How the Academy Blew It

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of 'The Act of Killing' poses  during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of ‘The Act of Killing’ poses during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

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.

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Sneaky Tricks Putin is Pulling to Stave Off Criticism During the Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at a welcoming event ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics (Photo Credit: David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images).

By Ludmila Krytynskaia, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist

President Vladimir Putin lifted a blanket ban on protests and rallies in Sochi shortly before the Olympic Games were launched, thereby fulfilling his promise to the International Olympic Committee to relax the rules governing protests in the city.

The easing of the protest ban coupled with the release of dozens of high-profile prisoners last month – including former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot – has led to speculation in the Western media about whether these decisions were a sign of a political thaw in Russia, a result of diplomatic behind-the-scenes maneuverings or just a public relations stunt to stave off criticism of the human rights situation in the country on the eve of the Olympics.

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How to Tell Which Crisis Images Are Real – And Which Are Fake

During Hurricane Sandy, NPR posted this image showing soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery guarding the tomb of the unknown soldiers. Though the outlet reported it was taken during the storm, it was actually taken several months before (Photo Credit: NPR).

During Hurricane Sandy, NPR posted this image showing soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery guarding the tomb of the unknown soldiers. Though the outlet reported it was taken during the storm, it was actually taken several weeks before (Photo Credit: NPR).

A few days ago, the Afghan government published an investigation into an airstrike by international forces on January 15, 2014, that reportedly killed several Afghan civilians. The investigation relied heavily on photographs and a video showing the aftermath of the strike.

In the context of the Houla massacre in Syria in May 2012, the BBC published a distressing image, showing a child jumping over a row of dead bodies.

During Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, NPR posted an image showing soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery weathering the storm and guarding the tomb of the unknown soldiers.

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Sentenced to a Psychiatric Hospital For a Peaceful Protest

Mikhail Kosenko stands in a defendant cage in a court in Moscow (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

Mikhail Kosenko stands in a defendant cage in a court in Moscow (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Mikhail Kosenko was there last year when tens of thousands gathered in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in protest of Vladimir Putin’s re-election. Video evidence indicates that he was protesting peacefully, yet he was arrested days later by the Russian authorities and charged with taking part in a riot and using violence against police officers.

Although many are being prosecuted for their involvement that day, Kosenko has been sent by the courts to a psychiatric hospital, where treatment is being forced upon him. The prosecution asserts that he is a threat to himself and others, yet there is no evidence of this.

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This is How You Fight Drones

Amnesty USA's Game of Drones action on the University of Texas- Austin campus.

Amnesty USA’s Game of Drones action on the University of Texas- Austin campus.

This post is part of a series written by Amnesty USA’s National Youth Program Coordinator Kalaya’an Mendoza from the road of the Game of Drones tour.Follow the tour on Tumblr and take action to prevent extrajudicial killings with drones and other weapons.

When I shut the classroom door, the only sound left was the buzzing of the dim fluorescent lights overhead. We could no longer hear the theater students practicing their monologues in the hallway, or the voices of the Amnesty members in the classroom next door frantically flipping through the report on drones in Pakistan as they made signs for our action the next day. “You’re sure you have time for this?” I asked Sahare, as I slid into the desk and took out my phone to record her message.

“Yes, of course,” Sahare said. Her sad eyes held mine, unwavering. “I need to do this as a tribute to my grandmother. Without her inspiration, I wouldn’t be here.”

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Hit and Run: Congress Must Not Let CIA Get Away with Murder

By Naureen Shah, Advocacy Advisor at Amnesty International USA

A year ago almost to the day, on October 24, 2012, a U.S. drone strike killed a 68-year-old woman named Mamana Bibi. She was gathering vegetables in her family’s large, mostly vacant fields in north Waziristan, Pakistan. We don’t know whom the U.S. intended to target, but it is hard to imagine that a policy that allows the killing of this grandmother, who was blown to pieces before the eyes of her young grandchildren, is anything but a catastrophic failure on the part of the U.S. government.

The latest revelation from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, reported in the Washington Post, suggests the NSA cast a “surveillance blanket” over parts of northern Pakistan, feeding enormous amounts of data to the CIA’s secret lethal drone program. Even if the NSA didn’t pick up chatter after the killing of this grandmother, the U.S. government claims that it conducts post-strike assessments of who is killed. It knew, or should have known, that something went wrong.

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