The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. ©BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty
By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.
The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.
“What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.
The answer is not simple. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Alicia Koutsoulieris, Case Coordinator for Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian Authority
Freedom of speech has suffered a tragic start in 2015.
As the world calls for the release of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, there is another person who also deserves our support. While you read this, Palestinian Murad Shtewi sits in an Israeli prison. His “crime?” Daring to protest the Israeli military occupation that his village lives under. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Zack Michaelson
Our nation is currently in a debate about how to handle gross abuses of power by those tasked with defending us. In past weeks, we have learned more about the vast conspiracy of torture operated by the CIA, perpetrated on more than one hundred people. We have witnessed a run of recent incidents involving police using what appears to be unwarranted lethal force. The police violence around the country has also appeared to get inadequate investigation and accountability, angering many. These coincident events derive from shared issues, and now is the time for action for those who defend human rights.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Gerald Gray, LCSW, Institute for Redress and Recovery
Just released US Torture Papers focus on torture in interrogation, ostensibly for defense of the country. The US also tortures another way, not for defense but for regional control by terror. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By: Shaudee Dehghan, Humera Durrani, Lisa Mueller-Dormann, Sarah Rubiaco
Upon disembarking from the ferry it immediately became clear to all of us why Ai Weiwei chose the island to showcase his exhibit. The island’s ominous history as a military fortress, high security prison, and refuge for persecuted indigenous people is steeped in oppression, an emotion that fully engulfed us as we set off towards the @Large exhibit. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By: Larry Fellows III, Community organizer and leader in Ferguson
Suffocating smoke fills the night sky; sonic booms shake the black concrete streets while intense screams of men, women and children echo into the air like a blockbuster flick. But this isn’t a Michael Bay film. This a Monday night, August 18th, 2014, in Ferguson, and this is real life. This is my real life. The smoke that fills the air is tear gas, the sonic booms are from armored vehicles approaching protesters and executing gas bombs. The men, women and children are my friends and neighbors, residents of Saint Louis, Missouri, all of us in the streets for over a week demanding accountability.
A deep voice echoes from the PA on top of one of the armored cars: “please go back to your homes.” But THIS IS MY HOME. This is where I was born, fished with my grandpa in January-Wabash Park as a kid, graduated from Hazelwood East, wear my St. Louis Cardinals hat proudly. So when I’m being told to go home what exactly does that mean? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
By Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA Director of Security with Human Rights
Today John Brennan, director of the CIA, gave a live press conference responding to the Senate’s landmark report on the CIA torture and secret detention program. He acknowledged “mistakes.” He said that the program was “flawed.” He said that the CIA had now improved “management” and “planning.”
But words like these do not reflect the full gravity of torture and enforced disappearances. They downgrade this program of systematic human rights violations to a series of unforeseen complications. They make torture seem like a bad choice – instead of the crime that it is.
Here’s what Brennan should have said, without qualification: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Munira al-Hamwi, mother of ‘disappeared’ Syrian human rights attorney Razan Zaitouneh
They asked me to write about my daughter, Razan Zaitouneh. I am not a journalist or a writer but I will write what is on my mind. I will not talk about Razan’s work or her achievements as so many others have done so already.
I will never forget those times at the start of the uprising in Syria when she faded out of the public eye in order to avoid arrest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
By: Alice Dahle, Co-chair, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist
On December 24, the first ever international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) regulating the sale of conventional arms and ammunition will go into effect. The treaty will require that before authorizing a sale of arms and ammunition across international borders, governments must assess the risk that the weapons will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, undermine peace and security, or engage in transnational organized crime. If an exporting country knows there is an “overriding” risk that the arms will be used for these purposes, the sale is prohibited.
In another break-through, the ATT is also the first legally binding international agreement that makes the connection between the international arms trade and gender-based violence (GBV). Only recently has the gendered aspect of armed violence been recognized. During the drafting of the treaty, Amnesty International joined with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Women’s Network of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), and Oxfam to enlist the support of both governments and civil society for inclusion of a gender dimension in the treaty. As a result of these efforts, Article 7(4) of the ATT makes it mandatory for arms exporting countries to assess the risk that their weapons will be used in the commission of GBV and deny authorization of any sales that present an “overriding” risk. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Accused and charged with having an abortion after a miscarriage at 18 years old.
By Chloe Horsma, Amnesty International USA youth activist
Probably the greatest obstacle I’ve ever faced around my sexual and reproductive rights was a borderline-uncomfortable conversation with my mom when I wanted to look into birth control for the first time. Many of my friends had similar experiences. It seemed to me that this was how it was supposed to be–people making decisions about their own health and reproductive rights without hindrance or fear–and for a while, it escaped my notice that not everyone was so lucky. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST