Why #WeAreAfrica and You are Too

US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall style meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 28, 2013. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall style meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 28, 2013. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

In early August, Obama hosts the first ever US-Africa summit in Washington DC. Nearly every sitting head of state from the continent is invited to discuss primarily bilateral business opportunities through trade and investment. However, from the beginning, the White House stated the intent to also focus on human rights and good governance.  It is time for Obama to honor that commitment. Help us urge the inclusion of civil society in all summit sessions.

The leaders of Africa are not just heads of state. There are strong, dynamic, courageous leaders of human rights, civil rights and good governance organizations (collectively known as ‘civil society’) in Africa who deserve full participation in the summit on August 6th-the day devoted most closely to these issues.  Right now, the administration is hosting a half-day session on August 4th devoted to human rights and other like concerns where very few presidents and prime ministers will attend. We think that’s a good start. But it’s not the same as putting these critical thought leaders in the same room with all assembled heads of state.

#WeAreAfrica is an initiative to highlight the voice of African civil society and their rightful place to be heard at the US-Africa summit. If you are an activist reading this blog concerned about human rights, YOU are a member of civil society. This effort is about the critical need for the presence at high level government events of individuals and groups who care about human rights and civil rights. #WeAreAfrica and YOU are Africa. Tell Obama civil society needs to be present at the summit session on August 6th.

TAKE ACTION: No One Should Have to Marry Their Rapist

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By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist 

Each of us has autonomy over our own body: we all have the right to make our own decisions about our healthcare, reproduction, and sexual lives, and we should be able to do so without living in fear of violence or discrimination. No matter where you live, no matter who you are, it’s your body and your rights.

Yet far too many are deprived of the basic human rights over their own bodies, including the right to be free from violence, sexual, assault, and rape. Such violence against women is part of a global culture of discrimination, but in the Maghreb region of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, discriminatory legal provisions help enable rampant sexual violence against women and girls.

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When Chevron Subpoenas an Amnesty International Activist

 

The lawyer of Ecuadorean people affected by Texaco-Chevron --who have long sought compensation for pollution between the 1970s and early 1990s-- Steven Donziger, gestures during a press conference on March 19, 2014 in Quito. (Photo credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)

The lawyer of Ecuadorean people affected by Texaco-Chevron –who have long sought compensation for pollution between the 1970s and early 1990s– Steven Donziger, gestures during a press conference on March 19, 2014 in Quito. (Photo credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)

In an unprecedented legal move, 17 U.S.-based civil society organizations – among them Amnesty International, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, and Friends of the Earth – have just filed an amicus brief in federal appeals court defending their First Amendment rights from attack by Chevron.

Let me back this story up by about 18 months.

In November 2012, Chevron subpoenaed me.

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The United States is Not Just a Bystander in Israel-Gaza Violence

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three  medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit:  Amnesty International)

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

This past week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes and other military operations that have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians not directly participating in hostilities.

The U.S., as the largest foreign supplier of weapons, munitions, police equipment and devices, as well as training and techniques to Israel, bears a particular responsibility for the deployment of the weapons it provides.

Amnesty International is calling for a U.N.-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.  Amnesty is also calling for a UN-imposed comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

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Chile Might Be Reforming Its Total Abortion Ban

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Teresa Vargas Valdes, Chile Country Specialist and Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

In Chile, it’s criminal to get an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at risk. Since 1991, several congressional bills have been presented in Chile in order to allow exceptions to this restrictive law, the most recent of which was in April 2012, when the Senate rejected three motions that would have decriminalized the legal interruption of pregnancy in three different contexts: when the life of the mother is at risk, rape and when the fetus is not viable.

The current total abortion ban allows for not such exceptions, and this extreme restriction on women’s reproductive health rights not only conflicts with international law, it also puts the lives of countless women and girls at risk.

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TAKE ACTION: New Photo Campaign for Disappeared Activist

Amnesty activists hold up "Where Is Sombath?" signs as part of a Flickr campaign to demand an investigation of his disappearance. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

Amnesty activists hold up “Where Is Sombath?” signs as part of a Flickr campaign to demand an investigation of his disappearance. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty International USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

Amnesty International is launching a “Where Is Sombath?” photo campaign on Flickr.

Activists from around the world are asking the government of Laos to investigate the
disappearance of development worker Sombath Somphone, and we’ll do it through our voices, print, photos and more. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why are Children Dying While Migrating to the United States?

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, in 2011. (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

A boys shows a U.S. flag as President Barack Obama speaks about immigration in 2011 at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images).

President Obama has responded to the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican border with a $1 million ad campaign aimed at Central Americans.

The U.S. government wants to send two main messages – the journey to the U.S. is extremely dangerous, and those caught, including children, will be deported.

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Real vs. Fake: How To Authenticate YouTube Videos

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During crises or disasters, YouTube is widely used to share footage – including a host of videos that are old or, in some cases, staged or faked. An enormous challenge for human rights workers, journalists or first responders alike is to separate fact from fiction. Now, there’s a website that can help.

The Citizen Evidence Lab - launched today – is the first dedicated verification resource for human rights workers, providing tools for speedy checks on YouTube videos as well as for more advanced assessment.

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Activists Demand That Chicago #StopTorture

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It’s been one week since activists across the United States showed their support for torture survivors through rallies and our photo solidarity campaign.

But the fight is far from over. Demand justice for Chicago torture survivors. Call on the Chicago City Council to ensure reparations for police torture survivors by passing the Reparations Ordinance for the Chicago Police Torture Survivors.

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Executions Iranian Style

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Which of the following is true about executions in Iran?:

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