11 THOUSAND PEOPLE are victims of gun violence in the United States, each year. On January 29, 2013, fifteen year old Hadiya Pendleton became yet another tragic example of the human toll of gun violence. She died after being shot in the back in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park on Chicago’s South Side. Write a letter to President Obama to honor Hadiya’s memory and call for passage of the Youth PROMISE Act.
10 YEARS and a thousand lashes – the price of blogging for Saudi Arabian Activist Raif Badawi. Raif is the founder of “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” an online forum for social and political debate. He was convicted of violating Saudi Arabia’s information technology law and “insulting Islam” after criticizing Saudi religious authorities in his articles. Write a letter demanding Raif’s freedom and an end to repression in the name of security in Saudi Arabia.
A 9-YEAR-OLD rape survivor in El Salvador was denied an abortion and forced to carry the pregnancy to term. An anonymous doctor told Amnesty what it was like to treat her:
“We had a nine-year-old girl here. She gave birth aged 10. She had been abused since infancy… She asked us for coloring pencils. Crayons. And it broke all of our hearts because she started to draw us all, she drew and she stuck it on the wall. And we said: ‘She’s still just a girl, just a little girl”. And in the end she didn’t understand that she was expecting.”
In El Salvador, it doesn’t matter if you’re pregnant as a result of rape, or whether the pregnancy is a risk to your life – abortion is banned in all cases. If women miscarry, they can be jailed for up to 50 years for aggravated homicide.Write so that the women and girls of El Salvador are not denied rights, choices and freedom by the country’s total ban on abortion.
The 8 YEARS torture survivor Moses Akatugba spent in prison, without his family, awaiting trial. Nigerian death row prisoner Moses Akatugba was arrested under suspicion of armed robbery when he was only 16. He says that soldiers shot him in the hand and hit him, and then police officers beat him with machetes and pulled out his toenails and fingernails with pliers. Moses confessed only to make the torture stop. After eight years behind bars, he was sentenced to death in 2013. Write a letter to save Moses’s life and demand justice for torture.
7 THOUSAND people died over the course of three days in Bhopal, India after a 1984 gas leak– and that’s a conservative estimate. Others estimate that closer to 10,000 people died immediately after the Bhopal disaster, when toxic gas containing deadly chemicals leaked from a pesticide plant. Today, activists like 20-year-old Safreen Khan are still fighting for justice for their community and their loved ones. Because the land and water are contaminated, more than 100,000 people suffer from long-term health problems, including children born with birth defects. Write to ensure that the Bhopal disaster is not forgotten and the factory site is finally cleaned up.
6 YEARS behind bars for Chinese human rights defender Liu Ping, who was imprisoned after publicly calling on the Chinese government to step up the fight against corruption. Liu Ping’s case highlights the hypocrisy of Chinese government officials, who claim to be clamping down on corruption yet persecute those who try to expose it. Write a letter to the Chinese president to free Liu Ping and end the hypocrisy.
5 BULLETS that ended Ricardo Lazaro Nunes dos Santos’ life. Ricardo was gunned down in January 2008 while playing soccer with his friends. He died begging for his life. In March 2011, three military police officers were charged with his execution but the case still has not gone to trial and no one has been brought to justice. Brazil has the highest number of homicides in the world and police officers kill hundreds of people each year – particularly young black men like Ricardo. Write a letter to demand justice for Ricardo and affirm that black lives matter!
The 4th GENEVA CONVENTION outlaws collective punishment, yet in Palestinian communities throughout the occupied West Bank, weekly protests are met with chilling, indiscriminate force that affects entire villages. Since 2011, dozens of people in the occupied West Bank have been killed and thousands injured by weapons including rubber-coated metal bullets, live ammunition, and tear gas. Community leaders and human rights defenders are also harassed, intimidated and imprisoned by Israeli forces. One such leader is Murad Shtewi, a Palestinian who has been arrested for leading the village of Kufr Qadum in nonviolent protest. The unfounded charges against Murad are meant to silence him and intimidate other Palestinian activists into silence. Write a letter to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for to free Murad and respect freedom of expression.
The 3 YEARS that Chelsea Manning spent in pre-trial detention after exposing possible human rights abuses committed in Iraq and Afghanistan – for nearly a year, in conditions a UN expert on torture as ‘cruel and inhumane’. When Chelsea leaked classified US government material to the website Wikileaks, she was trying to spark a meaningful debate on the costs of war and raise awareness of US military conduct. The 35 year sentence handed down by a military court seems to be a harsh warning to other whistleblowers seeking to expose U.S. Government wrongdoing. Write a letter asking President Obama to grant Chelsea clemency.
2 DECADES of torture – two more of inaction. Between 1972 and 1991, Chicago police under the direction of Commander Jon Burge systematically tortured more than 100 people of color on Chicago’s South Side. During Burge’s reign of terror, “suspects” were subjected to electrical shocks on their genitalia or other body parts, suffocation with plastic bags, beatings with rubber objects or telephone books, and mock executions. More than 20 years later, there is overwhelming evidence that the City of Chicago effectively condoned the systematic use of torture to extract confessions by failing to put an end to it, and/or actively trying to cover it up. Write a letter to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and ask that he to pave the way for passage of the Reparations Ordinance for Chicago police torture survivors so that the city of Chicago can finally heal.