Upcoming Legislative Action on Torture and Indefinite Detention

Submitted by Dan Johnson, AIUSA Legislative Coordinator for Oregon

June 26th is the International Day for Survivors of Torture. Amnesty International USA is planning a nation wide lobbying action around the issue of torture at the end of June and in early July. We will be asking for opposition to the Ayotte amendment, which would remove restrictions on interrogations that must abide by the tactics outlined in the Army Field Manual. We will also ask for the release of the Senate Select Intelligence Report on Torture, which will expose the methods used in many cases in recent history. We will address parts of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that violate human rights, including sections allowing indefinite detention without trial.

We are looking for individuals who will lead or be part of a delegation to Senate or House district offices to show constituent opposition to torture, and support for accountability and detention procedures in line with international law. We hope that most meetings will occur during the July 4th recess.

It is very important that our legislators in Oregon see constituent support and interest on these issues. If you’re willing to lead or participate in a delegation, click here to sign up.

Before Obama leaves for Indonesia…

In June, when President Obama travels back to Indonesia – where he spent four years of his childhood – he can help shine a light on the shameful imprisonment of more than 100 prisoners of conscience detained in the country as of last year.

Two men are locked up in Indonesia for the simple act of raising a flag. Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage are two of the prisoners of conscience serving sentences in Indonesia today. They were found guilty of “rebellion” for flying the outlawed symbol of Papuan independence as a sign of peaceful protest of Indonesian government policy. Their peaceful act resulted in 15 and 10-year prison sentences, respectively.

Not too long ago, Amnesty International USA received a letter from Filep and Yusak. In it, they expressed their sincerest thanks for all the work AI done on their behalf since their arrest. Despite the hardships they’ve faced in prison, Filep and Yusak remain hopeful. Continue reading

Cell phones fueled Africa’s “World War”

A small window of opportunity just opened this week that could finally break the cycle of weapons freely flowing in to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and conflict minerals irresponsibly being mined out.

Right now, the House of Representatives is weighing on a piece of legislation that would make it easier to identify imports into the United States that contain minerals such as coltan, cassiterite, wolframite – commonly found in cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices – used to fund the activities of armed groups operating in the DRC.

If Congress required companies to disclose the origins of the minerals used in their products, then we, as consumers, could be assured that the electronics and products we purchase do not directly finance conflict or fuel human rights abuses.

If Representatives don’t hear from constituents on this issue in a big way by the end of this week, then they are likely to put this issue on the back burner until next year when the new Congress is seated.

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Congressional In-District Lobby Weeks, June 29th – July 5th

Tens of thousands of individuals will be detained tonight, tomorrow, and the next day at an average cost of $95 per person, per day. Among them are survivors of torture and human trafficking, undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers, lawful permanent residents, and even U.S. citizens. The individuals are caught in a U.S. immigration detention system that is expensive, ineffective, and that denies basic human rights.

You can help fix it. Effective alternatives cost as little as $12 per day, and some commonsense measures will save money and help stop abuses against the more than 300,000 men, women and children detained each year.

A few members of Congress have stepped forward to lead the reform. With your help, leading a visit to your Representative or Senators, we’ll press Congress to end human rights abuses in detention facilities in the US.

Amnesty International will provide you with the support and training you need to be an effective Delegation Leader. Serving as a delegation leader will take a time commitment of about 15 hours, which includes reading background materials, participating in the online training, meeting with members of your delegation and meeting with your elected officials’ office some time during the workday between June 29th – July 5th.

Sign up now!

Legislative Activists Needed

By Dan Johnson, Group 48 Legislative Coordinator*

The past few weeks have resulted in two excellent opportunities for Oregonians to take action on human rights. The causes are compelling, and we know that our elected officials will listen. To those of you who have participated in the past, it would be wonderful to have your assistance again in these campaigns. To those of you who have never been involved in legislative action, this is a wonderful opportunity to get your feet wet!

Counter Terror with Justice

As many of you are aware, Amnesty International has been working constantly to halt the human rights abuses committed in the United States of America as a result of the War on Terror. The shift in national policy to disregard international treaties, fundamental human rights, and basic human decency inspired a wave of emotions and constant campaigns. We worked to guarantee lawful treatment of detainees, the cessation of extraordinary rendition, the defense of habeas corpus, and the release of those detained without charge.

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