Write a letter, change a life

In this issue of WIRE you’ll meet 12 very different people and communities. What they all have in common is that there is a real opportunity, right now, to make a positive difference in their lives.

This December, for the 12th year in a row, women, men and children all over the world will come together – in community centres, on street corners, at home and online – to do one very simple thing: write letters.

Our messages – more than 2.3 million in 2013 – have a particular kind of power. Imagine spending days, months, years thinking the world has forgotten you. Then suddenly, thousands of letters arrive: tangible proof that you are not alone. That’s what happened to Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, who was released earlier this year (see page 3).

And that’s what will happen to many others as we sharpen our pencils and get typing during the world’s largest human rights event, Write for Rights.

Join us! You’ll find everything you need to take part in this special edition of WIRE, Amnesty’s global campaigning magazine.

Posted in Belarus, China, Greece, India, Individuals at Risk, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Young, Black, Alive – Breaking the silence on Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate

The new “Young Black Alive” campaign is aimed at tackling the underlying human rights issues behind Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate. © Anistia Internacional Brasil

By Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil

Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities or favelas.

Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black. Continue reading

Posted in Brazil, Children, Discrimination, Juveniles and Human Rights, Killings and Disappearances, Racial Discrimination, Unlawful Killings and Extrajudicial Execution | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating women’s rights heroes

As part of My Body My Rights, we're celebrating women's rights heroes for 16 days of activism against gender violence, 25 Nov-10 Dec. © Amnesty International

As part of My Body My Rights, we’re celebrating women’s rights heroes for 16 days of activism against gender violence, 25 Nov-10 Dec. © Amnesty International

On 25 November 1960, three women known as the Mirabal sisters were assassinated by state agents in the Dominican Republic because they dared to challenge the ruling dictator. These women’s rights heroes – women who became symbols of popular and feminist resistance – are commemorated on this day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Today, kicks off 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, where people around the world will be challenging violence against women and girls in its many forms. This means standing up to attitudes and behaviours that value men over women – and that are expressed in many ways, from casual insults to outright violence.

These attitudes are at the root of what prevents so many women and girls from making decisions that affect their bodies and their lives – and that block women and girls from claiming their rights and participating in society equally with men and boys.

Continue reading

Posted in Algeria, Egypt, El Salvador, Europe And Central Asia, Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Morocco, Sexual Violence, South Africa, Tunisia, Women, Women's Rights | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Miles de apátridas: la vergüenza de República Dominicana

Batey Samana Larga de Gonzalo en la Provincia Monte Plata, República Dominicana.

Batey Samana Larga de Gonzalo en la Provincia Monte Plata, República Dominicana.

Por Erika Guevara Rosas, directora para las Américas de Amnistía Internacional.

Las declaraciones del ex-presidente de la República Dominicana, Leonel Fernández, en un artículo publicado el 19 de noviembre en El País, son un reflejo de la negligencia del gobierno dominicano de enfrentar la histórica discriminación y violaciones a los derechos humanos de un grupo importante de ciudadanas y ciudadanos.

En sus declaraciones, el ex-presidente intenta justificar lo injustificable, afirmando que: “en la República Dominicana no hay apatridia ni discriminación”. ¿Qué ocurre entonces con las miles de personas que ahora mismo están en esta situación?

No es nuevo que los gobiernos intenten justificar las violaciones de derechos humanos, pero la intencional ceguera de las autoridades dominicanas es un juego que se vuelve cada día más peligroso. Negar que exista discriminación en la República Dominicana es absurdo y exime al gobierno de asumir sus responsabilidades internacionales de protección de los derechos humanos. Continue reading

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Open letter to Putin – 148 NGOs slam ‘foreign agents’ law

The offices of the NGO HRC Memorial in Moscow were vandalized with graffiti “Foreign agent. Love USA”. © Yulia Orlova/HRC Memorial

By Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director

It’s common knowledge that some members of the Soviet secret services came to work for the KGB after watching films about Soviet secret agents and enemy spies. Some openly admitted it.

In these films, Soviets were seen as scouts while foreigners were always portrayed as spies. For years, government censorship barred the foreign James Bond films from the Soviet screen, but the 90s era of videocassette recorders brought these in too. The spy, James Bond, was known by his codename – Agent 007. Despite his eye-catching appearance, all compatriots were convinced – he was not one of them.

As the years went by, fans of spy films moved on from the KGB to other positions, but it seems like the image of the foreign enemy agent has lingered in their memories. And, who knows, maybe this led to the idea that if you call someone you need to discredit an “agent”, the unpleasant associations would then do the trick. Russian people do not like “agents”. Continue reading

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