Wednesday, August 31, 2016

GOOD NEWS Iran: Iranian Physicist, Omid Koukabee, Is FREE after 5 years in Prison - NEWS & VIDEO (2 min)

August 30, 2016
     Iran has released Omid Kokabee on parole after five and a half years in prison.
Nature, an international journal of science, reported on August 29 that authorities had released Kokabee, who had been serving a 10-year sentence on charges of “communicating with a hostile government” and “illegal earnings.” Kokabee insisted that he was being punished for refusing to work on Iran’s nuclear program.
     The physicist was arrested on January 30, 2011 after visiting family. He had been working and studying in Spain and the United States, most recently at the University of Texas at Austin.
Click here for ENTIRE article.  

Note: Thank you to our AI-139 members/friends who took part in this campaign, signed petitions, and wrote letters on his behalf. What wonderful news!

Also see:

International Day of the Disappeared - August 30, 2016 NEWS & VIDEO

Amnesty International
 August 29, 2016
     "Governments around the world are consistently using enforced disappearances to secure their own power and silence opposition, said Amnesty International, ahead of this year’s International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August.

     “Amnesty International campaigns on hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance in all regions of the world. This Day of the Disappeared, our millions of supporters globally will press governments who employ enforced disappearances to stop using this cruel tactic once and for all,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. The organization is highlighting cases from each of its global regions this year.
Click here for ARTICLE. 
Click here for VIDEO from Amnesty International. (How will you shed a light?)

Published on Aug 30, 2016
On the morning of 27 December 2014, over 200 men and boys were rounded up by soldiers from their villages in the Far North of Cameroon, beaten and loaded onto trucks. More than 130 of them haven’t been seen since.
Also see:

California, USA: Tell Jerry Brown: Veto AB 2844 - ONLINE PETITIONS

Jewish Voice for Peace

Dear Governor Brown,
I urge you to veto AB 2844, an unconstitutional and costly attack on Californians’ free speech and the movement for Palestinian human rights.

AB 2844 chills free speech by falsely associating legal and time-honored boycotts for human rights with unlawful discrimination, and by creating a vague new crime in the process. The bill could cost California taxpayers over $140 million (Department of Finance estimate) and unknown additional sums for fielding complaints and lawsuits.

Although the title and some of the content of AB 2844 have changed over time, its intent remains the same: to stigmatize and suppress protected political speech, especially advocacy for Palestinian human rights through the nonviolent tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Stop this attack on Californians’ free speech. Veto AB 2844.

Link to Worldwide ONLINE PETITION.
Link to California residents ONLINE PETITION.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Amnesty Insider - August 2016 Newsletter

Amnesty International USA
Two human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo were just freed – thanks in part of the work of Amnesty International USA’s members and supporters.

Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala are members of a pro-democracy youth group who were arrested last year and faced the death penalty, simply because of their nonviolent advocacy. Through Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign last year, more than 170,000 people sent letters, texts, and emails demanding their release. While they’re finally free today, Amnesty is pressing the government to drop the charges against them entirely.

Last year alone, Amnesty International helped secure the freedom of 144 people who were imprisoned unjustly. And we don’t stop there. Amnesty members and supporters are campaigning to change the laws and policies in order to protect people’s human rights – from abortion bans in Ireland and Argentina to the lack of standards and accountability for police use of lethal force in the U.S. and Brazil.

Thank you for your activism and your partnership.

Margaret Huang

Interim Executive Director

USA: Grant Gloria a Visa to Get an Education #LetGloriaLearn - ONLINE PETITION

Jared Hill on
     In 2014, my family and I made the decision to leave our home in Indiana and move to Uganda for 7 months as volunteers at one of the country’s many orphanages. There are over 2.5 million orphans in Uganda, and we wanted to do what we could to help. That is where we met Gloria.
      The decision to help one girl can impact many more. Now more than ever, we need to make great educations accessible for everyone. Please join us in pushing for the State Department to Let Gloria Learn. #LetGloriaLearn

Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Iran: Day 149 #FreeNazanin "Rule of Punishment" - ONLINE PETITION and UPDATE

Richard Radcliffe, Nazanin's husband
August 30, 2016

       Two weeks after the trial and we still have no charges. It remains a summer of waiting, watching a strange legal process. It is perhaps less strange given how much of Nazanin’s treatment has been illegal under Iranian law:

     Legally, Nazanin should have been charged within 48 hours, not 149 days and counting. She should have had access to a lawyer upon arrest, not meet him only once, two months after her interrogation was complete. With a lawyer Nazanin should have been able to challenge her detention while it was renewed every 10 days.

     In practice, the rules can be broken – at the Guards’ discretion. Restrictions were going to apply in Iran’s new criminal code to prevent evidence collected illegally being admissable, but they were removed just before the law was passed.

Click here for Day 149 UPDATE.
Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Virginia, USA: 68 year prison sentence for a 15-year-old? - ONLINE PETITION

Samantha Jettson
On December 12, 2008, 15-year-old Nick Robinson’s life changed forever. That night, Nick was arrested for a local robbery. Nick told the police he committed the crime to cover for the men who actually did the robbery. He thought because he was just a kid, the court would go easy on him.  Instead, Nick was sentenced to 68 years with a mandatory minimum of 33 years to be served in the adult penal system for his involvement.
I used to work as a correctional officer in Nick’s unit and his case stuck with me. Here we had this charismatic and determined 15-year-old kid who had made a huge mistake, but instead of teaching him how to be a productive member of society, he was locked up. Nick will be almost 50 years-old when he is finally released. The sentence was overkill and Nick deserves a second chance!

Click here for ONLINE PETITION.

Iran: The List of Women, Imprisoned on Charge of Muharebeh - NEWS

August 28, 2016

 "HRANA News Agency – Prisoners who have been sentenced with the old penal code, now have a chance of retrial, reduction of sentence and even freedom. Currently, many prisoners, including at least 11 female prisoners have heavy sentences on the charge of Muharebeh. The following list, as the first list of “prisoners with Muharebeh charges”, is concentrated on these 11 female prisoners."

What is Muharebeh charges? Mohareb (محارب) has been translated by English language Iranian media as "enemy of God". In English-language media sources Moharebeh in Iran has been translated variously as "waging war against God," "war against God and the state," "enmity against God." It is a capital crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran. - Wikipedia

Click here for ENTIRE article. 

Syria: Inside Saydnaya: Syria's Torture Prison - VIRTUAL TOUR (VIDEO 10 min) and ACTIONS

Amnesty International

     For over five years, Syrian authorities have been imprisoning people in a network of secret torture prisons around the country.
     These brutal prisons are specifically designed to break inmates beyond repair and punish them for speaking out against the Syrian government. Prisoners are routinely subjected to shocking torture, beatings, rape and starvation. More than 17,000 people have died in custody as a result of the inhumane conditions, and thousands more will follow unless we demand an end to the horror that goes on inside those walls.
     Join our call on the Syrian government to allow independent monitors access to the prisons to investigate the conditions now.
Click here for entire EMAIL information.

Click here for "End the Horror in Syria's Torture Prisons," Amnesty International

Click here for "Syria: Nearly 18,000 have died in Syria state jails - Amnesty International Report & ACTIONS," a previous post on our website.

Amnesty International URGENT ACTIONS - August 26 to September 2, 2016

Click here for entire list of URGENT ACTION for the week of August 26 to September 2. (This post is updated daily.)

Countries include: Vietnam, Nigeria, Egypt, Ukraine, China, Thailand, Egypt, and Indonesia.

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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Could a digital solution ensure education doesn't have to wait? - IMPORTANT BLOG ARTICLE

World Vision

"When children in emergencies are asked what they need most, it’s education. In Putting Children at the Heart of the World Humanitarian Summit, a report for the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), children identified and consistently prioritised their education and protection in all types of emergencies - including conflict, protracted crises and disasters. Ninety-nine per cent of children in crisis situations see education as a priority."
     "A center which produces needed educational content as e-documents and multimedia for the diverse communities, including IDPs and refugees, with support from the Ministry of Education, local, and international NGOs, and in alignment with national curriculum, could be a viable solution."
     "Every child deserves a quality education, but right now so many are missing out. While we advocate for more funding for education and for the peace necessary to reduce mass displacement, we need to look for alternative education solution. Education cannot wait."

Colombia: Peace agreement - PRESS RELEASE

Amnesty International

Les compartimos en adjunto y vínculo abajo nuestro comunicado de prensa sobre el anuncio del acuerdo final de negociaciones entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC dentro del marco del acuerdo de paz para su difusión entre sus contactos. 
We would like to share the attached press release, and its weblink, we have issued on the announcement on reaching a deal in the negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC in line with the peace process. Please help us distribute it widely.

California: Bill to Protect Youth from Isolation Passes the State Assembly! - MORE ACTIONS

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Dear Friends,

We are writing to share great news! Last week, SB 1143, legislation to protect youth from solitary confinement in California's juvenile facilities, passed the State Assembly and now heads to the Senate for concurrence before arriving at Governor Brown's desk.

This week, NRCAT delivered a "A Religious Call In Support of SB 1143: Toward A Future of Possibility for California's Youth” to Governor Brown, signed by more than 200 faith leaders in California, urging the Governor to support this historic bill. Thank you to all who added your support to this interfaith effort.

You too can help encourage Governor Brown to sign the bill:
1) Send a quick email to the Governor - we have a sample email in our advocacy center that you can customize and send within seconds!

2) Send a formal letter from your religious or community organization to the Governor, on letterhead, and email it to and cc

Your voice is making a difference.

In community,

Rev. Laura Markle Downton, NRCAT U.S. Prisons Director
Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, NRCAT California Organizer

Friday, August 26, 2016

Paramilitaries Pose Threat to FARC-Colombia Peace Deal - VIDEO (12:13 min)

Published on Aug 26, 2016
The peace deal, which now heads to referendum, comes over more than a century of US intervention in the nation starting with breaking off Panama from Colombia, says labor and human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik.

Help Us Identify The 2017 AGM and Human Rights Conference Theme - SEND SUGGESTIONS

Amnesty International USA

On behalf of the 2017 AGM Program Committee, we hope you are having a pleasant summer. We are gearing up for another fantastic season of planning for our Annual General Meeting and Human Rights Conference. We are excited to share with you that the conference will be held next year in Albuquerque, NM. Stay tuned for the official date announcement.
Once again, at the conference you will join with fellow activists to share ideas for building and sustaining the human rights movement and be a part of directing Amnesty International USA in its governance process.
An important aspect of the planning is to identify the annual theme that will be used at the 2017 Annual General Meeting and carried throughout the year. As agents of change to advance human rights we are looking to you to help us identify the theme for next year. 
Click here for the ENTIRE email. 

Iran: The untold story of the 1988 Massacre in Iran - VIDEO (7:55 min)

National Council of Resistance of Iran
Published on Aug 19, 2016
     The untold story of the 1988 Massacre. Extermination of generation.
Earlier this month an audio tape was published for the first time of a meeting between Hossein-Ali Montazeri, former heir to Khomeini, and officials of the mullahs' regime responsible for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. The vast majority of the victims were affiliated to the main Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK) who were executed simply because they refused to renounce their opposition to the mullahs’ rule.
     Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, described the audio recording as a historical document. She said the recording attested in the strongest possible manner both to the Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK) political prisoners’ rejection of surrender and to their admirable allegiance to, and perseverance in, their commitment to the Iranian people. The recording is also irrefutable evidence that leaders of the mullahs’ regime are responsible for crimes against humanity and the unprecedented genocide, Mrs. Rajavi said.

AI Madison Group #139 Member List of "Other" Links & Petitions - August 26 to September 2, 2016

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:

AI Madison Group #139 Weekly Update - August 26, 2016

"On this Women's Equality Day, we thank those who've fought and continue to fight for the rights of American women." (Facebook, August 26, 2016)

Greetings Everyone!
     This week we have included many petitions, human rights news stories, videos, and important dates. From slavery in Iraq to lives in Aleppo, online petitions are a quick and easy to make a difference. Amnesty International Urgent Actions include appeals on behalf of prisoners from Egypt to Djibouti. Among our many human rights news links are articles about Colombia, the Olympics & Human Rights, and the misunderstood Burkini. This rather long video is an inspiring story about the Yazidi activist Nadia Murad
     Finally, celebrate TODAY! The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Also, mark your calendar with these events: Sept 24: PEACE DAY Festival, Irving, CA, October 3-November 11: Fall Lobby Weeks, and October 7-9, 2016: Midwest Regional Conference.Unfortuantely, I'll be in Italy during the Midwest Regional Conference. If anyone attends, please let me know and I'll share the information with our members (Weekly Update), website, Facebook, and Twitter. Thanks!
Member News:     Dr. Azam Niroomand-Rad, Coordinator for Amnesty Group 139, attended the Disarm Hate Rally in Washington D.C. The campaign focuses on the goal for "equal rights for the LGBTQ community" and "realistic gun control." Click here for more information and more photos. Share your photos and activism with us by emailing
     Also, don't miss Angie's email/newsletter, "Keeping You Connected." We should have all received it directly from her. Lots of good information about Amnesty and human rights. Click here for excerpts.
     Have a wonderful week!
     -Debbie, Weekly Update Editor

Click here for links to this week's Amnesty International and Human Rights Information and Actions

"Keeping You Connected" Excerpts from Angie's Email/Newsletter - August 26, 2016

Angie Hougas
August 26, 2016
Excerpts from her email/newsletter.

  • USA - Texas: On 19 August, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution to Jeffery Wood, who was scheduled to be executed in Texas on 24 August. He was sentenced to death in 1998 for a murder committed during a robbery of a convenience store in 1996. He was sitting in a truck outside the store when the murder took place.
  • Syria: Ghina Ahmad Wadi, a 10-year-old girl seriously wounded by sniper fire at a Syrian government checkpoint on 2 August, was successfully evacuated to Damascus to receive the urgent surgery she needed.
  • USA - Guantanamo: Victory - the Obama administration announced that 15 Guantánamo detainees had been transferred out of the detention camp, and resettled in the United ArabEmirates.   It is the biggest transfer of Guantánamo detainees during the Obama administration, and reduces the detention camp’s population by 20 percent. There are now only 61 individuals in Guantánamo, a fraction of the nearly 800 who populated Guantánamo at the detention camp’s peak. More than half of those not slated for trial by military commission are cleared for transfer, and more clearances are happening on a nearly weekly basis.  This is the biggest Guantanamo transfer during Obama administration.Here is a published an op-ed  by Elizabeth Beavers, AISUA's Policy & Activism Coordinator, in The Hill commenting on these transfers One of the detainees transferred was Obaidullah, an Afghan man seized from his home at approximately age 19 and detained by the U.S. without trial for 14 years. Obaidullah was the subject the Amnesty report “I am fallen into darkness,” and was featured in our fall/winter American Torture Story campaign. His release comes after fervent action on his behalf by Amnesty members.
  • Standing Rock Reservation: The tribe made a direct request to AIUSA to monitor these protests, both through our Individuals at Risk team and our Identity and Discrimination team.
    AI's observers are there to monitor protestors and law enforcement agents to ensure that the right to peacefully assemble and protest is respected.
    The protest happening at / near Standing Rock are related to a ruling a federal court in Washington is expected to hand down on a lawsuit initiated by the Native American tribes against a Texas-based company seeking to build the Dakota Access pipeline, expected to travel more than 1,000 miles underground and endangering the water supply of several tribes.
    24 August 2016 Press Release:
  •  Sierra Leone: Amnesty International Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child
    Website link:
    AI index number: AFR 51/4583/2016
    Publish date: 15/08/2016 00:00 BST [GMT+1]
    Abstract: This briefing sets out Amnesty International’s concerns regarding the State party’s failure to uphold the right to non-discrimination, the right to education, the right to information, the right to privacy, the right to be free from violence, the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment) and the right to health with respect to the rights of girls in Sierra Leone.
  • Saudi Arabia: Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
    Website link:
    AI index number:  MDE 23/4601/2016
    Publish date:   15/08/2016 00:00 BST
    Abstract: Amnesty International submits this briefing in advance of the September 2016 consideration of Saudi Arabia’s combined third and fourth periodic reports in respect of the country’s implementation of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It sets out Amnesty International’s concerns about Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age in breach of its obligations under the CRC. As such, this briefing is not an exhaustive account of Amnesty International’s concerns regarding the implementation of the Convention by Saudi Arabia.
  • Syria: 'It breaks the human': Torture, disease and death in Syria's prisons
    Website link:
    AI index number:  MDE 24/4508/2016
    Publish date:   18/08/2016 13:00 BST
    Abstract: The experiences faced by detainees in Syria’s detention system are often lethal. An estimated 17,723 people were killed in custody across Syria between 2011 and 2015, with the real number likely to be even higher. Of the 65 former detainees interviewed by Amnesty International for this report, most had witnessed at least one death in custody. All had been tortured and/or otherwise ill-treated.
  • Tunisia: Submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    Website link:
    AI index number: MDE 30/4575/2016
    Publish date:   19/08/2016 00:00 BST
    Abstract: Amnesty International is submitting this briefing in advance of the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ review of Tunisia’s third periodic report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, during its 59th session from 19 September to 7 October 2016. The submission highlights Amnesty International’s specific concerns regarding discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and consensual sexual activity; sexual and gender-based violence and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights in the country.
  • Co-authors of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, interview
    There were on a book tour in the USA earlier this year (including Madison)
    San Francisco KPFA radio interview with Robin Yassin Kassab and Leila Al-Shmai":
    Blog:  AIUSA's domestic concerns as well as with one of the hot button international areas - our work re: Israel/OPT/Palestine & includes a video
    This blog shows how our human rights concerns internationally often directly relates to human rights concerns right here at home
    With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training?  With a Chronic Human Rights Violator - Israel’.   
    The Lethal Use of Force in Brazil Has Striking Similarities to the U.S.