Big Brother in Practice: An Overview of Unlawful Surveillance

By Thomas Rozanov 

What George Orwell once fantasized in his novel ‘1984,’ is an actual threat today. Individuals are confronted with surveillance that interferes with private lives, and human rights. Big Brother tyranny is set into practice with modern widespread technology. “Telescreens” used by Oceania’s ruling party to constantly surveil citizens and prevent conspiracies and “thoughtcrimes” are now being replaced with unlawful access to online accounts, phone surveillance, cyberattacks, and hacking.

What once seemed like a dystopian plot, is now a reality. I suspect this dimension will play out more in the future, as individuals are becoming more technologically integrated and dependent. We should be warned to not only protect our physical human rights, but also the privacy of our virtual spaces and communication via technology. I draw attention to recent cases of unlawful surveillance and cyberattacks by governments targeting individuals in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Abductions and Forcible Returns from Russia to Uzbekistan continue

By Ella Shen

A few weeks ago, Amnesty International, along with other international organizations, has expressed heavy concern over the possibility of danger, including torture amongst other human rights violations, to journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov (also known as Ali Feruz), if forcibly returned to Uzbekistan. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Crimea: In the International Blind Spot

 

Russian security forces attempt to block the way of Crimean Tatars crossing a checkpoint in May 2014. REUTERS/STRINGER

By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik

Amnesty International recently released a public statement raising the worsening human rights situation in Crimea marking three years under Russian rule since the Peninsula’s unlawful annexation in March 2014.

Despite Amnesty’s call for human rights in last year’s briefing ‘Crimea in the dark: the silencing of dissent’, Russian and Crimean de facto authorities continue to intensify their persecution of political activists, dissenting voices, and ethnic Crimean Tatars. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

From Margin to Center: Sex Work Decriminalization is a Racial Justice Issue

Sex workers wait for customers in Honduras (Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images).

By Jasmine Sankofa, AIUSA Sexual and Reproductive Rights Advocate

Sex work is criminalized throughout the United States, typically as misdemeanor offenses. Similar to the way the Unites States treats and criminalizes drug use, the policing of sex work exacerbates stigma, compromises access to resources, justifies violence, and is steeped in racial disparities. Women of color, especially Black cisgender and transgender women, girls, and femmes, are particularly vulnerable. Because sex work and sex trafficking are conflated, interventions are focused on abolishing the sex industry instead of eliminating structural issues that drive exploitation. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why We Need to Address Gender-Based Violence, Now More Than Ever

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By Helena Klassen, Identity and Discrimination Intern and Nicole van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” (16 Days) campaign, originated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL). The campaign takes on a specific theme each year, which is determined by consulting with the many international human rights groups working to end gender-based violence (GBV). By calling upon individuals and organizations around the world to take action against GBV, the 16 Days campaign has had a significant impact and great success in building support of and activism for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls for more than two decades.   SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Here’s why Disability Rights must be on the Forefront of the Human Rights Movement

The CRPD helps ensure that people with disabilities won't be left on the sidelines and forgotten. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

By Janet Lord, AIUSA Board Member and Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School Project on Disability

Celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities should be accompanied by reflection for the global human rights movement. Honest reflection compels a consideration as to whether and how Amnesty International – and the human rights movement as a whole – is accommodating persons with disabilities and the disability rights agenda in its human rights work. This is especially germane in the light of the 10 year anniversary of the 2006 adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Education is a Human Right – That is, Unless you are Pregnant in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

By Abby Saleh, Press intern, AIUSA

Thousands of pregnant girls are being excluded from school because of a rule issued by Sierra Leone’s government. In April of 2015, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology issued a statement banning all pregnant girls from school settings. This immediately went into action, and thousands of girls were denied access to education and were barred from taking exams. The government justified the policy as the protection of “innocent girls” from negative influences, which stigmatizes pregnant girls. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Imprisoned for Photography: Shawkan, 2016 Write for Rights Case

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

By Geoffrey Mock, Middle East Country Specialist

The future of Egypt is now behind bars. A generation of young Egyptians – activists, artists, journalists, lawyers and others – who embodied the promise of Tahrir Square and who offer a creative vision of a new Egyptian society – has been shut down and silenced because of their beliefs. Mass protests have given away to mass arrests.

One of the more than 16,000 people caught up in these arrests is Mahmoud Abu Zeid, a young Egyptian photojournalist who goes by the name Shawkan. In August 2013, he was taking photos of a peaceful sit-in when security forces moved in violently. In contemporary Egypt, that act of taking photos is a crime, one that now could potentially have him facing the death penalty.

This is how Shawkan later described that day: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why I Decide to Say “I Welcome” to Refugees

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By Kit O’Connor, AIUSA Legislative Coordinator for Vermont

“I Welcome.” Think about that phrase for a second. It’s really the perfect thing to ponder this holiday season. How do we welcome? Who? Why? And who isn’t welcomed? Why? “I Welcome” refers to the global campaign from Amnesty International that focuses on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Now, more than ever, this campaign is crucial in the United States.

Stories about an increase in hate crime, the possible reintroduction of torture or the creation of a Muslim registry have my head spinning. One solution? Well-conceived, intentional action. Right now, while there are many people and organizations motivating and calling people to action, there are many Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) members taking action with our Legislative Coordinators (LCs) in individual states. I’m an LC in Vermont and, like my colleagues, I’m busy saying “I Welcome.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Six Trump Proposals That Must Never Become Policy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa © Matt A.J.

 By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA

In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.

Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST