Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Amnesty International USA: Thank You note and excerpt from 2014 events and accomplishments

Thank You for Your Leadership 
What a year it’s been! From Hong Kong to Ferguson, activists are on the move demanding justice and dignity in their communities. Whether it’s been in towns across the country writing letters for one of the most successful Write for Rights in years, or marching in Atlanta, New York, Ferguson, Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., or anywhere else, Amnesty International activists are making our voices heard demanding a better tomorrow. We look forward to a 2015 filled with human rights victories, an ever growing and connected movement of member leaders and activists, and a membership base that is advancing human rights at home and abroad. For our 2015 AGM, we are bringing your voices and people power to the streets of New York, the  city that has been home to AIUSA’s headquarters and at the forefront of grassroots struggles for justice, equity and dignity. 
Thanks to all our volunteers for all that you do. None of this would be possible without you. 
In Service,
Click here for a partial list of 2014 AI Group accomplishments.

Pass the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act - ONLINE PETITION

This is an appeal to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to pass the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. The JJDPA is up for reauthorization and includes signficant improvements to the law that will continue to protect young people in juvenille justice systems throughout the country by providing direct funding for research, training, technical assistance, and evaluation. This reauthorization will help improve many of the key areas of juvenile justice, such as reducing the placement of youth in adult jails, decreasing racial and ethnic disparities, and promoting alternatives to incarceration.

Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Note: This is not an Amnesty International petition and was submitted by one of our Group #139 members.

United Kingdom Good News from Amnesty International UK by Kate Allen, Director of AI-UK

"This year our movement has had some incredible triumphs. From campaigning successfully for the release of death row prisoners Iwao Hakamada in Japan and Meriam Ebrahim in Sudan, to applying pressure to the UK government in the wake of the CIA torture report, and guaranteeing historic commitments from the UN and the EU that will fight injustice and protect the rights of thousands of people."
  •  The EU pledged stronger support and protection for human rights defenders in Afghanistan. 
  •  We launched our Stop Torture campaign and in October we celebrated the release of Ángel Colón.
  •  In June we were overjoyed to share with you the fantastic news that she has been freed and that you helped save her life.  
  •  The UN Human Rights Council agreed to establish an inquiry into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka.
  •  The world’s longest-serving death row prisoner Iwao Hakamada was released from Japan’s death row.
  •  In February an appeal court ruled in Elena Klimova favour and allowed her to carry on running Children 404.
Click here for details of her report.
(Note: Photo is from AI New Zealand)

Saudi Arabia: He started a blog: He got 10 years and 1,000 lashes - ONLINE PETITION and URGENT ACTION

Raif Badawi started a blog where readers could openly discuss religion, politics and other topics in Saudi Arabia. For this peaceful act, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. Raif is a man of principle and a respected Saudi activist. Two years ago, after starting the Saudi Arabian Liberals blog, he was imprisoned by the Saudi Arabian government, who claimed he insulted Islam and violated the Kingdom's repressive information technology laws. He's now serving 10 years and was sentenced to 1,000 lashes. His wife hasn't seen him and fears for his life. So do we at Amnesty.

Note: We have posted ONLINE PETITIONS and URGENT ACTIONS for Raif. Please consider acting today on his behalf. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

China: A rare criminal case in which evidence made a difference - December 29, 2014

from the Washington Post by William Wan
     "This is a country where 99.9 percent of suspects are found guilty. Where authorities put to death more convicted criminals each year than the rest of the world’s countries combined."
     "With criticism accumulating, authorities issued a new policy requiring the Supreme People’s Court to review all death sentences. That saved Nian’s life in 2010, when the court granted him another retrial. Revisions to criminal procedure last year also allowed Nian’s lawyers for the first time to question police in court and call independent forensic scientists as witnesses.
Those new avenues gave Zhang a chance to attack the forced confession and undermine key evidence against Nian."
  • Here is another article , "China's Death-Penalty Debate," by LIJIA ZHANG from Dec. 29, 2014 from the New York Times about China's changing policy.

Amnesty NSW Book Club 2015 Calendar

We might not live in Australia but we can enjoy this list of books
from the Amnesty NSW Book Club Facebook post.
  • Her Father's Daughter by Alice Punch (256 pages)
  • Why be Happy When You Can be Normal by Jeanette Winterson (240 pages)
  • Am I Black Enough for You by Anita Heiss (249 pages)
  • Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières (576 pages)
  • A Country Too Far (Anthology)
  • Every Secret Thing by Gillian Slovo (384 pages)
  • Shadow Girls by Henning Mankell (330 pages)
  • Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World by George B.N. Ayittey (288 pages)
  • Half The Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (543 pages)
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (352 pages)
  • The Key to My Neighbour's House: Seeking Justice in Bosnia and Rwanda by Elizabeth Neuffer (502 pages)
Complete book list and descriptions for 2015, click here

Faith Leaders Sign Declaration to #EndSlavery: December 10, 2014

A Message of Hope by World’s Religious Leaders Dated: December 10, 2014
Earlier this month, and for the first time in history, leaders of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish faiths made a joint declaration to end slavery. Whether you have religious belief or not, getting the word out that the world’s major faiths have united in this way sends a powerful message that can encourage many more people to join the fight to end slavery. Click here to watch and share the video of this historic moment when global faith leaders declared their commitment to ending slavery.

Click here to sign the Declaration and join the fight to end slavery. 

(Note: This is not an Amnesty International online line petition but was submitted by one of our AI Madison Group #139 members.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

El Salvador: End the ban on abortion in El Salvador - ONLINE PETITION and VIDEO

This is not fiction. This is happening today in El Salvador. Every year, thousands of women and girls are denied their human rights by El Salvador’s total ban on abortion.

Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Today is a historic day for human rights. The global ‪#‎ArmsTreaty‬ is now international law! - December 24, 2014

Reposted from Amnesty International USA Facebook Page

Note: Also check out this link to some questions and answers to the new Arms Treaty.

Here is a link to a related article from the New York Times, "A Former Ground Zero Goes to Court Against the World’s Nuclear Arsenals," by

Pakistan: Honour Pakistan's Children - ONLINE PETITION

A band of men walked into a school in Pakistan and massacred over 100 kids. These Taliban extremists see education as a threat and the best way to respond to their heinous crime is to meet their attack with a global call to get every child in school:

Click here for more information and to sign this online petition. 

Note: Thank you to one of our AI Madison Group #139 members submitted this online petition. This petition is NOT an Amnesty International sponsored petition.


Solidarity and congratulation messages can still be sent to Dominican women’s human rights groups’ network: Colectiva Mujer y Salud (

Click here for entire announcement and address information.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Write for Rights on Alcatraz: From A Prison to A Fortress of Human Rights - December 19, 29014

From Amnesty International Human Rights NOW Blog
December 19, 2014

Ai Weiwei has transformed Alcatraz Island from a symbol of oppression and fear to one of freedom of expression and activism. One of the most emotional and powerful parts of the exhibit for all of us was Trace. Trace is a collection of 178 portraits of prisoners of conscience with each portrait made of Lego bricks and substantiated with details provided through Amnesty’s research of the individual cases.

For entire blog article, click here.

URGENT ACTIONS for the Week of December 19 to December 26, 2014

 Click here for entire list of Urgent Actions for the week of December 19, 2014.
  Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include:Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Ukraine, The Gambia, Dominican Republic, and Pakistan.
Note: Most Urgent Actions require a written letter. See our guidelines for writing letters. 

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Peaceful Activist Facing Jail for Protest - URGENT ACTION

Abdallah Abu Rahma is well known to Amnesty International as a political activist with a long-term public commitment to using peaceful means to raise international awareness of the human rights violations suffered by Palestinians as a result of Israel's fence/wall. He is the head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Please send a letter and make this appeal:
  • Condemning the harassment of Abdallah Abu Rahma and calling on the authorities to ensure that all charges against him are dropped immediately since they relate to his peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and assembly;
  • Calling on them to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly to Abdallah Abu Rahma and other Palestinian activists.

Click here for address and more information about this case.

Friday, December 19, 2014

UN expert group on arbitrary detention welcomes the release of detainees in Cuba, US - December 18, 2014

 "The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention today welcomed the recent release of a number of detainees in Cuba and the United States, some of whose cases have been followed by the expert group. 
   “We encourage the release of other individuals arbitrarily detained, whether in the United States or in Cuba, or elsewhere”, Mr. Andenas added. “A prerequisite for conflict prevention is the respect for the rights of each individual, including the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention,” he said.

Click here for entire article.

AI Madison Group #139 - Weekly Update December 19, 2014

Greetings Everyone!
     Congratulations! Our Amnesty International Madison Group #139 submitted almost 1,500 signatures during the 2014 Write for Rights Campaign. They are in the mail and on their way.
     I've included a link to  Michael Franti & Spearhead - Same As It Ever Was (Start Today) in our Weekly Update and website. I hope you watch and listen. Sometimes, it does feel as though things will never change and, yet, we know that change will happen if we make it happen. Black Lives Matter... as do ALL Lives Matter. Respect Women... as we Respect All Man(Human)kind. Michael Franti's words touch me personally. As a white woman married to a Black man, the mother of a biracial adult son, and grandmother to the most adorable little girl, I feel his pain and his hope.  I hope his words will touch you, too.

     Be the change, 

     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor
Click here for entire Weekly Update.

Throwing Stones from the Glass House: The View of U.S. Human Rights Violations from Iran - December 17, 2014

Amnesty International
Human Rights Now Blog
by Elise Auerbach

"But this is also an opportunity for us to reflect on the universality of human rights—the bedrock principle that undergirds the work of Amnesty International. We can only be effective if we condemn human rights whenever and wherever they take place. No one is given a pass. That is why it is so important that Amnesty International and its activists, including those in the US section, speak out against human rights violations in our home, the United States."

For complete article, click here.

Mauritania: Free Anti-Slavery Activists - ONLINE PETITION

Mauritania fully outlawed slavery in 2007 but has systematically failed to end it in practice. It has fallen to activists like Biram to fight for people’s’ freedom and they face regular harassment and harsh treatment in their campaigning. It has now been weeks since Biram and his fellow activists’ arrest: let’s not wait any longer to get them out of prison and back to fighting against slavery.

Thank you to Farideh, one of our members, for sending us the link to this ONLINE PETITION from Walk Free (not an Amnesty International organization).

Other Resources:
  1. 2014 Global Slavery Index
  2.  IRA Mauritanie (in French)
  3. IRA - USA
  4. Slavery's Last Stronghold (CNN Special)


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jewish Voice for Peace - Chanukah 2014 - Video

Submitted by one of our members. This video is NOT an Amnesty International video. 

Published on Dec 17, 2014
Are these your values?
Please share this video on your social media networks and consider supporting the work of Jewish Voice for Peace this holiday season -
(Video link can also be found on our sidebar under our list of videos.)

Migrants deserve respect, safety and dignity - International Migrants' Day - December 18, 2014

From United Nations Human Rights Facebook Post
"All migrants – regular or irregular – have an inalienable claim to dignity, to justice, to freedom and to all other human rights,” says UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the International Migrants’ Day:

There are more international migrants today than at any other time in human history, with an estimated more 232 million people living and working outside their own countries. But many migrants face exploitation, discrimination and violence as they move, as well as in countries of destination where they live and work."

" On International Migrants Day, a group of international experts call for open, safe and regular migration channels for the more than 232 million migrants throughout the world, 20 percent of whom are estimated to be in an irregular situation:

“This year has seen an unprecedented number of migrants fleeing violence and conflict and risking dangerous sea crossings in search of a better life for themselves and their families,” Ms. Maya Sahli Fadel says. “Repressive policies fail to deter irregular migration because people’s need to survive is always stronger,” UN Special Rapporteur François Crépeau adds."

USA: Message from Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, AI-USA

You and Amnesty won many human rights victories in 2014. To name a few:
  1. FREED - Eight months ago, 27-year-old Sudanese mother Meriam Yeyha Ibrahim had been sentenced to death by hanging for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Today she is free and living safely with her family.

  2. REPEALED - We helped close a "rape loophole" in a Moroccan law that allowed rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying the person they raped, if she was a minor.

  3. FREED - Chinese authorities released Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen after he served a six-year prison sentence for "inciting splittism" - for making a film about the suffering endured by Tibetans.

  4. EXPOSED - Our team of crisis investigators risked their lives to expose war crimes - including abductions and other attacks on civilians - committed by the Syrian government, the Islamic State, and other armed groups.

  5. ADVANCED - Through the mobilization of Amnesty activists by countless phone calls, online actions and meetings with Senators and Representatives, we achieved the most bipartisan support the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) has ever had, increasing its chances for future passage. IVAWA makes ending violence against women and girls worldwide a top U.S. priority.

  6. DISPATCHED - In response to protests that followed the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Amnesty International dispatched human rights observers to monitor policing.
Justice may not always be swift, but it is certain. Click here to support Amnesty International USA.

USA: Torture is a Crime. Demand Accountability for Torture - ONLINE PETITION

The release of the summary of the Senate’s report on CIA torture once again makes crystal clear that the US government used torture.Torture is a crime. The US government is obligated by law to ensure accountability, including a full investigation, prosecutions where warranted, and remedy for victims.

 Click here to demand justice from President Obama and Eric Holder, US Attorney General:

Iran: Six Human Rights Groups Appeal to United Nations to Stop Funding Iran's Counter-Narcotics Operations

(London, December 16, 2014)  The United Nations agency charged with combating illicit drug trafficking should withdraw its support for counter-narcotics police operations in Iran until the death penalty for drug offenses is abolished, six rights groups said in a letter published today.

Complete article from  Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation can be found here
Note: This is not an Amnesty International group.

Israel: Palestinian Residency Revoked as Punishment - URGENT ACTION

The Israeli authorities have revoked the residency of a Palestinian woman, Nadia Abu Jamal, and stripped her three children of their health care rights. They are threatening to do this to all Palestinians involved in “terror” attacks, and their relatives.

Click here for URGENT ACTION information.
More information from Aljazeera.

Russian Federation: Activist Attacked and Threatened - URGENT ACTION

Russian human rights defender Igor Kalyapin was labelled a “supporter of terrorists” by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov after he publicly opposed Kadyrov’s promise to punish families of suspected insurgents. Since then, Igor Kalyapin has been receiving anonymous death threats and has been attacked.

Click here for more information and the Urgent Action addresses.

USA: Chelsea Manning - Send a birthday message and Speaking Out December 17, 2014

"Where were you on your 27th birthday? A question that takes most of us a minute or two to stab a guess at; maybe you’re not yet 27 (lucky you!), but the chances are you’ve spent various birthdays in different places, with different people, doing different things.
It’s a question that Chelsea Manning won’t have to think twice about when she’s asked years from now: she will be able to say, without thinking, ‘I was in a cell in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.’"
 Click here for an ONLINE PETITION/Birthday greeting from AI-UK. 
 Another ONLINE PETITION from Amnesty International, click here

"Why Speaking Out is Worth the Risk," link to Amnesty International article Dec 17, 2014.

Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks. From her prison cell in Kansas, Chelsea tells us why speaking out against injustice can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
 Why did you decide to leak documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? 
 What did you think the consequences might be for you personally?
What was it like to feel the full force of the US justice system and be presented as a traitor?
 Many people think of you as a whistleblower. Why are whistleblowers important?
 What would you say to somebody who is afraid to speak out against injustice?
 Why did you choose this particular artwork to represent you?

Dominican Republic: President Vetoes Full Ban on Abortion - URGENT ACITON

     Following national and international mobilization, the President of the Dominican Republic has objected and returned the proposed reform of the Criminal Code which maintained full criminalization of abortion to the Congress, urging legislators to decriminalize abortion in particular cases.

Click here for Urgent Action information.
Here is another link from Amnesty International-Canada.

USA: Vivek Murthy Appointed As America’s New Surgeon General - Dec 16, 2014

We would like to welcome the new Surgeon General of the U.S., Dr. Vivek Murthy.

What can you tell me about Dr. Vivek Murthy? 

"Dr. Murthy is an experienced and passionate doctor who has dedicated most of his medical career to improving public health both here in America and across the world. He is the co-founder and president of Doctors of America, a nonprofit of thousands of physicians and medical students working together to improve the health of our nation by ensuring everyone has access to affordable, high-quality health care."

Click here for more information about Dr. Murthy and the Surgeon General position.

Michael Franti & Spearhead - Same As It Ever Was (Start Today) - VIDEO

This video is not yet available to cut and paste on our website but you CAN click on this link. Please listen. Please make a better day... today.

Michael Franti & Spearhead - Same As It Ever Was (Start Today) - Music Video (3:56 min)

Uploaded on Dec 17, 2014
Michael Franti (Featuring the Agape Choir)
Written By Michael Franti and Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor
Directed by Michael Franti, Filmed and edited by John Roderick
Graffiti by C4
Thank you to all who donated their time and efforts to make this video happen.

More information on the Rolling Stone website, here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

United Nations: "Women's Rights are Human Rights"

Facebook post from United Nations Human Rights, December 13, 2014
"Nearly 20 years after the landmark Beijing World Conference on Women, the UN Human Rights Office is honouring women’s human rights defenders through the ‪#‎reflect2protect‬ campaign:
The UN Human Rights Office has also released a publication entitled “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”. Check it out (pdf):"

Madison, WI: UW Madison campus Protests Police Brutality and Racial Disparities - Video (2 min)

Published on Dec 14, 2014
On the night of Dec. 14, 2014, more than one thousand students marched throughout the UW-Madison campus to protest police brutality and racial disparities in wake of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York.

El Salvador: Urge Salvadoran Authorities to End the Total Abortion Ban - ONLINE PETITION and Urgent Action

     In El Salvador, it doesn't matter if a woman is pregnant as a result of rape or whether the pregnancy is a risk to the mother's life. Abortion is banned in all cases. Miscarriages can result in up to 50 years imprisonment for "homicide" or "aggravated homicide." Maria Teresa Rivera was sentenced to 40 years in prison after she had a miscarriage.

Click here for Amnesty International's ONLINE PETITION. 
Click here for information to write a letter.

Iran: News from Human Rights & Democracy for Iran

We encourage you to explore this website. This human rights group is "Working towards peaceful transition in Iran by documenting human rights abuses and promoting democratic values. Their website includes: newsletters, updates, a library of materials, ABF blog, their current projects, and information about their Foundation. Click here to visit their website. We have also included their organization on our sidebar of Human Rights links.

U.S. House of Representatives: Pass the Michael Brown, Jr. Law to begin equipping police with body cameras - ONLINE PETITION

This petition is sponsored by Michael Brown's parents and not Amnesty International.

      "We want to work to make a difference and prevent what happened to Michael from happening to others. We're asking Congress to pass the Michael Brown, Jr. Law by approving this plan.
     This is a plan that we believe is a positive step for our country to begin to heal. It's a common sense measure that will save lives, and protect both civilians and police. Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
Let's come together to help move our country forward. Let's make a difference."

Click here for more information and petition.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ten Ways YOU Can Change the World

From Amnesty International Australia

1. Spend your consumer dollar wisely.
2. Know who is looking after your money and what they are doing with it.
3. Give a percentage of your income to charity every year.
4. Give blood (and your organs when you are done with them)
5. Avoid that Landfill feeling.
6. Use the Interweb for good.
7. Volunteer.
8. Write a letter.
9. Love food. Hate waste. Recycle.
Click here for entire article.

U-W Madison, WI: A " White Coat Die-In" - December 10, 2014

"So proud of our students for organizing and engaging in a peaceful and very powerful event - a " white coat die-in" to raise awareness and generate conversation about racial inequities, injustices, and disparities. They are truly passionate agents of change and as a community our support and participation to help them build a just and equitable world is essential."
~ Dr. Elizabeth Petty '86, Assoc. Dean Academic Affairs UWSMPH
Click here for more information. Not sure why UW-Madison was not listed. They certainly participated and was seen on the local news.


URGENT ACTIONS for the Week of Dec 12 to Dec 19, 2014

Click here for a link to this week's Urgent Actions which will be updated throughout the week.
  Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Russian Federation, USA, Mexico, Spain,Turkey, Azerbijan, India, Colombia, Cuba, Syria, Dominican Republic, Israel, Ecuador, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, .Israel, and Oman.
Note: Most Urgent Actions require a written letter. See our guidelines for writing letters. 

Amnesty International Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - Friday, December 12, 2014

Greetings Everyone!
     Thank you to our many members who signed Write for Rights letters and online petitions. We are especially appreciative to those members who passed on this information to their organizations. Some of these letters were sent directly to Washington D.C. Others were sent to us and we will send them to Washington before the deadline. We joined thousands around the world... from Canada to Mexico, from the United Kingdom to India, from the Caribbean to Australia, from Kenya to Germany. Our voices, our signatures joined together on behalf of Jorge Lázaro Nunes dos Santos, Liu Ping, the women & girls of El Salvador, Rampyari Bai & Safreen Khan, Moses Akatugba, Murad Shtewi, Raif Badawi, Chelsea Manning, Darrell Cannon & Anthony Holmes, Hadya Pendleton, and the Disappeared Mexican students from Ayotzinapa . There is still time to add your voice. Click here for more information about 2014 Write for Rights. 

Note: We have a rather lengthy Weekly Update this week which includes notes from our Group Leader, actions, and calendar of events. Please click here to see the entire message. 

Madison, WI: "Ferguson: The Movement Marches On"

Last night our Group Leader, Azam, attended the meeting“Ferguson: The Movement Marches On.”  There was a lot of excitement from invited speakers and students as well.  This movement hopes to change the justice system and to end police brutality, and gun violence.
(Here is a blurred picture of her that was taken and posted in the Internet by Organizers of this meeting.)

NOTE: Event was organized by UW-Madison Dept. of Afro-American Studies in collaboration with AI-USA (Amnesty International USA).

Facebook Action: Share this picture in Remembrance of the Sandy Hook Victims - WAVE

     Sunday marks two years since 20 innocent children and 6 hero-educators were brutally gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary, and Congress has still failed to lift a finger to protect our children. So today, families of those lost in Newtown walked through the halls of Congress, door by door, to demand action. Their message is clear -- moments of silence are meaningful, but they’re not enough. That’s why the families of the Newtown Action Alliance are asking you, me and anyone looking for a way to support Newtown not only to show our solidarity today, but also to show our willingness to stand up and act every day until our broken gun laws get fixed. Stand up for Newtown and all victims of gun violence on this national day of action by sharing this image on Facebook.

Note: WAVE (Wisconsin Anti-Violent Effort) is not an Amnesty International group but advocates for reducing gun violence, injuries and deaths. Thank you to one of our members submitted this post. 

Chicago, USA: Book Event with Former New York Times Iran Correspondent Nazila Fathi - Jan 22, 2015

 The Perils of Being a Journalist in Iran
Book Event with Former New York Times Iran Correspondent Nazila Fathi
Ms Fathi will talk about her new book The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran which will be available for purchase and signing by the author. She was the longest serving correspondent for the New York Times based in Tehran and before that reported from the country for TIME and Agence France-Presse. She has written for the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, Vogue, and Harvard Nieman Report and has been a guest speaker on CNN, BBC, CBC and NPR.
The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago January 22 at 7 pm. This event is sponsored by Amnesty International USA, the Association for Women Journalists, Chicago and the Committee to Protect Journalists

Click here for more information.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 National Vigil for Victims & Survivors of Gun Violence - December 11, 2014

Thank you to our member, Farideh, who sent us the link to this National vigil. She is lighting up LA this evening with her candle. Here is our candle in Madison, Wisconsin. We join her tonight and  support the national vigil which honors and gives voice to ALL victims and survivors of gun violence.

Facebook Posting from Art for Amnesty

Thanks, Art for Amnesty, for another inspiring post.

 "History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme"

Seamus Heaney and Salil Shetty, together for a moment of art and human rights.

Annual Appeal for Tax-Deductible Donations to Group #139

Dear Friends, 
     Today is United Nations Human Rights Day. Because of many people like you, who strive to uphold human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is becoming the common standard of achievement for all peoples at home and around the world. We continue to work so that Human Rights Day is every day     On behalf of Amnesty International Local Group 139 in Madison, I would like to request for your tax-deductible end-of-year donation to our Amnesty Group. Your donations along with others, which are entirely voluntary, will help us to meet our local expenses including printing and mailing expenses of our Amnesty petitions.
     Please make your check payable to Amnesty Group 139, Madison and mail it to our Treasurer, Dr. Debbie Lloyd [350 S. Hamilton St., Unit 401, Madison, WI, 53703]. Thank you for caring and for acting.
     I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and family Peace, Joy, and Hope this Holiday Season.     

     Warm Regards,
     Azam, AI Madison Group #139 Group Leader

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." – MLK

Bahrain: A Year in Prison for "Insulting the King' (This is the Third Update for Urgent Action 5/14) - URGENT ACTION

 Ahmad Hassan ‘Ali Mshaima’ was sentenced on 9 December by a Lower Criminal Court to one year in prison for publicly insulting the King of Bahrain, under article 214 of the Bahraini Penal code, which criminalizes insulting the ruler of the country. He had been charged after reading a poem on 1 November during a religious festival commemorating Ashura in al-Muharraq island, north-east of Manama, which cites growing injustice in Bahrain and describes the ruler as an unjust ruler who breaks promises and sheds blood.

Click here for more information and addresses. 

U.K.: UK Must Investigate Its Role with Torture - ONLINE PETITION

The release of a damning US report on CIA torture reveals how they used waterboarding, 'rectal feeding', mock executions, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other cruel and degrading treatment against detainees.
But we still don’t know how deeply the UK was involved.
Demand the UK government investigates the truth.

Click here for more information and the ONLINE PETITION. 

11 Books to Read for Human Rights Day

11 Books to Read for Human Rights Day That Take a Good, Hard Look at Justice and Equality
Written by Karen Green, Bustle

"Sure, as you read this list, you’ll be struck — some of these books are not easy nor exactly pleasant to read. But then again, neither are the headlines in the news these days. These reads are important, and touching, and will tear at you. And you’ll be better for reading them and celebrating the lives within their pages."
  •  Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  •  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  •  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  •  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  •  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  •  Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  •  A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett 
  •  Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
  •  Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
  •  Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
  •  Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
Click here for entire article.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Iran: STOP the execution of Soheil Arabi سهیل عربی‌ را اعدام نکنید

Death Sentence for “Insulting the Prophet” on Facebook

A blogger found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad in his postings on Facebook has been sentenced to death. An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the blogger, Soheil Arabi, will be able to appeal the decision until September 20, 2014.

Agents from the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Sarallah Base arrested Soheil Arabi, 30, and his wife in November 2013. Arabi’s wife was released a few hours later, but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, before he was transferred to Evin’s General Ward 350. Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court, under Judge Khorasani, found Arabi guilty of “sabb al-nabi” (insulting the Prophet), on August 30, 2014.

Click the link for more information and another petition for Soheil Arabi. 
Amnesty International also has an Urgent Action for this case which can be found here.

Write for Rights 2014 - AI Madison Group #139 Activities

We are in the middle of collecting signatures for this year's Write for Rights campaign. Thank you to our volunteers who have spent hours distributing information, talking to groups, and advocating on behalf the the 2014 cases (plus one). It's been an exciting time to reconnect with friends and to spread our message of human rights. Some of our outreach efforts included events at the following: UW Law School, Nolen Shore,and Capitol Lakes. If you have not signed a letter, it's not too late. Click here for case information and addresses. Send us an email if you have any questions. We continue to post online petitions and urgent actions on our Facebook page and Twitter. The deadline is quickly approaching so contact today. Happy Human Rights Day!

Note: We also partnered with the Anti-Violence Campaign and IHERC. Click here for photos from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. 

Iran: HRANA News: December 10, 2014

Please click here for complete stories and photos. 

o 18 executions for drug related crimes in one day
o Ali Tabarzadi, released from prison
o Yalda Pajoohesh, women’s right activist has been arrested
o Majid Moghadam arrested in Tehran
o Indifference of prison authorities to prisoners’ on-going hunger strike in Urmieh Central Prison (Darya)
o Death Sentence for Photographer Soheil Arabi, for “Insulting the Prophet of Islam”
o Ilka Mithaqi, a 19-year-old Bahai girl, was arrested in Tabriz
o Bahai home and business searched in Rasht
o No word of Hamid Azizi, a Bahai from Hamedan
o No whereabouts of Atta Rajabi, a Bahai in Hamadan
o No whereabouts of Saqi Feda’i, a Bahai from Mashhad
o Bahai home raided in Shiraz
o Bahai youth sentenced in Shiraz
o Bahai’s face Home raids and closures in Najafabad and Vila Shahr 

Click here for photos and complete stories from HRANA News.

Human Rights Day message from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein - 2014!

Published on Dec 8, 2014
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's message for Human Rights Day 10 December 2014. (video 3:59 min in English)

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence - Day 16

from the World Health Organization
 "Violence against women has profound implications for health but is often ignored. WHO's World Report on Violence and Health notes that "one of the most common forms of violence against women is that performed by a husband or male partner.” This type of violence is frequently invisible since it happens behind closed doors, and effectively, when legal systems and cultural norms do not treat as a crime, but rather as a "private" family matter, or a normal part of life." 

Click here for more information found on their website.

Celebrating International Human Rights Day today - December 10, 2014

Today is United Nations Human Rights Day. Thank you for caring, for acting, for changing lives, and for being an example for this generation & future generations. Because of YOU, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is becoming the common standard of achievement for all peoples at home and around the world. Because of you, we continue to work so that Human Rights Day is every day. Thank you. -AI Madison Group #139

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Americas: Violence on the rise against those defending human rights - Dec 9, 2014

Amnesty International News Release
     "Campaigners, lawyers, journalists, community leaders and trade unionists, all human rights defenders who put their lives and liberty at risk in the fight for human rights, continue to suffer intimidation, harassment and violence across Latin America and the Caribbean according to a new Amnesty International report published today."

Click here for entire News Release.

Defending Human Rights in the Americas: Necessary, Legitimate and Dangerous Read the full report (in Spanish)