Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘imprisoned’

China’s Most Famous

Gabriel –

You may not know his name, but my friend Liu Xiaobo is a global icon for freedom. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights.

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Today, this hero remains in jail, as China’s most famous political prisoner.

Xiaobo is serving an 11-year term for his activism demanding that the Chinese government make his country more democratic and make its courts more independent. His wife, who has never been convicted of any crime, is under house arrest. This is not just.

I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for my work fighting the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. I am humbled to share the Nobel legacy with someone so brave as Xiaobo.

Today, with more than 130 other Nobel Prize winners, I am calling on the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to release Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife, Xia, from house arrest.

Click here to join us and call for their freedom by signing the petition I started on Change.org.

This is an historic moment in China. Every 10 years, the Chinese government hands over power to a new generation of leadership. As of a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping has succeeded his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in leading China — and hopes are that he will open China to reform more than any of his predecessors.

The Chinese government doesn’t usually listen to voices from outside the country. (Or voices from within the country, for that matter!) But the world has a singular opportunity to push for change when China’s leadership changes over every 10 years. This is our chance!

Humans are wonderful, and we can do amazing things when we act together. I have seen this time and time again with my own eyes.

Click here to sign my petition now, and call on China’s new Premier Xi Jinping to release Nobel Peace Prizer winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Brothers and sisters, we are going to move mountains together!

God bless you,

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa

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.

11-year-old Arrested

Dear Gabriel,

One minute, 11-year-old Ali Hassan was playing outside with his friends, like any other kid his age anywhere in the world.

The next minute, Ali was under arrest.

This actually happened: An 11-year-old child is on trial for “illegal gathering” and “disturbing security” in Bahrain.

On July 5, he’ll be sentenced for his “crimes” — and could be imprisoned.

We only have a week left to make an impact on Ali’s case, so we have to be loud. Call on the Bahraini authorities to drop the charges against 11-year-old Ali Hassan. Then be sure to share this action with your friends.

On the day of his arrest, Ali was held for hours and interrogated. Tired, hungry, and scared, Ali finally “confessed.” He was detained for 23 days without access to a lawyer.

Ali’s case is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in Bahrain. Since mass protests began in the country in February 2011, Bahrain’s security forces have responded brutally with disproportionate violence. And there’s been little accountability for the ongoing human rights violations committed by the Bahraini government, including acts of torture, unjust imprisonment, and even killings.

Things have to change.

The Bahraini government’s crackdown on nonviolent critics is ugly enough. Now with Ali’s arrest and trial, the government’s behavior has become even more shocking.

Ali and his friends found themselves on the wrong side of the law when their playtime coincided with protests in the area. Bahraini police officers stopped them, allegedly threatening to shoot the children if they didn’t do as they were told, and accusing them of purposely blocking the street with trash bins.

The other children got away. Ali was not so lucky. And now he could face jail for being a child in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Playtime should never lead to prison time. Demand that Bahrain respect the right to free speech and assembly, protect the rights of children, and drop the ludicrous charges against 11-year-old Ali Hassan immediately.

For justice,

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

Chen Guangcheng and China

Dear Gabriel,

Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, escaped house arrest in Shandong province last week — but his future remains uncertain.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is underway in Beijing now. Urge leaders to respect Chen’s human rights and allow him to choose his own future.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was imprisoned and then subjected to violence and house arrest for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in China, made a daring, Houdini-like escape to the U.S. embassy. Following delicate negotiations with the United States, Chinese officials pledged to allow Chen to live a “normal life” with his family, and he initially agreed to return home.

Does this sound “normal” to you?

“I don’t know what’s happened to my mother. There are guards inside the yard, in all the rooms, even on the roof. They’ve set up lots of cameras in my home and are preparing electric fences. They told my family they’d take wooden sticks and beat my family to death, so it’s very unsafe.”

-Chen Guangcheng, in an interview with NPRi
In recent hours, Chen has expressed a desire to leave China, fearing that he and his family can never enjoy freedom under the current system.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is representing the United States in China today. Her presence can provide the pressure we need to ensure Chen’s safety. The world is watching. Let Chen choose his own future.

Sincerely,

Frank Jannuzi
Director, Washington Office
Amnesty International USA

Iran’s Azadi Square

Dear Gabriel,

It’s called Azadi Square – literally “Freedom Square” in Persian.

For decades, it has been the central point of human rights activism in Iran. Two years ago, when the disputed results of a presidential election compelled many to take to the streets, Azadi Square was the backdrop of countless student protests. Although the protests began as peaceful, protesters were met with violence once riot police were dispersed.

Two students who were swept up in the resulting wave of government crackdowns that followed were Behareh Hedayat and Majid Tavakkoli.

Behareh – an economics student turned women’s rights advocate is now serving 10 years in prison sentence for her activism.

Majid – a shipbuilding student turned prominent student leader is now serving nine years in prison for his activism.

We can’t think of a better place to take a stand for their rights and the rights of all Iran’s peaceful student protesters than in Azadi Square.

Demand the release of all Iran’s peaceful student protesters!

Starting today, we’re opening up a virtual Azadi Square to supporters worldwide. In the virtual Azadi Square, all human rights are protected – including freedom of expression, assembly and association.

That is why we’re inviting you to join us in sending a powerful message to the Iranian government. Even if students are imprisoned for their activism, their calls for human rights can never be silenced!

For every 10,000 signatures gathered on our petition for protecting student’s rights in Iran, Amnesty representatives will publicly present your signatures in a new and powerful way. But you’ll have to keep checking back to find out what we’ll do next!

Visit Amnesty’s Azadi Square and stand up for the rights of student protesters in Iran!

Behareh Hedayat and Majid Tavakkoli, like many others, were simply students who spoke publicly about their political opinions. They do not deserve this injustice.

Take action now and give them hope. Demonstrate the power of standing together for human rights!

Thank You,

Elise Auerbach
Country Specialist, Iran
Amnesty International USA

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