and OHZ. They set up an info stall at the square displaying photographic documentation of suffering inflicted upon animals in laboratories. There was a petition against animal testing available at the stall for visitors to sign.
On May 24 a ska-reggae festival took place in Holešov with a purpose of fundraising for NESEHNUTÍ Zlín. The concert was organized in cooperation with Friends of Art Society (SPU99) from Holešov. As part of the event a film from the archive of People in need foundation called “Life and Debt” was screened.