Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘UN’

Raped In Somalia – Go To Jail.

Dear Friends,

My name is Laila and I’m a journalist. I recently wrote a story about a young woman brutally gang-raped by government soldiers in Somalia, hoping that her bravery in telling such a painful story would bring attention to the awful rape problem there. Instead, the government used my article to jail a rape victim and another journalist covering the story for ‘insulting the state’!

somalirefugees

Rape is horrific, but to be raped when the only authorities you can turn to for justice are your rapists — it’s the most crushing powerlessness. But together I think we can bring her hope. That’s why I started a global petition on the Avaaz site, because Somalia’s government depends heavily on financing from other governments, so the international community can press them to stop the cover up and bring real reforms to end the epidemic of rape by security forces.

Our call for change could really work, but it needs to be big. UN envoy Zainab Bangura has told us that she will directly deliver our petition to donor countries and Somalia’s President. Help by signing and forwarding this email — let’s show these women that they’re not alone, and that no one has the authority to rape them:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Somalia_No_Authority_to_Rape/?bMPbqab&v=22221

The brave young woman was accused of fabricating her own rape by government officials before she even got a trial. Then, the judge refused to hear witnesses or accept medical evidence proving that she was raped. And she’s not alone: I’ve interviewed too many women who live in constant fear of getting shot or raped, often by the very people charged with protecting them.

But there is hope for Somalia like never before. In just 18 months, it has approved a new constitution, selected a new president, and is finally winning its war against extremists. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is in a position to act to protect women from his own armed forces, if we together give him a big reason to crack down on this state violence.

This innocent rape survivor and Abdiaziz Abdinur, the journalist who spoke to her, are facing a year in jail! Funders hold the key to changing the way Somalia’s own soldiers and security forces treat women. Sign now and forward this email to help grow a call big enough to change Somalia forever:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Somalia_No_Authority_to_Rape/?bMPbqab&v=22221

The Avaaz community has fought courageously to stop the war on women across the world. Last month, more than 1 million of us signed a petition calling for justice and real change in India after the tragic death of a rape victim in Delhi, and received encouraging signs from top government ministers that they were heeding our call. Now, we can bring that people power to Somalia and set the country on a new course.

WIth hope and determination,

Laila Ali, with the Avaaz team

*Laila is a British-Somali journalist based in Nairobi

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

1 Million Children

Dear Friends,

My name is Baaba Maal, and I’m a Senegalese musician writing with a personal plea for help. I live in Africa’s drought-struck Sahel region where 18 million people are on the brink of disaster, including 1 million children at risk of starvation. But our urgent appeals for help are being met with deafening silence. Only a targeted and overwhelming demand for action can stop this catastrophe from turning deadly.

The UN says millions of lives could be destroyed unless $1.5 billion in aid is channeled in immediately, but governments have pledged less than half the required sum. The countries who can make all the difference are the US, Japan, France and Germany, but they’re stalling — that’s why I started a petition on Avaaz’s Community Petitions website to appeal to the world for help.

In days, world leaders will gather in Brussels to discuss the Sahel — if they decide right there and then to pledge their fair share, we can avert disaster. Sign this urgent petition now — Avaaz, Africans Act 4 Africa, and Oxfam will deliver it in a coordinated stunt when we reach 1 million signatures:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_grain_sacks_are_empty/?bMPbqab&v=15205

Terrible drought, political unrest, and sky high food prices have wreaked havoc on an area the size of the US, stretching from Senegal in the west all the way to Sudan in the east. People here are doing everything they can to survive, but the crisis has hit so hard that it’s difficult to stay hopeful. I’ve seen women and children trying to grow food in patches of land that are bone dry. They know that people are talking about what is happening in the Sahel, but they don’t know if aid will ever arrive.

The UN has only received 43 percent of the $1.5 billion needed — it’s a shortfall of gargantuan proportions. But this gap must be filled, and can be filled by the world’s richest countries, if there’s political will. We don’t have much time to avert mass suffering, and I’m determined to speak on behalf of the people here until they get the help they need.

The world has turned a blind eye to crises like this before, but this time we can make the difference between life and death by forcing our governments to respond. Sign this urgent petition now:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_grain_sacks_are_empty/?bMPbqab&v=15205

Avaaz members have come together time and time again to respond to natural disasters, saving thousands of lives by ensuring that crucial aid was delivered to Burma, Haiti, Somalia and Pakistan. We have the power to force our leaders to stop idling away in the face of a crisis we can prevent. Let’s stand together now to demand that the world respond to the pleas of the millions living in the vast Sahel region.

With hope and determination,

Baaba Maal, with the Avaaz team

Syria Bleeds

>Dear Gabriel,

When will Russia do right by the people of Syria?

In the six weeks since Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s bloody crackdown, 1,179 Syrians have been killed. Amnesty International has received the names of well over 6,500 people killed since March 2011.

On Tuesday Russia vowed to keep pumping arms into the country — arms used to massacre civilians. Russia claims Syrian president Bashar al-Assad needs them to defend against opposition fighters.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of human rights abuses have been committed by state security forces. Amnesty has documented an extremely disturbing — near medieval — pattern of torture and humiliation of anyone merely suspected of opposing the government.

Satellite imagery from Homs and Hama show civilian neighborhoods pocked with artillery impact craters. Field guns are still trained on residential areas and armed forces have not been removed from cities, in direct defiance of a UN General Assembly resolution from mid-February.

It’s time for Russia to stop opposing strong action by the UN Security Council to end the violence in Syria.

Urge Russia to help end the human rights catastrophe in Syria.

While Russia defies international pleas for cooperation, evidence mounts of widespread crimes against humanity committed by security forces.

Amnesty’s new report “‘I Wanted to Die’: Syria’s Torture Survivors Speak Out” details systemic and horrific abuses committed in Syria’s detention centers. Former detainees (men and women) interviewed by Amnesty said that they had either experienced or witnessed 31 methods of torture and other ill-treatment:

“I was very badly beaten. They used pincers to remove flesh from my legs.” – Karim

“We were hung from wood — crucified — while blindfolded and handcuffed, and then beaten mercilessly for several hours.” – Musleh

“I could hear people screaming from the torture, which was worse than physical torture.” – Abd al-Baset

Russia can make a difference in Syria. It must.

Join Amnesty as we ratchet up the pressure on the Russian government. Sign our petition urging Russia to use its influence to bring an end to the grave human rights violations being committed in Syria.

Thank you for all you do to stand up for human rights.

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

Help the Syrian People Now

Dear Friends,

This urgent video appeal just came in from one of Avaaz’s brave citizen journalists in Syria — our community may be the only one that can help Danny and his friends before the next massacre.

Right now, the regime is murdering men, women and children and tearing cities apart. China and Russia just handcuffed international action at the UN and gave Assad license to unleash his murder machine to crush the Syrian Spring once and for all. But Danny and the democracy movement are more determined than ever and are urgently asking for our continued international solidarity and support.

Let’s be clear — as embassies close, medical agencies withdraw and journalists pull out, Avaaz has the only network that is both smuggling medical equipment and journalists in and images and information out. The UN has failed, but we can help peaceful democracy heroes like Danny loosen the dictator’s grip on their country. Click here to see Danny’s appeal and chip in now so we can continue our Arab spring campaigning and support for citizen journalists — if 20,000 of us donate now, we can get aid to the most besieged cities and towns before the next attack:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/smuggle_hope_into_syria_q/?vl

Activists like Danny are risking their lives for freedom and counting on our global support. On Saturday, Syria’s brutal forces killed another one of Avaaz’s citizen journalists, a 23-year-old named Omar who was a leader of our 400-strong network of activists as he pulled people from the rubble after a deadly massacre in Homs. Omar died as he lived, photographing the regime’s crimes, helping others and sacrificing for freedom. After the regime kicked the international media out, brave civilians like Danny and Omar have risked their lives to break the news blackout and help 18 of the world’s leading journalists from foreign news outlets into the locked-down country. It’s likely that the images you have seen on your TV or photographs in your newspaper came from this courageous team.

But that is just a part of what the Avaaz project has done. Thanks to the generous support of members across the world, Avaaz is providing a rare lifeline of critical support to the democracy movement in Syria. When activists told us medicines were running out, we set up a smuggling network to deliver over $1.8 million worth of medical equipment into the country, saving thousands of lives. When the Syrian National Council was struggling to present a credible leadership alternative to the world, we organized meetings in the UN, Russia and across Europe to support their work.

Day after day, Danny and Omar and hundreds of other heroes have turned out to film and protest, facing down tanks with no support from international governments. But what happens in the next two weeks will be decisive. This is the pinnacle of the Arab Spring and the global struggle against brutal despots. Together we can secure a lifeblood to the resistance and walk with the brave Syrian people on their journey to freedom. Click to watch Danny’s desperate appeal and make a life-saving donation now:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/smuggle_hope_into_syria_q/?vl

This year people power in the Middle East has taught the world an important lesson — together we are stronger than the fiercest dictator, and fiercer than the most ruthless army. On the streets of Syria, Avaaz is a beloved partner in the struggle for freedom. As one opposition leader put it, “the Syrian people have gained strength from knowing that the world, through the Avaaz community, stands with them.” Together, we have made the impossible possible and with our help Assad’s regime will come to end.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Ian, Antonia, Emma, Ricken, Mouhamad, Morgan, Wissam, Sam, Bissan, Will and the entire Avaaz team

Take Action On Syria

The UN Security Council has urged Syria’s president to make good on his stated commitment to reform. But what has the Council actually done to stop the widespread abuses being committed in Syria?

Certainly not all it could do.

If the Council was serious about stopping the widespread abuses, then it would demand accountability for the Syrian government’s brutal crimes.

If the Council was serious about stopping the widespread abuses, then it would impose strict measures against Syria, including an arms embargo and freezing the assets of President al-Assad.

What are they waiting for? Urge South Africa, India and Brazil to speak up now to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Most certainly, if the Council was serious about stopping the widespread abuses, then it would refer the worsening situation to the International Criminal Court. This would be the strongest signal possible that individual perpetrators will face justice and deter future violations.

Some members of the Security Council are getting the message and have begun calling for concrete action. But petty political bickering within the Council has swayed increasingly influential members — South Africa, India and Brazil — to the side of inaction.

Until the Council takes firm action, the people of Syria remain at the mercy of a government that shows no signs of stopping its 5 month-long crackdown on human rights.

Right now, Amnesty is building a powerful case against Syria. The evidence of grave human rights abuses is mounting.

Here is where pressure from supporters like you makes all the difference.

In the coming weeks we’ll be unveiling some new data that we’re confident will cause a stir. This evidence will certainly get people talking, but we need you to help get them moving!

Every message of support counts. Tell the governments of South Africa, India and Brazil that it’s time to get serious about Syria.

In Solidarity,

Christoph Koettl
Campaigner, Crisis Prevention and Response
Amnesty International USA

Stop Somalia’s Tragedy

From AVAAZ.org: The World In Action.

Dear friends,

More than 2000 people are dying every day in Somalia, in a famine that threatens to starve more than eleven million people to death. Conflict between Somalia’s Al-Shabaab regime and world leaders has kept out aid that could end the famine. But a few key countries have the power to broker a deal to stop the suffering.

Sign the urgent petition for a humanitarian truce and forward to everyone: AVAAZ.ORG

The famine-hit area is governed by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist regime that is linked to terrorist groups. The isolation and conflict between Al-Shabaab, other local leaders, and the international community has kept out much of the aid and trade that could end the famine. But a few key countries, including the United Arab Emirates, still trade with Al-Shabaab — they have an opportunity to broker a deal with the regime and break the stalemate that threatens the survival of millions.

We cannot let the politics of the war on terror claim any more innocent lives. It’s time for the international community and Al-Shabaab to come to an agreement to immediately get food to the suffering Somali people. The UN Security Council is meeting in a few days — let’s demand that they take immediate action to support key Arab nations in an effort to open talks with Al-Shabaab on cooperating to end the famine and seize this chance for a long-term political solution.

Somalia’s government was destroyed in 2006 by a US-backed invasion which feared Islamic extremism. But the tactic backfired. Since then, even more radical groups like Al-Shabaab took over and brutalized most of Somalia, and the international community has propped up a corrupt government whose control is limited to parts of the capital. The policies of isolation, invasion and pressure in the war on terror have not helped anyone, and now thousands of Somalis are dying every day. It’s time for a new approach.

The US has already stepped up to tackle the crisis, relaxing anti-terrorism laws that blocked aid from reaching the Somali people in Al-Shabaab’s region. Meanwhile, there are growing cracks within insurgent groups, and some leaders are willing to let aid in. But it is not enough to break the wall that surrounds those hardest hit by famine. Only bold international diplomacy can engage with all key parties to ensure that relief safely reaches the hundreds of thousands of desperate families.

One of Al-Shabaab’s largest sources of income comes from cutting down acacia trees for charcoal, which they illegally export primarily to the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries. These nations could now leverage their economic ties to Al-Shabaab to play a crucial diplomatic role and guarantee humanitarian access to famine-stricken areas.

We urgently need a new direction for Somalia — let’s appeal to the UN Security Council to support key Gulf countries to lead mediation efforts to ensure that Somalis dying behind Al-Shabaab’s lines are able to access life-saving food and health care for themselves and their starving children.

Together, Avaaz members have ensured crucial aid was delivered in Burma, Haiti and Pakistan after natural disasters, saving thousands of lives. Now, as the world watches heartbreaking images of dying children in shock and horror, we can urge key countries to show the leadership the Somali people urgently need — let’s stand together now and help end the tragedy in Somalia.

With hope and determination,

Luis, Stephanie, Maria Paz, Emma, Ricken, Giulia, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

TAKE ACTION AT AVAAZ.ORG

Children at Rwandan Airport

This is part of a story by Sean at ROP Stories. If you can’t fly to Rwanda, please lend a hand by donating to the ROP Center for Street Children and help with food, water, schooling, job training, clothes and health care.

ROP VISITS THE AIRPORT

Most of us take airplanes for granted. For some, like me, they are fascinating. For others they are simply another form of transportation. But for all of us they are commonplace. Airports and airplanes, ho-hum.

To our boys though, they are quite interesting. The ROP Center sits just outside of the airport, so they are quite used to seeing airliners sporadically roaring overhead. But they seem quite interested every time, especially when it’s Ethiopian Airlines’ big 767 or the UN’s massive, deafening cargo plane that makes the ground tremble as it departs Kigali. They also see numerous helicopters buzzing around throughout the day. This is undoubtedly why, when Jenny gives the boys paper and pencils for drawing, there are always at least a few who draw their own versions of aircraft and helos.

Even before we left Rwanda for our visit to America, the younger boys had been asking Jenny if she could arrange a visit at the airport for them. Upon our return she submitted a letter to the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority requesting we be allowed a tour. After a short wait they called her to inform her that they accepted and gave her a date. On Tuesday we decided to inform the boys while they were all having lunch in the dining hall. Jenny told them, “Since you all have been so good lately, we have arranged a very special trip for you.” Celestin, the director, asked is anyone wanted to guess where. Several of the boys began shouting “America! America!”. Jenny and I immediately felt that the real surprise would now probably be disappointing, but we told them and they seemed quite happy, especially the younger boys.

CONCLUSION OF VISIT AND MORE PHOTOS

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