#Write4Rights Brings Human Rights Home

W4RHumanRights
On Human Rights Day, Amnesty International USA and Donda’s House are teaming up for the world’s biggest letter writing event, Write for Rights.

Join in from anywhere in the world as they add their voice to fight injustice and demand human rights for all. Your words have power! Write a letter and change a life by providing hope for a prisoner, demanding justice for families killed and shining a light on horrifying human rights abuses.

Starting at 6:30pm tune-in to the live event in Chicago to hear from artists, musicians and activists about raising awareness about gun violence and police brutality.

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Troy Davis: Hundreds of Thousands Acting, More Action Needed

troy davis petitions

Amnesty staff and coalition partners deliver 650,000 petition signatures to the Georgia Office of Pardons and Paroles on September 15th.

There are hundreds of solidarity events in the works and hundreds of thousands of petition signatures delivered for Troy Davis.

But while the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is hearing from the more than half a million of us who support Troy Davis, there is one other person, Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm, who can prevent this execution.

D.A. Chisolm can at any time seek to have the current death warrant withdrawn, and he can, instead of opposing, support Troy Davis’ petition for clemency.  And he should do so without delay.

Send a message to D.A. Chisolm right away.

Tiananmen 20th Anniversary Coming Up

© 1989 Hei Han Khiang

© 1989 Hei Han Khiang

As I’m sure many of you know, June 3-4, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Two decades after the crackdown, about 50 people who were involved in the demonstrations are believed to remain in prison. The Chinese authorities continue to refuse to carry out an open, independent and impartial inquiry into the events of 1989, and no one has been brought to justice for their role in the crackdown. Attempts to mark the anniversary of the crackdown have been suppressed, and public debate or discussion of the events is banned.

This Thursday, Amnesty International is co-sponsoring an event on Capitol Hill to commemorate the 20th anniversary. Speakers will include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as survivors of the Tiananmen crackdown and other prominent faith, government and human rights leaders, as well as Amnesty’s own T. Kumar.

If you’re not in the DC area, there are lots of other events happening around the country and around the world this week. Get involvedkeep the memory of Tiananmen alive!

Time to Start Writing, Stamping, and Sending!

Today is the first official day of Amnesty International’s 2008 Global Write-a-thon! Over the next week and a half, thousands of people around the world will be writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders, and other individuals at risk. Because so many people around the world are participating, authorities will receive a tidal wave of letters appealing for the human rights of these individuals, and they will find it hard to ignore.

There has already been a huge amount of interest in the US. Over 6,800 people have registered on the AIUSA website, pledging to write over 185,000 letters, and there has been support from different blogs, as well as on Facebook. There are even resources available in Spanish.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not your participation can really make a difference, all you have to do is check out this letter from Sami al-Hajj, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who was featured in the 2007 Write-a-thon, or read about some of the other successful cases.

Just because the Write-a-thon starts today doesn’t mean it’s too late! All you need is a pen, paper, stamps, and the desire to change someone’s life.

The Dangerous Act of Raising a Flag

With all the patriotic spirit and flag-waving (and questions about lapel pins) that we’ve been seeing lately surrounding the Presidential election here in the United States, it can be easy to forget just how powerful a symbol a flag can be, and how heavy a price can be exacted for raising the wrong one. But as election season draws to a close and we in the Individuals at Risk Campaign prepare for the annual Global Write-a-thon, I’ve been thinking a lot about Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, whose case is featured in this year’s Write-a-thon.

Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage

Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage

On December 1, 2004, some 200 people participated in a nonviolent ceremony outside Abepura in Papua, Indonesia, during which the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence, was raised. Filep and Yusak were later charged with rebellion for allegedly leading the flag-raising event. In May 2005, a court sentenced Filep Karma to 15 years in prison and Yusak Pakage to 10 years on charges of treason for having “betrayed” Indonesia by flying the outlawed Papua flag. Amnesty International considers Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage to be prisoners of conscience who have been detained purely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

So whether you’re feeling good or bad about the results of the election in the United States, if you see a flag waving, think about Filep and Yusak, and do something to help them by signing up for the Write-a-thon. Write a letter, save a life!