Friday, March 27, 2009

Close the Gap on Indigenous Health

On National Close the Gap Day (Thursday 2 April), thousands of Australians will come together to call on the Federal Government to close the 17-year life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians.

Sign the pledge now -

In NSW join us as part of our celebrations for Close the Gap Day, we will be holding a casual meet-up in Peace Park (70-80 Myrtle Street, Chippendale), at 1pm on the same day. Staff and activists from the Action Centre will be in attendance, so come and say hi. We’ll be encouraging people to take part in national actions for Close the Gap, as well as creating awareness and providing info about research for our Demand Dignity campaign and its indigenous component, due to launch in October 2009

SBS 'Dateline' this sunday night - story about a Pakistani case our section has taken up work for. What you can do.

Missing...can you help?

Amina Janjua has been tirelessly searching for her missing husband, Masood Janjua, for almost four years.Business man Masood Janjua, and his colleague Faisal Faraz, went missing while on a bus trip to Peshawar. They have not been heard from since. Since Pakistan joined the US led ‘war on terror’ in late 2001, hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained and held in secret detention, without access to their families, lawyers or the courts, and outside all protection of the law. Most, if not all, are tortured or ill-treated.

Call for Masood Janjua's whereabouts to be revealed

Watch SBS's Dateline this Sunday, 29 March at 8:30 pm.
SBS will be broadcasting the story of Amina and Masood Janjua.
Comment on SBS's Dateline website about enforced disappearances in Pakistan

Sign up for AIA's email updates

"This is the worst thing to happen to anyone. If someone dies you cry and people console you and after some time you come to terms with it but if someone disappears… it is the bitterest of agonies..."
Amina Janjua, September 2006

Friday, March 20, 2009

NSW Region Interns starting soon!

I am excited to say that from Wednesday 1st April we will be starting a NSW regional internship program...with two admin interns and two community campaigns interns!

This great new addition to our team should improve our ability to respond to your requests, update you on what's happening and ensure that our human rights impact continues to increase.

I will ask the new interns to introduce themselves on this blog once they have started so you know a bit more about them.

In the meantime, if you have ideas for projects or activities that you would like to see happen in the region please let me know!


NSW Regional Catch up

Who: Action Centre Volunteers, Group Convenors, key Activists, and Branch Committee members.

What: NSW Regional Catch-up - a semi-regular meeting for the above people to meet up and discuss the activities of the NSW region.

When: 6pm, Wednesday 1 April

Why: Because there are lots of us working to protect and defend human rights in the NSW region and it is good for us to all catch up occasionally and fill each other in on how it is all going, what we have been doing, what we are planning, what is working and what could be improved!

Where: On the phone OR at the Sydney Action Centre
To join us by phone call 9696 0695 (from Sydney) or 1800 333 803 (outside capital cities) and enter the pin code 3502.
To join us in person come to Level 1, 79 Myrtle St Chippendale (off Abercrombie St, between Broadway and Cleveland)

If you are joining us (either by phone or in person) please RSVP to

Thanks and hope to see lots of you there!

Some staff news...

For those of you who know Sophie Peer (China Campaign Coordinator) you will know that she was pregnant and is now on maternity leave - well, I am pleased to tell you that Sophie and her husband Lee are now parents of Malu, a beautiful baby boy!

In other non-baby related news, Ruby Johnson will now be in the action centre 5 days per week - 3 days as the community campaign assistant and 2 days as the Office and Volunteer Coordinator (job sharing with Deb) - they will fill you in shortly on how this will all work in practice!

Finally, next week I am going to be on leave, so if you have any questions or things you need help with please ask Deb or Ruby.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Amnesty International presents UN with report on Australia’s human rights failures

Amnesty International has presented the United Nations with a report setting out its concerns about Australia’s failure to comply with some of the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The 28-page document was tabled as part of the formal reporting mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Committee, under which the Australian Government is required to submit a report on its compliance with Covenant obligations every five years.

Robyn Seth-Purdie, Government Relations Adviser for Amnesty International Australia, will address Committee members on issues raised in the report at a Committee session in New York on March 16.

“Many of the gaps in Australia’s protection of human rights, identified by the UN Human Rights Committee in its last periodic review, still have not been addressed,” Dr Seth-Purdie said. “If the Rudd government is serious about meeting its international obligations it should take immediate action to withdraw law and policy that subject Indigenous Australians to racial discrimination.”

Amnesty International acknowledged the significance of the Prime Minister’s 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations, but pointed out that more needed to be done.

“Reinstating protections against racial discrimination under the Northern Territory Intervention is a crucial next step for the Australian Government to take to improve its human rights record,” Dr Seth-Purdie said.

An opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty International and released on 12 March found that 81 per cent of people surveyed would support the introduction of a law to protect human rights in Australia. It also found that 85 per cent believed introduction of such a human rights law should be a high priority for the Government.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The importance of being media-savvy

Media work has always been important to Amnesty International, since Peter Benenson first wrote that famous article, “The Forgotten Prisoners”, for The Observer in May 1961.

As part of our overall media strategy in Australia, we encourage supporters to communicate Amnesty International’s messages in their local media. There are a range of ways you can do this – calling talkback radio and writing letters to the editor, for example, are timely ways to comment on human rights in the public sphere. For more information on this and other ways to promote human rights in your local media, ring in to our talkback roleplay session later this month:

Date: Thursday, March 19
Time: 5.30pm-6.30pm AEST / 5pm-6pm SA / 4.30pm-5.30pm QLD / 4pm-5pm SA / 3.30pm-4.30pm WA
What: A fun session, where activists are invited to call a telephone conference phone number from their home phone, hear talkback tips, then practise expressing AIA’s messages on-air. The session will be hosted by media trainer Richard Fitzgerald and AIA media and public affairs coordinator Caroline Shepherd.
RSVP Essential: Please contact Jenny Leong by Wednesday, March 18, at

Media support behind the scenes
If you would like to help out with finding local media stories and drafting media releases, please get in contact with your local community campaigner.

Media spokespeople in front of the microphone
Some of you may like to take on a role as local media spokesperson for your region. This would involve talking to local media about branch events or other activities in the region. Please contact Jenny Leong or your local community campaigner if you’re interested. Note there is no closing date as we are always on the lookout for spokespeople!

Campaign materials stocktake - Out with the old in with the new!

Just a quick reminder to let us know about old or updated campaign materials which you still have in your possession. We’re currently conducting an audit to determine which groups have old materials lying around and whether they have the latest campaign material.

Some of the old material could be out-of-date. In particular, some of the old refugee and torture/terror material does not reflect recent developments and shouldn’t be used. In addition to these some of out of date material may include: the send a card flyer, burma postcards, old Human Rights Defender magazines and some China materials.

So free up your cupboard space and help us take stock!

This is the perfect opportunity to get hold of some of the latest materails like Human Rights Defenders magazines, Stop Violence against Women materials, Human Righst Act materials etc!

Monday, March 9, 2009

GOOD NEWS FROM INDIVIDUALS AT RISK PROGRAM: Ye Guozhu, housing rights activists in China, released and safe.

Ye Guozhu, housing rights activists in China, was released from prison on 15 October 2008. His family were warned by police at the time to keep news of his release secret, or Ye would be returned to custody. Amnesty International could not make this information public until the organisation considered him to be no longer in immediate danger.

His brother Ye Quoqiang said that on 29 September Ye Guozhu was forced to sign an agreement accepting compensation for his eviction. He said that Ye Guozhu was threatened with new charges and continued detention if he did not sign, and had been pressured into stating that he did not require a lawyer during his time in custody.

Ye Guozhu was sentenced to four years' imprisonment on 18 December 2004 for organizing a demonstration to oppose forced evictions in Beijing. During his four years in prison, Ye Guozhu's health had deteriorated. He was forbidden from seeing his elderly mother and father, and his mother died while he was in custody. Ye was exhausted by his ordeal and was resting and receiving medical treatment in the moths following his release.

Amnesty International will continue to monitor his situation. Thank you to everyone who campaigned on his behalf.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

International Womens Day March

International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 every year. It is a major day of global celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women.

The march this year will be on Saturday 7th March, assembling at Sydney Town Hall steps at 11:30am and then making its way to Hyde Park where speakers and a series of stalls will be waiting. Check out the Amnesty International stall and take an action calling on 5 targeted MPs to allocate required funding and support for a National Plan of Action to eliminate violence against women. Join the stop violence again women network and other activists in the march this Saturday.

In partnership with local groups around NSW, the Network will also be hosting a number of smaller stalls to campaign on the need for a National Plan of Action. The following dates and locations are confirmed: Saturday 21st March in Manly, Saturday 28th March at Paddington Markets and Saturday 18th April at the Surry Hills Festival.

For more information or if you would like to hold a stall for International Women’s Day please email

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

2009 Mardi Gras Parade

Would you like to march in the Mardi Gras Parade and support LGBTQ

This year's Mardi Gras theme is "Nations United." The Amnesty International parade entry highlights the fact that 77 countries have laws that imprison homosexuals and in another 7 countries homosexuals face the death penalty. Millions of people around the world face persecution and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Your support can help win their freedom.

Show your support and march with the NSW LGBTQ Amnesty International Network members and raise community awareness in relation to the persecution of LGBTQ people.

The Mardi Gras parade starts at Hyde Park at 7:45pm on Saturday, March 7. Parade participants must arrive before 5.30pm to enter the start area (where you can check out all the other floats).

Cost is $30/$20 (concession), which includes a limited edition t-shirt.
To register email or to get more information email