Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good News from IAR Program: Ma Khin Khin Leh (POC in Myanmar) released!

On Saturday 24 February, 24 political prisoners amongst 6,313 prisoners were released in Myanmar. One of them was Ma Khin Khin Leh.

Ma Khin Khin Leh was a prisoner of conscience. A school teacher and mother, she was imprisoned at the age of 33 after the authorities could not find her politically-active husband who was planning a peaceful political march. Ma Khin Khin Leh was given a life sentence in 1999 under vaguely-worded security legislation. Even by the harsh standards of justice used by Myanmar's military government, her life sentence was extreme. She suffered form a lung problem, arthritis, and dysentery while in prison. AI had been for a long time very concerned for her safety and wellbeing.

As an AI section, we have worked for Ma Khin Khin Leh since August 2004. Our consistent work has been maintained over the years due to the diligence and commitment of five local AIA groups - Hornsby, Bedigo, Boroondara, West Hobart and Launceston. Thank you to these groups - to work for an individual who is serving a life sentence in Myanmar is a challenge in itself.

In the second half of 2008, a part of the new way of working via the IAR Program, the case of Ma Khin Khin Leh was highlighted by AIA via diplomatic representation and by taking to the streets. The Field Marketing team and AIA activists spoke to thousands of people on the streets about Ma Khin Khin Leh and asked to sign postcards targeting Senior General Than Shwe. AIA also shared the ideas and materials with other AIA sections.

It is not clear why Ma Khin Khin Leh was released. It is suggested that recent and forthcoming international scrutiny of Myanmar were the probable causes. With tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people detained in Myanmar, to have Ma Khin Khin Leh be one of the few political prisoners released indicates that our work plays an ongoing role in freeing prisoners of conscience in Myanmar. This good news comes on the heels of the September 2008 release of seven prisoners of conscience from amongst 9,000 prisoners released, including U Win Tin, Dr Than Nyein, Dr Daw May Win Myint which AIA had taken up work for.

AIA will continue to develop and implement its work for AI cases via the Individuals at Risk (IAR) Program. We are currently building up a IAR Portfolio of cases. AIA groups will be asked if they would like to register to work for some of the cases in the IAR Portfolio via the new activism technique called Group Casefiles.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to these success to date.

(Activism Coordinator/Individuals at Risk Program)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

2009 Action Group Planning Kits available now!

The long awaited 2009 Action Group Planning Kits have now arrived in the NSW Action Centre. Please consult your NSW Community Campaigner Jenny Leong if you would like to receive a copy of this document.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Human RIghts Act Campaign - Get Involved!

As you may know submissions are currently being accepted around why Australia needs human rights protection. This is our chance to call for a Human Rights Act and gain overarching human rights protection for this and future generations.

We have currently received over 2500 online submissions, thousands of postcards and are now begining to roll out the competition style submission thoughout the country.

There are lots of ways that you can get involved with this campaign, such as, put a bumper sticker on your car, do a door knock in your local community, submit a submission and urge your friends, family and community to do the same, attend a round table discussion, put a poster, submission form and yellow box in your workplace or community centre.

For a copy of the action kit or any other questions contact the NSW Community Campaigner.

International Womens Day 2009

To mark International Womens Day on the 8th of March this year we will be focusing on putting pressure on the government to get a National Plan of Action (NPoA) to Eliminate Violence against Women. The release of the draft NPoA has been put back to March, so there is now a serious threat that the NPoA may not be funded in this years budget. This will break the Federal Government's election promise.

There are lots of ways that you can involved with the Stop Violence against Women Campaign and Interntaional Womens Day to make a difference on this issue:
  • Volunteer at local events and stalls in February and March
  • Do a sticker run/door knock around your local area
  • Hold your own events or letter writing stalls in key electorates
  • Contact the NSW Stop Violence against women group and come along to one of their meetings to look out how you can get inmvolved in their initiatives
  • Get involved with lobbying your local MP about why we need a National Plan of Action.
For more infomation about all of these contact your NSW Community Campaigner

NSW Refugee Network Meeting

What: NSW Refugee Network Meeting
When: Wednesday 18th February, 6:30pm
Where: NSW Action Centre, 79 Mytrle Street, Chippendale

The NSW Refugee Network will hold its first monthly meeting of the
year to get down to work on Amnesty's 2009 Refugee Campaign.
There's work to do, and roles to fill - everyone welcome. Previous involvement is not a requirement - all you need is a respect for refugee human rights, and a little of your
spare time to donate.If you can not attend in person, you can email us to request phone-in details.

Stop Violence against Women Meeting

Stop Violence against Women Meeting
When: Thursday February 12 2009 6:00 - 7: 00 PM
Where: Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale, NSW, 2008

It's the groups firts meeting of the year so it's a great time to get involved. There are lots of upcoming events and actions to take part in this year! To those who have come before: the group will be building on the previous national campaign and expanding into new, international areas.

The meeting will focus on planning actions for International Women’s Day (8th March) and our ongoing lobbying for the National Plan of Action to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Human Rights Act for Australia

Have you made a submission in support of a Human Rights Act for Australia?

Have you encouraged members of your group, your colleagues, family and friends to do the same?

Now is the time to Act! Make a submission online today.

Stop Violence Against Women: National Plan of Action

Act now: Help shape Australian policy

We need everyone to write to their local MPs about the need for a National Plan of Action to Stop Violence Against Women in Australia. Read more.

Over the coming months we will also be planning stalls, events and activities in key electorates. If you want to get involved with our Stop Violence Against Women Network, or your group wants to support this campaign, get in touch with Ruby or stay tuned for notice of the next meeting.

Good news: Obama and Guantanamo Bay!

Within his first two days in office, US President Barack Obama has signed executive orders to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay within one year, suspend trials by military commission, close all CIA secret detention centres and ban the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques that amount to torture and other ill-treatment. Read more.

Send an email to President Obama to give him the support he needs to keep making good decisions

Below are messages of congratulations and thanks from Amnesty International Australia's National Director and Amnesty International's Secretary General.

From Claire Mallison (National Director, Amnesty International Australia):
hi everyone
Just wanted to share the FANTASTIC NEWS that President Obama's first executive order has been the order to CLOSE Guantanamo Bay .
The President has also committed to end the illegal use of torture and close all overseas CIA detention centres for terror suspects.
He has ordered a suspension of military trials so that the legal process can be reviewed.
This is a result of years of hard work by millions of human rights activists around the world.
We will be sending out an email to all our supporters today to celebrate the news.
Please celebrate the change that you helped make happen.
best wishes

From Irene Khan (Secretary-General, Amnesty International):
Dear Friends,
This is a moment of great pride and sense of achievement for all of us. Within 48 hours of taking office, President Obama has issued three Executive Orders: to close Guantánamo Bay, close CIA detention centres and prohibit torture and ill-treatment during interrogations. We are of course analysing carefully these documents to make sure that our concerns will be fully met through concrete action to follow up these orders. But right now, we have great cause to celebrate our momentous victory.
Amnesty International was amongst the first and the most vocal to campaign for the closure of Guantánamo Bay prison camp and we have been relentless in condemning the backlash against human rights generated in the name of the war on terror. Congratulations to all of you in our sections/structures and in the International Secretariat.
For me yesterday was a moment of great personal satisfaction too as I recall vividly that press conference where I demanded the closure of Guantánamo, kick starting our campaign amid huge media uproar. For all of us, yesterday was one of our proudest moments. As one movement, we stood up courageously, fought steadfastly and achieved our goal clearly.
What a wonderful way to begin 2009 and, in the hope that we will witness many such moments together, I send you my very best wishes to all of you for the New Year.

Campaigning in 2009

Our core focus areas for 2009 will be:
Dignity – Indigenous rights
Stop Violence Against Women
International contribution to the movement
Crisis response work
Individuals at Risk
Dignity – international
Refugees and Asylum seekers rights
A Human Rights charter for Australia
Indigenous Justice, including deaths in custody.

More information, including campaign planning packs for groups will be available early February - in the meantime if you have any questions feel free to give me a call.