This past weekend, Amnesty International USA hosted the 2012 Regional Conferences in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, DC. The conferences brought together 1,000 people from around the country to hear inspiring speakers, share tactics, learn about pressing issues and help shape Amnesty’s future. The following is just a quick overview of the events:
West: Held in San Francisco, the Western conference began with remarks by Lhamo Tso, wife of the Tibetan Prisoner of Conscience (POC) Dhondup Wangchen, who is serving a prison sentence in China for speaking out about Tibetan human rights through his filmmaking. The conference also included caucuses by roles including youth, local groups and human rights educators, and workshops on topics including POC’s, Pussy Riot, the Middle East and North Africa, and closing remarks by Bu DongWei, a former Amnesty POC.
Northeast: Held in Boston, the Northeast conference opened with panels on immigration, human rights and the uprisings in the North Africa and the Middle East, and Women’s Rights. The conference also featured creative actions throughout the day for conference attendees to participate in, and fourteen workshops on topics from creative and cultural tactics for human rights, to the death penalty, to the global arms trade.
Mid-Atlantic: Held in Washington, DC, the Mid-Atlantic conference began with an opening plenary of Maryland DREAMers who spoke about immigrants rights and the right to education. The conference also included workshops on many topics including Islamaphobia and corporate accountability, a creative activism center for conference participants through the day to share success stories and inspire each other and a solidarity march for the young Pakistanian human rights activist Malala Yousufzai.
South: Held in Atlanta, the Southern conference kicked off with human rights leaders from the South speaking on a panel on immigrant rights and criminalization post-election. It then moved onto workshops on the death penalty, social media and the Middle East, and human rights in Syria. It concluded with remarks from Anthony Graves, a Texas Death Row Exonoree.
Mid-West: Held in Chicago, the Midwest conference featured an opening plenary on human rights and social media with new media experts from Amnesty, AVAAZ, Care2 and Witness before moving into workshops on topics that included women’s rights in South Asia, death penalty abolition following the repeal of the death penalty in Illinois, and human rights in the LGBT community. The conference also featured training sessions on activism, significant networking time, and a human rights festival.
After the conferences, attendees returned to their communities inspired to become even more powerful change agents. If you were able to participate, thank you so much for being part of a transformative series of events. We hope everyone will be able to join us at the 2013 AGM to be held in Washington D.C. from March 22nd-24th.