(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – More than 100 students, teachers and Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) activists will invade Washington to rally for human rights in front of embassies and in public spaces throughout the city on Friday, April 12, 2013 at Amnesty's annual Get on the Bus rally.
"We ask fellow activists to 'take the day off for human rights' and join together to support so many whose basic rights have been violated," says Carla Bocella, co-coordinator of this year's rally.
Get on the Bus is an annual day of human rights education and activism organized by several AIUSA groups. Started in 1996 by a local chapter in Somerville, MA, Get on the Bus has spread to Amnesty International groups across the country, including New York City and Washington, D.C. The event's name stems from its history – participants gather together on buses before rallying on behalf of the voiceless.
This year's event begins with an introduction by leading activists from national and international human rights organizations, and continues with action rallies in front of select embassies and consulates.
In D.C., Amnesty International activists will focus on:
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights – Amnesty International believes that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception. In partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, we are calling on authorities to support rights for LGBT people around the world.
- Sudan – The government of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir is responsible for several serious human rights violations, including sexual violence, indiscriminate aerial bombardment, burned villages and other armed attacks on civilians and internally displaced persons. Amnesty is calling on the government of Sudan to protect internally displaced persons in South Kordofan, Blue Nile Abyei and Darfur, and to end human rights violations against civilians in these conflict zones.
- Indonesia – Filep Karma was arrested and sentenced to 15 years for raising a flag at a peaceful rally in Papua, Indonesia. While in prison he has suffered numerous medical conditions that have not been adequately addressed by prison authorities. Amnesty International considers Filep Karma to be a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
- Dominican Republic – Human rights activist Juan Almonte Herrera disappeared in the Dominican Republic on September 28, 2009. Eyewitnesses say it was police that abducted Mr. Herrera. Since then, his family and lawyers have reported being followed and watched by the police. Amnesty is calling on authorities to launch an investigation into Mr. Herrera’s whereabouts, to bring those responsible for his disappearance to justice, and to provide adequate protection for his family and lawyers.
- Romania – On December 17, 2010, approximately 350 people, the vast majority Roma, were forcibly evicted by local authorities from the center of the city of Cluj-Napoca, northwestern Romania to inadequate housing in the outskirts of the city close to a garbage and former chemical waste dump. Amnesty is calling on authorities to protect Roma living in informal settlements or camps from forced evictions and other violations of the right to housing (including segregation and lack of access to water), and allow them to actively participate in processes and decisions impacting their lives.
- Zimbabwe – In the violence following Zimbabwe's 2008 election, human rights defenders were under intense pressure by police, army and intelligence services. This included unlawful arrests, long detentions, torture and disappearances. In the last few months, human rights defenders from several organizations experienced the same repression. Amnesty is urging authorities to respect internationally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and association for all in Zimbabwe; in particular the right of everyone, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for realization of human rights.
Or take a bus to Bangladeshi and Somali embassies:
- Amnesty activists will join the Cartoonists Rights Network International to rally on behalf of exiled cartoonists Arifur Rahman from Bangladesh and Abdul Arts from Somalia, busing from Dupont Circle to the Embassies of Bangladesh and Somalia.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.