Thursday, June 25, 2009

'The silent scream of Iran’ candlelight vigil at Sydney Town Hall

Following Iranian election and the declaration of success from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there has been widespread unrest amongst the Iranian population. Protests have been held across the capital of Tehran under the constant threat of violence and oppression from the Iranian authorities. Reports indicate that the authorities have arrested over a 100 protesters.

Amnesty International calls on the Iranian authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations, to exercise restraint in the policing of any further demonstrations, to stop using the Basij militia to police protests, and to ensure that firearms are not used except as a last resort and where strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. Take action online to make your voice heard.

On Sunday 28th June, the Iranian community Sydney is holding a candlelight vigil on Town Hall steps gathering at 4:30pm to remember those that have died fighting for freedom in Iran. Join Amnesty International activists to provide support and show your solidarity for the Iranian’s rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. More information is available at

Additionally, Amnesty International Australia will mark the plight of those in Iran on June 26th, collecting petitions and creating awareness.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Public hearings for National Human Rights Consultation - Do you want to attend?

As part of the National Human Rights Consultation, the Committee will be holding three days of Public Hearings from the 1st to the 3rd of July 2009 in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra.

The Public Hearings provide a forum for key commentators on human rights issues to present information to the Committee. This will include addresses from public figures and notable speakers, both at home and overseas.

The Hearings will also provide an opportunity for the Committee to invite groups and individuals who have made substantive submissions as part of the Consultation, to expand upon or clarify elements of their submission.

Amnesty International Australia are organising to send some activists from the NSW region to attend the hearings in Canberra. This is a great opportunity to influence the discussion and take part in the shaping of human rights protection in Australia.

Here is some information on the agenda for the three days of the public hearings:

Wednesday - Day 1 (1 July): How are human rights presently protected in Australia?

Thursday - Day 2 (2 July): What difference would a Charter make?

Friday - Day 3 (3 July): How else could we better protect human rights and promote responsibilities in Australia? Claire Mallinson - Amnesty International Australia National Director will be speaking on this day.

Some of the Amnesty Human Rights Act Team will be attending on all 3 days.

If you're interested in attending, let Ruby know ASAP!

For more information you can visit the website ( or contact Ruby.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Face to Face Locations Week starting 22/6

Monday: Sydney CBD (George St/ Liverpool St), Beecroft, Bondi Beach

Tuesday: Sydney CBD (Railway Square), Lindfield, Blacktowm

Wednesday: Sydney CBD (Pitt St/ Park St/ Castlereagh St), Darlinghurst, Parramatta

Thursday: Chatswood, Balmain, Broadway, Coogee

Friday: CBD (Elizabeth St), Newtown, Pyrmont

Friday, June 19, 2009

Does your group require any new resouces?

Does you action group require any resources that the NSW Action Centre can provide you with?

Do you need:

• Pens
• Prepaid envelopes or stamps for sending urgent action letters
• Amnesty T.shirts
• Campaign material
• Amnesty posters
• A new flyer for your group
• Extra collection tins
• Reimbursement for the following (petrol from traveling to events/meetings, mobile phone credit for calling members, gifts for speakers at events, costs for printing.)

Or other miscellaneous things?

If you need any of these things to improve your campaigning or the work that you do in your group please contact

Amnesty lodges Human Rights Act Submissions

Amnesty International Australia formally lodged its human rights act submission to committee member, Mary Kostakidis. Amnesty also submitted the human rights act submissions it has been collecting submissions for the consultation for over a year now, resulting in over 10,000 submissions being handed over. National Branch President Nicole Bieske formally handed over the submissions to Ms Kostakidis on June 13th, with final online submissions closing on June 15th at 5pm. Amnesty International Australia’s submissions made up a third of the overall submissions, indicating the overwhelming response from Amnesty’s members and supporters across the country in regards to the importance of a human rights act.

The next steps in the Human Rights Act journey involving the committee are the public hearing that will be in Canberra from July 1st-3rd as well as the ongoing online consultation that closes on June 26th.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

NSW Regional Catch-up

The second Regional Catch-up for 2009 is coming up.

Why: The Regional Catch-up is an opportunity to find out what is going on in other groups and networks across NSW, be briefed on campaign developments, speak with members of office based teams, voice concerns and share campaigning wins.

Who: Group Conveners, Action Centre volunteers, key activists, and Branch Committee members.

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

Prior to the normal NSW catch up we will be having an hour training session about current campaigns or activism skill building. Feel free to give input into what sort of training you feel you would benefit from most -- i.e campaign training on our new Demand Dignity campaign and the SVAW Comfort Women Campaign, campaigning skills training, or other things such as event management, public speaking, etc.

Please note there will be other opportunities for training throughout 2009.

When: Tuesday July 7th 2009
  • 5:15 - 6:15 Training session (details TBC)
  • 6:15 - 6:30 - break & nibbles
  • 6:30 - 8:00 Regional catch up

Where: On the phone OR at the Sydney Action Centre

  • To join us in person come to Level 1, 79 Myrtle St Chippendale (off Abercrombie St., between Broadway and Cleveland streets)
  • To join us by phone call (02) 9696 0695 / Toll free (pincode 3502)

Please RSVP by Friday 3 July to

If you do not live in Sydney and would like to attend in person please contact to discuss financial assistance for possible travelling or accommodation costs.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Update from the National President & National Director

Hi Everyone,

On May 22nd the Australian government announced that it had signed United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. Signing the Optional Protocol sends a strong and unequivocal message to the international community that Australia does not support the use of torture anywhere in the world. Congratulations to everyone who campaigned on this issue. For further information please visit:

Human Rights Act
Yesterday marked the end of the Government’s national consultation process; Amnesty International has received more than 10,000 human rights act submissions from supporters. Thank you!

On June 12th Nicole Bieske met with Mary Kostakidis, member of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, to present all of our supporters’ submissions.

We also formally lodged Amnesty International Australia’s submission to the Human Rights Act Committee. A copy will be made available on our website and a press release will be issued to media. In early July we’ll participate in the public hearings to advocate strongly for a comprehensive Human Rights Act for Australia.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Group 78
We continue to campaign against the trumped-up charges leveled at Burma’s (Myanmar) pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. We are monitoring the trial which is currently underway although, according to reports last week, has been adjourned to 26 June. More than 9 000 activists took part in our online action which called on the ASEAN group of nations to apply pressure on the Burmese authorities. Following your actions, ASEAN made the uncharacteristic decision to express ‘grave concern’ in relation to the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi. We continue to monitor the situation.

Amnesty International is also taking action on behalf of Group 78 – a group of families living in makeshift accommodation on prime real estate in Phnom Penh the capital Cambodia. Group 78, who live metres away from the new Australian Embassy, face the imminent threat of forced eviction by the military. We’ve highlighted the issue to Australian Government officials and to the media; activists have participated in our online action and we’ll continue to speak out, when appropriate.

Amnesty International Report: 2009 – State of the World’s Human Rights
On May 28th we held a press conference at the Sydney Action Centre to launch Amnesty International Report: 2009 - State of the World’s Human Rights. Thank you to our Media Team for their great work on the launch and to our spokespeople. In total the team generated 296 clips across print, online, radio and television – including strong coverage on SBS World News Australia and The 7:30 Report on ABC.

To coincide with the launch of the AI Report 2009 we held activist events across Australia to launch our Demand Dignity Campaign. Demand Dignity is a campaign that addresses human rights violations that keep people poor. Globally, the campaign will address three key human rights issues: corporate accountability, maternal mortality and slums. In October 2009 we will launch our local Campaign on Indigenous rights.

For further information about the campaign please visit:

We’re looking forward to the Annual General Meeting which will be held by teleconference on June 27th. Members will receive an invitation with the latest edition of Human Rights Defender magazine.

Best wishes,
Nicole Bieske
National President

Claire Mallinson
National Director

P.S. It’s tax time! If you haven’t already – please make a donation to Amnesty International Australia. If you’ve made a donation, thank you; please ask a friend to do the same.
Let's get our Act together. Australia needs a Human Rights Act - have your say

The NSW Schools Team

The NSW Schools Team coordinates the network of NSW schools with an active Amnesty group. We are in regular contact with our network of 60 schools across the State and actively support them with regular campaign updates and mail outs of materials.

  • We actively encourage schools to send us news of their activities and feedback on our materials.
  • We also provide individual support as requested including arranging school visits, guest speakers, research material and DVDs.
  • While concentrating on our active schools we also encourage other schools to join our network and to support human rights.

Later this year we plan to hold a youth conference, in collaboration with our campus groups and also build an online community of our school groups. If you would like to know more about schools in your area or are already working with schools in your community please email us at: to let us know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Face to Face Locations Week starting 8/6

Monday: Public Holiday

Tuesday: Sydney CBD (George St/ Liverpool St)

Wednesday: Sydney Central (Railway Square)

Thursday: Sydney CBD (Town Hall)

Friday: Newtown

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Meeting for Demand Dignity Group

Special thanks to everyone who came last week to the NSW Regional Launch of the new Amnesty International campaign, Demand Dignity. We hope you enjoyed the food, found the speakers interesting, and generally found the night to be insightful.

Also, thanks to everyone who registered their interest in being part of the campaign, we're excited to get this ball rolling. So, we'll be having the first meeting for the group in the next fortnight.

If you're interested in being part of the group, or even just to learn more about the campaign in-depth, come along to the night where we'll discuss the future of the group, what kind of campaigning activities the group will be doing, and how you can be involved.

Where: NSW Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle Street, Chippendale, NSW, 2008.
When: Thursday, 18th of June, 2009.
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

If you're interested to come along on the night you can RSVP at

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

NSW Comfort Women Tour

In the months of June and July NSW region will be working on the Comfort Women Campaign as part of our work to International campaign to stop violence against women. We are currently planning a mini stall tour as part of the Comfort Women Campaign using the butterfly actions.

If you and your group are interested in holding a stall or action for the Comfort Women with support from the NSW team in the months of June or July, please email for more details.

Refugee Week 2009

To mark Refugee Week in 2009 activists, local groups and the NSW Refugee Network will be organising some great events and actions around the region.

One of these is the speakers forum 'Boundless Plains to Share', organised by the NSW Refugee Network in partnership with NSW Young Lawyers.

When: 6:30 - 8:30pm Tuesday 16th June
Where: Sydney University Law School, Camperdown

Stay tuned for more details on the forum such as the impressive line up of speakers and details of other events on the NSW section of the Amnesty Website.

Human rights and poverty course

We have a new course for (4) activists who are interested in the Demand Dignity Campaign and wish to take on a leadership role online or within a group.

You'll need to be prepared to commit to around 3 hours a fortnight in reading, thinking and online discussion about human rights and poverty and to share your understanding online, through blogs and other social networks.

Participants will have an opportunity to connect with other Demand Dignity activists across Australia and build a support network to share ideas and support each other through the campaign. As this course is entirely online, participants will need to have access to a reliable Internet connection either at home, or within their local AIA Action centre.

Course content:

  • Defining poverty: a multidimensional view
  • Human rights framework in addressing poverty
  • Millennium Development Goals and AIA
  • AIA’s approach to bringing about changes in policy, law and practice
  • Maternal mortality
  • Slums
  • Corporate Accountability
  • Online campaigning essentials
  • Activist campaigning leadership and facilitation.

If you are interested, please contact Ruby Johnson, Acting Community Campaign Activist, for more details.

20 years since Tiananmen Square

To mark the 20 years since the crackdown at Tiananmen Square, Amnesty International Australia will be holding events in Sydney and the NSW region alongside activists in the Chinese Community, this Thursday on the 4th of June. Show your solidarity by attending one (or all) of the following events.

Peaceful Protest: Commemorating 20 years since the Tiananman Square Crackdown

Where: Chinese Consulate-General in Sydney (39 Dunblance Street, Camperdown NSW 2050)
When: 12:00 noon to 13:00 pm on Thursday, June 4, 2009.

Other events include:

Commemoration Car Rally

Where: West Ashfield Leagues Club, 115 Liverpool Road
When: between 9:45am-10:15am.

649 Exhibition and the 'Tank Man Tango'

Where: 649, Serial Space, 33 Wellington Street, Chippendale
When: Thursday, June 4, 2009 - Sunday, June 14, 2009.

Opening at Serial Space at 7pm on June Fourth 2009, 649 will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen Square protests. The exhibtion will feature new paintings, drawings, installations, videos and zines by Locust Jones, Deborah Kelly, Chaina Productions, Pmfk, Brian P, Ryan Leech and Mark Gerada (curator).

Deborah Kelly's Tank Man Tango, is a worldwide particpatory performance choreographed to occur at an iconic location in Sydney just before the exhibtion opens. The Tank Man Tango project will be a memorial made of dancing bodies in cities around the world (Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Washington DC, Taichung, London, Bristol, Weimar, Leipzig, Seoul, Mexico City, Tucson AZ and Singapore) as a collaborative public project, produced in consultation with a range of artists across media. This work will bring to life the steps of the "tank man".

The peformances from around the world will be documented and exhibited progressively at Serial Space from June Fifth. In Sydney, Tank Man Tango qill take place from 5pm, June Fourth at an iconic harbourside location to be announced on Wednesday 3rd.

Face to Face Fundraising Locations Week starting 1/6

Public Outreach, Cornucopia
1 June, 2008. Monday
Pitt and Park, 238 Pitt St

Public Outreach, Cornucopia
2 June, 2008. Tuesday
Railway Square, 815 George St

Public Outreach, Cornucopia
3 June, 2008. Wednesday
Meet at the Train Station

Public Outreach, Cornucopia
4 June, 2008. Thursday
Town Hall
Lot 15/501 George St

Public Outreach, Cornucopia
5 June, 2008. Friday
Surry Hills, 414 Elizabeth St
Newtown, 281 King St

Public Outreach, Cornucopia
6 June, 2008. Saturday
George and Liverpool, 86 Liverpool St