Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘journalists’

Write for Rights

W1312EAIAR1Imagine being imprisoned for voicing a New Year’s Eve wish for peace and democracy.

That was one of the reasons Ethiopian authorities sentenced iconic dissident journalist Eskinder Nega to 18-years in prison on charges of terrorism and treason.

Join Amnesty in calling for Eskinder Nega’s immediate and unconditional release.

Eskinder is one of 10 urgent human rights cases highlighted in Amnesty International’s 2013 Write for Rights campaign, the world’s largest and most effective letter-writing event.

Every day that Eskinder and other journalists remain imprisoned, the dark cloud of oppression in his country grows more menacing.

Eskinder and his family have endured arrest and harassment from authorities for years. In 2006 and 2007, Eskinder and his wife, Serkalem Fasil, along with 129 other journalists, opposition politicians and activists, were detained and tried on treason charges in connection with protests following the 2005 election.

Serkalem gave birth to their son Nafkot while in prison.

Show solidarity with Eskinder and Serkalem – raise your voice to defend theirs.

The crackdown on free speech in Ethiopia has intensified since early 2011 – a number of journalists have been imprisoned on trumped-up charges of treason and terrorism while others have fled the country to avoid jail time. Newspapers have been closed down and last year, printers were ordered to remove any content that may be considered illegal by the government.

The independent media, and freedom of expression itself, has been dismantled in Ethiopia. Eskinder has been prosecuted at least 8 times for his journalism. His words have done no harm. His writings are a lawful expression of his human rights.

Free speech needs more champions today. Be one of them.

In solidarity,

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

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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

InsideClimate Wins Pulitzer Prize

The Tiny News Startup That Crashed the Pulitzer Prizes
by Jeff Bercovici at Forbes
16 April 2013

On the 12th floor of a none-too-modern office building in downtown Brooklyn are the offices of the law firm Kornblau & Kornblau. Tucked away deep in this warren of dim rooms is the brain center of InsideClimate News, the newest member of the elite fraternity of Pulitzer Prize winners.

How small an operation is InsideClimate News? Well, when I visited publisher and founder David Sassoon there Tuesday afternoon, I doubled the occupancy rate. The five-year-old nonprofit has seven employees total, but the other six are scattered across the Western Hemisphere, from Tel Aviv to San Diego. “If we get somebody in Hawaii or Australia or Japan, we’ll have the globe covered,” Sassoon says.

inside-climate-news

In winning the Pulitzer for national reporting for a series on the poor regulation of oil pipelines, ICN beat out the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, two newspapers with around 900 journalists between them — not to mention all the news organizations that didn’t make it to the finalists’ circle. How could a crew of seven beat behemoths that live for Pulitzer day?

“When you do have huge operations, you’re being pulled in lots of directions,” says Sassoon. “We’re covering one thing. We’ve been doing this 24/7 for five years.”

A small budget is only a handicap if you’re trying to attack the problem in the same way as news organizations with big budgets, he says:

“I don’t know why it has to be that expensive. We probably spent 10% of what a big, well-endowed newsroom would spend, and that’s in terms of salaries and everything. We didn’t do a lot of traveling. We didn’t have the money, so we didn’t think about it. We were just figuring out out how do we get the story. I think it’s possible to do a lot of journalism on low budgets without necessarily feeling like you can’t do the job you want to do. Maybe a lot of the newsrooms can do it more efficiently than they think they can. There are plenty of individuals, newsrooms, little ones here and there, that can do this kind of work.”

That said, ICN wants to be a slightly larger news organization. “We think to do our job fully, we need to be 20 to 25 people,” says Sassoon. “As we work out our plan, I want to have a newsroom in New York. We need a hub.”

Read entire story at Forbes

Breaking Out All Over

Avaaz Supporters,

Something big is happening. From Tahrir Square to Wall St., from staggeringly brave citizen journalists in Syria to millions of us winning campaign after campaign online, democracy is stirring. Not the media-circus, corrupt, vote-every-4-years democracy of the past. Something much, much deeper. Deep within ourselves, we are realising our own power to build the world we all dream of.

Avaaz.org - STEP FORWARD, TAKE OUR WORK TO THE NEXT LEVEL

We don’t have a lot of time to do it. Our planet is threatened by multiple crises – a climate crisis, food crisis, financial crisis… These crises could split us apart or bring us together like never before. It’s the challenge of our time, and the outcome will determine whether our children face a darker world or one thriving in greater human harmony.

This is our challenge to meet. With 17 million hopeful citizens and rising, Avaaz is the largest global online community in history. There is no other massive, high-tech, people-powered, multi-issue, genuinely global advocacy organization that can mobilize coordinated democratic pressure in hundreds of countries within 24 hours. Our potential is unique, and so is our responsibility.

Responsibility is why we never accept money from governments, corporations or even large donors. 100% of our support comes from small online donations – the highest integrity funding in the world. Donating is an act of hope and trust, and I and my team feel incredibly serious about being worthy of yours.

It’s amazing, but just 20,000 of us make our entire community possible with a small weekly donation of around $2.00, the price of a cup or two of coffee. That funds all of Avaaz’s core expenses, but to rise to this moment and win it, we need to accelerate — by doubling our number of weekly ‘sustainers’ to 40,000, and doubling our capacity to do everything we do. Click below to make it happen and buy the world a cup of coffee:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/sustain_avaaz_dec_2012_2/?bMPbqab&v=20333&a=2.00&c=USD&p=28

Making a small but steady weekly contribution enables Avaaz to plan responsibly around long-term costs like our tiny but awesome staff team, our website and technology, and the security of our staff and systems (this can get pricey when our campaigns are taking on shady characters!). It also means we have the ability to respond immediately to crises as they occur and jump on opportunities for action without delay.

A very small donation of around $2.00 per week from 20,000 more sustainers would enable our community to expand all our work next year, helping to save lives in humanitarian emergencies, protect the environment and wildlife, support democracy and fight corruption, push for peace and reduce poverty.

Donating to Avaaz has a double-impact — because our donations not only make change now by empowering particular campaigns, every contribution builds our community that will be making change for decades to come. It’s an investment with both immediate and long-term results for our children’s and our planet’s future. Click here to contribute:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/sustain_avaaz_dec_2012_2/?bMPbqab&v=20333&a=2.00&c=USD&p=28

Fundraising is often a problem for social change organizations. Government or corporate funding would profoundly threaten our mission. Funding from large donors also often comes with strings attached. And high-pressure tactics like telemarketing, postal mail, or direct on-the-street programmes often cost nearly as much as they raise! That’s why the Avaaz model – online, people-powered donations – is the best way in the world to power an engine of social change, and a huge part of our community’s promise.

If we can multiply the number of sustainers we have, it will take our community, and our impact, to a whole new level. I can’t wait.

I know that donating is an act of hope, and of trust. I feel a huge and serious sense of responsibility to be a steward of that hope, and my team and I are deeply committed to respecting the trust you place in us with your hope, time, and resources. It’s a special thing we’re building here, and if we can keep believing in each other, anything is possible.

With hope and gratitude for this amazing community,

Ricken Patel
Avaaz.org

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

Terror In Honduras

Dear Gabriel,

My name is Dina Meza, and I am a human rights journalist in Honduras.

I have dedicated my life to revealing the corruption and injustice oppressing Hondurans. Today I ask for your help defending the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.

Powerful people in my country wish journalists dead — because we have exposed human rights abuses, and covered issues related to corruption, state abuses and the actions of powerful groups.

Our families are also targeted. My children and I have been followed and photographed by two men not known to me.

Two weeks ago, I received three silent calls to my mobile phone. Earlier, I received a series of frightening text messages:

“We’ll burn your pussy with lime until you scream and the whole squad will enjoy it” — CAM*

“You’ll end up dead like people in the Aguan there’s nothing better than fucking some bitches”

Amnesty International is calling on Honduran officials to investigate these vicious threats against me and to protect my rights and the rights of all journalists in my country. Please take this action immediately.

These are not isolated threats. In 2006, my colleague, lawyer Dionisio Diaz Garcia, was shot and killed while on his way to the Honduran Supreme Court. Those responsible have still not been brought to justice for his murder.

Sometimes you have to kick the hornet’s nest to expose the truth. Our right to do so must be defended. The Honduran State must respect that.

Oppressors may threaten my life, but they will never deter this movement. We are stronger than fear, and we have human rights on our side.

If you believe in freedom of the press, please take this important action with Amnesty today.

In solidarity,

— Dina Meza
Director, Defenders Online
Activist with Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared, and for women’s rights

* CAM is an acronym for Comando Alvarez Martinez, a pseudonym which has been used in threats to human rights activists and journalists in Honduras.

Brave Syrians Not Alone

Dear Friends,

This morning, 4 western journalists are home safe with their families, the echoes of the horror and heroism of Baba Amr still ringing in their ears. Over 50 Syrian activists, supported by Avaaz, volunteered to rescue them and scores of wounded civilians from the Syrian army’s killzone. Many of those incredible activists have not survived the week.

Abu Hanin is one of the heroes. He’s 26, a poet, and when his community needed him, he took the lead in organizing the citizen journalists that Avaaz has supported to help the voices of Syrians reach the world. The last contact with Abu Hanin was on Thursday, as regime troops closed in on his location. He read his last will and testament to the Avaaz team in Beirut, and told us where he had buried the bodies of the two western journalists killed in the shelling. Since then, his neighborhood of Baba Amr has been a black hole, and we still don’t know his fate.

It’s easy to despair when seeing Syria today, but to honour the dead, we must carry forward the hope they died with. As Baba Amr went dark and fears of massacre spread, Syrians took to the streets — yet again — across the country, in a peaceful protest that showed staggering bravery.

Their bravery is our lesson, the gift of the Syrian people to the rest of us. Because in their spirit, in their courage to face the worst darkness our world has to offer, a new world is being born.

And in that new world, the Syrian people are not alone. Millions of us from every nation have stood with them time and time again, right from the beginning of their struggle. Nearly 75,000 of us have donated almost $3 million to fund people-powered movements and deliver high-tech communications equipment to help them tell their story, and enable the Avaaz team to help smuggle in over $2 million worth of medical supplies. We’ve taken millions of online actions to push for action from the Security Council and the Arab League and for sanctions from many countries, and delivered those online campaigns in dozens of stunts, media campaigns and high-level advocacy meetings with top world leaders. Together we’ve helped win many of these battles, including for unprecedented action by the Arab League, and oil sanctions from Europe.

Our team in Beirut has also provided a valuable communications hub for brave and skilled activists to coordinate complex smuggling operations and the rescue of the wounded and the journalists. Avaaz does not direct these activities, but we facilitate, support and advise. We have also established safe houses for activists, and supported the outreach and diplomatic engagement of the Syrian National Council — the opposition movement’s fledgling political representative body. Much of the world’s major media have covered Avaaz’s work to help the Syrian people, including features on BBC, CNN, El Pais, TIME, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, AFP and many more, citing our “central role” in the Syrian peaceful protest movement.

Today, a dozen more nightmares like that visited on the city of Homs are unfolding across Syria. The situation will get worse before it gets better. It will be bloody, and complicated, and as some protesters take up arms to defend themselves, the line between right and wrong will blur. But President Assad’s brutal regime will fall, and there will be peace, and elections, and accountability. The Syrian people simply will not stop until that happens — and it may happen sooner than we all think.

Every expert told us at the beginning that an uprising in Syria was unthinkable. But we sent in satellite communications equipment anyway. Because our community knows something that the experts and cynics don’t — that people power and a new spirit of citizenship are sweeping our world today, and they are fearless, and unstoppable, and will bring hope to the darkest places. Marie Colvin, an American journalist covering the violence in Homs, told Avaaz before she died, “I’m not leaving these people.” And neither will we.

With hope, and admiration for the Syrian people and courageous citizens everywhere,

Ricken, Wissam, Stephanie, Alice, David, Antonia, Will, Sam, Emma, Wen-Hua, Veronique and the whole Avaaz team.

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