Looking for a Leader in the Caribbean

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar ©AFP/Getty Images.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar ©AFP/Getty Images.

By Robin Guittard, Caribbean campaigner at Amnesty International.

Every year, Trinidad and Tobago becomes a paradise holiday retreat for thousands of people around the world. But in the twin island state, many women and men are living in hell as they continue to be discriminated against for who they are, and who they love.

The island’s laws prohibit entry of “homosexuals” into the country and consensual same-sex relationships can be punished with prison sentences of up to 25 years.

A few months ago, the country’s commission in charge of the reform of the constitution pointed out “a high level of violence and abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex (LGBTI) people.”

But over the last couple of weeks something has changed, there is excitement in the air. People are increasingly coming together to question these homophobic laws and are calling for change. Continue reading

Posted in LGBT Rights, Trinidad & Tobago | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.
Continue reading

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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.’”

Continue reading

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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