Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Write for 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

Advertisements

Tweet To Jail In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Is tweeting a crime in Bahrain?

Ask @NabeelRajab. After tweeting a sentence shorter than the one you’re reading right now to Bahrain’s Prime Minister demanding political change, Nabeel Rajab was arrested.

Is protesting a crime in Bahrain?

For taking that same message to the streets through organized protests, Nabeel was once again charged and this time, sentenced to 3 years in prison. In fact, since May of this year, Nabeel – a prominent leader of the human rights movement in Bahrain – has been kept in a small, dark cell.

Tell Bahraini authorities to free Nabeel Rajab now! Send a message by Tuesday and we’ll amplify your voice during our upcoming demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, we know that Bahraini authorities aren’t just after Nabeel Rajab. They want to tear down everything he stands for. They want to intimidate others so that no one will stand with him. They want Nabeel Rajab to sit in that small, dark cell and feel alone.

But that won’t happen. Nabeel Rajab will never sit alone in darkness because Amnesty International will always be there to shine a light. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Nabeel’s peaceful actions for freedom in Bahrain — from tweets to marching in the streets — exemplify why he is a signature case for Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights event. That is because whether you show solidarity by writing and mailing letters, updating your Facebook status, organizing rallies or taking any solidarity action in between, you can make a difference in the lives of this year’s 10 Write for Rights cases.

Mark your calendars, because from December 5 – 16, we will build upon Amnesty’s 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives. Thousands will gather in classrooms, coffee shops, community centers and more; united by the power of the letter and for the cause of writing for human rights.

But we start building momentum today. Your action for Nabeel Rajab right now will fuel our special demonstration in D.C. on Tuesday to draw attention to Bahrain’s disgraceful treatment of Nabeel Rajab and its crackdown on human rights. For every 100 actions taken, we will hold a special place so that we can represent our full force — that means you! — when we hit the streets.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see how your actions will add power to our work to free Nabeel. Take action to free Nabeel Rajab now so that we can add your voice to Tuesday’s special demonstration.

The spark for this year’s Write for Rights begins with you, but the flame that burns for Nabeel Rajab and others who defend human rights will last forever.

In Solidarity,

Beth Ann Toupin
Country Specialist, Bahrain
Amnesty International USA

No Parole for Children

Dear Gabriel,

Locked up for life at 16. No possibility of parole. Christi Cheramie is living a nightmare.

When Christi was 16 years old, back in 1994, she couldn’t vote, drink alcohol, serve on a jury, or buy lottery tickets. She was considered a minor — a child. But that didn’t stop the state of Louisiana from giving this 16-year-old a sentence of life without parole.

Ask Louisiana’s governor and the state Board of Pardons to grant clemency to Christi Cheramie.

Only in the U.S. — where children as young as 11 have faced life in prison — are such harsh sentences against juveniles allowed. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits life without parole for offenses committed under the age of 18. This is not about excusing or minimizing the consequences of crimes committed by children, but about recognizing that children are not yet fully responsible for their actions and have special potential for rehabilitation and change.

Christi, now 33 years old, has spent more than half of her young life in prison. She’s earned her high school equivalency diploma and an associate’s degree in Agriculture Studies, and teaches classes to her fellow inmates. A prison warden who oversaw Christi considers her a “model inmate” who has grown into a “remarkable young woman” deserving of “a second chance in society.”

But if we don’t act, a mandatory sentence of life without parole means that Christi will die in prison. A victim of sexual abuse and depression, and caught in the web of an aggressive and controlling older fiancé, Christi found herself at the grisly murder scene of her fiancé’s great aunt. She was charged with murder just for being there — even though it was her fiancé who wielded the knife.

The victim’s closest family members are sympathetic to Christi’s case. But Christi’s fate is now in the hands of Louisiana’s governor and Board of Pardons.

Our 2011 Write for Rights campaign highlighted Christi’s case, and thousands of letters have already poured into Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s office. Next week, the Board of Pardons will meet to decide whether or not to move forward with Christi’s clemency application — a decision that the governor can influence. We must keep the momentum going from Write for Rights — and the time to act is now!

Christi has already changed people’s lives through her work at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, but she will never be able to realize her full potential — and society won’t benefit from her potential contributions — if she spends the rest of her life behind bars.

It’s time for the U.S. to join the rest of the world and end the cruel and unusual punishment of juvenile life without parole. People convicted of crimes while still children — like Christi Cheramie — should be given a chance at rehabilitation. They shouldn’t be left to grow old in a jail cell.

You can make a difference in Christi’s case. Sign our petition now calling for clemency for Christi Cheramie.

Thank You,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

Teachers In Bahrain

The nightmare faced by two teachers in Bahrain. It’s why we Write for Rights.

Dear Gabriel,

The terrifying threats. “We can do anything to you. Anything.” Mocked, tortured, threatened. Forced to sign a confession, without even being allowed to read it. Civilians subject to an unjust military trial.

This is the story of two former leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, who were arrested and ill-treated during this spring’s protests in Bahrain. Jalila and Mahdi are among the 15 cases featured in Amnesty’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon this year.

Write a letter for Jalila and Mahdi, and other urgent human rights cases — join thousands of others worldwide to Write for Rights this December.

Your letters are urgently needed. Next week marks a key milestone in Jalila and Mahdi’s case. One day after International Human Rights Day on December 10th, Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb face an appeal hearing.

Why are these two teachers considered so “dangerous”? Because their trade union called for a teachers strike during Bahraini protests this spring — protests seeking reform of a government that has used torture and excessive force against its own citizens.

Jalila and Mahdi have seen the horrific behavior of Bahrain’s government firsthand. Mahdi spent 64 days in solitary confinement, where he says he was tortured. And when Jalila demanded a lawyer after her arrest, she says the authorities rebuffed her with the chilling words: “Who said you would have a lawyer in here? It’s us, only us. And we have the permission to do anything to you to [get] the testimony we want.”

After unfair trials before a military court, Jalila was sentenced to three years in prison, and Mahdi was sentenced to ten years. It’s clear that Bahrain’s authorities have no regard for human rights.

Don’t let Jalila and Mahdi face their appeal hearing alone. Be there by writing a letter. It’s not too late — join us to Write for Rights.

Thank You,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

Write To Save A Life

Dear Gabriel,

Black man. White murder victims. No physical evidence. Sentenced to death despite massive doubts. Sound familiar?

This is Reggie Clemons. Like Troy Davis before him, Reggie has been in prison for 20 years, waiting for his home state to end his life.

From the investigation to the trial to the appeals process, issues of unfairness plague Reggie’s case. Two young women tragically lost their lives, but we cannot be sure that Reggie was responsible for their deaths. He has been sentenced to death for a crime he may not have committed.

Amnesty is fighting for clemency for Reggie, just as we did for Troy, and today our movement is swelling.

Rally for Reggie during Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon. Don’t wait – this event begins on Saturday, Dec. 3, less than a week from now.

Yes, I’ll pledge to write a letter for Reggie and for other urgent cases! Sign me up – and count my letters toward your 250,000 letter goal.

During Write for Rights we’re shining a light on 15 priority cases, including Reggie’s. Each one of these cases represents an individual or group suffering human rights abuses. Several are at imminent risk of death or terrible mistreatment.

Reggie himself faces a hearing early next year that could mean the difference between life and death. Your letters may help push Missouri authorities to make the right decision to spare Reggie’s life.

Our Write for Rights campaign has saved lives before by generating floods of letters that governments can’t ignore.

We cannot be silent when injustice is all around us. Reggie and other Write for Rights cases – from Shin Sook-ja and other women, men, and children held in North Korea’s notorious Yodok political prison camp, to the residents facing imminent eviction from their homes in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to China’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo – need you to raise your voice.

Pledge to write letters of hope on your own, or host an event at your home, church, school, library or community center. More letters mean more impact, and every single letter counts.

Will you write a letter to save a life? Sign up now to Write for Rights!

In solidarity,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

Champion’s For Humanity

Dear Gabriel,

If you want to know why letters are important, just ask Yusak Pakage.

Yusak was serving a 10-year prison sentence in Indonesia simply for taking part in a peaceful flag-raising ceremony. Amnesty International supporters campaigned for his release, and in 2010, authorities freed him. He knows from personal experience the impact Amnesty’s letters can have.

“Amnesty is … the strength for those drowning … the friend of the excluded … the protector of those in need … and the hope which keeps our hope alive,” Yusak Pakage told Amnesty International members after his release from prison.

Will you donate today to support Amnesty International’s life-saving human rights work?

This year’s Write for Rights starts in a few weeks. Letter-writers will send messages to demand release of imprisoned Azerbaijani youth activist Jabbar Savalan, Iranian student organizers Behareh Hedayat and Majid Tavakkoli, and Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, among others.

Donate today to support Amnesty International and our 2011 Write for Rights campaign.

For 50 years, Amnesty has given us the ability and the opportunity to expose and confront abuses in a way that is profound, fulfilling and effective.

When you Write for Rights, your words bolster a human rights defender whose life is in jeopardy. They ignite hope in a forgotten prisoner.

“Thank you to Amnesty International members across the world from someone who has suffered and who now smiles again thanks to Amnesty.” — Yusak Pakage

When you make a financial contribution to Amnesty, you empower a formidable human rights movement. A movement that is tackling crises around the world, and needs your help now.

Donate today.

Sincerely,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Campaign Director, Individuals at Risk
Amnesty International USA

Post on Facebook, Go to Jail!

From Amnesty International USA

Dear Gabriel,

Arrested for posting a note to Facebook?! If there was ever a need for a “Dislike” button on Facebook, this is it.

When you log in to Facebook, you might expect to hear from long-lost friends or to see pictures from the latest family reunion. Maybe you follow Amnesty on Facebook and learn about ways you can make a difference for human rights.

But when you log off, you probably don’t expect the police to come knocking on your door.

That’s what happened to Jabbar Savalan, a 20-year-old Azerbaijani student activist framed and punished by his government for calling for a protest on Facebook.

The Azerbaijan government’s assault upon the right to freedom of expression is a travesty.

Tell the authorities that you “Dislike” injustice. Sign Amnesty’s online petition calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Jabbar Savalan.

Jabbar is one case in this year’s Write for Rights campaign, Amnesty’s annual human rights letter-writing marathon. Hundreds of thousands of people will be participating this year, writing letters of hope and solidarity to free prisoners of conscience and combat injustice worldwide.

Maybe this is your first time writing for rights, or maybe you’ve taken this action before. Now’s the time to pledge your participation in this event – starting with signing this online petition for Jabbar.

During Write for Rights, December 3-11, Amnesty will deliver the petition signatures along with a giant Facebook-inspired “Dislike” thumbs-down sign to Azerbaijan’s diplomatic offices in the U.S.

Jabbar’s case is deeply troubling. Azerbaijani authorities didn’t like his Facebook post, so they began following him. One day later, they arrested him without explanation.

Jabbar knew something was very wrong that night. Police never read him his rights. He wasn’t searched right away. He was manhandled in the police vehicle.

It was only when Jabbar arrived at the police station that authorities did an official search, and that’s when they “discovered” marijuana in his outer jacket pocket. It was all too convenient. Officials in Azerbaijan have a history of using trumped-up drug charges to smother dissent. Jabbar maintains he’s never used drugs in his life.

Jabbar was jailed for a Facebook post. If we don’t call out authorities on abusive behavior, wherever and whenever it happens, it will only get worse. They will crush and crush and crush, ever more recklessly, inhumanely and unlawfully.

If freedom is something we cherish, then we must defend it. Jabbar Savalan was jailed because of his beliefs, and as human rights defenders, we can’t let this stand.

Join thousands of others around the world fighting for Jabbar and other cases during this year’s Write for Rights campaign. Freedom for Jabbar and others like him is only possible if we take a stand — together.

Add your name to Amnesty’s petition calling for Jabbar’s release.

In solidarity,

Michael O’Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Write for Rights is a powerful, inspiring event – the largest grassroots letter-writing campaign in the entire world. Put pen to paper and deepen your commitment to human rights. Find Write for Rights events near you and learn more by visiting amnestyusa.org/writeathon.

Tag Cloud