4 Things We Want to Hear During Obama’s State of the Union Address Tonight

U.S. President Barack Obama walks along the colonnade of the White House from the residence to the Oval Office before the State Of The Union speech (Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images).

U.S. President Barack Obama walks along the colonnade of the White House from the residence to the Oval Office before the State Of The Union speech (Photo Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images).

 

When President Obama addresses Congress tonight, he must give more than just lip service to human rights. We’ll be watching the State of the Union and listening to what he will propose on these four issues:

1. Immigration Reform

The President must work with Congress to fix the United States’ broken immigration system. Since 2001, immigration detention in the United States has more than doubled from just over 200,000 annually to 478,000 in 2012, an all-time high.

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Members of Pussy Riot Joining All-Star Lineup at Amnesty Concert on Feb. 5th

1528556_10151855501576363_2133184317_n-1By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA Board Chair

I just heard some great news, and I can’t wait to share it with you. I’m so excited to announce that on Feb. 5th, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina will participate in Amnesty International’s landmark Bringing Human Rights Home Concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

I know the ability of music to move mountains. During my time as an activist in apartheid South Africa, singing together helped unite us in the streets, and helped demonstrate our power. Cries of “Amandla!” echoed through the townships and cities alike, and I knew I needed to join in. At the same time, protest songs rang across the world with powerful messages that amplified the voices of the anti-apartheid movement.

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Authorities Starting to Target Hospitals and Medical Personnel in Turkey

A bill passed by the Turkish parliament last week could give authorities new powers to prosecute doctors for giving unauthorized care (Photo Credit: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images).

A bill passed by the Turkish parliament last week could give authorities new powers to prosecute doctors for giving unauthorized care (Photo Credit: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images).

One of the most shocking aspects of Turkey’s violent crackdown on peaceful protest has been the willingness of authorities to target medical personnel. Since then, not only have authorities not been held responsible, but the government has moved to increase legal pressure on medical personnel.

Amnesty has played a central role in researching this abuse. In its report on the Gezi Protests, Amnesty researchers describe in detail the extent to which those caring for the injured were themselves subject to police abuse.

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6 of President Vladimir Putin’s Most Oppressive Laws

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NOTE: This blog post has been updated in several places for clarity.

The Olympics are right around the corner. But while Shaun White practices his Double McTwist 1260 and Ashley Wagner works on nailing a pearl spin, President Vladimir Putin is perfecting the art of repression.

Since he was inaugurated as President of the Russian Federation, Putin has orchestrated a number of changes in Russian law effectively criminalizing any criticism of him and Russian security forces. The new Draconian laws are having a terrible impact.

With Sochi fast approaching, here are 6 of Putin’s most oppressive laws. But unlike White and Wagner’s routines, we’re not looking forward to seeing these at the Olympics:

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Rock Out For Human Rights with The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill and More

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Good news! Amnesty’s iconic Human Rights Concert series will be returning on February 5 with a Bringing Human Rights Home concert at the Barclays Center.

The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tegan and Sara, The Fray, Cold War Kids, Colbie CaillatCake and more will be there with us, showing a new generation of activists how to stand up for justice at home and abroad.

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15 Human Rights Success Stories of 2013

By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA

It’s rare Amnesty activists get a moment to stop and take a breath. But with the start of a new year comes the opportunity to take stock of the progress we’ve made and the successes we helped accomplish in 2013. There’s still much to be done, but we hope the list below will help inspire all of us in the year to come:

Yorm Bopha was 29 when she was arrested on September 4, 2012 on spurious charges. She is a prominent activist from the Boeung Kak Lake community who is facing up to five years' imprisonment if found guilty at her trial. She is a prisoner of conscience (Photo Credit: Jenny Holligan).

Yorm Bopha was 29 when she was arrested on September 4, 2012 on spurious charges. She is a prominent activist from the Boeung Kak Lake community who is facing up to five years’ imprisonment if found guilty at her trial. She is a prisoner of conscience (Photo Credit: Jenny Holligan).

1. In 52 years, Amnesty International activists have helped free tens of thousands of Prisoners of Conscience around the world. In 2013, we continued that trend. Human rights activists freed this year included Yorm Bopha in Cambodia, Kartam Joga in India, Filipino poet Ericson Acosta, Yemeni journalist Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ and Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh.

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Russia’s Most Prominent Political Prisoner Freed After Ten Years Behind Bars

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was charged with embezzlement and tax evasion. He spent 10 years in prison until his unexpected pardon by Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit by Sean Gallup/Getty Images).

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was charged with embezzlement and tax evasion. He spent 10 years in prison until his unexpected pardon by Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit by Sean Gallup/Getty Images).

By Ludmila Gordon, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist, Eurasia Cogroup Co-Chair

Amnesty International is happy to share the great news of the release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s most prominent political prisoner who spent over 10 years behind bars.

On December 19, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly announced at the annual news conference that he decided to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky after he received a petition from Khodorkovsky asking to be pardoned due to family reasons. Shortly after, Khodorkovsky was released from a prison colony in the Karelia region of northwestern Russia and immediately flown to Germany.

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VICTORY!: Russian Prisoner of Conscience Freed As Write For Rights 2013 Reaches 1.4 Million Actions!

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By Louisa Anderson, Amnesty International Global Campaigner

Fantastic news came today as our global letter-writing campaign, Write for Rights, drew to a close: Vladimir Akimenkov, one of the Bolotnaya 3 prisoners of conscience, has been freed!

This fantastic outcome will be celebrated throughout the 83 countries that have taken part in our campaign. Over the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Amnesty supporters have taken action for Vladimir and others at risk of human rights abuses.

So far we have counted an incredible 1.4 million messages voicing support for human rights!

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