Saturday, February 28, 2015

Unsafe abortions kill 47,000 worldwide as US politics interfere with lifesaving efforts

from GlobalPost, Feb 5, 2015
by  John Seager who is president and CEO of Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth), a grassroots population organization.
     "But there’s another tragedy taking place outside of our country’s borders, where nearly 47,000 women — almost all of who live in the developing world — die every year from unsafe abortions. In many of the world’s poorest countries, abortion is illegal in nearly all circumstances. And this provides us with some important lessons. First, outlawing abortion doesn’t eliminate it. Desperate people take desperate measures. Like women and girls in El Salvador who ingest rat poison or force sharp objects into their cervixes to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
      Commentary from the article: US aid rules carry restrictions on discussion of abortion among women in developing world.
Click here for entire article.

Iran: Stop Arresting Social Media Users and Release Social Media Activists Deadline: Ongoing - ONLINE PETITION

Submitted by one of our members:
     Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, has urged Western youth to use social media to learn about Islam through his #letter4u campaign, but arrests Iranian citizens for using the same tools. In February, the Iranian officials went on television to boast the arrests of 12 individuals for “illicit” activities on Facebook–– activities which included discussions of art and photographs taken at weddings. The individuals were discovered by a recent surveillance program launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Cyber Defense Command, codenamed “Operation Spider.” The aim of the program is to shut down social media pages deemed to be “spreading corruption” and “carrying out a mission to change family lifestyles.” In reality, Spider is just another tool for the Iranian government to hinder freedom of opinion and expression. Click here to ask Ayatollah Khamenei to stop arresting social media users and to release Roya Saberinejad Nobakht (pictured) and other social media activities.

Amnesty International Daily Urgent Actions for the Week of Feb 27 to March 6, 2015

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of February 27 to March 6.

      Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include: Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, U.S.A., Indonesia, Russian Federation, and India. 

Note: Most Urgent Actions require a written letter. See our guidelines for writing letters.  Countries are added to this list during the week. The link contains all Urgent Actions for the week.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mexico: Torture In Mexico: Don't Turn A Blind Eye, President Peña Nieto - ONLINE PETITION

from Amnesty International UK
Has Mexico got a torture problem? We think the facts speak for themselves.
Mexico's President Nieto is in the UK next week. Send him a strong message that torture in Mexico has to stop.
Sign now - it's your last chance before we hand it in:

American atheist blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh - The Guardian Feb 27, 2015

     "A prominent American blogger of Bangladeshi origin has been hacked to death with machetes by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, after he allegedly received threats from Islamists.
The body of Avijit Roy, founder of the Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog site – which champions liberal secular writing in the Muslim-majority nation – was found covered in blood after an attack that also left his wife critically wounded."
Click here for entire article. 

AI Madison Group #139 Member Petitions (Updated Weekly) - ONLINE PETITIONS and NEWS

We have such a wonderful membership! Not only do we hold human rights dear to our hearts but there are also  other issues such as the environment, poverty, children's health, etc that can be related to human rights but may not addressed by Amnesty International. Here are some of those ONLINE PETITION links submitted by our members.

Laura Boushnak: For These Women Reading is a Daring Act - TED TALK VIDEO

Reposted from Amnesty International - Chicago's Facebook Page 2/27/2015
"In some parts of the world, half of the women lack basic reading and writing skills. The reasons vary, but in many cases, literacy isn't valued by fathers, husbands, even mothers. Photographer and TED Fellow Laura Boushnak traveled to countries including Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia to highlight brave women — schoolgirls, political activists, 60-year-old moms — who are fighting the statistics."
Filmed October 14, 2014, Subtitles available in 7 languages, (5:05 min)
Click here for webpage. 

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - Feb 27, 2015

Greetings Everyone!

     Our website holds a great deal of information and links to actions that you can take right now. Two posts are updated during the week. One is called, "AI Madison Group #139 Member Petitions - ONLINE PETITIONS and NEWS. "Not only do we hold human rights dear to our hearts but there are also  other issues such as the environment, poverty, children's health, etc that can be related to human rights but may not addressed by Amnesty International. Here are some of those ONLINE PETITION links submitted by our members." The other post includes Amnesty International Daily Urgent Actions, Amnesty International Daily Urgent Actions for the Week of Feb 20 to Feb 27, 2015.  This post is updated when we receive information from Amnesty International during the week.
     We keep a list of our ONLINE PETITIONS, URGENT ACTIONS, Human Rights NEWS, VIDEOS, and BLOG topics on our website. Check our side bar for Amnesty International Links, Human Rights Links, and the Calendar of Events. The Search Box is very handy for following a particular issue that may have been addressed on the website or on Open Forum.
Click here for entire Weekly Update.

"Education is Not a Crime" - Video and Hashtag Action

Published on Feb 26, 2015 (1:11 min)
Mark Ruffalo joins the Education Is Not a Crime global campaign:

     “Education is not a crime, it should never be one. Ever. Iran is doing a great disservice to the world and to the youth of its country by not allowing these people to be educated. So I’m asking you to join me in a campaign called Education is Not a Crime." 
     "I'm asking you to take a stand. Take a short video of yourself and tell why you think Education is not a crime." Use #EducationIsNotACrime and spread the word on social media." - Mark Ruffalo

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Department of Justice: Investigate Chicago's "Abuse Laden" Black Site - ONLINE PETITION

 The Chicago Police Department runs an off-the-books interrogation site where police detainees have been brutalized and denied their Constitutional rights, according to an explosive new report by The Guardian.
The report, published Feb. 24, alleges abuses of detainees at Homan Square that include:
* Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
* Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
* Shackling for prolonged periods.
* Denying attorneys access to the "secure" facility.
* Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
If proven true, these allegations represent a fundamental violation of American law and international human rights. They also demonstrate a deeply troubling lack of accountability for the staff and leadership of one of the largest law enforcement entities within the United States.
The world deserves the truth about what is happening at this facility and the people of Chicago deserve justice. Please Urge the US Attorney General to launch a full and impartial investigation of potential abuse and rights violations at Homan Square immediately.

Click here for entire petition sponsored by Care2Petitions.

Ferguson protesters receive human rights and literature award

Two Ferguson activists have received an award for their writing in the wake of Michael Brown’s August death. DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie won the 2015 Howard Zinn Freedom to Write Award. The award comes from PEN New England in Massachusetts, a branch of the world's oldest international literary and human rights organization — the PEN American Center. McKesson views the work as part of the changing public dialogue about race in America.
Click here to read the entire article. 

UW Madison, WI: “Education is Not a Crime” for this Friday (2/27) - EVENT

Dear Friends:
     My colleagues from UW-Madison, Prof. Joseph Elder (Social Sciences), Prof. Uli Schamiloglu (Center for Middle Studies) along with Baha’i Campus Association, Pakistani Students Association, and myself (Coordinator for Amnesty International Local Group 139 in Madison) have helped to organize the event “Education is Not a Crime” for this Friday (2/27) at UW Memorial Union (800 Langdon Street, Madison, 53706), Tripp Common, at 6:30 PM (Please see attached flyer). This program is part of global campaign in support of Baha’is rights to freedom and education in Iran. 
The program starts with watching a 55-mins documentary film To Light A Candle” aimed at exposing social injustice and religious intolerance of Baha’is in Iran. This new film is produced by Maziar Bahari, an Iranian Canadian journalist, film maker, and human rights activist. Attached, please see Flyer Worth mentioning Maziar’s memoir “Then They Came for Me” which was the NY Times Best Seller, was the basis for Jon Stewart’s 2014 film “Rosewater”.
     We encourage you to come to this event which is free and open to public, watch this powerful movie, and listen to panel discussion by Prof. Elder, Dr. Sal Carranza, and myself.  
For questions or more information, please do not hesitate to contact me (608-698-6749). Looking forward to see you this Friday,
     Coordinator, Amnesty International Local Group 139, Madison

Geneva, Switzerland: Honoring Ms. Masih Alinejad, Iranian Journalist with 2015 Women’s Rights Award

Ms. Masih Alinejad, who now lives abroad, was born to a traditional and religious family in a small town in Iran. Her student activities landed her in jail at the age of 20 while she was pregnant. After her release, she went to Tehran and worked as a journalist for several mainstream newspapers, starting with the daily Hambastegi, and later with the Iranian Labour News Agency as a parliamentary correspondent. However, her journalism caused trouble and in 2005, her expose of parliamentary corruption got her expelled from the legislature.
On February 22, 2015, at the7th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a global coalition of 20 non-governmental organizations announced that Iranian freelance journalist, Masih Alinejad, creator of a viral Facebook page that allows Iranian women to upload photos of themselves without the mandatory headscarf, is the inaugural 2015 recipient of the Geneva Summit Women’s Rights Award. Upon receiving this award, Alinejad said, “I'm delighted to receive this award. From 7-year-old schoolgirls to 70-year-old grandmothers, women in Iran are all forced to wear the hijab. Hopefully this award will create an opportunity for the voices of Iranian women who say no to the forced hijab to echo throughout the halls of the United Nations.”Alinejad hopes the award will “raise global awareness about Iranian women who are standing up for their basic rights.” She concluded her speech by stating, "Like the leaders of the American civil rights movement, like Martin Luther King, we the women of my land also have a dream — we dream that one day our voice gets heard, the world stand up with us and compulsory hijab leaves Iran forever.”Click here to read more.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tenth Anniversary of the Peter Benenson's Death

 Reposted from Amnesty International - Europe's Facebook Page

"Did you know? The amnesty candle reflects our founder Peter Benenson's hope that our work would shine a light in the darkest of places where human rights abuses go unpunished."

Youth Against the Death Penalty - VIDEO & ONLINE PETITION

Reposted from Amnesty International - Chicago's Facebook page

"Could you please watch and share this amazing video and encourage everyone to sign the petition below please to stop the death penalty in Indonesia? Thank you & congratulations to the Youth of Indonesia for speaking up against the Death Penalty. I join with the "Youth Against the Death Penalty" and encourage President Jokowi of Indonesia to please visit the jail and see how rehabilitation is working. I encourage everyone to say NO to the death penalty
Mercy Campaign ‪#‎istandformercy‬ ‪#‎keephopealive‬
Please sign the petition at Amnesty International Australia website

Amnesty International Annual Report 2014/2015

from Salil Shetty, Secretary General at Amnesty International
 "This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones."
 "We must hope that, looking backward to 2014 in the years to come, what we lived through will be seen as an ultimate low point from which we rose up and created a better future."
 "Governments who have been most eager to speak out loudly on the failures of other governments have shown themselves reluctant to step forward and provide the essential assistance that refugees require."
 "Government leaders have justified horrific human rights violations by talking of the need to keep the country "safe". In reality, the opposite is the case."
Click here for entire Amnesty International Annual Report (interactive web-based).
Click here for Amnesty International Annual Report (pdf, 424 pages).

'Torture Report' Reshapes Conversation In Guantanamo Courtroom - NPR Report Feb 25, 2015

     “For years in the military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, there's been a subject no one could talk about: torture.
     Now that's changed.
     This latest chapter began when the military commission at Guantanamo held a hearing earlier this month in the case of five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks — a case that's been stuck for nearly three years in pre-trial wrangling.
     It was the first time the court had met since a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's interrogation and detention of suspected terrorists was made public late last year. Raúl Castro Demands Return Of Guantánamo Before Normalizing Ties With U.S. What many call "the torture report" is no longer a government secret, so lawyers for the defendants can now talk in court about what was done to their clients.
     The change was readily apparent to observers who've followed this capital case.”

 Click here for script and link to program. 

Note: A link to this NPR Report was added to our Open Forum blog post, "Guantanomo and Amnesty International." AI Madison Group #139 members can comment on the blog.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Petitioners Ask UK to Pardon 49,000 Convicted Under Anti-Gay Laws - February 24, 2015 & ONLINE PETITION

     The tragic case of Alan Turing, the British computer wizard credited with leading the team that cracked Nazi Germany's Enigma code, may bring a final pardon to 49,000 men, 15,000 who are still living, convicted under Britain's former anti-homosexuality laws.
      A petition posted by Turing's family on, which so far has garnered 533,944 signatures, asks the government to "pardon all of the estimated 49,000 men who, like Alan Turing, were convicted of consenting same-sex relations under the British 'gross indecency' law (only repealed in 2003), and also all the other men convicted under other UK anti-gay laws."
Click here for entire news article and link to petition.

Computer scientist Alan Turing, who was portrayed in "The Imitation Game," was posthumously pardoned for homosexual acts. NBC News, Feb 24, 2015.

Amnesty International USA's 2015 Human Rights Conference and Annual General Meetings - March 20-22, 2015

Amnesty International letter from Gerry Rivadeneira, Student, human rights activist and AGM program committee member

Every activist has a moment that inspired him or her to movement. What's yours?

Please join in re-energizing that call to advocacy at this year's national Human Rights Conference -- our 50th Annual General Meeting. Register to attend today.

Each year at the AGM, we have the unique opportunity to come together as activists. Together, we deepen our organizing skills. We attend hands-on workshops and plenaries. We discuss and vote on resolutions that shape Amnesty's policies. Most importantly, we share stories of survival and our ideas on how to create change.

Amnesty International USA is working to highlight and empower all voices, including those of the youth. Together, we realize that our voices, and our stories, make a difference.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Norway's Muslims Form Protective Human Ring Around Oslo's Synagogue - Feb 21, 2015

from Huffington Post Religion
     "OSLO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo's synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city's Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.
     Chanting "No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia," Norway's Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend."
Click here for entire article.

Support Nasrin Sotoudeh leading Iranian human rights lawyer - ONLINE PETITION

     "Nasrin Sotoudeh, a leading Iranian human rights lawyer, winner of 2008 and 2012 United Nation and Sakharov Human Rights awards, has become the symbol of non-violent civil society movement in Iran."
     "We the undersigned, in recognition of her demands as mandated by Articles 7, 17, 18, 19 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory, do hereby declare and support her “Rights to Employment, Rights to dissent.”"

Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Petition Update: 

Thank you for your signature

Please forward this to your friends and have them put their signature in the petition to support Nasrin Sotudeh for “Rights to Work & Rights to Dissent”.

350 signatures to date

Iran: 100 Years of Beauty - VIDEO (1:07 min)

from Women's Right News: "Interesting, short and well made. We've been following several women movement groups in Iran, seems like things are starting to rumble."

Published on Feb 18, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Join AI Madison Group #139 Today!

     Membership in AI Madison Group #139 has its benefits: (1) Receive in your email the Weekly Update which includes links to the week's online petitions, urgent actions, human rights news, videos, calendar of events, our website & blog and (2) participate in Open Forum which is a blog just for members where we discuss such topics as "9/11 Hate Crime Trends in the US" and "Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo." NO DUES... just lots of information and links to actions you can take today. Contact for more information.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Article of Interest: "What ISIS Really Wants" - The Atlantic March 2015

from The Atlantic
by Graeme Wood

 "The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it."
Note: One of our members recommended this article. It is rather lengthy article but great "food for thought." Enjoy!

Click here for the entire article. 

Note: If you are an AI Madison Group #139 member and would like to comment on this article, please go to Open Forum. (Remember, you must be registered to access the blog.)

Amnesty International Daily Urgent Actions for the Week of Feb 20 to Feb 27, 2015

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of February 13 to Feb 20.
      Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include: Dominican Republic, Turkey, Colombia, USA, China, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel/Palestinian Occupied Territories, Venezuela, Syria, Spain, and Macedonia.

Note: Most Urgent Actions require a written letter. See our guidelines for writing letters.  Countries are added to this list during the week. The link contains all Urgent Actions for the week.

AI Madison Group #139 Member Petitions (Updated Weekly) - ONLINE PETITIONS and NEWS

We have such a wonderful membership! Not only do we hold human rights dear to our hearts but there are also  other issues such as the environment, poverty, children's health, etc that can be related to human rights but may not addressed by Amnesty International. Here are some of those ONLINE PETITION links submitted by our members.