Friday, June 12, 2020

Amherst Chapter & IRAN

Many of human rights or ordinary citizens who stop by our Information Table at the Farmers Market may have this question in their mind: why the Amherst Chapter of Amnesty highlight the human rights of Iran with more focus than other Chapters? 

Why our current and previous adopted Prisoner of Conscience (POC) is from Iran? The main annual activity of the group was dedicated to Iran and the keynote speaker was from Iran in 2012.

We do not have any of our current members from Iran however, we have few active members who embrace Islam as religion/culture. These members in particular were/are concerned about the abuse of Islam in the hands of many dictators and Islamist military groups (Sunni or Shi'ite groups). 

Iran Human Rights

Amnesty International has been documenting and campaigning around serious human rights violations in Iran including detention of human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, unfair trials, torture and mistreatment in detention, deaths in custody and the application of the death penalty. Iran executes more people than any country in the world, other than China. Ethnic, religious and linguistic minority communities face persistent persecution. The Iranian authorities also suppress freedom of expression of a range of civil society actors including attorneys, scientists, environmental activists, artists, women’s rights activists, trade unionists, journalists and bloggers and those expressing their opinions on social media. There has been a worrying trend of imposing extreme sentences against prisoners of conscience such as human rights attorneys Nasrin Sotoudeh who has been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison plus 148 lashes and Amirsalar Davoudi, who has been sentenced to 30 years in prison and 111 lashes for his human rights work, including publicizing violations through a channel he set up on the Telegram mobile messaging app and giving media interviews.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Human Rights Day: Climate Change

Human Rights Day
In a well-attended event, our community in Amherst celebrated the Human Rights Day that was organized by the local chapter of Amnesty International. We hosted a panel on Climate Change. The two distinguished 
Solomon shared the gloomy picture of climate injustice and what we can do locally and globally to fix it. Irene and her students from Amherst Middle school spoke about the action they are involved with to make this change happens.

The following statement was in the invitation brochure that was circulated in town: 
"Building on the momentum of AI’s participation this fall in the “People’s Summit on Climate, Rights, Human Survival,” we welcome climate expert Solomon Goldstein-Rose and Amherst Regional Middle School social studies teacher Irene LaRoche as panelists, and human rights advocate Mohamed Elgadi as moderator. 

Given that mobilization at the local level to make an impact globally is crucial, they will discuss strategies and actions to address climate injustice. Goldstein-Rose, having served as the youngest member of the Massachusetts legislature from 2017 to 2019, now focuses full-time on climate change. His research has evolved into a framework being published this March in book form as The 100% Solution: A Plan to Solve Climate Change. 

LaRoche is a social studies teacher at Amherst Regional Middle School with a current focus on the intersection of human rights and the climate crisis. For the past six years, she also has guided her students to create remarkable visual artwork inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each year their work is on exhibit throughout December at the Jones Library in Amherst. 

Elgadi, adjunct faculty at Springfield College, has conducted research and taught in the environmental sciences. He is a longtime activist in the cause of human rights.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Human Rights Day: Early Planning Meeting

We had a very busy information table at the Farmer Market today... many new students and their parents stopped by to know about our adopted cases of Prisoners of Conscience (POC), and signed petitions on their behalf. This was followed by a successful planning meeting of our annual featured Human Rights Day in December.

The Group decided to have more discussion before deciding on the final structure of the day however, a speaker, Art Exhibit, and Write for Rights are going to be part of the Day.

In addition, the group decided to adopt the case of the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh as a new POC of the Group 128.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A great day at the Farmers Market !

I admit, I was not active very much in participating in our weekly Information table of human rights... This is mainly due to work most of the weekend (teaching summer courses)..

Today I got the chance to be back in my beloved town of Amherst and many great friends and human rights defenders, and political activists (yes for a Single Payer health Care Plan)

Of course the conversation at the table was mainly focused on our Prisoner of Conscience case that was adopted 10 years ago by our local Chapter
Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi

In addition, we highlighted the urgent action on a new person at risk, a lawyer in Iran who was just practicing her own legal job within the draconian religious laws of Iran: 


"Iranian authorities sentenced her to an astonishing 38 years in prison plus 148 lashes solely for her peaceful advocacy and representation of her clients—one of the harshest sentences ever handed down to a prisoner of conscience in Iran."

Margaret Huang
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Coming out of Hibernation !

Today our Chapter had its first planning meeting after winter hibernation!

              Do not get us wrong, we still were very active over the past few months through our Facebook page and also in meeting with our Congressman Jim McGovern to follow up on our last summer meeting , and to advocate on behalf the peaceful revolution in Sudan that continued for more than 5 months  (more on this to come later). 

Planning the Summer Tabling activities

Monday, December 10, 2018

Celebration of the Human Rights Day

In a standing-room-only, human rights advocates and defendants gathered at the Jones library to celebrate the Human Rights Day. 
The keynote speaker, Jo Comerford, gave an hour strong speech and conversation on the state of human rights locally, statewide and nationally. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

40 Years of Activism in Amherst

  • What a great thing to live and witness this 40 years of Activism!

  • Our Amnesty Chapter observed these great years of activism at a special gathering last month at the Amherst Farmers Market.

  • Many people stopped by to share their thoughts on this history of one of the oldest Amnesty Chapters of New England.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bob Stern: Another Human Rights Defender passed away

RIP Bob Stern.... 

Earlier this month we lost one of the founders of Amnesty International Chapter in Amherst … Our former Financial Officer and one of the excellent fundraise organizers of the group who retired in 2009 to dedicate the rest of his life to music career.

A strong human rights defender and excellent music composer that called by the New Your Times:
"an American master" by critic Paul Griffiths of The New York Times, composer Robert Stern's output spans many decades and embraces a rich and varied collection of vocal and instrumental works."

RIP Bob, and the work you started shall continue...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Northeast Regional Conference

21 October 2017 – Albany, New York – Albany Law School, 1928 Building

A busy schedule for our annual Regional Conference started this morning with a strong Muslim youth female poets followed a by a panel of human rights defenders from Vermont, Caribbean, and Turkey (by Skype).
Board Discussion session was after lunch with two strong Resolutions to vote on later at end of the day... I still did not make up my mind as I see the pros and cons of each (more later)... 
Will continue later when I get back from the Lobbying Session.

mohamed elgadi
Reporting from Albany, NY

Friday, October 20, 2017

Human Rights October Activities this Fall...

A busy month as you may expect is October as we getting ready with final outlines of our feature event of the year: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY...
In addition to our weekly tabling at the Farmers Market, and monthly planning meeting; we are getting ready to participate at the Northeast Regional Conference at


Below are few shots of activities over the past few weeks
Information Table at the Farmers Market

Young Human Rights Heroes Awards offered by the Amherst Human Rights Commission recognized many young activists and their mentors, including Amnesty International Chapter.
A very productive meeting with Congressman Jim McGovern took place late this summer at his Northampton office to coordinate efforts with our Amnesty International chapter and the House's human rights commission that he co-chairs.
The meeting will bring many good things especially for the anti-torture advocates, and also bad news to President Trump's secret plans to bring torture and Black Sites back.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette published an editorial for our active member, Fanny Rothschild, TO MARK TORTURE AWARENESS MONTH and the work of our Amherst AI chapter. Fanny wrote:

"Not surprisingly, the current government is being secretive and contradictory about where it stands on torture. Still, this month we witnessed President Trump nominate Steven Bradbury — a George W. Bush official who had co-authored the infamous 2005 memo authorizing “enhanced interrogation techniques” including waterboarding — as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation."

Our At-large Members, Abdelrahman Gasim, Attorney, in Uganda; and Yasmine Hasnaoui, Diplomat, in Morocco continue to be active and share many of their human rights work in Africa. 

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.