The Path to 2 Million @Amnesty Followers

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@Amnesty is now over 2 million followers strong. Together, we’ve changed lives and freed prisoners. As with the Amnesty movement of the past 55 years, we’ve gotten here by individual after individual standing up and shining a light, inspiring others to stand with them.

Thanks to social media, the world we live in is getting smaller and smaller – and the more interconnected we are, the harder it will be for human rights violations to go unnoticed. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Is the U.S. State Department Understating Human Rights Abuses?

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Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Following last week’s release of the 2016 Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Amnesty International USA conducted a review of the reports and offered an analysis of the reports.

The annual, Congressionally-mandated reports are meant to highlight abuses such as human rights defenders being killed, detained or hounded in to exile, along with draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, often imposed in the name of national security.

Unfortunately, this year’s report continues the practice of using diplomatic language to understate human rights violations. The report also continues to bury some cases of abuse by failing to refer to them in the summary section of the report. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What’s the State of Human Rights Around the World?

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In 2015, Amnesty International investigated the human rights situation in 160 countries and territories worldwide. Progress continued in some areas, but many people and communities faced grave human rights abuses.

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At least 113 countries arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression and the press. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

50 Ways You Changed Lives in 2015

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In 2015, millions of Amnesty supporters like you pushed decision-makers to make change happen worldwide.

You helped to release journalists and activists. Change discriminatory laws. Compensate victims of corporate crime. Pardon survivors of torture. And so much more. As governments continued to crack down on dissent and free speech, your pressure was critical to protect people’s human rights.

The list below is just a snapshot of some of the many success stories and bits of good news that you made happen in 2015. Thank you for all your support – together, we are standing up for people risking everything to speak out. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Killer facts: The scale of the global arms trade

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Sudan | Child holds bullets

Weapons and ammunition in circulation

Total current military stocks of China, USA, Russia, India, France and UK:

  • 15,426 Battle tanks
  • 17,816 Armoured combat vehicles
  • 36,621 Large calibre artillery systems
  • 7,644 Combat aircraft
  • 1,485 Attack helicopters
  • 269 Warships
  • 527 Heavy unmanned aerial vehicles [Source: The Military Balance]
  • 875 million small arms and light weapons are estimated to be in circulation worldwide. [Source: Small Arms Survey]
  • Between 700,000 and 900,000 small arms are produced annually. [Source: Small Arms Survey]

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A Beginner’s Guide to Human Rights Jargon

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Still from 'Waiting For The Guards ' showing simulated torture. 'Waiting For The Guards ' is a film produced for AIUK as part of a campaign against the CIA's detention and interrogation programme which AI believes amounts to torture and degrading treatment contravening  Article 3 of the Third Geneva Convention – which prohibits the humiliating or degrading treatment of prisoners of war. Jiva Parthipan, a Sri Lankan performance artist assumes a stress position from one of the interrogation techniques.

Baffled by technical human rights terms and precise legal definitions? You’re not alone. Here’s a quick glossary of some of the most troublesome words and phrases.

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Will Progressives in the U.S. Congress Support Palestinian Children’s Human Rights?

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With just hours left before today’s deadline, 13 Members of Congress have now joined the call for Palestinian children’s human rights.

Led by U.S. Representative Betty McCollum, these elected officials are signing a letter (PDF) to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that urges him to raise the human rights of Palestinian children in his dealings with the Government of Israel.

Many – but not all – of the signers are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  But many members of the Progressive Caucus have yet to sign the letter. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Free Speech Should Be Worth More Than Diamonds in Angola

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Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry on May 5, 2014. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos shakes hands with US Secretary of State John Kerry on May 5, 2014. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

How many attempts by your government to keep you quiet through harassment, arrests and trials would it take before you stopped trying to hold them to account? For Rafael Marques, nothing the Angolan government has thrown at him will keep him silent. Rafael goes on trial this month for writing a book accusing army generals in Angola of alleged human rights abuses. We are calling on the US State Department to raise our free speech concerns for Rafael and all citizens to the Angola government. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Four Questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu

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(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give two major speeches in Washington, DC.  The first is Monday at the conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  The second is on Tuesday before the U.S. Congress.

Tuesday’s speech has been generating headlines, with more than 30 Members of Congress reportedly declaring that they will not attend.  But despite the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress, the policies of his government are what deserve real scrutiny.

Here are four key questions that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have to answer while he makes the rounds in Washington, DC: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST