Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.

Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues that the world faces. In 2017, the March for Science occurred on Earth Day (April 22, 2017) and was followed by the People’s Climate Mobilization (April 29, 2017).

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered troops of the British Indian Army to fire their rifles into a crowd of unarmed civilians in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab, killing at least 400, including 41 children, one only six weeks old. Over 1,000 were injured.

The Jallianwalla Bagh is a public garden of 6 7 acres (2.8 ha), walled on all sides, with only five narrow entrances. Dyer blocked the main exits, and the troops continue to fire into the fleeing civilians until their ammunition was almost exhausted. He later declared his purpose was not to dispel the rally, but to “punish the Indians”. He did not stay to count the dead, much less offer aid, and his curfew condemned many of the wounded to die overnight where they lay.

On Sunday, 13 April 1919, Dyer, convinced a major insurrection could take place, banned all meetings. This notice was not widely disseminated, and many villagers gathered in the Bagh to celebrate the important Sikh festival of Baisakhi, and peacefully protest the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. Dyer and his troops entered the garden, blocking the main entrance behind them, took up position on a raised bank, and with no warning opened fire on the crowd for about ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to flee, until the ammunition supply was almost exhausted. The following day Dyer stated in a report that “I hear that between 200 and 300 of the crowd were killed. My party fired 1,650 rounds”.

The Hunter Commission report published the following year by the Government of India criticised both Dyer and the Government of the Punjab for failing to compile a casualty count, and quoted a figure offered by the Sewa Samati (a Social Services Society) of 379 identified dead, and approximately 1,100 wounded, of which 192 were seriously injured.The casualty number estimated by the Indian National Congress was more than 1,500 injured, with approximately 1,000 dead.

Dyer was initially lauded for his actions in Britain and became a hero among many who were directly benefiting from the British Raj, such as members of the House of Lords. He was, however, widely criticised in the House of Commons, whose July 1920 committee of investigation censured him. Because he was a soldier acting on orders, he could not be tried for murder. The military chose not to bring him before a court martial, and he was only removed from his current appointment, turned down for a proposed promotion, and barred from further employment in India. Dyer retired from the army and he returned to England, where he died unrepentant in 1927.

Responses polarized both the British and Indian people. Eminent author Rudyard Kipling declared at the time that Dyer “did his duty as he saw it”. This incident shocked Rabindranath Tagore (the first Asian Nobel laureate) to such extent that he stated that “such mass murderers aren’t worthy of giving any title to anyone”.

The massacre caused a re-evaluation by the British Army of its military role against civilians to minimal force whenever possible, although later British actions during the Mau Mau insurgencies in Kenya have led historian Huw Bennett to note that the new policy was not always carried out. The army was retrained and developed less violent tactics for crowd control.

The level of casual brutality, and lack of accountability “stunned the entire nation”, resulting in a “wrenching loss of faith” of the general Indian public in the intentions of the UK. The ineffective inquiry, together with the initial accolades for Dyer, fuelled great widespread anger against the British among the Indian populace, leading to the Non-cooperation Movement of 1920–22. Some historians consider the episode a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India.

jw_1492064371

World Autism Awareness Day

aut

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day on 2 April every year, encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) throughout the world. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution “62/139. World Autism Awareness Day”, passed in council on 1 November 2007, and adopted on 18 December 2007. It was proposed by the United Nations representative from Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and supported by all member states.

This resolution was passed and adopted without a vote in the UN General Assembly, mainly as a supplement to previous UN initiatives to improve human rights.

World Autism Day is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organizations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and acceptance for those affected by this developmental disorder.