Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘human rights’

Journalists In Syria

Dear Gabriel,

W1306EDMNA1At least 36 journalists reporting on human rights abuses in Syria have been detained, disappeared, tortured and killed.

That’s the finding of an Amnesty International investigative report — Shooting the Messenger — which is calling worldwide attention to the cases of journalists attacked or imprisoned by government and opposition forces since the uprising in Syria began.

As part of Syrian government repression of critical voices, award-winning journalist Mazen Darwish and two of his colleagues are currently facing trial on terrorism charges, apparently intended to punish their peaceful, legitimate freedom of expression-related activities.

The Syrian government detained the three men over a year ago and held them incommunicado for several months. In prison, they are reported to have been subjected to torture and other ill treatment.

Deliberate attacks on civilians, including journalists, are violations of the laws of war. Amnesty is pressuring Syrian authorities to drop the charges against Darwish and his colleagues and release immediately and unconditionally anyone held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

We are also using our on-the-ground intelligence to pressure the Syrian government, the armed opposition groups and the international community to hold accountable those responsible for targeting civilians and otherwise violating the laws of war.

Can we count on your support? Donate now and help provide hope for Syrian journalists and people everywhere who face government oppression.

Sincerely,

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

Stop Execution of Torture Victim

Dear Gabriel,

W1305EAIAR1_2Please help Amnesty stop the imminent execution of my brother, Abdullah Al Qahtani.

This week my brother’s life could be taken for a “confession” he was tortured into making. Abdullah was beaten, burned and asphyxiated by Iraqi security forces into “confessing” to being a member of terrorist organization al-Qaeda.

Now our fear is that the Iraqi authorities will execute Abdullah without even allowing him to have a fair trial first. It could happen at any time now.

Please do what you can to stop this execution.

About a month ago, Amnesty called on you to stop my brother’s execution. Together, we have been successful in buying some time. For that, I would like to express my family’s heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you, Amnesty supporters, for your precious help and support. It has brought much needed attention to Abdullah’s plight.

However, Abdullah’s time is once again running out. If the Iraqi court agrees with the prosecutor that Abdullah should not get a new trial, then a deadly chain of events would be put in motion. In less than 24 hours — without fair trial or even a phone call to us, his family — Abdullah’s execution could be carried out.

Abdullah needs an opportunity to present his case fully and fairly. He deserves the chance to exercise his human rights.

This risk of execution has placed our family under great stress. Abdullah is in poor health after enduring both torture and the effects of a hunger strike. Our parents are suffering. I don’t know if our mother has the strength to survive if Abdullah were to be executed.

We plead with Amnesty and its supporters to do everything possible to stop Abdullah from being treated inhumanely and for his rights to be restored.

Please take this action now. Help me save my brother’s life.

My deepest thanks,

Brother of Abdullah Al Qahtani, Saudi man at risk of execution in Iraq

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

Hate Crime In South Africa

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EALGBT1Two years ago today, 24-year-old South African Noxolo Nogwaza was raped, repeatedly beaten and stabbed.

Why did a young mother, soccer player, and human rights activist die so brutally, her body dumped in a drainage ditch?

Noxolo’s murder was an apparent hate crime. It is believed that she was targeted because she was a lesbian and an active campaigner for LGBTI rights.

Two years later, Noxolo’s murder remains unsolved, and her friends, family and fellow activists wait for justice. Demand an end to the climate of fear for the LGBTI community in South Africa, and demand justice for Noxolo!

Raped, beaten, stabbed — but why won’t South Africa’s authorities fully investigate and solve Noxolo’s case? In two years, there has been no progress in the investigation into her murder and Noxolo’s killer(s) remain at large.

“Contempt, mockery or general disinterest” – that’s how police are often reported to respond when LGBTI individuals try to report hate crimes.

Homophobia in South Africa goes far beyond taunts and insults — behavior that in and of itself is already entirely unacceptable. LGBTI individuals are targets of terrible hate crimes, particularly in townships, informal settlements and rural areas, ranging from assaults to rapes to murders, just because of who they are.

Noxolo’s killer(s) remain unpunished. And as long as murderers and perpetrators of hate crimes are allowed to go free, LGBTI people will never feel safe in South Africa.

But there is hope. The world is marching towards justice — just yesterday, France became the latest country to pass marriage equality legislation.

Momentum is on our side and the world is listening to calls for LGBTI rights.

The time to speak out for justice is right now.

Today, march on and honor Noxolo’s memory by taking action. Demand a full investigation into Noxolo’s murder and an end to violence against the LGBTI community in South Africa.

Sincerely,

Samir Goswami
Director, Individuals and Communities at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA

Threat of Execution

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EAIAR1Abdullah al-Qahtani is still alive, but the threat of execution is still dangerously real.

Abdullah is the Saudi Arabian man whose attorneys say he was tortured by Iraqi security forces into confessing to being a member of a terrorist organization. He was sentenced by Iraqi courts to death by hanging.

Last week, pressure from activists like you likely helped spare Abdullah’s life, but make no mistake — his execution is imminent. His attorney urges continued vigilance:

“We thank Amnesty International members for their support; it is helping. We call for everybody’s continued help to save Abdullah’s life, to pressure the Iraqi government to give Abdullah the chance to a fair and just trial.”

Keep up the pressure — click here to join our call for justice for Abdullah. Your actions can help spare this man’s life.

With great appreciation,

Samir Goswami
Director, Individuals and Communities at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA

BTW – Amnesty’s just-released 2012 Word Death Penalty Report depicts a stark rise in executions in Iraq — at least 129 people were executed, almost double the 2011 figure of at least 68. Abdullah’s case is a clear illustration of the lack of respect for human rights among Iraqi authorities.

International Arms Trade Treaty

Dear Gabriel,

Huge news coming out of the United Nations today: this morning, delegates from 154 nations voted to adopt the first-ever international Arms Trade Treaty!

This is a historic moment – for the first time, the world has a treaty to help monitor and control the flow of arms and ammunition across borders. It’s a strong, effective treaty that will save lives and protect human rights around the world. And it’s the result of the actions of tens of thousands of Oxfam supporters like you – people who raised their voices in support of an Arms Trade Treaty, donated to fuel this work, and spread the word about this crucial issue. Thank you for everything you did to make this victory possible.

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President Obama and his Administration played an important leadership role to ensure the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. Will you join us in thanking them? Send a message to President Obama now >>

For families in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Mali and other countries wracked with armed conflict, the Arms Trade Treaty means a safer, brighter future. Ending armed conflict in poor communities is vital to righting the wrong of poverty, and that’s why Oxfam has been working to pass this treaty for more than a decade – we couldn’t have done this without you.

History was made at the United Nations today, and you were part of it. Thank you so much for standing with us in this fight.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
Board of Directors
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

Pussy Riot World Map

Dear Gabriel,

We’re honestly not sure how the Russian authorities are going to react to our Pussy Riot World Map.

The Russian authorities recently banned Pussy Riot’s videos as “extremist”. And last August, the Russian Embassy in Washington tossed Amnesty’s petitions to the curb – literally – and refused to hear our concerns about human rights in Russia.

W1303EAIAR1But on March 4, the one-year anniversary of Pussy Riot’s arrest, we will not be silent. Two Pussy Riot members, Maria “Masha” Alyokhina and Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, remain behind bars in notoriously brutal prison camps. Last Wednesday we danced outside the Russian Embassy to commemorate Pussy Riot’s performance – now we’re heading back with our map of Pussy Riot’s supporters around the globe.

We only have a few more days left to add as many names as possible to our map. Stand for Pussy Riot and free speech in Russia — get on the map!

It’s been a whirlwind year since Pussy Riot’s iconic “punk prayer” performance at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. Arrests, courtrooms, lawyers, political posturing by the Russian authorities and President Putin — all culminating in Masha and Nadya’s outlandishly harsh two-year sentences, at prison camps far from their families and young children.

But the women of Pussy Riot were never alone. From Twitter to rock shows to handwritten letters, hundreds of thousands have called on the Russian authorities to #FreePussyRiot. More than 100 of Russia’s best-known actors, directors and musicians signed a letter calling for their release. Madonna played a Moscow concert with “Pussy Riot” emblazoned across her back. Amnesty activists threw a full-fledged punk concert steps from the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. Star musicians like Sting and Anti-Flag added their names to our Pussy Riot world map in solidarity — along with thousands of other activists like you.

One year later, Pussy Riot needs us to speak out — more than ever. Why now? Because Pussy Riot continues to be a symbol of the Russian authorities’ unreasonable crackdown on freedom of expression in Russia — and the attacks on free speech in Russia are only getting worse with some disturbing new laws.

Did you know that:

Conducting public protests in Russia could cost you up to U.S. $32,000 in fines?

Human rights and political activism could potentially be treated as “treason” in Russia, thanks to a broad new legal definition?

Foreign and domestic NGOs — including those doing vital human rights work — face increasingly severe restrictions on their operations in Russia?

Pussy Riot’s harsh prison sentences are a draconian response to peaceful dissent.

“This is cruelty on purpose, cruelty for propaganda purposes,” said Ekaterina Samutsevich, a member of Pussy Riot who was arrested with Nadya and Masha but later conditionally released on appeal. “…We need to fight it somehow.”

And fight it we will! We will never give up our campaign to defend human rights and free speech in Russia.

On Monday, we’ll be headed to the Russian Embassy, map in hand.

Stand for free speech and be on that map.

Free Pussy Riot!

Thank You,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

All Women, Not Some

Dear Gabriel,

W1302EAWMN1_2Congress turned its back on women last year when it shamefully failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the first time since 1994.

The reason? A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives wanted to deny protections for three communities that face disproportionate levels of violence — Native American and Alaska Native women, immigrant women and LGBT individuals.

But there is hope. Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a strong, inclusive and bipartisan VAWA that will help support all women facing violence and exploitation.

Amnesty is mobilizing an urgent effort to get an identical bill passed in the House. Please donate now and support our work to defend human rights.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in her lifetime. When the perpetrator is a non-Native man – as in 86% of cases – a complex maze of jurisdictional issues can delay the judicial process or potentially even allow the perpetrator to escape justice.

Immigrant women often face higher rates of sexual harassment and domestic abuse – but when it comes to seeking justice, they have few legal rights and little protection from abusers who could exploit their immigration status.

LGBT violence survivors often face discrimination when attempting to access potentially life-saving social services – discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
An inclusive VAWA would put an end to these injustices . Stand with us and help pressure Congress to put partisan politics aside and protect the rights of all women. Donate now.

Your donation will help mobilize grassroots activists to pressure Congress through phone calls and office visits, educate the public about the current gaps in services that survivors face, and pressure key Representatives to muster the political will to support an inclusive bill.

If you believe in justice for all people – not justice for somedonate now.

Thank you for all that you do to protect human rights.

Cristina Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

Keep The Light Burning

Dear Gabriel,

ye2012_generic_rcWhen Amnesty founder Peter Benenson published his “Appeal for Amnesty” in 1961, little did he know he lit the fuse of a human rights revolution.

It was as if people were waiting for this signal.

Fast-forward to today and it is hard to believe the scale of the transformations that followed. Women’s rights, children’s rights, indigenous rights, workers’ rights, the rights of disabled persons – all of these have been strengthened by international standards and in the public consciousness.

Each of these human rights achievements sprang from the ideals and efforts of a movement powered by people like you.

When you support Amnesty International USA, you are a part of this heroic history. If you give right now, your gift will unlock matching funds – but only until Dec. 31.

When Peter lit the first Amnesty candle, he was reminded of the words of a 16th-century man who faced persecution with these words (paraphrasing), “We have today lit such a candle as shall never be put out.”

We free the unjustly imprisoned.
1966, 1,000 prisoners of conscience released since founding

We are recognized for our groundbreaking work.
1977, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for work to secure freedom and justice

We break the chains of oppression.
1986, Members write to 10,000 people of influence around the world urging them to pressure the South African government to end human rights abuses under apartheid

We elevate human rights.
1993, After intense lobbying, United Nations establishes UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights

We turn torturers into outlaws.
2002, International Criminal Court treaty enters into force after years of lobbying

We defend the defenders.
2010, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is finally set free after spending some 15 years under house arrest
For 50 years, supporters like you never let Peter’s light fade. Today we are three million members strong and growing with each human rights success.

I am so proud of what Amnesty has become, and so hopeful for what it can be.

To unleash the extraordinary achievements of tomorrow, we need your investment in this movement today. I urge you to take advantage of our matching gift challenge before it ends on Dec. 31.

LIGHT THE WAY: Donate to Amnesty today.

Together we can deliver hope for humanity.

Frank Jannuzi
CHIEF ADVOCACY OFFICER
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Tibetan Stories

sunshineOn, Dec 10, 1948. in the aftermath of WW2 and the Holocaust, the UN established a new commission, largely spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt, to monitor and assure that human rights were protected in even the most vulnerable communities throughout the world. Today we honor that profoundly compassionate action and all those whose diligent commitment moves us towards a more awakened relationship to one another and our world.

Please take a moment and watch an inspiring video from the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights about wounded communities and how you can help.

Living In Exile

Gaea Logan
International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights

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