Throughout history, courageous and visionary people have sought to reflect what is universal about humanity. We call these people artists, whether they grasp a paintbrush or a microphone, publish photographs or books, because they create something that electrifies us. They are “gatekeepers of truth”, in the words of Paul Robeson, and truth is a burden to bear.
Take Saudi Arabian blogger, Raif Badawi, who received a sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for daring to spark social and political debate. Or artist Ai Weiwei, whose work exposing the limitations of expression imposed by the Chinese government has earned him beatings, stints in prison without charge, constant surveillance and restriction from leaving the country.
By Mansoureh Mills, Amnesty International campaigns on UAE, Iran and Kuwait
Sunday 12 April 2015 marks 1,000 days since Dr Mohammed al-Roken was locked up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following a massive crackdown on political and human rights activists. Across the world, Amnesty campaigners are doing all they can to fight for his release.
“You taught me the importance of trying to change things that look unjust,” Christian, Canada.
Amnesty International released its annual death penalty report last week, Death Sentences and Executions 2014, which tracks all known use of the death penalty on the planet from the past year. The report shows a large increase in global death sentences of 28%.
But the news isn’t all bad. Here in the United States, the death penalty’s steady decline continues unabated.
As the humanitarian crisis in Syria worsens, the darkness is literally spreading. More than 80 percent of lights have gone out across Syria since March 2011; in Aleppo, site of fighting for more than two years, 97 percent of lights are not working.
If you want to understand what that means, listen to this description from a Syrian surgeon in Aleppo:
“Marwan was on the operating table when the lights blinked and fizzed out,” the doctor said. “The nurse pulled her mobile phone from her pocket – generating the only light in the pitch-black basement. Others followed suit, producing just enough light to allow me to finish repairing his broken little body.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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.
On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.
Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Three Sudanese women, one of them wearing trousers, walk on a main street in central Khartoum on September 8, 2009. The thousands of women who wear trousers every day all run the risk of a flogging if police decide their clothes are provocative. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images
By Amal Habani, Winner of Amnesty International USA’s 2015 Ginetta Sagan Award
In July 2009 when my colleague was arrested and tried for wearing trousers in Khartoum, I could no longer stay silent.
Women and girls in Sudan are constantly confronted with obstacles imposed by the public order regime that hinder their freedom of movement, their freedom of association, and their ability to make personal choices on a daily basis. As a Sudanese woman, I had always encountered these problems and as such, aspired to become a journalist to speak out for social change.
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 if it weren’t bad enough. Iranian women face persistent systemic discrimination in terms of family law. New legislation being considered by Iran’s parliament is intended to roll back many of the gains women have made in the past decades and consign them to being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.
And on top of that, if they dare to protest about the inequities they suffer, they are sentenced to long prison terms, to be served in prisons where unsanitary conditions and medical neglect can quickly undermine their health. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.