Monday, August 21, 2017

Human Rights at the Farmers Market

Our weekly information table at the Farmers Market last week was a special one... 








We had some special visitors from Saudi Arabia, Washington D. C, and West Springfield. They signed petitions, donated money in our Stamps Jar, and agreed to carry Amnesty posters to advocate for our coming annual Human Rights Day.

Thank you Sami Adam, Migdad, Hamrour, and Ismail

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump Admin begins attacks on Human Rights!

Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Brooklyn came to the aid of scores of refugees and others who were trapped at airports across the United States on Saturday after an executive order signed by President Trump, which sought to keep many foreigners from entering the country, led to chaotic scenes across the globe.
The judge’s ruling blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s actions.
Read more...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Good News from Iran: Omid Kokabee is free


We received good news today from Amnesty International on some Iranian POCs. Elise Auerbach wrote:

"Thanks to your untiring efforts, we have received a few pieces of good news on Iran the past couple of months. First of all Omid Kokabee, the talented young physicist pursuing doctoral research at the University of Texas, Austin who had been arrested in January 2011 and sentenced to ten years in prison on unsubstantiated national security charges, was granted a conditional release from prison; he had been out of prison on a medical furlough for several months to receive much needed medical care--including an operation to remove a kidney--and will not have to report back to prison. Amnesty International declared him to be a prisoner of conscience and Amnesty activists sent tens of thousands of letters and signatures on petitions to the Iranian authorities calling for Omid Kokabee's release. 

Amnesty's Rhythm and Rights program collected thousands more signatures on petitions collected at concerts they tabled. Amnesty worked closely with many organizations including the Committee of Concerned Scientists, the American Physical Society, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Scholars at Risk, as well as Omid's many friends and colleagues at the University of Texas, among others. 

We reached out to all the living Nobel Physics prize laureates and thirty-three of these eminent scientists sent letters to the Iranian government urging Omid Kokabee's release. 

We delivered these letters together with many other letters and petitions to the Iran U.N. Mission in New York. Iranian-American actor and comedian Maz Jobrani also taped a statement calling for Omid Kokabee's release. 

Omid Kokabee had been the included in several of Amnesty International's Nowruz Actions and his family informed us how delighted Omid and his family were to receive so many cards from caring people in the US and other countries. 

We were alarmed when Omid Kokabee was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He was only granted medical furlough after his disease had become very critical. Because of your activism he was allowed to get proper medical care and ultimately granted his conditional release. He is now recovering with his family and picking up his Physics studies. "

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Spring is here, officially..!

Welcome to spring in Amherst, and welcome back to our weekly Human Rights Table at the Farmers Market in downtown Amherst...



We resume our public activities after a long winter hibernation ... The weather was great (a little bit chilly and windy) and lot of activists stopped by our Information Table to get updates on human rights news and campaigns...






Well, some of the good news we shared was the release of Albert Woodfox after 43 years of solitary confinement

"On February 19, 2016, Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox walked free, 44 years after he was first put into solitary confinement.

He was the United States’ longest serving prisoner held in isolation. Nearly every day for more than half of his life, Albert Woodfox woke up in a cell the size of a parking space, surrounded by concrete and steel."
Read more on Amnesty USA Blog
We also had our monthly meeting today at the Jones Library to plan the coming events. One main Summer event we mark on our calendar id the UN Torture Survivors Day (June 26), which our Chapter observe. We plan to have this year number of activities to highlight this event including Media Interviews and editorials, lawn signs, and other possible activities with groups in the area.
Pls follow us as well on Facebook for quick updates...





Thursday, December 3, 2015

Human Rights Day Event: Dec 5

Come Celebrate HUMAN RIGHTS DAY and the Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

with Ellen and Robert Meeropol discussing 
“DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA: SECRET DETENTION AND INTERROGATION IN FICTION AND FACT”

~ And write letters to prisoners: “WRITE FOR RIGHTS” ~ the Signature Action of Amnesty International

~ And Music by John Paul Maynard on Electric Sitar ~

Saturday, October 17, 2015

News and Fall Activities of Amherst Chapter

It's been almost 2 months since we updated this Blog however, our Facebook Page is always up-to-date... Thanks in part to our member-at large Abdelrahman Al-Gasim (pic, below), who kept the page always active with human rights news around the Globe...

"Abdelrahman Al-Gasim is a Sudanese human rights lawyer who has been living as a refugee in Uganda since 2012. In 2000, Abdelrahman helped to found the Darfur Bar Association (DBA)—an independent, non-profit association of Darfuri lawyers and jurists that provides pro bono legal services to those in need and advocates for cultural understanding, respect for human rights and peace. Even though it led to his exile, his commitment for human rights in Sudan remains unwavering."

This is part of story run by the American Bar Association on this decent human rights lawyer and activist whom coordinated work last year from Uganda and brought a fresh voice of the children refugees to our Human Rights art exhibit in Nov-Dec 2014.

The 'tabling' activities continued as well and always gathered lot of debate and discussion at the Amherst Farmers Market in downtown Amherst. As one visitor commented that it becomes part of the face of Amherst.
A very interesting comment was shared today at the table was the concern about advocating against the Death Penalty in the face of the cruel and heinous atrocities ISIS/Boko Haram/Shabab and other terrorist groups.





Today at our monthly meeting, we continued the planning for the Human Rights Day event (scheduled for Dec 5th) at the Jones Library as usual. We will have the Children Art Exhibit for 2 weeks (Nov 15-30). This year, Mt. Holyoke Chapter of Amnesty is planning to actively participate in the event. Their representative, Maya Delaney attended the meeting today (pic, left)


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hold China Accountable!

The theme of August here in our chapter is Human Rights in Tibet...!









Thanks to our active member Tsultrim Dolma for bringing more activists to our table at the Amherst Farmers Market...





We highlighted the brave work of the Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who died in prison, suffering in an unjust sentence by the Chinese government. 
We will do signing of Urgent Case letters at each monthly meeting as we planned before. In addition, we will continue to focus on human rights abuses in China and Tibet for the rest of August.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Channel 22 NBC covered the event

Protesters want to put an end to torture

Thousands of people have been tortured all around the world

Published:   Updated: 
AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amnesty International is holding rallies across the nation, including Amherst, to shed light on a senate report on C-I-A torture.
Thousands of people have been tortured all around the world. According to a senate report, the C-I-A is ALSO responsible for carrying out torture tactics.
Many people came together at the Amherst Common to speak out against that. They say the Department of Justice isn’t doing enough to end C-I-A torture tactics after the senate report was release. One Amherst resident, who was tortured himself in Sudan back in the 90s said, torturing is NEVER the way. “OK, two important things: torture is wrong, number one, ethically, religiously, politically, anything, it’s wrong. So, information, no, it’s wrong, completely wrong, does not give you any information,” said Mohamed Ibrahim.
Rallies, just like this one, were held in eight cities across the nation, including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
Amnesty International was joined by several other anti-torture organizations to shed light on what many people are saying is an injustice and against international law.

Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26: The International Day for Torture Survivors

A great bipartisan amendment  legislation


THE ANTI-TORTURE DEMO STARTS AT  1 PM,  FRIDAY,  JUNE 26,  ON AMHERST COMMON,  NORTH END.   
Here are few pics from the picketing this afternoon







Monday, May 4, 2015

Anti-Torture Campaign: Day Six

The Honorable Loretta Lynch
Attorney General of the United States
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20530-0001
 
Subject: Reading the Senate Torture Report

Dear Attorney General Lynch:

The America we believe in does not torture. Yet for years, those who ordered and committed torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations in the CIA’s secret detention program have enjoyed impunity. That makes a mockery of the U.S. justice system.

Recently, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released to the public a summary of its 6,700 page report on these matters, known as the “Senate torture report.” It contains information about potential violations of federal and international law.


But shockingly, the Justice Department has failed to commit to reading and reviewing the full report. In litigation the Justice Department has even said that its copies of the full report remain unread, in a sealed envelope.1 Presumably, no one at the Justice Department has even begun to read the full report—let alone take any action on any information it contains on human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance.

That’s why, along with this letter, we are sending you a page, during each of the next ten days, for a total of 10 different pages of the de-classified report summary.

Reading the report is just one step. The Department of Justice must also re-open and expand its investigations into all CIA interrogations, detentions and renditions. It must bring to justice in fair trials all the persons, regardless of their level of office or former level of office, suspected of being involved in the commission of crimes under international law, such as torture and enforced disappearance.

Respectfully,
                 


 Tsultrim Dolma, Member of  AI Group-128, Amherst MA 
                                                            



1  See Declaration of Peter J. Kadzik, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, ACLU v. CIA, Case 1:13--cv--01870 (filed January 21, 2015, D.D.C.).  We are concerned that the Justice Department and other agencies are not opening the full report due to a cynical and hyper-technical effort to circumvent U.S. open records law (the Freedom of Information Act) and prevent the release of the full report to the public.

From Page 44 of the report:

Operations Handbook from October 2001 states that the CIA does not engage in "human rights violations," which it defined as: "Torture, cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment, or prolonged detention without charges or trial." The handbook further stated that "[i]t is CIA policy to neither participate directly in nor encourage interrogation which involves the use of force, mental or physical torture, extremely demeaning indignities or exposure to inhumane treatment of any kind as an aid to interrogation."

From Page 166:

On September 17, 2001, the President signed a covert action Memorandum of Notification
(MON) granting the CIA unprecedented counterterrorism authorities, including the authority to covertly capture and detain individuals "posing a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests or planning terrorist activities." The MON made no reference to interrogations or coercive interrogation techniques.

The CIA was not prepared to take custody of its first detainee. In the fall of 2001, the CIA explored the possibility of establishing clandestine detention facilities in several countries. The CIA's review identified risks associated with clandestine detention that led it to conclude that U.S. military bases were the best option for the CIA to detain individuals under the MON authorities.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Anti-Torture Action Campaign: Day Four

The Honorable Loretta Lynch
Attorney General of the United States
US Department of Justice 
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001 

Subject: Reading the Senate Torture Report 
Dear Attorney General Lynch: 
The America we believe in does not torture. Yet for years, those who ordered and committed torture, enforced disappearance and other human rights violations in the CIA’s secret detention program have enjoyed impunity. That makes a mockery of the U.S. justice system. 
Recently, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released to the public a summary of its 6,700 page report on these matters, known as the “Senate torture report.” It contains information about potential violations of federal and international law. 
But shockingly, the Justice Department has failed to commit to reading and reviewing the full report. In litigation the Justice Department has even said that its copies of the full report remain unread, in a sealed envelope.1 Presumably, no one at the Justice Department has even begun to read the full report—let alone take any action on any information it contains on human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance. 
That’s why, along with this letter, we are sending you a page, during each of the next ten days, for a total of 10 different pages of the de-classified report summary. 
Reading the report is just one step. The Department of Justice must also re-open and expand its investigations into all CIA interrogations, detentions and renditions. It must bring to justice in fair trials all the persons, regardless of their level of office or former level of office, suspected of being involved in the commission of crimes under international law, such as torture and enforced disappearance. 

Respectfully,
Dr. Magda Ahmed, Amnesty International, member of Group 128
Amherst MA  
  
1 See Declaration of Peter J. Kadzik, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, ACLU v. CIA, Case 1:13--cv--01870 (filed January 21, 2015, D.D.C.). We are concerned that the Justice Department and other agencies are not opening the full report due to a cynical and hyper-technical effort to circumvent U.S. open records law (the Freedom of Information Act) and prevent the release of the full report to the public.


From Page 25:
UNCLASSIFIED
TOP SECRET// //NOFORN

As measured by the number of disseminated intelligence reports. Therefore, zero intelligence reports were disseminated based on information provided by seven of the 39 detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques.

- May 30,2005, Memorandum for John A. Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, from Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, re; Application of United States Obligations Under Article 16 of The Convention Against Torture to Certain
Techniques that May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees.

^Transcript of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence briefing, September 6, 2006.
This episode was not described in CIA cables, but was described in internal emails sent by personnel in the CIA Office of Medical Services and the CIA Office of General Counsel. A review of the videotapes of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydahby the CIA Office of Inspector General (OIG) did not note the incident. A review of the catalog of videotapes, however, found that recordings of a 21-hourperiod, which included two waterboarding sessions, were missing.