Burned, Beaten, and Electrocuted: One Survivor’s Shocking Story of Torture in Morocco

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

Farida Aarrass has spent the last 5 years campaigning for justice for her younger brother Ali Aarrass (Photo Credit: Filip Claus/Amnesty International).

By Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Morocco and Western Sahara

In December 2010, Ali Aarrass, a Belgian-Moroccan coffee shop owner was extradited from Spain to Morocco, where Moroccan intelligence held him in a secret prison for 12 days in Témara, near the capital city of Rabat.

Ali described the anguish his muscles and joints experienced while he was suspended from his wrists for extended periods of time, the searing pain of feeling his flesh being burned by cigarettes, enduring excruciating electric shocks to his testicles, having his head held under water until he fainted, being raped with a glass bottle, and having the soles of his feet beaten raw. He remained in the secret holding facility until he signed a “confession” pre-written for him in Arabic – a language he does not speak.

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Dispatch from Ferguson: Why We Fight

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Residents and faith and community leaders discuss unrest in Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown during a forum held at Christ the King UCC Church on August 14, 2014. ((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Rachel O’Leary, Amnesty Interntional USA Acting Deputy Executive Director for Membership Mobilization

On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old, was shot dead by a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police force. The next day, the community organized protests condemning the actions of the police and demanding to know the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael. Those actions continue still, a week later.

The day after the shooting, I sent a text to my colleague at 3:30 AM. It read,  “We need to go to Ferguson.” Later that week, I was on a plane, leading the Amnesty International USA human rights delegation to Ferguson, Missouri.

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Amnesty International Stands with Ferguson Because All Lives Matter

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

By Muhammed Malik, Amnesty International USA Member

Today, people across the country attended vigils and solidarity actions to mourn the victims of police brutality, a problem that has gripped this nation for far too long.

A few days ago, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri confronted Michael Brown – a teenager who was full of promise and who had his whole life ahead of him. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, but the end result was the officer shooting the unarmed Brown.

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Amnesty Remembers Robin Williams – Comic Genius and Friend

By Bill Shipsey, Founder of Art for Amnesty

In the Steven Spielberg film “AI” (for ‘Artificial Intelligence’ not Amnesty International) the character played by Robin Williams recited the W.B. Yeats poem “The Stolen Child”:

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild:
With a faery, hand in hand.
For the world’s more full of weeping
than you can understand.”

Robin Williams in real life realized that the world was indeed full of weeping. But principally through his art, but also through his advocacy, he tried so hard to make the world a better place.

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Why is President Obama Letting U.S. Soldiers Get Away with Murder in Afghanistan?

Afghan relatives of civilian victims of the country's conflict examine the Amnesty International report detailing those killed by U.S. forces in the country at a press conference in Kabul on August 11, 2014. The families of thousands of civilians killed by American forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice or compensation. (Photo credit: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan relatives of civilian victims of the country’s conflict examine the Amnesty International report detailing those killed by U.S. forces in the country at a press conference in Kabul on August 11, 2014. The families of thousands of civilians killed by American forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice or compensation. (Photo credit: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)

By Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director

In the early hours of September 16, 2012, a group of women from different villages in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province set out to collect firewood.

As they stopped to drink water by a small spring, a number of U.S. military planes appeared in the sky and started dropping bombs. Seven of the women were killed and another seven injured, four of them seriously. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Burundi in Crisis: Government Pursues Campaign of Intimidation

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza talks during an interview at the Westin hotel in Paris on June 4, 2014. (Photo credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza talks during an interview at the Westin hotel in Paris on June 4, 2014 (Photo credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summitoccurring August 4-6, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Kenneth Harrow, Country Specialist on Burundi for Amnesty International USA

Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, a Burundian human rights defender, is one of the vital civil society members working for positive change in Africa. Sadly, his voice is currently silenced by the Burundi government.

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The U.S.-Africa Summit Sessions Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Missed

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Dr. Rowly Brucken, Zimbabwe Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the U.S.-Africa summit this week, as he is currently subject to U.S. sanctions. But let’s imagine he was invited, and what he could have contributed to several events on just the first day:

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Swaziland Prisoners of Conscience Stay Behind Bars During U.S.-Africa Summit

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the 4th EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the fourth EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summitoccurring August 4-6, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Jamie Skaluba, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Swaziland, Malawi and Lesotho

As King Mswati III and his delegation board their royal airplane to Washington, D.C. to lend a Swazi voice to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, two men remain imprisoned in Swaziland for merely exercising their human right to use their voices.

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My Brother Went to War in Gaza, I Stayed Back as Amnesty International Israel Director

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City's al-Tufah neighbourhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014. (Photo credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City’s al-Tufah neighborhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014 (Photo credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images).

By Yonatan Gher, Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel

My brother and I are experiencing the current Israel-Gaza conflict quite differently. He is 20, serving out his military service and has been fighting in Gaza. I, on the other hand, am the Executive Director of Amnesty International Israel, an organization that is now heavily involved in documenting and campaigning on apparent crimes perpetrated by both sides of this conflict. I am also a conscientious objector.

My position does not diminish from the fact that I spend my days worried sick about him and other family members in similar situations. When you have such complexity in a family situation, humor is often the best approach, and so we joke sometimes that if the rest of the world heeds Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, I’ll be coming for his gun first.

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How the U.S. and Benin Can Help Bring Justice to the Central African Republic

President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions against former President Djotodia on May 13, 2014.  (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions against former President Djotodia on May 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist on the Central African Republic

It is critical leaders in the U.S. and the West African nation of Benin address international justice issues at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Former Central African Republic (CAR) President, Michel Djotodia, currently living in exile in Benin, must be investigated for the crimes under international law committed under his command and prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence to bring a case against him.

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