Monday, August 31, 2015

Amnesty International Canada: Human Rights News

Vietnam: Free Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam - ONLINE PETITION September 2nd!

 Amnesty International USA
"On September 2, Vietnam is expected to release as many as 17,000 prisoners in an act of amnesty. Take action now to ensure that prisoners of conscience are among those released! Those unjustly imprisoned include peaceful bloggers, students, political and religious activists, songwriters, journalists and human rights defenders.

Stand with Amnesty International members around the world to use this crucial opportunity to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, including Ta Phong Tan, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Father Nguyen Van Ly."

Click here for ONLINE PETITION. 

India: Two sisters to be raped as punishment – NEWS and ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International UK
      "Your eyes do not deceive you. An unelected all-male village council in India has ordered that 23-year-old Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister are raped. The ‘sentence’ was handed down as punishment after their brother eloped with a married woman. They also ordered for the sisters to be paraded naked with blackened faces. Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law. Demand that the local authorities intervene immediately."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amnesty International Daily URGENT ACTIONS - August 28 to September 4, 2015

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of August 28 to September 4. (This post is updated daily.) 

     Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include: Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Belarus, Israel/OPT, Egypt, and Nicaragua.  

 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 Weekly Update Member "Other" Links and Petitions - August 28 to September 4, 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 links submitted by our members:

Egypt: Outrage over three year sentence for Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste

    An Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to prison Saturday in a case sparking sharp criticism from human rights groups. Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste all received three years in prison for operating without a press license and broadcasting "fake news." The new verdict came a year after the men received sentences of seven to 10 years, which prompted an international outcry and a retrial order from Egypt's highest appeals court.  

     Amnesty International condemned the sentences, calling them a "death knell for freedom of expression in Egypt." Philip Luther, the director of Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa program, said: "The fact that two of these journalists are now facing time in jail following two grossly unfair trials makes a mockery of justice in Egypt. Today's verdict must be overturned immediately. Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed should be allowed to walk free without conditions. We consider them to be prisoners of conscience, jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression."
*UPDATE: Amnesty International PRESS RELEASE, August 29, 2015


Amnesty International USA: Policy​ to decriminalize sex work​ - Conversation with members

 Dear Amnesty International Supporter,

I'd like to invite you to join a call to discuss the policy to decriminalize sex work on Wednesday, September 2 at 6:00 pm ET / 5:00 pm CT / 3:00 pm PT.
​To help answer your questions, I will be joined by the following:
Janet MacLean - Chair of the 2015 ICM
Terry Kay Rockefeller - Board Member, Chair of the Priorities and Planning Committee
Donnie Bierer - Chair of the Priorities SubCommittee and 2015 ICM delegate
Tarah Demant - Senior Director, Identity and Discrimination Unit, AIUSA staff

Please also share this with your networks and contacts. Any and all interested members are welcome to join, as always.

 Warm regards,

Ann Burroughs
Board Chair, AIUSA
Wednesday, September 2 at 6:00 pm ET / 5:00 pm CT / 3:00 pm PT
Conference Access
Phone Number: +1 212 231 7879 (from abroad) / 1 844 397 3150 (toll-free)
Conference ID: 109699

Friday, August 28, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - August 28, 2015

 Greetings Everyone!
     Most weeks we are overwhelmed with Online Petitions and Urgent Actions. This week our list is much shorter. Please consider writing a letter, signing a petition, or commenting on our blog with this "extra" time.
     Although we have fewer actions this week, there has been much to do. Many of our members celebrated Women's Equality Day on August 26th. Women's Equality Day celebrated the 95th anniversary of when American women received the right to vote. Events were held throughout the country and many of us in Madison attended local events. I attended an amazing talk by a pioneering icon who has been a driving force for women's health issues, Dr. Gloria Sarto. She outlined the health care issues experienced by women in the past and introduced important current and future research concerns.
     Amnesty International has made women's issues a priority. For more information about Amnesty and Women's issues read "Women's Rights are Human Rights," "My Body;My Rights Campaign," and "Sexual and Reproductive Rights." I am so proud to be part of our organization fighting for women's rights throughout the world.
     "We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back." - Malala Yousafzai
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

Click here for entire Weekly Update.

TakePart Daily - August 27, 2015

Some stories from TakePart Daily

 about takepart

Thursday, August 27, 2015

UNHCR viewpoint: 'Refugee' or 'migrant' - Which is right?

Refugee or Migrant?
Is there a difference and does it matter?

Yes. Yes it does.

More and more, we're seeing the words 'refugee' and 'migrant' being used interchangeably in media and public discourse…

At UNHCR, we say 'refugees' when we mean people fleeing war or persecution across an international border - people who had no choice but to run for their lives and still cannot return home. And we say 'migrants' when we mean people who chose to move to improve their lives for work, education, family reunification or even hunger.

A migrant could choose to return home, and they'd still have a government to protect them. A refugee does not have that choice: they cannot return home and they need sanctuary elsewhere

The bottom line is that we are all human. We need to treat all human beings with respect and dignity. We need to ensure that the human rights of migrants are respected. But at the same time, we need to ensure that the 60 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced can live in safety and in dignity until it is safe for them to return home.

We hope that others will give thought to doing the same. Choices about words do matter.

Our position:

United Nations Human Rights: 20 years of human rights - the road ahead - VIDEO

Published on Oct 9, 2013
3 minutes
In 2013, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights marks 20 years since its establishment.

In this video the UN Human Rights Office highlights some of the historic human rights events of the past 20 years, successes, challenges and looking forward at the road ahead - for human rights.

20th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Office.

Human Rights Watch - The Week in Rights - August 27, 2015

Australia: Advocacy for the Abolition of the Death Penalty - SUBMISSIONS by October 2, 2015

Amnesty International Australia

It has been four months since Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and six other prisoners tragically faced the firing squad in Indonesia. Their loss of life will not be in vain. This acts as a wake up call that ongoing vigilance is needed to end the death penalty around the world for good. Together, we called on the Australian Government to take a stronger stance against the death penalty. Last week, Amnesty met with Julie Bishop and let her know that thousands of our supporters, including you, want to see an end to the injustice of capital punishment.Now Parliament has announced an Inquiry to establish Australia as a global leader to advocate for a world free of the death penalty. 

Click here for more information and ONLINE SUBMISSIONS.

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Member "Other" Links and Petitions - August 21 to August 28, 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 links submitted by our members:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Amnesty International: THANK YOU!

Amnesty International USA
Dear Amnesty Supporter,

My son is a passionate defender of our people - Uighurs, an ethnic minority group that has been persecuted by the Chinese government for decades.

After I received threats that the Chinese authorities would punish my family for the human rights work I have done, my son Ablikim was thrown into prison.

He is now free - thanks to the support of Amnesty members like you who championed his case.

Last year, during Amnesty's September Membership Drive, I asked you to join their efforts to help free people like Ablikim. A year later, I am writing you with the incredible news that Ablikim was released.

We are living proof that Amnesty International saves lives. Because of Amnesty's efforts, we were able to endure through years of mistreatment in prison.

Now we must fight on behalf of others.

Kop rakhmat. Thank you.

Sincerely, Rebiya Kadeer

Amnesty International: Member Information regarding "RESOLUTIONS"

August 24, 2015
Happy Monday Famnesty!

Take a moment or two and check out the message below from Paul Moriarty, the Midwest Representative on the National Resolutions Committee!

One of the many good things about Amnesty International is that as a grassroots membership organization, members have a voice in what Amnesty does.  Resolutions are the means by which members of AIUSA have the power to affect policy and decision-making at the regional, national and international levels. 
You can submit a resolution about anything that you want to change about the policies or the work of the organization.  It’s your chance to exercise your democratic right as a member of AIUSA.  
It’s not that difficult.  All you really have to do is come up with the idea, and the National Resolutions Committee (NRC) will help you put it into the proper format.  Members should feel free to reach out to the NRC at any time.
The deadline for submitting resolutions is September 1 for non-student members, and September 15 for members.
But please don’t wait until the deadline if you already have an idea for resolution!  The NRC’s email address is, or you can get in touch with the NRC’s Midwest region representative, Paul Moriarty.  His email address is, and his phone number is 314-248-1689.
You can also find information about the resolutions process on ARC.  Here is a link to the resolutions page:

Best wishes,
Elizabeth Mucha

Midwest Regional Office Intern
Amnesty International USA

Amnesty International Daily URGENT ACTIONS - August 21 to August 28, 2015

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of August 14 to August 21. (This post is updated daily.)  
     Countries for this week's Urgent Actions include: Iran, Ecuador, Israel/OPT, Sudan, Angola, Egypt, India, USA, Russian Federation, Iran, Turkey, Bahrain, Egypt, and Bulgaria.

 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.

Women's Equality Day #SheQuality - August 26, 2015

Facebook Post, August 26, 2015
     This Women’s Equality Day, we’re dreaming up visions of what #Shequality means to us — because this sure isn’t it. Make sure your friends and family see this message, and comment below to tell us what #shequality means to you!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Iran: Retired Chemistry Professor, Hossein Rafiee, Jailed for Writing - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International
August 21, 2015

Please find below an Urgent Action that Amnesty International issued today on Iranian retired university professor Hossein Rafiee who has begun serving a prison sentence handed down in 2004 for his peaceful political activism. Hossein Rafiee is 70 and has several health problems, including high blood pressure and a heart condition. He is a prisoner of conscience.

The Urgent Action is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t Let Trump and Co. Distract From Black Lives Matter

TIME Magazine
August 24, 2015

Dear presidential candidates:
     With the first anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown this weekend, America needs to know how the tumultuous events of the last year have affected your stance regarding the needs of the black community. In order for African Americans to determine this, please select one of the following that best defines your current philosophy: a) Black Lives Matter, b) Black Votes Matter, c) Black Entertainers and Athletes Matter, d) All of the Above, e) None of the Above.
     If you chose anything other than “a,” you probably don’t deserve any votes—black, brown, or white. You might get votes by default of being less bad than the alternatives, but getting votes that way isn’t much of an endorsement of your leadership abilities. And making things better for African Americans in a substantial and meaningful way in this country is going to require an outstanding leader.
     Courage is required in order to speak out in support of “Black Lives Matter.” So many Americans misunderstand the meaning of the phrase that there’s an outraged backlash against it. The popular misinterpretation, encouraged by some politicians seems to be that by saying “Black Lives Matter,” African Americans are seeking special attention. In fact, it’s the opposite. They are seeking their fair share of opportunities without receiving the “special attention” of being profiled, arrested, imprisoned, or killed.
Click here for entire article.
Also, continue the discussion on our blog, Open Forum.

Friday, August 21, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - August 21, 2015

Greetings Everyone!
     This week we have a large number of ONLINE PETITIONS. Please consider spending five or ten minutes this week to read about each case before  "signing" these important petitions. Not only do we have ONLINE PETITIONS which deal directly with human rights but we have a special weekly post on our website where we collect member-submitted petitions and news dealing with "other" issues such as the environment. Thank you to all of our members who continue to send us their human rights and "other" petitions, news, calendar of events, and video links. You are helping to keep all of us informed. Send your suggestions to Azam at
     “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” -Julian Bond (passed away August 15, 2015)
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

Special Submission by AI Madison Group #139 Leader, Azam Niroomand-Rad
Why Black Lives Matter?
This is an eloquent Viewpoint by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Published in TIME, Aug. 24, 2015 Issue
“ … All Life matters - Black want to make sure they are included in that category of  “All”… Black Lives Matter is a simplified version of We Would Like to Create a Country in Which Black Lives Matter as Much as White Lives in Terms of Physical Safety, Education, Job Opportunities, Criminal Prosecution and Political Power.
(Note: The link to this article is not currently available. We will post it on our website and add it to our blog, Open Forum, for your comments.)

Click here to see ENTIRE WEEKLY UPDATE.

Three Things You Can Do to Prevent Gun Violence - WAGV

Women Against Gun Violence

ONE: Be Informed!
Reach out to your Assembly Representative and let them know what you think about Guns On Campus!  And then check out our video for kids going off to college!

TWO: Be Prepared!
 Before you send your child off to college, see how your state stacks up by checking the National Conference of State Legislatures’overview of guns on campus, Armed Campuses and The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus
THREE: Learn Something New! 
Wonder what everyone is talking about?  Become a wonk!  Check out this legislative vocabulary list and learn a new term every week.

Peace Day - September 26, 2015

     There are many celebrations scheduled for this year's PEACE DAY. Thank you to Farideh, one of our members, for submitting this event. Click here for flyer. 

WHAT: The International Health & Epidemiology Research Center (IHERC) will be hosting their 5th Annual PEACE DAY, with the goal of violence prevention and intervention. After being educated about the hazards of real and toy guns, children will turn in their toy guns and violent video games for a certificate and a reward at this event. The collected weapons will then be used by the children, themselves, to create works of art. Those who draw or write something peaceful and toward anti-violence will also receive a peace certificate. Previously created art will be on display, as well. This event will take place at the Kids' Village as a part of the 2015 Irvine Global Village Festival, Orange County's Largest Multicultural Festival, which is attended by over 10,000 people. At this festival, more than 50 cultures will share their music, food, and art with visitors from throughout Orange County and beyond.

WHEN: Saturday, September 26th, 2015, 10 am - 6 pm

WHERE: Bill Barber Park, at the Irvine Civic Center, adjacent to Irvine Civic Center, 4 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606

*Our booth will be in the Kids Village. Booth # to be announced.


     Janet: 818-244-4674, and 818-788-2662

United Nations: Human Rights reports of the United Nations Human Rights - LINKS

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Regional Conferences: RFP's Now Being Accepted!

Amnesty International USA
Greetings Amnesty Member,
     Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 2015 Regional Conference program session blocks are now being accepted. If you are interested in completing a RFP for one of the regional conferences, you may access the proposal form via the Activist Resource Community (ARC) 
     AIUSA members and staff are invited to propose, help develop, and organize the sessions that you’ll attend at the 2015 Regional Conferences. Your submissions help create a diverse and inclusive agenda for each conference every year while also helping to shape the regional dialogue for human rights activists. Our goal is to highlight the human rights work we are doing locally, nationally, and globally while elevating our host cities. 
     Sessions will be selected in consultation with each Regional Conference Planning Committee. Members and staff are encouraged to collaborate on proposals. The committee may choose to combine similar proposals submitted separately. 
     To complete your proposal, log in to the ARC and select the Regional Conferences tab. Then, select the regional conference icon to which you plan to submit a proposal. You will then be guided to a form in order to complete your proposal. Note: if you are submitting a proposal to more than one conference, you must fill out the corresponding form for each proposal.
     If you need assistance logging in to the ARC, please contact the ARC Team at

Thank you, 
Jesús Canchola Sánchez
Director of Member Engagement

Mexico: Stop attacks on freedom of expression! - ONLINE PETITION

     "Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa was just found tortured and murdered, along with human rights activist Nadia Vera and three other women.  
     Freedom of expression is under attack in one of Latin America's oldest democracies, and Rubén is the 14th journalist killed in the southern state of Veracruz where governor Javier Duarte has made open threats against reporters. Almost none of these crimes have been solved. "
Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.

Burkina Faso: Let’s break the barriers to contraception for women and girls in Burkina Faso - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International
      Imagine not knowing that sex could make you pregnant. Imagine finding out how to prevent a pregnancy only after you’d had your third or fourth child. Now imagine being refused contraception – the pill or condoms – just because you don’t have your partner’s or in-law’s permission. This is the reality for many women and girls in Burkina Faso today. Even if they have permission, they may not have enough money to pay for it: emergency contraception can cost as much as one-fifth of your monthly income if you’re earning minimum wage. The consequences of these barriers to contraception are unwanted, unplanned and sometimes risky pregnancies. In the end, women and girls are denied the right to make crucial choices that belong to them – an abuse of their sexual and reproductive rights.
Click here for ONLINE PETITION.  
Click here for ONLINE PETITION from Amnesty International USA. 

Australia: Stop NT’s paperless arrest laws from claiming more lives - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International Australia

Kumanjayi Langdon “was treated like a criminal, incarcerated like a criminal, and died in a police cell built for criminals.” These are the words of the coroner that investigated the Indigenous Elder’s death in prison. Kumanjayi died just three hours after police arrested him for public drinking an offence that normally carries only a $114 fine.
 Alarmingly, his arrest was without any paperwork, which is now legal in the NT. ‘Paperless arrests’ are happening in the NT right now. NT police can lock up adults and kids without paperwork and without charge. Under a law that’s barely eight months old, police have already used this power 1,800 times, overwhelmingly against Indigenous people.

Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Russian Federation: Protect LGBTI rights in Russia - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International New Zealand

Dear Amnesty International Supporter,

"Fighting for the rights of children to be free from fear is what motivates me most as a human rights activist.

So when I see a fellow journalist being targeted by authorities for seeking to create a safe space for vulnerable children, of course I’m going to take action.

And it’s why I’m asking you to join me in supporting Russian journalist Elena Klimova.

Her ‘crime’ was to create an online project called ‘Children 404’ in March 2013. She published a series of articles about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) teenagers in Russia. Her aim was to support vulnerable young people who face discrimination and provide them with a safe online space to communicate and interact with one another."
Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2015 Regional Conference Planning Committee Application - August 28, 2015 DEADLINE

Dear Amnesty Midwest Activists,
     As you may already know, our 2015 Midwest Regional Conference is quickly approaching! The conference will take place October 23-25 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, MN, and we hope to see you all there!
     A lot of hard work and dedication goes in to making our regional conferences the engaging, informative, and entertaining events that they are, and we couldn't do it without our planning committees. The Regional Conference Planning Committees (RCPC) are diverse groups of 8-10 activists, who are passionate about Amnesty International and our campaigns and committed to creating the best regional conference possible. 
     If you would like the chance to shape and design the 2015 Midwest Regional Conference, please fill out our 2015 Regional Conference Planning Committee Application. Please review the attached guidelines and structures before applying and be sure to apply no later than Friday, August 28 at 5:00 pm CST.
     We look forward to receiving your application!

Ernest Coverson, Field Organizer
Amnesty International USA-Midwest Region
One N. LaSalle, Suite 875
Chicago, IL 60602
312-435-6386 Office

Click here for application form. 

Monday, August 17, 2015


Amnesty International Canada Facebook Post
August 18, 2015
The strength and courage of Indigenous Rights activist, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, is our #MotivationalMonday.

Use your voice to protect the rights of Indigenous people in Canada and around the world > (ONLINE PETITION)

Iran: Supporters of Jason Rezaian and a free press - PETITION UPDATE & ONLINE PETITION #FreeJason
Awaiting a decision...

Tehran, United States
Aug 17, 2015 — After a final hearing last week, we’re expecting a verdict in Jason’s case at any moment. We’re hopeful that Iran will finally do the right thing and end his unjustified detention. As we await this decision, we were reassured to see that several United Nations human rights experts recently joined the calls for Iran to release Jason.

The experts told the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that my brother’s basic rights had been denied by Iran throughout this process. You can read more here:
Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.

Kenya: Help end sexual exploitation of children in Kenya - ONLINE PETITION

     A report by End Child Prostitution in Kenya (ECPIK) indicates that more than 50,000 children are involved in different forms of child prostitution. Commercial sexual exploitation of children is most common along the Kenyan Coast where a majority of tourism activities take place — in fact travelling sex offenders come to Kenya for this very reason: to prey on these vulnerable victims No child should be forced into the commercial sex industry for their survival. Join Walk Free and Child Aid Organization Kenya in calling on the Kenyan government to declare zero tolerance of commercial sexual exploitation of children, backed by regular monitoring and law enforcement.
Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.

Paraguay: Protect the rights of 11-year-old rape victim and give her justice - ONLINE PETITION #JusticeForGirls

Equality Now

     UPDATE 14 AUGUST 2015: On 13 August, doctors performed a C-section on Mainumby. Mainumby and the baby both survived the traumatic ordeal and are now recovering, and Mainumby wants to return home as soon as possible.
     While Equality Now and our partner CLADEM are relieved that Mainumby survived the pregnancy, her struggles are far from over. She has been forced to become an 11-year-old mother, and still has not seen justice against her rapist. In addition, her mother lost her job as a result of this case and is worried she will not be able to support Mainumby and provide a stable home. The State has yet to deliver on promises to provide housing and support for the family.

Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.
(English translation available)
Also see: