Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘rights’

Death Sentence for Programming

Dear Gabriel,

Iranians just held parliamentary elections. But many bloggers, students, journalists, filmmakers and other activists couldn’t exercise their right to vote.

They’ll be in jail.

One prisoner, Canadian resident and web programmer Saeed Malekpour, faces a death sentence and could be executed at any time. What did Saeed do to warrant this harsh sentence, based on charges of “insulting and desecrating Islam”? He wrote a web program that was used — without Saeed’s knowledge — for uploading pornographic images online.

Remind the Iranian authorities that death sentences are the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Demand that Iran commute Saeed Malekpour’s death sentence for “cyber crimes” and give him a fair trial, free from torture and coercion.

Saeed’s case is a harbinger of what is to come as Iran unleashes a frightening new crackdown on freedom of expression. Amnesty’s report released this week, “We are ordered to crush you”: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran, reveals a widening net of repression in Iran — a net increasingly focused on Internet users and free speech on the web.

Freedom of expression was already on life support in Iran. Now, a “Cyber Army” has been unleashed to impose a total information blackout in the country.

Internet users in Iran increasingly find themselves caught in the crosshairs of this new wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a shadowy group entrusted with cutting off the free flow of information in the country. The “Cyber Army” has also extended its reach abroad, blocking Amnesty’s website in Iran, and carrying out attacks on websites like Twitter and the Voice of America.

Many Iranians are scared into silence. And if anyone dares to fight back and criticize the government publicly, their words will cost them dearly. Harsh sentences like Saeed’s aren’t unheard of, and those imprisoned in Iran often face terrible mistreatment — torture, forced confessions, years of solitary confinement.

Iran cannot be allowed to violate human rights with impunity, online or offline. Saeed Malekpour must not be executed for his alleged crimes. As Iranians head to the ballot box, cast your “vote” today by taking action for freedom of expression in Iran.

Sincerely,

Elise Auerbach
Iran Country Specialist
Amnesty International USA

AI Turns 50

Amnesty International Turns 50
by Larry Cox (AIUSA Executive Director)

May 28 is a day that changed the human rights movement forever. Fifty years ago one person – Peter Benenson – outraged by injustices he read about in the paper, asked others to unite with him in common action.

He knew we could use our activism to achieve extraordinary things. He created Amnesty International.

Change did not happen overnight.

It took many conversations, many letters. Friends spoke to family members, the message spread, and one by one we secured the release of tens of thousands of people. People imprisoned for their beliefs or their way of life.

As activists lobbied governments, and researchers interviewed survivors, we demanded accountability for previously untouchable leaders. One by one each person who took action changed laws and changed lives.

50 years on, our work is not done – but we are more determined than ever to protect human rights. 50 years has shown that one by one we can. We have.

So today, we thank you for your work to defend human rights. Will you celebrate our birthday today?

In honor of 50 years of hard work and meaningful change, wish Amnesty a happy birthday today on Facebook, Twitter, and to your friends and family at home.

Proud to be an Egyptian

One of the largest non-violent revolutions in history, in the most populist state in the Arab world and the biggest country in Africa, is transpiring before our eyes! The people of Egypt have provided an example of determination, unity, honor and courage that has opened the eyes of the world to what is possible and what must be.

Following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatmas Gandhi, the fall of the Berlin Wall, People Power in the Philippines, the revolution in Romania, the revolts in the Czech Republic and thousands in Iran and Tunisia, the Egyptian people (from all walks of life, backgrounds, religious orientations and economic circumstances) have lit a path for freedom that can not and should not ever be taken for granted or dismissed.

The coming days, weeks, months and years will provide an opportunity for the army of Egypt (which is supposed to be a force for THE PEOPLE) to stay true to their word and be a stabilizing influence for real democratic change and the installation of democratic institutions. If they don’t, there is no doubt that Egyptians will arise in mass once more (despite the cost) and demand their hard fought for revolution be implemented and respected.

Many Egyptians are once again saying they are proud to be Egyptian. In fact, what they have done makes us all proud to be human. Now is the time to support the people of Egypt and similar democratic movements throughout the world, with our actions and not just give lip service as we (our government) has done in the past.

This will be the beginning of a worldwide change that will see authoritarian dictatorships around the globe either make drastic changes in how they treat their citizens or see similar mass civil disobedience and change regardless of their personal wishes for power or control. Countries such as Iran, Myanmar, Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Mozambique and China may see Egypt as a wake up call. Let us hope they wake up to allow peaceful democratic freedom and rights for their people and not to clamp down and impose further restrictions, violence and tyranny.

Thank you Egypt. You are one of the cradles of civilization. Perhaps you have now become the cradle of a new world order of peace, prosperity and freedom for all.

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