Free My Husband

Picture of Lhamo Tso

Lhamo Tso - wife of Dhondup Wangchen © Amnesty International

My name is Lhamo Tso and I’m writing today to ask for your help securing the release of my husband, Dhondup Wangchen.

In 2008 Dhondup made a film called “Leaving Fear Behind,” capturing the voices of fellow Tibetans on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. China was awarded the prestigious Games with the hope that human rights in Tibet and elsewhere in China would improve.

Instead, China’s repression in Tibet has only worsened.

Attempts by Tibetans to secure their human rights are routinely crushed. Dhondup has been punished severely. He was tortured and held without charge for nearly a year, then sentenced in a secret trial to six years imprisonment for “inciting separatism.”

My husband has committed no crime.


Activists Rally In DC For Human Rights

By Dana Watters, Amnesty Get On The Bus Volunteer

Even at nine in the morning on a Friday, when most of us would normally be counting down to the weekend, the energy in the Foundry in Washington, DC is phenomenal. In the sunshine outside, groups color flags in support of Filep Karma, while inside roses and key actions are passed around for signatures. Larry Cox hasn’t even arrived yet, and everyone is already buzzing with excitement.

By the time everyone has settled inside for the opening speeches, the count is well over one hundred Amnesty International activists. The various speakers infect the crowd with even more passion and anticipation, reaching a pinnacle when Larry announces that he has decided that joining us for Get on the Bus is more important than going home to meet with the IRS.

The group splits, half heading to demonstrate for the Women of Zimbabwe (WoZA) at the Zimbabwe Embassy and half for Walid Yunis Ahmad at the Iraqi Consulate. We march in long ovals, chanting and holding our signs, the very picture of peaceful protest. At the Iraqi Consulate, faces peer out from the windows and passers by stop to watch.


Human Rights Activists in China Locked Up For Speaking Out

China expressed outrage over the Nobel committee’s decision to award its prestigious Peace Prize to incarcerated Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.  But the real outrage is China’s treatment of those who dare to speak truth to power.

Liu is just one of many Chinese human rights activists who currently languish in jail in the country (you can take action for Liu here). They are prisoners of conscience, jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The human rights movement in China is growing, but those who attempt to report on human rights violations or challenge government policies face serious risk of abuse. The authorities make frequent use of vaguely-worded charges to silence and imprison peaceful activists, such as “subversion of state power” (the charge which gave Liu a 11-year sentence), “endangering state security” and “separatism”.

Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, became another victim of this crackdown when she was placed under house arrest after she returned home from visiting Liu in prison after he had won the Nobel prize.  She joins other prominent Chinese activists who have been targeted for daring to criticize the government.  Below we profile five human rights defenders currently locked up in China for speaking out.

Liu Xianbin, 43
Detained since 28 June in Suining Province, Sichuan

Liu XianbinThe prominent Sichuan democracy activist has been held on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” since being seized by security officers at his home four months ago. Local human rights activists believe he is being punished for his activism and defence of human rights. Liu was first imprisoned in 1992 for his participation in the 1989 pro-democracy movement. In 1998, he co-founded the Sichuan branch of the China Democracy Party. The following year, he was sentenced to 13 years in jail for “subversion of state power”. After his release in November 2008 he continued to speak out against the Chinese government. He was a prominent supporter, together with Liu Xiaobo, of Charter 08, a proposal for fundamental legal and political reform in China that aims to achieve a democratic system that respects human rights. He has also published articles on human rights and democracy and worked to increase public awareness of other persecuted activists. Liu is currently awaiting trial.


Get on the Bus for Human Rights

Chances are, if we’ve met, you’ve heard me talk about Get On The Bus for Human Rights (GOTB)! I’ve got several versions under my belt — the PowerPoint presentation, the 5 minute DVD, and a Twitter-friendly elevator pitch, but basically:

“We are the largest grassroots event organized by Amnesty International USA members. Take action with us on the third Friday in April – that’s today! Speakers a.m. Rallies p.m.”

The idea was simple: Take your activism to the next level. Members of local AIUSA chapter Group 133 from Somerville, MA were working on the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who is best remembered as an environmental defender. He was among the leaders of peaceful protests against the environmental exploitation by oil companies and physical abuse by security forces in the Niger Delta region.

According to GOTB historians, one group member wanted to hop on a bus down to New York City to visit the Nigerian Consulate. After all, why not hand deliver our letters and call attention to our concerns in person?

Thirty people rode down to NYC that first year in support of human rights. Since New York City is relatively close to Boston and hosts diplomatic offices for practically every nation in the world, it’s been easy to continue our annual human rights pilgrimage. We now estimate around 1,000 people participate, taking peaceful action on behalf of three or more cases in one day.

As we approach our 15th anniversary, we can celebrate many successes including: calling attention to femicides in Guatemala, highlighting the failure of Guatemalan authorities to adequately investigate murders of over 1,900 young women; helping to secure the release of Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, Ethopia’s most prominent human rights defender; and successfully lobbying TIAA CREF to adopt socially responsible investment policies.

Here’s the line-up of what we’ll be supporting today during GOTB 2010:

  1. Calling for the release of Sri Lankan journalist, J.S. Tissainayagam who was recently sentenced to 20 years of hard labor for commentary that was often critical of the Sri Lankan government; one of the last columns published before his arrest was titled “Child soldiers: What the govt. report did not report.”
  2. Keeping the pressure on the Myanmar government to release Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and all Burmese political prisoners. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the past 20 years, in detention or under house arrest. She continues to be held under house arrest without charge or trial.
  3. Demanding that Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen be released from prison immediately.  He was handed a 6-year prison term after a secret trial that found him guilty of ‘subversion’ for producing a documentary giving voice to Tibetan grievances under Chinese rule.
  4. Calling upon the Democratic Republic of Congo to support women’s rights defenders who have come under severe threat.

Visit our Twitter page and our website, where you’ll find all the updates on today’s events.