Hong Kong protests: How young activists led the way

Yvonne Leung Lai Kwong: “These three weeks spent on the streets with my fellow demonstrators have been an intense experience.”

Last month Yvonne Leung Lai Kwong, a 21-year-old undergraduate and student union president, found herself at the forefront of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. She gives her insight into the largely youthful protests, which at their peak saw up to 100,000 people take to the streets.

I wouldn’t say I am an organizer of the demonstrations – there is no one organizer here. But young people and students have definitely been the primary initiators.

I fell into this role quite unexpectedly. I first ran for students’ union president eight months ago with the intention of bringing students together and contributing where I was needed. I never expected events to unfold as they have.
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Torture and death in custody in Tunisia

Ahlem holds a photo of her husband Mohamed Ali Snoussi

Ahlem holds a photo of her husband Mohamed Ali Snoussi

By Benedicte Goderiaux, North Africa Researcher at Amnesty International in Tunis

Mohamed Ali Snoussi was at home on 24 September when the police arrived.

“A group of police officers stormed into our home with their faces covered,” his wife Ahlem told Amnesty International.

“They beat him with sticks and stripped him of his underwear. They handcuffed him and brought him outside on the street naked. The policemen were saying: ‘We are from Brigade 17; look at what we are capable of doing.’”

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Solitary confinement is cruel and all too usual. Why is it only getting worse?

Isolation cell in California's Pelican Bay prison ©Rina Palta/KALW.

Isolation cell in California’s Pelican Bay prison ©Rina Palta/KALW.

By Tessa Murphy, Campaigner on the USA at Amnesty International.

The breathlessness was overwhelming. Standing in that small, dark cell, surrounded by nothing but three concrete walls, a dank toilet, a small sink, a thin mattress, a concrete slab and a perforated metal door that barely let any air in, the oppressive claustrophobia was hard to control.

This was not the first time I had set foot in a US prison, but it was the first time I had experienced what an isolation cell can do to you. Continue reading

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‘I am the present, trying to make a change for the future’

Yoshi Garcia, youth activist. The Spanish text reads: A flower for the 17… we won’t let your lives wither away. ©Private

Yoshi Garcia is a Salvadoran activist and self-styled “DJ with a conscience”. Aged 24, her interest in gender equality issues started when she was around 14. Since then, she has joined numerous campaigning organizations, including Agrupaçion (the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) and Jovenes Voceras y Voceros en los DS y DR (Youth Voices for Sexual and Reproductive Rights). Here, she tells us how she became a passionate advocate against El Salvador’s total abortion ban.

When I was growing up, I was told that abortion was illegal. In school, you were taught about abortion from a religious perspective – that abortion is wrong. At first, I believed this.

But I’ve had friends who got pregnant after they were raped by their fathers or by other men.  I’ve had friends who wanted an abortion because they didn’t feel ready to have children. In all these cases, their families forced them to have the baby. Continue reading

Posted in El Salvador, Human Rights Defenders and Activists, Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Sexual Violence, Women, Women's Rights | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

What does it mean to be unequal?

In El Salvador, women and girls are expected to prioritize being a mother or wife above everything else. © Amnesty International

As part of this year’s Blog Action Day, we take a look at how inequality drives the abuses that Amnesty works against every day. 

Inequality. It’s a reality we all come to know and understand at some point in our lives.

For some of us, our understanding of it starts with a child’s game. I’m the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascalRemember that one? A simple game that cements power relationships. It reinforces inequality and the associations we make when we talk about it: king=rich=powerful; rascal=poor=helpless. (Notice how the powerful person is also a man? More on that later.)

Enter real life, where inequality is no longer a game, but a fact of our daily existence. If you’re a girl, inequality takes root from the moment you’re born. Why? Because gender stereotyping based on discriminatory attitudes happens everywhere. From the banal (She’s a girl, she should wear pink) to the heart-breaking (She’s a girl, she’s no use). Continue reading

Posted in El Salvador, Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Sexual Violence, Women | Tagged , | 2 Comments