On 29 November the UN voted overwhelmingly to recognise Palestine as the world's 194th state. It was a huge victory for the Palestinian people and for peace -- and our community played a crucial role in making it happen. Nearly 1.8 million of us signed the petition calling for statehood, many then donated to fund polls showing that 79% of people backed statehood in key European states. On the streets, a massive 4-storey flag was raised outside the EU Commission in Brussels. In the corridors of power, Avaaz staff and members made the case to government ministers and MPs and thousands sent messages via email, Facebook and Twitter.
In the final hours before the vote, the switchboards of foreign ministries and heads of state were deluged with calls from Avaaz members. The final UN count: 138 Yes, 41 Abstentions and just 9 Nos. Our voices were heard and history was made.
"Avaaz and its members across the world have played a crucial role in persuading governments to support the Palestinian people's bid for a state and for freedom and peace... their solidarity and support will be remembered and cherished across Palestine."
Fulfilling Malala's Dream
When 15-year old Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban, the world was outraged. In response, nearly 1 million of us called on the Pakistani government to fulfill her dream of education for all by supporting a national stipend programme to put all of Pakistan’s poor children in school. The UN Education Envoy Gordon Brown delivered our petition directly to Pakistani President Zardari, who signed it himself! On that very day, a month after Malala was shot, the Pakistani government officially launched a stipend programme for 3 million children.
"I believe that if we act together in speaking out, as Avaaz's members have done, we can begin to deliver on our promise of education for Malala.”
Freeing Trapped Migrant Workers
When a construction company lured Indian labourers to Bahrain under false pretenses and then refused to let them leave, the Avaaz community swung into action. The brother of a worker who had tragically killed himself started a campaign on our community petitions site to demand the company let the remaining 100 workers go. 20,000 of us joined the call and engaged the company's business partners to help lay on the pressure. In days, we did what the Indian government couldn't for 7 years: got the construction company to let the workers return home. We even got the company to commit to never imposing travel bans again.
"This wouldn't have happened without Avaaz."
Battling Hate in Uganda
In 2010 the Ugandan government considered a bill that would sentence gay Ugandans to death. Avaaz members worked with church leaders and human rights activists to deliver an unprecedented show of public opposition to this atrocious law, delivering a 450,000-strong petition to the Speaker of Uganda’s parliament. The delivery made global headlines, and the bill quietly disappeared.
But the Ugandan parliament attempted to bring the anti-gay bill to the floor once more in April 2011. Avaaz immediately shifted into action, and signatures grew from 450,000 to an astonishing 1.6 million in just a few days. On top of the petition, tens of thousands of us called our governments and, once again, made the story major international news. The intense global pressure pushed the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament to block the bill from coming to a vote in an emergency session, and it was wiped from the books. And when homophobic lawmakers brought the bill back again in 2012, we were ready, launching this ad to support yet another call from more than a million members of our community.
Breaking Syria's Blackout
Since the early days of the peaceful uprising in Syria, the Avaaz community has stood with the people of Syria in the face of a brutal assault from their own government. Thousands of us took action to help equip brave Syrians with satellite modems and camera phones to videotape the Assad regime's crackdowns on innocent civilians. Before international media was able to get into the country, Time Magazine credited Avaaz with “organiz[ing] a steady stream of video footage from inside Syria that has helped form the Western picture of the brutality unfolding on the ground.”
And when the situation turned dire, our community helped funnel millions of dollars in food, medicine and humanitarian relief to those so desperately in need. Today, we continue to pressure governments around the world to take the decisive steps needed to bring about a free and peaceful Syria.
Lives Saved in Libya
As the Arab Spring took off in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi threatened to exterminate the entire city of Benghazi. Avaaz members banded together to stop him. On the eve of the key UN Security Council vote, Avaaz sent one million messages calling for asset freezes and protective action. A massacre was prevented. The US ambassador to the UN, one of the last holdouts, publicly thanked us for our campaign.
"@Avaaz petitioners: Thank you. UN Security Council condemned violence in #Libya, called for protection of civilians"
No F1 in Brutal Bahrain
The repressive Bahrain leadership thought they could get away with a brutal crackdown on democracy protesters and still host the prestigious Formula 1 Grand Prix. But 500,000 Avaaz members said no, raising the alarm and calling on F1 to pull out and stand with the protesters being gunned down on the street.
A social media firestorm ensued with over 20,000 Facebook and Twitter messages pasted all over F1 team sites. We then reached out to legendary driver, Damon Hill, who agreed to stand with us.The Avaaz campaign was cited in thousands of articles worldwide (NYT, AFP, Reuters, ESPN) and our spokespeople were interviewed on CNN, BBC and many major networks. F1 tried to cover up the brutality in Bahrain by producing a sham report, but Avaaz was leaked the real report and released it to the media. The story kept raging until eventually the F1 teams pulled out of the Bahrain race, leaving F1 chiefs with no other choice but to cancel. Click here to watch Avaaz's campaign animation.
South Africa confronts ‘Corrective Rape’
There’s a sickening practise in South Africa: the rape of lesbian women to ‘turn them straight’. When a local group first launched a petition demanding that their government address 'corrective rape', they were ignored. But when their petition reached 170,000 signatures, our community -- along with other activist groups -- got involved. The government noticed, and now, with nearly a million of us signed on and massive media attention, the government has committed to take preventative action against these awful crimes.
Hilton Agrees to Stop Sex Slavery
For years Hilton Hotels turned a blind eye to the international rape trade. They didn’t think that they had a responsibility to fully protect the women and children in their hotels. More than 317,000 Avaaz members thought otherwise and warned Hilton’s CEO that unless he changed course, we’d run hard-hitting ads in his hometown.
Just four days later, Hilton agreed to train all of its 180,000 international employees how to spot and prevent sex slavery. Hilton listened and acted -- now they’re leading the hotel industry in this field.
Build Settlements, Destroy Peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu derailed US-led peace talks when he announced plans to build more housing settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Avaaz responded by channeling the world’s stance against settlement construction and for a just two-state solution. An Avaaz opinion poll and media actions helped bolster President Obama's position ahead of a crucial meeting between the two heads of state. Here's a video.
Torture, Guantanamo, and the USA
Inspired by global calls to end torture, Avaaz launched a billboard campaign in the Washington, D.C. subway system. Backed by thousands of donations from Avaaz members worldwide, the ads reminded policymakers that torture is illegal, unethical -- and a key part of the Al Qaeda network’s recruitment strategy. Our message, and its unorthodox delivery, found its way into newspapers like the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, and left the US capital buzzing about our call to close down Guantanamo.
Sparked by China’s violent crackdown on the March 2008 protests and riots in Tibet, Avaaz members built one of the largest global online petitions to date. More than 1.5 million members joined in the call for a meaningful dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama. The petition was delivered both privately to Chinese officials and publicly in a global Day of Action, coordinated together with Tibet advocacy groups worldwide.
Following the outcry, China restarted talks with the Dalai Lama -- reportedly in response to international pressure. Our community did not end the fight there, however, and continued to support Tibet. Avaazers raised $150,000 in our “Save the Olympics” campaign and fought anti-Tibetan propaganda ahead of the games.