By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA board chair, and Steven W. Hawkins, Amnesty International USA executive director
Last week, over 1,100 human rights activists gathered in Brooklyn, New York. What for? Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting, appropriately themed this year “From Moment to Movement.” Braving rain and snow, people who have been members for decades –perhaps having joined as a result of the Human Rights Concerts of the 1980s—joined with those new to Amnesty– together reflecting on the spark of change that can begin in an instant and reverberate for years.
So that’s the ‘what’ – but why? What happens when you gather this powerhouse of activism in one place for one weekend? The answers say a lot about what it means to turn a moment into a movement.
A man holds a portrait of Cesar Chavez at a mass in Los Angeles. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
By Jesús Canchola Sánchez
Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. My grandmother is a year younger than him. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Cesar Chavez and my abuela (grandmother), Beatriz Soto, are a part of me. Their experiences, successes, and faults have constructed my identity in the United States. Without their stories, I wouldn’t have my voice. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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
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
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
On Monday, February 23, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appointed Randy Berry as the first ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Persons worldwide.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.