Tech and Human Rights: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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As someone whose job it is to take advantage of technological progress for human rights research and advocacy, I am a strong proponent of using new tools and methods to advance Amnesty International’s goals. There is a proven track record of how technology can help human rights researchers and defenders in their daily work. However, any debate on this topic should not overlook the increasing challenges and threats that new technologies and digital networks pose for our profession. I am increasingly interested in exploring this undeniable tension, and I am fortunate enough to moderate a panel related to this topic Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting in Brooklyn this weekend (full details below). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

#UnfollowMe: 5 Reasons We Should All Be Concerned About Government Surveillance

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By Erin Herro, Volunteer Fellow at AIUSA’s Security With Human Rights Program

Today Amnesty International launched #UnfollowMe – a campaign demanding an end to mass surveillance. And we released the results of a global poll of more than 13,000 people across every continent.

What’d we find? More than 70% of respondents worldwide are strongly opposed to the U.S. government monitoring their internet use. And in the United States, less than a quarter of U.S. citizens approve of their government spying on them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Moving Together to End Police Brutality

South African police block a march by protesting miners in Rustenburg after a security crackdown in the restive platinum belt where officers shot dead 34 strikers (Photo Credit: Alexander Joe/AFP/GettyImages).

I spend my evenings reading Twitter these days. Scroll, refresh. Scroll, refresh. I’m looking for news, yes, but I’m really looking to see if the people that I know who are protesting are still safe.

Last night, I clicked on a video of protestors gathered in front of the Ferguson police department chanting, “Why you wearing riot gear? We don’t see no riot here!” In the echo of that chant runs an anxiety based on experience: that the tension in each new moment could explode in a canister of teargas or pepper spray, in the blast of a sound cannon, in the firing of rubber bullets.

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Ferguson Resignations Underline Need for National Criminal Justice Reform

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Several Ferguson, Missouri officials have now resigned after the release of a scathing Department of Justice (DOJ) report on that city’s police department that documented a widespread pattern of racial discrimination. What is now needed is implementation of criminal justice reforms not only within Ferguson but also nationwide.

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An Iran Specialist Goes to Selma

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I spend much of my Amnesty International time working on Iran, but I just had to go to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” March 7, 1965—the day that about 600 peaceful African-American protesters attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in their campaign for voting rights were attacked and brutalized by state troopers and others.

I was privileged to be part of an Amnesty International delegation to the Selma Jubilee, headed by Executive Director Steve Hawkins, and including about 50 activists and staff from the Chicago area, St. Louis, Atlanta, New York and DC. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

From Ferguson to Selma: An Activist’s Journey

Larry Fellows III (right) traveled to Selma, Alabama with Amnesty International USA for the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday."  (Photo: Amnesty International)

Larry Fellows III (right) traveled to Selma, Alabama with Amnesty International USA for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

This post was originally published on Ebony

I’m riding with folks from St. Louis on a nine hour trip to Selma. A fellow activist, Tiffany, asks the group, “When did you realize you were Black?”I thought about that question and imagined how different this ride would have been in 1965. The fear of being pulled over by a police officer on a back road and beaten to death while being called “boy,” “monkey” or “nigger.”

We are still dealing with the fear of interacting with police today. Black people are being targeted by law enforcement at an alarming rate and a “routine” traffic stop can still become a death sentence. “This ain’t no walk in the park,” fellow St. Louis native, activist, and comedian Dick Gregory tells me as we stand in the warm sun waiting for President Obama’s arrival.

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8 Facts You Need to Know: Why We’re Suing to Stop Surveillance – and Protect Human Rights

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The U.S. surveillance machine is thwarting Amnesty International USA’s ability to protect people from human rights violations: including governments that torture, kidnap and extrajudiciallly kill people for their non-violent protest, dissent and activism.

That’s why Amnesty International USA is in court today, represented by the ACLU–because in a world under threat of constant, all-encompassing surveillance, our work to protect human rights is made much harder.

Here are 8 facts you need to know about how Amnesty International works – and why mass surveillance harms our ability to protect human rights: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

3 Must-Watch Videos, 13 Lost Years: Shaker’s Story

Shaker Aamer

Shaker Aamer

There’s a superstitious part of me, and a worried part of me. And both parts of me fear this Saturday: it marks thirteen years since Shaker Aamer was airlifted to Guantanamo.

My fear is that in Congress, the fear-mongers who are seemingly relentless in their drive to keep Guantanamo open forever—and to keep Shaker Aamer in detention without charge until he dies. They are encouraging public panic and anxiety over the prospect that anyone at Guantanamo might either go free or face a fair trial.

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