Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘rights’

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

I Shouldn’t Speak

W1311EAWMN1“I Shouldn’t Speak”

Being raped, it makes you…a person without rights…every day someone reminds me that I’ve been raped and that I should put myself in a corner, that I shouldn’t speak, I should say nothing.”- Rose, raped at age 15, Haiti

Defend women like Rose.

The first time Rose was raped, her aunt arranged the attack as punishment for an argument. Rose was kidnapped by three men, assaulted, and then abandoned in a remote area. She was 15 years old.

The second time Rose was raped, a thief came into her house and assaulted her while her children were sleeping. She was 20 years old.

We cannot undo Rose’s pain, but Amnesty supporters like you CAN do something to put an end to the violence that robs women and girls like Rose of their rights.

Urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).

IVAWA was just reintroduced in Congress. This bill seeks to end the global epidemic of violence against women and girls, making preventing and ending this human rights abuse a diplomatic and foreign assistance priority for the US government. IVAWA includes:

* Support for organizations working to change the attitude of men and boys about violence against women and girls.

* Specialized training for health care providers to recognize the signs of physical and sexual violence against women and girls
Protections to ensure that girls can go to school safely.

*Focused training for law enforcement and legal personnel to properly respond to incidents of violence.

The rapes to which Rose was subjected prevented her from going to school, which in turn affected her employment opportunities and her ability to live a healthy life – but IVAWA can help women like Rose access critical health care, law enforcement support and legal assistance, and ultimately change the social norms that say violence is acceptable.

Rose’s story bears a horrible truth – that one in three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. IVAWA has the potential to make the one in three become none in three. But not without your help.

Countries, communities, and families cannot thrive without the contributions and talent of half their populations.

You can take action to end one of the world’s most pervasive human rights abuses today. Tell your Representatives in Congress to support IVAWA.

Let’s get this bill passed.

In solidarity,

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

“I Demand My Rights.”

“I Demand My Rights.”

Kaia* was eleven years old when she was assaulted and raped on the way to school. A teacher took her to the hospital, but the police demanded bribes for even taking down a statement.

So Kaia did something incredibly brave. She sued the police for failing to protect her. What’s even more incredible is what happened next.

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In Kenya where Kaia lives, a woman or girl is raped every 30 minutes. Police there routinely turn a blind eye, further isolating terrified young survivors and reinforcing the notion that rape is ok.

Kaia and ten other young survivors challenged that. On the day of the case, ignoring threats to their safety and a blockade from court security, they marched from their shelter to the courthouse, chanting “Haki yangu” — Kiswahili for “I demand my rights.” And then the judge issued his ruling: The girls had won!

The amazing advocates and human rights lawyers that worked with Kaia are ready to bring similar lawsuits against police forces across Africa and beyond, but they need funding to do it. We won’t process pledges until we reach our goal, but if just 30,000 of us pledge a small amount now, we can repeat this game-changing victory in other countries, remind police that rape is a crime, and take a powerful step forward against the global war on women:

Click to pledge what you can — we’ll process your contribution only if we hit our goal of 30,000 donors.

When Kaia’s story began, she looked set to become just another of the countless victims of child rape ignored by the police. But Kenyan child rights advocate Mercy Chidi and Canadian human rights lawyer Fiona Sampson joined forces to challenge this injustice in the courts.

The plan was hatched in Kenya by a group of colleagues from Canada, Kenya, Malawi and Ghana — it seemed like a long shot to sue the police force for failing to act, but they stuck with it and took risks… and made legal history. The work has just begun: like any win, it takes time, effort and money to make sure the ruling sticks, and to use it as a springboard to wipe out violence against women.

If we raise enough, here’s how we could turn a huge victory for Kenya into a win for countries across Africa and even the rest of the world:

* help fund more cases like this, across Africa and around the world
* use hard-hitting campaign strategies to make sure these groundbreaking judgments are enforced
* push for massive, effective public education campaigns that strike at the root of sexual violence and help erase it for good
respond to more campaign opportunities like this case — with super smart strategies that turn the tide in the war on women.

Click to pledge what you can to start this important work right away — we won’t process any contributions unless we hit our goal of 30,000 donors.

As citizens, we often appeal to political leaders and other officials to get serious about protecting women’s rights. It’s important to keep doing that, but when they fail to hear their consciences, we need to appeal to their interests, and take them to court. That sends a powerful message: not only that there are new consequences for their crimes, but that the era of unchallenged misogyny in the culture of our societies is coming to end.

With hope,

Ricken, Maria Paz, Emma, Oli, Nick, Allison, Luca and the rest of the Avaaz team

* Kaia is a pseudonym, but her story is real. She is not pictured here.

Our Son’s Take On Guns

Our son wrote this for an English Class at college and turned it in yesterday morning. He titled it Locking Up the Guns. Coincidentally, two police officers were shot and killed (as was the assailant) later that day during a domestic violence situation, just blocks from where we live in Santa Cruz. It is the first time a police officer has been killed in the line of duty in this cities history.

Shona Blumeneau
English 2
2/27/13

Locking Up the Guns

BANG! A large crack pierced through the morning fog. Chaos erupted in the swamp, as I pulled the trigger on the Ruger semi-automatic .22 long rifle. A flock of birds flew through the sky but one remained, the one I had mercilessly gunned down just moments before. My cousin and I ran over to the bird and examined the stagnant creature. I stood there, thinking about how easy it had just been to kill something, while my cousin congratulated me on my first shot. He was the gun enthusiast, not me. This was my first time hunting, and after this experience, probably the last. Guns do more damage than they do good.

I have never lived in a dangerous neighborhood, but even if I did I would not resort to buying a gun for protection. Yes, they can defend you from attackers, burglars, etc., but I am not ready to kill someone with the blink of an eye, and I don’t think many other people are either. Possessing a gun causes much more problems than it does solutions.

If we were to take away guns people would still find ways to kill each other, but the number of deaths would decrease significantly. In 2008 there were roughly 16,272 murders committed in the United States. Sixty-seven percent of those were committed with a firearm. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Zero point 5 is a pretty insignificant number stacked against the amount of people who die from a firearm each year.

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Having a gun does not protect you. Having a gun gives an intruder a reason to shoot you, because they’re worried that you’re going to shoot them. If you’re unarmed, why would someone want to hurt you? Criminals may be stupid, but they’re usually not completely insane. They may take your computer, or whatever criminals take these days, and then go away. If it’s just a plain burglary, the police will file a report and forget about it, and the criminal gets away. If they shoot someone, there’s a murder investigation and the criminal goes to prison. The way gun advocates characterize society as a violent conflict between criminals and innocent people simply does not reflect reality. Theoretically, someone might break into your house just to attack you or your family, but the odds of that happening are less than being struck by lightning.

Only two countries in the world consider owning a gun a basic human right, the United States and Yemen, and even Yemen is starting to have second thoughts. From the UN’s Small Arms Survey: “Only two—the United States and Yemen—is ownership of firearms a citizen’s basic right. Figures published in the Small Arms Survey 2007 show that the USA and Yemen also have the highest rates of firearms per civilian, with an estimated 90 guns per 100 people in the US, and 55 in Yemen.” Why does America have this crazy obsession with guns? No, I’m not blaming video games or rap music. Let’s take a look at the second amendment.

Many US citizens still believe strongly in the amendment that states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” First of all, what states need protecting at the moment? The third amendment, that said the military could stay in private homes was thrown out, as it did not pertain to what was going on anymore. So why not the second amendment? There’s no intruders in the states that citizens are going to go hunt down, and the government has not become tyrannical (part of the reason for the second amendment, if the government ever became a dictatorship the people could rebel). The only people this right should belong to are those of the militia, as stated in the amendment. Just like the right to free speech, the government can limit people’s right to bear arms.

Only the most extreme pro-gun advocate would argue that a paroled violent offender with a standing restraining order to keep away from his ex-wife has the right to carry a fully-automatic machine gun. But similarly, only the most extreme anti-gun advocates believe that people should not be allowed to carry single-shot rifles when hunting deer on their own land.

If someone claims that the 2nd amendment gives them the right to carry a concealed weapon, they are full of it. You should ask them to point to the language in the 2nd amendment that specifically allows for concealed carry but prohibits violent felons owning machine guns. We have to keep in mind that people who wrote the second amendment owned slaves and oppressed women. Times were much different when the constitution was written, and things have changed since then. We no longer have slaves. Women have equal rights. There’s no longer a need to carry a weapon.

There is especially no need to carry a thirty-clip weapon. Incidents like Columbine or Sandy Hook could have been much less catastrophic if the men had to take time to stop to reload. This is what happened with the Gabby Gifford’s shooting. The assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, shot down nine people, injuring eighteen total, and was only stopped when he had to take a moment to reload his weapon and was tackled to the ground by a bystander, who was injured in doing so. This attack could have been much, much worse if he had had a larger clip. I cannot see a reason why someone would need a clip larger than ten for hunting or protection. Lowering the amount of rounds a gun can hold could easily lower the amount of deaths in the US.

Let me paint you a picture: Chris, a five year old boy living in a small suburban neighborhood, gets off the school bus after a fun day in class. He goes into his house where his mom stands. She asks how his day was, he says “fine”, she asks what he did, he says “nothing” and he goes to his room to play. After a while he gets bored and decides to explore his house a little. He goes into his parents’ bedroom, a place he’s been a hundred times early in the morning to snuggle up with his mom and dad, and starts looking around. Eventually he finds his way to the closet, and inside he finds a box. He opens the box, curious, and finds a handgun. He’s never seen one before and wonders what it does, so he fiddles around with it. All of the sudden, BAM, the gun goes off. Chris’ mother runs to the room only to see a pool of blood coming from the closet, and comes to the horrible realization that her only child is dead.

This may seem drastic, but it happens more often then you’d think. In the New England Journal of Medicine a study was put out that found 18 children die from gun related incidents every day. This makes guns the second leading cause of death in young people – twice the number of deaths from cancer. I find that to be a staggering number coming from a well developed first world country. I read an article the other day about a doctor, who were haunted by the death of one of her patients, a twelve year old boy who went on an errand for his mother and was caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle. The boy had shortly before written a letter to his mother expressing his desire to become a doctor.

Pristine Amazon Threatened

Dear Friends,

There is one area of the Ecuadorian Amazon that is so pristine that the whole ecosystem has been preserved and even jaguars roam free! But the government is now threatening to go in and drill for oil.

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The local indigenous people have been resisting, but they are afraid that oil companies will break up the community with bribes. When they heard that people across the world might stand with them and make a stink to save their land, they were thrilled. The president of Ecuador claims to stand for indigenous rights and the environment, but he has just come up with a new plan to bring oil speculators in to 4 million hectares of jungle. If we can say ‘wait a minute, you’re supposed to be the green president who says no one can buy Ecuador’, we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election.

He doesn’t want a PR nightmare right now. If we get a million of us to help this one community defend their ancestral land and challenge the president openly to keep to his word, we could start a media storm that would make him reconsider the whole plan. Sign the petition now and tell everyone — let’s help save this beautiful forest:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_8/?bMPbqab&v=21318

After Texaco and other oil companies polluted Ecuadorian waters and irreversibly devastated precious ecosystems, Correa led his country to be the world’s first nation to recognize the rights of “Mother Earth” in its constitution. He announced Ecuador was not for sale, and in Yasuni National Park promoted an innovative initiative where other governments pay Ecuador to keep oil in the ground to protect the rainforest rather than destroy it. But now he’s on the verge of selling out.

Shockingly, the Sani Isla Kichwa land is partly in Yasuni National Park. But even more shocking is Correa’s bigger plan — in days government officials begin a world tour to offer foreign investors the right to drill across 4 million hectares of forest (an area larger than the Netherlands!) Ecuador, as any country, may argue it has the right to profit from its natural resources, but the constitution itself says it must respect indigenous rights and its amazing forests, which bring millions in tourist dollars every year.

Right now, Correa is in a tough fight to win a second term as president. It’s the perfect time to make him honour his environmental promises and make this green constitution come to life. Sign now to stand with the Kichwa people and save their forest:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_8/?bMPbqab&v=21318

Our community has fought year after year to protect the Amazon in Brazil and Bolivia, and won many victories standing in solidarity with indigenous communities. Now it’s Ecuador’s turn — let’s respond to this urgent call for action and save their forest.

With hope and determination,

Alex, Pedro, Alice, Laura, Marie, Ricken, Taylor, Morgan and all the Avaaz team

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

She Was Loved and Murdered

Dear Gabriel,

W1212EAIAR1“Noxolo was loved for being a mother, friend, soccer player and activist, she will never be forgotten by her loved-ones.”
– Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee Colleagues

Why did she die?

Noxolo Nogwaza was murdered on her way home from a night out with friends. In the early hours of April 24, 2011, her attacker(s) raped, repeatedly beat and stabbed the 24 year-old—apparently because of her sexual orientation. Noxolo was an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in South Africa.

A year after her death, no progress has been made in the investigation into her murder and her killer(s) remain at large. Help change that. Demand justice for Noxolo.

She was a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, an organization that aims to empower and inform LGBTI people and to combat hate crimes, victimization and injustice through education and awareness-raising activities.

Sadly, homophobia and hate crimes against LGBTI individuals are common in South Africa, particularly against those living in townships and rural areas. Definitive statistics are difficult to obtain as the South African government does not classify rapes according to sexual orientation. However, in the last five years, there have been at least 10 reported cases of rape followed by murder of lesbians in townships across the country.

South African authorities must urgently take steps to put an end to these crimes. With your help, we can make sure that they do.

Please take action now. Tell the Police Commissioner to thoroughly investigate Noxolo’s death and bring her killer(s) to justice.

Thank you for standing with us.

Sincerely,

Linda Harris and Sadie Healy
Country Specialists, South Africa
Amnesty International USA

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