A Heartfelt Thanks

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we wanted to pause and give thanks to our members and supporters for helping to make freedom and justice possible for countless people this past year. Here are some highlights of the successes and progress you helped to make possible.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede of Cameroon

Release of prisoners of conscience

Facing calls from around the world, governments released numerous prisoners of conscience in 2012. From a young activist in Azerbaijan who protested the government, to a student in Cameroon who was imprisoned on charges of “homosexuality” to an Egyptian blogger who criticized the army’s abuse of peaceful protest, the power of your voices helped open prison doors for individuals at risk around the world.

A visit from a human rights hero

On her first visit to the U.S. in more than 20 years, Burmese democracy leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Amnesty Ambassador of Conscience Daw Aung San Suu Kyi joined Amnesty International USA to inspire the next generation of human rights activists in a town hall meeting with young people at Washington, D.C’s Newseum. We were both grateful and humbled by her presence.

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Rally for Filep Karma in Washington An Apt Metaphor

Today, Amnesty International activists and supporters rallied in front of the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC to raise their voices on behalf of prisoner of conscience Filep Karma, an activist who’s spent the last 7 years in prison for raising a flag.

The rally was held a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Indonesia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Entrepreneurship Summit.  Amnesty International urged Clinton to publicly state that human rights will play as important a role as trade and security in US–ASEAN relations.

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AIUSA says "Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka!"

AIUSA activists demand the release of Internally Displaced People in Sri Lanka. November 2009. (c) AI

AIUSA activists in Chicago demand the release of Internally Displaced People in Sri Lanka. November 2009. (c) AI

Across the U.S., from Boston to Chicago to San Francisco, Amnesty International activists are demanding:  “Unlock the camps in Sri Lanka!”

As the 26-year-old war between the Sri Lankan government and the opposition Tamil Tigers ended this past May, about 280,000 Tamil civilians fleeing the fighting were put in overcrowded, military-run camps which they were not allowed to leave.  The Sri Lankan government said that the civilians first had to be screened to determine if any of them were Tiger fighters.  Amnesty International has pointed out that this constitutes arbitrary detention and violates the civilians’ right to freedom of movement.

Although some civilians have been released from the camps, around 150,000 still remain and camp shelters have deteriorated as Sri Lanka has entered the rainy season.

Amnesty’s “Unlock the Camps” campaign calls on the Sri Lankan government to let civilians leave the camps if they wish, to put the camps under civilian (not military) management, and to allow aid agencies full access to the camps.

Earlier this month, AIUSA members gathered in Boston and San Franscisco signed petitions and postcards demanding that the Sri Lankan government “Unlock the Camps!” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST