26 October 2006

the u.s. senate must help end violence in darfur...

the u.s. senate can still do more to encourage the arab league, china and russia to press the sdanese government to admit u.n. peacekeepers immediately and save thousands of lives...

learn more...

take action...

peace out <3

23 October 2006

"get your red hot holiday cards right here..."

you may not have heard this particular vendor at a baseball game but that's the beauty of cyber-venues - reality can be stretched and massaged to be more friendly, fun, clever even...

so what i'm sharing with you today is that if you send holiday cards to your friends and family members (and you probably do) then why not check out the beautiful cards available from amnesty international ...

fill those close to you with your warmest thoughts and support human rights at the same time...

peace out <3

20 October 2006

amnesty international works!!!!

Charges Dropped Against Border Aid Workers

Mexico, USA: On September 1, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins dismissed the case against humanitarian aid workers Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss. Sellz and Strauss had been charged with transporting undocumented migrants after providing assistance to three men found in apparently life-threatening condition in the Arizona desert last July. Thanks to all who took action on their behalf!Download the interview with Daniel and Shanti as featured on Law and Disorder radio. MP3 format 15MB. 2006-09-01

Guantánamo detainee, Murat Kurnaz has been released!

Murat Kurnaz © Private"He is now again in the circle of his family. Their joy at embracing their lost son again is indescribable" -- statement from Murat's lawyer Germany, Turkey, USA: Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish national born in Germany and featured in AIUSA's Holiday Card action, was released on August 24, 2006 from Guantánamo. He had been held for four years and eight months without charge or trial. In January 2005, a U.S. federal judge cited his case as illustrative of the inherent unfairness and fundamental flaws of the administrative review process in Guantánamo. 2006-08-24

Marcelino Miranda, Leonardo Miranda, and Feliciano Pineda Freed

Marcelino Miranda (top left), Leonardo Miranda (lower left), and Feliciano Pineda (right). © PrivateHonduras: Leonardo Miranda, the last of three Honduran prisoners of conscience on whose behalf AIUSA has campaigned for the past year through its Special Focus Case project, was freed on August 15, 2006. Leonardo's brother Marcelino was freed on July 12, 2006, following a decision by the Honduran Supreme Court in June that acquitted Marcelino and Leonardo of a 2001 murder for which they were wrongfully imprisoned. On August 15, a lower court commuted Leonardo's sentence on another charge, resulting in his release. Amnesty believed the two brothers and another indigenous rights activist, Feliciano Pineda, were jailed in connection with their efforts to secure communal land titles for their communities in Montaña Verde. Pineda was released from detention in February 2006. The Casework Office extends its thanks and congratulations to all AIUSA activists, especially those in the Western Region, who took action on behalf of these three indigenous leaders. 2006-08-15

peace out <3

17 October 2006

let it grow, greatly yield...

if you check out our metro nashville amnesty international listserve you'll see it was initiated in october of 2000 (which coincidentally was the last time i experienced a period of unemployment)...so "we've" been together for six years now...

those six years have witnessed a true ebb and flow in both participation and action, at some points being no more than lynne and myself ... and that's why this year is very exciting ... there is a gathering of young, bright, passionate, energetic persons around the ideas and ideal of amnesty international - the world's largest grassroots human rights organization and network..

the witness i bear emerged out of the past week ... wednesday (11th) five of us gathered to map out an action calendar for the activist (roughly the same as an academic year)...and this was an "extra" meeting that people had to demonstrate an abiding commitment to the cause and the work...and three of those persons - rosa, diba, and betsy - are from this emergent group of young leaders...

to follow-up on monday night (16th) we had six people at the monthly chapter meeting only 2 of which were at last week's meeting...with becky, amanda, jen, and diba (again) coming from this pack of courageous young activists ... but that's not all - amanda and becky come with very diverse amnesty experience...

so my personal and humble thanks to everyone who is coming together to build a special social action network ... and maybe more...

peace out <3

Let it grow, let it grow, greatly yield.

What shall we say, shall we call it by a name,
As well to count the angels dancing on a pin.
Water bright as the sky from which it came,
And the name is on the earth that takes it in.
We will not speak but stand inside the rain,
And listen to the thunder shouting I am! I am! I am! I am.


Tuesday, October 17
Nashville, TN
7 – 9 p.m

A fierce, heated national discussion and debate about immigration and related issues has been taking place in recent months. This discussion has certainly found its way into our own community in which immigrants, in large numbers, have come to live. In fact, between 1990 and 2000, Tennessee has witnessed the sixth greatest increase of immigrants (169%) and the fourth greatest increase of Latinos (278%) in the country.

Too often, the animated discussion and debate on immigration has been fueled by inaccurate information, volatile rhetoric, and questionable calls for action. What seems to be sorely needed is a sensibly and rationally framed conversation centered on reasonable dialogue and truthful information. To this end, a coalition of community organizations has organized an educational forum and discussion, Immigration: Making Sense of the Debate, which will be held at the Scarritt-Bennett Center on Tuesday, October 17, from 7 – 9 p.m This event is designed to break through the emotionally driven rhetoric coming from the far sides on this issue, to center on a thoughtful and constructive conversation on immigration and the positive steps that we can take to address the problems associated with it.

Presentations will be made Dr. Katharine Donato (Vanderbilt Professor of Sociology), Stephen Fotopulos (Policy Director – Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition), and Tom Negri (Tennessee Hotel Association), and will include testimonies of immigrant families. Reasonable solutions to the problems and challenges at hand will also be shared for consideration. There will be ample opportunity for audience interaction and response.

14 October 2006

this blog has prescience!

on thursday the 12th we blogged about women in darfur bearing a huge burden of the violence (gender based) resulting from the genocidal government policy emanating from khartoum...

on friday the 13th amnesty international issued a public statement calling for protection of civilians as janjawid renew attacks on eastern chad...chad being the place that displaced refugees are fleeing to in order to escape the violence in darfur (western sudan)...

the report says in part: "Janjawid are once more crossing the border of Sudan and attacking villages in Eastern Chad. Several villages -- possibly up to 10 villages -- were raided in attacks starting 3 October."

for the full statement click here ... to sign the petition to help stop the killing in darfur click here ...

this blog rocks because either we are psychic or just damn good - you decide which...

peace out <3

12 October 2006

women bear heavy burden of violence in darfur...

most of you are by now familiar with the crisis in (the) darfur region of the sudan ... but many of us do not realize or appreciate that much of the violence perpetrated in the darfur conflict has resulted in grave human rights violations against women...these violations against women and girls include abductions, rape and forced displacement...the only real protection being provided for Darfuri women and girls has been from african union mission in sudan (AMIS), despite significant restrictions on its capabilities...

here's a tool to assist you in learning more about this specific aspect of the crisis in darfur ...

Sameera's Tears
Watch two film clips from the documentary, "Sameera's Tears," with Rev. Dr. White-Hammond (grateful thanks to Liz Walker, journalist and co-founder of My Sister's Keeper, a grassroots organization supporting micro-enterprise projects for women in Sudan; without her permission, exhibition of this footage would not be possible).

Clip 1 (high-speed low-speed)
Clip 2 (high-speed low-speed)

for public education and outreach here in nashville we have a mounted and laminated set of the photo exhibit Yesterday My Village Was Burned available to install at faith communities (churches, mosques, synagogues), schools, businesses, or even home for a small handling fee...

for access to full background and available actions on the crisis in darfur click here ...

peace out <3

10 October 2006

World Day Against the Death Penalty...

On October 10th, an international coalition of like-minded associations is joining together in an effort to abolish the death penalty worldwide. This year 53 human rights organizations, bar associations, trade unions, and local and regional authorities are promoting the theme of the death penalty being an egregious failure of justice. The five critical aspects being highlighted are child offenders, discrimination of foreign nationals, unfair trials, mental illness, and innocence. Last year, the World Day resulted in some 263 initiatives throughout the world in 46 countries.
Act Now!

China – executes innocent people then sells their organs »
Iran – executes child offenders »
Saudi Arabia – executes foreign nationals after unfair trials »See our Ramadan actions »
United States – executes the mentally-ill »
Nigeria – executes defendants without legal representation »

Amnesty International works of the abolition of the death penalty worldwide. Two thirds of the countries in the world – 129 – have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In 2005, only 22 countries carried out executions. 94% of the 2,148 executions documented by Amnesty International took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

Hundreds of events, debates, concerts, press conferences, radio interviews, exhibitions and plays will be organized around the world to condemn the death penalty. Mark the date to bring the message to the world: the death penalty is not justice.

Further information on the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty is available on their website at http://www.worldcoalition.org/ or email coalition@abolition.fr

09 October 2006

garrison keillor on "the compromise"...

it's my birthday so i could take liberties if i chose, but since it's not about me but the issues i'm simply going to share garrison keillor's strong words of disappointment in the congress for accepting the current u.s. administration's efforts to drop support for provisions of the geneva conventions on the treatment of prisoners and continue to erode civil liberties protections here at home...

peace out <3>_____________

Congress' shameful retreat from American values
Garrison Keillor...October 4, 2006

I would not send my college kid off for a semester abroad if I were you. Last week, we suspended human rights in America, and what goes around comes around. Ixnay habeas corpus.

The U.S. Senate, in all its splendor and majesty, decided that an "enemy combatant" is any non-citizen whom the president says is an enemy combatant, including your Korean greengrocer or your Swedish grandmother or your Czech au pair, and can be arrested and held for as long as authorities wish without any right of appeal to a court of law to examine the matter. If your college kid were to be arrested in Bangkok or Cairo, suspected of "crimes against the state" and held in prison, you'd assume that an American foreign service officer would be able to speak to your kid and arrange for a lawyer, but this may not be true anymore. Be forewarned.

The Senate also decided it's up to the president to decide whether it's OK to make these enemies stand naked in cold rooms for a couple of days in blinding light and be beaten by interrogators. This is now purely a bureaucratic matter: The plenipotentiary stamps the file "enemy combatants" and throws the poor schnooks into prison and at his leisure he tries them by any sort of kangaroo court he wishes to assemble and they have no right to see the evidence against them, and there is no appeal. This was passed by 65 senators and will now be signed by President Bush, put into effect, and in due course be thrown out by the courts.

It's good that Barry Goldwater is dead because this would have killed him. Go back to the Senate of 1964--Goldwater, Dirksen, Russell, McCarthy, Javits, Morse, Fulbright--and you won't find more than 10 votes for it.

None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Ideal. Mark their names. Any institution of higher learning that grants honorary degrees to these people forfeits its honor. Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Burr, Carper, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kyl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Menendez, Murkowski, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Roberts, Rockefeller, Salazar, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stabenow, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich, Warner.

To paraphrase Sir Walter Scott: Mark their names and mark them well. For them, no minstrel raptures swell. High though their titles, proud their name, boundless their wealth as wish can claim, these wretched figures shall go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung.

Three Republican senators made a show of opposing the bill and after they'd collected all the praise they could get, they quickly folded. Why be a hero when you can be fairly sure that the court will dispose of this piece of garbage.

If, however, the court does not, then our country has taken a step toward totalitarianism. If the government can round up someone and never be required to explain why, then it's no longer the United States as you and I always understood it. Our enemies have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They have made us become like them.

I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for "Homegrown Democrat," but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, "I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics--I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service." And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?

The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo Bay, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise. So why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?

- Garrison Keillor is a syndicated columnist and host of "A Prairie Home Companion."

08 October 2006

put your faith where your mouth is...

true, i've adapted the adage but with good reason...october 22nd through the 24th is amnesty international usa's national weekend of faith in action on the death penalty...

the 9th annual...so we should give a great big shout out to kristin houle (or k-bear as she's known far and wide) and her buddies morgan and sue in aiusa's program to abolish the death penalty... S-A-L-U-T-E!!!

as k-bear likes to say, "The National Weekend of Faith in Action (NWFA) is an opportunity for faith communities, interfaith groups, human rights activists, and others to examine the death penalty from a faith-based or values-based perspective. Set aside some time during the weekend of October 20-22 for an activity or event that focuses on the death penalty issue, using the ideas and resources provided by Amnesty International USA as your guide."

anyhoo - here in tennessee between aiusa and the tennessee coalition to abolish state killing we've already signed up more than 40 faith communities and groups to participate...and what do these places receive for signing on??? well you get all sorts of ideas on how to engage your group, lots of materials including amnesty international's capital punishment fact sheets, and a copy of the dvd the empty chair or the exonerated (while they last)...

if you have questions or want to sign up a group (including your local or student amnesty international group) send an e-mail to either k-bear or myself...

peace out <3

05 October 2006

amanda - meet the indigo girls...

"check, check, check..."

it's a sound you'll get well before the concert if you go early enough and it's something that amnesty international volunteers get to hear plenty of...thanks to angie hougas and nancy lutz who run the rhythm n' rights program for amnesty international...

and tabling at a concert is a great way to get new volunteers involved in your local chapter ... enter amanda van doorn...amanda recently moved to nashville after having worked with amnesty in college - she hooked up with us through the state chapter list on the amnesty website and volunteered right away to help us out with the october 3rd indigo girls concert at the ryman auditorium ... "the girls" - touring to support their 10th studio album release, despite our differences and celebrating their 20th anniversary of making music together - have been longtime supporters of the work of amnesty international and even played an anti-death penalty concert at the same venue in 1999 organized by the legendary steve earle...

here's amanda's account of the evening...peace out <3

The Indigo Girls were kind enough to allow Amnesty International to table at their concert they held in Nashville on Tuesday night. I had the pleasure of tabling with Lynne and we tabled beside volunteers from the Vote No on 1 campaign. We had several petitions at our table which were about: the situation in Darfur/Sudan, the disappearance of children in Sri Lanka, and the discrimination and violence women currently face in Guatemala. We also handed out flyers with information about our local group and encouraged people to sign up to be on the email listserve.

We had a great response and it was awesome to have the opportunity to talk to people about these various issues and the mission of Amnesty International. Everyone we talked to seemed receptive to our message and many concertgoers were excited to see that Amnesty was at the event. Being at this event allowed us to educate people on the issues mentioned above, while also giving us the chance to promote our group and establish new contacts.

In the end, it is all about getting out there and educating people, promoting awareness; tabling is an excellent opportunity to accomplish these tasks. You should never under estimate the power of action and your ability to help make a difference.

Thank you to the Indigo Girls for allowing us to be at their concert and thank you to all the people from Rhythm n' Rights who provided the Nashville chapter with this excellent opportunity.

03 October 2006

17 year old kortney hartz rocks the world...

organizing is not only about nuts and bolts but its also about inspiration and motivation...and its about engaging people while they are still young enough to teach those of us who already "know," whattup... so here's some irie words from a a "long-time" human rights activist in nyc...

Resist and Desist

Kortney Hartz,
Senior at Elisabeth Irwin High School

Sudan, Iran, Uganda, Rwanda, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil
All within the vicinity of hate,
Two miles away from the tag line
Never Again.
And men take the bait of humanity's
Degeneration kept in a mason jar at the bedside
Of exploited power.
And those hippies replacing bullets for flowers
Aren't Americans
Because they don't understand how we win.
So, cut off your long hair and replace it with this hardware
Created by politicians that glorify silence through blood-encrusted reverence.
Who forgot about the whips and the colonization of our
Mother Country,
They took the slave-ship and called it a yacht
Bought and sold oppression without a mention to the
Livelihood of humanity.
So I get down on my knees for the Sudanese
who are waiting for the pressure of atrocity to implode the measure of guilt we all
supposedly feel.
Note that in my anger I can only speak for my weak soul
That can't bear the excursions that justice likes to take in times of need.
So put one hand over your heart and repeat after me
Resist and Desist Injustice.

peace out <3