Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to the crowds at Montgomery. Photo: Stephen Somerstein
Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist and champion of human rights, justice and equality. His powerful words continue to inspire, teach and shape individuals in the US and around the world.
1. “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”
2. “We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.”
3. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images
Once more, President Obama will address the nation before the full Congress. Once more, he will lay out his plans for this year, his last in office. While it is true that his administration has helped to usher in notable progress in some areas– like the right to marry for gay and lesbian people and a dramatic increase in the number of people with access to health insurance there are still many urgent issues to be addressed when it comes to human rights for people in the U.S. and around the world, and some promises remain unfulfilled.
Tonight, we hope that the president will take this last State of the Union address to touch upon the following issues: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Dana Gallaty, Security with Human Rights Action Network
It is concerning, though unsurprising, that some U.S. lawmakers’ and politicians’ initial reactions to the horrific attacks in Paris earlier this month were to respond to one set of human rights abuses by threatening another.
Last month, Donald Trump suggested American Muslims should be tracked and forced to carry identification cards denoting their religious beliefs. That statement—and the din of anti-Muslim fear-mongering on mainstream media right now— echo the anti-Semitism that preceded atrocities committed during World War II against Jews in Europe. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Meredith Reese, Missouri State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator (SDPAC)
It had been twenty-two years, seven months, twenty-two days and countless hours since Reggie Clemons was sentenced to death until, on November 24, 2015, the Missouri Supreme Court threw out not only his sentence but also his murder conviction in its entirety. They sent the case back to the state, who has sixty days to decide whether to retry the case. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Protestors, activists, and community members listen to speeches at a candlelight vigil held for Jamar Clark on November 20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
One year ago today, on the evening of November 24, 2014, I remember watching one of the most anticipated legal decisions since the O.J. Simpson verdict. This was the night that St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting of Mr. Michael Brown.
One year later, my thoughts are 550 miles away in Minneapolis, MN, dealing with another police shooting of an unarmed black man. As in Ferguson, the community is protesting the targeting of black lives and the shooting of Mr. Jamar Clark. Community members are being arrested for expressing their constitutional right to peacefully assemble while the victim is being demonized as a criminal without the opportunity to defend himself, and the officers protected from the scrutiny of the citizens that they are sworn to protect. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
This is a critical moment to stand up for refugee rights in the United States. Join us and call your Senator immediately to vote NO on the upcoming bill limiting entry to the U.S. to Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
The “American SAFE Act of 2015” that passed the House Thursday, Nov 19, now moves to the Senate. This bill would add increased and unnecessary screening and barriers for Syrian and Iraqi refugees (including requiring the Secretary of Homeland security, the Head of the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence to sign off on every individual refugee from Iraq and Syria). If it were to become law, thousands of desperate refugees fleeing the armed group calling itself the Islamic State and other violence would pay the price.
Please, call your senator NOW. Click here to find your Senators by state. Ring both Senators to express your support for refugees and your rejection of this bill. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Three weeks ago, two Syrian activist journalists, Ibrahim Abd al-Qader and Fares Hamadi, both refugees who had survived harassment from the Assad regime, were killed in Urfa, Turkey, presumably by ISIS. They were added to the list of more than 220,000 Syrian dead, caught between the violence of both the Assad regime and ISIS and other armed groups.
Their murders highlight the continuing dangers Syrian refugees face. These are the people we should be supporting; these are the people who are essential to keeping hope the original vision of the Syrian uprising in 2011: a vision of a Syria built on respect for human rights. Instead, political leaders threatening to ban Syrian resettlement are threatening to shut the door on them.
Take action to end refugee-bashing here. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Gay Gardner, Amnesty International USA member
I’m an activist with Amnesty International, and today is a reminder of why I have been doing this for more than 30 years. Shaker Aamer is finally returning to his family in the U.K., after being held without charge at Guantanamo for more than 13 years. Amnesty’s campaign, along with the work of countless activists around the world, has helped get the U.S. government to release him. It is the unwavering defense of the dignity of individuals such as Shaker Aamer that inspires me and keeps me active in Amnesty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
James Clapper, U.S. Director of National Intelligence (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
By Ann Burroughs and Pratap Chatterjee, Members of AIUSA Board of Directors
James Clapper, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, sent a reply to a letter from the Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) Board of Directors asking the Obama administration to conduct a review of U.S. signals intelligence practices that threaten the human rights of millions of people worldwide. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Last November, we decided to send our sixth delegation of organizers and human rights observers to Ferguson. In response to requests from community members, AIUSA staff and members chose to go through training, to bear witness, to stand for accountability, and to lift up the voices of community members living their human rights.
These choices reflect a commitment to live our values in a way that recognizes that local human rights abuses are global human rights challenges. Amnesty sections, structures and offices from Hong Kong to Venezuela, and from Brazil to Turkey have made important changes to bring their work closer to the ground. Part of that shift for us here has meant a commitment to working more closely with communities who are most impacted by human rights abuses here at home. And by embarking on an ambitious body of human rights work, at AIUSA we also knew we would have to examine the ways our structure and staffing reflect that same commitment. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST