Thursday, December 31, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - January 1, 2016

​Greetings Everyone!    
     Thank you so much for your continued support, the many petitions you have signed and the letters you have written on behalf of those men, women, and children seeking human rights around the world.

      We would also like to express appreciation to our members who continue to submit items for our website, Weekly Update, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Your contributions have helped to keep us all informed. Thank you.

     We wish you peace and happiness in 2016.

     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

Thursday, December 24, 2015

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - December 25, 2015 (Dec 24 distributed)

 Greetings Everyone!      Such a busy time of the year! We have a very short Weekly Update this week.  I invite you to take some time to read about our group's Write for Rights Wrap Up, sign a few petitions, write an extra letter, and watch an inspiring video  with Bono and Pavarotti. Thank you for your hard work and dedication... just one more week left in 2015!     Keep shining that light,
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor
Write for Rights 2015 Wrap Up!
Thank you to all of our members, neighbors, and friends who signed petitions for this year's Write for Rights Campaign. We contributed almost 900 signatures! Your signatures will be added to the thousands around the world. We will post final numbers, if we can obtain them. 

Click here for ENTIRE Weekly Update.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peace on Earth by U2 - VIDEO

Iran: Hamid Ahmadi, Juvenile offender, faces death penalty again - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International
     Hamid Ahmadi was first sentenced to death in August 2009 after Branch 11 of the Provincial Criminal Court of Gilan Province convicted him of murder. The Supreme Court initially overturned the verdict due to some doubts about the testimony of several key witnesses in November 2009, but ultimately upheld the verdict in November 2010.
      Hamid Ahmadi’s trial was unfair as the court relied on confessions he made at the police station where he did not have access to a lawyer and his family. He was a minor at the time and therefore he was not likely to have been able to fully understand the potential consequences of his statements before the police. He also claims that the confessions were obtained under torture and other ill-treatment. No investigations are known to have been conducted into his allegations.

Click here for URGENT ACTION information. 

AI Madison Group #139 Member List of "Other" Links & Petitions - December 25, 2015 (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 links submitted by our members:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

AI Madison Group #139: Write for Rights 2015 Wrap Up - THANK YOU!

Thank you to all of our members, neighbors, and friends who signed petitions for this year's Write for Rights Campaign. We contributed almost 900 signatures! Your signatures will be added to the thousands around the world. We will post final numbers, if we can obtain them.

From our Amnesty International Madison Group #139

1. Burkina Fasco, Africa (73)
2. Democratic Republic of Congo (75)
3. El Salvador (74)
4. Islamic Republic of Iran (71)
5. Greece (72)
6. Malaysia (79)
7. Mexico (73)
8. Republic of the Union of Myanmar (76)
9. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (76)
10. Syria (73)
11. USA, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (72)
12. Uzbekistan (75)

Monday, December 21, 2015

AIUSA PRIDE Act, Bahrain, and Solitary Confinement: Sample Tweets and Call Scripts - LOBBY ACTIONS

Amnesty International USA

For those of you who were not able to schedule meetings with your Congressional offices this year, you can still advocate for human rights with your legislators – I’m attaching CALL SCRIPTS and SAMPLE TWEETS that you can use to lobby your Members of Congress from the comfort of your own home.
Happy Holidays and we look forward to you continuing your lobbying efforts on behalf of human rights in 2016!
Ulana Moroz Senenko
Director, Member Advocacy
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE 5th floor
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: (202) 544-0200 x8586

  • Click here for Solitary Confinement information. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Price of a Poem: 15 Years Imprisonment in Qatar - SAMPLE LETTER for ACTION

    Mohammed al-‘Ajami, a well-known Qatari poet, is serving a 15-year prison sentence for writing and reciting a poem considered critical of the ruling family. He is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.
     Mohammed al-‘Ajami was in Egypt, studying Arabic Literature at Cairo University, when on August 24, 2010, he recited a poem (‘The Cairo Poem’) in his apartment to a group of about seven people. The poem was recorded and uploaded to YouTube by one of the seven and was circulated widely online. More than a year later, on November 16, 2011, state security agents arrested Mohammed al-‘Ajami in Qatar.
     The authorities deemed that the poem insulted the Emir, Qatar’s head of state, and Mohammed al-‘Ajami was tried on charges including ‘publicly inciting the overthrow of the ruling system’ and ’publicly challenging the authority of the Emir‘.
     Here is a sample letter for you to send, including the address.
In Service,
Alireza Azizi
Qatar Country Specialist

Illinois, WI USA: Re-instate Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a respected and tenured professor #ReinstateDocHawk - TWO ONLINE PETITIONS

Chicago Tribune

     On Dec. 10, Hawkins, a tenured professor, announced on Facebook that she would don the hijab to show support for Muslims who have been under scrutiny since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.
     "I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," she wrote in her Facebook post. "And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God."

Click here for ENTIRE article. 

Also see the following petitions created on her behalf:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Amnesty International URGENT UPDATES - Dec 18 to Dec 25, 2015 (updated daily)

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of Dec 18  to Dec 25. 

     Countries include: China, Myanmar, Sudan, Egypt, Guinea, Bahrain, Iran, Tunisia, and Vietnam. 

 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 - December 18, 2015

 Greetings Everyone!
     From stopping torture to writing on behalf of a jailed human rights lawyer, YOU can make a difference! This week's Weekly Update has links to these initiatives and many, many more. Also, don't forget to send in your 2015 Write for Rights letters and petitions today. Amnesty will be adding up the names of supporters. Together we can make a difference in the lives of these men and women.
     Our local Amnesty International group only makes ONE appeal for financial support a year. For those looking to make a tax-deductible contribution before 2016, please consider a gift to our local group. We are a very small but active nonprofit group of volunteers and welcome your support. Our main community outreach is through our website, social media, and this Weekly Update. Some of our current local projects include: the annual Amnesty International Write for Rights Campaign, Nowruz cards sent to Prisoners of Conscience, and partnering with local community groups to advocate for human rights. Our expenses generally include: copying & mailing costs, tabling fees, membership in Amnesty International, and speaker expenses. For more information, click here. Also, you do not need to be a member of AI Madison Group #139 to contribute.
     Hope you are enjoying this time with family, friends, and coworkers!
     Best wishes,  
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

Click here for ENTIRE WEEKLY UPDATE including this week's online petitions, urgent actions, human rights news, Members Links and Petitions, videos, Calendar of Events, contributors, and more!

What You Can Do in 2016 to Stop Torture in U.S. Prisons

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

As we prepare to turn the calendar page, here are five steps you can take in 2016 to continue the drum beat of justice and growing calls for an end to the torture of solitary confinement:

1. Host a screening of NRCAT's documentary, Breaking Down The Box: DVD order form, an interfaith viewing guide, sample poster, full film and four short films are available at

2. Schedule an action on the 23rd of the month, symbolizing 23 hours a day in isolation: As a part of the Together to End Solitary campaign, join people throughout the U.S. who are holding monthly actions on the 23rd of each month to call for an end to the torture of solitary, at the recommendation of people incarcerated in Pelican Bay prison who led the momentous hunger strikes in California prisons. To see recent and upcoming actions on the 23rd of the month, and to share yours, go to:

3. Participate in Lifelines to Solitary: NRCAT is partnering with Solitary Watch to train communities of faith to participate in on-going correspondence with people who are enduring solitary confinement. Initial trainings for religious communities are in development in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Washington, D.C. metro area. To get involved, contact Carla Alleyne, NRCAT Human Rights Fellow.

4. Host a performance of Mariposa and the Saint: NRCAT is partnering with communities of faith nationwide to host performances of Mariposa and the Saint. In 2012, Mariposa was sentenced to 15 months in isolated confinement. Through letters with long-time friend and collaborator, Julia Steele Allen, Mariposa brings her experience to the stage in this powerful one-woman performance. If you are interested in hosting, contact Laura.

5. Host the NRCAT solitary cell replica on nationwide tour: To expose the hidden torture of solitary, NRCAT constructed a replica of a solitary confinement prison cell now on tour nationwide to larger regional or national gatherings. Interested in hosting? Contact Laura and Shenandoah.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Saudi Arabia: Free Waleed, jailed Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer - ONLINE PETITION

Amnesty International USA
     Waleed dares to speak up for human rights. For this, Saudi Arabia's government put him in prison. Human rights lawyer and activist Waleed Abu al-Khair has stood by the side of other human rights activists working for their release. Waleed Abu al-Khair - a Nobel Peace Prize nominee - is set to be behind bars for 15 years.

Click here for more information and ONLINE PETITION.  

Also consider signing this ONLINE PETITION from Robert Naiman sponsored by

Speak Up for Refugee Human Rights - Toolkit for Action!

Amnesty International USA

We’re writing because right now refugees around the world— especially those fleeing violence and terror in Syria—need you to speak up for refugee human rights in your communities! 
As you know, there has been increased and dangerous anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from candidates, Congresspersons, governors, and press in the United States.  This rhetoric creates a dangerous atmosphere of hate and fear— and it has the potential to translate into legislation that prevents refugees from seeking or finding safety in the United States.  Multiple governors have said they will not accept Syrian and Iraqi refugees; mayors are stating they’ll turn refugees back.  The “American SAFE Act of 2015” passed the House Nov 19 and now moves to the Senate. This bill would add increased and unnecessary screening and barriers for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  What’s more, there is talk that some legislators may try to insert a full refugee “block” in the omnibus budget bill coming through both the House and Senate.
That’s why we need you to take action for refugees by building support in your own communities.  
We’ve attached our Amnesty USA Refugee Activist Toolkit.  In the toolkit, you will find materials to:
  • Write letters to the press on refugees’ rights
  • Contact your elected officials and demand support for refugees
  • Help pass a city council resolution welcoming refugees
  • Answers questions and have conversations about the need to protect and resettle refugees in light of recent attacks in Paris and Beirut 
  • Educate yourself and your community on the plight of refugees and what it takes to resettle refugees in the United States.
Your voice is so critical in changing the conversation in your community. Please download the toolkit today and take action for refugees!   In solidarity,
Tarah Demant
Senior Director, Identity and Discrimination Unit

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

USA: Death Knell? Executions Hit Two-Decade Low - NEWS

December 16, 2015
      "The number of executions and the number of people sentenced to death in the U.S. both fell in 2015 as turmoil continued to surround capital punishment across the country.
In its year-end summary, the Death Penalty Information Center reported Wednesday that there were 28 executions in the last year, the lowest number since 1991. Just six states put inmates to death.
While there are nearly 3,000 state and federal prisoners on death row, new death sentences also slid in 2015, with just 49 expected by Dec. 31. That would be the lowest number since 1973, the center reported."

Click here for ENTIRE story. 

Also see:

New York, USA: New York State Agrees to Overhaul Solitary Confinement in Prisons - NEWS

New York Times
Dec 16, 2015

"As part of a far-reaching legal settlement, New York has agreed to a major overhaul in the way solitary confinement is administered in the state’s prisons, with the goal of significantly reducing the number of inmates held in isolation, cutting the maximum length of stay and improving their living conditions."

Click here for ENTIRE ARTICLE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Committee to Protect Journalists' 2015 Annual Report Highlights the Ongoing Iranian Detention of Washington Post Journalist Jason Rezaian - UPDATE & ONLINE PETITION

The CPJ Report highlights the severity of Jason's imprisonment, even among other tragic cases:
"The Washington Post's Jason Rezaian, who has been held longer than any U.S. correspondent by any foreign government since CPJ began tracking imprisonments in 1990, is accused of espionage, among other charges. State media has reported that he has been convicted and sentenced, but has not said on which charges or provided any other detail."

To read the full report, please follow:
To find out more about Jason's case, please visit:

Click here for entire article.  
Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Egypt: Egyptian doctor convicted in teen's FGM death remains free - ONLINE PETITION

Equality Now
     "In January 2015, Dr. Raslan Fadl was convicted of performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on 13 year-old Soheir and for manslaughter for his role in her death. However, it’s been nearly a year and he has not served one day of his sentence. Astonishingly, not only is he free, but eyewitness reports suggest that he is openly continuing his medical practice in a government-run hospital and privately."

Click here for more INFORMATION and ONLINE PETITION.

Iranian Judiciary in Urgent Need of Reform - NEWS

Human Rights & Democracy for Iran
Dec 14, 2015
" 2015 is the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary by the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of and its endorsement by UN General Assembly. To mark this occasion, and in order to emphasize the importance of the independence and competence of judges for the implementation of justice, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF), having previously translated into Persian and published the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, has published the Persian translation of a new text by the Due Process of Law Foundation (DLPF) regarding the necessary criteria for the selection of high-ranking judges. The translation is complemented with a legal analysis of the process of selection of judges in the Islamic Republic of Iran and with an introduction by the Iranian human rights defender and Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi."
Click here for ENTIRE article.

Demand a Safe Home for Syria - ONLINE PETITION & VIDEO

Amnesty International Australia
     As the war continues to rage into its sixth year, the people of Syria are still desperate for a safe home. They long to raise their families in a secure and nurturing environment. The children of Syria deserve a childhood full of happy memories. But sadly this generation is losing its most precious years to war. Over 250,000 lives have been lost, and now even more lives are at risk due to intensifying military operations. The international community has failed to protect the people of Syria. But you can help turn things around.
Click here for more information about this important issue.
Click here for ONLINE PETITION.  

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Member List of "Other" Links & Petitions - December 18, 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:

Monday, December 14, 2015

USA: Executions could resume in California if regulations are adopted - URGENT ACTION by Jan 22, 2016

Amnesty International
     The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has launched a public consultation on its proposed new lethal injection protocol. The public has until 22 January to submit comments on the regulation, the adoption of which would allow for the resumption of executions in the US state with the highest death row population.
Click here for more information and addresses for URGENT ACTION.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sri Lanka: Justice for the Trinco Five - ONLINE PETITION and Facebook Event

 December 9, 2015

Thanks again for all your help with our Sri Lanka work. If possible, I'd like to get your help with another Sri Lankan case that AI has been campaigning on. Five Tamil students were killed by the Sri Lankan security forces on Jan. 2, 2006 in the town of Trincomalee in northeastern Sri Lanka. No one has yet been held accountable for their murders. Amnesty has been campaigning to get the Sri Lankan government to hold an effective investigation and prosecute those responsible. I've set up an event page on Facebook to promote an online petition for the "Trinco Five" students. I'd greatly appreciate it if you could encourage your group members to join the event and take action for the "Trinco Five" students on or before Jan. 2, 2016, the 10th anniversary of the killings. Thanks a lot for your consideration and any help you can give.

Jim McDonald
Sri Lanka Country Specialist
Amnesty International USA

NOTE: Jan. 2, 2016 will be the 10th anniversary of the killing of five Tamil students by the Sri Lankan security forces in the town of Trincomalee in northeastern Sri Lanka. No one has been held responsible for their murders. Sign Amnesty International's petition on or before Jan. 2, 2016 and call on the Sri Lankan government to prosecute their killers.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Amnesty International Weekly URGENT UPDATES - Dec 11 to Dec 18, 2015

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of Dec 11  to Dec 18. (This post is updated daily.) 

     Countries include: Bahamas, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Lesotho, USA, Russian Federation, China, and Thailand.

 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.

Iran: Hundreds around the world take action for Saman Naseem - ACTION

Dear friends,
This December, hundreds of thousands of Amnesty International supporters and activists around the world will send letters, emails, SMS messages, faxes and tweets  for people whose basic human rights are being violated. It’s all part of Amnesty International's Write for Right, a two-week-long campaign that is the world’s biggest human rights campaign.
This year, the campaign highlights the stories of 12 different human rights cases from around the world, including the case of juvenile offender Saman Naseem from Iran.
Please find below the Campaign's Action Page on Saman Naseem, which calls on the authorities to grant Saman Naseem a fair trial, where forced confessions and the death penalty have no place.

Attached, you  can find some pictures of the hundreds of solidarity letters and postcards that Amnesty International supporters and activists have sent so far from around the world to support Saman Naseem. Today, on the Human Rights Day, we have proudly shared these photos on Twitter, as well.
Furthermore, please find enclosed the Persian Social Media Graphic on Saman Naseem's case.
Saman Naseem's Action Page is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link:
Many thanks and best wishes, Iran team
Please follow us on Facebook:

Executions of Juvenile Offenders in Iran Are an Affront to the Conscience of the World - NEWS

The World Post
December 9, 2015

By Elise Auerbach, Iran country specialist, Amnesty International USA

In a very rare piece of good news in an otherwise bleak landscape, Iranian authorities recently postponed the scheduled execution of juvenile offender Salar Shadizadi at the eleventh hour. He was to be hanged on November 28 for a killing that occurred when Mr. Shadizadi was just 15 years old.
Iran is one of the very few countries in the world that continues to execute juveniles. At least four juvenile offenders -- including one female -- have been executed already in Iran in 2015. This is a blatant violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran has ratified; Article 37 of the Convention states: "Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age."
Click here for ENTIRE article. 

Good News! Myanmar: Thein Aung Myint , Activist, Released in Myanmar - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International
     On 10 December, Thein Aung Myint was released from Oh-Bo prison in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city. He had been serving a year-long sentence for taking part in two peaceful protests in Mandalay. His early release followed reductions to his sentences. He had been sentenced on 23 March 2015 to six months’ imprisonment under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting without permission against planned electricity price rises in March 2014. He had also been sentenced on 23 April 2015 to six months in prison under the same law for organizing a peaceful protest calling for an investigation into the death in military custody of journalist Aung Kyaw Naing (aka Par Gyi) in October 2014. 

     Thein Aung Myint should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Amnesty International is continuing to campaign for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.
 Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

Jordan: Syrian Refugees Stranded at Border Crossing - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International
A growing number of people fleeing the armed conflict in Syria are stranded on the Jordan side of the Jordan-Syria border. Hundreds of refugees have been arriving at the Jordanian border every day since November. 

A build-up of refugees from Syria at the north-eastern border with Jordan has increased in recent months. Many of them are in desperate need of aid, but the Jordanian authorities have restricted international organizations’ access to the area. In winter– typically from November to February - temperatures in the desert border zone can fall to freezing. Refugees stranded at the border are living in makeshift shelters. They have limited access to food, water, blankets and medical supplies provided by international aid agencies.

Click here for more information and URGENT ACTION addresses.  


Friday, December 11, 2015

Amnesty International Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - December 11, 2015

Greetings Everyone!
     Happy Human Rights Day greetings flooded social media all day yesterday. Messages were posted from Australia, United Kingdom, USA Mid-Atlantic, Canada, Amnesty International, United Nations, World Health Organization, Toronto, Tasmania, USA Mid-West, Philippines, and many, many more countries and organizaions. Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10th. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe the 10th of December of each year as Human Rights Day.  Here is just one of the many video's commemorating Human Rights Day 2015. "Thank you! You have truly made a difference"  (from Amnesty International Australia).      
     Each week we have been highlighting two cases from this year's Write for Rights Campaign. Check out the last of the 12 cases for 2015 in this Weekly Update. To view information from each of the 12 cases, click here. This campaign runs from December 4 to December 18. Send those letters or sign those online petitions today!
     Also check out our Weekly Member "Other" Links and Petitions post which includes items submitted by our members but may not be directly related to human rights. These links and petitions also comply with our guidelines to (1) not support a particular political party (or candidate) and (2) not to raise funds for an organization. Many of this week's "Other" links and petitions include information about gun violence. Thank you, members, for your submissions.
     Finally, thank YOU for all that YOU do. As Amnesty International Australia says, "You have truly made a difference!"

     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

Click here for ENTIRE Weekly Update.