Saturday, March 14, 2015

Darfur Action, 2015

Human Rights Watch reported to Radio Dabanga that 221 women and girls in Darfur were raped over a two-day period at the end of October last year. Sudanese armed forces entered the town, beat up and removed the men and proceeded to systematically enter homes to rape women. The government denied access for the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID, a.k.a. the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur) to enter the town to investigate until about a week after the incident. Before UNAMID was allowed to enter the town, the government instructed civilians against reporting that anything had happened.  Then the militia accompanied UNAMID during its investigation. Eyewitnesses were intimidated and afraid to speak up. This led to a report by UNAMID stating that no evidence of crime had been found.

Women from Tabit have to live with the shame of having been raped. Their men have been humiliated as the government is sending the message that they cannot protect their women.  Women are in need of and do not have access to physical or psychological health services.  They live in fear of having it happen again. They say being in Tabit is like living in “an open prison.” 

In November 2014, UNAMID was not allowed to make a proper investigation of the alleged rapes that took place in Tabit town. We ask that the Sudanese government allow UNAMID to return and be given unrestricted access to investigate the alleged assault of women in Tabit town at the end of October 2014. Human Rights Watch has released a report on the incident. It has been suggested that UNAMID open a base in Tabit. Although the Sudanese government denies that any rapes occurred, there have been numerous interviews by Human Rights Watch with Darfurians who were there when it happened.

To read about the opening of a UNAMID base:

By Bob Saulnier, Amnesty International Group 133

Friday, May 09, 2014

Demanding justice in Sri Lanka

While hundreds rallied outside during our 2014 Get On The Bus action on Sri Lanka on April 11, four Amnesty International USA activists met at the Sri Lankan UN mission with Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Major General Shavendra Silva. We presented around 400 letters participants had signed demanding justice for the “Trinco Five”: Ragihar Manoharan and four other Tamil students who were gunned down by police in Trincomalee on January 2, 2006. (12 Special Task Force members were detained and later released without being charged.)

We demanded that the government: 
  1. Conduct an effective, impartial investigation into the murders of Ragihar Manoharan and the “Trinco Five.” 
  2. Publish the 2006 Presidential Commission of Inquiry report without further delay. 
  3. Promptly transfer the case to a higher court. 
  4. Prosecute those who are responsible for the murders, and bring them to justice in a manner consistent with international human rights standards.
 The families of these students deserve no less than this.

We also expressed concern about the arrest and detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) of Balendran Jeyakumari, an advocate for families of people “disappeared” in the military conflict in Sri Lanka, and her 13-year-old daughter Vibooshika. We called for them to be released, or else to be charged with a recognizable offense under ordinary criminal law, and to receive due process and private attorney visits. Ambassador Silva agreed to follow up with us about these cases. We will not give up until justice has been served, for the “Trinco Five” and for all who have been arbitrarily detained in Sri Lanka under the PTA.
Presenting letters to Sri Lankan Deputy UN Ambassador
Photo by Steve Latimer, AI 9/280

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Update: Sri Lanka

The 2013 Get On The Bus action on Sri Lanka focused on ending the use of arbitrary detention by the Sri Lankan government. From 1983 until 2009, Sri Lanka experienced a brutal civil war between government forces and the separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were seeking an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority in the north and east of the island. The war ended with a government victory over the LTTE. During the conflict, the Sri Lankan government used the repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and other security legislation to detain without charge or trial thousands of suspected members or supporters of the LTTE. Many detainees were tortured in custody; some were killed or “disappeared.” These practices all violated international human rights law, which the Sri Lankan government has pledged to uphold.

Even after the defeat of the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government has continued to use the same tactics against peaceful critics (including journalists) that had been in place during decades of war. The 2013 Get On The Bus action demanded that

  1. the PTA be repealed and the system of administrative detention abolished, 
  2. all detainees be promptly released unless they are charged with recognizable crimes and given fair trials, and 
  3. the Sri Lankan government provide care and compensation to any detainees who were tortured and hold their torturers accountable.

Since the 2013 Get On The Bus action, there has been little discernible progress on this issue. The Sri Lankan government has refused to repeal the PTA and has made several official statements about the need to remain vigilant against perceived terrorist threats. People in Sri Lanka are still being arbitrarily detained. Torture of detainees in custody is rampant, with more reports of detainees being killed in custody. The Amnesty International report released last year, Sri Lanka’s Assault on Dissent, documented how human rights defenders and others have been detained, harassed, threatened and even killed since the end of the war.

Amnesty International continues to campaign on this issue and to stand with all those whose human rights are being violated in Sri Lanka. We will not rest until justice is done.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hundreds Rally in New York for Human Rights in Sudan

Hundreds of activists attended our GET ON THE BUS rally for human rights in Sudan, outside the Sudanese Permanent Mission to the United Nations on April 5th. Participants included Amnesty members as well as members of Sudan human rights groups and of the Sudanese community. We called on the government of Sudan to protect civilians and internally displaced persons in the conflict areas of Darfur, Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. We also collected more than 1,000 letters to President Bashir, signed by Amnesty members and other human rights activists. Earlier in the day, AIUSA Sudan country specialist Denise Bell spoke about human rights in Sudan at our speakers panel at New York City’s Cooper Union. We’ll post photos from the day’s events as soon as they’re available.
Amnesty International USA Group 133 members at GET ON THE BUS
Sudan vigil in Davis Square, Somerville, March 26, 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Take Action: Darfur and all of Sudan

TAKE ACTION NOW for Human Rights in Darfur and All of Sudan!

You can write a letter to President Bashir to demand that the human rights of civilians, internally displaced persons, women and other vulnerable populations, opposition members and all detained prisoners of conscience in Sudan are respected. Our Sudan letter-writing action and all GET ON THE BUS action letters can be found here.

Here's another way you can take action for human rights in Sudan:  Darfur10 is a new campaign by a coalition of activist groups, including Darfuri organizations, to call international attention once again to the crisis in Sudan. One petition asks the African Union, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council representatives to mark the tenth anniversary of the conflict in Darfur by directing resources to ending suffering in the conflict areas of Sudan; urgently responding to the humanitarian crisis there; protecting vulnerable populations; and ending impunity for human rights violators.