Friday, January 30, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - January 30, 2015

Greetings Everyone!
      We are excited to announce the launch of our Members Only blog. "Open Forum" is designed as a place for our members to meet one another and to discuss topics of concern by our members. Our first post/topic is a welcome and introduction. Please feel free to tell us a little about yourself. Azam and I have already posted our introductions. You must be registered to view and or to comment/post on the blog and can register at any time. For more information, send an email to Debbie at Looking forward to meeting and discussing issues with you on Open Forum!
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor
Click here for entire Weekly Update.

Syria: "Behind the numbers: The stories and heartbreaks of Syrian refugees" - VIDEO

Published on Dec 11, 2014
CARE aid worker Johanna Mitscherlich looks back on 12 months of working with Syrian refugees – and pays tribute to their resilience and the small acts of humanity that can make a big difference. Music: "The Astounding Eyes Of Rita" by Anouar Brahem (AmazonMP3, (7:28 min) 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

United Nations - Stop Child Marriage Deadline: Ongoing - ONLINE PETITION

A recent UN report on child marriage states that 1 in 3 girls in developing countries are married before age 18. That means millions of girls never get a real chance at an education and are at an increased risk of contracting HIV or dying during pregnancy or childbirth. If we don't stop this trend now, 142 million children will be married by 2020. Click here to ask John Kerry, Secretary of State, to invest in stopping child marriage and supporting the millions of girls who are already married.

Some related articles:
  • "Nepal's child grooms suffer in physical, emotional ways," LA Times, Jan 27, 2015, link, 
  • "Analysis: Why child marriage persists in Nepal," IRIN, August 15, 2014, link
Amnesty articles include:
  • "Sexual and reproductive rights under threat worldwide," March 6, 2014, link
  • "My Body My Rights: Country Cases," March 6, 2014, link
  • "Nepal: Widespread gender discrimination has triggered sexual and reproductive rights crisis," Feb 20, 2014, link

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Madison, WI: Local organization reaches out to LGBT prisoners nationwide through books

The Badger Herald
Jan 27, 2015
LGBTQ inmates imprisoned in both mind and body across the country have the opportunity to find solace through free books provided by a local Madison organization, LGBT Book to Prisoners.
LGBT Book to Prisoners seeks to work against oppressive functions of the prison system and give some control back into prisoners’ hands. The project aims to provide access to knowledge because incarcerated persons have little access to reading material, particularly LGBTQ-identified prisoners.
The project wants LGBTQ prisoners to know they have a supportive community that cares about their well-being as they face the hardships of prison, such as isolation and physical violence, according to Irene Toro Martinez, an LGBT Books to Prisoners organizer.
The project began as a branch of the Wisconsin Books to Prisoners organization, Toro Martinez said.
Click here for entire article. 

Saudi Arabia: Continue to take action and share, Raif is still at risk - ONLINE PETITION

Reposted from Amnesty International Canada Facebook

"Over 1 Million people around the world have called for the release of Raif Badawi! Thank you for joining this global movement to #FreeRaif but please continue to take action and share, Raif is still at risk."

Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Global Day of Action Against Torture on January 31

from LibertyBeat, Jan 8, 2015
"Activists from across the political spectrum are organizing a global day of action against the use of torture on January 31. In response to a lack of media coverage and action from politicians following the release of the Senate report on CIA torture, a number of organizations are calling for rallies and protests across the globe to stand in solidarity with victims of torture. The Anti-Media, The Conscious Resistance Network, the Solutions Institute and a growing list of activist groups and media outlets are joining the calls for action. Several cities are planning on hosting mock water-boarding and force-feeding presentations."

Amnesty Links related to torture:
"We can stop torture." Link
"Torture and other ill treatment." Link
"Stop Torture Campaign." Link
"Demand Accountability for Torture and Abuse." Link

Philippines Stop Torture: No one is above the law Deadline: Ongoing - ONLINE PETITION

No-one arrested by the police is safe from torture in the Philippines. Forced suffocation, electric shocks, water-boarding, striking with wooden batons and beatings. In police stations across the Philippines, torture is happening right now to people just like you and me. The use of torture especially during police interrogations of detainees, continues to rise. Click here to urge President, Vice-President, and Secretary of Interiro of the Philippines to stop Torture in the Philippines.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Saudi Arabia: Release my husband, Raif Badawi, Unconditionally Deadline: Ongoing - NEW ONLINE PETITION

My husband, Raif Badawi, is serving a sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for starting an online forum for open discussion of topics like religion and politics, and for "insulting Islam." He is set to be flogged 950 more times. Please call Embassy Official in Washington DC at (202) 342-3800. Press 2 for English, then 0 for the Operator. If the Operator is not available, you can also try 3 for Public Affairs. Click here to sign Ensaf Haidar petition for release of her husband.

Madison, WI: Black Lives Matter Speaker Series - Max Rameau - Forward from Ferguson: The Case for Community Control Over the Police - VIDEO

Published on Jan 24, 2015
Talk at UW-Madison campus on 1/23/15 sponsored by UW's Comparative US Studies (CUSS) and Young Gifted and Black Coalition (59:00 min)

United Nations: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein statement International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust - 27 January 2015

"Seventy years ago on this forever solemn day, Auschwitz-Birkenau – the largest killing centre of the Nazi concentration camps – was finally liberated. We continue to be haunted by the fate of the millions of Jewish men, women and children, as well as Roma, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and other prisoners and deportees from all over Europe, people with disabilities, homosexuals, and dissidents, who suffered and were killed by this ghastly extermination machine. The memory of well over a million Jewish children, and thousands of other children, who were put to death is particularly unbearable. Both personally and as a representative of the United Nations, I bow to every woman, man and child who was forced to endure such terrible suffering."
Click here for entire statement from Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
Seventy years ago on this forever solemn day, Auschwitz-Birkenau – the largest killing centre of the Nazi concentration camps – was finally liberated.
We continue to be haunted by the fate of the millions of Jewish men, women and children, as well as Roma, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war and other prisoners and deportees from all over Europe, people with disabilities, homosexuals, and dissidents, who suffered and were killed by this ghastly extermination machine. The memory of well over a million Jewish children, and thousands of other children, who were put to death is particularly unbearable. Both personally and as a representative of the United Nations, I bow to every woman, man and child who was forced to endure such terrible suffering.
The Charter of the United Nations – which also commemorates its 70th anniversary this year – was shaped in response to the atrocities of the Holocaust and the Second World War. The Charter seeks to establish a new "vision of what the world should be". It should be a world in which all people are able to exercise their human rights in freedom, dignity and equality, in full accordance with international human rights law.
- See more at:

Nigeria: Protect Women and Girls from Boko Haram Deadline: ASAP ONLINE PETITION


The UN Security Council has finally spoken out about Nigeria, but violence is escalating. Join the call for an urgent resolution to protect civilians and tell everyone:

     Boko Haram just used a 10-year-old girl as a bomb-detonator right after massacring up to 2,000 people. There is a reign of terror in Northern Nigeria. But Nigerian President Jonathan has said almost NOTHING about this in his election campaign, and his brutal army, instead of protecting civilians, is fuelling the insurgency. Click here to urge the President to convene an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, issue a Presidential Statement, and pass a resolution that includes measures to protect civilians, holds military forces accountable for human rights violations, and presses the Nigerian government to enact reforms that will more effectively protect and serve its citizens.
Click here for ONLINE PETITION

Mauritania: Free Anti-Slaveray Activists: Biram Dah Abeid, Brahim Bilal, Djiby Sow - Deadline: Ongoing 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. Mauritania has now jailed more anti-slavery activists than slave ownersBiram Dah Abeid,Brahim Bilal, and Djiby Sow have been sentenced to two years in jail for protesting against slavery in Rosso, south Mauritania. Click here to call on Mauritania’s government to free Biram and other anti-slavery activists.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Philippines: The “torture show” - News, ONLINE PETITION, & Video

from Amnesty International
January 26, 2015

"The popular game show “Wheel of Fortune” is a global phenomenon. Syndicated across more than 50 countries worldwide, millions have sat glued to their television screens as contestants try their luck with the spin of the wheel in eager anticipation of winning the star prize.
But this time last year in the Philippines, the “roleta ng kapalaran” (wheel of fortune) acquired notoriety with the gruesome discovery made by the Philippines’ Commission for Human Rights."
Click here for entire article.  

Published on Jan 26, 2015
Sign this petition:

     Will it be suffocation or beatings, waterboarding or electric shocks - the Wheel of Torture decides.
Last year’s revelation that police in Laguna, Philippines were using a 'wheel of torture' to decide which torture techniques to use on prisoners shocked the world. 28 January 2015 marks the one year anniversary of when the 'Wheel of torture' was first discovered during a routine visit by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights.
     The ‘Wheel of torture’ was loosely based on the popular 1980’s game show ‘Wheel of fortune’. To mark the anniversary, we have produced a video that is a satirical take on the show, recreating the exciting, family atmosphere but contestants spin the wheel of torture. One contestant spins the wheel to try and win a lawyer, but ends up landing on Manny Pacman (beatings).

UW-Madison: Roundtable discussion on Charlie Hebdo, Satire, and Freedom of Expression - January 30th, 2015

Roundtable discussion on Charlie Hebdo, Satire, and Freedom of Expression.
Pyle Center,  Room 325/326
January 30th
5:30 – 7:30
At this roundtable, the January 7 attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris will be discussed in its past, present, and future context and implications. How can these events be understood from a geopolitical viewpoint? What are the different cultural perspectives (French, Arab, American) on the events? 

Panelists include: 
  • Frédéric Neyrat, For the benevolence of expression.
  • Sage Goellner, Toward an understanding of the context(s) of Charlie Hebdo.
  • Sandrine Pell, Is it really about Charlie?
  • Jean-René Gehan, Radical Islam in France, at the crossroads of a failed integration and the dashed hopes of the Arab springs.
  • Tejumola Olaniyan, Am I Really Charlie?
  • Nevine El Nossery, Why I am not Charlie.
  • Laird Boswell, What is at stake in the debate over Charlie Hebdo and the terrorist attack on the kosher supermarket?
Co-Sponsors: the Department of French and Italian, Division of Continuing Studies, and European Studies Alliance.

One Billion Rising Revolution - February 14, 2015

 Reposted from Amnesty International Midwest Facebook page
"One Billion Rising" campaign
1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in hundreds of countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.
Click here for more information. 

Egypt: Doctor jailed after Egypt’s first FGM conviction

 From The Guardian, Jan 26, 2015

 "Raslan Fadl sentenced to two years and three months over procedure that caused death of 13-year-old girl"

      A doctor has become the first in Egypt to be convicted of female genital mutilation, seven years after the widely practised procedure was first criminalised in the country.
Raslan Fadl was previously acquitted of the manslaughter of 13-year-old Sohair al-Bataa during an FGM procedure in a village in northern Egypt. Prosecutors appealed against the verdict, and on Monday another court found him guilty both of causing Sohair’s death and of mutilating her.

Click here for entire article.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"The Paradox that is Persia: Abbas Milani at TEDxStanford" VIDEO

Submitted by one of our members.
Published on May 28, 2014
Abbas Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford and a co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. Until 1986, he taught at Tehran University's Faculty of Law and Political Science. In his 12 years at Stanford, he has taught courses on modern Iranian politics, culture and religion, and has published more than 20 books and 200 articles and book reviews on these topics. His latest book is The Shah (Palgrave, 2011). He is a regular on major news and opinion programs around the world and a contributing editor to The New Republic. YouTube link.
(Note: I'm having trouble posting the actual video. Please click the link to see it.) 

Environmental Petitions - ONLINE PETITIONS

One of our members submitted the following environmental petitions. 
     From the Environmental Defense Fund: Earlier this week, almost two years after that first day of court appearances, BP begins its third and final phase of the trial to determine how much money it will have to pay for its part in one of the worst environmental disasters in US history. Now—more than ever before—the public needs to send a strong message to BP and its lawyers that it's time to come clean and accept responsibility. Put an end to BP's deception by signing your name.

      From Friends of the Earth: This week, in the State of the Union, President Obama talked eloquently about seriously addressing global warming. But now, he needs to follow through on his rhetoric. Methane has a much larger warming effect than carbon dioxide, and thanks to the booming oil and gas industries, it is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. If the EPA doesn’t take strong action to regulate methane emissions now, the effect on our climate could be catastrophic. Tell the EPA to protect future generations and take bold action on methane NOW.

     From EarthJustice: EPA is on the verge of strengthening smog protections that could save not only thousands of lives but billions of dollars. Don’t let polluting industries weaken your right to clean air. Ozone pollution, commonly referred to as smog, is a silent killer. It threatens the health of millions and is responsible for respiratory ailments, asthma attacks, and deaths. EPA has just released a draft rule that proposes to strengthen the current ozone standard. But industry is fighting to stop the EPA from adopting any new standards. Click here for online petition.

 Amnesty International continues to work for human rights and environmental issues.

Amnesty Links
1. "Changes to environment, land acquisition laws jeopardize human rights," Nov 5, 2014, link
2. "Business and Human Rights," AI USA, link
3. "Cuba: Prisoner releases must lead to new environment for freedoms," Jan 8, 2015, link