Posts Tagged ‘AI USA’

Liu Xiaobo: a giant human rights defender leaves a lasting legacy for China and the rest of the world

July 13, 2017

USA AI then mentions some of the many other HRDs who under the leadership of President Xi Jinping have suffered persecution:

Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, was sentenced to life imprisonment for “separatism”. Amnesty International believes that he is in prison for writings posted on the Internet.[]

Women’s rights activist Su Changlan was sentenced in March 2017 to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.”[]

Human rights lawyers like Jiang Tianyong have been detained, arrested and harassed by government authorities in the last several years. He was formally arrested for “subverting state power” after being detained in an unofficial detention facility for over six months. []

The reaction of the Chinese government to criticism from abroad over Liu Xiaobo’s treatment is by the way typical. See e.g. in the Strait Times of 14 July: “Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said China had lodged protests with “certain countries” for interfering in its “judicial sovereignty”…….”Conferring the prize to such a person goes against the purposes of this award. It’s a blasphemy of the peace prize”. []

Source: Liu Xiaobo: A giant of human rights who leaves a lasting legacy for China and the world – Amnesty International USA

The end of USA’s human rights policy as we know it?

May 4, 2017

Under the strong title “Tillerson shows why he was a rotten choice to head the State Department describes in the Washington Post of 4 May 2017 how a long tradition of human rights policy by the USA may be coming to an end.

Read the rest of this entry »

International Human Rights Arts Festival in New York: 3-5 March 2017

March 3, 2017

International Human Rights Arts Festival to Feature HAMILTON Dancer, Bessie Winner and More

2016 Bessie Award-winning choreographer Joya Powell brings her Movement of the People Dance Company to the premiere International Human Rights Art Festival, New York City‘s first arts-advocacy festival of its kind. The Festival, presented by The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, co-sponsored and housed at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, NYC), will take place 3-5 March, 2017. As part of the Dance portion of the festival, Jessica Chen of J Chen Dance project is working with three additional dance companies to create human rights-oriented dance. Jacqueline Dugal will also create a piece incorporating human rights texts.

Tickets are $10-25 and are now available online with full schedule and participant information at

Dance can help translate unspoken fears and emotions…” noted Jessica Chen, of the J CHEN PROJECT, “the nuances of a leg held up, a body launched into space, a gesture of yearning is immensely powerful. For this festival, we will use movement and choreography to enhance the conversation about critical human rights issues.”

J CHEN PROJECT Commissions: Jessica Chen of JChen Dance Project comissioned works will be based in and incorporate a specific textual inspiration, ranging from the words of great human rights defenders (such as MLK Jr. or Gandhi) to a bland recitation of statistics on refugees, civilian war deaths, famine due to autocratic governments etc. The four pieces, comprising an hour of dance, will run both Saturday and Sunday, and be previewed at the opening festivities. Saturday, March 4, at 10:00 pm; Sunday, March 5, at 4 pm (see below for full lineup)…


The International Human Rights Art Festival will bring together more than 70 artists producing more than 40 events, all of them oriented toward advocacy. Artistic media will include theatre, performance, dance, spoken word, painting, photography, music, literary arts, workshops, panel discussions, a kidsfest (hands-on activities to introduce children to using art for socially-transformative purpose), film and others. Rigorously curated for quality as well as content, the event includes some of New York’s most passionate rising artist-activists. It will raise social, cultural and political issues, as well as offering gentle, positive responses through thoughtful beauty and political and social thinking.


Producer Tom Block, a 20-year activist painter, author, playwright and arts producer, as well as creator of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival (MD, 2010) is bringing the concept to NYC, with the 2017 International Human Rights Art Festival. The event is part of the growing number of initiatives of the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, which Mr. Block founded last year to teach, learn from, and work with New York’s activist artist community.

Colombian human rights defender Berenice Celeita talks on 10 June in Washington

June 2, 2015

Wednesday 10 June, 2015 (p.m.) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Peace Brigades International, and Amnesty International USA organize a “Discussion with Colombian Human Rights Defender Berenice Celeita“. The event will feature Ms. Berenice Celeita, the founder of the Association for Investigation and Social Action (NOMADESC) and winner of the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Through NOMADESC, Ms. Celeita advises and accompanies social organizations and unions as well as civic, women’s, indigenous, afro-descendent, and family farmer organizations.

Ms. Celeita will discuss the current human rights situation in Colombia, including the most pressing issues faced by marginalized communities claiming their rights, and will speak about strategies for combating human rights abuses against these populations.

[For years, civil society activists in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca Departments of Colombia have endured incidences of intimidation, harassment, and persecution as a result of their work. While these incidences have recently intensified, they are not new and form part of a long pattern of threats and attacks against the work of human rights defenders and community leaders in Colombia. The internal armed conflict in Colombia generates internally-displaced populations and sexual violence against women, and further marginalizes impoverished populations. Indigenous and afro-descendent leaders who stand up for their rights and defend their lands are acutely at risk of death threats and other forms of intimidation. In this context – characterized by a lack of security and government accountability – the work of human rights defenders and civil society activists is paramount and must be safeguarded, as they serve as the voice and guardians for local populations facing evictions, violence, and persecution.]

To attend contact: before 8 June.

John Legend writes for Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign.

December 18, 2014

Award-winning singer/songwriter John Legend joined Amnesty International USA as part of its annual Write for Rights campaign. For Human Rights Day 2014 the Write for Rights cases included Chelsea Manning, victims of gun violence in the USA and Brazil, and women and girls of El Salvador impacted by the country’s abortion ban.

Writing is a transformative experience.
I write songs to express myself.
I write songs to give hope.
I write songs to heal the hurt.
I write because living free from violence is a human right.
I write because I refuse to accept this is ‘just the way it is.’
I write because leaders who let their police forces jail, beat and kill people who are simply, peacefully trying to express themselves need to know the world is watching.
I write because I take injustice personally. Because there are no throwaway lives.
I write because silence feeds violence.
I write because lyrics change music, but letters change lives.

Human rights documentary “Beatrice Mtetwa & The Rule of Law” on television and internet

November 6, 2014

On 13 November KCETLink, a US national independent public media organization, presents the television premiere of “BEATRICE MTETWA & THE RULE OF LAW“, chronicling the courageous human rights defender and her fight against social and political inequalities in Zimbabwe. Through interviews with Mtetwa and some of her clients, the film tells the story of what happens when leaders place themselves above the law and why defense of the rule of law is the cornerstone of society in which human rights are respected. Although Mtetwa’s platform is centered in Zimbabwe, her message and bravery are universal.

The television broadcast of BEATRICE MTETWA & THE RULE OF LAW coincides with the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage presented by Georgia Tech honoring Beatrice Mtetwa on Thursday, 13 November, 2014. The Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage recognizes individuals around the world who, by asserting moral principle, have positively affected public discourse at the risk of their careers, livelihoods, and sometimes lives.

On Tuesday 11 November, viewers will have the opportunity to watch a live stream of a Q&A with Mtetwa and filmmaker Lorie Conway moderated by Jacqueline J. Royster, Dean of the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, starting at 8 p.m. ET at  In advance of the Q&A, viewers can also submit questions for Mtetwa online at or on Twitter and Facebook using #allenprize. Amnesty International USA will also host the live stream of the Q&A on its website at

The film is also available online at
KCETLink Presents World Television Premiere of Human Rights Documentary, Beatrice Mtetwa & The Rule of Law | KCETLink Press Releases | Press Room | KCET.


The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Lauryn Hill and others to support human rights with new concert series

January 9, 2014


Amnesty International’s  Human Rights Concert series will be returning on 5 February 2014. The “Bringing Human Rights Home” concert takes place at the Barclays Center. Among the performers will be The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Lauryn Hill, Tegan and Sara, The Fray, Cold War Kids, Colbie Caillat, and Cake. These artists – unlike Mariah Carey – want to show a new generation of activists how to stand up for justice at home and abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

Can ‘big data’ can help protect human rights?

January 5, 2014

Samir Goswami, managing director of AI USA’s Individuals and Communities at Risk Program, and Mark Cooke,  chief innovation officer at Tax Management Associates, wrote a piece about how ‘big data’ can help human rights rather than just violate them. The piece is worth reading but falls short of being convincing. The better prediction of human rights violations which may [!] result from the analysis of a huge amount of data would of course be welcome but I remain unconvinced that it would therefore lead to a reduction of actual violations. Too many of these are planned and willful, while the mobilization of shame and international solidarity would be less forthcoming for violations that MAY occur. The authors are not the first to state that prevention is better than cure but the current problem is no so much a lack of predictive knowledge as a weakness of curing intervention. Still, the article is worth reading as it describes developments that are likely to come about anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty International USA comments on Bradley Manning verdict

August 1, 2013

On 4 June this blog referred to the controversy surrounding the question whether Bradley Manning should be a recognized AI Prisoner of Conscience. So it is fair to report that on 30 July 2013 AI USA came out with a statement saying in essence: Read the rest of this entry »

US-based NGOs enter presidential race with recommendations on HRDs

August 10, 2012

Back from a long break, I start with a substantive post although I dod not have to do much writing. Last week 22 human rights organizations – including the 3 on the Jury of the MEA: AI, HRW, HRF – issued a common report listing the ten most pressing issues for the next US President. Stewart M. Patrick of the Council of Foreign Relations in his blog the Internationalist made my life easy by summarizing the point (see his: For the text of point 4 relating to HRDs, go to the full document in PDF:

1)      Prioritize U.S. leadership on international norms and universality of human rights: Despite the flaws of multilateral bodies like the UN Human Rights Council, they provide crucial legitimacy to U.S. pressure for human rights. Notably, the report points out that engagement is necessary, however frustrating it may be: “By withdrawing from these institutions or restricting funding, the United States forfeits its leadership…and undermines of [sic] its ability to advance its own interests.”

2)      Act to prevent genocide and mass atrocities and ensure accountability: The next president should build on the painstaking progress that NGOs and governments have achieved over the past decades by sustaining political will and “matching resources to rhetoric…The next administration should support the APB [Atrocities Prevention Board] and provide it with the necessary resources.” In addition, going it with others, versus going it alone, lends legitimacy to U.S. atrocity-prevention efforts and helps defray suspicions that the United States is purely acting  for self-interested political reasons.

3)      Pursue policies that protect people from the threat of terrorism while respecting human rights both at home and abroad: Balancing human rights and terrorist prevention remains an enormous challenge. Specifically, the report recommends two steps: end indefinite detention without charge or trial, and publicly clarify the criteria for lethal targeting and rendition. While terrorism understandably prompts desire for urgent and harsh action, sacrificing human rights at home and abroad carries dangerous, long-term consequences.

4)      Oppose the coordinated global assault on civil society, including the murder, criminalization, and vilification of human rights defenders: This is not a simple task, but the authors offer five actionable steps to mitigate the worst effects of repressive regimes from Ethiopia to Belarus to Venezuela, such as U.S. funding to civil society and media organizations and guidelines for U.S. agencies to support human rights defenders.

5)      Proactively address the democracy and human rights opportunities and challenges presented by the Arab Uprisings: Among a number of recommendations, the report notes that the Obama administration’s “limited pressure for reform” toward Arab monarchies has been disappointing, and that the next administration should condition military aid to Bahrain on progress toward political reform, more forcefully pressure Egypt’s military to transfer power to an elected government, and step up diplomatic and economic pressure on Syria’s Assad regime.

6)      Ensure that corporations avoid contributing to human rights violations in their operations and through their supply chains: The ten actionable steps presented in the report provide feasible options to reduce horrifying violations of human rights in many corporation’s global supply chains. They include implementation of the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and ensuring that it “is not amended to erode the core intent of the law” as well as releasing “final rules for Sections 1502 and 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act” (PDF) and implementing the law “in line with congressional intent.”

7)      Bolster accountability and access to services and justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence: The horrors of mass rapes, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, “so-called ‘honor killings,’ ” forced marriage, and domestic violence require a “deeper and more thorough response.” Along with continuing to press for accountability and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for gender-based crimes perpetrated by U.S. government employees or contractors, the next administration should “expand support for international programs that increase access to health care, educational opportunities, and judicial institutions for girls and women” and increase visas for victims of gender-based violence.

8)      Review the United States’ relationships and alliances with governments that violate human rights:  This has consistently been one of the most difficult lines to walk. Regarding relationships with authoritarian regimes, the authors argue that “Washington policymakers often underestimate the political and moral capital America has, or refuse to use it.” They add, “Despite the recognition that the United States’ largely uncritical partnerships with repressive regimes in the Middle East undermined long-term U.S. interests, old mistakes are being repeated around the world. The United States has largely neglected human rights as it collaborated on counterterrorism with Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and other authoritarian partners.” Therefore, the authors call on the next U.S. president to review U.S. relations with authoritarian governments with a fresh perspective. In addition, U.S. diplomats on the ground should engage with democracy activists or civil society groups. The administration should also introduce targeted visa bans and asset freezes on foreign government officials implicated in rights violations.

9)      Support international justice and accountability for human rights violators present in the United States: To reduce impunity for gross violations of international law, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the United States must support accountability for leaders or compatriots who carry out heinous abuses. As I have written previously, the false peace-justice tradeoff is no reason to go easy on the most violent dictators. To further this progress, the report urges the next administration to “close legal loopholes in the federal war-crimes law and press for crimes against humanity committed abroad to be a federal crime so human rights violators in the United States can be held to account.”

10)   Support policies at home and abroad that respect the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants, and immigrants: The authors lament that the United States “has failed, in a number of ways, to protect the human rights of refugees and migrants.” Regrettably, the report continues, “the United States detained nearly 400,000 asylum seekers and immigrants last year, often without individual assessments or prompt court review of detention” and the list goes on of documented U.S. violations of migrant and refugee rights, as confirmed by both bipartisan domestic reviews and international observer missions. As the report lays out, the next administration must reform the U.S. immigration detention system, stop fostering racial profiling through immigration enforcement, and ensure accountability for human rights abuses by the Border Patrol and at points of entry. Protecting human rights must start at home.