With the 2010 World Cup quickly approaching, football fans around the world have been cheering on their teams since the qualification process began in August 2007. In total, 32 countries will match off at 12 locations throughout South Africa. As the first African country to host a World Cup, South Africa rapidly constructed new stadiums, upgraded security measures and encouraged spectators to visit their beautiful country. Recent headlines range from lackluster ticket sales to Beckham’s Achilles heel injury which renders him unable to participate in the games.
Regardless of the tournament’s final outcome, one thing is for sure, South Africa will be under scrutiny for how it has overcome the nation’s long history of Apartheid rule. Leaders are hoping to show the world it has moved beyond a system of violent racial discrimination to truly become a “Rainbow Nation”. Unfortunately Amnesty International won’t actually be competing as we have little to offer by means of star soccer athletes; but nevertheless feels it imperative to contribute our own team to the mix of international heroes. That is why we are proud to announce Amnesty International’s team of human rights defenders from around the world. Stand Up United is a team of 11 special individuals who have one common goal: equality, dignity and justice for all. Without further ado, let me introduce you to this award winning team of individuals:
1. Mukhmed Gazdiev from the Russian Republic of Ingushetia is still searching for his son who has not been seen since he was reportedly abducted in 2007. He campaigns relentlessly to raise awareness of alleged involvement of security forces in disappearances.
2. Nataša Kandić is a Serbian lawyer and human rights activist. She continues to challenge impunity for war crimes committed by Serbian military, police and paramilitary forces during the wars during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
3. Dhondup Wangchen has been detained by Chinese police since 2008. He is in prison for making the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind,” highlighting Tibetans’ views on human rights in Tibet.
4. Shadi Sadr is a lawyer from Iran who has successfully had the convictions of several women sentenced to death overturned. She is also a journalist and activist campaigning for women’s rights.
5. Haj Sami Sadeq is a Palestinian community activist in Aqaba village in the West Bank, occupied by Israel. As head of the village council, Haj Sami Sadeq continues to face many challenges resulting from restrictions on construction by Palestinians.
6. Amina Janua is from Pakistan. Her husband is believed to have been held in government custody since he disappeared in 2005. Determined to find out what happened, she tirelessly petitions the government to reveal the whereabouts of hundreds who have disappeared.
7. Joel Nana, born in Cameroon, West Africa, campaigns for the right to health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people across the African continent including Senegal, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa.
8. Father Alejandro Solalinde from Mexico has dedicated his life to providing a haven for migrants. His solidarity with migrants has provoked attacks and harassment from xenophobic members of local communities, criminal gangs and local officials.
9. Claudia Lema works to reduce the number of women who die needlessly in childbirth in Indigenous communities in Peru. She is firmly committed to supporting women to pressure the government to make health care services meet their needs.
10. “P” is a community activist who challenges negative attitudes towards women in a neglected and impoverished rural area in South Africa. She also provides practical support to women experiencing domestic violence or living with HIV.
11. Wilter Nyabate lives in Soweto East, Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum. She has two children and is the sole breadwinner in her house, yet still works to expose the intolerable conditions under which her community is forced to live.
Help us cheer on these 11 individuals by supporting their commitment to defending human rights. They each have dedicated their lives to making this world a more just and equitable place. Keep checking back to Amnesty USA’s web site as we roll out further actions.
Linda Harris, Amnesty USA’s South Africa Country Specialist, contributed to this post.