by actions

AI UA 123/08 USA (Virginia): Death Penalty/Legal Concern

May 10, 2008 in actions by actions

Details after the jump.
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by CallumT

Mark Thomas’ famous work ‘On Liberty’ (1863)

May 9, 2008 in main by CallumT

Maybe I missed out on this article first time around (I put it down to being 14 at the time). However it’s now gone long enough to not look unobservant, and instead be producing a ‘modern classic’ for you to read.

As it’s about free speech and censorship it’s particulary relevant to what we’re doing right now, as long as you ignore that bit in their about David Blunkett.

by sinead

Mothers Day…

May 8, 2008 in main by sinead

Send a mothers day card, care of Amnesty to the Tiananmen Mothers for mothers day on the 11th May:


If you haven’t already see this!

by Rachel

IDAHO 2008: Edinburgh, 17 May

May 6, 2008 in main by Rachel

In our meeting on 6th May we had a guest speaker from LGBT Youth Scotland who informed us of an upcoming event on High street in Edinburgh called IDAHO. This event hope to campaign for LGBT human rights to be acknowldeged worldwide. This seems like a very exciting event, and if you can make it please go along and show your support for this cause. Amnesty International works to ensure the protection of all human rights, and we should gather together to help those who have experienced persecution for their sexual orientation. This event also links in with Amnesty’s policies on refugees, which was one of our biggest campaigns over the last couple of months. Many people have experienced problems attaining asylum in the U.K. and face being deported back to their own countries where they will surely be persecuted for their sexual oreintation. This event hopes to highlight these such issues on a Global scale, allowing everyone worldwide to stand together against persecution and stand for LGBT human rights.

This event will be host to lots of interesting speakers who work in the area of protecting and upholding the rights of the LGBT community, and will consist of activist workshops to help us devise interesting and innovative campaign methods to support this cause.

For more information visit-

by Emma

GU Amnesty Committee Meeting 4/5/08

May 6, 2008 in main by Emma

Behind the jump as ever.
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by Rachel

Gruesome or Truthsome?

May 4, 2008 in main by Rachel

I would like to pose some questions; How much do you know? How much do you need to know? How much should we show you? These questions have risen from recent pictures we have been sent depicting the terrible outbursts of violence occurring in Tibet at this time. However from an activist point of view this issue is bigger than these pictures, it concerns every type of campaign we could embark on! The question is should we go all out and show the blood, guts and gore being shed across the world in the various acts of human rights abuses; or should we hand you a petition with a small amount of information for you to read? Should we give you pictures of various forms of torture being carried out worldwide, or should we merely allude to it in our publications and such? Can we embark on protests that actively depict acts of violence or should we merely suggest to you what type of suffering is occurring.

The issue is to what extent we can be explicit with what is happening to innocent people across the world. It has also been highlighted in the recent videos uploaded by Amnesty themselves. These videos though they are cleverly filmed still depict very explicit scenes of violence. Is this the form our activism should take? Some would argue that it is our duty to show the truth about the violence occurring world wide, and to ensure people across the globe understand the intensity of this violence. In this respect we then should be obliged to show the pictures we have received to our whole student body. By doing this we can highlight the full and truthful extent of the violent and murderous tactics being used by members of the Chinese Government and army against these innocent protesters.

However there is a counter argument that people do not need, and do not want to see such scenes of violence taking place. After all everyone has the human right not to witness violent and disturbing scenes, therefore we do not have the right to show such images to people who do not want to see them. The counter argument to that of course is that seeing such images is very different from witnessing them first hand. Allowing people to See such images can help individuals who are not confronted daily with such horror, to understand and acknowledge the damage occurring in their lifetime.

How explicit should we be in our campaigns? How much information and detail should we incorporate into our activism? If we show these horrific scenes of violence are we being Gruesome or Truth-some?

by Emma

Lethal injection ‘okay’

May 3, 2008 in news by Emma

So, does anyone remember last year when the US Supreme Court were reviewing claims that the lethal injection, which is supposed to induce a painless death by using sodium thiopental as an anaesthetic, was actually causing a lot of painful deaths? The argument, put forward by Amnesty, ( is that the sodium thiopental does not always work, and as the injection also includes a chemical which causes muscle paralysis, the victims cannot express their pain. This is apparently an “unconstitutionally cruel” punishment.

So, the Supreme Court considered this (, and executions were put on hold.

Well, they’re back. Three weeks ago the Supreme Court ended the halt in lethal injections, and according to this article in the International Herald Tribune ( the US is, and I quote, “moving to clear the backlog of executions”.

Does this horrify anyone else? The Supreme Court had a chance to change the American stance on the death penalty, to bring the US out of its barbaric customs and into the present with the rest of the so-called developed world, and it just … didn’t.

“The Supreme Court essentially blessed their way of doing things,” said Douglas Berman, a professor of law and a sentencing expert at Ohio State University. “So in some sense, they’re back from vacation and ready to go to work.”


Some welcome the end of the moratorium.

“We’ll start playing a little bit of catch-up,” said William Hubbarth, a spokesman for Justice for All, a Houston-based victims rights group.

“It’s not like we have a cheering section for the death penalty.” Hubbarth, an Austin lawyer, said. But he added: “The capital murderers set to be executed should be executed post-haste. It’s not about killing the inmate. It’s about imposing the penalty that 12 of his peers have assessed.”

Yes. You don’t sound morbidly enthusiastic at all.

This at a time when “a recent wave of exonerations after DNA tests proved wrongful conviction.”. They didn’t do it! We have no idea how many people have been wrongfully executed and are set to be wrongfully executed, and this in the US of A, home of the brave, land of the free, supposedly one of the civilised countries.

Go and read that article in the IHT. And then, scroll down this page a bit and look at rachie’s post on China’s human rights situations. Read about the problems there. Sound familiar at all?

We need to realise that in many ways, the USA is no better than China. To all of those in the US who are expressing outrage over the offences in China – look to your own country. Look to Texas where there are 360 men and 9 women on death row – more of a ‘death compound’ as the IHT article jokes. You know what? I don’t think it’s funny. This has to stop, and not in twenty, thirty, fifty years, but now.

by CallumT

Fighting for freedom ’60s style, with music…

May 3, 2008 in main by CallumT

Alright maybe it’s not exactly the same, but had anyone else seen this before?

MTVs campaign called EXIT (End eXploitation and Trafficking). Whilst they don’t seem to be doing much at the moment, Radiohead have released this video with them:

I haven’t listened to it yet, library with no sound, but just thought I’d share as we need to be using the blog more apparently…

by Rachel

China: The Lowdown

May 1, 2008 in main by Rachel

Amnesty is calling for four main issue’s to be addressed by the Chinese Governement, these are: executions, fair trials, respect the rights of human rights defenders and freedom of censorship. These will be the main areas that we will focus on when we begin our campaign regarding China.


Amnesty are calling for the Chinese Government to reduce; with the intention to later abolish, the death penalty. Currently there are 68 crimes that can be punishable by death. On January 1st 2007 an important reform took place; which saw the restoration of the Supreme People’s Court, a court which reviews all death sentences passed in china. This is a positive reform but is only a beginning to ending the death penalty. Further to this reform Amnesty would like the Chinese Government to ensure that families and lawyers of those condemned to death are given access to them and to the information surrounding their case.

Fair Trails:

Currently a major element of the Chinese punitive system is ‘Re-education through Labour,’ a system that involves the detention of people without charge for extended periods of time, possibly up to three years. This is directly violating international fair trial standards, and Amnesty is calling for China to assess this situation. These so called criminals can range from ‘unlawful advertising, unlicensed taxis, unlicensed businesses, vagrancy and begging,’ hardly crimes worthy of detention for periods up to three years.

Respect for the Rights of Human Rights Defenders:

China gave assurances that the human rights issues within their country would improve during the run up to the Olympic games. However the authorities are still intimidating and harassing human rights defenders. Human rights defenders should have the freedom to highlight issues of concern without fear of penalty and repercussion.

Freedom from Censorship

The promise made by China for media freedom is not being kept. Thousands of internet police monitor cyberspace to censor any information the Chinese Government deem sensitive; phrases such as ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ come under such material. Many Chinese people have been imprisoned for acts such as signing petitions online, it is said that china have the most effective form of internet censorship, sometimes referred to as, ‘The Great Firewall of China.’ Currently there has been more leeway given to foreign journalists and media, however domestic media is still very effectively censored.

These four issues combine to create the major aspects to the Amnesty campaign, if we can campaign around these issues we have the chance to help the people of China, and allow human rights abuses to be confronted and realized fully in terms of international law.

Two Provocative Videos From Amnesty International

May 1, 2008 in main by Rob Hallam

Amnesty has released two new videos. The first is intended to raise awareness of waterboarding torture; the second is to draw attention to China’s terrible human rights record.

Stuff Of Life:

Part of the unsubscribe campaign. See the related blog post and news item.


Part of Amnesty International’s efforts to raise awareness of China’s record on human rights. Read the related post here.

What are your thoughts on these videos? Do they get the message across well, or are they too in-your-face – or esoteric? Did the waterboarding video go too far?