Russian LGBTI activists. The LGBT community faces increasingly repressive legislation in Russia (Photo Credit: Charles Meacham/Demotix).
By Jasmine Heiss, Amnesty International USA’s Individuals & Communities at Risk Campaigner
Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and activists around the world will recognize the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). Exactly twenty-three years after the World Health Organization’s landmark decision to declassify ‘homosexuality’ as a mental disorder, LGBTI people and allies continue their work to ensure that the full spectrum of their human rights is respected and upheld.
Just last week, news out of the Russian Federation served as a tragic reminder of just how critical that work is.
To mark the 100th day of the Guantanamo hunger strike, Amnesty International USA is holding a vigil outside the White House today with several other groups (Photo Credit: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).
By Carrie Neff Maley, Human Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International USA
Today marks the 100th consecutive day that detainees at Guantanamo have been refusing food as part of a hunger strike that began in Camp 6 at the facility. According to a letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and signed by 50 attorneys representing detainees, the hunger strike which began on February 6, 2013, was initiated in response to,
“[W]idespread searches of detainees’ Qur’ans—perceived as religious desecration — as well as searches and confiscation of other personal items, including family letters and photographs, and legal mail, seemingly without provocation or cause.”
Both the hunger strike and the brutal practice of force feeding have become a symbol of the deprivation of human rights taking place at Guantanamo. Virtually every personal freedom has been stripped from the detainees, most of whom have not been charged with any crime and are not facing trial.
Guantanamo Bay has been the site of indefinite detention and numerous other violations of human rights since 2002. It is also, as Rolling Stone’sJohn Knefel calls it, “the site of a unique legal experiment that has no direct precedent in U.S. history.”
Despite the recent filibuster in Nebraska, support for death penalty abolition is once again on the rise (Photo Credit: Allen Hailey).
LB 543, Nebraska’s death penalty repeal bill, was successfullyfilibusteredthis week by a minority of the state’s senators. During the course of two days of debate and occasional voting, it became clear that the votes to pass the bill might have been there, but the two-thirds majority needed to break a filibuster was not.
Nebraska’s death penalty, like capital punishment elsewhere, suffers from arbitrariness, unfairness, and general uselessness, facts that are dawning on a lot of legislators in a lot of states. The defense of the death penalty in the Nebraska debate was not passionate, and relied on the citing of discredited deterrence studies and a vague sense the executions somehow equal justice.
Nebraska’s embarrassing attempts to acquire lethal injection drugs may have been partially responsible for the sheepishness with which the pro-death penalty arguments seemed to be infused. But more likely it’s just that the days of cheering for executions and celebrating the death penalty are over.
The conversation provides several examples of how social media has been used as a tactic by various human rights organizations and other NGOs. Examples from Amnesty International include our Bahrain Twitter action or Eyes on Syria campaign and use of a YouTube playlist in our campaign to establish a Commission of Inquiry on human rights violations in North Korea. Other case studies come from Greenpeace and El Salvador, among others. A current case study – which is still unfolding – is the #SaveBeatriz campaign.
Some of the villagers had previously been harassed by local government officials who told them to convert to Sunni Islam if they wanted to return to their homes. Now, after eight months, the Sampang district administration has agreed to the demands from anti-Shi’a groups to forcibly evict the Shi’a community from their shelter in a sports complex and remove them from Madura Island in East Java.
There has been an overwhelming amount of global support over the past few weeks for Beatriz and those in El Salvador working tirelessly on her behalf to save her life. Much of this support has emerged online via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other outlets. Because of these digital tools, countless people are closely following events unfold in El Salvador and calling on the authorities to uphold their international human rights obligations by immediately granting Beatriz authorization for an abortion.
Will Salvadoran authorities listen to Beatriz’s plea and take action to save her life in accordance with her wishes and at the advice of the medical professionals caring for her?
Halil Savda at a Write for Rights event in France on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011 (Photo Credit: Michael Sawyer for Amnesty International).
This May 15, International Conscientious Objectors Day, is an opportunity to both celebrate the steady acceptance of this fundamental right and to highlight those countries who have not taken the basic steps to protect it.
The right to conscientious objection to military service is not a marginal concern outside the mainstream of international human rights protection and promotion. The right to conscientious objection is a basic component of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – as articulated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Save the Children’s “State of the World’s Mothers” report has named the Democratic Republic of Congo as the world’s worst place to be a mother (Photo Credit: Leon Sadiki/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images).
Severe violations of women’s human rights in Congo are, unfortunately, a perennial subject of attention for me and numerous other rights activists. Typically those violations are associated with the long and bloody conflict that has spanned the country and concentrated in its most recent stages in the East.
Indeed, DRC has been plagued by almost two decades of conflict resulting in the suffering and death of millions of men, women and children. Most chillingly, the Congo conflict has become synonymous with rape and other forms of sexual violence, which are committed with impunity by security forces, including the armed forces of the DRC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC), and other armed groups. For this reason, it was ranked the worst place to be a woman by the United Nations just last year.
When my son was young, he would say, “When I grow up I want to invent things.” Reggie as a young boy was always a people person. Almost 30 years later, he sits on death row, and I’m waiting to see whether or not the state of Missouri will take my son’s life. This is a parent’s worst nightmare.
My son’s name is Reginald Clemons, but we call him Reggie. He has been on Missouri’s death row for 21 years. No mother can truly imagine that there may come a day where she may have to watch her son take his last breath, listen to his last words and watch him executed. Last year, Reggie was granted an opportunity where his case would be reviewed by a judge who would then recommend to the Missouri Supreme Court whether or not my son should live or die. As we await the judge’s recommendations – expected to be announced by June 1st – I want you to understand a few things about my son, his case and just how flawed the death penalty system is.
Women, girls, men and boys take to the streets in Nicaragua on the Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean (Photo Credit: Grace Gonzalez for Amnesty International).
What if she was your mother, your sister, or your friend? Would you tell her to press charges? Or would you tell her she should work things out with her husband in order to keep the family (including any children) together? In other words, would you want her to be safe, or remain in danger of further abuse and even death? I hope you would tell her to get out of there and call the police.