Why I’m Not Thrilled The TPP Has Been Trumped

New US President Trump signed an executive order demanding the US formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Anti-TPPA campaigner Edward Miller tells us why his dreams haven’t quite come true…

On January 23, 2017, US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the TPP.

That kills the agreement, which requires countries making up 85% of the total economic area (in effect the US and Japan) to ratify the agreement before it comes into force. As a trade union organizer working across the Asia-Pacific region, who has been very actively involved in the campaign to stop the TPP (to which I credit a small yet alarming exposed patch on the top of my head), I should be thrilled, right?

While I’m grateful to have a bit of time for my comrades and I to regroup and think about how we meaningfully oppose these deals, I’m concerned that what will follow will be even worse.

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I will build homes from the stones thrown at me.

I recently wrote an article about the 2015 Baku Euro Games based on an interview with environmental justice campaigner Emma Hughes. The Games were part of an advertising pitch to gain social approval within Azerbaijan’s future European gas and oil markets, shoring up legitimacy for the unholy marriage of BP and the Azeri ruling elite. Hughes’ recent book All That Glitters: Sport, BP and Repression in Azerbaijan focused on Azerbaijan’s human rights record, in particular its low level of media freedom and the high number of political prisoners. On 1 September 2015 one of those prisoners, investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison on politically-motivated charges of tax evasion, illegal business activity, and abuse of power. Continue reading

Chasing The European Dream: Azerbaijan, Athletics And The Trans-Caspian Mega Pipeline

ImportantCool associate Edward Miller talks to environmental justice campaigner Emma Hughes about how BP and Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev dynasty have used events like the Euro Games to divert attention from human rights abuses and pipeline politics.

While European attention has been focused squarely on the unfolding financial skirmish between Greece and the troika, the inaugural Euro Games in Baku, Azerbaijan have come and gone with little global recognition. For sports watchers the games will probably fade into obscurity; many professional athletes didn’t bother to attend (some had to attend because it is an Olympic qualifier event) and few records were set. In fact you’d be forgiven for completely missing the supposedly historic event, while much of its news coverage breathlessly crossed into allegations of media censorship and other human rights abuses in the oil-rich state. One article in The Telegraph sardonically begins “Are you looking forward to the European Games in Baku? No?”

In the days leading up to the games their already-shaky legitimacy took some major blows. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would not be attending, and the 2019 games were left homeless after proposed hosts the Netherlands decided it was too expensive. To make matters worse, in a poorly calculated move, overzealous Azerbaijani security forces detained journalists and human rights organizations at the Baku airport for a number of hours, before denying them entry.

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