Imprisoned for Photography: Shawkan, 2016 Write for Rights Case

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

By Geoffrey Mock, Middle East Country Specialist

The future of Egypt is now behind bars. A generation of young Egyptians – activists, artists, journalists, lawyers and others – who embodied the promise of Tahrir Square and who offer a creative vision of a new Egyptian society – has been shut down and silenced because of their beliefs. Mass protests have given away to mass arrests.

One of the more than 16,000 people caught up in these arrests is Mahmoud Abu Zeid, a young Egyptian photojournalist who goes by the name Shawkan. In August 2013, he was taking photos of a peaceful sit-in when security forces moved in violently. In contemporary Egypt, that act of taking photos is a crime, one that now could potentially have him facing the death penalty.

This is how Shawkan later described that day: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why I Decide to Say “I Welcome” to Refugees

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By Kit O’Connor, AIUSA Legislative Coordinator for Vermont

“I Welcome.” Think about that phrase for a second. It’s really the perfect thing to ponder this holiday season. How do we welcome? Who? Why? And who isn’t welcomed? Why? “I Welcome” refers to the global campaign from Amnesty International that focuses on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Now, more than ever, this campaign is crucial in the United States.

Stories about an increase in hate crime, the possible reintroduction of torture or the creation of a Muslim registry have my head spinning. One solution? Well-conceived, intentional action. Right now, while there are many people and organizations motivating and calling people to action, there are many Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) members taking action with our Legislative Coordinators (LCs) in individual states. I’m an LC in Vermont and, like my colleagues, I’m busy saying “I Welcome.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Update on Amnesty’s Post-Election Strategy and Work

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - SEPTEMBER 06: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pauses during a campaign event September 6, 2016 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Trump participated in a discussion with retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – SEPTEMBER 06: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pauses during a campaign event September 6, 2016 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

We’ve been fighting the bad guys since 1961 – and we aren’t about to stop now.

Amnesty International is a guardian of human rights in the U.S. and around the globe. We do this by holding all human rights abusers accountable. We don’t differentiate by political party or take sides in elections. We take the side of human rights, and that’s why we won’t stand by and let President-elect Donald Trump and his administration – or anyone else – deny people their human rights and freedoms. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Posted in USA

Six Trump Proposals That Must Never Become Policy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa © Matt A.J.

 By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA

In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.

Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Race and the Death Penalty: “Just a Bunch of Racists”?

390763 02: A protester holds a sign up against a backdrop of palm trees during an anti-death penalty protest on the eve of the second federal execution in nearly four decades June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. Juan Garza, who was sentenced to death by a judge who believes that the death penalty is morally wrong, is scheduled to die a week after the killing of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh in Terra Haut, ID. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

At a recent public debate of California’s competing ballot initiatives on the death penalty, Paul Pfingst, a former district attorney for San Diego County and a supporter of Prop 66, spoke about the role race plays in the death penalty.

He said that race plays a role in every facet of the criminal justice system, but the notion that “the people making these decisions [about death penalty sentencing] are just a bunch of racists who don’t care about these things, is just unfair.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 Reasons Women Need More Seats at the Peace Table

Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) This file picture taken 14 December 2005 at the Elysee Palace in Paris shows (1st Row L to R) Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (C) and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman signing the Dayton peace accord on Bosnia, as (2d row L to R) Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, US President Bill Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac look on. 14 December 2005 will mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton peace agreement which ended more than three years of bloody inter-ethnic war and divided the country into a shaky system of separate but equal entities. AFP PHOTO/FILES/MICHEL GAGNE (Photo credit should read MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Paris, FRANCE: (FILES) This file picture taken 14 December 2005 at the Elysee Palace in Paris (MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Christina V. Harris, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

“When will we learn that no peace can be sustainable and just without the active and meaningful participation of women?” said Gorana Mlinarević, Nela Porobić Isaković and Madeleine Rees, commenting on the lingering ethnic tensions and gender inequality in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20 years after the Dayton Peace Agreement was made. The Dayton agreement, which was formally mediated, negotiated, witnessed, and signed exclusively by men, is today thought by many to have been a failure.

The agreement came about at a time when just 11 percent of peace agreements included even a reference to women, and five years before the passing of the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325—the first UN resolution to acknowledge war’s unique, and too often unrecognized, impact on women and girls. Of immense significance, it was also the first resolution to urge UN Member States to increase the participation of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts—an official move away from the days of Dayton where only male leaders of warring parties were seen as acceptable contributors to peacemaking. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

When Fear Stopped me from Fighting Xenophobia

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes. Education for refugee children is a pressing global issue that needs long-term solutions. United Nations conventions have fallen short of meeting the needs of displaced populations, even the most vulnerable ones. AP/Hussein Malla, File

A Syrian refugee girl sits in a classroom at a Lebanese public school where only Syrian students attend classes.  AP/Hussein Malla, File

By Allyson Fritz, member of the Amnesty International’s East Bay chapter

Since the moment I handed over the keys of my Toyota Celica to its new owner, I’ve replayed the conversation I had with the buyer over and over in my head. He had responded to my Craigslist ad and we met to negotiate the price. During our small talk he took me completely by surprise when he revealed some of his views on immigration. This included his belief that “Mexicans only come to the U.S. to take advantage of our welfare system.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

America Isn’t Itself When It’s Afraid

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By Ali Albassam

“Never make an emotional decision.” That’s sound advice for any individual facing a dilemma. That same advice should also extend to entire countries, and to governments. Perhaps it explains why so many historical human rights abuses have taken place when a country’s population is fearful.

Many people have become addicted to the 24-hour news cycle, which can amplify fears by sensationalizing threats. This makes the world feel smaller and makes danger seemingly closer than it really is. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What happens to deported Central Americans?

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Amnesty International’s new report, Home Sweet Home? Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador’s Role in a Deepening Refugee Crisis, documents the incredible levels of violence and impunity that are driving tens of thousands of people from these countries (known as the Northern Triangle of Central America) to flee their homes and seek asylum in the United States and Mexico.

It also investigates what happens to those Central Americans who are sent back to their countries of origin—often without receiving a fair hearing regarding the threats to their lives. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find this information: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The UN Sustainable Development Goals: Let’s Step it Up For Gender Equality!

UNPhoto/Sylvain Lietchti

UNPhoto/Sylvain Lietchti

By Nicole Van Huyssteen, Women’s Human Rights Co-group

Sixteen years ago, 189 world leaders gathered at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the Millennium Declaration, which set out a series of eight time-bound targets with an overall goal of reducing extreme poverty in its many dimensions by the year 2015. These targets — which became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — formed a blueprint which committed all nations and leading development institutions to a new global partnership to galvanize unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST