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TERM 3 // 2012

O n t ra c k for Free dom Challeng e 2012

Juwell sleeps inside a wheel barrow at the mile one open market which is home for hundred of homeless kids in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, April 2011. © George Osodi / Amnesty International

IMAGINE... you come home in the evening, you’re sitting at your desk, finishing your homework. Suddenly a bulldozer and some government officials arrive at your door to demolish your home. You may have a week’s notice, a day’s or no time at all. What possessions would you rescue in the minutes or the hour that you have left, before your home is demolished? You may not even have time to do that! Being forced from your home not only means losing your house. It could mean losing your school, your community, your livelihood. Along with losing your possessions you can lose your networks, access to doctors or hospitals and work opportunities. Often it will drive you deeper into poverty. You may face homelessness and destitution, and may be forced to live in the ruins of your former home or move to another slum.

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SO, HOW BIG A PROBLEM IS IT? WORLDWIDE more than ONE billion people live in slums. There are more than 200,000 communities designated as slums globally. For slum dwellers poor sanitation, polluted water and violence is their every-day life. And simply because of where they live they are more likely to experience human rights abuses. People living in slums find it harder to access resources or keep safe their very few possessions. They face violence from police and criminal gangs and face discrimination when seeking justice. They are not consulted or allowed to participate in processes and decisions that impact their lives. Chances that this situation will change are slim because their voices remain unheard by the governmental authorities and powerful corporations. That’s why Freedom Challenge is this year focused on ending forced evictions. It’s why we’re campaigning on behalf of individuals and communities at risk of forced evictions in Cambodia and Israel & the Occupied West Bank. And it’s why we’re asking you to take action to ensure governments in both countries:

Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums, Nairobi, Kenya. © Amnesty International.


CAMBODIA “MY HOUSE, possessions, identity cards, clothes, photos all went up in smoke. Nothing was left.”

Mai was five months pregnant when she watched her home and all her possessions go up in flames. A few days later she was thrown into prison for eight months for trying to defend her housing rights. Tens of thousands of people have been forcibly evicted in Cambodia in both rural and urban areas. Women are at the forefront of the fight against forced evictions. They have no protection from the law and some have risked their lives to protect their family homes. In the capital Phnom Penh alone, an estimated 10% of the city’s population were evicted between 1990 and 2011. One such case is that of thousands of families living around Boeung Kak Lake. Active Term 3 // 2012

Hoy Mai and son Ann Samnang, Taman Village, Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia, 16 March 2011. © Amnesty International



SOME GOOD NEWS IN LATE June we received the great news that 13 women who had been arrested for protesting forced evictions at Boeung Kak in Phnom Penh, Cambodia had been released. “We are delighted that the 13 women will be released and reunited with their families and community,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia researcher. “We consider the women’s release to be a victory won by the Boeung Kak Lake community.” Amnesty continues to call for the convictions to be overturned especially since the charges against the women were baseless, and their original trial was grossly unfair. Also for an investigation into reports of police violence against community members outside the Appeal Court, following that decision. Image: Tep Vanny is one of the 13 women who was released on 28 June 2012. © \"Free the 15!\


Bedouins from Arab Jahalin tribe in the Occupied Palestinian Territories threatened with forced displacement. © Amnesty International

THE Israeli army plans to forcibly evict and transfer 20 Palestinian communities – mostly Jahalin Bedouin from their homes in the Occupied West Bank. Some of these communities may be relocated to land that is 300m from a garbage dump.

tion, ground pollution and possible water contamination and is improperly fencedoff. Although disposal of waste at the dump site is due to end in mid-2012, the site will likely be hazardous for many years to come.

About two-thirds of these communities The dump receives up to 1,100 tons of garbage per day. The site creates air pollu- are children, and homes and schools are Active Term 3 // 2012

at risk of destruction. If the schools are demolished, the younger ones will have no access to education. The Israeli army has already issued many demolition orders against these communities. In some of them, more than 90 per cent of homes and other structures are at risk of demolition. 3


RECENT UPDATES THE Khan al Ahmar Jahalin School was built in 2009 by the Italian NGO Ventro Di Terra. It is the only school providing primary education to the children of the Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin tribe. There are around 70 students attending the school. In April this year, the Minister of Defence informed the Israeli High Court of Justice of the state’s decision to move the Khan alAhmar School from its current location. The Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) that the Khan Al-Ahmar school “will be demolished at the end of the school year”, which was the end of May. However, it appears the school has yet to be demolished. Also during April, the ICA visited the Khan Al-Amar community, and verbally advised they were looking for a relocation site. Eight eviction orders followed on May 6 and gave the families 24 hours to dismantle their own homes.

“A huge {Israeli} force including police and army, Civil Administration and bulldozers, came with no warning. They demolished all our houses, took our possessions and moved them to al-Jabal. “ We refused to leave and the Palestinian Authority gave us 35 tents, one for each family. The next day another Israeli force came, confiscated the tents, and arrested five of us, including me....... Meanwhile, our families were left with nothing. For ten days they had the sky as their blanket and the ground as their mattress.” - Abu Daoud



>> BY taking action against this grave human rights abuse between 30 July - 3 August. You and your team should already have received a Freedom Challenge kit, but if you haven’t then all the information and resources you need can be found here: Or you can phone Freedom Challenge Co-ordinator Lisa Marshall on 0800 AMNESTY (2663789) to request a kit. Resources include a campaign toolkit, powerpoint presentation, factsheets, inspirational videos, prewritten letters and postcards and more.

REGISTER ONLINE NOW http:// join-youth-network/freedom-challenge/register-now.


There is also an events page with loads of great action ideas that came out of the Freedom Challenge workshops! And don’t forget to join our Facebook Event to keep up to date with all the latest information and share your ideas events/391774307547589/ Active Term 3 // 2012

New in 2012! WE’VE got prizes, new resources and on-line registration to make it even easier than ever before to accept the Freedom Challenge. This year we have a prize for the funkiest campaign that performs outstandingly in the “Four Aims” of the challenge – campaigning, fundraising, awareness raising and recruitment. We are also running a photo competition. Participants are asked send their photos to us and we’ll post them in an Album on our Facebook page The photo that gets the most ‘LIKES’ will win one of our cool prizes and feature as Amnesty’s cover photo. Email your photos to Sharissa:




Here is a sneak peek at just some of the events we know about so far:

Waitaki Girls’ High School, Oamaru, will be hosting events at both school and within the wider community. They include building houses from ice-block sticks, coin trails and signing of petitions. ACG Senior College, Auckland are making a video clip asking people what home means to them and how they would feel if they were evicted. They will be posting it on Youtube and showing it at Amnesty meetings. They are also having a dress-up day to raise awareness and a drama to give a visual idea of eviction. Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton is having a sausage sizzle and they will be building random cardboard box homes around the school and acting out forced evictions. Victoria University students are setting up a slum on Campus with a stall and activities. Mount Albert Grammar, Auckland, is auctioning off their prefects which is now a popular annual event at the school. Westlake Boys’, Auckland will be asking their fellow students about what they would do if they returned home and it had been bulldozed etc then they will be informing the students about the forced evictions occurring in Cambodia, Israel and the Occupied Territories. Stalls where students may sign letters against these abuses will feature. Westlake Girls’, Auckland, will be testing their intellect with a trivial pursuits event. They will also be playing games like Rob the Nest and Dodgeball and screening a movie.

Getting creative at Freedom Challenge workshops in Auckland.

Final Freedom Challenge workshop in New Plymouth

NEW Plymouth Girls’ High School is hosting the final Freedom Challenge workshop on Wednesday, 18 July @ 46pm. If that’s in your part of the world and you’re keen to get along please rsvp to our youth intern, Sharissa Naidoo at

FUNKY yellow Amnesty International wristbands will have people queuing up to sign petitions and donate!

Awatapu College, Palmerston North, will be hosting house activities with challenges such as building houses out of cardboard and blindfold activities. They are also holding an information lunch with cookies for signatures for the petition on the West Bank and having a presentation at assembly.

The wristbands are going fast so please do register and request resources asap.

Logan Park High School, Dunedin, is planning to create a ‘pinata’ in the shape of a house. When students hit the pinata messages featuring the most precious items students would save if they faced eviction will flutter to the ground. A cardboard slum will be created and dramatically destroyed.

AND remember....If the date of this year’s Freedom Challenge (30 July - 3 August) doesn’t suit you, just nominate a week that does. And if you have an interest in hosting an Amnesty speaker please do let us know. We’ll do our best to get speakers through to you.

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Over 309,000 call on Shell to Own Up, Pay Up, Clean Up AMNESTY International staff and student activists presented just over 309,000 signatures to Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands, calling on the company to commit an initial $1 billion to assist in the clean-up in the Niger Delta. THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to that total.

Marleen van Ruijven from Amnesty Netherlands and four international students met with Dick Benschop, director of Shell Netherlands (and former under secretary of foreign affairs).

“He refused to come outside for a public and photographed handover, as he feels Amnesty has been too critical of Shell lately. In their private meeting with Benschop, the students explained how they feel about Shell's operations with regard to the Niger Delta and what motivates them to participate in Amnesty's campaign,” advised Joe Westby, Amnesty’s Demand Dignity corporate campaigner. However, Amnesty International continues to call on Shell to Own Up, Pay Up, Clean Up because sadly it is taking little responsibility for the oil spills, and at the same time is contributing to delays in cleaning up and providing compensation to the people of the Delta.

Image: In Port Harcourt, Nigeria, activists, partner organisations and Amnesty International call on Shell to own up, pay up and clean up the Niger Delta. © AI

In the build-up to Shell’s global Annual Meeting in May, Amnesty International released a new report which indicated that two major oil spills that took place in Bodo in 2008 were far worse than Shell previously admitted. At the lowest estimates, the volume of oil spilt was more than 60 times the volume Shell has repeatedly claimed leaked. Our website has been updated with images of the petition handover and this is where you’ll find any new action asks.

International students outside Shell Netherlands, prior to the petition handover © Jorn van Eck

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Aniekan Etim, sleeps on wood table at the mile one open market where he and other street kids lives in Port Harcourt Nigeria. © George Osodi

MANY of those we’ve campaigned on behalf of as part of our Shell Campaign in the Niger Delta have been forced to move to Port Harcourt to find work, after their livelihoods were impacted by oil pollution.

>> TAKE ACTION PLEASE write immediately to: Governor of Rivers State His Excellency Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi Office of the Governor, Government House Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria - Salutation: Your Excellency

After five days of demolitions in Abonnema Wharf waterfront in Port Harcourt, thousands of people have been forcibly evicted by the Rivers State government (RSG) and many left homeless by the demolitions. Many people are being forced to sleep outside on the street, in cars or shelter in nearby churches, and are vulnerable to further human rights violations. Many residents did not know their homes would be demolished until the bulldozers arrived. They were not given time to collect their belongings and many people lost everything. Initial statements by the RSG suggested only those buildings implicated in gang shootouts in June would be demolished; so, many people living in other areas of the community did not think their houses would be effected and did not attempt to pack their belongings until it was too late. However, the demolitions continued until the entire community was razed.

Some 10,000 - 20,000 people have been affected. Similar to the Freedom Challenge cases we feature in this issue, Port Harcourt residents have received no written or spoken notice, nor has alternative housing or shelter been offered. Compensation payments are being made, but many property owners have not received them. Active Term 3 // 2012

Please send copies to: High Commissioner His Excellency Mr Ayoola Lawrence Olukanni High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria PO Box 241 Civic Square, Canberra, ACT 2608 Australia Fax: (61 2) 6282 8471 Email:

Urge authorities to provide temporary housing immediately to the people of Port Harcourt whose homes have been destroyed, as well as emergency relief, including access to food, shelter, water, sanitation and health care services; • Call on them to stop all forced evictions from the waterfront and ensure that all those already evicted receive adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses and suffering; • Ask them to prevent further forced evictions, and ensure that any evictions comply with national law, as well as regional and international human rights standards; • And call on them to order a full and independent investigation, and ensuring that police and soldiers are not ordered to assist in illegal evictions. 7


CHILD SOLDIERS PROGRESS AND PROBLEMS Increase in LRA attacks ATTACKS against civilians in LRA-affected areas were again on the rise this year in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). More than 50 incidents have been reported in the first quarter of 2012, according to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. This has seen more than 445,000 peo-

ple displaced or living as refugees

because of LRA activities in CAR, DRC and South Sudan.

Meanwhile, in a move to halt the LRA and secure the arrest of Joseph Kony, the United Nations and African Union have developed a new regional strategy that they hope will bring an end to the activities of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and help affected populations.

Ex Liberian President Charles Taylor © REUTERS/Peter Dejong/Pool

CHARLES TAYLOR: another GUILTY verdict LIBERIA’S former President, Charles Ghankay Taylor, has been sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment. Taylor was found guilty of a number of international crimes including recruiting children under 15 and using them to participate actively in armed conflict. The Prosecutors within the Special Court for Sierra Leone had called 91 witnesses to support their charges that child soldiers under Taylor's command were sent to battle drugged with amphetamines and marijuana. The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which was established jointly by the UN and Sierra Leone, has already convicted five people for the recruitment and use of under 15-year olds in armed conflict.

Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leaders could face prosecution IN a surprise move, the Ugandan government has allowed sections of the controversial Amnesty Act to lapse after a review found it breached both domestic and international law. The Act was passed in 2000 in part to end conflict in northern Uganda and to bring the LRA to the negotiating table. It failed to do so. Instead it has given blanket amnesty to more than 26,000 members of armed groups, including the notorious LRA. The amnesty lapse has a direct bearing on the case of Caesar Acellam Otto, a commander in the LRA, who was captured in the Central African Republic (CAR) in May. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict, has called Acellam - “one of the worst perpetrators of child rights violations” – and called for him to be prosecuted rather than given amnesty. This “would send a strong message to the LRA leadership that they will be held accountable for their actions”. Active Term 3 // 2012



Kony and Ntaganda still on the run Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), 12 November 2006 at Ri-Kwamba in Southern Sudan. (c) APGraphicsbank

JOSEPH Kony and Bosco Ntaganda, for whom the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants, continue to cause death and destruction in the Central African region. Bosco “the Terminator” Ntaganda, a powerful general in the Congolese army, led a mutiny in April following government attempts to weaken his control and increased calls for his arrest for alleged war crimes. He encouraged others to join him and then, in the following weeks, he began “recruiting” children – the very crime for which he is wanted by the ICC.

Following Ntaganda’s mutiny, President Joseph Kabila indicated that the Congolese government was considering arresting Ntaganda. Ntaganda has joined forces with Sultani Makenga, a colonel and former rebel leader also alleged to have been involved in civilian killings and the recruitment of children for use in combat. Fighting between their M23 movement and the DRC national army has displaced more than 200,000 people in eastern DRC, including many who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

Moving forward in Myanmar THE Government of Myanmar (Burma) and the United Nations in late June signed an action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Myanmar armed forces and allow for the release of under-age recruits. Also known as the Tatmadaw - Myanmar’s army has had the largest number of child soldiers in its ranks, estimated at up to 60,000. The plan is the result of years of negotiation between the Government and United Nations led by UNICEF. “UNICEF welcomes the signing of the action plan and is ready to support the Government to take forward these key commitments,” said Mr. Shrestha of UNICEF. “The most important work begins now to ensure that children are released from the Tatmadaw as soon as possible and are returned to their families and communities and receive support to promote their well-being, learning and livelihoods.”

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“CATCH Kony, but don’t forget his victims” That’s the message from Godfrey Byaruhanga, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher, in Obo. You can read his first in a series of blogs from the Republic here http:// child-soldiers/

52 Parties on “Shame List” FIFTY-two parties are included in the UN SecretaryGeneral’s latest ‘Name and Shame List’ of those who recruit and use children, kill and maim, commit sexual violence or attack schools and hospitals. While Nepal and Sri Lanka have been removed from the list, and children have been released in some countries, others like Syria have been added. Shamefully the list of persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children has doubled since last year to 32 parties. If listed for at least five years you are classified as a persistent perpetrator.




NGO Presentation of Petitions and Declarations by the Control Arms Alliance for an Arms Treaty Negotiation. © UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

THE global petition was handed over to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on 3 July. Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty spoke on behalf of Amnesty International and other organisations of the need for governments to deliver a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

THANK YOU to every single one of you who helped us collect 8,654 signatures towards the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) petition. Globally we have collected in excess of 620, 328 signatures to build pressure on world governments to commit to a bulletproof treaty that protects human rights.

MEANWHILE IN NEW ZEALAND... Active Term 3 // 2012

child soldier in South Sudan who presented the Interfaith Declaration.

“We pray for a time when we can begin beating our swords into ploughshares, and we see this treaty as a Jasmin Nario-Galace (from the Phil- significant step toward a lipines) and Julius Arile (Kenya, more peaceful and stable who six years ago delivered the Mil- world where that is possilion Faces petition) delivered the ble”. appeal in the lid of an ammunition crate, with the text of the petition engraved in a silver plaque.

Alongside the Global Appeal, civil society presented three declarations. Specially moving were the words of Bishop Elias Taban, former

New Zealand’s own Ross Robertson spoke as the President of Parliamentarians for Global Action and in his final remarks Ban KiMoon urged activists to remain vigilant and engaged in support of a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

ON Tuesday, 26 June Darth Vadar and his stormtroopers took to the streets of Auckland in a bid to buy weapons. Only our staff and activists were able to stop them by collecting signatures and informing the public about the need not to sell guns to villains. Check out more photos on our Facebook Page Thanks to Carnival Costume Hire for their pro-bono costume supply. (


ARMS TRADE TREATY WE presented New Zealand’s signatures, along with some 500 signatures from Oxfam, to representatives from the National, Labour and Green Parties outside Parliament on 27 June. We urged the New Zealand and Pacific delegations to maintain their strong position on an ATT during the negotiations in New York this month. The ATT was also supported by an unanimous parliamentary motion. Read more here http:// Over the next month we’ll be reactive when it comes to campaigning as we respond to requests from our lobbyists in New York. So please keep an eye on and AmnestyNZ for regular updates from New York. Where we need your rapid activism we’ll alert you via the e-Action Network.

AMNESTY supporters around the world took to the streets in support of an effective ATT. Actions included: An armoured tank driving though the streets of London, to deliver urgent appeals to the embassies of five countries and also to the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street.

A projection on the wall of the Chinese Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, where Facebook messages were projected from activists calling for an end to Chinese arms supplies to Sudan.

Celebrities in support of an ATT

Targeting of people watching the EURO 2012 soccer semi-final at an open-air venue in Hungary’s capital Budapest, where Amnesty activists urged people to participate in a penalty shoot-out for a bulletproof ATT and sign the petition.



THE following schools contributed

2480 signatures, with

Auckland’s Aorere College taking top honours for most signatures collected. (If your signature totals do not feature please send immediately by fax to 303 4528 or scan and email to

Former child soldier turned musician Emmanuel Jal shows his support for an ATT. © Andy Merry/ Amnesty International

INTERNATIONAL artists including Keira Knightley, Yoko Ono, Scarlett Johansson, Coldplay, former child soldier and now musician and activist Emmanuel Jal,Tim Roth, Annie Lennox and Kevin Spacey have joined forces to demand governments take immediate action to help improve regulation of the international arms trade. A celebrity letter was sent to UN Sectary General Ban Ki-Moon. Active Term 3 // 2012

Tawa College, Wellington: ACG Senior College, Auckland:

112 182

Burnside High School, Christchurch: Kristin School, Auckland: Westlake Girls' High School, Auckland: University of Waikato, Hamilton: Logan Park High School: Christchurch Girls' High School: Victoria University, Wellington:

77 55 428 149 151 139 105

Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland: Massey High School, Auckland: Aorere College, Auckland: Waitaki Girls’, Oamaru: Otago Girls’, Dunedin: Otago University, Dunedin: Nelson Girls’: Hagley Community College

311 37 565 70 46 38 57 58 11


London Olympic’s toxic stench FOUR years ago our Freedom Challenge focused on urging China to deliver on the human rights promises it had made for the right to host the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games (LOCOG) chose the Dow Chemical Company to design the decorative plastic wrap for the Olympic Stadium.

This month while our Olympians go for gold, many of them will be doing so at a stadium in London that has the stench of an unresolved toxic gas leak swirling around it.

In last term’s ACTIVE we featured the story of Meredith Alexander, LOCOG’s Ethics Commissioner, who resigned in protest in March, saying she didn’t want to become “an apologist for Dow Chemicals” when LOCOG supported Dow’s unrepentant stance. Within public statements it also advised that Dow was not responsible for the events of the 1984 Bhopal Disaster and subsequent contamination;

So what has the London Olympics got to do with the infamous gas leak from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, India in 1984? When gas leaked from that factory it immediately killed between 7-10,000 people. Over the next two decades a further 15,000 died – and the contaminated site still impacts the health and human rights of over 100,000 people. Today, Dow Chemical, a sponsor of this year’s Olympic Games, owns the company responsible for the leak. However it has never addressed the ongoing human rights impact of the catastrophe and denies any connection. The London

We believe that the Olympic and Paralympic Games should demonstrate respect for human rights in how they are staged, financed and sponsored. This case matters not just to the survivors and victims’ families who are entitled to a remedy, but also because the prospect of being held accountable deters companies from committing abuses in the first place.


PLEASE write to Lord Coe, the head of the committee organising the London Olympic Games, and ask him to retract his committee’s defence of Dow Chemical and apologise to Bhopal's survivors urgently. In doing so, he would be helping to remove a stain that is tarnishing the London Olympics but also put a lot of pressure on Dow Chemical to clean-up the contaminated site and adequately compensate victims. Ask that he recommend to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and to future organisers of Olympic Games that explicit policies are adopted to ensure that human rights are respected with regard to the impacts of such events, including sponsorship arrangements. (Above): Years after the gas leak the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal stands derelict. © Maude Dorr (Top right): A young protestor takes part in a demonstration outside the Dow headquarters in Mumbai. © Maude Dorr

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Write to Lord Coe at: Lord Sebastian Coe Chair LOCOG One Churchill Place Canary Wharf London E14 5LN 12


Students to sing up a storm at

Freedom Fest

NAPIER Girls’ College and the Hawkes Bay Regional Team are once more co-hosting Freedom Fest - the singer/songwriter competition for students from throughout the region. Eight entries have been received and will be judged on the following criteria: Lyrics - human rights theme, clarity and originality. Performance - appeal of song, presentation, overall acoustic quality. Construction of the composition from a musical aspect. Prizes include studio recording, a performance spot at The Cabana’s Muso night, cash prizes and tickets to Rhythm & Vines 2012. Judging takes place on Sunday, July 22 and we’ll report back on winners in next term’s ACTIVE.


Kayla contributes to HumanWrites IN RESPONSE to a series of massacres, which included the deaths mostly of women and children, the Avondale Amnesty group created a flag petition and encouraged fellow students to add their thumbprints to the flag and sign the petition. In all 199 signatures were generated and to date a total 1156 signatures have been sent on to the target Russia, as part of the on-going campaign. You can continue to sign on line here: take-action-online/Russia-must-take-action-to-stop-Syrianbloodshed

STUDENT leader of the Amnesty group at St Mary’s College, Auckland, Kayla Polamalu wrote a brilliant blog post about what Amnesty means to her during a two-day work experience at the Auckland office. Our first post from a student! You can read the whole blog at If you’d like to write a post for our blog please contact Media Manager Anita Harvey at or by phoning her on 303 4520, or ex-Auckland 0800 266 378.

A FAREWELL AND AN INTRODUCTION WE were sad to say goodbye to Youth Intern Eleanor Parkes at the end of last month. Here is Eleanor’s parting comment! If you ever find yourself starting to believe those bored grumpy people who shake their heads and complain about ‘young people these days’ you probably need to do a short stint at Amnesty International. Active Term 3 // 2012

My time as the Youth Activism intern has shown me how much youth today care about their world and the people in it. They know what they want for the future and they are willing to work for it and to fight for it. I’ve met people of all ages in the Amnesty team who refuse to give up this atti-

tude, who continue to push for a world in which human rights are upheld. This feeling of responsibility - to stand up for what’s right and to change the world for the better - does not have to be limited to the brief phase of optimism we call ‘undergrad’. It’s great to have spent 5 months surrounded by people who refuse to grow out of it. Continued on page 14...


GOOD NEWS Continued from page 13...

We are excited to welcome Sharissa Naidoo as the new Youth Intern. I am originally from South Africa and have been living in New Zealand for the past six years. My life experiences have led me to pursue an interest in human rights, especially the rights of women. I completed my Masters degree in Sociology, and then went on to intern for Women's Refuge. I'm really excited about interning at Amnesty

International as it gives me the opportunity to learn more about the organisation, the current areas of focus and the amazing work the activists are doing. When I'm not interning at Amnesty International, you can usually catch me hanging out and listening to local bands on K' Rd.


© Maxwell Photography

Aung San Suu Kyi uses her freedom in Europe NOBEL Peace Prize winner and high-profile former Prisoner of Conscience Aung San Suu Kyi made a triumphal tour of Europe in June.

She was met everywhere with applause and adoration and responded with smiles and thanks, and a call for continued activism on behalf of political prisoners who remain detained in Myanmar. To see more of Suu Kyi and her travels, including receiving Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award visit -work Right: Members of Amnesty Switzerland welcome Aung San Suu Kyi as she visited the Swiss parliament, 15th June 2012, Bern. © Amnesty International

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© Private

“AFTER Amnesty began its call for my release from prison, and after reading some of the thousands of letters, cards and messages sent to me by Amnesty supporters, I began to hope that I would soon be free in the not too distant future.”

Fatou Bensouda © ICC

International Criminal Court (ICC) ICC: WELCOMES NEW Those hopes came true for Patrick Okoroafor at the end of April. He was just 14 when CHIEF PROSECUTOR he was arrested in 1995 and 16 when sentenced to death for armed robbery, a crime which he says he didn’t commit.

Amnesty International considered Patrick’s trial to have been grossly unfair and repeatedly called for his immediate and unconditional release. He featured regularly in Amnesty’s global solidarity letter-writing campaign and received more than 10,000 cards and letters. Both Amnesty New Zealand’s Children’s Rights and Youth Networks campaigned on his behalf. In 2009, one year after Amnesty International launched its campaign to release Patrick, his sentence was reduced to 10 years. The following year it was reduced two years. He was released on April 30.

USA: 17TH STATE ABOLISHES DEATH PENALTY CONNETICUT’S State Senate has repealed the death penalty. After being approved by the House of Representatives, and signed by Governor Daniel Malloy on April 25, Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish capital punishment.

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SHORTLY before the ICC marked its 10th anniversary on 1 July, the Court’s new Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, was installed as the successor to Luis Moreno-Ocampo. She is the first woman in this role, an African from the Gambia, who studied law in Nigeria and Malta. Her international career began when she started work as a legal adviser at the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda, to try those deemed most responsible for the 1994 genocide. In 2004 she joined the ICC as deputy prosecutor. Fatou’s new role will see her seek to bring to justice alleged war criminals, including Uganda’s Joseph Kony, Libya’s Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Sudanese President Omar alBashir. Addressing the Court, the Gambian lawyer said, “As I speak, massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur (Sudan); Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army’s acts of violence continue unabated in central Africa.

IRAN: WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST RELEASED RONAK Safazadeh was released from prison on 10 May 2012. Ronak will be on probation for another five years but has been able to continue with her studies at Peyame Noor University in Sanandaj, where she is studying language translation. Ronak is an Iranian Kurd, who Amnesty International believed was a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for her work for women’s rights and the rights of Iran's Kurdish minority. On 8 October 2007, she had attended a meeting in Sanandaj to mark the International Day of the Child, and had collected signatures in support of the Campaign for Equality. The Campaign launched in August 2006, aims to collect one million signatures from Iranians in support of an end to legalised discrimination against women. So far, at least 15 of its members have been arrested while collecting signatures, though this is not forbidden under Iranian law. 15


GOODNEWS USA: SUPREME COURT BANS LIFE-WITHOUT-PAROLE FOR YOUTHS MANDATORY sentences of life in prison without parole for juvenile offenders violate the US constitution, the Supreme Court ruled at the end of June. The court threw out the life sentences of two men convicted as boys of murders in Arkansas and Alabama.In both cases, state law mandated judges to impose life without parole. © Sung-min KIM / World Without War.

SOUTH KOREA: CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR RELEASED ON PAROLE “I RECEIVED many letters from Amnesty International members. I haven't met them personally, but they sent me the messages like "I support you, I will work on your release, I support what you believe". These words meant a lot to me and I thank them. “However, on some level my heart aches for my friends who are still in prison (for conscientious objection). I wish that right to conscientious objection is recogniSed so that no one has to go through what I have gone through. I want to express my appreciation again. Those letters really meant a lot to me. I will try to have a good life.” Moon Myung-jin sent the above letter of thanks after his release on parole on 29 June. Myung-jin was given an 18-month sentence in March 2011 for refusing to undertake compulsory military service, as he is opposed to war. He is an activist with the Korean NGO World Without War and volunteered in the UK in 2009 with War Resisters International. In South Korea, men who refuse to undergo compulsory military service are tried in civil courts for violation of the Military Services Act. Typically all males age between 18 - 35 years old must serve an average of 24 months active military service followed by duties in the Reserved Forces for the following eight years. Most conscientious objectors in South Korea currently serve a minimum of 18 months in prison. They leave prison with a criminal record and are regularly discriminated against when seeking employment. Active Term 3 // 2012

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled mandatory life sentences for juvenile convicts violated the constitution's bar on "cruel and unusual punishment". "By making youth (and all that accompanies it) irrelevant to imposition of that harshest prison sentence, such a scheme poses too great a risk of disproportionate punishment," Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court. This decision is in line with international law and is one Amnesty has been campaigning to change for years.

MYANMAR: AMNESTY’S FINAL TWO PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE FREED Political prisoners (from left) Khun Kawrio, Khun Bedu and Khun Dee De reunited on 4 July 2012. © Kayan New Generation Youth (KNGY)

THE FINAL two of Amnesty‘s prisoners of conscience in Myanmar – both student activists - were freed at the start of July! Great News! Khun Kawrio, who was one of the three Karenni student activists our Youth Network campaigned on behalf on during Freedom Challenge 2010, worked as a human rights and democracy activist and educator. He was a leader of a Karenni youth group campaigning for a "No" vote in a referendum on a new constitution. Khun Kawrio was arrested on the day of the referendum, 10 May 2008, and was sentenced by a military court. He had been tortured and otherwise ill-treated, but today he is free, and back with family and friends. Long-standing dissident Ko Aye Aung was also freed. He was arrested on 12 September 1998 for distributing leaflets and organising student demonstrations in Myanmar’s biggest city of Yangon. He was a leading member of the banned All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), and was sentenced to 59 years. He was tortured during interrogation, denied legal representation and the right to speak in his own defence during their trial. 16

ACTIVE Term 3 2012  

Campaign planning magazine for schools and youth!

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