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Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

I would like to thank Ashley Judd for being gracious enough to say a few words about the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). She was a panelist at “Slavery and Human Rights” earlier this month with journalist and abolitionist, Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves.

The bill was introduced in the House as H.R.4594 by Rep. Bill Delahunt (MA-D) and it is currently co-sponsored by 71 representatives.  On the Senate side, S. 2982, has been introduced by Sen. John Kerry (MA-D), and this bill currently has 28 co-sponsors.

Violence against women takes many forms.  Rape is often used as a weapon in military conflicts such as the former states of Yugoslavia and in the Congo where the BBC has reported gang rapes are on the rise.

Another form of violence left Manzour, a mother of two from Pakistan, scarred for life after her in-laws threw acid at her causing her chin to fuse to her chest in a report found by the BBC.  The video contains disturbing images.

A reporter from The Economist recently reported the visit of Xinran Xue, a Chinese writer, who witnessed a birth in Shandong province and wrote about it in her book, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother.

Xinran writes, “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door. . .The cries from the inner room grew louder- and abruptly stopped.  There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly:’Useless thing!’  The writer saw in horror a tiny foot poking from a slops pail after the baby girl was discarded by the midwife.  She tried to save the baby but was restrained by two policeman who told her, ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’  An older woman explained the rationale to the writer saying, “It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it.  Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son.  Girl babies don’t count.'”

This is an outrage, but you can do something about it.  You can help these women break free by asking your US Senator and US Representative to support IVAWA in an e-mail.  Writing personal letters are extremely effective.  One state politician revealed that they pay attention to an issue if they receive five letters on the same topic.  This is an achievable goal.

IVAWA would lend support to non-government organizations that would develop a strategy unique to the area as they work their way towards preventing violence against women.  It could be as simple as funding the education for girls or providing a micro-finance loan that would allow women to be economic independent.   Amnesty International’s website offers a range of actions that you can take to support this bill.

During the panel discussion, Ashley Judd talked about finding your outrage.  Once you found your outrage, your passion will rise up and empower you to make a difference.  My outrage is human trafficking,  a problem which has touched my own city, Quincy, where a Chinese brothel was recently discovered.

Activist and historian Howard Zinn, who passed away earlier this year, wrote, “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change.  Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

Change starts with you.  Be the change.

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Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who act to promote or protect human rights.  Defenders often act within the context of the legal profession, as lawyers, within the community, as activists and leaders, or in the media, as journalists and researchers.  Defenders are active throughout the world, however some act in environments supportive of their activism and advocacy or hostile to and suppressive of it.  When threats against individuals and their families’ safety are made, it sends a dire and chilling message that anyone hoping to seek justice,  uphold rights, secure accountability and end impunity will face harassment and intimidation.

Monday, a prominent Russian human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a freelance journalist he worked with, were both killed after holding a news conference on Markelov’s decision to pursue an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the early release of a former Russian commander imprisoned for the murder of a young Chechen woman. Though his announcement of appeal may not have been connected to his killing, it was just one of many stances he took that led to threats against him.

Thousands gatheredon Tuesday to protest his killing Chechnya’s capital, and the newspaper that Baburova worked for produced an editorial  on the circumstances of her death, the fourth journalist from that paper to be killed.

Human rights defenders, whatever their channel for action, are integral members of human rights and social justice movements and all efforts should be put to defending their work and protecting the individuals.  AI does do much work on behalf of human rights defenders, and more broadly on individuals at risks, ranging from media workers in Sri Lanka to pro-democracy activists in Burma.

Amnesty International has condemned the murder, but it seems no urgent action or pressure will come on authorities to pursue the perpetrators as it seems a high-profile case will ensure public pressure in the least.

Following is a video focused on a human rights defenders from Chechnya; though her story predates the incidents occurring earlier this week, it follows that the environment in which she reports abuses and that which Markelov fought them are one in the same.

 

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In the most pointed remarks made by an African leader, the BBC reports on Thursday that Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga has called for his fellow African leaders to oust Robert Mugabe saying, “it’s time for African governments… to push him out of power,” after the power sharing deal with Morgan Tsvangirai has failed.

Some 12,545 cholera cases have been recorded since August, the UN says.  AP Photo

Some 12,545 cholera cases have been recorded since August, the UN says. AP Photo

The Kenyan PM says that if his South African counterpart asked Mugabe to stand down, he would have no choice but to do so.  He also thinks that Tsvangirai should not participate in the power sharing deal since Mugabe is not truly interested in being a partner.

In the past few monthes, Zimbabwe has accelerated towards calamity as the BBC has reported 10 soldiers rampaged through the capital on Monday because a bankrupt bank could not pay them their wages.

A cholrea epidemic has claimed 565 lives and has infected 12,545 people since August according to the UN.  Scores are fleeing towards South Africa hoping for medical treatment exacerbating a refugee problem in South Africa.

Immigrants, most from Zimbabwe, rush the gate to apply for refugee asylum permits at a government refugee center June 17, 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Officials were overwhelmed by the crowd of thousands that appeared Tuesday morning, after a three day weekend in South Africa. The wave of immigrants crossing illegally from Zimbabwe continues, despite the xenophobic violence against immigrants last month. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Immigrants, most from Zimbabwe, rush the gate to apply for refugee asylum permits at a government refugee center June 17, 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Officials were overwhelmed by the crowd of thousands that appeared Tuesday morning, after a three day weekend in South Africa. The wave of immigrants crossing illegally from Zimbabwe continues, despite the xenophobic violence against immigrants last month. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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