My Brother Went to War in Gaza, I Stayed Back as Amnesty International Israel Director

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City's al-Tufah neighbourhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014. (Photo credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City’s al-Tufah neighborhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014 (Photo credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images).

By Yonatan Gher, Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel

My brother and I are experiencing the current Israel-Gaza conflict quite differently. He is 20, serving out his military service and has been fighting in Gaza. I, on the other hand, am the Executive Director of Amnesty International Israel, an organization that is now heavily involved in documenting and campaigning on apparent crimes perpetrated by both sides of this conflict. I am also a conscientious objector.

My position does not diminish from the fact that I spend my days worried sick about him and other family members in similar situations. When you have such complexity in a family situation, humor is often the best approach, and so we joke sometimes that if the rest of the world heeds Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, I’ll be coming for his gun first.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How This Week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Can Help End Violence Against Women in Morocco

10525691_10152159731006363_1431448139914498518_n

While Morocco has amended a law that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims if they are younger than 18, there are still numerous legal and procedural ways in which it actively discriminates against women and girls (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty International USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International Country Specialist for Morocco and the Western Sahara

This week, President Obama will welcome nearly every African head of state to Washington, D.C. for the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. As one of America’s oldest and most strategically important allies, Morocco is expected to participate in the conference.

Morocco’s continuous efforts to appear as one of the region’s most stable and progressive countries provide human rights activists and U.S. government officials a unique opportunity to successfully pressure Morocco to end violence against women.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Searching for Sombath: What is Laos Hiding?

Sombath Somphone's wife, Ng Shui Meng, handles a 'missing person' poster of her husband at Saoban, a store selling Lao Village handicrafts that she established with her husband. (Photo credit: Gilles Sabrie/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sombath Somphone’s wife, Ng Shui Meng, handles a ‘missing person’ poster of her husband at Saoban, a store selling Lao Village handicrafts that she established with her husband. (Photo credit: Gilles Sabrie/LightRocket via Getty Images)

By Claudia Vandermade, Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

It’s always in the eyes. When we meet with the families of the disappeared there are a range of messages in the eyes – from fear to loss to sorrow – but also an occasional flicker of hope. Dr. Ng Shui-Meng came to Washington, D.C. recently and expressed all these feelings plus one other – determination.

Ng Shui-Meng is demanding an explanation for the December 15, 2012, disappearance of her husband Sombath Somphone from a police checkpoint in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

VICTORY: Meriam Released Thanks to Your Help!

10488153_10152186339041363_111531799020186828_n

By Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA Deputy Executive Director of Campaigns and Programs

Great news! After constant campaigning and unwavering support on the part of more than a million Amnesty activists like you, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death because of her religious beliefs, is free and arrived in Italy with her family yesterday.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

TAKE ACTION: No One Should Have to Marry Their Rapist

protest.jpg

By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist 

Each of us has autonomy over our own body: we all have the right to make our own decisions about our healthcare, reproduction, and sexual lives, and we should be able to do so without living in fear of violence or discrimination. No matter where you live, no matter who you are, it’s your body and your rights.

Yet far too many are deprived of the basic human rights over their own bodies, including the right to be free from violence, sexual, assault, and rape. Such violence against women is part of a global culture of discrimination, but in the Maghreb region of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, discriminatory legal provisions help enable rampant sexual violence against women and girls.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The United States is Not Just a Bystander in Israel-Gaza Violence

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three  medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit:  Amnesty International)

U.S.-made Hellfire missile linked to killing of a child and three medics in Gaza by Israeli forces during operation Cast Lead, January 4, 2009. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

This past week, Israel has been carrying out air strikes and other military operations that have resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of them civilians not directly participating in hostilities.

The U.S., as the largest foreign supplier of weapons, munitions, police equipment and devices, as well as training and techniques to Israel, bears a particular responsibility for the deployment of the weapons it provides.

Amnesty International is calling for a U.N.-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes on Gaza and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.  Amnesty is also calling for a UN-imposed comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Chile Might Be Reforming Its Total Abortion Ban

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet supports the decriminalization of abortion in cases of rape, when the life of the mother is at risk, and when the fetus is not viable (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Teresa Vargas Valdes, Chile Country Specialist and Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist

In Chile, it’s criminal to get an abortion, even when the life of the mother is at risk. Since 1991, several congressional bills have been presented in Chile in order to allow exceptions to this restrictive law, the most recent of which was in April 2012, when the Senate rejected three motions that would have decriminalized the legal interruption of pregnancy in three different contexts: when the life of the mother is at risk, rape and when the fetus is not viable.

The current total abortion ban allows for not such exceptions, and this extreme restriction on women’s reproductive health rights not only conflicts with international law, it also puts the lives of countless women and girls at risk.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

TAKE ACTION: New Photo Campaign for Disappeared Activist

Amnesty activists hold up "Where Is Sombath?" signs as part of a Flickr campaign to demand an investigation of his disappearance. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

Amnesty activists hold up “Where Is Sombath?” signs as part of a Flickr campaign to demand an investigation of his disappearance. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty International USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

Amnesty International is launching a “Where Is Sombath?” photo campaign on Flickr.

Activists from around the world are asking the government of Laos to investigate the
disappearance of development worker Sombath Somphone, and we’ll do it through our voices, print, photos and more. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Real vs. Fake: How To Authenticate YouTube Videos

Citizen Footage

During crises or disasters, YouTube is widely used to share footage – including a host of videos that are old or, in some cases, staged or faked. An enormous challenge for human rights workers, journalists or first responders alike is to separate fact from fiction. Now, there’s a website that can help.

The Citizen Evidence Lab - launched today – is the first dedicated verification resource for human rights workers, providing tools for speedy checks on YouTube videos as well as for more advanced assessment.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST