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LAND RIGHTS ‘GANGNAM STYLE’!
MORE than 42,000 Cambodians took to the streets in and around International Human Rights Day in December 2012. In front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh people gathered to present petitions calling for an end to forced
evictions and other human rights abuses. The highlight of the show was a land rights themed "Gangnam Style" dance.
4000 of the petitions they handed over came all the way from New Zealand, carried to Cambodia in Amnesty International’s Activism Manager, Margaret Taylor’s suitcase! She took time out of her holiday to meet with the people on the ground in Cambodia. Read more inside... Active Term 1 // 2013
FORCED EVICTIONS CAMBODIA
LEFT: International Human Rights Day 2012 celebration at Thmar Kol community, Phnom Penh, Cambodia The Thmar Kol community on the edge of Phnom Penh international airport are at risk of forced eviction. Eight community representatives were arrested on the eve of the visit to Cambodia by US President Obama in November 2012, for painting SOS on the roofs of their homes. They were released the same day after intervention by a local NGO.
RIGHT: International Human Rights Day gathering at Borei Keila, Phnom Penh. Some 106 out of more than 300 families forcibly evicted from Borei Keila in January 2012, are living in squalid conditions next to the site where their former homes were. They are protesting about not receiving new flats promised to them by Phanimex, the company developing the site.
BELOW: ‘Gangnam Style’ petition handover in Phnom Penh.
10kg of NZ petitions MORE than 42,000 Cambodians took to the streets for International Human Rights Day in December 2012. Through your postcards, petitions and banners protesting forced evictions generated during Freedom Challenge last year, we were with them every step of the way. Together we collected more than 4,000/10 kg of appeals, of the total of 40,000 signatures, gathered by Amnesty France, Germany and South Korea as well.
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The signatures were carried to Cambodia’s National Assembly in December in creative ways some hung as “leaves” on replica sacred Bodhi trees and others dangling from traditional
bamboo poles slung over the shoulders of a group of Cambodian activists. Activists also wore and presented t-shirts with 11,000 signatures collected from Cambodians calling for land, labour and human rights in 24 provinces around the country. Before presenting the petitions to the National Assembly, activists danced “Gangnam style”, with the words changed to “end forced evictions”. Check out the video of the dance here -> http://bit.ly/TjE5Uf The video and the photos were taken by human rights group LICADHO and LICADHO Canada. 2
FORCED EVICTIONS CAMBODIA
LEFT: At the final event of International Human Rights Day celebrations, about 100 representatives from communities, unions, associations, grassroot groups and NGOs gathered in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh to perform a land rights themed "Gangnam Style" dance demanding a stop to forced evictions and land grabs. © LICADHO
RIGHT and BELOW: Postcards from New Zealand hang from a replica Bodhi tree.
hit home in
Some of the communities represented during the presentation were those we particularly campaigned on behalf of including:
Borei Keila - where members refused to be relocated after the forced eviction last year and who are living in squalid conditions while they protest and campaign for the onsite housing promised to them; Boeung Kak Lake, where some families await land titles, and others have been excluded from receiving them
There was also Thmar Kol community, living on the edge of Phnom Penh’s international airport and at risk of eviction; and Sen Sok, a community seeking land titles in an area they have lived for 20 years. All petitions were accepted by the National Assembly, and passed to the relevant ministries. So a big Thank You for all your hard work collecting signatures, it’s amazing to see the bigger picture we were a part of.
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>>TAKE ACTION PLEASE write to: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng #75 Norodom Blvd, Khan Chamkarmon Phnom Penh, Cambodia Salutation: Your Excellency
BOEUNG KAK MOTHER IMPRISONED YORM Bopha is a high profile leader of the Boeung Kak Lake (BKL) campaign against forced evictions. She’s also in prison. Sadly, at the end of December 2012, the 29 year-old mother was sentenced to three years imprisonment for ‘intentional violence’, while fellow land rights activist Tim Sakmony was found guilty of making a false declaration and given a suspended prison sentence. The charges in both cases were made up, with no credible evidence presented at their trials. Amnesty International has named both women Prisoners of Conscience. They are being persecuted purely for their work defending the rights of those in their communities who have lost their houses through forced evictions. For Yorm that was protesting against some 20,000 people forcibly evicted from BKL since 2008. Tim’s actions saw her seeking to counter the violent forced eviction of 300 families from Phnom Penh’s Borei Keila in January 2012 . Prison conditions in Cambodia are appalling. Yorm is being held in a dirty, overcrowded cell with little or no access to medical care. Prisoners have to pay for basic commodities, such as clean drinking water and a place to sleep. Cells are extremely hot and there is limited natural light and ventilation.
Yorm has lost count of the number of times she has been threatened by authorities because of her involvement with the Boeung Kak Lake (BKL) campaign. As a representative of the BKL community, Yorm is an outspoken Active Term 1 // 2013
Mr Chum Sounry, Ambassador Royal Embassy of Cambodia, Canberra 5 Canterbury Crescent, Deakin, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia Email: email@example.com Salutation: Your Excellency Condemn the unfair convictions of women human rights defenders Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony on baseless charges; Call for the immediate and unconditional release of Yorm Bopha, and for the convictions of both women to be quashed; Call for genuine consultations with the Boeung Kak Lake and Borei Keila communities for a swift resolution to their situations. You can also write solidarity cards or messages of support for Yorm Bopha and send them to our Youth Intern at: Amnesty International NZ, PO Box 5300, Wellesley Street, Auckland. land rights activist, and a central figure in her community’s long-running campaign against forced eviction. She cannot remember how many times she has been beaten during protests but she clearly remembers being shocked twice by electric stun batons whilst protesting peacefully. After 13 members of the BKL community were violently and arbitrarily arrested in May 2012, Yorm was at the forefront of the campaign for their release. Unlike the cases of the 13 BKL representatives, the charges against Yorm were not directly linked to her presence at protests and demonstrations. Instead they related to the beating of a suspected thief under article 218 of the Penal Code. There is no doubt however that the case against her is politically motivated. 4
FORCED EVICTIONS ISRAEL/PALESTINE
PROTESTERS BEATEN AND EVICTED
IN the early hours of a Sunday morning in January more than 500 heavily armed Israeli police surrounded around 130 Palestinian activists at a protest camp on the hills opposite the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. The camp, which the activists called the village of Bab al-Shams (Gate of the Sun), was set up on privatelyowned Palestinian land to protest against the Israeli occupation and continued expansion of illegal settlements, which goes hand in hand with forced evictions in the West Bank. The police moved into the village to remove the peaceful activists on orders from the Israeli Government, despite a High Court not to remove them. Sameer, one of the peaceful protestors, in an interview with Amnesty told us what had happened. “I feel my body is one large bruise. They beat me hard and the cold only made it worse. It was completely dark and extremely cold. There were hundreds of small lights – flashlights the riot police were carrying, coming from all directions. It was surreal, as if we were in a sci-fi film. “At about 2am they began to remove us. There were hundreds of riot police. With their equipment and body armour
The Israeli settlement of Qedar. © Amnesty International
they looked like super cops, and there were only 130 of us huddled in the middle of the village. We did not resist the eviction, but we did not cooperate either. The soldiers began to remove us one by one, they kicked to separate us and then four to six soldiers would carry each of us away.” He went on to add, “The village represents non-violent and meaningful resistance – a practical challenge to Israeli oppression and injustice. It was created by young Palestinians without affiliation to any group or party. It is only natural that Israel wants to stop us. We expected the eviction, but this will never stop us from defending our human rights.” Near Bab al-Shams, in scattered communities in and around the area known
as E1, around 2,300 Palestinian refugees from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe live. They were the second focus of our Freedom Challenge campaigning last year. They have been there since they were forcibly displaced by Israel from their original homes in the Negev desert in the early 1950s. Some of them were also forcibly evicted again in the late 1990s to make way for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Today, the Jahalin live in the fear of forced eviction yet again The eviction of Bab al-Shams reflects the fate that the Jahalin tribes may face very soon if Israel goes ahead with its plans to build in the E1 area.
THE CHALLENGE IS ON FOR 2013 FREEDOM Challenge 2013 will take place during the second week of Term 3: 5-11 August, make sure you put it in your diaries now! We’ve deliberately delayed Freedom Challenge by a week to give organisers returning from school holidays a week to reengage with this campaign We’re yet to set the Freedom Challenge theme but will have launched our Child Poverty in New Zealand campaign and are keen to have that as a Freedom Challenge focus. So watch this space for an announcement. But in the meantime please do book that mufti day, place Freedom Challenge on the school’s diary and check out any competing demands in the school or university’s agenda.
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CHILD SOLDIERS MALI
MALI: Divided and ruled with fear “There are child soldiers in the ranks of MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa). They go out, in groups of four to six, with rifles over the shoulder. They are found at checkpoints and organise patrols in the Gao region.” A human rights activist living in Gao Twenty years of peaceful political change in Mali came to a catastrophic end with a military coup in March 2012. Today, the country is fragile and divided. Northern Mali was taken over by armed groups a week after the military coup. Many reports have emerged of amputations, stonings and other horrific abuses by armed Islamist groups after summary hearings. The groups are trying to force “new behaviours” on the local population based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. A number of schools have been attacked, books and libraries destroyed and threats made against teachers. These attacks against schools appear to come from a desire to stop the teaching of French in schools and also the mixing of boys and girls. Amnesty International is concerned that this ban
Register of recruits at a military training camp in Mali, 2012. Amnesty International looked through the register and found that the militia had recruited more than 40 children (born between 1995 and 1998). © Amnesty International
of mixing in schools risks undermining all previous efforts made to enrol girls in school. Sexual violence against women and young girls is commonplace, as is recruiting and using child soldiers. In southern Mali, the coup unleashed a wave of violence. After army officers overthrew the democratically elected President Touré in March, an attempted counter-coup took place on 30 April in the capital, Bamako. Disappearances, executions and torture, were all committed without the perpetrators being brought to justice.
Ganda Iso (armed militia) military training camp in the North of Mali. Young people, including children, are being trained for a possible attack to regain control of the northern towns, currently controlled by Islamist groups. © Amnesty International
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CHILD SOLDIERS MALI
>>TAKE ACTION BECAUSE New Zealand has been a great champion in stopping the recruitment and use of child soldiers we are asking you all to write to the New Zealand government to again speak out and encourage the international community to take action. Please write to Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and in your letters welcome New Zealand’s commitment to safeguarding and promoting children’s rights internationally;
particularly note the support which New Zea-
More and more children being used for military purposes All these violations have been observed by Amnesty International’s delegates who visited Mali three times last year. They reported the recruitment and use of children by armed Islamist and Tuareg groups in the three major northern cities (Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu) and also by the Timbuktu Arab militia. These reports on the use and recruitment of children was echoed by UNICEF’s press statement that they had received "credible reports that armed groups in northern Mali recruit and use more and more children for military purposes." During their research mission in September 2012, Amnesty International’s delegates were able to visit three camps in Soufouroulaye and Sévaré (in the Mopti circle in the centre of the country) where children had been recruited. On 20 December 2012, the UN Security Council authorized an African-led force to “use all necessary measures” to take back northern Mali from “terrorist, extremist and armed groups.” Recently, the international spotlight has been on Mali with the French government sending in troops at the request of the government in Mali. “Operation Serval”, as it is known, is a counteroffensive against armed Islamist groups to prevent the capture of cities in the south of the country. “There are real concerns that the fighting might lead to indiscriminate or other unlawful attacks in areas where members of armed Islamist groups and civilians are inter-mingled,” said Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International's Africa deputy director. “The international community has a responsibility to prevent a fresh surge in abuses during this new phase of the conflict.” Active Term 1 // 2013
land has given over the years to stopping the recruitment and use of child soldiers; express concern at the findings of Amnesty International and UNICEF that armed groups in northern Mali have been recruiting and using children since the military coup in March 2012; call on New Zealand to actively seek the commitment of Canada and other members of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict to urge the UN Security Council to ensure the immediate deployment of human rights monitors, with particular attention given to the use of child soldiers, children’s rights, gender, and protection of civilians; ask that New Zealand urge Australia to use its position on the UN Security Council to call for the deployment of human rights monitors to Mali. Send your letter to: Hon Murray McCully Minister of Foreign Affairs Freepost Parliament Private Bag 18 888 Parliament Buildings
Who are The Group of Friends of Children And Armed Conflict?
In 2006 Canada established and continues to chair the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict, an informal New York-based network of over 38 member states. This group provides a united front to advocate the United Nations Security Council. 7
ARMS TRADE TREATY
NO ARMS FOR ATROCITIES THE FINAL
LAST year we came so close to the world committing to an effective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Sadly, in the last hours of the last day of negotiations in July, a call for more time was made by the United States, supported by Russia and with China taking the opportunity to make a few conditions of its own. As three of the world’s six biggest arm suppliers we need all three to be part of the solution. Despite the delay, in final discussions a significant majority of States confirmed a strong commitment to achieve an ATT as soon as possible.
Why the world needs an effective Arms Trade Treaty!
Each year enough bullets are made to kill every person on this planet ... twice Eight million new guns are manufactured to fire them. There are currently more controls on banana sales than bullet sales....
And as negotiations continued that commitment was re-confirmed in November last year with the highest number of yes votes and NO no votes for an effective ATT occurring at the United Nations. In March this year the world is expected to sign an Arms Trade Treaty and it’s up to us to ensure that the final text is not watered down and full of loopholes big enough to drive tanks through. We’re lucky because the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand are strong supporters of an effective Arms Trade Treaty. But they are going to come under intense pressure from countries to manufacture and sell guns. We’ll be saying “kia kaha – stay strong” to Pacific leaders. To other world leaders we’re saying that the world is watching them and it can’t wait any longer for a treaty that keeps arms out of the wrong hands.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty speaks at the presentation of petitions at the UN in 2012. © UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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ARMS TRADE TREATY
What will an effective Arms Trade Treaty look like? TO be effective any Treaty must ensure arms won’t be sold to human rights abusers or to where serious human rights abuses can occur.
Explore what other groups on campus or at school are doing to mark IWD and explore if you can participate and get partners on board.
Amnesty is calling this The Golden Rule. The Golden Rule must be part of the final Treaty.
We’ll be back in touch soon with an action you can circulate and also materials you can use at stalls and raise awareness and seek support on.
We are also campaigning to ensure the Treaty: covers all weaponry, munitions, armaments, and including technologies and technical expertise for making, developing and maintaining them; includes robust and enforceable treaty implementation complete with transparent reporting and monitoring of compliance appropriately addresses gender based armed violence
And we're likely to be asking for a rapid response from you during the
10-day negotiation period as we react to any attempts to weaken the treaty. But for now, please visit, comment on, like and share this Facebook page http://on.fb.me/KviAdM
Together we’re making history. Together we creating a better future for a world weary from uncontrolled arms.
It’s taken us over two decades to get this far and we’re asking once again that you step up, speak out and take action. Because negotiations are continuing behind the scenes how we ask you to take action is not yet confirmed. But what we do know is that International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday, 8 March, will launch a global week of action in the build-up to final negotiations of 18-28 March at the UN. So please diary the week of 8-15 March and commit your team to take action at this time. Book the quad or other high profile spaces for the best day/s during that period. Active Term 1 // 2013
Along with Oxfam NZ we handed over 9000 signatures to Government representatives outside of Parliament in June 2012.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
>>TAKE ACTION PUSSY Riot are the high profile punk rock singers who are in prison for speaking out against the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in the run-up to last year’s election. When band members performed the punk prayer “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin” at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February last year – their performance went viral. Mr Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church were not amused and three of the singers were arrested and charged with “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred or enmity against a social group, planned by an organised group”. One of three singers was conditionally released but in August Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in a penal colony far from their families, friends and lawyers. Amnesty condemned the trial as unfair and named the two prisoners of conscience sentenced solely for the peaceful expression of their views. Despite that sentence the lawyers confirmed it could have been far worse if it wasn’t for the campaigning and awareness raising of such groups as Amnesty International.
© Denis Bochkarev
TAKE a loud, colourful, punk approach to raising awareness and getting signatures on the enclosed petition calling for Pussy Riot’s immediate release and for Russia to respect freedom of expression. Pull on a fluro balaclava in your outreach. Check out the numerous youtube videos Pussy Riot’s actions have inspired either as a resource or for ideas for your own action Create solidarity banners for students to write messages of support to Maria and Nadezhda. (Please make sure the messages are not critical of the Russian government or the Russian Orthodox Church as such messages could further endanger the pair)
Return the petition and messages of support to Amnesty International, PO Box 5300, Wellesley Street, Auckland.
In January this year the courts denied Maria her request to defer her sentence until her son was older. Check out the video of the performance http://bit.ly/yk4WPA Listen to the women’s first interview from prison http://bit.ly/VNmu4S We have to keep the pressure up to ensure the release as soon as possible of Maria and Nadezhda from the cruel and dangerous penal colonies they are held in. Active Term 1 // 2013
Amnesty supporters show their support at Riot Free gig in Auckland. December 2012
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
BILLION RISING On Valentine’s Day this year, 14 February 2013, an invitation has been extended to ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to violence. Why ONE BILLION? ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. It is a global day - an invitation to dance, a call to men and women to seek an end to rape and rape culture. It’s an act of solidarity, demonstrating to women they are not alone in their struggles and a refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given.
To find out more about One Billion Rising visit http:// www.onebillionrising.org If you or your team are planning to participate or an event is planned at your academic institute we can provide an appeal case for you to action or to offer to others to campaign on. We’re featuring a Guatemalan case because despite promises made by successive Presidents to fight crime and violence against women and a law passed by Congress in
In 2012 alone, and according to official figures, around 560 women were murdered across the Central American country, many after being sexually assaulted. Most cases are not effectively investigated and less than four per cent of all homicides in Guatemala result in perpetrators being convicted.
N O I T C TAKE A
MARIA Isabel Franco was 15 years old when she was raped and brutally killed. Since María’s death in December 2001, her mother Rosa has been fighting for justice, despite receiving death threats from unknown people on several occasions. She has also faced indifference from the authorities. The Guatemalan Human Rights
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2008 for the establishment of special tribunals and sentencing guidelines, the figures continue to tell a different story.
Ombudsman published a report in 2007 saying that María’s case was handled poorly and that the authorities showed a lack of interest in investigating. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has recently admitted María’s case, increasing the pressure on the Guatemalan authorities to act.
Please photocopy the enclosed template letter to the Vice President of Guatemala, circulate it and collect as many signatures on it as you can. Send it off with a cover letter detailing the activism you undertook and enclose photographs too. If you do take photographs please send copies to firstname.lastname@example.org. 11
PRESSURE MOUNTING FOR NIGER CLEAN UP Pastor Christian Lekoya Kpandei showing the damage done to his fish farm in Bodo, Nigeria, May 2011. A REPORT and a ruling in © Amnesty International December last year are building pressure on the Nigerian GovFrankental, Economic Relations Proin the UK. ernment and oil companies, including gamme Director of Amnesty InternaA week later a unanimous judgment by Shell, to clean up the oil pollution they tional UK, said, “Shell has consisthe Economic Community of West Afriare responsible for in the Niger Delta. tently failed to own up to its responsican States Court of Justice (ECOWAS) bilities and appears to be operating to found the Nigerian government and The first report sent a warning to lower standards in the Niger Delta than multinational corporations responsible Shell’s shareholders highlighting that a elsewhere, simply because it thinks it for years of pollution in the Niger tougher international legal environment can get away with it. This report makes Delta. is likely to dramatically impact on clear that the parent company, Royal Shell’s balance sheet as claims mount Dutch Shell, can be held liable for its According to the Court, the right to from its activities in the Niger Delta. subsidiary’s failure to operate to acfood and social life of the people of ceptable standards. Niger Delta was violated by destroying The independent University of Essex their environment, and thus destroying report says the potential liabilities their opportunity to earn a living and “The longer Shell fails to act, the more range from sizeable damages for failenjoy a healthy and adequate standard costly the clean-up process becomes – ures to take adequate steps to prevent of living. and that hurts not just the people of and clean up oil spills, through to lithe Niger Delta, but the company’s abilities under USA and European investors. The final total bill could run The Court also said that both the govstock exchange rules. into many billions of pounds.” ernment and the oil companies violate the human and cultural rights of the Responding to the report, Peter Compensation cases are now in propeople in the region. gress in the Netherlands, the USA and
>>TAKE ACTION WRITE to the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan Ask him to monitor the pollution in Bodo and its effects on the local community, and ensure that a clean-up operation takes place. Urge him to publicly commit to transparency and access to information for all aspects of the cleanup operation. Ask him to ensure that the Active Term 1 // 2013
affected communities are fully compensated for their losses, and that operating practices of oil companies in the Niger Delta are reviewed, ensure swift and transparent clean up of all oil spills and adequate compensation for affected communities.
Another way to take action is to take photos of solidarity messages and send them to us care of: email@example.com and we’ll send them on to the Bodo community.
President Goodluck Jonathan President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Office of the President Nigerian Presidential Complex, Aso Rock Abuja, Federal Capital Territory Nigeria Start your letter: Your Excellency 12
changing the world
HOW do you convince teenagers that the action they take here in New Zealand does have an impact? That was the question co-leaders at Avondale College's Amnesty group Omar Shahin and Crystal Liu (both 16) felt they needed to answer if they wanted to deliver on their desire to make 2013 the best year ever for Amnesty at their school. The answer. Launch the year's campaigning with a video showing compelling evidence of the impact of student activism. Why go to all that effort?
and have people follow after us. We want to inspire them." adds Crystal. She went on to say that it was really important that people didn't take for granted the rights they had here and how they could use their freedom to protect the rights of others. Omar says they are simply following in the footsteps of earlier leaders. "I wanted to be a leader because when I was in Year 9 the people in Amnesty were really inspirational. I was a little ignorant about what was happening in the world then but I saw what they were doing and it was really good."
"This year is going to be the best year ever at Avondale and the best Freedom Challenge and we're hopeful it will be because we aim to have the most participation from the school," said Omar.
Omar hopes the video will cause a ripple effect that sees students made aware of the issues and taking actions that will "create a brighter future". He sees youth activism as integral to that brighter future.
"And we want to carry Amnesty forward
"A lot of people who are older are more
aware of the world but when people get older sometimes they stop trying to change the world. We still believe we can change the world," he concludes.
Smoozing their way to sustainability Auckland’s Kristen School’s Amnesty group, generated the most letters for Write for Rights with a total of 175 on behalf of six individuals and communities at risk. A group leader Lingshu liu confirms more letters are still to come. The group also undertook an end-of-year fundraiser selling Smooze ice blocks. Linghsu says “We made about $50 profit (stored in the school account) and we still have more than six boxes of Smooze left and lots of Amnesty bands” The group will use that money to buy items for future fundraising ventures in 2013.
Intermediate student gets on board for White Ribbon Day Avinash Govind, a year 7 student from Bucklands Beach Intermediate School, emailed to advise “For my school project I have chosen to do a white ribbon fundraiser for Amnesty International.” Not only did this entail seeking donations in return for white ribbons but also researching Amnesty International and making a presentation to classmates. At the end of last year Avinash dropping in over $100 to support our campaigning to end gender based violence. Active Term 1 // 2013
McAuley College fundraises for Malala Auckland’s McAuley College Amnesty group fundraised $150 in response to the brutal shooting of 14-year-old education activist Malala in Pakistan. That money has been well spent - with Amnesty International NZ launching an e-action and a letter writing campaigning on her behalf during the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence in November. Letters of support to Malala and her family and letters of outrage to the Pakistani Government have been sent off. See Page 15 for an update on Malala. 13
Be part of a global movement against poverty now:
RESPECT MY RIGHTS! LAST year we gave you a sneak preview of the work-in-progress Respect my Rights site – now its launched and you can check out a new interactive way to explore what really causes poverty. It’s bigger. It’s better It’s www.respectmyrights.org Thanks to the Internet we’ve never been more connected and our voices have never been more threatening to those who abuse power and trample on basic human dignity. Knowing more about your human rights and the rights of
Love IS a Human Right JUST two days after the ‘most romantic day of the year’ Amnesty International will be celebrating the fact that Love IS a Human Right for everybody regardless of gender, identity or sexual orientation at Auckland’s first Gay Pride Parade in over a decade. We’ll be joining the festivities on Saturday 16 February and if you’re in Auckland and would like to walk with us, we would love to have you. The Parade sets off from Ponsonby Road at 4pm and finishing around 6pm (we’d need you to be around from 2pm so we can get organised). For more information and to sign up, email: Mo.firstname.lastname@example.org Active Term 1 // 2013
others is vital to help us recognise and fight the abuses that drive and deepen poverty – and will make our voices LOUDER. **Start by finding out what young people in Sudan are doing to fight injustice in their country by documenting abuse and spreading the word via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Please share a message, picture or video in solidarity and they will leave comments in return!** http://respectmyrights.org/scrapbook/story/249 If you think it’s time to demand RESPECT for your RIGHTS, join us in the movement for change! Visit www.respectmyrights.org to discover more.
Pre-school activist -
And to prove that it’s never too young to start taking action check out four-year-old Dylan Chandra proudly holding up a letter he wrote on behalf of Write for Rights Individual at Risk Azza Hilal Ahmed Suleiman.
Calling for youth interest to volunteer in a Pacific Island community THE Pacific Project is an amazing opportunity to think critically about global issues through debate and mutual dialogue. Students begin in Sydney and will then travel to work with the local people in Vanuatu, in schools and with an NGO. The Pacific Project will run from 5 - 24 July 2013, and UN Youth will be taking a delegation of 10 students. Applications are now open and close on 1 March. http://bit.ly/WRtr6a 14
INDIA: PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE KARTAM JOGA RELEASED WE were excited to hear the news that an Adivasi (Indigenous) rights activist in central India’s Chhattisgarh state was released in January after spending 29 months in prison. And while the release is particularly sweet for Kartam Joga, members of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Team are also celebrating, having spent much of that time writing to the Indian Government calling for his release and also sending solidarity messages directly to Kartam. After his release, Joga said messages of support sent by Amnesty International’s members were “one of the key factors” which kept up his hopes for release. He also urged the release of seven of his fellow activists from the Communist Party of India (CPI) who he says have been targeted and jailed on false charges for peacefully defending the rights of Adivasi communities.
Joga was jailed for holding village meetings to document human rights violations and abuses against Adivasis, including unlawful killings, rape and other sexual assault, and the burning down of Adivasi homes.
PAKISTAN/UK: MALALA OUT OF HOSPITAL AND RECOVERING WELL UN: VOTE ON FGM HAILED AS A FIRST A resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM) has been endorsed by the UN general assembly (UNGA). "This an important moment for everyone engaged in the fight against FGM - and most particularly for all the girls and women who have been affected by this grotesque practice," said Amnesty International’s José Luis Díaz. "The UN resolution places FGM in a human rights framework and stresses as it does the importance of empowerment of women, promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence.” The result was a first for the UNGA. Every year FGM affects up to three million girls in nearly 30 countries. Active Term 1 // 2013
MALALA Yousufzai, the 15-year -old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, was discharged from Birmingham hospital early in January and is recovering well. It is likely that she and her family will receive permanent residency in the UK as her father has been offered a job with the Pakistan embassy. She has been in the hospital for about three months of intensive care and then intensive rehabilitation. Malala still has © REUTERS to undergo cranial reconstruction surgery. Despite it all Malala’s humour and commitment to activism remain intact. In early February we were also so happy to hear Malala speak publicly for the first time! The other amazing news is that Malala has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thank you to all of you who sent solidarity messages and signed our letters in November 2012 calling on the Pakistan government to take the necessary action to protect such human rights defenders as Malala and bring the perpetrators of attacks to justice. 15
GOODNEWS UK/NEPAL: ARREST OF NEPALI ACCUSED OF TORTURE On 3 January UK police arrested a 46-year man, reportedly a high-ranking army official, on suspicion of torture of detainees in 2005, during Nepal’s civil war. “This arrest may prove to be a welcome step towards accountability, but it also really highlights the Nepal government’s failure to provide justice for the thousands of victims of torture, enforced disappearance, unlawful killings and other human rights abuses in the country,” said Polly Truscott, Deputy AsiaPacific Director.
WORLD: OVER 1.6 MILLION ACTIONS BY LETTER WRITERS MORE than 1.6 million actions were taken in December on behalf of individuals and communities at risk who featured in our Write for Rights campaign. Here are just a few of the comments and news we’ve received from those we campaigning on behalf of. Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman would like to say thank you to Amnesty International activists around the world for their support and solidarity. She said she received so many letters during the Letter Writing Marathon that the Post Office was surprised, and she had to carry them all home in big bags. She said: “I only have faith in people, whether in Egypt or abroad, to achieve change… We have suffered a lot in the past two years and faced a lot: teargas, shotgun pellets, beatings, sleeping in the cold outside…One thing that gives us hope is support and solidarity from regular people. People are the only impetus for change. Government will not improve or do anything unless there is pressure from people... The amount of messages I received [from Amnesty members and activists] gives me a lot of hope despite all the challenges.” In other great news family members were able to visit Gao Zhisheng in prison on 12 January. This is the first time a visit has been granted in nine months. The visit was tightly controlled - Gao Zhisheng's brother and father-in-law were only allowed to meet with him for half an hour, and were told that they could not ask any questions about Gao Zhisheng’s treatment, any case details or ask if he has received any letters in prison. He looked fine physically and appeared clear-minded. Gao Zhisheng simply asked that his wife Geng He take good care of the children and not worry too much about him in the prison. Active Term 1 // 2013
Despite repeated promises by the government of Nepal, there has yet to be any meaningful investigations into the multitude of abuses committed by both government forces and Maoist combatants during Nepal’s civil war. The man was arrested under a UK law implementing the country’s obligations under the Convention against Torture, which includes a duty, to investigate and prosecute (or extradite for prosecution) those suspected of torture, even if the alleged torture was committed overseas.
USA: JUDGE FINDS RACISM IN THREE MORE DEATH PENALTY CASES A NORTH Carolina judge overturned three more death sentences due to racism during the trial. In December, Judge Gregory Weeks found that African Americans had been deliberately dismissed during jury selection at the capital murder trials of Tilmon Golphin, Quintel Augustine and Christina Walters. Although they have committed heinous crimes, they were sentenced to death in a process that was focused more on obtaining death sentences than it was in ensuring the process was fair. In his conclusion the Judge pointed to “long buried case files”, which contained “powerful evidence of race consciousness and race-based decision making”. For that reason he found that the death sentences could not stand and he commuted them to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole . 16