Newsroom

We put a human face on complex issues to hold governments accountable.

Below you’ll find breaking news as well as reports, updates on our campaigns, and victories.

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Update

New Amnesty report calls for comprehensive arms embargo on Israel and Hamas

Amnesty International released a report today 'Fuelling conflict: Foreign arms supplies to Israel/Gaza' calling for a comprehensive arms embargo on both Israel and Hamas.  Amnesty researchers during their fact finding mission in Gaza found both Israel and Hamas used weapons supplied from abroad to carry out attacks on civilians. The report states that Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. Their attacks resulted in the death of hundreds of children and other civilians and destoyed homes on a massive scale while Hamas and other Palestinian armed…

February 24, 2009

Update

Ma Khin Khin Leh is Free!

After serving nearly 10 years of a life sentence in Myanmar (Burma), prisoner of conscience and long-time AIUSA priority case Ma Khin Khin Leh was freed this past weekend along with 18 others widely considered to be political prisoners. Ma Khin Khin Leh, a school teacher and young mother, had been serving a life sentence because her husband, a student activist, helped plan a demonstration to be held in Bago on July 19, 1999, to protest government policies and to show support for the National League for Democracy (NLD), a pro-democracy political party that sought to counter the military junta that…

February 24, 2009

Update

Hope and Change? U.S. makes $900 million pledge to Gaza

Yesterday, the U.S. State Department leaked an upcoming pledge of $900 million to reconstruct Gaza and support the Palestinian Authority.  No money will pass through Hamas but will be filtered through non-governmental organizations.  I applaud this assistance but question the effectiveness of aid without negotiations and opening the borders. Daniel Levy, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and an Israeli citizen, wonders whether money will pass into Gaza at all: “The next step is opening the border crossings, and that requires more than just signing a check.” The irony, of course, is that the US is supplying aid to…

February 24, 2009

Update

Azerbaijan: Popular Website “Temporarily” Closed

First they came after dissenting newspapers such as Realni Azerbaijan. Then they came after foreign broadcasts such as BBC and Radio Free Europe. Now, just weeks before the March 18, 2009 constitutional referendum that would institute unlimited presidency, the government of Azerbaijan is allegedly censoring the content of a popular and semi-independent website, www.day.az. In the words of Global Voices Online: “[…] the content of a leading news site considered more independent than most in Azerbaijan was replaced on Thursday with a message informing readers that the “project is closed. A day later, after the authorities denied allegations that they…

February 22, 2009

Update

Egypt vs. the Bloggers

Days after Egyptian authorities went after one blogger critical of the government's policy on Gaza and human rights, they're now going after another. Dia’ el Din Gad, a student blogger is believed to have been held incommunicado in the custody of State Security Investigations (SSI) services and at risk of torture since his Feb. 6.  (Click here for more) As bloggers have emerged as an active and important voice in promoting democracy and human rights, the government has responded, including Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Karim Amer. It's part of a larger effort to shut down all public criticism of…

February 21, 2009

Update

Calls Grow to Investigate Bush Detention Policies

Yesterday a coalition of 18 leading human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute launched a call for the establishment of a non-partisan commission of eminent persons to investigate and examine the detention, treatment, and transfer of detainees following the 9/11 attacks. The call was backed by former FBI Director William Sessions, Major General Antonio Taguba who headed the military investigations into the abuses at Abu Ghraib, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering, Juan Mendez, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the President of the United Church…

February 20, 2009

Update

One Man's Story

“I am not asking to be taken at my word and to be released, although I very much want to go home to my family. All I am asking for is to be treated like every other person in the United States who is accused of a crime, including terrorism, and to be given a fair trial in an American court.” These are the words of Ali al-Marri, a U.S. resident who continues to be held without trial since December, 2001, in the United States. He was arrested in Illinois and is currently held in a military facility in Charleston,…

February 19, 2009

Update

Under Fire: White Phosphorus, Civilians, and Arkansas

Israeli army 'using white phosphorus' - 12 January 2008 White phosphorus, often supplied by the US, has accounted for approximately 100 deaths and injuries in Gaza, as of February 3.  The pain of the burns alone frequently leads to death.   The questions remain, did Israel use white phosphorus on civilians in violation of international law and if so, who supplied them with it? According to many eye-witness accounts and investigations, for example, the Israeli military systematically fired White Phosphorus munitions, including those made by the United States, over or near heavily populated areas of Gaza, killing and injuring scores of…

February 19, 2009

Update

"What went on here?" : U.S. Lawmakers Assess the Damage in Gaza

In the first congressional visit since Hamas was elected in 2006, Representative Brian Baird from Washington, Rep. Keith Ellison from Minnesota and Senator John Kerry visited Gaza yesterday.  They witnessed and reported the devastation of the population and the dire need of humanitarian assistance.  Rep.  Ellison, Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee member and the first Muslim congress member, stated that: People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in – Rep. Ellison. None of the…

February 19, 2009

Update

An Interrogator Speaks

I should have felt triumphant when I returned from Iraq in August 2006. Instead, I was worried and exhausted. My team of interrogators had successfully hunted down one of the most notorious mass murderers of our generation, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that had helped plunge Iraq into civil war. But instead of celebrating our success, my mind was consumed with the unfinished business of our mission: fixing the deeply flawed, ineffective and un-American way the U.S. military conducts interrogations in Iraq. I'm still alarmed about that…

February 19, 2009

Update

The Torture Memos Won't Go Away

In the Afterword to her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, Jane Mayer states: "The number of patriotic critics inside the administration and out who threw themselves into trying to head off what they saw as a terrible departure from America's ideals, often at an enormous price to their own careers, is both humbling and reassuring." One such person is Jack Goldsmith, a Bush appointee who became chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2003. That position had previously been held by Jay…

February 18, 2009

Update

Egypt: Ayman Nour — released!

Unexpectedly, good news from Egypt.  The government has released Ayman Nour, one of the country’s most prominent dissidents who came in second to President Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections. The BBC report can be found here; The Associated Press story here. The stated reason for his release was his poor health, although some speculate it is a gesture toward the new Obama administration. Nour’s conviction and detention despite his poor health has been taken both as an example of the Egyptian government’s determination to muzzle all of civic society and the West’s inability to move the government on human…

February 18, 2009