Sunday, May 31, 2015

Iran: Imminent execution of 24 year old Iranian man - URGENT ACTION by July 10, 2015

Amnesty International
May 28, 2015

     "Ehsan Shah Ghasemi, a 24 year-old Iranian man, is at imminent risk of execution. Ehsan Shah Ghasemi was sentenced to death for the murder of Ali Khalili. He stabbed Ali Khalili in the neck in July 2011, causing injuries that allegedly resulted in his death almost three years later in April 2014. Amnesty International believes Ehsan Shah Ghasemi did not receive a fair trial as there is no known conclusive evidence of a substantial causal link between the knife assault on Ali Khalili in 2011 and his death in 2014."

Click here for entire article and URGENT ACTION addresses.
Click here for another link to this information.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Iran: Court Condemns Cartoon-Activist Atena Farghadani to 14 Years in Prison

Iran Wire
May 28, 2015

   "The 29-year old, who was charged with spreading propaganda against the regime and other offences, attended court on Tuesday, May 19 in connection with both her activism and art.
Revolutionary Guards arrested Farghadani in January 2015 after she posted a cartoon on Facebook that mocked politicians who supported an anti-contraception bill by drawing them with animal faces. The bill also set out to criminalize voluntary sterlization. Farghadani was first arrested in November 2014 and detained for two months before being released. However, she was soon re-arrested after she spoke to the media about her incarceration and posted a video on YouTube about prison conditions. During that time, she went on hunger strike, and suffered a heart attack as a result. As punishment for refusing to eat, Farghadani was moved from Evin Prison to a detention center.
   Farghadani has supported a range of human rights initiatives in Iran and is known to have met with the families of imprisoned human rights activists. Ahead of the activist’s trial, Amnesty International campaigners gathered outside the Iranian consulate in London on May 18. Demonstrators called for the immediate release of Farghadani, and presented a petition with more than 33,000 signatures

Click here for entire article.

Madison, WI: America’s first-ever Gun Violence Awareness Day - June 2, 2015 RALLY & VIDEO

from one of our AI Madison Group #139 members
(video 2:21 min)

Join us on the Capitol Square to make some noise
on America's first-ever National Gun Violence Awareness Day!

We will be wearing orange and handing out orange pins and candies
to spread the message that we can do more to save lives.

WHAT: America’s first-ever National Gun Violence Awareness Day

WHERE: Capitol Square in Madison
(Top of State Street: Intersection of State, Mifflin, and Carroll Streets)

WHEN: 12:00PM – 1:00PM

Click here for more information and online registration.

Friday, May 29, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Member Links and Petitions (Updated Daily) - May 29 to June 5, 2015

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 be addressed by Amnesty International. Here are some of those ONLINE PETITION links submitted by our members.

Ambassador of Conscience Award 2015 - VIDEO

Uploaded on May 27, 2015
Joan Baez and Ai Weiwei receive 2015 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award.
Legendary folk singer Joan Baez and world-renowned artist Ai Weiwei were awarded the 2015 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award at an evening ceremony in Berlin on 21 May 2015 which featured performances from artists around the world.
The Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award recognizes those who have shown exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights, through their life and work. (5:00 min)

Saudi Arabia: "Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens" #FreeRaif

The Guardian
May 26, 2015
 "The wife of the jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has called on European governments to go beyond the public expressions of concern that have so far failed to secure his release, and deploy ministerial-level delegations to press directly for his freedom.
Speaking to The Independent in Brussels where she is lobbying for more action by the EU, Ensaf Haidar said their three young children asked her every day when their father was coming home, and she remained hopeful that the family would be reunited.
But more international pressure was needed to convince the Saudi royal family that his sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison was simply unacceptable and must be overturned."

Click here for entire article.

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - May 29, 2015

Greetings Everyone!

     Why do we still need Amnesty International? Click here for article. Hint: torture, death penalty, violence against women, gay rights, refugees & migrants, prisoners of conscience, all our rights, racism, arms trade, and our motto, "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.’"
     Happy 54th Birthday, Amnesty!
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor
Click here for entire Weekly Update.

Amnesty International Daily URGENT ACTIONS - May 22 to May 29, 2015

 Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of May 22 to May 29. (This post is updated daily.)

      Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include: Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Angola, Gambia, Peru, Colombia, Niger, and United Arab Emirates.

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. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Amnesty International's Birthday! - May 28, 2015

Amnesty International UK
54 years ago today, Amnesty International was born when Peter Benenson published 'The Forgotten Prisoners' in the Observer. With your help we've freed thousands, changed laws, and defended human rights across the globe. Thank you for being there!
To celebrate, have a read of this from Metro:

Nigeria: Help Save Moses Akatugba - ONLINE PETITION - Deadline May 29, 2015 #JusticeForMoses and Breaking News!

Updated 5/29/2015
from Amnesty International
UPDATE:  "Nigeria: Pardoned torture victim 'overwhelmed’ by campaign to spare his life," click here.

Update 5/28/2015
Amnesty International USA

BREAKING NEWS! We've just heard that Moses Akatugba, sentenced to death aged 16 for stealing 3 phones in Nigeria, has been pardoned.
Thank you to everyone who took action and called on Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to pardon Moses!

 Previous post:
Amnesty International USA

"Seven months ago, after activists like you sent 500,000 messages in support of Moses, Governor Uduaghan pledged to look into his case. But Uduaghan's term in office ends on May 29 - TOMORROW. It's imperative that he commute Moses' sentence before he leaves office. 

Under international law, Moses never should have been sentenced to death, as he was a child at the time of the crime. But the criminal justice system in Nigeria is weak, blighted by corruption and human rights violations. The use of torture is widespread and widely reported, but most of the cases are not investigated."
Click here for ONLINE PETITION and more information. 

Moses Akatugba was 16 years old when he was arrested, tortured by police and forced to sign a confession for an armed robbery he says he didn't commit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Member Links and Petitions (Updated Daily)

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 be addressed by Amnesty International. Here are some of those ONLINE PETITION links submitted by our members.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nigeria: Nigeria Prohibits Female Circumcision In New Act

Channels Television
May 25, 2015

The new Acts are the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 and the Immigration Act, 2015. The Act prohibits female circumcision or genital mutilation, forceful ejection from home and harmful widowhood practices. It also prohibits abandonment of spouse, children and other dependents without sustenance, battery and harmful traditional practices.
The signing of the bill into law is coming four days to the handing over of governance to a new administration.

Click here for more information. 

Ireland: Ireland Makes History and says Yes to Marriage Equality - PRESS RELEASE

from Amnesty International - Ireland
     "Today Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce full civil marriage equality for all its people, regardless of their sexual orientation, by way of a universal ballot. In the historic ballot the Irish electorate voted by 62.1% to 37.9% to endorse an amendment to the Irish Constitution asserting that “‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
     Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said: “This decision by the Irish people, in a national referendum, is enormously important. It will obviously have profound significance to people here in Ireland, but it will also echo around the world. It sends a message to LGBTI people everywhere that they, their relationships and their families matter. That they are entitled to the same human rights as their straight brothers and sisters, and to the full and equal protection of the law. It sends a powerful signal to Putin’s Russia, to Museveni’s Uganda, and to governments and states which continue to discriminate against LGBTI people and violate their human rights. Most importantly it sends a message of hope to those all over the world who fight for justice, freedom and equality.”
     Colm O’Gorman said, “Amnesty International Ireland is proud to have been part of this campaign, and we are delighted with the result. We are especially heartened at the tone and focus of the campaign. It has been, for the most part, affirming, positive and even joyous. This was especially evident in the energy and commitment shown by the many thousands of people who came together under the Yes Equality banner in cities, towns and villages right across Ireland to canvass door to door and street by street. They made this possible, and this is their victory.”
     "Asked a simple question about fairness, equality and respect, Ireland said yes. Irish people stood on the right side of history by choosing solidarity over prejudice; and in so doing send a welcome signal to those around the world still fighting for equal rights," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Director of Europe and Central Asia.

 Click here for full PRESS RELEASE.

Australia: Australia must stand up for those facing death at sea - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International - Australia

     Recently, the Thai government began cracking down on people smugglers, following the discovery of smugglers’ camps and mass graves of Rohingya in the south of the country. As a result, thousands of men, women and children are stranded off the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, with little food or water, in need of medical care. Last week, we saw some good progress on this issue as Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would take in 7,000 people stranded at sea. Unfortunately, this is falling short of what’s needed, as there are likely many more people stuck on boats, and most won't make it ashore without help.
     In an emergency summit in Bangkok this Friday 29 May, countries of the region, including Australia, will meet to tackle the crisis. Urge the Australian government to call for, and assist with, immediate search and rescue operations and champion new, humane solutions for refugees in our region.
Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.

Mexico: Torture is out of control in Mexico. Implement the Istanbul Protocol. - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International USA

"According to official figures, there have only been seven torture convictions at the federal level in Mexico since 1991. Stand in solidarity with Claudia Medina and thousands of torture survivors in Mexico. Tell the Federal Attorney General to overhaul the application of medical forensic examinations for survivors of torture and other ill-treatment so that they comply with the Istanbul Protocol and are carried out with impartiality. Read More.

For other ways to get involved, check out the Action Toolkit."

Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION. 

Iran: Three months on, Saman Naseem’s fate still hung in suspense - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International
May 24, 2015

"The past three months have been a living nightmare for Saman Naseem’s family. Since the scheduling of his execution on 19 February sparked an international outcry, the authorities have transferred him to an undisclosed location and kept his family in the dark as to his whereabouts and whether or not he is even still alive. Saman Naseem was 17 years old when he was arrested for taking up arms against the state and membership of an armed opposition group. He has described how he was subjected to torture and other-ill-treatment to “confess”. He was sentenced to death, even though Iran has ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights treaties which strictly prohibit the execution of persons who were below the age of 18 at the time of their alleged crime."

Click here for more information and the ONLINE PETITION.

Iran: Mass-execution of alleged drug traffickers in Iran

from Iran Human Rights (IHR)
May 26, 2015
"Iran Human Rights, May 26, 2015: Reports by several independent sources indicate that all of the 22 prisoners in Ghezelhesar prison who were transferred to solitary confinement on Saturday and Sunday, have been hanged. The executions reportedly took place on Monday morning May 25. IHR cannot rule out that some of the prisoners might have been executed the day before, on Sunday May 24.
Some of the 22 prisoners executed are identified as: Abbas Heydari, Abbas Ameri, karimbakhsh Bameri, Haj Ahmad Ebrahimi, Asghar Kooshki, Ahmad Rabiei, Ahmad Rabdoost and Seyed Mohamad Mirhosseini. IHR is investigating identities of the remaining prisoners. In addition, the following names were published by the "Human Rights Activists News Agency" (HRANA):Nader Hajizadeh, Jahangir Shahozahi, Mehran Baluchzahi, Mehrshad Soleimani, Reza Daeizadeh and Ehsan Saghafi.
     Since the beginning of 2015, at least 400 prisoners have been executed in Iran.
Click here for entire article.

Friday, May 22, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - May 22, 2015

 ​Greetings Everyone!
     I encourage you to watch an inspiring video that was sent by one of our members. This 2:43 min video was produced by seventh graders (about age 12 to 13) and focuses on the power of "one word." Wonderful to see young people wanting to make a change in our world.
     Our website: You can now access "Amnesty International List of Daily Urgent Actions," "Weekly Online Petitions," and the "AI Madison Group #139 Member Weekly List of Petitions, Links, and News" on our sidebar. Look under Take Action Now!
     I added a video link to Open Forum (our blog) from the PBS interview showing Brandi Grayson's reactions to the Ozanne decision. Check out Madison, WI: Community, D.A. Charges, Police Techniques, Racial Disparity and Tony Robinson, May 13, 2015 . Remember, if you wish to read or comment on this blog, you must contact for access because it is for AI Madison Group #139 members only.

     Have a wonderful week!
-Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

NOTE: We just received a Field Update from Amnesty International USA Managing Director of Membership, Jiva Manske. Click here for report. 
Click here for entire Weekly Update.

Amnesty International USA: Field Update from Jiva Mankse

May 20, 2015

Dear Amnesty Activitists: 
  •  720 new student groups at the end of their organizing year. (14% increase from 2014)
  •  The Annual General Meeting (AGM) brought together 1,200 activists.
  • Efforts toward #FREERAIF and historic Chicago police torture reparations ordinance passed
  • Addition of new field staff
  • Ongoing initiatives include: observers sent to Baltimore, observers sent to Madison, Pride month, and Global Day of Action

In Solidarity, 
Jiva Manske
Managing Director, Activism
Membership Mobilization Department
Click here for entire update.

Ukraine: 'Ongoing' war crimes by both sides in eastern Ukraine conflict, says Amnesty - REPORT RELEASED

May 22, 2015
 Deutsche Welle

Amnesty International has released a report detailing war crimes perpetrated by pro-Kyiv and pro-Russia forces. The report details summary killings, mock executions and torture on both sides of the conflict in Ukraine. The human rights watchdog interviewed more than 30 former prisoners of war, including 16 held by pro-Kyiv forces and 17 by separatists, and corroborated the testimonies with additional information. The conflict has left more than 6,000 dead and nearly 2 million displaced after it kicked off in the first half of 2014.

"Prisoners on both sides have been beaten and subjected to mock executions. We have also documented summary killings of those held by separatist groups. It is a war crime to torture or deliberately kill captives taken during conflict," John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's program director for Europe and Central Asia programs, said in a statement.

"Former prisoners described being beaten until their bones broke, tortured with electric shocks, kicked, stabbed, hung from the ceiling, deprived of sleep for days, threatened with death, denied urgent medical care and subjected to mock executions," Amnesty International said in the report.

Click here for complete article.  
Updated Report:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

BBC Radio Interview: "I can't stop until my husband is released" #FreeRaif - 3 Minute

May 21, 2015

"Ensaf Haidar, wife of imprisoned Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, talks of her determination to fight for her husband's release. She hasn't seen him since he was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1 000 lashes for his writings. She has been speaking to Nkem Ifejika."

Click here to listen to interview.

Rochester, MN: The One Word Campaign - VIDEO (2:43 min)

 May 18, 2015
Congratulations to the seventh graders at St. Francis School for producing this inspiring "One Word" video. Words are powerful and can change the world. Watch and feel the difference!

Note: AI Madison Group #139 does not endorse or promote any particular religious group. Please note that St. Francis is only mentioned in the credits.

Growing Support Against the Death Penalty in Nebraska

from CNN
"The Nebraska legislature has passed a bill to repeal the state's death penalty and replace it with life without parole. The measure, which passed Wednesday on a 32-15 vote, faces a promised veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts." However... "State Sen. Ernie Chambers, the bill's sponsor and a member of the New Alliance Party, said he's confident supporters can muster the 30 votes necessary to override a veto." (The bill had passed by 32 votes.) Nebraska is one of 32 states that impose the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, although executions have been rare. If the Nebraska legislature over rides the governor's veto, it will make Nebraska the 19th state to repeal the death penalty, the 7th since 2007.

  • "Amnesty International USA Responds to Passage of Nebraska Death Penalty Repeal Bill," Amnesty International USA, May 20, 2015