Egypt’s darkest day

On 14 August 2013 the Egyptian security forces dispersed sit-ins by supporters of Egypt’s deposed President, Mohamed Morsi. © Amnesty International

One year on from the slaughter of more than 600 protesters in one day by Egyptian security forces, not a single officer has been prosecuted. Meanwhile Egypt’s criminal justice system has been swift to arrest, try and sentence alleged Morsi supporters after grossly unfair mass trials. Two hundred and thirty two have already been condemned to death and courts have recommended death sentences for over a thousand.

Amnesty International’s Egypt Researcher Mohamed Elmessiry witnessed the massacre at Rabaa al-Adaweya square and has been campaigning for justice since.

I woke to a 7am phonecall. “It’s started.”  Continue reading

Posted in Censorship and Free Speech, Demonstrations, Egypt, Unlawful Killings and Extrajudicial Execution | Tagged , | 5 Comments

No justice for Afghan civilians killed by US or NATO forces

Orphaned children of Dawood and Zahir praying by the graveyard where their father, uncle, aunts and cousins are buried after being killed by US/NATO air strikes in Afghanistan. © Amnesty International

By Richard Bennett, Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International

In the early hours of 16 September, 2012, a group of women from different villages in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province set out to collect firewood. As they stopped to drink water by a small spring, US military planes appeared in the sky and started dropping bombs. Seven of the women were killed and another seven injured — four of them seriously.

The morning after, a NATO spokesperson told the media: “a large number of insurgents had been killed” in the airstrikes. The local villagers reacted furiously, taking the women’s bodies to the local district governor’s office and staging a protest against the killings. Realizing their mistake, NATO was quick to offer a public apology. In a press release the day after, the organization promised a thorough investigation into the killing of the women: “Coalition forces take civilian casualties seriously.” But the families saw no sign of an investigation after that.  Continue reading

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Robin Williams – friend of Amnesty and comic artist genius. RIP.

Memorial in New York City to the actor and comedian Robin Williams. © 2014 Getty Images

By Bill Shipsey, founder of Art for Amnesty

In the Steven Spielberg film “AI” (for ‘Artificial Intelligence’ not Amnesty International) the character played by Robin Williams recited the W.B. Yeats poem “The Stolen Child”:

“Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild:

With a faery, hand in hand.

For the world’s more full of weeping

than you can understand.”

Robin Williams in real life realised that the world was indeed full of weeping but principally through his art, but also through his advocacy, he tried so hard to make the world a better place. Continue reading

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“We must speak about the past to prevent it from happening again”: 1,000 young people commemorate the Roma Genocide

By Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia and Anna Leichtfried, Fight Discrimination Campaign Coordinator

On 2 August 1944, 2,897 Roma and Sinti, men, women, and children from the Zigeunerlager, the “Gypsy camp”, in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp were loaded onto trucks, transported to gas chamber V, and killed en masse as part of Hitler’s genocide. Continue reading

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In Israel, as in Gaza, human rights are the last line of protection

Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli cities, 13 July 2014. © EPA

By Yonatan Gher, Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel

My brother and I are experiencing the current Israel-Gaza conflict quite differently. He is 20, serving out his military service and has been fighting in Gaza. I, on the other hand, am the Executive Director of Amnesty International Israel, an organization that is now heavily involved in documenting and campaigning on apparent crimes perpetrated by both sides of this conflict. I am also a conscientious objector.

My position does not diminish from the fact that I spend my days worried sick about him and other family members in similar situations. When you have such complexity in a family situation, humour is often the best approach, and so we joke sometimes that if the rest of the world heeds Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, I’ll be coming for his gun first. Continue reading

Posted in Armed Conflict, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity | Tagged , , | 2 Comments