Wednesday, November 25, 2015

He texted 'Police have come.' And then he disappeared

He texted
'Police have come.'
 And then
he disappeared.

Dear Tracy,

'Police have come.'

It was early one Saturday morning when Zhang Kai, a human rights lawyer, sent that text message to his friends.

And then he went quiet.

He's just one of hundreds of activists and lawyers who have been targeted in an unprecedented nationwide crackdown by Chinese authorities.

Will you speak out on their behalf?

Another lawyer, Wang Yu disappeared in the early hours one morning.

She sent her friends messages saying that her internet and power had been cut. Then, she said that people were trying to break into her home. She's now in police custody.

So far, more than 225 people have been targeted. At least 22 are still missing or detained. Join our call: Chinese authorities must disclose the whereabouts of the missing now.

Like you, these brave activists and lawyers care deeply about human rights. By helping other people, they put themselves at risk. Now it's our turn to help them.

We haven't seen this level of oppression in years. But if enough people take action, we have a chance to shame the Chinese government into stopping the crackdown.

Write to the Chinese authorities, calling on them to immediately disclose the whereabouts of those missing.

In hope,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

Torture is out of control in Mexico

Kidnapped and tortured.
Claudia Medina is
one of thousands.
Dear Tracy,

One morning, right before dawn, Claudia Medina was kidnapped from her home.

A group of Mexican marines - some in uniform - broke into her home and forced her into their truck. After arriving at a local military base, Claudia was tortured with electric shocks, sexually assaulted, beaten, kicked and left tied to a chair in the scorching afternoon sun.

Perhaps the most terrifying part about this story is that Claudia is one of countless others who are tortured in Mexico - with impunity.

Torture complaints are rarely investigated, and perpetrators are not brought to justice. More than 7,000 people have reported being tortured or otherwise ill-treated in recent years, and there have only been seven torture convictions at the federal level since 1991.

Take action on behalf of Claudia and thousands of other torture survivors.

Earlier this month, I visited Mexico in support of the launch of Amnesty International's Americas Regional Office in Mexico City. While there, I spoke with activists fighting for justice for torture survivors. They reiterated the point that we must stop torture in Mexico and in countries across the world.

More than 30 years after adopting a landmark treaty against torture, governments around the world continue to violate it in practice. Torture is a crisis throughout the world.

Tell Mexican authorities: Torture is a crime.

The landmark decision in Chicago this month - in which reparations were finally granted for survivors of police torture - sent a message throughout the U.S. that torture comes with repercussions. It's up to us, as activists, to assert this point throughout the world.

Torture cannot and will not be tolerated. Not in the United States of America. Not in Mexico. Not anywhere. Let's #StopTorture now.

In solidarity,

Steven W. Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Today is a historic day for torture survivors

Today is a historic day
for torture survivors

I got this email on May 7, 2015:

Dear Tracy,

Today is a historic day.

Today, the Chicago City Council officially passed landmark legislation that will provide reparations for the men and women who were tortured under former Chicago police commander Jon Burge.

Under the direction of Burge, at least 100 people of color were tortured - beaten, electrocuted, suffocated, and subjected to mock execution. The all-white detectives often hurled racist slurs at the men they were abusing.

Today's vote comes 43 years after Burge tortured the first known detainee. After decades of struggle, torture survivors will finally see the rehabilitation, compensation, and restitution they need to begin to heal. These reparations will ensure that the people of Chicago never forget the past - and that shared memory will help illuminate a path forward for survivors of police abuse.

Your voice and your activism made helped make this step possible.

In the wake of protests across the country demanding police accountability, this victory is an important step forward in our nation's struggle to rectify a history of racial profiling and other abuses by law enforcement

This is what reparations will look like for police torture survivors who suffered under Jon Burge:

  • Formal apology from the Chicago City Council
  • Free college education or vocational training for torture survivors and their families
  • Education on police torture and other abuses in Chicago public schools
  • $5.5 million in financial compensation
  • Public memorial to torture survivors
  • A dedicated counseling center for survivors of Burge torture and their families - the U.S.'s first center for survivors of domestic police torture
When torture survivor Darrell Cannon spoke at Amnesty International USA's 2014 human rights conference, he said something I'll never forget:

"I'm a firm believer that you can buck the system; you know, people power can move mountains. And because of that, I get up every day hoping and praying that I get the opportunity to come before a camera or some people and to let them know what happened and to say, 'Please don't let it happen again. Please stand up and demand that justice prevail in these situations.'"

Together, we moved mountains. Thank you for your activism and for demanding justice.

In hope,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner
Amnesty International USA

You just helped win restitution, rehabilitation, and compensation for survivors of racist police torture under former Chicago police commander Jon Burge.

Thank you!

This is the week: Help free Raif

This is the week:
Help free Raif
This was sent to me on May 5, 2015

Dear Tracy,

There are only two more days left until Amnesty activists mobilize outside of Saudi embassies around the world to demand the release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

Raif was imprisoned and publicly flogged by the Saudi government - lashed 50 times - for starting a blog that encouraged social and political debate. Right now, he's in a cell serving the remainder of his 10-year sentence and awaiting 950 more lashes.

Amnesty and other global partners are planning a mass mobilization outside Saudi embassies around the world this Thursday, on the first anniversary of Raif's sentencing. Please support our efforts on behalf of Prisoners of Conscience like Raif with a financial contribution.

We believe that the global outcry has been key to sparing Raif from the weekly floggings mandated by his sentence. But until Raif is unconditionally freed, our work is far from over.

We are gravely concerned that the Saudi government is waiting for the international spotlight to fade and is considering trying Raif for apostasy, which carries the death sentence.

That's why we're planning this event. We must show the Saudi government that the world is still watching and won't stand for anything but Raif's unconditional release.

Please donate to support our efforts. Your support makes a difference:

  • $25 can help print banners and signs for activist events on May 7.
  • $50 can help Amnesty pay for digital advertising that asks people to put pressure on the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • $75 can help us mobilize activists to generate more letters, calls and emails to the Saudi Embassy in DC.
  • $250 can support a human rights expert who will apply "grasstops" pressure on Saudi authorities.
The more support we amass, the more pressure we can apply to demand Raif's release. Please help us maximize this moment. Support our efforts.

Let's free Raif once and for all!

With hope for justice,

Jasmine Heiss
Senior Campaigner, Individuals at Risk
Amnesty International USA

Don’t let them get away with torture

Gul Rahman
Literally Froze
to Death in
CIA Custody. Don’t Let
Them Bury the Truth.

Dear Tracy,

One day, Gul Rahman left home to visit the doctor.

His family never saw him again.

He was disappeared by the CIA, and he literally froze to death in its custody. That was 13 years ago. His family is seeking answers. And they want to bring his body home, for a proper burial at last.

You took action against CIA torture in Gul Rahman's memory a few months ago - and now we have a new chance at some measure of accountability. But we need your help again.

Tell the White House: not in my name. Don't stand in the way of accountability for Gul Rahman's death.

Do you remember Gul Rahman's American torture story? He was tortured: beaten and dragged, doused with cold water, and then left in chains, half-naked and shivering in the pitch black. That was when he froze to death. The anniversary of his death passed a few days ago.

We learned more about his death and and other shocking details of the American torture story in a landmark Senate report last December. Now, ACLU lawyers have brought a private lawsuit on behalf of Gul Rahman's family against the psychologists who were paid millions of dollars to devise the torture program that killed him.

But instead of supporting accountability, the U.S. government may block this lawsuit from going forward by invoking state secrecy.

Tell the U.S. Government: torture is a crime. It's time to hold those responsible for Gul Rahman's death accountable.

The Obama administration can't bury the truth. Crimes should have a consequence. Evidence of torture in the Senate report must be reviewed - and there should be prosecutions where the evidence warrants it. No one should get away with torture.

The door to future torture is still open. What happened to Gul Rahman could happen again.

We can't let this American torture story be repeated. Join me in taking action against torture today.

In solidarity,

Naureen Shah
Director, Security with Human Rights
Amnesty International USA

Thank you for taking action

Dear Tracy,

Thank you for taking action to bring accountability for torture. If you have just another minute, you can amplify your request to the administration by clicking here to place a short phone call. Every message increases the pressure on the Justice Department to not let anyone get away with torture.

Thanks again - we'll keep you posted on how things turn out.


Amnesty International USA

Monday, November 23, 2015

World Food Day Special Issue

Helping the world’s hungriest

Helping the World’s Hungriest, Featured Supplementary Food Product in the Survival Gift store, UNICEF Food Logistics, Celebrate National UNICEF Day

Helping The World’s Hungriest

Today is World Food Day. This is a day to focus on those 805 million people who are suffering from chronic undernourishment as a result of not having access to regular, nutritious meals. This includes 300 million children who go to bed hungry every day.

The Millenium Development Goals were set up in 2000 by 189 countries in order to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and also to improve 7 other global goals by 2015. The results are groundbreaking: in the past 15 years, we successfully reduced poverty and hunger globally by 50% and achieved considerable success in the other targets, as well. But there is still a long way to go. During last month’s UN Sustainable Development Summit, the MDGs were declared a success and a new agenda was set in its place: the Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals are universal and can be adapted by any nation globally, down to the very last citizen. You are encouraged to select a goal and get active to contribute to a global success.

Read more about the SDGs »

Featured Product in the Survival Gift Store

Thankfully, there are more immediate ways children can get access to the nutrients they need to treat malnutrition. UNICEF’s Survival Food Kit can provide 30 packets of Plumpy’Nut, 30 powdered milk sachets and 90 micronutrient powder sachets for 115 children, for only $51. During checkout, you also have the option to select and send a postcard to your friend or loved one.

Browse our Survival Gift Store »

UNICEF Food Logistics

UNICEF has the mandate to provide supplementary and therapeutic food for infants and children on an ongoing basis and in emergencies. During the Nepal earthquake crisis this year, UNICEF was able to distribute 959 metric tons of supplies in the first three months of the response alone. More recently UNICEF in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) deployed a mobile emergency relief team to assist more than 27,000 people in South Sudan. These people had been cut off from relief agencies for months due to insecurities.

Read more »

Celebrate National UNICEF Day

This Halloween, support UNICEF’s National UNICEF Day campaign and celebrate 60 years of helping children! Communities, schools and companies across Canada are taking part in a range of activities to raise funds for the most vulnerable children in the world. A few highlights include: Maple Leaf Foods’ Costumes for the Cause fundraiser, Claire’s Trick-or-Treat bag campaign and Value Village’s Halloween donation drive. Learn more at