Since I'm not able to go out into the community to volunteer today, I am volunteering with Amnesty International. I sent out emails for a variety of human rights issues, here are the highlights:
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a mother of two, has defended Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and other human rights activists, as well as juvenile offenders sentenced to death. On January 9, 2011, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to eleven years in prison, and banned from practicing law and traveling for twenty years. The judge sentenced her to five years in prison on a charge of “acting against national security,” another five years for “not wearing hejab (Islamic dress for women) during a videotaped message,” and one year for "propaganda against the regime.” The persecution of Nasrin Sotoudeh is just one example of the Iranian government’s campaign against human rights attorneys who struggle to carry out their work in a deeply flawed legal system.
In Vietnam, freedom of expression and association has been subject to strict control by the Vietnamese authorities for many years. Dissidents who are critical of government policies and speak and write about human rights violations face a range of sanctions to silence them. These include surveillance by local police, restrictions on movement, interference with phone lines and internet access, rough interrogation including torture, detention by police, arrest and imprisonment.
Closer to home - On the way home from a family vacation, Maher Arar was detained as a terrorism suspect at a New York airport and sent to Syria to be tortured. Eventually, he was released without charge and sent home to Canada.The U.S. refuses to apologize to Maher Arar or to offer him any form of remedy. The Department of Justice had urged the Supreme Court not to hear Maher Arar’s case because it implicated "significant national security concerns." The Court complied.
In India, Binayak Sen is a leading human rights activist in the conflict-affected state of Chhattisgarh. On 24 December 2010, he was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of sedition and conspiracy after an unfair trial. On 5 January 2011, Dr Sen challenged his conviction by filing an appeal.Amnesty International holds that the charges against him are politically motivated and aimed at stopping his human rights work. He is a prisoner of conscience, and should be immediately released.
And lastly, as many of us have watched the protests, Amnesty International is urging the Algerian authorities not to crack down on protests in Algeria, and to lift the ban on demonstrations in the capital, Algiers. Protests have been calling for "democratic change", the lifting of a 19-year state of emergency and greater freedom for civil society and the media.