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