Let’s all take a trip down memory lane to our Sesame Street days and engage in the following exercise of “Which One Doesn’t Belong”:
For social justice activists, the speed with which news now crosses the globe creates a tremendous opportunity to respond to human rights issues as they emerge. We can now find out about and alert the world to abuses almost as they happen, and people can act immediately to support human rights defenders and others on the front lines of crises.
However, the sheer number of people who struggle for the most basic human rights can be overwhelming. Although it is easy to get dismayed, we must stay heartened that we can make a difference in an individual’s life even from thousands of miles away.
By Tanya O’Carroll, Technology & Human Rights Project Officer and Danna Ingleton, Individuals & Communities at Risk Research & Policy Advisor
All over the world, individuals who speak up for and defend the rights of their communities often endure unspeakable acts of violence for doing so. At the Front Line Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) this month, we heard testimony from numerous HRDs who have been threatened, defamed, attacked, injured and tortured in retribution for their human rights activities. It quickly became clear that the key lesson of this gathering is to share what can best be described as survival strategies – behaviors, approaches and interventions that act as a counter balance.
One striking theme this year was in relation to how technology (phones, computers, cameras, social media, software, and the list goes on) has become deeply entwined with the work of defenders and the types of threats that they face. This post explores some of those stories and asks questions about how we can support a safer environment for HRDs in their use of tech.
When a government cracks down on human rights, the rule of law is degraded.
On Oct. 7, Amnesty International USA and the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis hosted a discussion with Daniel Feldman and Pavel Ivlev about the erosion of rights in Russia and the impact it has on the legal fabric of Russian society.
Both men worked with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an Amnesty prisoner of conscience, who was once one of Russia’s most successful businessmen and CEO of Yukos Oil Company.
In mid-September, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action calling on the Honduran government to drop its unfounded charges against Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The organization warned, “If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.”
First, thank you to everyone who took action! Unfortunately, however, the judge did not listen to us. On September 20, 2013, she ordered Cáceres to be held in prison. She also ordered Gómez and Molina placed on probation.
At least eight thousand injured, at least five confirmed deaths (with strong evidence linking at least three of these deaths to police abuse), many thousands detained.
As this powerful video produced by Amnesty International shows, the human cost of the Turkish government’s decision to suppress peaceful protests this past summer was immense.
In a major report issued today, Amnesty International has given compelling and comprehensive documentation of these events, providing detailed evidence of Turkish authorities suppression of freedom of assembly and expression.
your voice I couldn’t hear
your smile I couldn’t see
My heart filled with memories
and the shared moonlight, only…
I write these words with extreme sadness, as of September 5, I know my fiancé, Nguyen Tien Trung, a prisoner of conscience in Viet Nam, is not being released as part of the amnesty issued by the Vietnamese government to mark National Day (September 2nd). Only 5 “national security” prisoners were released on this occasion, and only one of them is a well-known dissident – blogger Phan Thanh Hai (aka Anhba SG) of the Freelance Journalist Club – whose term of imprisonment would end in one month anyway.
Trung’s parents visited him on September 5 for a short 30 minutes, during which Trung only had time to list the books he wanted his parents to send him. As if he had no anticipation of an early release. Yet, September 16, his birthday, is approaching. And it is still difficult for me to think of Trung having to spend his 30th birthday in prison.
This is the first post of a series: “Technology for Human Rights Protection” with new entries being published every week or so. We will be discussing the latest innovations for human rights protection and how the human rights community writ large is or can be utilizing science, technology and open innovation for human rights defense. Posts primarily by @katiestriff and @tanyaocarroll, who work in the intersection between technology, science and human rights defense for @Amnesty and @amnestyonline, with the occasional colleague and guest contributor.
The weekend of August 11 and 12 was unprecedented. Technology start-ups, NGOs, journalists, human rights defenders and technologists joined forces for good at the #Freedomhack. We connected to one another digitally; one group located in Washington, D.C. and the other in Mexico City and we collaboratively worked on identifying and developing secure digital reporting methods for journalists and human rights. In Mexico as you may know, it is a very complicated and extremely deadly environment for reporters of any sort.
UPDATE: It was reported on August 22 that Pfc. Manning is now publicly identifying as Chelsea Manning and requests that she be identified as such from now on. Amnesty International will now refer to her as Chelsea Manning out of respect for her wishes.
It has been 1,182 days since Pfc. Bradley Manning was arrested at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq for releasing classified information to Wikileaks. This morning, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison, as well as received a reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of his military pay, and dishonorable discharge.
He has already served more than three years in pre-trial detention, including 11 months in conditions described by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture as cruel and inhumane.
He will get credit for those more than 3 years of pre-trial confinement, including 112 days for being unlawfully punished by harsh conditions at the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps brig – a literal drop in the bucket compared to the enormous sentence he is facing.
The saying is almost the same in Turkish, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On June 29, the New York Times published an op-ed by Turkish EU Minister, Egemen Bağış, in which he defended Turkey by arguing that the Gezi protests were evidence of Turkey’s mature democracy, describing protestors as a manifestation of a “vibrant civil society.” As noted in a brilliant take-down by my colleague at Amnesty USA, Bill Jones, this is the same Bağış who a few short weeks earlier had warned, at the height of the protests:
From now on, the state will unfortunately have to consider everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror organization…
Our prime minister has already assured [activists] about their aim with the protests. The protests from now on will play into the hands of some separatist organizations that want to break the peace and prioritize vandalism and terrorism.