Many Amnesty International members have long experience with the challenge of opposing state-sponsored torture in other countries. But when human rights activists in North Carolina found that a trail of torture led to their own backdoor, they learned that talking to neighbors about human rights abuses is just as difficult as challenging a foreign government.
The Washington Post last week featured a story, “Hangar 3’s Mystery” about the work of North Carolina Stop Torture Now to document the activities of a small, nominally private air charter company, Aero Contractors, whose headquarters are at an airfield in Smithfield, North Carolina.
Wednesday, January 11 marked 10 years since the US government brought the first twenty Muslim men to the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in order to detain and interrogate them outside of the law.
Provisions that were snuck into the bill with little notice from mainsteam media could spell indefinite detention without a hearing, keep Guantanamo open, and hinder fair trials. With your help, we can ensure that human rights violating provisions in the draft bill do not become law.
Amnesty members deliver balloons to the Iran Mission to the UN to draw attention to its human rights abuses.
Poor Mohammad Javad Larijani has been putting so much effort into painting a happy face over Iran’s dismal human rights record, and yet the Iranian government has not succeeded in fooling the international community about its “commitment” to human rights.
Mr. Larijani, the secretary-general of Iran’s “High Council for Human Rights” had spent a good deal of time recently holding press conferences and interviews, apparently hoping that no one would notice that his honey-coated words bore no relationship to the ugly reality. However, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly vote on Monday to adopt a resolution soundly condemning Iran’s human rights record is the fourth slap in Iran’s face by UN entities in two months.
The brutal crackdown against Iran’s peaceful post-2009 presidential election protests has been the fodder for grim reports, statements and actions put out by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.
It’s also the backdrop for Zahra’s Paradise, a new graphic novel by writer Amir and artist Khalil (they use only their first names).
Although it might be difficult to imagine that the ugly violence could be turned into a ‘comic strip’, the graphic novel turns out to be an ideal vehicle—perhaps even the only possible vehicle—to convey the extent of the horror that affected and continues to affect millions of Iranians.
This week marks the four year anniversary of the Nisour Square massacre, where on September 16, 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were allegedly shot and killed and dozens more injured by Blackwater (now known as Xe) security contractors employed by the Department of State.
Five eyewitnesses insisted that the company guards fired without provocation, forcing civilians and Iraqi Police to run for cover.
The incident gained worldwide attention and highlighted the consequences of the U.S. government’s increased privatization of military and security functions. Today it is a reminder that after four years, Congress has still failed to clarify and strengthen jurisdiction of U.S. courts over its security contractors operating overseas by passing the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.
Turkey, more than most countries, is a place where forgetting the past has become a central component of national culture. This August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared, is a time when Turkey should renew its efforts at uncovering and facing some of the uglier pages of that past in the hopes of creating a freer, more democratic future.
This week marks the second anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, between government forces and the opposition Tamil Tigers. The Tigers were seeking an independent state for the Tamil minority on the island. As documented by Amnesty International and a recent U.N. panel report, there are credible reports that both sides committed gross abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, including war crimes. Yet no one has been held accountable for these crimes.
We know that the Sri Lankan government won’t effectively investigate these abuses.
So Amnesty International has been campaigning for an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka. On March 15, we took to the streets in Chicago to demand justice in Sri Lanka. In New York City, Amnesty International activists gathered outside the Sri Lankan Mission to the U.N. on April 8 as part of “Get on the Bus – New York.” On April 15, we demonstrated outside the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington as part of “Get on the Bus – DC.” More recently, as shown in the photos above, Amnesty members in other parts of the U.S. have joined in calling on the U.N. to hold an international investigation on war crimes in Sri Lanka.
It would be a great help if we can get the U.S. government to publicly support our call for an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka. Please write the U.S. government today, so that the victims and their families can finally receive truth and justice.
The report found credible allegations that tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the final months of Sri Lanka’s civil war in early 2009, and that both the government forces and the opposition Tamil Tigers violated international law, including committing war crimes. The panel recommended, among other things, that the U.N. establish an international investigation into these allegations.
Today, Ban’s spokesperson explained that Ban would not initiate an international investigation into these allegations unless the Sri Lankan government consented or he was asked to do so by a U.N body such as the Security Council, the Human Rights Council or the General Assembly.
Well, the Sri Lankan government isn’t likely to consent. They’ve rejected the panel’s report, calling it “flawed” and “biased.” President Rajapaksa has called for mass protests against the report on May 1.
We’ll need action by U.N. member states to establish an international investigation. The U.S. government could play a vital role in this effort. Please write to Secretary Hillary Clinton and ask her to support the establishment of an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka.
Yesterday, the United Nations advisory panel on accountability in Sri Lanka turned over its report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The panel had been established by Ban last June to advise him on how to pursue accountability for reported war crimes and other human rights abuses committed by both the government forces and the opposition Tamil Tigers during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war (which ended with a government victory in May 2009).
While the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said yesterday that the U.N. intends to make the report public, he didn’t give a timeframe for doing so. It’s critical that the report be made public as a first step towards achieving accountability.
Amnesty International has been asking the U.N. to establish an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka. This past February, I accompanied Yolanda Foster, the Amnesty researcher on Sri Lanka, and Dr. Kasipillai Manoharan, the father of one of the “Trinco 5” students killed by the security forces in 2006, as we delivered to the U.N. offices in New York over 52,000 signatures on a petition to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for such an international investigation. Above is the trailer of a short film of our trip, which Amnesty has just released.
Please write to Ban Ki-moon and ask him to make the U.N. advisory panel’s report public. It’s important that the U.N. hears from everyone concerned about truth and justice for the victims and their families in Sri Lanka.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.