Matching Gift Challenge Ends Thursday – Don't Miss Out!

“As long as injustice and inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. We must become stronger still.” – Nelson Mandela

We are shifting into overdrive!

The membership drive is coming to an end, and we’re close to meeting our new $300,000 matching gift challenge, but we haven’t crossed the finish line yet!

We need to raise $94,570 by Thursday or we’ll lose the opportunity to double our funding to $600,000.

I know you won’t let that happen – you are Amnesty. Together we are the defenders of humanity, and we have work to do.

Please donate today – no later than Thursday – to help Amnesty secure a $300,000 matching gift.

More than 13,150 donors have risen to our September challenge, inspired by Amnesty’s successes and moved by an unwavering devotion to human rights.

I am humbled by this tremendous response, and I know the dissidents and human rights activists for whom we advocate are profoundly grateful for your support.

When political prisoner Yusak Pakage was released in July, he thanked you for his freedom. He spent almost six harrowing years in an Indonesian prison for waving a flag.

When Egyptian novelist Musaad Abu Fagr was released this summer, he thanked you for your letters. A featured case in our 2009 Global Write-a-thon, Musaad was detained for speaking out against the demolition of thousands of homes in the Sinai Peninsula.

For the unjustly imprisoned, we must light the candle still.

Facing execution despite significant and persistent doubts about his guilt, Troy Davis is alive today because of your letters and phone calls. In a devastating blow to his case, a federal court recently denied his petition for relief.

As long as there is hope, we will continue to fight for Troy Davis.

Honor their sacrifices. Make your commitment to human rights today with a gift to Amnesty.

Never doubt how powerful you can be when you join your light with ours. Thank you for all you do.

I will not be safe until all Congolese women are safe

We wanted to share with you this beautiful letter women’s rights advocate from the Democratic Republic of Congo Justine Masika Bihamba sent out to Amnesty members yesterday during our annual pledge drive.  We hope you are as inspired by her words as we are.

Justine Masika Bihamba visits Amnesty USA headquarters in September 2010.

Amnesty International refuses to forget me.

In 2007, armed soldiers broke into my house in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), held my children hostage and assaulted two of them. They did this not to rob my family, but to punish me for providing services to women who are sexually assaulted.

Despite my having identified the attackers to the police, no action has been taken against them.  I continue to face threats because I refuse to stop fighting for women’s rights.

Amnesty International members have sent thousands of letters to the president of the DRC urging him to investigate the attack on my family, including the sexual assault of my daughter.  Members have also sent me numerous letters of solidarity, inspiring me to continue my work to eradicate sexual violence.

Join Amnesty International today to ensure their work in all areas of the world continues. If you donate by September 30th, a generous donor will match your gift, dollar-for-dollar.

Congolese women who defend human rights have paid a heavy price for their actions. Many have been murdered, arrested, intimidated, threatened, tortured or disappeared. Others have been forced from their homes, their cities and their country to save their lives. Family members have also been harassed, intimidated and held against their will.

I will not be safe until all Congolese women are safe. Amnesty International understands that building international solidarity for women’s rights is essential to bring change to the DRC.

Amnesty is a driving force behind the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which aims to revolutionize the way U.S. foreign policy confronts abuses like domestic violence, rape, honor killings and human trafficking worldwide. If passed, IVAWA will support measures to prevent violence and bring perpetrators to justice. It could help people like me assist survivors around the world.

It is Amnesty International’s commitment to fighting human rights violations everywhere that inspires me to pass on the candle to you.

Stand with me in support of Amnesty.

Sincerely,

Justine Masika Bihamba

My Assignment in Gaza

I didn’t expect to feel joy in the middle of an area that’s been divided by struggle for decades.

But there they were – a group of girls, like rays of light, bringing the history of human rights to life through art and storytelling.

(c) Amnesty International

It was December 10th – Human Rights Day – and a girls’ school located in Deir El-Balah, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was hosting a play and an art show. I was in Gaza on assignment for the United Nations and was honored to be invited to speak.

In Gaza – as well as hundreds of other global human rights hot spots like China and Myanmar (also called Burma), Amnesty International’s work at its core is about people – the people we aim to protect, the people who believe in us and the people who lift our cause up for the world to witness, and act on.

While visiting the school in Gaza, I realized that these young girls represented all of those qualities. Will you stand up for human rights along with them?

So far, we are more than halfway to our goal of 10,000 pledges by September 30th. Until then, generous donors will match your gift dollar-for-dollar, up to $300,000.

During the events that day, I was captivated as the girls took turns re-creating the different articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

I am the right to education.
I am the right to health.
I am the right to equality.

But it was the artwork of a student that was perhaps most remarkable.

She had painted her vision of key moments and heroes in human rights history. There, next to Gandhi, Buddha, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. was the birth of Amnesty International in May of 1961.

This is what Amnesty means to girls in Gaza: a beacon of hope in a war-torn area of the world. And today, I hope you will consider being a part of this legacy.

Join before Sept. 30 and generous donors will double your gift.

I left Deir al-Balah with a renewed sense of purpose. Our work as human rights defenders is not done until the Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for children in Gaza and everyone struggling for freedom and justice.

So I pass the candle to you. We must never let it fade. Together we are hope. We are light. We are Amnesty International.

What Do Sting, Desmond Tutu, and JK Rowling Have in Common?

They believe in the power of Amnesty International and our millions-strong global human rights movement:

“I feel that Amnesty International is the most civilized organization in history. Its currency is the written word. Its weapon is the letter; that’s why I am a member. I believe in its non-violence; I believe in its effectiveness.” – Sting

“Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. … Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet.” – J K Rowling

“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. And never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.” – Bishop Desmond Tutu

Won’t you join them and millions of others worldwide in defending human rights?  Alone, a candle – Amnesty’s symbol – is a fragile, flickering light that can be extinguished by a whisper.  Shared by millions, it becomes a shining beacon of hope.  It becomes Amnesty International.

This month, we’re passing the candle to you.  Keep it bright with your gift.  Donate in September and your gift will be matched dollar for dollar! Please pass it on to inspire others to join our movement.

A Message from Yoko Ono

Following is a special message from longtime Amnesty supporter Yoko Ono:

Dear Amnesty Supporter,

I have a special wish – and you are part of it.

Oct. 9 is the 70th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. As always, my birthday wish for John is one of peace. For me, finding peace means protecting the human rights of courageous individuals like Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi inspires me to fight for human rights even when the odds seem insurmountable. She has endured unofficial detention for 14 of the past 20 years, yet she continues to inspire the people of Myanmar with her message of peace, love and freedom.

Amnesty International is a leader in the call for Suu Kyi’s release and also for the 2,100 political prisoners detained in Myanmar today.

We won’t rest until they all are free. This is what I love about Amnesty International and why I’m proud to call myself a member.

Please help my wish for peace, love and freedom come true. Make a gift to Amnesty International today.

John shared a common purpose with Amnesty – shining a light on wrongs and campaigning to protect people’s rights.

If John were alive today, I know he’d be grateful for Amnesty’s work. There is no greater champion for prisoners of conscience and victims of torture, for the oppressed and dehumanized. There is no stronger force for human rights.

Through the support of people like you, Amnesty International has become a tenacious, tireless, champion for humanity. Please try to make a financial gift today and help Amnesty International “Pass the Candle” of hope to a new generation so that this bright light never fades.

I urge you to donate right now.

In peace,

Yoko Ono