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Indigenous rights and the intervention Amnesty International celebrates 50 years – enjoy a taste of freedom! Help free Nobel prize winner Rethink refugees Amnesty International Australia |

Celebrating 50 years of defending human rights.

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Contents SECTION 01


Updates and news


CAMPAIGNS 02.1 Indigenous rights and the intervention 02.2 Amnesty International at 50 02.3 Help free Liu Xiaobo 02.4 Rethink Refugees nesty.o m .a w w w



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Indigenous Rights

Support Indigenous people in the Northern Territory

Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory

Amnesty International at 50

Hold a Taste Of Freedom dinner

Friends, family and classmates

Individuals at risk

Free Liu Xiaobo

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People’s Republic of China

Rethink refugees

Challenge misconceptions about refugees

Australian public

Cover: Torchlight parade through Oslo for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, Norway, 10 December 2010. © Greg Rødland Buick

Amnesty International is part of the global movement defending human rights and dignity. We work with people in Australia and our region to demand respect for human rights and protect people facing abuse. We campaign, conduct research and raise money for our work. Our active members, such as school action groups, play a vital role in achieving our aims through writing letters, sending online actions, organising creative awareness-raising activities and fundraising in their communities.

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RETHINK REFUGEES We have received hundreds of conversation cards from schools across the country. With recent steps backward in asylum seeker and refugee policy it is important that students continue to change the conversation. See Section 02.4 for more on this campaign.

CAMPAIGN FOR EQUALITY Amnesty International continues to support Campaign for Equality activists in Iran. Campaign for Equality is a grass roots movement of women and men that work together to try and put an end to laws that discriminate against women. They are under constant threat of arrest and imprisonment because of this work. We have gathered actions supporting Campaign for Equality activists from schools and universities across the country. Below are some examples of actions.

Sunshine Coast Grammar School Amnesty International School Action Group’s Campaign for Equality posters. © Sunshine Coast Grammar School Amnesty International School Action Group

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DOMESTIC WORKERS’ RIGHTS Last term we told you the story of Lenny, a 14-year-old domestic worker in Indonesia. Domestic workers in Indonesia have no rights at work, because they are not considered workers under workplace legislation in Indonesia. There are 2.6 million women and girls as young as 12 who do this type of work, which involves repetitive household tasks. These workers face poor conditions and no access to the entitlements that we take for granted, like sick leave and holidays. These women and girls work in someone’s home without any protection, so they are vulnerable to abuse. Amnesty International Australia is working with nongovernment organisations in Indonesia to try and get the government to pass a law to protect domestic workers. Amnesty International is currently preparing a petition indicating support for Indonesian domestic worker law reforms, which will soon be handed to the Indonesian government. Last term we gave you the opportunity to create stencils to show domestic workers in Indonesia they have our support, which we are still collecting. If you have any stencils to show us, or want another copy of the action please email Ecco, a 13-year-old domestic worker in Jakarta. © AI

Demonstration in Jogjakarta for domestic workers’ rights. © Rumpun Tjoek Nyak Dien

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Indigenous rights and the intervention There are 370 million Indigenous people in the world. These groups are very diverse but there are common themes that affect Indigenous people globally, including poverty, health and restrictions on self determination. To address these issues the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007. It aims to create a framework for laws in countries with Indigenous populations and to make sure that issues are addressed by working directly with Indigenous communities. The declaration states that Indigenous peoples have the right to: • • • • •

self determination freedom from discrimination freedom from assimilation maintain and enjoy distinct culture the principles of free, prior and informed consent.

DEVELOPING THE DECLARATION The development of the declaration was led by Les Malezer, a Gubbi Gubbi and Butchulla Man from far north Queensland, who was chair of the Global Indigenous Caucus. The caucus consulted with Indigenous people across the globe about the declaration. It took 20 years of meetings to ensure the declaration reflects the diversity of Indigenous peoples. Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the declaration is not legally binding. Instead governments are expected to introduce laws and policies to make sure the obligations in the declaration are met. When the declaration was adopted only four countries voted against it: Canada, New Zealand, the US and Australia. However, in 2009 the Australian Government finally made a public statement formally endorsing the declaration. To read the declaration search online or email and we will send you a copy electronically or by snail mail.

Husband and wife Bessie Petyarr and Jeffery Pepperill Kemarr outside a family member’s house at Arlparra community in the Utopia homelands. © Mervyn Bishop/AI

i Self determination is when someone defines their own life. The purpose of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is to ensure that Indigenous peoples globally can actively make decisions about their own lives.

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WHY DO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES HAVE DIFFERENT RIGHTS TO OTHER PEOPLE? Indigenous people have rights that are unique to them simply because they are the first peoples of their nation. Because there has been a lot of injustice done to Indigenous peoples as a result of colonialism and dispossession, it is important to have a special set of guidelines that helps correct these injustices. THE DECLARATION AND THE NORTHERN TERRITORY INTERVENTION The Northern Territory intervention subjects more than 45,000 people to discrimination based on their race. The government says the intervention was introduced to ensure the protection of women and children by restricting alcohol, having more police in communities and quarantining people’s welfare payments. All of this was done only to Aboriginal communities, without any prior consultation. We have been working with communities in the Northern Territory (NT) to reveal how the intervention contradicts both the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The ongoing impact of the intervention was summed up by a group of Aboriginal elders in February 2011: “Under the intervention we lost our rights as human beings, as Australian citizens, as the first people of the land. We feel very deeply the threat to our languages, our culture, and our heritage. Through harsh changes we have had removed from us all control over our communities and our lives. Our lands have been compulsorily taken from us. We have been left with nothing. The legislation under which we now live does not comply with international law. It is discriminatory. We are no longer equal to other Australians. We are no longer equal to you.”

Article Two Indigenous peoples are free and equal to all others and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, including discrimination based on their indigenous origin or identity. Article Three Indigenous peoples have the right to self determination. This means they can choose their political status and develop as they want. Article Seven Indigenous people have the right to live in freedom, peace and security. They must be free from genocide and other acts of violence including the removal of their children by force. Article Eleven Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalise their cultural traditions and customs.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES An enduring symbol of the intervention is the signs that are erected on Aboriginal land to show people that communities are subject to the intervention. For the communities affected it feels like they are all being punished just because they’re Aboriginal. IMAGINE… Waking up and there was a sign in the middle of your town or in front of your house, telling what you can and can’t do. The sign was not put there because of what you had done but only because of where you lived … or because of your race.

© Mervyn Bishop/AI

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Question: Which one of these signs is not like the others? 1. Health clinic This is the sign for the Urapuntja Health Clinic. The clinic is located on fly dreaming country (Amengernternenh). It’s a safe place for families – as you can see in the sign, little children are considered sacred.


2. Diabetes feet A health education sign on the Sandover Highway showing how the community takes care of itself. 3. Rocket Range The sign for the ‘suburb’ of Rocket Range on the Utopia homelands, home of the mighty Ankowenyerra Swans football team and five Alyawarr families. Rocket Range overlooks the rainbow dreaming ranges. 4. Intervention sign A Federal Government sign indicating the community is subject to the intervention.

(Answer over the page.)

Signs of the times © Mervyn Bishop/AI

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Answer: the intervention sign. Signs advertising the intervention are very different to the other signs. These signs strip people of their dignity and unnecessarily hurt good communities and families.

ACT NOW>> MAKE YOUR OWN SIGNS Show the people in the NT they have the support of school students by making your own signs. You could make a sign saying something like: 1. Take the signs down. 2. End the intervention. 3. I am a school student and I don’t support the intervention. Or something you think will work. Send your sign (or a photo of your sign) to Dan Scaysbrook, Youth Coordinator Amnesty International, Locked Bag 23 Broadway NSW 2007 Or email it to Remember to let us know that we have permission to use your images in our campaigning work.

Alyawarr women collecting ntyeny anterrng (red Mallee seeds), Sandover Highway, Utopia homelands, August 2009. Š Rusty Stewart/AI

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Amnesty International at 50 Last term we told you the story of London barrister Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International. He was outraged when he heard about two Portuguese students who had been imprisoned for drinking a toast to liberty. He wrote an article in a London newspaper on 28 May 1961 demanding amnesty for these students and urging people to write letters. In the 50 years since, Amnesty International has grown to a global movement of 3 million supporters across 150 countries. On 28 May supporters gathered across the world to have candlelit dinners and take action to defend human rights. In Australia we called the event a ‘Taste of Freedom’. As part of our celebrations, Amnesty International is acknowledging all the supporters who have been responsible for creating the amazing impact we have around the world. Here are some of the activists in the Asia Pacific region who, like you, are campaigning to ensure everyone gets their taste of freedom.

YOUTH PROFILE AMELIA KUNOTH-MONKS AGE: 18 Amelia Kunoth Monks lives with her mum, sister, grandparents and two dogs in the Utopia homelands, 260 km northeast of Alice Springs. Amelia spoke as a youth representative when Irene Khan visited Utopia with Amnesty International in 2009. Favourite TV show: Supernatural Football team: Essendon Favourite food: homemade spaghetti bolognaise Favourite bushfood: bush banana What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about being an Alyawarr/Antmetyarr person. It brings me a lot of strength. I know where I belong and where I stand. I love dancing. I dance to get out frustrations. What’s important to you? Life, family, friends, animals. Being one with animals and the land. We don’t own the land, the land owns us. What makes you crazy? When people look down on us as Aboriginal people – it just gets me worked up. We’ve been here for 40,000 years, why not meet us halfway. Don’t treat us like kids. We should work together as partners. © AI

What do you think about the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? I don’t know how it got made, but it says that we’re meant to have rights. Rights to be on country. The right not to feel racism. A lot of the time, I’m not seeing that so it’s important to protect those rights. If they’re not protected, the result could be so devastating it can’t be fixed for 100 years. What are your goals for the future? I want to be a train mechanic and work ‘black on black’ with my people. And I want to not eat too much junk food. If you could choose, would you go to space or Spain? Spain. I would track down Rafael Nadal. Spain it is.

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JEMMA (JEM) STOVELL NSW COMMUNITY CAMPAIGNS INTERN AGE: 25 Jemma got involved in Amnesty International as an intern about three months ago. Jemma has been working with the NSW community campaigns team on the refugee campaign, and also in schools educating students about human rights. Jemma has completed the Bachelor of Arts Development Studies at the University of NSW and has discovered through her study the importance of global human rights. The refugee campaign is Jemma’s favourite aspect of the internship. “I like the way you can have conversations with people around refugees and asylum seekers,” she says. “Although sometimes it’s controversial, you can help people understand the issues a bit better and sometimes even change their mind.” Jemma completed her internship in mid-June but stays involved by working on the refugee campaign. This has included working on an art exhibition by young Afghani women who came to Australia as refugees, which celebrates and shares their experiences.

“ © AI

Get involved, get active. It’s important to have a voice and work together to create a better world. Amnesty International creates a coordinated way to create change.

ALEX PAGLIARO CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Alex Pagliaro started her involvement with Amnesty International at Loreto College where she was head of her school action group. After studying International Studies at Adelaide University, Alex moved to Sydney and took a volunteer caseworker internship at Amnesty International. Volunteer internships allow people to volunteer their time to help asylum seekers in detention who need help processing their claims for refugee status. Alex now leads the Rethink Refugees campaign. “I think what I love about my job is meeting people who arrived in Australia as asylum seekers and learning their stories,” she says. “They are all different but each person has shown amazing courage and strength which inspires me.”

“ © AI

Living in a country where you can openly express your views and work with others to protect human rights is something that we shouldn’t take for granted.

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RAFFAELE PICCOLO MEMBER, NATIONAL YOUTH ADVISORY GROUP MEMBER, SANT BRANCH COMMITTEE MEMBER, ADELAIDE UNIVERSITY ACTION GROUP INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING 2011 DELEGATE AGE: 22 Raff is currently studying a Bachelor of International Studies, Laws and a Diploma of Languages (Italian) at the University of Adelaide. He is involved in Amnesty International in a number of ways, including being selected to go the International Council Meeting in the Netherlands this year as Australia’s youth delegate. “I have always had an interest in speaking out for those not able to do so,” he says. “I became aware of Amnesty International while at high school, when the plight of refugees and the Tampa crisis became regular public news. Amnesty International was the group I most associated with helping refugees from then on.”

Don’t be afraid to be challenged on your ideas and beliefs. See it as an opportunity to re-evaluate why you hold certain beliefs. If you cannot convince yourself of their importance, or substantiate your own beliefs then it may be hard to convince others as

© Raffaele Piccolo

well. Celebrate every signature and view you change, as it is a step in the right direction.

FAISAL AZIA ACTIVIST, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL MALAYSIA AGE: 23 At the age of 18 Faisal got involved with Amnesty International Malaysia through working on prisoners of conscience issues. He is now working on the Demand Dignity campaign. “[It] has put me in a situation where I can really be more aware of the problems occurring in urban areas … the problems of forced eviction, rights to housing and education for the poor and slum kids,” he says. One of the highlights of his involvement with Amnesty International was when he conducted tuition with children refugees from Burma. “It was a great experience in doing groundwork,” he says. “It gave us a real exposure on how to actually deal with the issues. It also provided us with some knowledge in guiding us for future groundwork projects.”

© AI Malaysia

I once came across these quotes which said, “Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself,” and “The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing”. Both quotes put a benchmark as to when a man should make a move in making the world a better place for everyone.

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Poster competition coming soon! Since long before computers or the internet, posters have been a powerful campaigning tool for grabbing public attention in visually-impactful ways. We have chosen 50 from our archives that highlight Amnesty International campaigns over the last 50 years. In term four we will be inviting students to enter a competition to design a poster celebrating our 50th anniversary. Start thinking of ideas now! Some of these posters are below. For more ideas and to see more posters go to

ACT NOW>> TASTE OF FREEDOM This term we are inviting students to enjoy their very own ‘Taste of Freedom’. Invite your friends, teachers and classmates to hold a picnic or a lunchtime event. Bring some food to share and invite people to come along. One of you could speak about why this event is important. You could also use it as an opportunity to take action – perhaps you could participate in an action in this pack, like writing a letter for Liu Xiaobo. Let us know what you are doing or send photos of your event by emailing

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Help free Liu Xiaobo

The anniversary of Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize is coming up on 8 October 2011. WRITE A LETTER You can help by writing a letter to the Chinese authorities calling for Liu Xiaobo’s release. Please make your letter polite and respectful.

University academic Dr Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize on 8 October 2010 for his human rights work in China. However, he was unable to attend the ceremony and accept this honour as he is currently serving 11 years in prison, simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Address your letter to Wen Jiabao Premier of the People’s Republic of China.

Liu Xiaobo has a long history with pro-democracy movements. In 1989 he joined others to hunger strike in Tiananmen Square and following his arrest was held in prison until 1991. He has since published several articles questioning the Chinese Government’s conduct in Tiananmen Square. Because of this he was placed under house arrest in 1995, then sentenced to three years in a ‘re-education through labour’ camp.

Your letter can include points such as: • You would like Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally. •

You would like them to lift surveillance and all restrictions on Liu Xia’s freedom of movement, freedom of expression and association.

On 9 December 2008, Liu Xiaobo co-authored a proposal for legal and political reform in China called Charter 08. More than 10,000 people added their names to the Charter after its release. On 25 December 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” because of Charter 08 and other articles he had published.

Why you feel it is important for the authorities to release Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia.

On top of this, Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia, a poet and artist, is under illegal house arrest in Beijing and has very limited contact with the outside world Amnesty International continues to campaign for Liu Xiaobo’s and Liu Xia’s release. They are two of thousands of individuals at risk, imprisoned or facing intimidation and violence solely for peacefully expressing their beliefs or for defending the rights of other people.

WRITE A POEM FOR LIU XIA While Liu Xia cannot receive visitors, she can receive mail. As she is a poet, we would like to send her poems, so she knows that we are thinking about her and working for her and Liu Xiaobo’s release. Your poem could be about her situation, her husband winning the Nobel Peace Prize or about the hundreds of people around the world working for their release. You are welcome to include a picture with your poem if you feel inspired. Please send your poems and letters to Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia c/- Youth Coordinator Amnesty International Australia Locked Bag 23 Broadway NSW 2007 We will collect your letters and poems and send them on.

i Liu Xiaobo is being held in Jinzhou Prison, in Liaoning province, northeast China. On completion of his sentence, he will also be deprived of political rights for two years.

Liu Xiaobo. © Private

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Torchlight parade through Oslo for Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, Norway, 10 December 2010. © Greg Rødland Buick

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia. © Private

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Rethink refugees

There is lots of discussion held in the media about refugees and asylum seekers who arrive by boat. It is now time for school students to have their say. Read the story of Rajeed over the page, a teenage boy who represents the typical asylum seeker coming to Australia by boat from Afghanistan.

So far we have received hundreds of conversation cards from you and other students just like you – thank you! We are in the process of sending them to asylum seekers and refugees in detention and will report back on responses in the next term’s school action pack. There have been lots of developments in refugee policy since we received those cards.

Think of a creative way you can tell his story. You might want to host a speak-out at your school or even create a play about this story. Or you could make a map of Rajeed’s journey using pictures to illustrate the things that happen to him along the way.


Let us know what you are up to by emailing

Over the last few months we have featured in many news bulletins about our opposition to the Australian Government’s decision to exchange 800 asylum seekers who arrive by boat with 4,000 refugees currently in Malaysia. We joined many other organisations in calling on the government to reverse this policy. While we welcome the decision to accept more refugees, we hold grave fears for the people sent to Malaysia as part of this deal. Malaysia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention. It also has not signed the Convention against Torture. This means that asylum seekers sent to Malaysia could face inhumane detention conditions and torture. Under Malaysian law there is no legal recognition or protection of refugees, so it is unlikely that asylum seekers sent there will have access to adequate healthcare, schooling or employment opportunities. If they do work they face arrest and potential imprisonment. At the time of writing, the full details of this deal were not clear but it’s important to remember that it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia by boat. Does it seem fair to punish people for doing something that is not illegal?

i It is important that students continue to change the conversation about asylum seekers. It’s only when we have challenged the myths and misconceptions about those who arrive by boat that we can expect decent policy for refugees within our community.

Immigration detainees at the Lengging Detention Centre, Malaysia, July 2009. © AI

Detainees in the KLIA Immigration Depot Malaysia, July 2009. The KLIA Immigration Depot is so overcrowded that detainees sometimes cannot stretch out to sleep. © AI

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GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM During World Refugee Week in June SBS screened a unique documentary series called Go Back To Where You Came From. This television program followed six ordinary Australians for one month as they lived as refugees and asylum seekers, tracing in reverse the steps that modern-day refugees and asylum seekers take to reach Australia. Amnesty International, SBS and the Refugee Council of Australia have teamed up to produce an educational resource that aims to get students thinking about those who seek asylum. This resource is available from Amnesty International. Get a copy for your school by emailing

School Action Pack July 2011 to September 2011  

Amnesty International Australia's action pack for school groups. This edition focuses on Indigenous rights and the intervention, our 50 year...

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