This Friday, April 6, human rights activists of all ages will travel to New York City to participate in peaceful actions in front of a select group of consulate and permanent missions to the United Nations to highlight country-specific human rights violations for Amnesty International’s 23rd annual ‘Get on the Bus’ event, a day of human rights education and activism.
The day will start with a Speaker’s Panel inside The Cooper Union. Following the panel, activists will take part in peaceful actions outside UN Missions and Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
This year’s actions will focus on six countries: Myanmar, Sudan, Iran, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and the United States.
For Myanmar, activists will be calling on Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to stop the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people.
For Sudan, actions will focus on preventing the closure of camps for displaced persons in Darfur, ending attacks on civilians, providing humanitarian aid, and releasing of detained human rights defenders.
For Iran, activists will be calling for the release of Narges Mohamadi, a human rights activist that was sentenced to 16 years in prison on unsubstantiated charges in 2016. A prisoner of conscience, Narges was imprisoned solely for her exercise of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.
For Tibet, activists will be rallying for the release for prisoners of conscience Tashi Wangchuk and Shokjang (Druklo). Tashi Wangchuk is an entrepreneur and language rights activist who has been detained by the Chinese government since 2016 on charges of inciting separatism, after working to sue the Chinese government for expanded access to Tibetan language education. Druklo is a writer who was imprisoned in 2016 on charges of separatism as a result of an article on the increased presence of Chinese security officers ahead of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
For Sri Lanka, activists will be demanding justice for Raighar Manoharan and the Trinco Five. Ragihar Manoharan, a Sri Lankan Tamil student, and four fellow students gathered for a chat when a grenade was thrown at them, leaving at least three injured. A group of officers in uniform, believed to be police from the elite Special Task Force, reportedly placed the injured students in their jeep, beat them, and pushed them out before shooting them.
For the US, activists will call attention to ending the practice of family detention of asylum seekers, particularly the Berks Detention Center in Pennsylvania.
Speakers slated to speak at The Cooper Union include, Dorjee Tseten, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet International. Born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India, Tseten has trained hundreds of Tibetan and Indian students through SFT’s Youth Leadership Training program and has been elected as a Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
Additionally, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director, Margaret Huang, will be speaking, as well as Mani Mostofi, founder of Impact Iran, a human rights coalition focusing on advocacy with the United Nations.
The day will feature a message from Dr. Manoharan, the father of murdered student Ragihar Monoharan, as well as a speech by Denise Bell, a Researcher at Amnesty International, working on refugee and asylum cases, and a statement from Carol Anne Donohoe, an immigration attorney who works with Aldea – The People’s Justice Center, to represent many families at the Berks family detention center. Participants will hold teddy bear props to symbolize the lost childhood of kids locked up at centers like Berks and write postcards to DHS Secretary Nielsen, calling her to end the practice of family detention and to release families detained now.
In the evening, there will be a film screening of The Heart of Nuba, held at the Village East Cinema with Amnesty members and the filmmakers. The documentary film takes place in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan and follows Doctor Tom Catena as he delivers care to patients suffering from medical issues ranging from malnutrition to leprosy.
Amnesty International Group 133 in Somerville, Ma. began “Get On The Bus” in 1995 and draws upwards of 1,200 participants each year.