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

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