Report on Activities at the UUA General Assembly, GA, 2009, Salt Lake City
It’s hard to know where to begin; there was so much going on at General Assembly this year. With the addition of UU University days to an already full schedule of plenary sessions, workshops, and the other meetings and this year’s UUA Presidential election, delegate schedules were stretched to the maximum limit. Thus it is saying a lot of our volunteers that we were able to accomplish as much as we did. Listed below is an overview of our activities:
Action of Immediate Witness, approved Sunday, June 28th
The action of immediate witness was passed on Sunday, June 28th supporting Bolivian UUs struggling for justice and human rights. There were several planning meetings, oversight and review by the Committee on Social Witness, petitions signed and registered, mini-assemblies for final amendment. Much, much appreciation goes to all of the men and women who helped with this initiative. The action calls for us all to write to the Bolivian Ambassador to the United States (Ambassador Gustavo Guzman Saldana, Bolivian Embassy, 3014 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20008; phone: (202) 232-4827 / 28; fax: (202) 232-8017; email: Embajada de Bolivia website urging the Bolivian government, pursuant to its Resolution, and the InterAmerican Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons Act and Law No. 2640 to structure a Truth Commission to investigate, clarify, and adjudicate all suspected human rights violations.
In the midst of this process at General Assembly, I received an email from Olga on June 25th with the photo (at right) from local papers showing that she had been arrested again. She and another member of the hunger strike, journalist Marta Montiel, were demonstrating in front of the District attorney's office. The current District attorney of the District of La Paz, is the very same person who was the paramilitary tormentor of the period of the dictatorship of García Meza, in which Olga’s brother Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal disappeared. Olga was detained and released later that day but not before being very badly treated. In Olga’s words, “I was thrown to the floor, I have a bruise on the back and tomorrow I'll go to the Forensic Institute so they can determine the damage.” This she says is a perfect demonstration of the violations that continue to go on against basic human rights of freedom of speech. I have tried to reach Olga since this occurred by email and phone, but have not made contact since this happened. I will keep trying and let you know what I learn. Here is her website: http://www.noalaimpunidad.mamametal.com/
Breakfast Meeting, Saturday, June 27th
We had over 30 women in attendance at our Saturday breakfast meeting to gather together with Global Sisters and others interested in participating in the next phase of discussions about our Convocation action plan which identified the priority areas of education, health care and preventing violence against women. Maria Sinkford was there and welcomed everyone. Rev. Liza Gallaher gave the invocation. Barbara Beach and Laura Nagel gave brief updates and then we broke into discussions on our three top priority areas. Many of the discussion leaders had been Global Sisters Facilitators. After discussions, each leader reported the results. We agreed on the need to work together and to form a Global Sisters’ Council and to work to further define what we mean by model initiatives in these areas. The next meeting, to which all are welcome, will be a conference call that is scheduled for October 14, 8:00 PM Eastern Time. Further information on the details are in the fall issue of the Convocation newsletter.
The Exhibit Booth, Wednesday-Sunday
Our booth was a beehive of activity. We had handbags for sale which had been handcrafted by the UU Women’s League of Kenya. The bags were a great delight and we sold 39 out of the 100 we had originally contracted for. The rest of the bags can be seen and purchased through the icuuw.com online store.
We also sold Convocation DVD sets (also for sale online). And we raffled off the beautiful “It’s All Holy Ground” quilt done by Rev. Laurie Bushbaum.
Report on the Convocation by UUWF at Plenary, Saturday, June 27th
At the Saturday morning plenary session the Women's Federation gave their annual report to all of the General Assembly delegates, which featured the Convocation and included slides and an overview of the event. Barbara Beach and I were invited on stage for the presentation.
Workshop, Sunday, June 28th
The UU Women’s Federation also sponsored our workshop on the Convocation presented by Barbara Beach, Rev. Carol Huston, Cathy Cordes, Executive Director of the Partner Church Council and me. At the workshop, participants broke into small groups and worked through the pair-wised ranking technique used in community capacity building. A full report of the workshop is available on the General Assembly website. http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/2009/ga2009/144291.shtml
Report to the UUA Board, Tuesday, June 23rd
Finally, we reported to the UUA Board on the Convocation the day before General Assembly began. The Board unanimously passed a resolution of appreciation for this work.
If you are not yet a member of the icuuw online community, I hope you will join so that you can stay tuned to these and other news and discussions. Membership costs only $10 and you can pay be credit card. Join at icuuw.com.
Laura Nagel, Administrator
International Convocation of U*U Women
Editor's Note: This is from GA's Action of Immediate Witness: "Bolivian Olga Flores Bedregal helped found a UU congregation in La Paz. Then with two colleagues, engaged in a month-long hunger strike to force the Bolivian Government to account for the 'disappeared', including Olga's brother. These women's brave campaign caused the passage of a government Resolution that called for military archives to be opened."