Friday, October 15, 2010

Avaaz : We're winning...

Email sent from - a global online community dedicated to making our world a better place for all:

Dear Avaaz community,

Make a Comment NOW! Avaaz is on fire, growing like never before and winning amazing victories across the world. From Canada to Brazil to Italy to South Africa, our community is not just speaking out, we're winning, time and time again. Click below to read more and join a global live-chat to celebrate and dream up what comes next:
Something serious is happening. Not only is our community growing by 100,000 people a week, taking more than 25,000,000 actions online, and causing a stir like never before. Not only is the level of enthusiasm and appetite we're seeing for Avaaz sky high.

We're also winning. Time and time again.

Often we're choosing impossible battles, with very little time to win. But the rush of sudden, overwhelming engagement of massive numbers of citizens is, issue after issue, making the difference between success and failure. From the Economist to Le Monde to Al Jazeera, the media is remarking upon our "spectacular successes" that are capable of ushering in "a political revolution". Here are some examples from just the last several weeks:
  • Canada (420,000 Avaaz members), we just took on an alliance of a media empire and a prime minister to subvert the independence of the country's media in their favour, and won. 
  • Brazil (730,000 members) we took a civil society movement online and drove an anti-corruption law through congress that is putting large numbers of corrupt politicians out of a job - widely hailed as a political revolution. 
  • Italy (240,000) we rallied opposition to the Prime Minister's bill to tie the hands of Italy's corruption investigators - commentators hailed the victory as the first time in Italian history online mobilization had shifted the parliamentary agenda.
  • Argentina (60,000) we surged to protect crucial glaciers from what looked like certain destruction by mining companies, and won. 
  • South Africa (70,000) we built a massive public outcry against sweeping new censorship powers over the press, forcing the government to alter its media regulation law.
  • Germany (480,000) thousands of last-minute phone calls from our members helped stop the government from drastically cutting its aid budget. 
See more details on these campaigns below this email, or click below to read more, see press clips, and leave a comment on our global live-chat tool:

These were just the victories - in the last several weeks Avaaz also responded within days to the tragedy in Pakistan by donating over $1.1 million and granting it to local organizations to provide nutritious biscuits and milk to 30,000 children for 2 months, and help provide safe drinking water to over 3000 families. In Europe, Avaaz members made history creating the first 1 million strong EU citizens initiative (a democratic mechanism in the new EU constitution) seeking to freeze all genetically modified crops pending further health and safety research.

All this in just weeks, and following other serious victories in 2010 on protecting the bans on whaling and ivory trading, establishing the world's largest ocean preserve and much more. It's all proof that, when citizens stick together and take smart, strategic actions, democracy works!

Gone are the days when we just voted at election time and then had to passively read the papers to see the results for the next few years. We're entering a new phase of national and global democracy, where citizens are constantly, powerfully engaged in setting the agenda and holding governments accountable. It's an exciting time, a promising time for all the problems we face.

It's also a responsibility. There's never been a community like ours -- we're almost 6 million citizens from every corner of the planet, able to mobilize at a moment's notice.  If we stick together, spread the word, and take more and more action, anything is possible. From corruption to the environment to poverty and more, what happens next, depends on all of us. 

With admiration for everyone's public service and hope for the future,

Ricken, Ben, Alice, Luis, Emma, Stephanie, Alex, Milena, Heather, Iain, Graziela, Paula, David, Ben, Pascal, Benjamin, Brianna, Veronique, Giulia, Parvinder, MariaPaz, Saravanan, Kien, Yura, Vladimir, Alma and the rest of our growing team :)

Scroll down for more detail on each of our recent campaign victories, as well as other updates. For a great recent feature article in the Economist magazine about Avaaz, click here: 

A victory in depth: Stopping "Crony-Media" in Canada

Canadian Avaaz members successfully protected their democracy this month by shutting down a bid to subsidize a new, biased news channel with close ties to the Prime Minister's office. 83,000 people signed a petition against special government handouts for Sun TV - a propagandistic TV channel set up by Prime Minister Harper's former spin doctor, Kory Teneycke. The project was conceived after a secret lunch between Harper, Teneycke, and the infamous Rupert Murdoch, who ruthlessly exploits his vast media empire to manipulate political leaders of several major countries. Murdoch has spawned the radical right tea party movement in the US after being spurned by Barack Obama, employs 5 of the leading US Republican presidential candidates, and no UK government has won an election without his support in 30 years. Canadians were determined to stop Murdoch's "crony-media" style of subversion of democracy from being brought to Canada.

After Avaaz mobilized against SunTV, the media empire threw every big corporate tactic at us - smear pieces in a dozen of their newspapers, threats of lawsuits if we didn't immediately suspend the campaign, and even links to a criminal sabotage of our petition campaign. Avaaz members didn't scare and fought back with 83,000 petition signatures, 21,000 personal letters to the government's media commission, and over $400,000 donated to take on any lawsuits, fight the media battle and pursue a criminal investigation into the sabotage. The donations also allowed Avaaz to hire Canada's top lawyers and experts to help challenge SunTV's application to the government.

The result was a victory on all counts! Kory Teneycke was forced to resign, admitting he had "debased the debate" and SunTV abandoned its attempt to get its launch funded by a government handout. Murray Dobbin, a well-known commentator, wrote, "It is a huge victory for every Canadian who took time to write, email, phone or otherwise protest this grotesque plan to move Canadian political culture to the far right. And a victory in particular for Avaaz the on-line social movement that flushed Teneycke and his bully tactics into the open."

Ficha Limpa: beating corruption in Brazil

A massive online campaign by the Avaaz community in Brazil won a stunning victory against corruption. The "clean record" law was a bold proposal that banned any politician convicted of crimes like corruption and money laundering from running for office. With nearly 25% of the Congress under investigation for corruption, most said it would never pass. But after Avaaz launched the largest online campaign in Brazilian history, helping to build a petition of over 2 million signatures, 500,000 online actions, and tens of thousands of phone calls, we won! The media has dubbed ficha limpa a "political revolution".

And so far, thanks to the Avaaz community and public awareness created by the campaign, the victory has been a lasting one: even as corrupt politicians push to repeal the law, we've tracked them every step of the way and foiled their plans.

Bavaglio: stopping the "gag law" in Italy

In an historic victory for people power in Italy, 340,000 Italians mobilised against the "Legge Bavaglio" or "gag law" -- which would have fatally curbed the power of the Italian legal system to fight crime and corruption, and would have imposed draconian penalties for editors and journalists who try to hold politicians accountable.

It was the first time in Italian history that public demonstrations were able to shift the parliamentary agenda. Prof. Stefano Rodotà, jurist and columnist of La Repubblica, said "A channel has been opened between politics and people, a distance that seemed to be unbridgeable for a moment has been bridged".

Argentina: protecting glaciers

For years mining companies have been destroying glaciers in Argentina, where they are relied on for 70% of the countries water. A bill was proposed that could protect them, but no one thought it would pass given the huge power of the mining companies. That was until Argentinean Avaaz members and our partners pushed so hard that they turned the tide.

Last week, the Argentinian Senate passed the bill to protect glaciers from the mining industry after Avaaz members flooded key senators with more than 8,000 messages prior to the vote and added their names to a petition supporting glacier protection, reaching more than 11,000 signatures in few days.

South Africa: preserving independent media

Over 30,000 South African Avaaz members signed a petition to protect the freedom of the press from widespread government interference. A proposed bill that would give appointed members of government control over media content across the country was amended and key offensive clauses removed in reaction to the groundswell of popular opposition. The movement to preserve the independence of the media in South Africa is ongoing and the Avaaz campaign is central to the struggle.

EU: 1 million oppose GMOs

Avaaz has built an unprecedented 1-million strong European petition to stop growing of genetically modified crops until solid research is conducted. The petition is the first EU citizens initiative -- which allows 1 million EU citizens to make official legal requests of the European Commission.

It was launched in response to the Commission's recent decision to allow genetically modified crops for the first time in 12 years. The decision was seen as a favour for the GM lobby, and a slight to most Europeans, 60% of whom believe solid research should be required before growing foods that could pose a threat to our health and environment.

Germany: securing crucial aid funds

In early October, observers warned that Germany planned to slash two thirds of its contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. But a well-timed wave of phone calls from German Avaaz members to their government helped turn the tide -- and Germany's government announced at the last moment that it would contribute its full promised amount, $600m over three years.

Pakistan: giving when and where it was needed most

As a humanitarian catastrophe of terrifying proportions unfolded in Pakistan with a fifth of the country under water, and millions of people homeless and desperately needing assistance, our community sprang into action.

Giving generously, Avaaz members donated over $1.1 million dollars in the crucial moments following the disaster -- funding much needed aid through efficient local organizations on the ground. Working through trusted international organizations (Oxfam, Plan, ActionAid) to identify the most effective local partners, we helped get essential food, shelter, and medicine to over 20,000 families.
Support the Avaaz community! We're entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way -- donate here. is a 5.5-million-person global campaign network
that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. ("Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 13 countries on 4 continents and operates in 14 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz's biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

To contact Avaaz, please do not reply to this email. Instead, write to us at or call us at +1-888-922-8229 (US).

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