30 December 2007

japanese "comfort women" win breakthrough battle for dignity...

the european parliament has adopted a resolution on survivors of japan’s military sexual slavery system (the so-called ‘comfort women’ system), which urges the government of japan to acknowledge, apologize and compensate the victims...

thousands of women, known as ‘comfort women’, were officially commissioned by the government of japan from the 1930s through the duration of the second world war for sexual servitude for the armed forces...the full extent of the sexual slavery system has never been fully disclosed by the government of japan though it is thought that as many as 200,000 women were enslaved...to this day, the government of japan has refused to acknowledge its responsibility for the crimes committed against former ‘comfort women’...

the ‘comfort women’ system of forced military prostitution allowed for a range of abuses, such as sexual violence including gang rape and forced abortions, in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century...many of the women are now in their 80s and hoping that justice can still be achieved in their lifetime and have been courageously speaking out and sharing their experiences...

gil won ok, 79, was born in what is now north korea...when she was 13 she was promised factory work, but eventually found herself in a comfort station in northeast china where she worked as a ‘comfort woman’...

gil caught syphilis and developed tumors during her work as a ‘comfort woman’ and eventually, a japanese military doctor removed her uterus leaving her unable to bear children...gil, who broke her silence in 1998, 53 years after her traumatic experience, recently gave testimony at the european parliament. ..gil said of the need to continue campaigning,

“the Japanese Government thinks if all ‘comfort women’ die, it will be buried and forgotten…as long as our next generation knows about it, it will not be forgotten”.

the european parliament is one of a string of parliaments taking a stand against past atrocities calling for the government of japan to provide justice to the survivors of japan’s military sexual slavery system...other countries are considering tabling similar resolutions...

the government of japan must act immediately to provide redress to those who suffered under the ‘comfort women’ system...many survivors have subsequently suffered from mental and physical abuse, ill-health, isolation, shame and often extreme poverty...the government of japan must act now to:

  • acknowledge full responsibility for the ‘comfort women’ system and publicly apologize to the survivors
  • provide adequate and effective compensation to survivors and their immediate families
  • publicly denounce sexual violence against women whenever and wherever it occurs

read more
still waiting after 60 years: justice for survivors of japan's military sexual slavery system

peace out <3

28 December 2007

join me in a year end resolution to support human dignity for all...

"I think the sterling, unshakable commitment of Amnesty International... is the greatest beacon on which we can depend. Amnesty never wavers in their protection of human rights."
- President Jimmy Carter (December 12, 2007) -

please make a year-end, tax-deductible donation to amnesty international

this holiday season, amnesty international sends thanks to their members - people like you and i - for their generous contributions over the past year...because of our support, they can continue our life-saving work and our unshakable commitment to human rights...thanks to people like us, they will continue to shine a light for the red prisoner, the red-robed monk, the pakistani lawyer, the darfuri refugee...

in order to maintain complete independence from government, corporate or national interests, amnesty relies heavily upon individual contributions...this makes your support, and mine, invaluable...

you and i, we, share a vision of a world in which every person - regardless of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity - enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and other international human rights standards...

support this vision - consider a year-end donation to amnesty international

peace out <3

27 December 2007

indigenous prisoner of conscience set free from mexican jail...

here's a little good news for your mornin'...

a prisoner of conscience and mother-of-five has been released from jail in mexico after spending more than 18 months in custody...

magdalena garcía durán, an indigenous mazahua street vendor, was set free on 22 november after courts said there was no evidence justifying her detention and trial on charges of kidnapping and attacks on public roads...

after her release, she thanked amnesty international, which has campaigned extensively on her behalf...

magdalena garcía had been in prison since 4 may 2006, when she was arbitrarily arrested in san salvador atenco, mexico state, during demonstrations...

several police officers pulled her out of a van and beat and kicked her repeatedly...she was then handcuffed, covered and forced to lie on top of other detainees in a waiting vehicle...officers repeatedly threatened to kill her "like a dog"...

after six days in detention she was informed of the charges against her and committed for trial...she has consistently denied the charges and her defence lawyer has presented evidence to show that she was not involved in the violent offences she was accused of...

magdalena garcía's release follows a series of injunctions recommending that she be set free...on 11 august 2006, a federal review court granted the defence an injunction but this was sidestepped...on 7 november 2006, a second federal injunction was granted on the basis of insufficient evidence, but still the state judge did not order her release...in january 2007, a higher federal court confirmed the original injunction, but this was once again sidestepped...

amnesty international believes magdalena garcía's prolonged detention was politically motivated and totally unjustified...the authorities failed to provide evidence of her alleged crimes and there are indications that the little evidence available was probably fabricated...

amnesty international remains concerned for the fate of more than 150 people who still face charges following demonstrations in san salvador atenco, and for 20 people who continue to be detained on the same charges and evidence as magdalena garcía durán...

peace out <3

26 December 2007

five minutes is all it takes to send a card to imprisoned student leader zmitser dashkevich...

in october of this year i co-facilitated a workshop on how to take action in the case of belarussian student leader zmitser dashkevich at the southern regional conference of amnesty international at the university of miami...dashkevich is the special focus case assigned to the region...the oragami crane action is a great activity for kids age 6-90...

zmitser dashkevich, a leader of the opposition youth movement young front, is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression...he was charged in september 2006 with "organizing and participating in an activity of an unregistered non-governmental organization,"..following a closed trial, he was sentenced in november to one and a half years' imprisonment...he is held at a prison colony in eastern belarus...

amnesty international regards the continuing harassment and detention of opposition figures and those involved in civil society activity as a deliberate attempt by the authorities to intimidate and deter people from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression...the result is the stifling of open, public debate and activity within belarus...

zmitser dashkevich has told amnesty international that the cards and letters of support he has received have given him great moral support, and he believes that the prison administration, on seeing the cards arriving, have treated him better...

please send letters and cards of hope and support to:

Zmitser Dashkevich
IK no. 17
g. Shklou
Magileu Region 213004
BELARUS

make an impact: 10,000 origami cranes for freedom of expression in belarus...learn more

peace out <3

25 December 2007

send a seasonal greeting to euc president on behalf of romani rights...

bet you didn't know that...

roma are one of the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority groups in europe...they are also the most deprived...

the persistent discrimination faced by the roma community perpetuates their economic and social marginalization...they suffer massive discrimination in access to housing, employment and education...in some countries, they are prevented from obtaining citizenship and personal documents required for social insurance, health care and other benefits...

roma are often victims of police ill-treatment, while their complaints are seldom investigated...many romani children are unjustifiably placed in "special" schools, where scaled-down lessons limit the opportunities to fulfil their potential...romani children and women are among the communities most vulnerable to traffickers...
ensuring equal access to rights for roma must be a european priority...almost 80 per cent of the total european roma population (of about 10 million) live in european union member states and aspiring member states...

european governments have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of roma in the same way they would their majority – and other minority – populations...to improve the situation of roma, the european union must show strong leadership...it must develop a more comprehensive and cohesive approach to realizing the human rights of roma and give guidance and assistance to its existing and aspiring member states...


peace out <3

23 December 2007

migrant workers face a range of human rights abuses when they are travelling...

one person in every 35 lives outside the country in which they were born...

many of those are migrant workers or their family members...reasons for migration can vary between the need to escape poverty, inequality and conflict, the desire to pursue better work and educational opportunities, or even wanting to live in a cleaner environment or better climate...people often migrate for a combination of reasons and in sometimes complex circumstances...


peace out <3

22 December 2007

mehmet desde writes back from a high security prison in turkey...

for all of you who took action and wrote holiday cards to prisoners of conscience i thought i'd share this with you...

happy holidays and peace out <3

Thought I would pass along some news. A few days ago, I received a registered letter from Turkey. Turns out Mehmet Desde, one of the prisoners highlighted in the holiday card action, replied to my letter, and wrote a response. His action is the one that tells AI folks to write only in Turkish, and provides a phrase to write. His letter includes both an English section, and a translation in Turkish. In English, he writes:

Dear Mary,

I took your a card. Thank you very much. I'm fine. I'm in a high security prison. I wish you a merry christmas and a Happy New Year.

Prisoner of freedom,

Mehmet Desde

21 December 2007

a dose of instant karma for the people of darfur...

a dose of instant karma was added to amnesty international's campaign to save darfur when warner bros. records generously presented a check for $2.5 million in support of the campaign to end the violence in darfur...the proceeds were raised from the double album instant karma, a compilation by some of today's best-selling artists remaking over 20 john lennon songs in support of human rights...yoko ono, who graciously granted amnesty international the rights to remake lennon's work, joined the celebration to congratulate amnesty on its work...

the tremendous effort given by everyone from music-lovers to human rights supporters has been the driving force in the campaign...instant karma is an inspirational project whose message resonates on many levels and in many lives...

peace out <3

19 December 2007

united nations calls for halt to executions...

the global campaign against the death penalty secured a landmark victory on tuesday when the united nations general assembly endorsed the call for a worldwide moratorium (suspension) on executions...

in a landslide result, 104 u.n. member states voted in favour of the ground-breaking resolution...54 countries voted against, while there were 25 abstentions...

25 woosies...

don't you welcomes this timely resolution, passed at the u.n. headquarters in new york city??? it's a clear recognition of the international trend towards worldwide abolition of the death penalty...

a total of 133 countries, from all regions of the world, have abolished the death penalty in law or practice and only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006. 91% of all known executions took place in six countries: china, iran, iraq, pakistan, sudan and the us of a...

does that make the u.s. part of the axis of evil???

recorded executions worldwide fell by more than 25% in 2006, with a drop from at least 2,148 in 2005 to at least 1,591...

although not legally binding, the u.n. moratorium on executions carries considerable moral and political weight...the resolution is a reminder of member states' commitment to work towards abolition of the death penalty...it is also an important tool to encourage retentionist countries to review their use of the death penalty...

amnesty international calls on countries which still use the death penalty to establish an immediate moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing capital punishment...the u.n. secretary-general will report to the general assembly in october 2008 on states' implementation of the resolution.... said yvonne terlingen, amnesty international's head of office at the u.n.:

"This landmark resolution is a major step towards ending this cruel and inhuman punishment and an important contribution to protecting human rights. The death penalty is inhuman, inherently arbitrary and innocent people are invariably executed".

peace out <3
r.i.p. dan fogelberg

18 December 2007

president pervez's preposterous practices produce peril for pakistan...

last month, president pervez musharaf declared a "state of emergency" in pakistan and suspended much of the constitution...within hours, authorities arrested hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists, and other perceived opponents of president pervez musharaf's government under provisions allowing detention without charge or trial...courts were expressly prohibited from issuing any order against the president, prime minister or any person exercising powers under their authority...



authorities of the state have targeted and imprisoned human rights activists, placed heavy restrictions on the media, and met peaceful demonstrations with violence...with the rule of law weakened, the human rights of pakistan’s 161 million residents are in peril...

ACT NOW and urge president bush to publicly call for the release and reinstatement of the justices of the pakistani supreme court!

peace out <3

17 December 2007

violence against women is often ignored and rarely punished...

as a pro-feminist i just wanted to remind you all that...

women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence - both in peace and in war, at the hands of the state, the community and the family...

that a life free from violence is a basic human right...

from the home to the conflict zone, violence against women must stop...and that amnesty international's campaign to stop violence against women:
  • pushes for the implementation of existing laws that guarantee access to justice and services for women subjected to violence including rape and other forms of sexual violence
  • calls for new laws to be enacted that will protect women's human rights
  • demands an end to laws that discriminate against women
  • urges the ending of violence against women perpetrated by a state and its agents
  • works to empower women

peace out <3>


15 December 2007

new jersey assembly votes to abolish death penalty, ending a colossal public policy failure...

i worked the phones from home on this campaign on and off over the past 15 months...

when governor corzine signs the bill passed by the new jersey assembly on thursday, new jersey will become the first state to outlaw the death penalty in over 40 years...this historic result will not have come about overnight, but as a result of a brick by brick effort led by new jerseyans for alternatives to the death penalty in coalition with amnesty international activists and other partners in the state...

in 2005 and 2006 coalition members successfully lobbied for a moratorium on executions and a commission to conduct an in-depth study of the death penalty...the commission concluded that the death penalty does not address violent crime or make new jerseyans any safer, and diverts valuable resources from victims' compensation and proven crime prevention measures...

those findings coupled with lobbying by coalition activists persuaded new jersey legislative committees, then the Senate, and finally the assembly that the death penalty was a colossal public policy failure...legislative campaigns in other states are now underway and with help from you, our grassroots activists, we can continue to make the death penalty in the united states history, state by state, brick by brick...

peace out <3>

14 December 2007

call on president putin to reopen investigation to student artur akhmatkhanov's disappearance...

"Even today I think, maybe today, tomorrow, they will return my son to me … Every night he appears in my sleep and during the day I cry all the time ... That is not a life any more. For me everything came to a halt. I don't live; I just walk over the earth."
- Bilat Akhmatkhanova, Artur Akhmatkhanov's mother -

in april 2003 22-year-old artur akhmatkhanov was grabbed by masked soldiers and bundled into an armoured personnel carrier...he has not been seen since...

according to eyewitnesses, it was members of the russian federal forces (fsb) who detained the grozny student and human rights volunteer...

amnesty international has been told that the following day, police and fsb officers collected empty cartridges and a blood-smeared cloth from the scene for analysis, but artur akhmatkhanov's family has not been told what happened to him or why...

a year after artur’s enforced disappearance, the military prosecutor denied that the russian military were involved, saying:

"[N]o special operations for detaining citizens on the territory of the Chechen Republic were conducted, no citizens were detained and no one was handed over to the law enforcement agencies."
artur akhmatkhanov’s enforced disappearance is part of a deeply worrying pattern of ongoing human rights abuses in chechnya and neighbouring republics in the north caucasus...the ombudsman in the chechen republic reported in 2005 that more than 2,000 people had "disappeared" at the hands of unidentified security forces in chechnya...the russian ngo memorial estimates that up to 5,000 men, women and children have gone missing there since 1999...amnesty international knows of only one conviction related to an enforced disappearance...

in june 2007, amnesty international delivered 4,630 signed postcards for artur akhmatkhanov to the russian embassy in london with a copy of the report "Russian Federation: What Justice for Chechnya’s Disappeared?"...an embassy official said he welcomed dialogue with amnesty international and acknowledged that some enforced disappearances and abductions were the responsibility of the state...he said the concerns raised would be transmitted to moscow...

despite this the investigation into artur’s disappearance has been suspended...artur’s mother, bilat akhmatkhanova, has never stopped searching for her son...

call on russian president poutin to take action today!

peace out <3

13 December 2007

no pause in the perils of pakistan...

while it seems years ago it was just last month that president pervez musharaf declared a "state of emergency" in pakistan and suspended much of the constitution...within hours, authorities arrested hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists, and other perceived opponents of president pervez musharaf's government under provisions allowing detention without charge or trial...courts were expressly prohibited from issuing any order against the president, prime minister or any person exercising powers under their authority...



authorities of the state have targeted and imprisoned human rights activists, placed heavy restrictions on the media, and met peaceful demonstrations with violence...with the rule of law weakened, the human rights of pakistan’s 161 million residents are in peril...

you can urge president bush to publicly call for the release and reinstatement of the justices of the pakistani supreme court!

peace out <3

12 December 2007

olympic committee could bring positive change to china...if it chooses to...

check it out...the executive board of the international olympic committee (ioc) begins meeting today in switzerland...amnesty international is urging the ioc to ensure that human rights concerns are addressed in the run-up to the beijing olympics...

i and at least jimmy carter concur... :-) ...and you?

china will host the games next year and the beijing olympics offer an opportunity for a positive human rights legacy for the country...specifically, progress on the death penalty, detention without trial, freedom of expression and the protection of human rights activists, would contribute to such a legacy...

human rights reforms are the primary responsibility of the chinese authorities, but i believe that the ioc can still make a significant contribution by using its influence to bring about positive change...because according to the olympic charter, the ioc has a role in promoting a positive olympic legacy for the cities and countries hosting the games...

the philosophy of the olympic movement is laid out most clearly in the fundamental principles of olympism - yes, that's a real thing -, which form part of the olympic charter...these principles stress the importance of “universal fundamental ethical principles” and “the preservation of human dignity” to the olympic spirit...president of the ioc, dr jacques rogge has publicly stated that “We are convinced that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China.”

a number of recent cases underscore the urgent need for action on the human rights situation in china in the lead up to the games...

on 10 october wang ling was assigned to 15 months ‘re-education through labour" for signing petitions and preparing banners in protest against the demolition of her property for olympic construction projects - you thought that sort of thing went out with mao??? think again - beaten, detained and imprisoned on numerous occasions, wang ling is currently being held at daxing re-education through labour facility in beijing...

"re-education through labour" is used against people considered by the chinese police to have committed offences not serious enough to be punished under the criminal law...these include petty criminals, critics of the government and followers of banned beliefs...

yang chunlin was detained and reportedly tortured for his involvement in a petition "we want human rights, not the olympics", signed by farmers protesting against the confiscation of their land...since his detention in july, he has had his arms and legs stretched and chained to the four corners of an iron bed on numerous occasions...he has then been left to eat, drink and defecate in that position...he is still in detention...

housing rights activist, ye guozhu, is serving a four-year sentence after he applied for permission to hold a demonstration about forced evictions in beijing...his home and business were demolished as a result of olympics-related construction and his family received no compensation...he is reported to have been tortured in prison...

his son and brother, ye mingjun and ye guoqiang, were detained by beijing police on suspicion of "inciting subversion" at the end of september 2007...they had protested against forced evictions that were supposedly carried out to clear space for construction for the beijing olympics...at the end of october, ye mingjun was released on bail and now awaits trial...ye guoqiang is still in detention...

surely you agree that these detainees must be released immediately and unconditionally..the reports of torture must be investigated and measures taken against anyone found responsible...those abused must receive reparation...

peace out <3

10 December 2007

take a simple action and save the saudi arabian girl from al-qatif...

you have heard about “the girl from al-qatif” survived being kidnapped and gang raped, no?

so how did a court in saudi arabia ensure that justice was served?

they found her guilty and sentenced her to receive 200 lashes in addition to serving a 6-month prison term...when 7 men kidnapped the 19-year old, she was accompanied by a male companion, who was attacked and released...after her companion was set free, "the girl from al-qatif" was raped repeatedly...

in the eyes of the court the offense known as khilwa - being found in private with a member of the opposite sex, who is not an immediate family member - is a violation that far outweighs the crimes of gang rape and torture...


peace out <3

09 December 2007

executions in japan on pearl harbor day irk this activist...

i gotta tell ya that on this point japan is a complete disappointment...japan joins my country, the u.s. of a., as the only 2 "developed, western" countries who continue to kill their own citizens as a matter of public policy...

all members of amnesty international strongly condemns and regrets the hanging of three men (fukawa hiroki, fujima seiha, and ikemoto noboru), in japan on friday (7 december)...these executions have taken place despite the u.n. general assembly’s adoption of a resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions on 15 november...

it was doubly sad for me as my 81 year old father passed away on this same day...

this action runs counter to the universal protection of human rights and comes at a time when there is a clear international trend away from the use of the death penalty...on 15 november, the third committee of 62nd session of u.n. general assembly (unga) adopted the resolution on global moratorium on executions with 99 countries voting in favour of the resolution...the resolution will now come before the plenary of the unga for final adoption in mid-december...

in a weird political-cultural twist executions in japan are typically held in secret...prisoners are only informed hours before their executions and carried out without prior notice to the prisoners or their family...

these executions are the first under the present minister of justice hatoyama kunio, who announced publicly in september that he was considering scrapping the rule under the criminal procedure code requiring the signature of the minister of justice for executions...as of 7 december 2007, there are at least 107 prisoners on death row; 23 cases carrying the death sentence were confirmed by the courts in 2007, which marks the highest number since 1962...

very few countries currently carry out executions: in 2006, only 25 countries carried out executions...among major industrialized countries, japan now is conspicuously the only country which has a fully operational death penalty system: the u.s. supreme court has blocked all planned executions in the country until it makes a ruling on conducting executions by lethal injections...

as a member of amnesty international i call on japanese government to cease executions and adopt an immediate moratorium on executions in accordance with the u.n. resolution...

peace out <3

in memory of my beloved father william allen tatel -- 3/11/26 - 12/7/07

08 December 2007

the cia and fbi noses pressed against our windowpanes...

C is the first letter in Cash money
C is the first letter in Constitution
C is the last letter in musiC.
C is the first letter in CIA.
- Gil Scott Heron from The Ghetto Code -

we may never know the true extent of the horrific images that were captured on an interrogation video created by the central intelligence agency (cia)...

the cia recently admitted it destroyed the tapes of two "high value" war-on-terror detainees being interrogated...according to a press release by amnesty international, the destruction of the tapes,
"falls into a pattern of measures taken by the government that blocks accountability for human rights violations authorized or carried out by u.s. personnel during the 'war on terror,' particularly in relation to u.s. intelligence agencies."
when the cia destroyed these interrogation tapes, not only was evidence concealed and justice obstructed, but fundamental human rights were discarded...

in 2006, amnesty international, the center for constitutional rights and the international human rights clinic of new york university school of law filed a freedom of information act request seeking records concerning "disappeared" detainees including "ghost" and unregistered prisoners...thus far, the government's response has been inadequate...

join amnesty international in its call for a full investigation into the cia detention and interrogation program...

take action to close cia black sites
read amnesty international's press release on "ghost" detainees
read amnesty international's press release on the freedom of information act

peace out <3 align="center">C is the first letter in Cash money
C is the first letter in Constitution
C is the last letter in musiC.
C is the first letter in CIA.

The CIA and FBI
Noses pressed against our windowpanes
Ears glued to our telephone
Why won’t they leave us alone?

The CIA and FBI
Noses pressed against our windowpanes
Ears glued to our telephone
Why won’t they leave us alone?
Tryin’ to pick up on… the Ghetto Code.

Old-fashioned Ghetto codes saw phone conversations like this:

“Hey, Bree-is-other Me-is-an!
You goin’ to the pee-is-arty to-nee-is-ight? Oh yeah!
Well, why not bring me a nee-is-ickel bee-is-ag, you dig?
And some Bee-is-am-bee-is-oo to ree-is-oll it up in!”

I know whoever they was payin’ at the time to listen in
on my calls had to be scratchin’ his head, sayin’
“Dot-dot-dit-dit-dot-dot-dash – Damn if I know!”

07 December 2007

sierra leone: survivors of sexual violence still waiting for justice and reparations...

during the conflict between 1991 and 2002, it is estimated that a third of all women and girls in sierra leone were subjected to sexual violence...women and girls were deliberately and systematically targeted for sexual violence including:

  • rape
  • sexual slavery
  • forced pregnancy
six years later, little has been done to ensure that these survivors of sexual violence receive justice, acknowledgement of their suffering, or reparations...

the suffering continues
sexual violence was not a single event but a violation that has continued to affect survivors' lives in many ways...many women and girls continue to suffer psychological, physical, social and economic effects years later...

the shame and stigma associated with sexual violence means that many survivors never discuss their experience...this can bring about feelings of isolation, and also often prevents women from accessing necessary healthcare, when many may be suffering physical side-effects of repeated sexual violence, such as damage to reproductive organs, miscarriages, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases...

many survivors felt too ashamed of their experiences to return to their own towns and villages, having to build new lives away from their friends of families...others live in silence, unable to share their painful memories for fear of rejection by their families and of losing economic security...

those known to be survivors of sexual violence tend to be confronted with blame and discrimination rather than support by those around them...many face rejection by their family and community, and find difficulties to access to work and support themselves...failure, by the government of sierra leone, to recognize these crimes does nothing to combat the assumption of many that these women were somehow responsible for what happened and that violence against women is "normal"...

the stigmatization and discrimination survivors face are huge obstacles to women and girls who are trying to rebuild their lives following traumatic experiences...many women and girls want justice and reparations simply so that they can be economically independent, to provide for themselves and their children...

the road to justice
survivors of sexual violence have the right to justice for the abuses they have suffered...the government of sierra leone must support these women in rebuilding their lives by:
  • publicly acknowledging the suffering of women and girls in sierra leone.
  • working with survivors to design and implement a reparations programme
read more:
sierra leone: getting reparations right for survivors of sexual violence
sierra leone: mass rally in support of survivors of conflict's sexual violence

peace out <3

06 December 2007

your voice was heard amidst two hearings on habeas rights in the united states...

we did it!

thanks to our overwhelming response to an appeal from amnesty interational appeal last month, they ran a bright orange full-page ad in yesterday's edition of the new york times...

what was so important about yesterday?

the supreme court heard bush administration lawyers attempt to defend the indefensible: that the president can hold people indefinitely, without charge and without question...with fundamental human rights principles on the line let's hope the supreme court (justice kennedy in particular) rejects this lawlessness and demands an end to the injustice that flows from it...

a thousand miles from the supreme court steps, amnesty international observed another crucial hearing yesterday...this one took place at guantánamo bay and while it will get less press attention, it is no less important...

while the supreme court considers whether or not congress improperly took away the writ of habeas corpus from detainees in guantánamo, a hearing will be convened to determine whether or not salim ahmed hamdan is an "unlawful enemy combatant" and subject to trial by military commission...under the military commissions act, "unlawful enemy combatants" cannot challenge the evidence brought before them or object to being convicted on evidence obtained through brutal means...

the two hearings are not unrelated...

both challenge the administration's attacks on our system of justice...both challenge the assertion that fear, not freedom, guides our country...but even more important, both hearings present a clear opportunity to move our nation back on track -- to a place of respect for truth, justice and liberty...as four supreme court justices put it:

"[I]if this Nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny."
with so much at stake, your support for our work has never been so important...thank you for standing with the constitutional safeguards that reflect our human rights framework...
peace out <3

05 December 2007

online discussion december 7: the medical facade of state killing...

one of my colleagues sent me this invitation to participate in an on-line discussion THIS FRIDAY on lethal injection and now i'm passing along her invite in hopes that you'll be there too...

In December 2005, a registered nurse in California failed to properly insert a catheter in the arm of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, probably rupturing a vein and possibly leaving him unanesthetized during his execution. Although the rest of the execution team observed the problem, they did nothing to address it. Their cavalier response was that stuff like this happens all the time.

This story comes from an amicus brief (
Michael Morales, et al.) filed with the Supreme Court in the case of Baze v. Rees, in which lethal injection procedures have been challenged as cruel and unusual punishment. Ty Alper is Counsel of Record for this brief which details the litany of flaws in current lethal injection procedures, and the incompetence, negligence and indifference that pervades the business of execution nationwide.

Join Ty Alper in an online discussion of lethal injection on Friday, December 7 (1-2 pm EST, 10-11 am PST),
or ask a question in advance.

Ty Alper is the Associate Director of the Berkeley Law Death Penalty Clinic, which maintains
Lethalinjection.org, a web-based clearinghouse for information about legal challenges to lethal injection. And he is the author of Lethal Incompetence, published in the September/October 2006 issue of The Champion, the journal of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Join us for this important timely discussion on Friday!

In solidarity,

Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn
Amnesty International USA Director
Program to Abolish the Death Penalty

p.s: In the 25 years since Texas conducted the world's first lethal injection execution, on December 7, 1982, the cruelty of the procedure has become more and more apparent. In fact, no execution can be humane and that is one reason the death penalty must be abolished. Efforts to cover up this fundamental flaw with a medical facade have mired health professionals more deeply into the process, and Amnesty International is calling on health personnel uphold their ethical obligations and refuse to participate in executions. Support this effort by signing our Declaration on the Participation of Health Personnel in the Death Penalty.

04 December 2007

mass arrests in sri lanka another human rights backbreaker...

a mass of arrests totaling more than 1000 tamils by the sri lankan police took place allegedly in response to the suicide bombings carried out in colombo on 28 november 2007, for which the government has blamed the liberation tigers of tamil eelam (ltte)...or simply the tamil tigers...

as a member of amnesty international i am deeply concerned that the arrests have been made on arbitrary and discriminatory grounds using sweeping powers granted by the emergency regulations...fact is that those arrested may be detained in inhumane conditions; denied access to lawyers, courts and family members; and face the risk of torture, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and prolonged arbitrary detention...

according to reports, “Tamils were bundled in bus loads and taken for interrogation”...more than 400 of those arrested, including 50 women, have been taken to the boosa camp near galle in the south, a facility that is reportedly overcrowded, lacking proper sanitation facilities and adequate drinking water...

don't get me wrong, the government has the right to carry out security measures it must never do this in violation of basic rights...detainees are reportedly being held ‘on suspicion’ under the emergency regulations, and no formal charges have been pressed against any of them...lawyers have told amnesty about the lack of clarity surrounding the types of detention orders people are held under...this contradicts a july 2006 presidential directive under which the sri lankan human rights commission (slhrc) must be informed of any arrest and of the place of detention within 48 hours, and families must be allowed to communicate with detainees...

let us remind the sri lankan authorities that any arrest and/or detention must be in strict compliance with its obligations under international human rights law, and in particular the international covenant on civil and political rights (iccpr), to which sri lanka is a state party.

in fact the sri lanka authorities must:
  • immediately release those arrested, unless they are charged with recognizably criminal offences and remanded in custody by a civilian court;
  • repeal or revise the emergency regulations so as to bring them into line with international human rights law and standards;
  • adhere to the sri lankan president’s directive on the registering of detainees and informing their families and the slhrc of the place of arrest.
peace out <3

03 December 2007

a simple greeting card, however, can bring renewed hope to a prisoner of conscience...

each year during the winter holidays, amnesty international asks friends and members to send messages of support to prisoners and human rights defenders around the world...holidays can mean little to those who fear they've been forgotten by the world...a simple greeting card, however, can bring renewed hope...the prisoners and human rights defenders featured here need your support...please let them know they are not forgotten...

available to download:
2007 holiday card action 1st half and the 2nd half
2006 holiday card action update (pdf)

peace out <3

02 December 2007

is that valdimir putin over there or lee harvey oswald over there...and such...

"The Russian authorities have displayed a systematic disregard for basic human rights in the run-up to parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2 December."

"Over the last few months, the authorities have made numerous attempts to interfere with the right to freedoms of assembly, association and expression - both of supporters of the political opposition and of human rights activists and journalists."

for the full story click here...

"The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan is exposing detainees to real risks of torture or other ill-treatment by Afghan authorities, says Amnesty International in a report released today."

"The report documents how ISAF forces – particularly those from Belgium, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Norway – have transferred detainees to Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), despite consistent reports of torture and other ill-treatment by the NDS..."

for the rest of the story click here...

peace out <3

01 December 2007

he's in prison for writing an email - you're free to join the global write-a-thon...

his family is constantly harassed and intimidated...he has forced to labor under harsh conditions...his wife was pressured to divorce him...

protected by both international law as well as the chinese constitution, freedom of expression is a right guaranteed to all...in 2004, when shi tao used his yahoo! email account to send a message to a u.s.-based pro-democracy website, he was exercising this freedom...but the chinese government's response was swift and harsh...

in a matter of months, shi tao's whole life changed...the authorities arrested him, and charged him with the vaguely-defined criminal offense of "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities,"...he is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for simply sending an email...shi tao's mother told amnesty international during a recent interview:
"The people of China deserve the right to freely express their views, even when it means criticizing the government."
shi tao's suffering is shared by many individuals around the world whose rights are violated...from december 7 through human rights day on december 10, you can use your rights and speak up on behalf of theirs...show the world's leaders that you support human rights...

write a letter in support of shi tao and other people at risk....shi tao was imprisoned for writing an email...your letters can help set him free...


peace out <3

30 November 2007

don't kid yourself with fox news - arrests continue in myanmar...

the myanmar government continues to detain monks and dissidents, despite the assurance by prime minister thein sein to the u.n. special representative ibrahim gambari in early november that no more arrests would be carried out...

two months after the violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in myanmar, the systematic suppression of freedom of expression and association continues unabated...this runs counter to the government’s repeated claims of a return to normalcy in the country...

however, there is the question of what 'normalcy' can mean in the context of myanmar?

for the military government, it may mean a return to systematic and widespread human rights violations away from media attention...the international community must no longer tolerate this situation...

i am deeply disappointed by the fact that these arrests are still taking place despite the government's claims to the contrary...

just last week, the myanmar government attended asean's 40th anniversary summit, where it signed the organization's new charter committing it to the "promotion and protection of human rights"...

up to 700 people arrested during and since the september protests remain behind bars, while 1,150 political prisoners held prior to the protests have not been released...detainees have been poorly treated - and in some cases tortured - while others have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms after unfair trials...

myanmar has still not accounted for those killed during the demonstrations, or for those subjected to enforced disappearance...the authorities have not carried out independent, impartial investigations into deaths in custody, or even attempted to bring those responsible for unlawful killings and other violations to justice...

in stark contrast, they have stated that legal action will be taken against the 91 individuals they acknowledge are in custody for participation in the protests - citing “conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism”...

amnesty international is urgently calling on the government of myanmar to stop making further arrests and to release all those detained or imprisoned merely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including both long-term and recent prisoners of conscience...

among those arrested:

4 November U Gambira, head of the All-Burma Monks Alliance and a leader of the September protests, was arrested and reportedly charged with treason. Two of his family members, previously detained as 'hostages' in an attempt to force him out of hiding, have been kept in detention;

13 November The government arrested Su Su Nway, a member of the youth wing of the main opposition National League for Democracy party. Fellow youth activist Bo Bo Win Hlaing was arrested with her while putting up anti-government posters;

14 November At least three people were arrested in Yangon for passing out anti-government pamphlets;

15 November Authorities raided a monastery in western Rakhine State and arrested monk U Than Rama, wanted for his involvement in the September protests. He was reportedly beaten during the raid and his whereabouts remain unknown;

20 November Myint Naing, a senior member of the National League for Democracy, was detained;

20 November Ethnic Arakanese leader U Tin Ohn was detained and his whereabouts remain unknown;

20 / 21 November Other ethnic leaders, including Arakanese Cin Sian Thang and U Aye Thar Aung, Naing Ngwe Thein from the Mon National Democracy Front, and Kachin political leader U Hkun Htoo, were rounded up but released after questioning;

24 November Eight members of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) were arrested. It is believed that this was due to KIO's refusal to accede to the government's demand that they publicly renounce the recent statement by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

26 November Aung Zaw Oo, a member of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters group, was arrested in Yangon, seemingly for his involvement in planning events for International Human Rights Day on 10 December;

27 November Three people were arrested in a tea shop in Yangon. They were: Win Maw, lead guitarist in the popular Shwe Thansin band. He was previously in prison from 1997 to 2003 for writing songs in support of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; Myat San, a former long-term political prisoner and a member of the Tri-Colour Students Group; and Aung Aung, who is a friend of the two men...

peace out <3

29 November 2007

cnn to honor human rights "david" who stands up to the goliath chevron in ecuador...

pablo fajardo, the lead lawyer defending indigenous communities in ecuador against chevron corporation, for environmental destruction connected to texaco (now owned by chevron), will be honored by cnn as one of three individuals selected for extraordinary achievement in the fight for justice and human rights...

learn more about amnesty international's campaign to hold chevron accountable in ecuador...

here's a vanity fair article about fajardo - enjoy -- and watch december 6 at 9:00 p.m. eastern for a global telecast on cnn honoring fajardo and two other human rights defenders!

peace out <3

Jungle Law

In 1972, crude oil began to flow from Texaco's wells in the area around Lago Agrio ("sour lake"), in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Born that same year, Pablo Fajardo is now the lead attorney in an epic lawsuit—among the largest environmental suits in history—against Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001. Reporting on an emotional battle in a makeshift jungle courtroom, the author investigates how many hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest became a toxic-waste dump.

by William Langewiesche
May 2007

In a forsaken little town in the Ecuadorean Amazon, an overgrown oil camp called Lago Agrio, the giant Chevron Corporation has been maneuvered into a makeshift courtroom and is being sued to answer for conditions in 1,700 square miles of rain forest said by environmentalists to be one of the world's most contaminated industrial sites. The pollution consists of huge quantities of crude oil and associated wastes, mixed in with the toxic compounds used for drilling operations—a noxious soup that for decades was dumped into leaky pits, or directly into the Amazonian watershed. The company that did much of this work was Texaco—an outfit with a swashbuckling reputation worldwide. It signed a contract with Ecuador in 1964, began full-scale production in 1972, and pulled out 20 years later. In 2001, Texaco was swallowed whole by Chevron, which by integrating its operations nearly doubled in size. The lawsuit against it in Lago Agrio was filed in 2003, though the legal antecedents go back much further. Having dragged on for four years, the suit may continue for half again as long. Chevron is represented by high-priced firms of experienced lawyers in Quito and Washington, D.C., whose collective fees run to millions of dollars annually. Its antagonists are 30,000 Amazonian settlers and indigenous people, who call themselves Los Afectados—the Affected Ones. These plaintiffs are represented by a low-budget but serious team of North American and Ecuadorean attorneys, who are backed by a Philadelphia law firm that is known for class-action securities litigation and has gambled that this case, though risky, can actually be won.

Chevron objects vociferously, and presents itself as the victim here. Its attorneys have repeatedly claimed that the company is being extorted for "two juicy checks," one to be divided among the plaintiffs and the other to enrich their North American lawyers. The North American lawyers are indeed working on a contingency basis, but unapologetically so, and for a percentage significantly lower than the norm in high-risk cases; they would like to be well compensated for their efforts, but as much, they say, to encourage other lawyers to bring similar suits elsewhere in the world as to pad their personal bank accounts. The most active among them is a New York–based Harvard Law School graduate named Steven Donziger, who has invested 14 years in the case and would certainly be more secure had he pursued a conventional career involving the preservation of wealth. He counterclaims that Chevron's lawyers are the real mercenaries here. It is a philosophical quarrel that will never be resolved.

As for the plaintiffs themselves, under Ecuadorean law they are not suing individually, and personally may never see a dime. They have sued to seek compensation for past damages and to force Chevron to clean up the residual mess that continues, they believe, to taint the soil and water today. It is unclear how a cleanup would proceed and to what extent it could succeed, but over decades the cost might run to $6 billion or more—making this potentially the largest environmental lawsuit ever to be fought. And fight is the word. The case has become emotional for both sides, with few signs of willingness to compromise. Worldwide the oil industry is watching. Lago Agrio is a forsaken little town where something rather large is going down.

This is not, however, a U.S.-style legal drama. The Lago Agrio court follows Ecuadorean procedures, which minimize oral arguments and rely heavily on submitted documents to get at the truth. So far the proceedings have generated close to 200,000 pages. There is no jury to sway. There is a single presiding judge, drawn from a pool of three on a rotating basis for a two-year term of unusual pressure. Currently the judge is a rotund middle-aged man, a reader of Dostoyevsky and a convert to Islam. He must be the only Muslim in town. He told me it is not easy to be a judge there. Five years ago he was ambushed and machine-gunned while driving his car. His companion was killed, but he himself escaped. The attackers were hired killers, of whom Lago Agrio has an ample supply. Colombia's largest cocaine-production area lies just over the border a few miles to the north, and is peopled not only by narco-traffickers but also by leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups. The police in Lago Agrio make a show sometimes of directing traffic. They did not investigate the attack, the judge believes, because they feared retribution. The judge accepted this without complaint, as if he had learned to believe in fate. Lago Agrio means "sour lake." He told me that the only safe choice there is to run away. Chevron would probably agree. It denies that the judge is fair, denies that the plaintiffs have legitimate complaints, denies that their soil and water samples are meaningful, denies that the methods the company used to extract oil in the past were substandard, denies that it contaminated the forest, denies that the forest is contaminated, denies that there is a link between the drinking water and high rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and skin disease, denies that unusual health problems have been demonstrated—and, for added measure, denies that it bears responsibility for any environmental damage that might after all be found to exist. If Chevron can convince the court of the validity of even a few of those points, it will win the case and leave town.

Given the resources that Chevron has brought to bear, it seemed for a while that this indeed would happen—and for various reasons it may yet. But over the past two years there has been a change that, metaphorically, looks something like an inversion of Tiananmen Square, in which a lone man stands resolutely in front of a maneuvering tank, not to hold it off but to keep it from escaping. In Lago Agrio that lone man is a mestizo named Pablo Fajardo, aged 34, who was born into extreme poverty and toiled for years as a manual laborer in the forest and oil fields, yet managed by force of intellect to complete his secondary education in night school, and through a correspondence course to earn a degree in law. He became a lawyer only three years ago, in 2004, yet has assumed the lead in the suit against Chevron in this, his very first trial. Chevron is represented by lawyers from Ecuador's ruling class, an oligarchy whose women fondly sing "Y Viva España" at Quito garden parties. They may have assumed that they could run Fajardo over. No one makes that assumption now.

In Lago Agrio the men wear hats against the equatorial sky. The women carry umbrellas for the shade they provide. Even the Indians complain about the heat. On a sweltering morning, I went to Fajardo's threadbare quarters in a small house that serves primarily as a file room and office, but that has a space for sleeping, and a crude kitchen and bathroom, usually without running water. Fajardo was sitting at his desk studying a document in preparation for a scheduled argument before the judge. He wore an open-necked short-sleeved shirt, slacks, and street shoes. He was the only person in Lago Agrio who was not sweating. In this story, where so much is disputed, it is an observable fact that Fajardo never sweats, and furthermore that when he moves through the jungle in his tidy-lawyer clothes he does not get dirty or wet. I sat across the desk from him and asked if at first he had been intimidated by the case.

for the full 11 page story click here...

28 November 2007

violence against school girls is an obstacle to their right to an education...

watch this slideshow about making schools safe for girls in full screen...

all girls have the right to an education...this right is essential not only for girls to grow and learn, but also so that they are able to be independent and make their own choices in their lives...

schools are not just places to learn and realize potential - some are also places of fear and violence...some girls face violence at school at the hands of teachers, school staff or other students...

violence stops girls going to school...girls must be able to pursue their education in an environment which is:
  • safe
  • respectful
  • non-discriminatory

for the 16 days of activism against gender based violence (november 25 - december 10) amnesty international is launching a campaign to stop violence against girls in schools...join forces in the global call for violence-free schools for girls...we have the power to make schools safe for girls!

act now for violence-free schools for girls...

peace out <3

27 November 2007

there ought to be an immediate halt to pending demolition of 3,000 units of new orleans public housing...

just one day before families across the u.s. gathered for thanksgiving more than 40 human rights organizations together decried the scheduled demolition of 3,000 public housing units in new orleans...while so many of us are thankful for the places in which we are blessed to gather new orleans is set to destroy solid brick, structurally sound housing in a city sorely lacking such resources..

these 40-odd groups have issued a letter to u.s. representative maxine waters, urging her continued leadership on behalf of public housing residents by finalizing dates for nationwide congressional hearings...the letter, part of a national campaign for passage of the gulf coast housing recovery act, was also sent to louisiana senator david vitter and u.s. department of housing and urban development secretary alphonso jackson...

said jared feuer, southern regional director of amnesty international usa:
"To demolish affordable housing without sufficient remaining low-income housing stock is not only irresponsible, but a violation of international human rights standards."
in their letter, the organizations note the bleak situation facing public housing across the nation, most prominently represented by the imminent demolition of 3,000 public housing units in new orleans despite conflicting expert findings that the units are sound...in preparation for demolition, contractors have begun emptying apartments and discarding the personal property of residents without their knowledge or consent, including photographs, letters and social security cards...

added catherine albisa, executive director of the national economic & social rights initiative (nesri):
"Every moment we fail to act is another unit demolished, another grandmother evicted, or another child who finds him or herself doing homework in a shelter. Our nation and human rights principles have long recognized the right to housing, and we call on our public leaders to take on this potent issue."
according to international human rights standards, governments must provide specific safeguards with respect to housing for those who have been internally displaced by disasters such as hurricane katrina...the united nations guiding principles on internal displacement mandate that host governments facilitate the voluntary return of the displaced to their homes or places of habitual residence in safety and with dignity...

peace out <3

26 November 2007

prison rape exposes increasing abuse of women in brazil...

"Women in Brazil are the hidden victims of a crumbling detention system that exposes them to rape and other ill treatment"
Tim Cahill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Brazil

this statement came as reports emerged of the case of a young woman in the state of pará -- northern brazil -- who was left in a police cell with 20 men for a month and repeatedly sexually abused...said cahill:

“We receive extensive reports of women in detention who suffer sexual abuse, torture, substandard healthcare and inhuman conditions, showing that this case is far from isolated but continues to be hidden from the public.”
even though women in brazil make up a small percentage of the overall prison population, their numbers in detention are rising...there is a desperate need for the government to address their needs, which are rarely if ever met...

this case also highlights concerns around the treatment of juveniles illegally held with adults around brazil...continued cahill:

“At a time when some authorities and the media are consistently calling for a reduction of the age of criminal responsibility, this case shows how far Brazil is from ensuring the necessary minimum protections for its youth.”
while thanks to amnesty international i realize that the federal and state authorities have responded rapidly to this case, many others go unreported or uninvestigated...it is essential that the authorities act in all such cases - not only those which receive extensive national and international media coverage...

let's join together with amnesty international as it calls on state governor ana julia carepa and on the federal authorities to:
• investigate the allegations and bring those responsible to justice, ensuring that the victim and her family receive effective protection
• urgently review the whole of the detention system to ensure women are not exposed to human rights abuses and that juveniles are not illegally held with adults

peace out <3

25 November 2007

a continuing call to suspend taser use following canadien killing of polish immigrant...

after watching this video showing the last moments of a man who died after being stunned by police at vancouver international airport last month and hopefully you'll join me in a call on the canadian authorities to suspend use of tasers...



the video footage released this week shows polish immigrant robert dziekanski being restrained after he became agitated in the airport arrivals area...the video shows him being stunned more than once, including while he was restrained on the floor by police officers...according to an eye witness, an officer also used his knee to pin dziekanski's neck and head against the ground...another officer is seen striking him several times with a baton...minutes later, a medical emergency team pronounced him dead at the scene...

the case reinforces amnesty international's concerns about the safety of electro-shock weapons as well as police use of excessive force...amnesty international has documented 16 other cases in recent years where individuals have died in canada after being stunned with police tasers...nearly all were subjected to multiple shocks as well as other force...in the overwhelming majority of cases those who died were unarmed and did not appear to present a serious threat when they were subdued by police...

international standards require that police should use force only as a last resort, in proportion to the threat posed and in a manner designed to minimize pain and injury...in robert dziekanski's case, amnesty international is concerned that police appeared to have flouted such standards by resorting almost immediately to the use of tasers, without exhausting non-violent means. ..amnesty international is also concerned by the overall levels of force deployed, including what may have been a dangerous restraint hold...

amnesty international said there remained serious questions about the health risks involved in electro-shock weapons...the potential dangers of being subjected to multiple shocks were highlighted in a report commissioned by the canadian association of chiefs of police, which warned in 2005 that "police officers need to be aware of the adverse effects of multiple, consecutive cycles" of electro-shock weapons...

here's what an eyewitness videographer reports:



in the usa more than 280 people have died after being shocked by police tasers...although coroners have attributed most such deaths to other causes, the taser was found to have been a cause or possible contributory factor in more than 30 of the deaths...

in a report issued earlier this year, amnesty international called on the canadian authorities to suspend their use of tasers pending a rigorous, independent inquiry into their use and effects...departments which continue to use them should strictly limit their use to situations where offices would otherwise be justified in using deadly force, when no lesser means were available...

for more information, please check out amnesty international's report: canada: inappropriate and excessive use of tasers...

peace out <3

23 November 2007

1 step forward 2 steps back: new arrests of journalists overshadow pakistan releases...

pakistan is continuing to arrest journalists and others across the country, contrasting with government announcements that thousands of protesters have been released from the country's jails...

while the world's media highlighted the reports that 3,400 people are to be set free after the recent clampdown on peaceful anti-government protests, police in karachi on tuesday baton-charged and arrested over 100 protesting journalists...these arrests undermine general musharraf's claims that media freedoms are being restored...

police arrested the journalists as they protested against a ban on geo tv and other media restrictions...after protesting outside the karachi press club, the journalists proceeded to the office of the governor of sindh province in an attempt to meet with officials...police halted the march and baton-charged the group...those arrested include more than five women journalists...

early reports suggest that these detainees are being released, but they and other journalists across pakistan remain at risk of further intimidation, detention and possible ill-treatment...since the imposition of emergency law on 3 november, a pattern has emerged of a "revolving door" of arrests and releases of those attempting to peacefully protest against emergency rule...

pakistan's free media was one first groups impacted by the imposition of emergency rule on 3 nvember...all independent tv channels, including international channels transmitted by cable, were blocked hours before the emergency came into force...whilst restrictions on international news channels have been lifted, independent channels transmitting from pakistan remain blocked...

in addition, existing laws regulating the media were amended to tighten restrictions on freedom of speech, with breaches attracting prison sentences and heavy fines...

further harassment and arrests of journalists remain likely...on 17 november, the editor of the islamabad urdu-language daily newspaper tulu was arrested by the plainclothes police from his office...during his detention he was blindfolded, taken to an unidentified location and questioned about his writings...he was informed that he had been arrested on the orders of senior government officials...he was released on 19 november...

read more:

peace out <3

22 November 2007

and our stop violence against women state coodinator chimes in with her experience...


yesterday i posted the musings and reflections of one of our local chapter members from her experiences at the southern regional conference of amnesty international in miami about 5 weeks ago...these are the thoughts of one of our other sisters...

peace out <3

Hi all,

I was asked to share my thoughts and experiences from the regional conference in Miami so if you don’t mind I’ll share those here on the listserv. I attended three workshops: Islamophobia; LGBT Rights; and Violence against Native American Women. All were great ways to gain some general background info on these issues.

Since my main focus is the Stop Violence Against Women Campaign (SVAW), the workshop on Native American women was of particular interest to me (this was actually the only workshop for the SVAW campaign). The workshop started out with a point about the degree to which most Americans are ignorant of Native American issues. The participants got a short lesson on some aspects of Native American culture and history, both of which are intertwined with the issues facing Native American women today. There is such a delicate balance between preserving tribal customs and culture and prosecuting perpetrators of serious crimes such as murder and rape that has really led to a confusing mix of state, federal and tribal law that makes the current issue pretty complex. In the workshop, a Native American women spoke about her experience with rape on the reservation she was from. The perpetrator of the rape was never punished, and the mishandling of her case was horrendous (the native police discarded the physical evidence against the man so that it essentially came down to her word vs. his and she dropped the charges in frustration). This is the main ordeal facing Native women now—perpetrators of sexual and physical violence against Native American women simply are not being brought to justice, and Native American women are understandably mistrustful of the legal system so that most crimes are not even reported. One of the actions suggested in the workshop was letter writing to congress to urge a bill that will require publicly accessible records of the rates of rape on reservations, the rates of prosecution of these rapes, and the reasons behind decisions not to prosecute such claims.

The workshop gave me a good groundwork of Native American issues. It certainly is a complex state of affairs, but I really want to make it one of the priorities this upcoming year for the SVAW campaign. The conference was a great way to get some ideas on how to do this—letter writing and also just getting the info out there to the general public.

Overall, I had a great experience at the conference. It always boosts my motivation to see others who are passionate about human rights, especially when much of the time it seems like an uphill battle. The conference reminded me that even small differences add up and that Amnesty has great human and educational resources to really funnel our work into big strides for the human rights campaign.

Diba

21 November 2007

the international part of amnesty lives and breathes right here in nashvegas!

recently five of us from nashville attended the southern regional conference of amnesty international held at the university of miami...this is a journal posting that one of those people, rosa from espana, shared with group member and now i'm sharing it with the world...

peace out <3

Thanks Diba for sharing your experience. Going to the regional conference was a wonderful experience for me also. I don’t want to take much more of your time so let me just point four things that made a big impact on me.

Meeting the staff of the Southern Regional Office of Amnesty International

They really are amazing. They had thought of every small detail. Always with a smile and willing to help and even making us laugh… but also making sure that resources were not wasted. Just by meeting them those few days I could see how much of their lives they put into fighting for human rights. Definitely we have to be very proud and happy to have them…

Meeting other people that make the protection of human rights something important in their lives. Writing letters at home, signing online petitions or organizing events here in Nashville, we might feel that we are just a few caring about human rights. But I could see at the conference that we definitely are not alone. We are quite a lot!

So every time I sign a letter or a petition, it is easier to imagine now other people around the country and around the world doing the same things and more…

The workshops I went were: “You, me, Amnesty, Diversity”, “Islamophobia and the War on Terror”, “Death Penalty 101”, “Investing in Human Rights in Sudan” and “AI Policy Discussion”. I learned a lot in all of them. Please ask me if you have any specific questions about them.

I particularly liked the one about Death Penalty. We discussed arguments that people use to support death penalty. Sometimes it is hard to argue against these arguments, but I feel much more prepared after the workshop. For instance, I did not know that death penalty is much more costly than life without parole, and that the length of the death penalty process makes the families of the victims suffer a lot also.

It was wonderful to spend time with the people of our group in Nashville. I hope that more of you can come next year to Memphis!!!

There are many things that we can do this year: human rights party in December, screenings of movies, tabling at events, get more people to join us, write-a-thon, …

And of course, stop death penalty in Tennessee! Trust me, Rosanne (our State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator) is able of this and much more :-), so let’s be there for what she ever she needs.

Rosa