#DearObama: Prioritize Fair and Humane Immigration Reform in Your State of the Union

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

Mr. President,

if you really care about immigrants’ rights, in your State of the Union, can you explain why:

  • Since 2001, immigration detention in the United States has more than doubled from just over 200,000 annually under President Bush to 478,000 in 2012, an all-time high?[i]
  • Your administration has deported an average of 390,000 immigrants a year since 2009, with a record 409,000 deportations in 2012?[ii]
  • Your administration deported its 2 millionth immigrant in 2014, while hundreds of thousands of families have been separated during the past six years?

This is a pace of deportation and exposure to abuse that cannot continue.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

#DearObama: Freedom of Expression and the State of the Union – An Opportunity for the President

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

By Adotei Akwei and Cindy Tsz-nga Ko

On Tuesday January 20, President Obama will have an opportunity to address the nation and underscore the priorities for his administration in 2015. Much of the speech is expected to focus on domestic economic issues but the White House has also indicated that issues such as policing in the United States, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo and violent extremism will also be addressed. Given that a key the underlying theme connecting these issues is human rights, the central question is whether the Obama administration will shape foreign policy that will help build a safer world where rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

The President’s framing of key human rights concerns in this evening’s State of the Union address may be an indication of whether or not the Obama administration will use 2015 to champion human rights, as so many hoped, or whether he will pursue misguided policies that sideline human rights in the name of security. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

#DearObama: Use Your State of the Union to Reject Politics of Fear

the america i believe in

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

Dear Mr. President,

Here comes the fear again.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, some in the broadcast news media are attempting to turn the public’s shock into full-fledged hysteria – the kind that fuels not only their ratings, but suspicion, hate and a bunker mentality.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

National Debate Must Connect the Dots on Abuses in the USA

no blind eye to torture 2x1By 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

Elections in Nigeria Must Lead to Protection and Accountability

NIGERIA-UNREST-RELIGION

[UPDATE: The Nigerian presidential elections have been postponed to March 28, 2015.]

In the Nigerian presidential elections on February 15th, and after a year of conflict spurred by attacks by the armed group Boko Haram, one would expect security issues to be the top topic of debate. However, in his New Years address to the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent in the election, placed little emphasis on the severity of the violence in the northern regions of the country. Instead, he devoted a majority of the speech to his commitment to the oil industry and other topics of infrastructure and development. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“He Was Silent but You Could Tell That He Was in Real Pain”

RBadawi

Raif Badawi, founder of a website for political and social debate, has been held in a Saudi Arabian prison since 17 June 2012. ©Private

An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been identified for security reasons.

“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today. They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew.

No one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Celebrate a Victory for Dominican Women & Urge El Salvador to Follow!

Women shout slogans during a march to commemorate UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on November 25, 2014 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

Women during a march to commemorate UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo: ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)

Until now, the Dominican Republic was one of the few nations with a complete ban on abortion.  The law did not allow exceptions for the health and safety of the woman; rape or incest; or severe fetal abnormality.  That changed on December 19, when President Danilo Medina put into effect a new Criminal Code that allows abortions under the above-mentioned circumstances.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Write for Rights on Alcatraz: From A Prison to A Fortress of Human Rights

10869346_876823005684713_4093440087851472962_o

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

Chelsea Manning: ‘Why speaking out is worth the risk’

US Army Private Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified government material to the website Wikileaks. © Juan Osborne for Amnesty International.

US Army Private Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified government material to the website Wikileaks. © Juan Osborne for Amnesty International.

Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks. From her prison cell in Kansas, Chelsea tells us why speaking out against injustice can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Evaporating Hope for My Missing Daughter

By Munira al-Hamwi, mother of ‘disappeared’ Syrian human rights attorney Razan Zaitouneh

Syria-Razan-Abduction-SM-graphic

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