HAPPENING NOW: Horrific Violence and U.N. Peacekeepers Are Nowhere to Be Found

Want to learn more about the crisis in the Central African Republic? Check out this story map created by Angela Chang, Amnesty USA's Crisis Prevention & Response Advocate.

Want to learn more about the crisis in the Central African Republic? Check out this story map created by Angela Chang, Amnesty USA’s Crisis Prevention & Response Advocate.

By Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, Amnesty USA’s Central African Republic Country Specialist

It’s a miracle she survived.

Amnesty’s crisis team met an 11-year-old Muslim girl in the Central African Republic this month. She was the lone survivor of a horrific assault on the village of Bouguere – in a country where sectarian violence has spiraled out of control.

Amnesty came to this region to investigate reports of mass killings and forced evictions of Muslims. Throughout our travels, we found case after case of mayhem and death.

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How the Academy Blew It

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of 'The Act of Killing' poses  during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of ‘The Act of Killing’ poses during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator and Max White, Amnesty USA Country Specialist for Indonesia and Timor-Lesté

I had every possible appendage crossed as the Oscar for Best Documentary was announced on Sunday evening. The best documentary, film, makeup (just take a look – you’ll see what I mean) and more was The Act of Killing. The Academy chickened out and went with safe; handing the award to one of its own, lest they risk discomfort.

And The Act of Killing is very discomforting. Joshua Oppenheimer and his Indonesian crew originally hoped to tell the stories of those who survived the 1965-66 death squads let loose on the land to slaughter, torture, and rape union members, ethnic Chinese and whole villages who were all assumed to be members of the Communist Party.

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On the Ground in the Central African Republic

Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera and Joanne Mariner report on the latest massacre in a town West of Bangui, where they saw the remains of dozens of men and women littering the streets and found an 11-year-old girl who had miraculously survived it all.

As if the unfolding horror in the Central African Republic could not get any more shocking, the scene we witnessed in a remote town north-west of Bangui, left us stunned.

We arrived in Bouguere on Feb. 13 to investigate a massacre that had taken place some three weeks earlier. More than 40 people had been killed by anti-balaka militias and most of the town’s Muslim residents had fled.

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Counting Bodies in the Central African Republic

Eleven-year-old Fati suffered deep machete wounds to her head and arm in an attack by anti-balaka militia in Boali. Six people were killed and 20 others were injured in the same attack (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Eleven-year-old Fati suffered deep machete wounds to her head and arm in an attack by anti-balaka militia in Boali. Six people were killed and 20 others were injured in the same attack (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International

The body of a 10-year-old boy, shot dead, whose hand had been cut off with a machete.

The remains of the sons of a 76-year-old man who narrowly escaped death after anti-balaka fighters shot him three times and left him for dead.

The lifeless body of a six-month-old baby, brutally murdered alongside 12 of her relatives in front of her cousin, who was forced to witness her father being decapitated.

“They killed my children heartlessly. They were slaughtered in front of our eyes,” cried a Muslim woman whose four sons were killed by anti-balaka fighters in late January.

Welcome to life in the Central African Republic.

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The Year in Drones: The Secrets Exposed, Promises Made and Ugly Realities That Remain

Amnesty said in a report released in October that the U.S. carried out unlawful drone killings in Pakistan, some of which could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions. The Administration refused to confirm or deny our account or publicly commit to investigating potentially unlawful killings.

Amnesty said in a report released in October that the U.S. carried out unlawful drone killings in Pakistan, some of which could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions. The Administration refused to confirm or deny our account or publicly commit to investigating potentially unlawful killings.

By Naureen Shah, Advocacy Advisor at Amnesty International USA

Nearly every month of 2013 brought a devastating revelation about the secret U.S. drone program, which has reportedly involved more than 400 drone strikes and killed more than 4,700 people. Here’s a look back at the secrets that were exposed, the promises made, and the ugly realities that remain:

January 2013: The White House reportedly finalizes a lethal “playbook” with rules for the secret killing of terrorism suspects. The CIA conducts drone strikes in Pakistan, but they are reportedly exempt from the playbook’s rules.

“There’s a sense that you put the pedal to the metal now,” the Washington Post reports an unnamed U.S. official as saying about the CIA’s continued killings.

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Will Anyone Answer Why a Wedding Party Was Blown to Pieces?

Incredibly, the White House is staying silent on yesterday’s news of an alleged drone strike in Yemen that reportedly killed 15 people traveling to a wedding.

"President Obama: End Your #GameOfDrones Now," University of Texas-Austin

“President Obama: End Your #GameOfDrones Now,” University of Texas-Austin

Even though President Obama called civilian casualties “heartbreaking tragedies” in a May 2013 speech, his Administration has been unwilling to acknowledge specific killings, let alone investigate and provide compensation or reparation to survivors and families.

This includes the family of grandmother Mamana Bibi, who was who was struck and killed by a drone’s Hellfire missiles while gathering vegetables in her family’s fields in October 2012. Though her grandchildren visited members of Congress earlier this year, the White House has never publicly recognized the killing or the family’s loss.

“I hope I can return home with a message,” Mamana Bibi’s grandson told members of Congress. “I hope I can tell my community that Americans listened.”

The White House can still change course and ends its policy of secrecy. We are calling on President Obama to publicly commit to investigating all credible reports of potentially unlawful killings, including those documented in our report.

It’s time to stop the silence, and start being accountable.

You can help, sign our petition.

The U.S. Government’s Dirty Little Secret About Drone Strikes

AI_DroneReport_Cover_101613By Pratap Chatterjee, executive director of CorpWatch and a member of Amnesty USA’s Board of Directors. He is the author of Halliburton’s Army and Iraq, Inc.

In October 2012, Mamana Bibi was killed in front of her grandchildren while gathering vegetables in her family’s large, vacant fields in Pakistan. She was blasted into pieces by a drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her.

Bibi’s death was just one of many cases of potentially unlawful killings documented in Amnesty International’s recent report, “Will I Be Next? U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan.”

For this report, Amnesty International reviewed all 45 reported U.S. drone strikes that occurred between January 2012 and August 2013 in North Waziristan, a region in northwest Pakistan which has seen the vast majority of this type of targeted killings. The organization conducted detailed field research into nine strikes, based on rare access to the region and more than 60 interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, residents and officials.

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