One Big Step Closer Toward Transparency on CIA Torture

Yesterday, President Obama voiced his support for the release of the CIA torture report (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyImages).

Yesterday, President Obama voiced his support for the release of the CIA torture report (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/GettyImages).

By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA

On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he strongly supports declassification and public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture since 9/11.

This is a huge step forward in our effort to release the report! Release of this report will help us ensure that the CIA never uses torture again.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How the Academy Blew It

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of 'The Act of Killing' poses  during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of ‘The Act of Killing’ poses during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator and Max White, Amnesty USA Country Specialist for Indonesia and Timor-Lesté

I had every possible appendage crossed as the Oscar for Best Documentary was announced on Sunday evening. The best documentary, film, makeup (just take a look – you’ll see what I mean) and more was The Act of Killing. The Academy chickened out and went with safe; handing the award to one of its own, lest they risk discomfort.

And The Act of Killing is very discomforting. Joshua Oppenheimer and his Indonesian crew originally hoped to tell the stories of those who survived the 1965-66 death squads let loose on the land to slaughter, torture, and rape union members, ethnic Chinese and whole villages who were all assumed to be members of the Communist Party.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“I Believe Them to be Innocent”: Teenie Rogers on the Men Accused of Killing Her Husband

For nearly a decade, Teenie Rogers has been fighting for justice – but not in the way you might suspect.

In 1972 and ’73, three men were convicted of her husband’s murder and placed in solitary confinement following the murder. Together they are known as the “Angola 3.”

In a bizarre turn of events Teenie found herself fighting for justice – not just for her husband – but also for the men convicted of his murder.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

ACT NOW: Don’t Let the U.S. Hide Shocking Details About CIA Torture

Khaled al-Maqtari (Photo Credit: Private).

Khaled al-Maqtari (Photo Credit: Private).

There are some things we do know about U.S. torture practices.

What we don’t yet know is whether the U.S. Government will ever come clean about the torture of detainees since 9/11.

In the next 7 days, we have an opportunity to win a major, historic victory against torture.

Our sources tell us that shocking, unreported details about CIA torture after 9/11 are in danger of being marked “classified” forever – when we know that it is only by shedding light on the darkest periods of our history that we are able to move forward with integrity.

Lawmakers are deciding as early as next week whether to make these details public. We have 7 days to flood the switchboards.

Help ensure that the U.S. Government does not use torture – in our names and with our tax dollars – ever again. Call your Senator now.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Imprisoned For Refusing to Work on Military Projects “Harmful to Humanity”

Omid Kokabee

Omid Kokabee

It was the end of January 2011. Young Iranian physics whiz Omid Kokabee had just had a pleasant winter break visiting with his family in Iran and was eagerly anticipating returning to Austin to continue his doctoral studies in the Physics Department at the University of Texas. He was at the airport in Tehran when security agents approached him; instead of boarding his flight as planned, his life suddenly turned into a nightmare from which he has yet to awaken.

It is now three years later and Omid Kokabee sits in Evin Prison in Tehran, serving a ten-year prison sentence after being convicted in a Revolutionary Court of unsubstantiated charges of “communicating with a hostile government” (presumably the U.S.) and “accepting illegal funds” (apparently a reference to the stipend that graduate students at his department typically receive).

While in detention, he was held in solitary confinement, subjected to prolonged interrogations, and pressured to make a confession. His interrogators reportedly threatened that he would be tortured and that professors at Iranian universities with whom he had worked would be arrested. During questioning, he was reportedly made to write down details of individuals he had seen in embassies or at conferences, and was told by those questioning him that some of the people he had met were CIA operatives.

Amnesty International has declared him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his refusal to work on military projects in Iran and as a result of spurious charges related to his legitimate scholarly ties with academic institutions outside of Iran. AI calls for his immediate and unconditional release from prison.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

BREAKING: Abdullah al-Qahtani Again Under Imminent Threat of Execution

532069_10151342611886363_1783006419_nThere has been a horrendous, sudden spike in executions in Iraq.

Sources indicate that Abdullah al-Qahtani is once again under imminent threat of execution.

Your immediate action could spare his life.

Abdullah is one of six men who were reportedly tortured into confessing to murder and terrorism.

He was initially detained for immigration violations. Abdullah’s attorneys say they have compelling evidence of his innocence. He deserves to have his evidence heard by a court in a fair trial.

Last year, after four of his co-defendants were executed, Abdullah could have been executed at any time – but his life was spared.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

11,000 Reasons For Real Action in Syria

Syrian women, men and children, crossing the border to Jordan. Forced to leave everything behind, except what they can carry, they're running for their lives (Photo Credit: Sweaters for Syria).

Syrian women, men and children, crossing the border to Jordan. Forced to leave everything behind, except what they can carry, they’re running for their lives (Photo Credit: Sweaters for Syria).

By Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International

WARNING: Images below contain graphic content. 

Beaten, burned, bruised, strangled bodies lying on a dirty floor. Some show signs of starvation, others are missing their eyes, a number of them appear to have been electrocuted. The horror is nearly impossible to describe. But it is hardly surprising.

The thousands of photographs, part of a report published on Tuesday, provide evidence of the torture and killing of around 11,000 individuals detained in Syria between the start of the uprising in 2011 and August last year.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 Years: Time For Obama to Keep His Promise

A protester calling for the closing of Guantanamo in front of the White House in Washington on January 11, 2014 to mark the 12th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees. Today, January 22, 2014, marks the 5th anniversary after President Obama signed an executive order to close the facility (Photo Credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images).

A protester calling for the closing of Guantanamo in front of the White House in Washington on January 11, 2014 to mark the 12th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees. Today, January 22, 2014, marks the 5th anniversary after President Obama signed an executive order to close the facility (Photo Credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images).

By Rob Freer, Amnesty International USA Researcher. This post originally appeared on Al Jazeera under the title, “Guantanamo: 260 weeks and counting.”

A week, it has been said, is a long time in politics.

It is even longer for someone imprisoned thousands of miles from home with no indication of when, if ever, he will be released or brought to trial.

And if a week is a long time, what about five years?

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST