Whatever It Takes: Ending the #GameOfDrones

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This post is part of a series written by Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator Kalaya’an Mendoza from the road of the Game of Drones tour. Follow the tour on Tumblr and take action to prevent extrajudicial killings with drones and other weapons.

The rain falls hard in the north. In fact, it’s rained in every city we’ve visited. It poured all afternoon as we rode the long stretch of highway away from Ithaca and crossed the New York-Pennsylvania border. The rain finally stopped when we reached our motel for the night, and the supplies we have strapped to the roof of our car were soaked.

We checked in, and walked into our dark room, another room in another city. Across the darkness, I saw the red block numbers of the clock glaring at me. It was past midnight. We set to work unpacking, drying, and refolding hundreds of t-shirts. When I finally sat down hours later to work out the details of the next direct action training and finalize the next day’s agenda, I could feel the exhaustion of the road in my bones. Wearily, I looked at the clock. It was almost 3 a.m.

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The Plight of Guantanamo’s Cleared Detainees in A Powerful New Video

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The folks over at The Guardian released this creative animated video today based on the testimony of Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the detention facility but are still held.

Shaker Aamer is one of the people featured in the video. He has been detained for over 11 years without charge, despite being cleared to leave and despite UK Prime Minister David Cameron personally asking President Obama to return him to the UK. You can read Cameron’s letter to Amnesty International here.

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Former Child Soldier Thanks Amnesty Members After Being Released From Guantánamo

A watch tower is seen in the currently closed Camp X-Ray, which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba  (Photo  Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

A watch tower at Camp X-Ray, which was the first detention facility to hold ‘enemy combatants’ at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

From Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay and now the outskirts of Edmonton. Who would have thought that human rights campaigning that began with a short news report that a 15-year-old Canadian had been arrested by U.S. forces on the battlefield in Afghanistan in the summer of 2002 and continued through a decade of activism, media interviews and legal work while that same young Canadian endured the lawlessness and injustices of Guantánamo Bay; would now bring me to a maximum security prison outside Edmonton?

But that is where, after eleven years of working on his case, I recently traveled to meet and spend some time with Omar Khadr.

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Dirty Wars: It’s Time to Pick Sides

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This post is part of a series written by Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator Kalaya’an Mendoza from the road of the Game of Drones tour. Follow the tour on Tumblr and take action to prevent extrajudicial killings with drones and other weapons.

By the time the stragglers reached the auditorium at the Ithaca College showing of Dirty Wars, everyone was packed shoulder to shoulder in their seats, a solid mass of people talking excitedly and straining to get closer to the screen. I saw one young woman squirm through the crowd to find one of the last empty seats, wedging herself between two others.

A quiet slowly settled across the room and the film began, Jeremy Scahill’s voice carrying through the auditorium. The faces of children who have lost mothers and uncles and grandparents to U.S. strikes with drones and other weapons flashed across the screen. The film details the raids and strikes that characterize President Obama’s deadliest and most secret game: the Game of Drones.

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Why I Fight to End the #GameOfDrones

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This post is part of a series written by Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator Kalaya’an Mendoza from the road of the Game of Drones tour. Follow the tour on Tumblr and take action to prevent extrajudicial killings with drones and other weapons. 

As a young activist, I stood up for the first time when I was in middle school at a school board meeting on racial profiling. I was so nervous as I walked up to the microphone; sweat was beaded on my forehead and my heart was pounding in my chest. Though my voice was shaking, I found the courage to speak, but within a few sentences, I knew the board wasn’t listening.

My eyes passed over these people who were supposed to be our leaders, and I saw one of them nodding off. In a flash of anger, I decided that I would not be silenced. I turned to the crowd of people who had come with me that day and shouted, “What do we want?”

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Many Voices, One Fight: Building the Movement to Ending Obama’s Game of Drones

Drone model used for Amnesty's "Game of Drones" tour (Photo Credit: Amnesty International USA).

Drone model used for Amnesty’s “Game of Drones” tour (Photo Credit: Amnesty International USA).

By Kalaya’an Mendoza, Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator

As I write these words, the sun is just starting to come up on a crisp, clear Vermont day. It will warm up later, but the chill in the air and the turning leaves tell me one thing is sure: winter is coming.

As the seasons change, another year of the U.S. government’s shadowy ‘global war’ continues. The Obama Administration’s drone policy remains shrouded in secrecy despite serious allegations of unlawful killings. Amid raids and strikes, untold many have been killed and injured, and countless other lives remain perilously in the balance as President Obama plays the deadliest of games: the Game of Drones.

This fall, we’re standing up and saying this has got to end now. I’m taking the fight to campuses across the country, meeting people in classrooms and common rooms to recruit them into a growing movement calling on President Obama to release the names of victims of drone strikes, and end this Game of Drones!

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12 Photographs of Hope & Remembrance on 9/11

Today marks twelve years since the September 11 attacks, a crime against humanity. As we reflect on that day and all that has happened since, here are 12 images intended to inspire hope for a better future.

People at a candlelight vigil the night of September 12, 2001. New York City (Photo Credit: Lynn Johnson via Getty Images).

People at a candlelight vigil the night of September 12, 2001. New York City (Photo Credit: Lynn Johnson via Getty Images).

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First Look: New U.S. Drone Program Documentary

By Naureen Shah, Advocacy Adviser at Amnesty International USA

Today, filmmaker Brave New Foundation released this virtual legal debate on drone strikes, featuring Amnesty International USA and other leading human rights and civil rights organizations. Brave New Foundation’s full documentary on drone strikes will be released October 30. The virtual legal debate shows that too often, the U.S. government’s rhetoric has not matched the reality of U.S. policies and practices that treat the world as a global battlefield.

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Bradley Manning Verdict: Hysteria Over Leakers, Impunity for Human Rights Violators

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning arrives at a U.S. military court facility to hear his sentence in his trial at Fort Meade, Maryland on August 21, 2013 (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning arrives at a U.S. military court facility to hear his sentence in his trial at Fort Meade, Maryland on August 21, 2013 (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

UPDATE: It was reported on August 22 that Pfc. Manning is now publicly identifying as Chelsea Manning and requests that she be identified as such from now on. Amnesty International will now refer to her as Chelsea Manning out of respect for her wishes.

It has been 1,182 days since Pfc. Bradley Manning was arrested at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq for releasing classified information to Wikileaks. This morning, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison, as well as received a reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of his military pay, and dishonorable discharge.

He has already served more than three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions described by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane.

He will get credit for those more than 3 years of pre-trial confinement, including 112 days for being unlawfully punished by harsh conditions at the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps brig – a literal drop in the bucket compared to the enormous sentence he is facing.

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Life Under Pinochet: ‘I Remember Being Shown Some Very Severe Signs of Torture’

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In advance of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30th, we have the following feature on Augusto Pinochet’s regime.

Roger Plant joined Amnesty International in 1972 to cover the organization’s work on Latin America. A few months after Pinochet took power by force, he went to Chile to document the arbitrary detentions, torture and disappearances. The result was a groundbreaking report that helped shine a light on the reality of life in the Latin-American country.

As a young researcher, Roger Plant had only been working for Amnesty International for less than a year when Augusto Pinochet launched his coup d’état in 1973. With his feet barely under the desk, it was a baptism of fire – a seminal moment that would eventually define his career.

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