By Kaitlyn Denzler, Amnesty International USA Interim Women’s Rights Campaigner
It was only two decades ago that Ireland decriminalized homosexuality. Yet on May 22, people took to the polls and made Ireland the first country in the world to adopt marriage equality by a popular vote. The people of Ireland did not just make history with their vote to legalize same-sex marriage; they sent a resounding message of support for human rights by voting “yes” by a margin of two to one! When the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Enda Kenny, announced the date of the referendum, he stated that it would illustrate Ireland’s reputation as a tolerant and inclusive nation, and after the vote, he proudly pronounced that Ireland was a “small country with a big message for equality.”
Taoiseach Kenny should speak about the referendum with great pride, as it represents an enormous success for equality and LGBT human rights. But hidden in the shadows of Ireland’s most recent human rights accomplishment is the fact that it still has one of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws and that women in Ireland do not enjoy equal access to their full human rights.
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By Edward Snowden, director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and former Central Intelligence Agency officer and National Security Agency contractor
TWO years ago today, three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.
Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.
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By Midushi Pandey, Intern Identity and Discrimination Unit Amnesty International USA
The month of June brings about many changes in the year: spring transitions to summer, schools let out for vacation, and LGBT Pride Month begins.
For many of us in the United States, Pride Month is a time of joy and celebration. We attend Pride parades in our big cities and small towns, decked in our finest rainbow Mardi Gras beads and waving our Pride Flags. Here in the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Smithsonian Museums hold free Pride events. And this Pride Month, we await a landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality now just a few weeks away. You’ll also see (and can join!) Amnesty members working for LGBT human rights at Pride events around the country. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)
Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) continue to face endemic violence, legal discrimination, and other human rights violations on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As we move from International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia this week to Pride month in the United States, Amnesty International stands with everyone working to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
As someone whose job it is to take advantage of technological progress for human rights research and advocacy, I am a strong proponent of using new tools and methods to advance Amnesty International’s goals. There is a proven track record of how technology can help human rights researchers and defenders in their daily work. However, any debate on this topic should not overlook the increasing challenges and threats that new technologies and digital networks pose for our profession. I am increasingly interested in exploring this undeniable tension, and I am fortunate enough to moderate a panel related to this topic Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn this weekend (full details below). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Nic Carter, Amnesty International USA
Over the last year, Azerbaijan has imprisoned dozens of journalists, human rights advocates, bloggers, lawyers, and academics who have criticized the regime. Ilham Aliev’s repressive petro-state has brazenly stepped up its harassment of journalists amidst international criticism. In December, the Aliev regime struck a terrible blow against the freedom of the press by arresting the country’s best-known investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, on fabricated charges. Her pre-trial detention, due to expire on February 5, has been extended for a further two months. Recently, new charges have been brought against her, including embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, abuse of power, and tax evasion. She faces 12 years in prison if convicted. Her case has rightfully received a lot of attention. Yet she is only one of an estimated 98 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, of which around a dozen are journalists. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Meet Elena Klimova, the latest victim of Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law (Photo Credit: Private).
On January 23, journalist Elena Klimova, the founder of the online LGBT youth support group Children 404, was convicted of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.” The judgment against Klimova marks the latest assault on Russia’s LGBT community and the continued crackdown on civil society and freedom throughout the Russian Federation.
For nearly a year and a half, the Russian government has sought to silence Klimova and shut down Children 404, an invaluable source of support for thousands of LGBT teenagers, including those at risk of self-harm and suicide. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world. The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise. A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made. In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.
Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Leila Yunus, director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy
Arresting its loudest critic and charging her with “treason” doesn’t seem enough for Azerbaijani officials. Last week, peace activist and human rights defender
was beaten by Kurdakhany detention facility administration staff.
An April 2014 video shows Leyla Yunus confronting officials (in Russian) about not having been allowed to use the toilet during an unlawful detention for interrogation. Although officials eventually allowed her to use a toilet (with a male guard watching her), Leyla says she was not informed of charges against her.
Less than half a year later after the detention, Leyla (and soon her husband Arif Yunus) were arrested and given ridiculous charges of treason and tax evasion. Amnesty International considers both Prisoners of Conscience and calls on Baku to release them immediately and unconditionally (add your voice to our appeal).
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(ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
By Andy Graan, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Serbia, Macedonia, and Western Europe
LGBT activists and supporters in Serbia have been working tirelessly to prepare for Belgrade Pride, scheduled for September 28. Despite annual efforts to celebrate Belgrade Pride, the 2014 parade, if held successfully, will mark only the third time in more than a decade that the event has actually occurred.
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