Amnesty International Aotearoa NZ’s Youth Magazine
IN THIS ISSUE: > WHERE IS PRAGEETH? > INSPIRING YOUTH DISCOVERED > YORM BOPHA RELEASED!
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WELCOME to a new issue of ACTIVE and a new year with Amnesty International! We’re right into the swing of things here and this year we’ll be launching two new campaigns:
My Body My Rights will break the silence surrounding some of our most personal rights, our sexual and reproductive rights. We’ll be focusing on Papua New Guinea (PNG), which has some of the highest rates of gender based violence. In June, we’ll mark International Day against Torture with the launch of our Stop Torture campaign. Here we’ll be focusing on the Philippines and changing practices within the police force. Remember that ACTIVE is just a start to your campaigning. If you want more then please fill out the enclosed registration form to sign up for additional information. And we’ll add you straight onto our Youth and e-Action Networks. Before you get into campaigning for the year please let us know about your group. It is easy... just add complete contact details on the registration form for all members so we can keep everybody in your group up to date with our campaigns and events. We’re looking forward to working with you this year! Margie Activism Support Manager
“Hey everyone, my name is Adinda and I’m the new Youth intern. I’m very excited to be working at Amnesty International New Zealand and look forward to meeting the people who make it so fantastic! But first, a bit about me: I was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and spent a year as a foreign exchange student in the United States at age 17 as well. I’ve been addicted to travelling from a very young age. So far I’ve visited about half of Europe and several other countries around the world and I plan on visiting a lot more in the future, starting with New Zealand of course. Another big passion of mine is movies, which is actually how I became involved with Amnesty International: the Movies that Matter Festival - http://www.moviesthatmatter. nl/english_index. I loved being part of such an amazing project that put human rights centre stage and I think a lot of you can relate to that!.
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I can’t wait to get started and find out how amazing and capable you all are. Let’s make this year an unforgettable one! Adinda
Shine a light in a dark corner... and you’ll find someone who’s relying on Amnesty. This graffiti was spotted on the wall of Security Prison 21 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in October 2013.
YORM BOPHA RELEASED ON BAIL IN November we heard the fantastic news that Cambodian forced eviction activist Yorm Bopha had been released from jail on bail. Hundreds of her supporters waited outside the court in the rain for her to be released and reunited with her young son and family. But Bopha herself was disappointed at the judges’ decision – the charges had not been droped and for her the only fair outcome would be acquittal. The next day she was already out protesting with other activists against forced evictions again. Bopha had been locked up since her arrest in September 2012 on accusations of plotting “intentional violence” against two men despite no evidence against her and inconsistent witness testimonies. Amnesty considered her a Prisoner of Conscience and consistently campaigned on her behalf, supporting her and her community’s peaceful protest against the forced eviction from Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh. Thank you for all your actions on her behalf, she asked our Cambodia researcher Rupert to pass on this message: “Thank you to Amnesty International supporters! Your campaign has been successful, as my release shows! But my case is not over yet. Please keep pushing the Cambodian government to end the case against me. And please keep supporting me, my community and others in Cambodia. We can achieve the most success when we all work together!”
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IMAGES: Top - Amnesty researcher Rupert Abbott with activists who called for Yorm Bopha’s release, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 23 November 2013. © AI Middle - Yorm Bopha, Prisoner of Conscience after being released on bail © LICADHO Bottom - Yorm Bopha (far right) and fellow activists, marching in protest against forced evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 6th December 2013 © AI
WHAT would you do if one day your Dad failed to come home from work? And when your Mum went to the Police to report his absence she was detained by the police instead, and they refused to open a case, saying they thought your Dad’s “disappearance” was a publicity stunt. When after a few days there was still no sign of your Dad, your Mum went back to the Police and they accepted her complaint, but then a senior police official commented he was too busy to make the case a priority. And then you started getting scary reports that a white van had been seen in the area where your Dad was last seen. And white vans were known to pick up critics of the government and your Dad was a very outspoken journalist and cartoonist. And maybe because he hadn’t wanted to worry you or your Mum, your Dad had failed to mention what he’d told a close friend a few days before he went missing, that he thought he was being followed.
For Sathyajith (20) and Harith (16) Eknaligoda every
day of the past four years has been spent waiting, and wondering what happened to their Dad, Prageeth Eknaligoda. Where is he? Is he being treated well? Is he alive or dead? Will they ever see him again? Prageeth has been missing since 24 January 2010. Sathyajith and Harith along with their Mum, Sandya have never given up hope and they’ve never stopped calling for truth and justice for Prageeth, and all other victims of enforced disappearance.
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In his cartoons Prageeth depicted issues of freedom of speech and political power © Prageeth Eknaligoda
Just one of many activities the Eknaligoda family have organised, was Sathyajith and Harith’s street-art action in October last year in support of a film about disappearances called “White Van Stories”. Check out the video www.youtube.com/ watch?v=aeDjbLOrP6 At that time Sathyajith spoke of the impact of having a loved one disappear. “Someone comes along and snatches away your family… their happiness is gone” As for the disappeared it’s like, “You won’t die. You won’t live. You just disappear,” he added.
IMAGES: (L) Sandya Eknaligoda wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda with with their two sons Sathyajith Sanjaya and Harith Danajaya in 2011. (Above) Sandya and Sathyajith along with others protect the disappearance of their family members in Colombo in 2012.
>> TAKE ACTION!
Please collect as many signatures as you can on the petition enclosed, calling on the Inspector General of Police and the President to: • Ensure that Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance is investigated without delay • Ensure that attacks and abductions of journalists in Sri Lanka are properly investigated, and the perpetrators are brought to justice Return petitions to Amnesty International, PO Box 5300, Wellesley Street, Auckland. By Thursday, 17 April.
Solidarity Action for Prageeth You can also send solidarity messages to Sathyajith and Harith Eknaligoda saying something like: I am writing to you in solidarity with your campaign to
SRI LANKA seek justice for your Dad, Prageeth Eknaligoda. There are many others in (school’s name), New Zealand, who know of and support your struggle for truth and justice. You are not alone in your activism for your Dad. We too in (school’s name), New Zealand know of and support your struggle for truth and justice. Cards and letters can be sent directly to: Sandya Eknaligoda 132/2 Suhada Mawatha, Hiripitya Pannipitiya Sri Lanka Please do not send religious cards, but you can mention Amnesty International. While you can write to Sathyajith and Harith inside your letter please do not put their names on the envelope.
HUMAN RIGHTS DOMINATE AT SRI LANKA SUMMIT THE Sri Lankan Government may regret ever having hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November, after it quickly turned into a PR disaster as the country’s appalling human rights record became the only story in town. Thank you to all of you who helped us tell New Zealand and the world the truth about the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Sadly CHOGM was a missed opportunity after Sri Lanka was awarded the position Chair of the Commonwealth for the next two years. Steve Crawshaw, Amnesty’s person on the ground in Colombo during CHOGM said, “by awarding Sri Lanka the chairmanship for the next two years and membership of the organisation’s human rights oversight body, the Commonwealth has confirmed its failure to address the country’s human rights crisis. It beggars belief that a country with Sri Lanka’s appalling human rights record can be accorded this honour.” The challenge for the international community is now to keep up the pressure on the Sri Lankan government to address its human rights crisis by establishing an international investigation into evidence of war crimes.
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An inquiry will hold to account those responsible for past violations, including war crimes, and will ensure ongoing human rights violations are stopped.
The upcoming UN Human Rights Council session in March this year is the next opportunity to call for an international inquiry and we will be demanding that governments the world over make sure this happens.
IMAGES: Top - Over 80 people joined us on the steps of Parliament in Wellington in November as we handed over almost 200, 000 global signatures calling on Commonwealth leaders to stop Sri Lanka becoming Chair of the Commonwealth. Bottom - Amnesty’s Executive Director Grant Bayldon and Advocacy Manager Amanda Brydon with the signatures.
FREEDOM BIRDS FOR DHONDUP IT’S now six years since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which means it’s six years since Tibetan Dhondup Wangchen has been in prison. He was detained and tortured simply for filming Tibetans talking about their views towards the Beijing Olympics and the Dalai Lama. The footage was smuggled out to Switzerland, where it was edited down to a 25 minute documentary called “Leaving Fear Behind”. This was the first time Wangchen had picked up a video camera. Dhondup Wangchen’s expected release date is 5 June 2014. As it is unclear how he will be treated in the lead-up to this date and following his release, it’s important that we raise awareness about him and remind the authorities that he is not forgotten.
>> TAKE ACTION! Join an action developed by his supporters, for the “safe return of Dhondup Wangchen”, which calls on people to make origami birds. A manual and a video with instructions for making the birds can be found here: http://unchain-the-truth.com/downloads/ Please send your birds to the following address by 3 March: Dhondup Wangchen Action c/o Amnesty International East Asia 16/F, Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong SAR You can also take a photo of the birds and upload them to the Facebook page www.facebook.com/unchainthetruth. Be as creative as you can! Or why not host public bird-making events to attract students and staff to join you. If you’d like to screen “Leaving Fear Behind” please contact Adinda for a copy on email@example.com, 0800 266 378.
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AMNESTY International began with a toast to freedom and more than 50-years later we’re asking that you meet, eat and drink and take photos in support of China’s New Citizen’s Movement (NCM). What an easy way to Take Action! In May 2012 the Movement started as a peaceful cultural, social and political campaign to spread the “New Citizen Spirit” online and in the streets, by rejecting corruption and doing good for society. Members would participate in civic life by holding meetings to discuss the political situation; helping the weak; and uniting to share and coordinate work. You would have thought President Xi Jinping, who has promised to clamp-down on corruption, would have welcomed this movement. Instead there has been a crackdown against those that want to expose corruption. Some 65 people linked to the NCM – have been detained and/or disappeared over the past year. Some 40 have been formally arrested and 15 are known to have been indicted and/or tried simply for exercising their rights to assembly and free speech. Their trials will continue throughout the first half of the year. The NCM promoted itself through the “same-city eat-drink” (SCED) gathering, which saw supporters hold meetings typically on the last Saturday of every month. They would then take pictures of themselves at the dinner and then share them on social media sites such as Sina Weibo or Twitter. This allowed like minded Chinese social media users passionate about civil rights to make mutual acquaintances both locally and nationwide, the kind of networking the police and political structures in China are designed to prevent.
>> TAKE ACTION! In support of these brave Chinese activists we’re asking you to copy the actions of SCED, and take photos that will be used to: • provide encouragement and moral support to detained NCM members
• a smartphone or camera
You’ve got between now and end of Term 1 to take this action. If you’ve got any questions please either email Adinda or phone her on 0800 266 378.
What you need to take action:
Your best photos – preferably with captions of all those people who are pictured – can be sent to Adinda Mendel, firstname.lastname@example.org
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• be circulated on line to remind authorities in Beijing that the world is watching
• as many friends or group members you can mobilize, and a table at your favourite local cafe or restaurant or gathered around a table during your lunch-time meeting.
MALALA: AN INSPIRATION Teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai was the inspiration of an awardwinning mural by Nardos Tilahun, Auckland Girls’ Grammar (AGGS) student. Not only did her mural win a Resene Mural Award but it became the cover page of our membership magazine, Flame. We spoke to Nardo about what inspires her creativity and human rights activism.
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Q. What sparked your interest in human rights? My dad was a politician which is the reason we came to New Zealand. When my father’s party split and he was on the opposing side, we had to escape and be relocated to New Zealand by the UN. When I listen to the news I notice a lot of injustice and I wanted to do something about that with any opportunity I get. That is also why I joined the human rights group at our school.
foremost, women’s right for equality in all aspects of society. But I was also very drawn to the quote “A state that does not educate and train women is like a man who only trains his right arm” by Jostein Gaarder, and how that related to us young women at school.
Q. What inspired the creation of the mural? My main inspiration was, first and
Her being young and so courageous in a country conflicted with war and not such a safe place for women and her demands for rights to education inspire people around the world. We chose her because of the work she has done for her rights and the rights of others and for people to value education.
This was also very much linked to Malala, who at this very moment is at the forefront of the movement for the rights to adequate education for girls and children worldwide.
Q. What message would you like people to take from your mural? As much as I designed and painted the mural; it was also the product of the commitment that was put in by the girls in the AGGS Humanitarian Group.
As a result it represents what we stand for and hope to achieve. We want people to see that today’s global issues are genderless, and they cannot be resolved with half of humanity lagging behind. Education is the key to change and fight against suppression. The mural is also meant to represent the empowerment of young women and their capacity to lead and drive change in the issues that we face. Q. Why do you think it is important for youth to be aware of human rights issues? Despite our little life experience, the fact that we are able to recognize injustice and demand for change is in part a reflection of those older than us who should know better. We have a moral high ground and we are obligated to have the rights of other protected, as it is their right to have them protected. Being aware of human right issues is also a way of knowing what you as an individual are also capable of achieving and contributing to society.
Eleven-year-old demands “close G Bay”
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Jelle (8) an d Maaike (6 ) Keizer ra $23.70 fo ised r Amnesty by selling and vegie sunflower seedlings a t their Hou School, We ghton Valle llington. y While Jelle says the id ea was his heaps of h , he had elp from h is sister an d his Mum . But it was sparked by d onating to collector in an Amnesty Cuba Mall . “The Amn esty woma n collectin knew abou g asked if t Amnesty. I I said ‘no’ me to talk and she to to you and ld m y it was so th Mum to as en I still h k what a d wanted to that in min sell d and end we actu something for you an d in the ally did it.” Jelle says it’s import ant for kid in human s to be inv rights “ be olved cause it is when you a easier to le re younger arn and it is en children to joyable for sell stuff.
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antanamo Bay was IT’S 12 years since Gu k since President Barac opened and five years n me se it. But 150 Obama promised to clo remain held there. 70 of t charge or trial and Most are held withou nco t d for transfer bu them have been cleare . ns so stly for security rea tinue to be held, mo ne on hunger strike as Many of them have go their detainees can protest one of the few ways illegal detention. gton ger than South Wellin G Bay has existed lon , am rah Ab student, Bodhi Intermediate School t it ou ab t rn But when he lea (11) has been alive. t en nm sig hool speech as while researching a sc usit e th the brutality of he was so shocked at th a fast in sympathy wi on ation, that he went the American the men and wrote to ambassador. said, chose to fast, Bodhi When asked why he time e on from the pool at “I was walking back rvsta s wa I hours late and and was a couple of at wh ly lf that’s probab ing. I thought to myse fast ment so I decided to mo they feel like at the then.” never too young to be Bodhi believes you are rights. involved with human e, ‘When I’m older, I’m “All my friends are lik , ‘Why wait?’ I believe gonna do that.’ I think a voice than adults in children have more of some aspects.” like to send G Bay de And the message he’d .” pe ho ep changing so ke tainees? “Things are
One Tree Hill College - L-R: River Jorgensen, Shahil Ram, Rashneel Kumar, Jonathan Abiad
McAuley College Year 12 & 13 Amnesty members.
McAuley College students Tara Soe, Caroline Sipili, Seneuefa Hunt, Toakase Paongo
FREEDOM CHALLENGE 2013 & 2014 THANKS to every single one of you and your schools who participated in Freedom Challenge 2013. Truly, one of our best challenges so far. “Chalk like an Egyptian; Stand up for women’s rights” proved a winner on so many fronts.
One Tree Hill College - June Sianini & Lebron Talofasi
Your activism generated fantastic amounts of media coverage, and you exceeded our expectations in terms of the petitions signed, banners created and funds raised.
FUNDRAISING NEW GROUPS
“It was so wonderful to be able to deliver your banners directly to Amnesty’s Egypt Researcher Nicholas Piachaud at our HQ in London in November. He was delighted with the creativity of your activism and promised to get banners to those women’s groups you have worked so hard for,” said Activism Support Manager, Margaret Taylor.
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Here’s some of that creativity by two Auckland schools. McAuley College teacher co-or-
One Tree Hill College - Ofa Pouono, Adrian Daunoco, Karen Phaly, Shinal Shyal & Spencer Vaiouga
dinator, Makerita Loto, told us about the exceptional all-student efforts undertaken at this South Auckland school. “Although we are on the other side of the world and can only take a glimpse at what is happening in Egypt in the comfort of our homes in our free country, students and staff of McAuley have opened their hearts and extend their support and prayers to the women, and all people of Egypt during their fight for a democratic and equal country.”
One Tree Hill College, Auckland, celebrated Freedom Day on 18 November. “It was a breath taking display of staff and student efforts. The day included a live band, hand printed tops, banners, speeches and more creative project displays and fundraising ideas than you could shake a stick at,” said then Youth Intern Kristin Williams. Along the way almost $770 was raised.
RUSSIA: ACTIVISTS FREED PUSSY Riot and Greenpeace “Arctic 30” activists were all released in December. The releases were part of a prisoner amnesty which saw around 20,000 other prisoners across Russia freed. Kiwi Arctic 30 activists David Haussmann and Jonathan Beauchamp have since returned home. While of course their release is welcome, they should never have been detained, charged and sentenced in the first place. As she walked free from jail Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova told journalists the releases were merely the Russian government putting on “another show ahead of the Olympics…such is their big desire to prevent all European countries from boycotting our [Games].” She added there are many others who are “not much talked about and are even forgotten but who still need to come out of their jails as they don’t belong here”. Nadia and fellow band member Maria Alekhina continue to be outspoken despite being imprisoned for singing a song. They appeared at AI USA’s Bringing Human Rights Home Concert in February.
CHILE: ONE STEP CLOSER TO SAME SEX MARRIAGE LAST year it was New Zealand celebrating with songs and cheers the announcement of the Same Sex Marriage Act. This year it’s Chile’s turn, with its Senate in January moving forward the Life Partner Agreement (Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja, or AVP). Activists expect this agreement to pass before the current president Sebastián Piñera hands over the presidency to newly elected Michelle Bachelet in March.
SINGAPORE: LAW CHANGE SAVES YONG VUI KONG’S LIFE SIX years on death-row have ended for Malaysian Yong Vui Kong (25) in a landmark decision in Singapore. As a 19-year-old Yong Vui Kong was sentenced to death by hanging in Singapore for working as a drug runner for an unidentified criminal network. He has always said he did not know the package he carried contained drugs. He has become the first drug trafficker on death row to have his sentence reduced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane, under amendments made to the Misuse of Drugs Act. “This is a landmark ruling, and possibly the first time in history that someone sentenced to death under Singapore’s draconian drugs laws has had their sentence commuted,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s East Asia Research Director.
But she also added that “Yong Vui Kong should never have had to suffer through six years on death row for a non-lethal offence which doesn’t warrant a death sentence under international law. He must also be spared the 15 cane strokes, which is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”
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In December, former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet who served from 2006 to 2010, was re-elected under the promise she would legalize samesex marriage.
Pussy Riot members Masha and Nadya sign the last two petitions for freedom of speech in Russia at Amnesty Netherlands. A special moment!
RUSSIA: 330,000 SIGNATURES CHALLENGE PUTIN’S CRACKDOWN A handcuffed Russian ballerina braved the freezing weather in Moscow in late January as Amnesty International activists delivered a petition of 330,000 signatures urging President Vladimir Putin to end the crackdown on human rights in the country. The signatures were collected in 112 countries, including New Zealand, as part of Amnesty International’s global campaign ahead of the Winter Olympic Games.
A ballerina dances in a “one-person protest” against repression of free speech in Russia. Central Moscow, following Amnesty’s petition handover. © Denis Bochkarev & Genia Rakina
In 2012 the Russian government made a public commitment to honour the Olympic principles of non-discrimination, equality, inclusion, respect and mutual understanding and to promote human rights during the Winter Olympics and beyond.
© Marie Lafrance
However, a number of laws brought in by the Russian authorities since then do exactly the opposite. There has been a crackdown on freedom of speech and expression, interference with the work of independent civil society leading to closure of NGOs and open discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.
© Phil Wheeler
IMAGES above and cover image - When Anna Goodson first heard about Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law and violence being experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTI) Russians, she felt compelled to take action. Goodson, founder and CEO of the Anna Goodson Illustration Agency, mobilized her international group of illustrators and put out an open call for artwork that showed solidarity with the Russian LGBTI community. The result? A striking collection of over 40 images that Goodson is calling “Art Speaks Louder Than Words.”
UN: CHILDREN’S RIGHTS RECOGNISED CHILDREN whose rights have been violated will soon be able to complain to a key UN Committee after a new legal instrument on the rights of the child was ratified on 14 January.
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The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, will allow children or their representatives to be able to submit complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Committee can then decide whether to review the case, and where a violation is found, it will recommend that the State concerned takes action to remedy the situation.
© Moira Millman
MOROCCO: VICTORY FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS Up until January, men accused of rape in Morocco were able to escape prosecution by marrying their victim, if the girl was aged under 18. This widely-criticised get-out clause in Morocco’s Penal Code has finally been abolished. The amendment of Article 475 is a significant step forward for women and girls in Morocco and a victory for women’s rights campaigners who lobbied heavily to amend the law.