CIA Torture Just Got One Step Closer to Facing Accountability

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Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

“You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” I keep a poster up in my office with this quote from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. To me, it perfectly summarizes Amnesty International’s work of pushing back against the human rights abuses carried out in the name of national security. That’s because we’re fighting against fear and hate, which are powerful, intimidating adversaries. But recent victories have reminded me that there’s something stronger than fear and hate, and that our fight is worthwhile. We may feel sometimes as if human rights rarely win – but this time, they did. And they won big. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Torture Is Not the Answer

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Still from 'Waiting For The Guards ' shows simulated torture by the CIA

Still from ‘Waiting For The Guards ‘ shows simulated torture by the CIA

Too little, and much too late. CIA Director John Brennan this week declared that the CIA would refuse to engage in waterboarding in the future, even if ordered to do so.

This was the latest in a recent string of headline-grabbing proclamations from current and former U.S. officials insisting that, if faced with the dilemma between following orders or rejecting torture, they would reject torture.

As welcome as these promises are, they ring hollow. That’s because the same U.S. intelligence community was already faced with that exact dilemma, and they got it wrong. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

To be a Muslim in America Right Now

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JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

To be a Muslim in America right now is to fear that your best days — your most ordinary days — are behind you. Anti-Muslim hate and fear-mongering is going mainstream, and the future is a startling unknown.

Many fear that the vicious rhetoric we are hearing is a harbinger of things to come: discrimination, harassment and violent attacks on Muslims, or people who look Muslim that spreads and even becomes a new normal. That could set the stage, one day in the not-so-distant future, for government policies like mandatory registration of Muslims and internment.

Could that really happen? Perhaps my background as an American Muslim makes me more sensitive to the possibility. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why Protecting Torture Victims Scares Egypt’s Leaders

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Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

In 2014, Amnesty International USA gave one of its highest awards for human rights activism to a collection of women who for more than two decades ignored governmental harassment and ran a torture and domestic violence rehabilitation center in Cairo, Egypt.

This week, the Egyptian government gave an order to shut them down.
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Waterboarding Is Torture: 3 Things You Need to Know

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Still from 'The Stuff of Life'

For years, Amnesty International has witnessed public figures repeating misconceptions and inaccuracies about waterboarding.  This American debate on torture has mostly got it wrong – here are three realities you need to know:

  1. Waterboarding is slow-motion suffocation

People who take the time to learn about Waterboarding see how horrific it is.

But many people don’t. Media and public figures often describe waterboarding as a form of “enhanced interrogation”—a euphemism that rationalizes and sanitizes torture. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Muhammed, What Were You Thinking About When You Accepted the Reality of Your Death?

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Fayha Shalash, the wife of Palestinian journalist Muhammed al-Qiq, sits with her son at her home in the West Bank village of Dura on January 20, 2016. Al Qiq is seen in the poster.  Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA images

Fayha Shalash, the wife of Palestinian journalist Muhammed al-Qiq, sits with her son at her home in the West Bank village of Dura on January 20, 2016. Al Qiq is seen in the poster. Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA images

Muhammed -What were you thinking about when you accepted the reality of your own death?

What thoughts and images went through your mind when you realized you were willing to risk permanent physical damage or even death to gain your freedom?

Were you thinking about the softness of your babies’ cheeks? How they smelled so fresh and their skin felt so soft after bath time?

Muhammed al Qiq, a Palestinian journalist and father of two small children, has been on hunger strike for over seventy-five days – refusing everything but water, to protest the torture and other ill-treatment to which he says he was subjected to in Israeli custody, and to demand his release from detention he believes is motivated by his work as a journalist. He was placed under administrative detention, unable to see the evidence against him and unable to challenge the ‘evidence’ or his accusers in a fair judicial setting. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Guantanamo’s Poetry: 14 Years Too Many

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GUANTANAMO_7

Can you imagine needing to write? What if you needed to write so badly that’d you use toothpaste instead of a pen, a Styrofoam cup instead of paper, if that’s all you had?

What would it be like if this writing – this poetry – was the only way to preserve your sanity? Your humanity?

That’s how it was – how it may still be – for the prisoners at Guantánamo. As the prison enters its 15th year of operation, there are 107 people still there, and most are held without charge. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Guantánamo is entering its fifteenth year. Here are 5 people waiting for President Obama to keep his promise to close it.

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GUANTANAMO_3

On January 11, 2016, the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will enter its fifteenth year of existence. The “forever prison” is perhaps the most infamous icon of the human rights abuses resulting from the global war on terror. Instead of justice for the September 11 attacks, Guantánamo has given the world torture, indefinite detention and unfair trials. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

50 Ways You Changed Lives in 2015

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In 2015, millions of Amnesty supporters like you pushed decision-makers to make change happen worldwide.

You helped to release journalists and activists. Change discriminatory laws. Compensate victims of corporate crime. Pardon survivors of torture. And so much more. As governments continued to crack down on dissent and free speech, your pressure was critical to protect people’s human rights.

The list below is just a snapshot of some of the many success stories and bits of good news that you made happen in 2015. Thank you for all your support – together, we are standing up for people risking everything to speak out. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST