I’m dreaming of a green Christmas
My fashion faux pas
Every year, I agonise as December looms and this year is no different. I have spent the past few weeks frantically compiling the annual report of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and writing speeches and articles. On a brighter note, I received an honorary doctorate of law and was asked at the last minute to present the award for British designer of the year to Phoebe Philo - a request I couldn't refuse, since I am such a fan of her clothes.
I didn't realise that the beautiful, green kaftan I wore (which was sent to me an hour before the show by the wonderful but very definitely not British Roberto Cavalli) was a breach of the unwritten patriotic rules of the British Fashion Awards. Oops. Mea culpa. Samantha Cameron was there, looking beautiful and very elegant.
Tweeting for justice
This year, I joined the tweeting ranks. After a minor altercation with an imposter, who finally agreed to relinquish my name, I began tweeting from @BiancaJagger.
The internet now means that every day in the course of my work I can communicate with hundreds of individuals and organisations - large and small, local and far-flung.
The web has democratised information, and social networking and Skype and similar services have liberated communication. These programmes are the tools for the next global peaceful revolution: a revolution based on electronic civil disobedience.
I have used social networking to raise awareness on a wide variety of issues, including denouncing three unfair death sentences - those of the Iranian mother of two Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the British grandmother Linda Carty, who is on death row in the US, and the African-American Reggie Clemons, who faced a "stacked" jury at his trial in the 1990s.
Hope for India
One of my successful campaigns, for which I joined forces with Amnesty International and Action Aid, was to mobilise public opinion against Vedanta plc, whose proposed bauxite mine in Orissa, India, was threatening the survival of an ancient tribe, the Kondh.
Happily, the project was halted by the Indian minister of environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh, who has been hailed by the LA Times as an "eco-crusader".
Having grown up under a dictatorship in Nicaragua, I am very sensitive to any sign of totalitarianism. I am concerned to see the erosion of civil liberties, the restraints on freedom of speech and the violation of due process in the "enlightened world". I am appalled by the double standards in the world today.
We have reached a point in our history where lies and deceptions are protected and free speech and leaking the truth are criminalised. George Bush and Tony Blair have not been held accountable for their violations of international law and war crimes. Yet they walk free while Julian Assange is in custody.
The age of cyber warfare dawns
It has been revealing to watch the Assange case unfolding through the window of Twitter.
I was disturbed to read that students at Columbia and Boston Universities were told that their job prospects would be harmed if they accessed the WikiLeaks cables. After I and countless other tweeters brought attention to it, Columbia University retracted the statements.
Assange has not been found guilty and yet we are witnessing an incredible display of arbitrary decisions by governments and corporations. The firstcompany to dissociate from Assange (allegedly following pressure from the US Senator Joe Lieberman) was Amazon.com, which terminated WikiLeaks's hosting service. Next came Paypal and Mastercard, which stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks. The revenge on these companies has allegedly come in the form of a group of activist hackers called Anonymous, who have attacked the companies' websites, effectively taking them offline. We are witnessing cyber anarchy.
Once again, in the name of national security, the US's reaction to a perceived threat has not made our world safer but far more insecure, creating a new threat that will hang over the 21st century - virtual war.
The internet's Robin Hood
Although I do not agree with everything WikiLeaks has done, I believe that the principles of freedom of speech and government transparency need to be upheld at all costs. At the very least, the WikiLeaks releases have confirmed what human rights groups have suspected and denounced for years, with regards to war crimes and gross human rights violation during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I admire those who are willing to risk everything to expose the truth and the wrongdoing of those in power. Assange has succeeded in holding the global powers to account. He is the Robin Hood of the internet age.
Cold reality of climate change
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the climate change talks in Cancun this December. Although leaders from 190 nations reached a deal, which David Cameron described as a "significant step", once again they failed to commit to a comprehensive, just, legally binding treaty.
At the same time, Nasa's Goddard Institute of Space Studies has revealed that 2010 is the hottest year on record. There is a significant gap between what science says is necessary to limit temperature increase to 1.5-2°C, and what governments have pledged to achieve at Cancún.
So, as you battle your way through the snows and turn up the heating this winter, do make sure to remember that although it may be cold now in Britain, "global warming" is a reality.
Wishing you a festive season, a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and green 2011, which I hope will see lasting and positive improvements on climate change, social justice and human rights. l
Bianca Jagger is the founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Her Twitter feed is @BiancaJagger
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