These Senators are sick of US bombs killing civilians

Download PDF

Sa'da City, main roadIn a sign of growing concern regarding the U.S.-Saudi Arabia military alliance, 27 U.S. Senators recently backed legislation to stop a $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced bill S.J.Res 39 to block the Obama Administration’s latest billion dollar tank sale. On a procedural vote, the bill failed, but to even have a vote was a major shift in the “business as usual” climate of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The bill itself represents the rising tide of dissent in Congress and across the country over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia. In particular, there is increasing concern about Saudi Arabia’s military conduct in its armed conflict with the Houthi armed group in Yemen.

Together with its allies, Saudi Arabia has launched a devastating bombing campaign across Yemen, disrupting civilian communities and killing thousands. While all parties to the conflict have committed serious human rights abuses, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is the only party to the conflict to fight the war from the skies.

In spite of the evidence of Saudi Arabia’s air atrocities, the US approved sale of $1.29 billion of bombs in November 2015. In response, Murphy and Paul introduced legislation limiting sales of bombs and other air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia. The legislation conditions future sales on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to minimize harm to civilians and guarantee access to humanitarian aid for the Yemeni people.

Part of a US-made CBU-87 cluster bomb (in background) and fragment of BLU-97 cluster sub-munitions (in hand) dropped by Saudi-led coalition forces in the centre of al-Magash, a village west of Sa’da City.

Part of a US-made CBU-87 cluster bomb (in background) and fragment of BLU-97 cluster sub-munitions (in hand) dropped by Saudi-led coalition forces in al-Magash, a village west of Sa’da City.

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has utterly failed to differentiate between civilian and military targets, hitting schools, villages, hospitals, and places of worship. U.S. designed or manufactured bombs have been found in the rubble. The ongoing U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia put the Obama Administration at risk of being complicit in those violations.

Prior to the Senate vote, 64 members of the House of Representatives called on President Obama to postpone the arms sale to Saudi Arabia. In a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to the President delivered August 30th, the bipartisan group urged the President to pause the deal until Congress returned from its recess and could debate the sale.

These are just the latest examples of a rising tide of congressional dissent. Here are more:

  • March 2014: 70 members of Congress urged President Obama to address human rights violations in Saudi Arabia during the President’s visit to the country.
  • March 2015: 67 members of Congress urged King Salman to implement human rights reforms in his country.
  • June 2016: Rep. Conyers proposed an amendment banning the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. The proposal was very narrowly defeated, indicating Congressional concern over evidence that US cluster bombs were used in civilian areas in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

In a recent example of U.S. complicity, Amnesty International researchers determined that the bomb used in the August 15 bombing on a Doctors Without Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Yemen was a U.S.-manufactured bomb.

Amnesty International researchers previously documented 33 airstrikes that appear to have deliberately targeted civilians or civilian structures; such strikes are likely war crimes. In some of these cases, researchers found fragments of U.S.-designed or manufactured bombs among the ruins of Yemeni homes.

Displaced children carrying water; IDP camp in Khamir (Amran governorate).

Displaced children carrying water; IDP camp in Khamir (Amran governorate).

The war in Yemen has had disastrous consequences for the Yemeni people. The air, land, and sea blockade imposed by the coalition have made these dire humanitarian conditions worse, ensuring a chaotic environment in which Yemeni civilians must live. According to the UN, the conflict has led to the following realities:

  • 3,799 civilians have died
  • Over 6,000 civilians have suffered injuries
  • Over 3 million people are internally displaced.
  • 7.6 million people are struggling to feed themselves
  • 19.3 million do not have reliable access to clean water
  • 4.3 million women and children suffre from some form of malnourishment
  • Eight of every ten people in Yemen are dependent on humanitarian aid
  • Only 32% of promised humanitarian aid has been delivered to those who need it.

Its time for Congress and the White House to stop the U.S. arms sales that are fueling violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training? With a Chronic Human Rights Violator – Israel

Download PDF
TOPSHOT - Baltimore County Sheriffs officers gather after Baltimore Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all charges in his murder trial for the death of Freddie Gray at the Mitchell Court House June 23, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. Goodson, who drove the van in which Freddie Gray, a young African American, was transported before he died was acquitted of all charges including second degree murder and manslaughter. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Baltimore County Sheriffs officers gather after Baltimore Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all charges in his murder trial for the death of Freddie Gray at the Mitchell Court House June 23, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

When the U.S. Department of Justice published a report Aug. 10 that documented “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement, and culture of retaliation” within the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), there was rightly a general reaction of outrage.

But what hasn’t received as much attention is where Baltimore police received training on crowd control, use of force and surveillance: Israel’s national police, military and intelligence services. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

DatNav: How to Navigate Digital Data in Human Rights Research

Download PDF


From online videos of war crimes, to satellite images of rights violations in areas as reclusive as North Korea, to eyewitness accounts disseminated on social media, we have access to more relevant data today than ever before.

These new data streams open up new opportunities for human rights documentation, and have a profound impact on how we conduct research at Amnesty International. For example, we recently used cell-phone video footage and satellite images to uncover a likely mass grave in Burundi. Due to lack of physical access, our work on Syria also relies heavily on content shared through social media and satellite image analysis. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

3 Ways Saudi Arabia Is Abusing Human Rights – and How They’re Getting Away With It

Download PDF


Amnesty International is calling for Saudi Arabia to be suspended from the UN Human Rights Council – here’s why.

1. Crackdown on activists

Saudi Arabia has continued a sweeping crackdown on human rights activists. All of the country’s prominent and independent human rights defenders have been imprisoned, threatened into silence or have fled the country. More and more have been sentenced to years in prison under the country’s 2014 counter-terror law. Among the many people imprisoned is Raif Badawi’s lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Scores more were jailed under the law after unfair trials in 2015 and 2016, including human rights defenders Dr Abdulkareem al-Khoder, Dr Abdulrahman al-Hamid, Issa al-Hamid and Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, all founding members of the now disbanded independent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Happy Pride!

Download PDF


It’s June, and June means that we’re entering the heart of Pride season here in the United States. Around the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies are coming together to celebrate Pride.

At Amnesty International, we’ve launched our 2016 Pride Toolkit to help members and supporters take action at Pride events to promote LGBT human rights. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Iran Must Stop Arbitrary Arrests of Dual Nationals

Download PDF
with husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with husband Richard and their daughter Gabriella.

By Kaitlyn O’Shaughnessy

At any one time, there are around 10 million people in prison worldwide. Of these, an estimated 3.2 million haven’t yet had a trial. International human rights law prohibits arbitrary detention—detention that occurs for no legitimate reason or without legal process—and requires fair and independent public hearings to determine rights and obligations related to criminal charges.

Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines every individual’s right to be free from arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, while Article 10 enshrines an individual’s right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal when faced with criminal charges.

A recent uptick in arrests of dual nationals by Iranian authorities serves as a reminder that constant vigilance is required to ensure freedom from arbitrary detention and fair trial rights are respected worldwide. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Saving young lives from execution in Iran

Download PDF
Mohammad Reza Haddadi's execution has been postponed six times. © Private

Mohammad Reza Haddadi’s execution has been postponed six times. © Private

To mark 1 June – International Children’s Day – Raha Bahreini from our Iran team describes how Amnesty has managed to raise awareness about the death penalty and save juvenile offenders from the gallows in Iran.

It starts with a panicked phone call.

Our contact tells us that a juvenile offender (a person aged below 18 at the time of their crime) has just been transferred to solitary confinement – the final step before execution.

This is often our first glimpse of this young person and the desperate situation they are in. Why? Because the families of those on death row often fear reprisals if they publicize the plight of their loved ones. They sometimes believe that international lobbying and public campaigning will only complicate the situation and hasten the execution. At times, the authorities themselves give families false assurances, claiming that if the family does not publicize the case, their loved ones might be spared. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Renowned Physicist in Danger of Dying if Returned to Prison in Iran

Download PDF

Kokabee nineIt didn’t have to be this way. A promising young physicist, beloved by his colleagues, lies in a hospital bed with just one kidney left. The other was removed because cancer had spread to the point where it was no longer salvageable. If he had only been permitted to get the treatment he needed earlier, he might still have his kidney today. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

IDAHOT 2016: LGBT Human Rights Around The World

Download PDF


Today, May 17, Amnesty International celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This IDAHOT, Amnesty International condemns the ongoing discrimination, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“I will never stop” – a mother’s campaign to free her son in Iran

Download PDF


By Ezat Taheri, mother of prisoner of conscience, Mohammad Ali Taheri

Iranian spiritual teacher and prisoner of conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri has been in pre-trial solitary confinement for five years, and has launched over a dozen hunger strikes in protest at his detention. His mother Ezat tells us of her long fight for his release:

The day my son was arrested, every single cell inside my body was trembling with fear. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST