Georgians Raise Voices For Troy Davis, Thousands Back Them Up

Thousands came out for Troy Davis in Atlanta on September 16th

About 3,500 people marched and prayed for Troy Davis in Atlanta last night.  Three busloads of supporters arrived from Davis’ hometown of Savannah along with other buses from Columbus and Rome, Georgia.

Ebenezer Baptist Church could not accommodate about half the supporters who arrived for the prayer service led by Rev. Raphael Warnock of Dr. King’s historic church.  So an impromptu rally took place outside the church, while death row exonerees, a murder victim family member, Georgia clergy and nationally prominent human rights leaders, such as our Executive Director Larry Cox and that of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous spoke inside.  The march was an amazing sight to see – a sea of signs declaring “Too Much Doubt” and “Stop the Execution” held by a diversity of individuals and groups.


Rally for Filep Karma in Washington An Apt Metaphor

Today, Amnesty International activists and supporters rallied in front of the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC to raise their voices on behalf of prisoner of conscience Filep Karma, an activist who’s spent the last 7 years in prison for raising a flag.

The rally was held a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Indonesia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Entrepreneurship Summit.  Amnesty International urged Clinton to publicly state that human rights will play as important a role as trade and security in US–ASEAN relations.


Rally in DC on Tuesday to Demand Justice for Sri Lanka


Just a few months ago, the New York Times ranked Sri Lanka as the top place to visit as a tourist in 2010. While Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, the article failed to mention the outstanding issues that remain one year after the end of the conflict. Issues such as the failure by the Sri Lanka government to investigate violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by both Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE.

So join us on Tuesday, May 18th, to rally outside the Sri Lanka embassy in DC. The rally will kick off our four-month global action asking for an international, independent investigation into war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

Where: Embassy of Sri Lanka, 2148 Wyoming Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008

When: Tuesday, May 18th.

Time: 12:00-1:00 pm

And keep reading our blog in the next few months to find out more about the campaign and what Amnesty is doing to ensure justice for the survivors of Sri Lanka’s conflict.

Message to Obama before Indonesian trip

Supporters rally for Yusak and Filep in front of the White House. © AIUSA

Supporters rally for Yusak and Filep in front of the White House. © AIUSA

Just this week, our Individuals at Risk team received a special message from Yusak Pakage and Filep Karma – two prisoners of conscience in jail for peacefully raising a flag – from their prison cells in Indonesia. Here’s what they wrote:

Since our being sentenced to prison, Amnesty International has opposed our being imprisoned for legitimately exercising our right to freedom of expression. We wish to express our appreciation for Amnesty’s advocacy.  

We will continue fighting for Filep and Yusak until they are freed and their rights restored.

President Obama is taking a trip to Indonesia in less than a week, and we want him to carry a message of freedom and hope to Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage. That’s why this past weekend, scores of Amnesty activists and supporters braved torrential rain to rally in front of the White House with flags, banners, and posters asking President Obama not to forget human rights and these two Prisoners of Conscience when he meets with Indonesian President Yudhoyono. Speakers from East Timorese Action Network (ETAN) joined us in calling for their immediate and unconditional release. It was indeed a powerful show of solidarity and our determination to secure the release of both Filep and Yusak!

President Obama spent four years of his childhood in Indonesia and this trip marks a special opportunity to forge an understanding between the two countries based on human rights. But this can only happen if President Obama commits to speaking up for those who were punished for speaking out.

If you weren’t at the rally, it’s not too late to help Filep and Yusak. Call on President Obama to pressure the Indonesian government to release Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage. 

Or if you have the time, call the White House comment line: 1-202-456-1111 (TTY/TDD 202-456-6213). Or if you have trouble getting through, call the White House switchboard: 1-202-456-1414 and ask to be connected to the comment line.

Iran Global Day of Action a Resounding Success

Protests in more than 80 countries, with numbers ranging from a couple hundred to several thousand, took to the streets on Saturday to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people against the government’s brutal crackdown this summer. Among the 1,000 people in Amsterdam was Iran’s Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi who led the crowd in chanting: “We want to live in peace. Long live peace”.

The event will hopefully force the Iranian authorities to display greater transparency regarding election results and provide those imprisoned with their human rights.

“Our message is very simple,” [Aaron Rhodes, an event organizer] said. “We’re supporting civil and human rights in Iran and we’re calling upon the government in Iran to cease their abuse of power, cease the imprisonment of innocent people and the torture of detainees and stop the violence against people who are simply trying to exercise their internationally protected human right to peacefully protest.”

Back in Tehran, opposition leaders Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Khatami urged the country’s clerics to intervene to help stop the spread of “oppression” by the authorities. They accused the government of “savagery” and that its “interrogation methods are a reminder of the dark era of the Shah”, who ruled until 1979.

Below are some videos from the various rallies across the world:

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post

Global Day of Action for Troy Davis – Today!

Today is the Global Day of Action for Troy Davis.  Over 150 events in 45 state, DC, Puerto Rico, and 28 countries overseas have been scheduled, demonstrating as clearly as can be demonstrated that the public will not stand for the execution of a man who has had no hearing on evidence that he may be innocent.  The failure of our courts to take seriously questions of innocence is of course not limited to Troy Davis’ case, but his case is so simple – 7 of 9 witnesses have recanted their trial testimony – and the solution so obvious – an evidentiary hearing featuring said witnesses – that it is in equal parts baffling, frustrating and outrageous that Troy Davis may be once again on the brink of another execution date.

A hearing to examine and cross-examine these witnesses should not be too much to ask.

Today, a last ditch effort with the Supreme Court will be filed, but it has become clear that our courts and politicians have a supremely bureaucratic mentality towards justice; they will only take action or exercise leadership if they know they are being watched.  That is why it is so important that so many people are coming out today, to be seen and heard.  And why it is so important that we continue to do so.

The Difference Between Justice and Impunity is Action

Amnesty International and other activists rally outside the Mexican Consulate in Chicago on March 6, 2006.

Amnesty International and other activists rally outside the Mexican Consulate in Chicago on March 6, 2006.

I just got back from an amazing week in Chicago, and I was trying to decide whether I should use the above as the title for this post, or if I should call it “Solidarity Means Hope,” because those were really the two main themes of the past week.

I was there to take part in a series of events in support of the Women of Atenco, including a forum at DePaul University, a rally outside the Mexican consulate, and a meeting with the Consul General. The events, planned by Amnesty International in conjunction with a wonderful coalition of Chicago-area organizations, were a great success. The forum was well-attended by both general public and the media, the rally had over 200 people filling up the whole street outside the consulate and attracting the attention of everyone inside and outside the building, and the meeting with the Consul was a great opportunity to communicate powerfully and directly the intense need for real justice in this case.

With me and my colleagues throughout all of these events was Claudia Hernandez, one of the survivors of the sexual and physical assaults that occurred during the police crackdown on protests in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, in May 2006. Claudia is an amazing woman, and everyone who met her this past week was blown away by her insight, energy, hope and strength. It was an intense week for her, being asked so many times to relive the trauma she suffered in Atenco, but she told me over and over again that what got her through it, and the message she is taking back to her sisters in the struggle for justice, is the knowledge that they are not alone. She saw with her own eyes that people here not only know about the women of Atenco, but are also 100% committed to ensuring that justice is done.

That commitment was clear in the numbers of people who turned out for the events, the numbers of letters and petitions they signed, and the thoughtful and passionate questions they asked about the best ways to continue to support the women in their fight for justice. Take it from me: the people of Chicago don’t just talk about human rights, they put words into action!

International Women's Day Rally and Forum for the Women of Atenco

© Private

© Private

The women of Atenco, Mexico, have been waiting more than two years for justice. On May 3-4, 2006, nearly 3,000 federal, state, and municipal police responded to protests by a local peasant organization. They arrested over 200 people – more than 45 of them women – without explanation. En route to the Santiaguito prison, many of the women were beaten and raped by the officers who arrested them. At least 26 women filed complaints, yet they still wait for an adequate response from the Mexican authorities.

On Thursday, March 5, from 4-6pm, Claudia Hernández, a survivor of the events at Atenco, will speak at an open forum at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. The following day, on Friday, March 6, Amnesty International activists will join coalition partners from Chicago area organizations from noon to 1pm, for a rally in front of the Mexican Consulate at 204 S Ashland St, Chicago, Illinois, to demand justice for the women of Atenco. Everyone will wear red in support of International Women’s Day on March 8 and to show our passion for justice.

Even if you can’t join the Chicago rally, you can still learn more about the case and other ways to take action.