Johanna Lee contributed to this post.
Starting August 4, the Obama Administration will host a mini replica of an African Union (AU) summit. As many as 40 heads of state from the continent will be on hand for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a conference that will look at ways to boost trade and investment in the continent, tap into Africa’s burgeoning youth population, and promote good governance.
The idea for such a summit is laudable, considering the critical issues that will be discussed – issues that will continue to be key challenges for both Africa and U.S. policy towards the continent and as part of addressing the chronic need to raise educate the public about the realities of the different countries that make up Africa, unknown success stories and it’s untapped economic potential.
Unfortunately, unless a major change is made, the summit risks simply becoming an AU heads of state road trip with a photo-op at the end to confirm that they visited Washington before returning home.
Take action to stop torture at amnestyusa.org/torture.
1. Torture is Mainly Used Against Terror Suspects and During War
Amnesty International research shows that torture and other ill-treatment continue to be an issue in many countries facing real or perceived national security threats, including terrorism.
By Federico Boratto, Amnesty International Activist
My name is Federico Boratto. I’d like to share my connection to Amnesty’s Stop Torture Campaign – a connection forged by someone who loved me enough to share their experience with me.
On the first day of my internship at Amnesty International USA, when I learned about the global Stop Torture Campaign I could immediately feel my heart beat faster. I knew that I needed to be part of it.
The global effort to stop torture is an incredibly powerful and important undertaking. When one can intellectually understand the true horror of torture, the urgency of Amnesty’s work becomes clear. But another more personal reason also had a strong impact on me.
Darrell Cannon was tortured by three Chicago Police Department detectives at a remote site on Chicago’s South Side. Over course of a day, they pressed a cattle prod to his testicles and put it into his mouth. The officers attempted to lift him off the ground by handcuffs secured behind his back, contorting his upper body. They repeatedly made him believe that they had loaded a shotgun and rammed in into his mouth, breaking his tooth.
“These are all things they enjoyed doing,” Darrell Cannon told Amnesty International, his voice cracking.
He spent 24 years in prison on the basis of a coerced confession that was tortured out of him – ten of those years suffering further degradation in solitary confinement at Tamms Supermax prison.
Earlier this month, voters in Afghanistan cast their ballots in what is arguably the most crucial election in the history of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.The elections represent much more than the appointment of a president. For Afghanistan, which is nearing the end of a critical security transition, it signals the beginning of a new era.
The protection and promotion of human rights, especially those of women and girls, are critical to bringing security and stability to Afghanistan. Despite the challenging situation for women’s human rights in Afghanistan, women have worked hard to regain and advance their rights since the Taliban regime was ousted in late 2001.
By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General
The resounding victory for Kim Jong Un in North Korea’s parliamentary elections this past week reflects the “absolute support” of people in the country, according to state media.
However, it’s doubtful such support includes the hundreds of thousands of people – including children – that languish in political prison camps and other detention facilities. Or those that have been the victims of crimes against humanity as documented in a chilling U.N. report made public last month.
Indeed, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry report was unprecedented, stating: “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations…does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA
On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he strongly supports declassification and public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture since 9/11.
This is a huge step forward in our effort to release the report! Release of this report will help us ensure that the CIA never uses torture again.
By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator and Max White, Amnesty USA Country Specialist for Indonesia and Timor-Lesté
I had every possible appendage crossed as the Oscar for Best Documentary was announced on Sunday evening. The best documentary, film, makeup (just take a look – you’ll see what I mean) and more was The Act of Killing. The Academy chickened out and went with safe; handing the award to one of its own, lest they risk discomfort.
And The Act of Killing is very discomforting. Joshua Oppenheimer and his Indonesian crew originally hoped to tell the stories of those who survived the 1965-66 death squads let loose on the land to slaughter, torture, and rape union members, ethnic Chinese and whole villages who were all assumed to be members of the Communist Party.
There are some things we do know about U.S. torture practices.
What we don’t yet know is whether the U.S. Government will ever come clean about the torture of detainees since 9/11.
In the next 7 days, we have an opportunity to win a major, historic victory against torture.
Our sources tell us that shocking, unreported details about CIA torture after 9/11 are in danger of being marked “classified” forever – when we know that it is only by shedding light on the darkest periods of our history that we are able to move forward with integrity.
Lawmakers are deciding as early as next week whether to make these details public. We have 7 days to flood the switchboards.
Help ensure that the U.S. Government does not use torture – in our names and with our tax dollars – ever again. Call your Senator now.