I sent out emails for Amnesty International today. The first one was right here in Georgia and called for a veto of Georgia’s anti-immigration legislation. HB 87 is an excessive bill that will harm the human and civil rights of all Georgia residents, particularly people of color. During a legal traffic stop, among other things, it authorizes police to ask for papers proving that someone is legally in the U.S. If the person didn't happen to walk out of her house with her birth certificate, passport or a number of other documents and her name shows up on a flawed database, she can be immediately arrested and jailed. As public policy, HB 87 is fundamentally flawed because it does not address the root causes that push people to immigrate without permission including lack of economic opportunity, war and poverty that people face in their countries of origin, and the lack of legal migration channels open to vocational immigrants. However, HB 87 does provide law enforcement with new tools to implement a police-state environment including random checks of papers and arrests without rights.
I then moved on to Libya and asking the Government of Libya to stop torture. Two brothers, Mazigh and Madghis Bouzakhar, who may be prisoners of conscience held solely for their interest in Amazigh (Berber) culture, were arrested on 16 December in Tripoli. One has reported being tortured by the Libyan security forces in detention. Both are at risk of torture in Jdaida Prison where they are held. The email urged authorities to immediately free these two individuals and create an independent and impartial commission to investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment in custody.
The next email was for Israel:
Israel's military blockade of Gaza has left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped in the Gaza Strip. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. As a form of collective punishment, Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law.
And lastly, Yahoo! and China...this email encouraged Yahoo! to commit to protecting free speech in China. Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, is serving a ten-year prison sentence for sending an email to the U.S. Yahoo! helped put him there. Yahoo! provided information to the Chinese Government, which led to his unjust imprisonment. Compliance with locally-mandated restrictions is not a justification for neglecting international human rights responsibilities, whether a company acts alone or with local partners.
Hope you all get a chance to visit Amnesty International. A couple of minutes can make a big impact!