Why I’m Taking Action for Zunar

Drawing with embedded photograph showing one of this years cases for Write for Rights. All design assets associated with this campaign available here: https://amnesty.app.box.com/s/9w3s2c96tz7kl0i26gb914bj0ua1qvlb Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque faces a lengthy jail sentence after taking to Twitter to condemn the jailing of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Zunar is a political cartoonist well known for his satirical attacks on government corruption and electoral fraud. He now faces nine charges under the Sedition Act, a draconian, outdated law from 1948 dredged up to grant the government sweeping powers to arrest and lock up its critics. In the first six months of 2015, more than 40 journalists, academics, political activists and lawyers were interrogated, arrested or charged under the Sedition Act. The space for dissent and debate in Malaysia is disappearing fast.

By Harry Belafonte, artist and activist 

All my life I have used my art to fight for social justice. So when I see freedom of expression under serious attack, I must act.

That is why I stand with Amnesty International today in demanding justice for courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque, who is facing decades in prison for political Tweets he sent in February.

Join me. Urge the Malaysian government to immediately drop the charges against Zunar.

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After Paris: Don’t Sacrifice Human Rights in the Name of Security

By Dana Gallaty, Security with Human Rights Action Network

amnestyIt is concerning, though unsurprising, that some U.S. lawmakers’ and politicians’ initial reactions to the horrific attacks in Paris earlier this month were to respond to one set of human rights abuses by threatening another.

Last month, Donald Trump suggested American Muslims should be tracked and forced to carry identification cards denoting their religious beliefs. That statement—and the din of anti-Muslim fear-mongering on mainstream media right now— echo the anti-Semitism that preceded atrocities committed during World War II against Jews in Europe. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Letter from Shawkan Photojournalist Imprisoned in Egypt

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.

This letter was first published by Mada Masr here.

Amnesty International has collected nearly 90,000 signatures worldwide in a petition calling for Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid’s release ahead of his first court session, scheduled for December 12 at Cairo Criminal Court.

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, more popularly known as Shawkan, has written a letter of thanks (below) to all those calling for his freedom.

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Much to Be Thankful For

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By Meredith Reese, Missouri State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator (SDPAC)

It had been twenty-two years, seven months, twenty-two days and countless hours since Reggie Clemons was sentenced to death until, on November 24, 2015, the Missouri Supreme Court threw out not only his sentence but also his murder conviction in its entirety. They sent the case back to the state, who has sixty days to decide whether to retry the case. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

When Educating Girls Means Putting Your Life on the Line

Fawzia Nawabi, investigator at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Mazar-e-Sharif, gathers information in a local women's prison.

Fawzia Nawabi, investigator at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Mazar-e-Sharif, gathers information in a local women’s prison.

By Elsie De Laere, Afghanistan country specialist

In Afghanistan, standing up for women’s rights means putting your life on the line—this includes the educators who “dare” to educate girls.

This 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we are highlighting the critical role of access to education for girl children—as well as the barriers to this right. And in Afghanistan, the threat to women’s rights defenders—including educators—is a huge barrier to girl children accessing their fundamental right to education.

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How to Access a Safe Education as a Girl-Child of War

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

Three years ago, a tenacious student in Pakistan named Malala Yousafzai brought to the world’s attention the hardship faced by millions of girls living in conflict zones around the world when she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban on her bus ride home from school. The Taliban had targeted Malala because of her advocacy for something that many of us take for granted: her right, and the right of all girls and conflict-affected children, to a safe education.

According to a recent joint report by UNICEF and UNESCO, one-half (nearly 30 million) of the world’s out-of-school children are those from war torn nations—and most are girls.

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Will you stand with Teodora?

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Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, one of 12 cases in Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign this fall, has been in prison since 2008 because she suffered a still-birth.  

Teodora still has 23 more years to serve out of a 30-year prison sentence, which is supported by El Salvador’s draconian abortion law. El Salvador has a total ban on abortion, meaning that abortion is illegal even if a woman’s or girl’s life or health is at risk, if the fetus is not viable, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
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Every Girl Deserves an Education—Make Sure She Can Get One!

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Education is a human right. It is both a right in itself and also a pathway to the enjoyment of other rights. Education is also an inalienable right for every child, and every child deserves the opportunity to receive one.

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One Year: Deadly Force From Missouri to Minnesota

Protestors, activists, and community members listen to speeches at a candlelight vigil held for Jamar Clark on November 20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Protestors, activists, and community members listen to speeches at a candlelight vigil held for Jamar Clark on November 20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

One year ago today, on the evening of November 24, 2014, I remember watching one of the most anticipated legal decisions since the O.J. Simpson verdict.  This was the night that St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting of Mr. Michael Brown.

One year later, my thoughts are 550 miles away in Minneapolis, MN, dealing with another police shooting of an unarmed black man. As in Ferguson, the community is protesting the targeting of black lives and the shooting of Mr. Jamar Clark. Community members are being arrested for expressing their constitutional right to peacefully assemble while the victim is being demonized as a criminal without the opportunity to defend himself, and the officers protected from the scrutiny of the citizens that they are sworn to protect. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Make a Call to Stand up for Refugee Rights in the United States

Refugees - Macedonia

This is a critical moment to stand up for refugee rights in the United States. Join us and call your Senator immediately to vote NO on the upcoming bill limiting entry to the U.S. to Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

The “American SAFE Act of 2015” that passed the House Thursday, Nov 19, now moves to the Senate. This bill would add increased and unnecessary screening and barriers for Syrian and Iraqi refugees (including requiring the Secretary of Homeland security, the Head of the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence to sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria).  If it were to become law, thousands of desperate refugees fleeing the armed group calling itself the Islamic State and other violence would pay the price.

Please, call your senator NOW. Click here to find your Senators by state. Ring both Senators to express your support for refugees and your rejection of this bill. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST