Human Rights Conference 2014


Thank you for Bringing Human Rights Home at the #Amnesty2014 Human Rights Conference and Annual General Meeting in Chicago, Illinois April 4-6! Stay tuned for information about the 2015 Conference.

Did you attend the AGM? Click here to let us know what you thought! Your feedback is essential to our staff and member planning team, and we appreciate your input as we begin the planning process for the 2015 AGM.

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Torture in the USA? Tragically, yes. Chicago police systematically tortured over 100 people, all men of color, over two decades. Justice is long overdue!


Violence affects everyone in Chicago, but it is particularly devastating for the city's youth. The Youth PROMISE Act is bi-partisan bill that would fund and support locally-run youth and gang violence intervention and prevention programs, including in Chicago. The time to act is now!



Featured Sessions
THE HUMAN TOLL OF GUN VIOLENCE: A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION Gun violence impacts human rights in profound ways, from the rights to life and security to the rights to education, a decent livelihood, and freedom of movement. The reasons for increased gun violence in Chicago are complex. Poverty, unemployment, lack of education, public housing demolition, and gang fragmentation are some of the factors that play a role in the violence. The vast majority of homicides and other violent crimes are concentrated in the south and west sides of the city, in predominantly African-American and Latino communities that have high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Panelists: Father Michael Pfleger - The Faith Community of Saint Sabina; Cleopatra and Nate Pendleton - Parents of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton; Michael Skolnik - Political Director to Russell Simmons and editor in chief of; Sarah Clements - Daughter of Sandy Hook survivor; Charlene Carruthers - Black Youth Project 100, University of Chicago

Moderator: Tamika Mallory, Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Taskforce Initiative + Essence Magazine Contributor.

Keynote Address by Mansour Ossanlu, former Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience from Iran
This keynote will highlight the experience of Mansour Ossanlu as a former prisoner of conscience and recognize the value of Amnesty's work to support and win freedom for prisoners of conscience around the world.

Biography: Mansour Ossanlu is Iran's most prominent trade union and labor rights activist and one of Iran's most well-known human rights defenders. The Iranian government has banned independent trade unions and does not recognize the right of workers to engage in peaceful activism, including peaceful strikes and has persecuted and imprisoned those who have attempted to form independent unions. Ossanlu became head of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Syndica-ye Sherkat-e Vahed) in 2005 and experienced severe persecution by Iranian authorities due to his peaceful work to build a strong and independent trade union movement in Iran and his efforts to obtain better conditions for workers and to end discriminatory laws and practices that curtail workers' rights. Ossanlu was arrested and imprisoned several times and severely beaten and tortured in assaults by security forces and in custody. His most recent arrest in July 2007 led to a six-year prison sentence imposed after a conviction following an unfair trial in a Revolutionary Court on charges of "acts against national security" and "propaganda against the system." Ossanlu suffered severe health problems, including damage to his eyes and a heart attack in prison, for which he received inadequate medical attention. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience and his case dossier was adopted by Amnesty International USA Group 11 in New York. After persistent activism on his behalf by Amnesty International members and other human rights and international labor and trade union organizations, the Iranian government granted him a medical furlough in June 2011. He left Iran without government permission in 2013 and eventually came to the United States with the assistance of Amnesty International, where he now resides and continues to speak out about the persecution of the Iranian labor movement.

REDEFINING JUSTICE: THE STATE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE & HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S. & AROUND THE WORLD This plenary will explore some of the lived experiences of individuals and communities of color in the U.S. and around the world who are affected by hyper-criminalization, mass incarceration, and harmful policing practices. From racial profiling exemplified by "stop and frisk" policies to mass incarceration to what communities have called "wrongful deaths" of young men like Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, and Kimani Gray, hyper criminalization and harmful policing practices take many forms. Police accountability in particular has been limited at best, and in many cases, nonexistent. Few places are closer to the epicenter of these issues than Chicago, so this panel will reflect the spirit of "bringing human rights home" by connecting the local to the national and global. Panelists will talk about their experience using a human-rights framework to counter human-rights violations in the criminal injustice system.
A CONVERSATION WITH GLENN GREENWALD: NSA SURVEILLANCE, EDWARD SNOWDEN, AND THE RIGHTS OF WHISTLEBLOWERS Author and journalist Glenn Greenwald will join us via video link from Brazil for a discussion about the U.S. government's use of mass surveillance, as well as the persecution of whistleblowers and reporters who seek to tell the truth about human rights violations. Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill have launched The Intercept, a publication whose mission is to provide a platform to report on the documents Snowden disclosed, as well as adversarial journalism on a wide range of issues. Greenwald will speak with Margaret Huang, Amnesty USA's deputy executive director of campaigns and programs, and then take questions from the audience.
WORKERS' RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS The global movement for workers' rights is central to achieving human rights protections for all. Workers in the United States—and around the world—are organizing to demand an adequate standard of living, to improve working conditions, to stop slavery, and to ensure that migrant workers are accorded equal protection of their rights. Our two luncheon speakers will share their insights and experiences as leaders of the U.S. workers' rights movement and the global movement.
LGBT RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS: GETTING TO KNOW THE MOVEMENT Wondering what is happening in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied movements? This plenary, "Winning LGBTI Equality: An Activist's Guide to LGBTI Human Rights Advocacy" will focus on pressing issues of sexual orientation and gender discrimination that are often overlooked or misunderstood by people in the U.S. Through the lived experiences of front-line activists, panelists will discuss transgender awareness, workplace discrimination, and international LGBTI issues. Further, panelists will discuss how everyone can successfully participate in the struggle for LGBTI equality.
Program Sessions
Block 1
  • Accountability for Torture in Chicago, the United States and around the world
  • Banned, Imprisoned, Blockaded and Deprived: Violations of the Right to Education in the Middle East and in Chicago
  • How Social Media Abolished the Death Penalty: An interactive, skill-building workshop
  • Perilous Journeys and Broken Family Links: Protecting the Lives and Rights of Migrant Workers
  • Arts & Activism, Creative Resistance: An interactive panel and workshop with Culture Makers, Movement Artists and Artivists
Block 2
  • Ending the "Forever War" at Home and Abroad: Surveillance, Drones, Guantanamo & Islamophobia
  • Corporate Crimes and the Struggle for Environmental Justice
  • Raise the Roof with Fundraising!
  • The Time is Now! Making Women's Rights a Global Reality in North Africa, Egypt, and Morocco
  • Youth Leadership and the Fight for Human Rights
CONCERT Concert featuring SIERRA LEONE'S REFUGEE ALLSTARS with opening act AURORA BARNES at House of Blues *Conference name badge required*