What a weekend! We just wrapped up our 2014 Human Rights Conference in Chicago.
It was one of the largest annual conferences in Amnesty USA’s history, we had an amazing time and we wanted to share 5 highlights with you:
Even by the standard of low expectations set for a trip described as fencing-mending, President Obama’s public silence on Saudi Arabian human rights spoke loudly today.
There was no open mention of the Saudi crackdown on peaceful political activists, a crackdown that brands anyone who speaks out a criminal and sends them to jail. There was no clear support for religious minority groups who are standing strong for their right to practice religion.
There was public silence on the rights of women, even as Saudi women themselves are taking to the roads on Saturday to defy the world’s only ban on women driving.
Pat yourselves on the back, stamp your feet, give a (potentially) inappropriate shout of glee wherever you happen to be at this moment, or at the very least, indulge in a slow clap.
35,544 Amnesty USA activists stood with the women and girls in Mozambique who marched in the streets of Maputo to demand the revocation of a proposed revision to the criminal code allowing a rapist to avoid punishment if he married the survivor.
The Mozambique government listened and it has been removed from consideration!
Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:
On Friday, President Obama is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, a country whose government is highly repressive. But instead of raising human rights, Obama’s trip has been described by The New York Times as focused on “fence-mending.”
This is the wrong approach.
As we say in our Amnesty International letter to President Obama:
For too long, the U.S. has put geopolitics and access to energy over support for human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations.
This Friday, President Obama is going to Saudi Arabia. But despite the Saudi Arabian government’s terrible record on human rights, the White House hasn’t said that human rights will be on the agenda.
Over 50 Members of Congress beg to differ. A growing number of U.S. representatives have signed a bipartisan letter calling on President Obama to stand up for human rights when he meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.
Here are three ways you can take action to make sure President Obama makes human rights a priority when he visits Saudi Arabia:
By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA Chair of the Board of Directors
As Americans and people around the world grow increasingly wary of the U.S. government’s mass surveillance program, it is our obligation to speak up.
As a former prisoner of conscience in South Africa during the apartheid era, I know from personal experience just how important it is to protect our fundamental freedoms. And make no mistake: the right to privacy is absolutely fundamental to a free society. True, many of us broadcast selfies and personal details of our lives on social media every day. But that is our right and our choice. It does not give the government the right to collect and store every piece of data about us, without our consent.
The cost of widespread government surveillance is steep. The knowledge that everything we do can be monitored will change the way we act and what we say. This is how governments create a climate in which people fear the consequences of expressing themselves openly and worry their beliefs and activities can be used against them.
Ali Ismail Korkmaz was among those killed during the Gezi protests in Turkey last June. He would have celebrated his twentieth birthday today. Today, let’s work to ensure that his family sees justice done.
Korkmaz was savagely beaten on June 2, 2013 during the Gezi Protests. In a statement to authorities before he died, Korkmaz he described the attack:
By Natalie Butz, Communications Specialist at Amnesty International USA
On Wednesday, President Obama announced that he strongly supports declassification and public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture since 9/11.
This is a huge step forward in our effort to release the report! Release of this report will help us ensure that the CIA never uses torture again.
A National Tragedy
Once again, Turkish streets are filled with voices of protest. And once again, those voices are choked with tear gas and buffeted by water cannon. The scenes on television and social media seem terribly similar to those which shocked the world during the Gezi protests this past June.
In fact, the immediate catalyst for these protests is directly tied to the terrible costs of police repression during the Gezi protests.