About Michelle Ringuette

Michelle Ringuette was the Chief of Campaigns & Programs at Amnesty International USA.
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The World’s Biggest Gun Show

National Resistance Army child soldier poses with his kalashnikov.  (Photo credit: Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images)

National Resistance Army child soldier poses with his kalashnikov. (Photo credit: Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which concluded last week in Abu Dhabi, bills itself as one of the biggest arms bazaars in the world. However, among the more than 1,100 companies exhibiting at IDEX were manufacturers whose products have made it a lot easier for bad guys to wreak havoc. There are currently no global checks in place to keep guns out of the wrong hands

From March 18-28, states will convene at the United Nations in New York to finalize a historic Arms Trade Treaty. We must make it clear that no more weapons can fall through gaping loopholes and into dangerous hands.


One Year Before Olympics in Sochi, Russia Continues its “Assault on Freedom”

Putin in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin tours Olympic venues in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 7, 2013. SERGEI KARPUKHIN/AFP/Getty Images

With only a year left before the start of the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia has little time to reverse its increasing crackdown on freedom of expression.

In the last fifteen months, there has been a continuing assault on basic rights, including increasing restrictions on freedom of expression, a rise in forced evictions, human rights violations during security operations in the North Caucasus and the passage of several bills which negatively impact NGOs within Russia.

While hosting the Olympics is an incredible honor and an opportunity for the world to come together peacefully in the mutual enjoyment of universal sport, it’s also the perfect opportunity for the Russian government to do some serious soul-searching and correct its human rights record.

The Children Left Out of Obama’s Inaugural Speech

Photo by Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images

The United States is not the only country where children are facing an epidemic of gun violence. While in the U.S., we continue to grapple with the tragic reality of children who routinely face gun violence in their communities and children who increasingly are the targets of mass shootings, in other places around the world, we see the heartbreaking consequences of children who also face the daily horrors of armed conflict, many forced to become soldiers.

During Monday’s inaugural address, President Obama said:

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”


Get On the Map!

Pussy Riot mapSting, Roger Waters and a growing number of artists and activists are joining Amnesty International activists like you who are raising their voices to help free Pussy Riot.

All over the world, freedom-loving people are deeply troubled that Masha Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are still in prison.  A Russian appeals court failed to overturn their sentence in October despite a global outcry calling for their acquittal.

Russian Constitution Day

Amnesty International activists projected Pussy Riot images onto the Russian Embassy on Russian Constitution Day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t like the song they performed. And, on top of that, despite the fact that last week was Russian Constitution Day—a constitution that guarantees the right to free expression, mind you, officials are shutting down free speech all across Russia – and getting away with it.

Pussy Riot’s case connects the worlds of music and human rights.  When you add yourself to the Free Pussy Riot Map – Amnesty International’s newest human rights project for solidarity, you help deepen that connection.

When asked how he felt about Pussy Riot’s case, Sting had this to say: “Dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance.”


Bitter Blow to Free Speech in Russia: Pussy Riot Convicted

members of pussy riot convicted

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (C) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (R), were given 2 year sentences for a performance. (Photo AFP/Getty)

A Russian court’s decision today to sentence members of the punk rock protest band Pussy Riot to 2 years imprisonment in a penal colony is a bitter blow for freedom of expression in Russia – and it sends a dangerous message throughout the world (take action here).

Three members of the all-female group were outrageously charged with “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” after they gave a politically charged and impromptu performance – a peaceful performance – poking fun at President Putin at a cathedral in February.

Say what you will about Pussy Riot: this may not be your kind of music. Some people find their shows offensive.

But it doesn’t change the facts: freedom of speech is a human right, and it’s vital to a free and just society.