Zimbabwe: Where Freedom Isn’t Free

Activists, such as Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) can be imprisoned in Zimbabwe for peaceful demonstrations (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Activists, such as Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) can be imprisoned in Zimbabwe for peaceful demonstrations (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International Zimbabwe Researcher

On Friday, April 18, 2014, Zimbabwe commemorates 34 years of independence. As usual, there will be the official gatherings and speeches to remind us of the journey to independence.

Amid all the pomp and ceremony, I dare remind people that Zimbabwe remains a country where organizing a peaceful protest can land you behind bars.

Two things happened this week reminding us of the many human rights challenges facing the country today.

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THIS EXISTS: Country That Forced 200,000 Women Into Sexual Slavery

Women from the house of sharing at the 'Wednesday Demo' outside Japanese Embassy, Seoul. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

Women from the house of sharing at the ‘Wednesday Demo’ outside Japanese Embassy, Seoul (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Alice Dahle, Amnesty USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Before and during World War II, as the Japanese Imperial Army occupied countries throughout the Asia Pacific region, they deceived, abducted or otherwise forced an estimated 200,000 women and girls, some as young as 12 years old, into a system of sexual slavery.

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Introducing New Legislation That Will Help Murder Victims’ Families

Maryland has become a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members (Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images).

Maryland has become a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members (Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images).

By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator

Our victory is now complete. When Maryland’s death penalty was abolished last year, we knew that our work wasn’t finished, because homicide victims matter. With legislation passed last weekend, the state became a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members.

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Join Susan Sarandon: End the Death Penalty in New Hampshire

(Photo Credit: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

(Photo Credit: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

By Susan Sarandon, Actress and Humanitarian

Playing Sister Helen Prejean in the film “Dead Man Walking” was my awakening to the deep injustice of the death penalty.

The more I learned about the death penalty, the more I knew I had to raise my voice against it.

Just a couple weeks ago, Glenn Ford, an African American man convicted by an all-white jury, was released from a Louisiana prison after serving 30 years on death row for a murder he did not commit.

The state stole 30 years from Glenn’s life and almost killed him because of its mistake.

18 states have abolished this barbaric practice, and Amnesty International’s State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators are working with the movement in their respective states to put an end to the death penalty across the country. New Hampshire may be next. Please join me now to help make that happen.

Sign Amnesty’s petition calling for an end to the death penalty in New Hampshire.

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Time Running Out for Man Sentenced to Death in Iraq

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By Said Haddadi, Amnesty International Iraq Researcher

Osama Jamal Abdallah Mahdi, a 32-year-old father of two, has now spent more than two years on death row in Iraq for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

His uncle is now his only hope. From his home in Wichita, Kansas more than 6,000 miles away, Musadik Mahdi is spearheading a campaign for his nephew’s release.

The Iraqi-born engineer has contacted Congressmen, diplomats, the media and NGOs, including Amnesty International, in an attempt to get Osama’s conviction overturned. And time is running out – Musadik fears that Osama could be dragged to the gallows any day now.

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ACT NOW: End the Death Penalty in Delaware

Delaware is closer than ever to abolishing the death penalty - but we need your help to win (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

Delaware is closer than ever to abolishing the death penalty – but we need your help to win (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).

By Abraham J. Bonowitz, Delaware State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator

I have been in the heart of the campaign to end the death penalty for years, and Delaware is closer than ever to abolishing this ultimate denial of human rights – but we need your help to win.

Even if you have already done so, if you live in Delaware, it’s time again to tell your legislators to vote “Yes” on SB-19, Delaware’s Death Penalty Repeal bill.

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Changing Hearts and Minds in India

Amnesty staff in India speak to Gnanapragasam, one of the four men sentenced to death in 2002 in south India. All four had their sentences commuted to life on January 21, 2014 (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Amnesty staff in India speak to Gnanapragasam, one of the four men sentenced to death in 2002 in south India. All four had their sentences commuted to life on January 21, 2014 (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Wednesday, Amnesty International will release its 2014 global Death Penalty report. Some believe that using the death penalty is fine as long as the public supports it. But history is littered with human rights violations that were supported by the majority, but were subsequently looked upon with horror, such as slavery, racial segregation and lynching. Here, independent filmmaker and Amnesty India Campaigner Kadambari Gladding, discusses turning the tide of public option in India, where public option increasingly favors the death penalty. 

“A murder for murder cannot be justice,” Mani told me as we walked down the corridor of the school he went to with his friend Simon some four decades ago. Mani still lives in the same village, while Simon has been on death row for nearly 10 years. Mani is a quiet person, but some things – like the death penalty – move him to rare, long conversations.

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Crimea: A Culture of Fear, Made in Russia

People wave Russian and Soviet flags as they look at fireworks in the center of the Crimean city of Sevastopol celebrating the annexation of the peninsula by Russia (Photo Credit: Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images).

People wave Russian and Soviet flags as they look at fireworks in the center of the Crimean city of Sevastopol celebrating the annexation of the peninsula by Russia (Photo Credit: Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images).

This post originally appeared in Foreign Policy under the title “A Culture of Fear, Made in Russia.”

By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General

Two decades of stuttering human rights reform in Ukraine was almost scuppered overnight when, on January 16 this year, the Parliament in Kiev railroaded through a raft of new legislation to restrict the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

A virtual carbon-copy of laws adopted in neighboring Russia in recent years, they were tailor-made to give the Ukrainian authorities increased powers to prosecute those involved in the anti-government protests in Kiev’s central Maydan Square, as well as silence dissent more widely.

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