Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘civilians’

Memorial Day “Holiday”

Memorial Day – “a legal holiday in the U.S. in memory of the dead servicemen of all wars.”

That’s how Webster’s defines Memorial Day, but is that what takes place? Has this day of remembrance become just another holiday; another three-day weekend; a day of forgetting?

Memorial Day can be a powerful reminder and opportunity for honoring and remembering our dead; for paying homage to those who died believing that their lives made a difference; that their lives were sacrificed for the benefit of others.

In many respects, those who have died for this experiment in democracy are still living. They’re living in the water we drink, the food we grow, the ballot we cast, the policies we protest, the pains, sorrows and struggles of everyday life.

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I respect the men and women who fought to end slavery in the Civil War and those, like my grandfather William, who fought in World War I, believing it would be “the war to end all wars”. I remember and give thanks to my father-in-law, who fought during World War II against the Nazis and lost his parents, grandparents, family and friends in the concentration camps. I thank my father, who went away for years to an unknown fate to stop the dictatorships of German and Japanese governments during the second world war. And I remember and honor all those who died in Lebanon, Panama, Viet Nam, on 9-11, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who returned from those conflicts and died from resulting disease, addiction or suicide.

Though Memorial Day honors those who have died during wartime, let us not forget the military women and men who have died outside of conflict; those who have died while training; while in transport; during missions of peace and rescue; and at home from illness, accident, governmental disregard or neglect.

Before we can ever proclaim, “Never again!” we must exclaim, “Never forget!” Never forget the soldiers and civilians who have perished. Let us honor they’re memory, by keeping them in our hearts and doing everything possible to prevent and end the wars that have caused such great sorrow and suffering. Take some time to bring out pictures, tell stories, make a toast, thank those still living and recommit our selves to the peaceful resolution of conflict.
Memorial Day reminds us that blood and tears are the same in any language. Every life is precious and every loss must be remembered, mourned and honored.

These thoughts and reflections are an excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

Also see: Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism and Protest.

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We Can Help Syrians

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EDMNA1As the bloodshed in Syria escalates, desperate refugees are trying to escape the violence.

In response, Amnesty is increasing our efforts to advocate on behalf of refugees seeking safety in neighboring countries.

Please make an urgent monthly donation to Amnesty so we can continue to advocate for families fleeing human rights violations in Syria and around the world.

More than 1.3 million Syrian refugees are trying to escape the ongoing bloodshed by fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

Many refugees attempting to cross into neighboring Turkey have been stopped, leaving people stranded inside Syria in terrible conditions. Credible reports have also emerged of refugees being forced to return to Syria.

In the face of this mounting crisis, Amnesty is pressuring the international community to provide badly needed financial assistance to support the efforts made by Syria’s neighboring countries.

We are also documenting the abuses experienced by civilians who remain in Syria. Our team of researchers on the ground found evidence that government forces bombed entire neighborhoods and targeted residential areas with long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Amnesty has a strong track record of using our on-the-ground findings to pressure governments and the United Nations Security Council to hold those responsible for the slaughter of civilians accountable.

But we can’t do it without your support. We accept no money from governments for our research or advocacy — as it would compromise our efforts. Will you make a monthly donation to strengthen our work to help end the crisis and take action for the people of Syria? It’s a convenient, effective way to stand up for human rights each and every day of the year. Donate now.

Sincerely,

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

Syrias’ Living Hell

Dear Gabriel,

W1303EDMNA1For millions of women, children and families in Syria, home has become hell.

Last week Amnesty investigators briefed me on the latest developments in that violence-wracked nation.

To say things are dire is an understatement.

Please make an urgent donation to Amnesty so we can continue to shine a light on human rights violations in Syria and around the world.

Our research team reports that:

Government forces have bombed entire neighborhoods, indiscriminately blowing up civilians. Recent attacks with long-range surface-to-surface missiles have targeted residential areas, killing entire families. Investigators in one case found only the severed arm of a child in the rubble — all that remained of one family.

In Aleppo, a seemingly endless procession of murdered men and boys — bound and shot in the head — is pulled from the river nearly every day.

While government forces continue to be overwhelmingly responsible for the death and suffering of civilians, armed opposition groups have escalated their abuses. Researchers in Damascus have identified a mass grave, filled with the bodies of children and others accused of helping the government. Local residents call it “the hole of death.”

More than 2 million Syrians have been displaced inside their own country. They face the threat of a second round of bombing in the new places where they have taken shelter.

Amnesty’s team is working on the ground, at enormous personal risk, to document and report these abuses. We cannot allow the world to avert its eyes from this human catastrophe.

At the global level, we are pressing countries in the European Union to make good on promises to provide emergency refugee assistance, and reminding Syria’s neighbors of their obligations to help refugees under international law. We continue to pressure governments and the United Nations Security Council to hold those responsible for slaughtering civilians accountable.

With every passing hour of indecision by the international community, the death toll in Syria rises. You have to ask, how many more civilians must die before the world takes action?

Please help today.

Sincerely,

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

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.

Breaking News: Syria

Dear Gabriel,

Breaking: What I saw in Syria

I recently returned from a months-long fact-finding mission to Syria where I witnessed first-hand the extent of the atrocities being committed by government forces and militias working alongside the military.

In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, I saw people — including a 16-year-old schoolboy — being shot dead and injured by security forces and militias during peaceful demonstrations. Elsewhere in every town and village I saw homes burned down to the ground and spoke to families of young men who had been dragged from their homes and murdered by soldiers. The abuses were systematic and massive in scale. More recently opposition fighters have also been committing abuses and the situation is likely to deteriorate further the longer this conflict goes on.

People who care — like you — must speak out against this senseless violence. Your donation today will help support Amnesty International’s actions to uncover the truth, demand accountability, and prevent human rights abuses in the future.

As you read this, intense fighting between government forces and opposition fighters is taking place in Syria, where residential neighborhoods have been turned into battlefields and civilians are more at risk than ever. Tens of thousands have fled their homes just in recent days, joining the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced in the past year.

Despite the escalating violence, the international community has tragically failed to take effective action — essentially standing by as children, women and men are slaughtered.

That is why it is imperative that Amnesty International continues its efforts speaking out on behalf of Syrian civilians and taking critical steps to hold accountable those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Your donation will help us:

Send other researchers like myself into the field to document atrocities and share them with influencers and leaders around the world.

Put pressure on the United Nations Security Council to take concrete action to protect the civilian population and to hold the perpetrators of these terrible crimes accountable.

When atrocities like what I’ve seen in Syria are committed, we must not turn our heads or despair that there is nothing we can do. We must keep global attention on Syria. Your donation can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Donatella Rovera
Senior Crisis Response Adviser
Amnesty International

P.S. Want to learn more? Watch a first-hand account of my fact-finding mission.

Indefinite Detention in U.S.

Gabriel,

Let’s take a moment to remember what’s at stake:

Our own government asserts that the military has the right to lock you — civilians, even American citizens — up indefinitely, without charge or trial, if it decides that you’re really really bad.

It’s still astounding to consider, even six months after it became the law.

Please click here to support our ongoing efforts to put an end to indefinite detention. We’re trying to raise $20,000 this week.

It is ONLY because of the lawsuit by Chris Hedges, Tangerine Bolen, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and others that the current position of the federal courts is that indefinite detention is unconstitutional.

This case could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Tens of thousands of Demand Progress members have supported that lawsuit — and more than 200,000 have urged congress to oppose indefinite detention, generating ever-growing support for our cause.

Now we need to raise funds to keep the fight alive: Our goal is to raise $20,000 to support the efforts of Demand Progress, RevolutionTruth, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers, so we can keep contesting indefinite detention on every front that’s open.

(Your donation will also help fund Demand Progress’s ongoing work against CISPA and in support of Internet freedom.)

Our success to date has been amazing — and because we’ve won in court and helped foment opposition to indefinite detention in Congress, we’re now invested in an effort that could drag out for some time.

The extraordinary attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer have been working for free — but court costs are piling up, and they’ve got to feed their families.

We expect Obama to appeal federal judge Katherine Forrest’s decision, and we need your help to make sure the lawyers can keep on fighting as the government continues its crusade against our dearly-held civil liberties.

This case could be headed all the way to the Supreme Court.

Please click here to help us keep up our anti-indefinite detention efforts — there are more than one million of you, and as little as 10, 25, or 50 dollars apiece makes a TREMENDOUS difference.

Demand Progress and RevolutionTruth have dedicated a huge proportion of our (rather modest) resources to the cause of blocking indefinite detention.

The campaigns have been successful beyond our wildest imaginations: We’re winning in court, and a bipartisan coalition in the House came close to killing indefinite detention a few weeks ago.

As the battle moves to the Senate and to a higher federal court, our organizations need your help so we can keep our work going.

(Demand Progress will, of course, also be fighting CISPA and doing other work to promote civil liberties and maintain a free and open Internet.)

Thanks for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us as we continue this critical work.

-Demand Progress

Houla, Syria & Russia

Dear Gabriel,

We’ve just witnessed the worst violence in the year-long conflict in Syria.

On Friday more than 108 people — including 50 children — were killed in Houla, Syria after a barrage of shells, mortars, rockets and raids. The global response to this horrifying violence was immediate condemnation — and at least 10 countries, including the United States, have since expelled Syrian ambassadors and senior Syrian diplomats.

The ruthless killing of civilians in Houla marks a new low in the Syria crisis. But a massive, renewed international spotlight on the country is our best hope to stop the bloodshed.

Let’s press Russia – which has been a key ally to Syria and has blocked meaningful action in the UN Security Council — to stand up against the brutality and prevent further loss of Syrian lives.

Over the past 14 months nearly 10,000 Syrians have lost their lives. With each passing day, the crisis reaches new levels of horror. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has yet to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The shocking images that emerged from Syria this weekend are yet one more reason why Russia must stop shielding the Syrian authorities and act to stop the violence there.

Tell the Russian Foreign Minister that we demand better from global leaders.

It’s easy to despair when seeing what’s happened to civilians in Houla and throughout Syria. But a groundswell of public outrage and support could make the difference between dithering diplomacy and decisive action. That’s why we need to urge Russia to stop blocking the UN Security Council from referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The situation in Syria is desperate. The Syrian people are counting on us to seize this opportunity for action. Thank you for coming together to show Syrians they are not alone.

With hope and determination,

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

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