Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for August, 2012

Save Rimsha

Dear friends,

Last week an enraged crowd threatened to burn my daughter alive, and in 24 hours a judge will decide whether she goes free or stays in jail. Rimsha is a minor with mental disabilities and often isn’t in control of her actions. Yet local police here in Pakistan have charged her with desecrating the Koran, and we are afraid for her life.

Right now she is being held in a maximum-security jail, and in hours, she will face the court under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which can carry the death sentence. We are a poor Christian family witnessing mob fury over my daughter’s case, and many other families have faced similar intimidation forcing them to either flee or live in fear. But the international attention on Rimsha’s case has emboldened Pakistani Muslim leaders to speak out against this injustice and forced President Zardari’s attention.

Please help me keep up the global outcry on my daughter’s case. I urge you to sign my petition to President Zardari to save Rimsha and demand protection for us and other vulnerable minority families. Avaaz will share this campaign with local and international media, watched carefully by all the politicians here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/pakistan_save_my_daughter/?bMPbqab&v=17480

An angry mob demanded the arrest of my daughter after a local imam started inciting people against her, claiming she had desecrated the Koran. Some then threatened to kill her and burn down the houses of Christians in our community. I pray that at her hearing on Saturday, the case against her is dismissed and she can come back to live with us.

Our family is in grave danger, as even talking about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan can be deadly — last year the Pakistani Minister for Minority Affairs was killed after asking for the removal of the death penalty for committing blasphemy. It’s such a sensitive situation that many of our Christian neighbours from our Islamabad slum have had to flee their homes.

We respect the religious rights of others. We simply hope for the safety of our daughter and our community and wish this had never happened. We are happy that the Ulema Council, an umbrella group of Muslim clerics and scholars here in Pakistan, spoke out, saying: “We don’t want to see injustice done with anyone. We will work to end this climate of fear.” With your help, we can not only free Rimsha but make this incident the beginning of a greater understanding between communities in Pakistan. I ask you to sign this petition, and share it with your friends.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/pakistan_save_my_daughter/?bMPbqab&v=17480

With hope and determination,

Misrek Masih with the Avaaz team

Killing Frenzy In Gambia

Dear Gabriel,

The Gambian President has decided to execute all death row inmates in just a matter of days, despite the serious concerns over whether the inmates received fair trials at all. There’s no time for appeals or questions.

And to prove President Yahya Jammeh means every word — the executions have already begun. This past weekend, nine individuals were dragged from their cells without warning or good-byes and executed. Just like that.

The prisoners were lined up and shot by firing squad. Now 38 others are at extreme risk of meeting the same end.

Don’t let Gambia kill one more prisoner – stop the execution spree!

President Yahya Jammeh has set mid-September 2012 — that’s no more than 3 weeks from now — as a deadline for carrying out this sickening plan. But he’s already proven that he’s not willing to wait long.

The only thing close to an explanation the President has given was during the televised speech in which he announced these plans, claiming that he wants “to rid the country of all criminals”.

This is no way for a justice system, or a President for that matter, to operate. The death penalty in Gambia is often used to punish political dissent, disguised as “treason”. President Jammeh has a history of making these kinds of cruel and outrageous remarks. He’s recently threatened to behead all homosexuals and has urged Gambians to stop buying newspapers so that journalists would starve to death.

The insanity stops here — no more executions in Gambia!

What’s more shocking — the executions Gambia carried out last week were the first in 27 years — effectively ending an unofficial moratorium! Gambia is now the first West African country to execute prisoners in recent history.

These executions are a major blow to the global movement to abolish the death penalty. They violate international and regional human rights standards to which Gambia is a party. We can’t let Gambia take a giant leap backwards for human rights — stop the executions now!

In Solidarity,

Emily Helms
Country Specialist, Gambia
Amnesty International USA

Pussy Riot Is Free

Dear Gabriel,

Facing 2 years in jail for singing a song criticizing President Putin in a church, a member of Pussy Riot gestured to the court and said in her show-trial’s closing statements, “Despite the fact that we are physically here, we are freer than everyone sitting across from us … We can say anything we want…”

Russia is steadily slipping into the grip of a new autocracy — clamping down on public protest, allegedly rigging elections, intimidating media, banning gay rights parades for 100 years, and even beating critics like chess master Garry Kasparov. But many Russian citizens remain defiant, and Pussy Riot’s eloquent bravery has galvanized the world’s solidarity. Now, our best chance to prove to Putin there is a price to pay for this repression lies with Europe.

The European Parliament is calling for an assets freeze and travel ban on Putin’s powerful inner circle who are accused of multiple crimes. Our community is spread across every corner of the world — if we can push the Europeans to act, it will not only hit Putin’s circle hard, as many bank and have homes in Europe, but also counter his anti-Western propaganda, showing him that the whole world is willing to stand up for a free Russia. Click below to support the sanctions and tell everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_pussy_riot_free_russia_a/?bMPbqab&v=17285

Last week’s trial is about far more than three women and their 40-second ‘punk prayer’. When tens of thousands flooded the streets to protest rigged elections, the government threw organisers into jail for weeks. And in June Parliament effectively outlawed dissent by raising the fine for unsanctioned protest an astounding 150-fold, roughly the average Russian’s salary for a whole year.

Pussy Riot may be the most famous Russian activists right now, but their sentence is not the grossest injustice of Putin’s war on dissent. In 2009, anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a massive tax fraud at the heart of Russia’s power dealers, died in jail — without a trial, on shaky charges, and with medical attention repeatedly denied. 60 of Russia’s elite have been under scrutiny for the case and its cover-up, and the sanctions the European Parliament is proposing are on this inner circle.

International attention to Russia’s crackdown is cresting right now, and the ‘Magnitsky sanctions’ are the best way to put the heat on Putin and help create breathing room for the suffocating democracy movement. Let’s give Europe’s leaders a global public mandate to adopt the sanctions. Sign the petition now and share this with everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/free_pussy_riot_free_russia_a/?bMPbqab&v=17285

What happens in Russia matters to us all. Russia has blocked international coordination on Syria and other urgent global issues, and a Russian autocracy threatens the world we all want, wherever we are. The Russian people face a serious challenge, but we know that people-powered movements are the best cure for corruption and iron-fisted governments — and that international solidarity can help keep the flame of these movements alive. Let’s join together now to show Putin that the world will hold him to account and push for change until Russia is set free.

With hope,

Luis, David, Alice, Ricken, Lisa, Vilde, and the Avaaz team

Drought Compounded by Law

Dear Gabriel,

We’re in the middle of the worst drought in more than 50 years. American farmers are ringing warning bells: their crops are dying by the acre.

The US is the world’s largest exporter of corn, wheat and soybeans – so when our crops suffer, the world pays higher food prices and families go hungry.

What’s making matters even worse? The EPA’s mandate for corn ethanol – a rule that requires a large portion of US corn crops to be used to make ethanol. Instead of being eaten by hungry families, those crops are burning up in our gas tanks.

Higher food prices could cause severe food crises, like the current one in the Sahel, to spread to other regions of the world. We can’t wait any longer to take action! Join us in calling on the Obama Administration to waive this mandate.

We need your voice: Tell the Obama Administration to waive the mandate for corn ethanol NOW.

With a shrunken harvest this year in the United States, global food prices could skyrocket. As food prices continue to rise, people in poverty around the world – many of whom already spend a majority of their income on food – won’t be able to buy enough food to eat. Climate shocks are destroying crops simultaneously in multiple parts of the world, creating a perfect storm for hunger.

Last year, 40 percent of the corn produced in the US was made into ethanol because of this mandate. We’re burning up millions of bushels of corn for fuel – and what’s left over to meet demand is so expensive that millions of poor families can no longer afford to feed themselves. That’s just plain wrong.

By waiving the mandate for corn ethanol to allow more of this year’s harvest to be used as food, we can take some of the pressure off the global food market and stop food prices from rising out of control. Will you ask the Obama Administration to stop a global food crisis?

Send a message to The White House: Tell President Obama to waive the mandate for corn ethanol now so the world can afford to eat.

Thank you for standing with Oxfam’s GROW campaign. Together, we’re helping to fix our broken food system to ensure that everyone on the planet has enough to eat, always.

Sincerely,

Vicky Rateau, GROW Campaign
Oxfam America

Grief & Healing On Radio

From Open to Hope Radio Show
24 May 2012
Interview with Gabriel Constans

Grief’s Wake Up Call

Some people may find this interview helpful. It is from Open to Hope Radio, which discusses grief, loss, grief, healing and transformation. Listen to the interview HERE. Here is a description of the show.

Gabriel Constans’ latest book is “Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call!”, which includes his personal losses and interviews with individuals around the country who have used the death of a loved one as a catalyst to help others. Dr. Constans worked as a social worker, chaplain and grief counselor with Hospice and the Center for Grief and Loss for over 35 years and with survivors of genocide in Rwanda.

Find other interviews of interest at Open to Hope Radio.

Eyes On Syria

Gabriel,

Amnesty International just completed a mission in Syria, where we met with residents caught in the bitter battle for control of Aleppo – the country’s economic capital and largest city.

Amnesty Crisis Adviser Donatella Rovera shot alarming video footage of families who are living amidst the bombings, executions and other atrocities being committed by government forces and militias working alongside the Syrian military.

We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media.

Government forces are attacking densely populated urban areas where the opposition is believed to be based, conducting air and artillery strikes that have injured and killed many civilians. One man told Donatella that he returned from work to find his home flattened:

“When I went to work, I never thought that it was the last time I would see my family. I lost all that was dearest to me – my children, my wife, my brother, my cousins – everybody.”

The civilian deaths Donatella witnessed are clear violations of international humanitarian law.

Amnesty International goes fearlessly into conflict areas to document abuses and report them to the international community. Help Amnesty International shout “Wake Up, World!” with breaking reports, images and video.

The findings of Donatella’s latest mission build on satellite images Amnesty International released last week showing the extent of likely artillery bombardment near Aleppo. The images, obtained by commercial satellites from July 23-August 1, show more than 600 craters – many near residential areas.

Donatella’s footage captures the faces of the families who took shelter from those bombings.

I know you can sense the urgency with which I write this message. We must keep our eyes on Syria and continue to call on the international community to stop the killing once and for all.

Sincerely,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Watch clips from Amnesty’s investigations in Syria.

Tigers Time Running Out

Gabriel

Last week, over 40,000 online activists sent a message to KFC CEO David Novak asking him to end his company’s relationship with rainforest destruction.

With only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, time is running out to save their forest homes from destruction for fast food packaging.

KFC is definitely feeling the heat. KFC restaurants in Indonesia have already cut business ties with notorious rainforest destroyer, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). But there’s been nothing but a shameful silence from the company’s headquarters in Kentucky. That has to change.

It’s only going to happen if we keep up the pressure. And that’s exactly what we intend to do with your support.

Please make a donation of $5 so that we can continue to put pressure on KFC and save the Sumatran tiger from extinction.

With so few tigers left in the wild, and their habitat disappearing fast, it is important that we act now to protect them.

Greenpeace is funded by people, not corporations, and the success of this campaign depends on activists like you uniting to stand up to corporate greed.

With your support, we’ll fight back with our expert staff on the ground, international market pressure from customers, and worldwide media exposure — but we need to do it now. The Indonesian rainforest, where the only wild Sumatran tigers left on the planet live, is being destroyed every day at an alarming rate.

For the price of a loaf of bread, please donate $5 today to help save the Sumatran tigers by getting KFC to end its relationship with rainforest destruction.

For the forests,

Rolf Skar
Greenpeace Forest Campaign Director

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