Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Watch: Last Issue Line-Up

Ok Bros:

Here's the deal:

James Farrell - Hunger
Me - Darfur Day of Advocacy, D.C.
Little Joyce - Film Review, Hotel Rwanda
Michael "Motivation" Noel - Elections in El Salvador
Brandon Niro - status of HIV/Aids crisis in Africa
Dan Pickle - human rights themed graffiti
Nick Durkin - human rights themed graffiti
Jack Devine - something, please, just SOMETHING!!!

Articles are due to by WEDNESDAY, May 6, 2009!!!!!!!

Let's finish the year with a nonviolent bang!!

Immigration Reform: Sign the Petition!

This Friday, May 1st, thousands around the country will call on Congress to do the right thing on immigration -- and to improve the treatment of all workers.Whether or not you can attend a march in your area, I'd like to invite you to participate in a virtual march for immigration reform this week! We need to show Congress that there is a growing movement that stands with the President to pass real immigration reform.

Please ask your representatives in Congress to work with President Obama to move on immigration reform by Thanksgiving:

This week also marks the end of President Obama's first 100 days in office and this Thursday, the U.S. Senate will take up its first hearing on immigration reform, featuring big names like Alan Greenspan.Now is our chance to get the ball rolling! Instead of a two-tiered workforce and costly raids, we can achieve real change for real families. But we need your help to move the campaign forward -- join the virtual march on Washington today!

Ask Congress to work with President Obama to move on real reform by Thanksgiving:

Movements like this wouldn't have happened without your voice pushing for change. Now help us take the campaign one step further.Thanks for joining the virtual march and for forwarding this message widely!

Adam Luna
America's Voice

P.S. Help us hold Congress accountable by signing up for text message alerts from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) -- just text Justice (or Justicia, for Spanish) to 69866.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Journalist in Need: Sign the Petition!

Last Saturday, Iran sentenced journalist Roxana Saberi to eight years in prison on charges of espionage after a brief closed door trial. She had been living in Iran and working as a reporter, although the government claimed it had withdrawn her press credentials.

The harsh sentence handed down to the North Dakota native has generated a global outcry. Major media outlets and even President Obama have called for her release.

With pressure building on the Iranian government, now is the best time for us to send a message demanding that the flaws of the original trial be addressed and for Roxana to be released immediately on bail.

The Iranian government knows that all eyes are on them and there is mounting pressure for a fair trial. Both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Head of the Judiciary Shahroudi have urged Tehran's chief prosecutor to investigate the case. Shahroudi said, "a fair examination of the case, especially at the appeal stage, is the defendant's right." This case comes at a critical time; President Obama has offered to start a dialogue with Iran and break a 30 year diplomatic deadlock.

Let the Iranian government know that you are watching closely and that their actions now will show the world how sincere they are about a fair appeal process. Add your name to our letter and hold the Iranian government to their word.

The Iranian government has not released any evidence against Roxana and reports indicate she was pressured into making statements that were used against her in the legal proceedings. It seems she has become a pawn in the political maneuvering that is unfolding in Iran's relations with the United States.

Her harsh prison sentence is yet another example of the increasingly severe crackdown on those exercising their rights to peaceful freedom of expression and association in Iran. The government of Iran has recently imprisoned and persecuted numerous bloggers, journalists, labor activists, students and members of religious minorities.

Thanks for standing with Roxana,

Elise, Sarah, Zahir and the rest of the Iran rapid response team

No Accountability for War Crimes? Sign the Petition!

No accountability for war crimes?

The recently released "torture memos" provide evidence that the United States authorized brutal interrogation methods. Not only were these techniques particularly harsh, but they violate international standards. In fact, the memos authorized techniques that the US government itself has prosecuted other nations for practicing.[1]

President Obama has done the right thing in putting an end to these practices, but that is not enough. Torture is a crime, and no one, not even government officials, should be above the law.

Tell the Attorney General: We can't just look the other way on torture. We need a full investigation and accountability.

We are building a movement for accountability. Last week, Faithful America members took action, calling on their local newspapers to endorse accountability. This weekend, editorial boards across the nation -- from sources diverse as the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cincinnati Inquirer and the Dallas Morning News -- condemned the "torture memos" and demanded justice for those who may have broken the law.

Earlier today, President Obama said that while he favors "looking forward" the decision to investigate US-sponsored torture will ultimately be up to Attorney General Holder, opening a door the White House had seemed to want kept shut. [2]

This is a welcome change of direction! We need to keep the momentum going. Our politicians won't act unless the American people demand they do so.

Sign the petition: Let Attorney General Eric Holder know the American people demand accountability.

We all want to turn the page on this dark chapter of our nation's history, but we know all too well that without consequences for our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them.
Standing for human rights is one of the central tenants of all faiths. That's why Faithful America is proud to join diverse human rights activists, from the United Nations to the ACLU, in calling for accountability for torture.

Our partners will deliver petition signatures from Faithful America and a broad coalition of other human rights organizations and activists to Attorney General Holder later this week.

Click here to add your name to the petition.

Thank you for all you do,

Beth, Katie, Dan Kristin and Jennifer
The Faithful America Team



Monday, April 20, 2009

Demand Accountability for U.S. Sponsored Torture!!!

The Department of Justice "torture memos" released yesterday are horrific. They define in graphic detail how the U.S. tortured and how it was justified. They are proof the U.S. government authorized torture.

So now...what are you going to do about it?

Click here to demand accountability.

Concerned citizens, many of them people of faith, have been shocked by the brutality and twisted logic flowing through the "torture memos." While the Obama administration did the right thing by releasing these memos, it's not enough. We need accountability. To get it, we need to show politicians we demand it. Let's reach them through sources they pay attention to: the papers in their home states and districts.

Tell your local paper: endorse an investigation today.

This is a moral issue. As the National Religious Campaign Against Torture says, "nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake."

To make sure we never torture again, we need more than an anti-torture president. At a minimum, we need a Commission of Inquiry to uncover ALL the facts, so we can institute the right safeguards. The Attorney General should also appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether criminal charges are warranted.

President Obama has not ruled out investigations and prosecutions for the Department of Justice lawyers who created this policy, and neither should we.

Tell your newspaper: people of faith demand accountability, so should you.

It's going to be a tough fight. Politicians who take a stand for justice may face accusations of partisanship and divisiveness. But the truth is not partisan. Our political leaders will need to know they'll have backup if they join our cause for truth and accountability. An editorial endorsing accountability from their local paper can give them the support, or the prodding, they need to do the right thing.

Build the political will for accountability: write your paper today.

Thanks for all you do,
Beth, Katie, Dan, Kristin and Jennifer
The Faithful America Team

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Agenda for Sunday!!!

MEET at the SQUIRELL HILL LIBRARY on the corner of FORBES and MURRAY Ave. at 5:45 AM on Sunday morning, APRIL 19, 2009.

More details about the day are as follows!!! :

  • There will be a brief ceremony at 6 a.m. with a few speakers -- including Pittsburgh resident and Holocaust Survivor Herman Snyder and members of the South Sudanese and Rwandan communities -- before we get on the bus. Please arrive promptly at 5:45 a.m. so we can get this underway and then board the buses in a timely way.

  • The Save Darfur Coalition and the Committee on Conscience of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum are generously providing passes which admit to the Museum for all of our travelers! We expect to unload in Washington DC at the Holocaust Museum around, hopefully even a bit before, 11:30 a.m. We will be offered a ten minute introduction to the exhibits by a senior member of the guide staff. You do not have to tour the exhibit(s) but this is an excellent opportunity! You can leave belongings on the bus if desired. The buses will be locked and/or guarded.

  • Lunch and touring will be from 11:30-1:10 p.m. Lunch is on your own. You can bring something on the bus or eat at the Museum Cafe or a few other places which may be close.

  • At 1:10 pm we will gather at the Holocaust Museum to walk over as a group to Lafayette Park where the event will be held.
    It is a 20-30 minute walk.

  • We will be bringing and holding destroyed village signs during the event.

  • Save Darfur has asked if we would supply 7-10 volunteers for a few minutes before the event to get some cards signed.

  • The Event will be over around 3:30 and we should be pulling out around 4 pm at the latest. The buses will leave from Lafayette Park. This should bring us back to Pittsburgh with a stop along the way for dinner around 10 p.m.

  • Things to bring: Everyone needs to have a cell phone. Snacks, drinks, lunch if desired. We can provide some water bottles and maybe some snacks. We'll let you know. We will be creating a buddy system as in the past so we can keep track of one another.

  • It is everyone's responsibility to be on time at every stage of the trip. Check the DC weather -- if it looks like rain, the event of course will still be held but you might want to bring an umbrella.

  • The second of two buses is filling fast! If you have told me you or your group is traveling but have not yet turned in your money for the trip, please get on it! We don't want you to be disappointed by being unable to travel.
Next PDEC Meeting is Wednesday 4/15 at 5:30 at Sq. Hill library to work out last minute details.

Happy Holidays to all,
David Rosenberg

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get Your Rep. to Support a Dying Man!

Health records show that Fathi el-Jahmi will likely die in prison of heart failure and complications from diabetes if he does not receive critical medical treatment. However, the prognosis leaves out the fact that Libya's poor prison system is to blame for years of neglectful treatment given to a man who was unlawfully detained in the first place.

This is the second time Fathi has been wrongfully imprisoned for publicly calling for greater political freedom in Libya. His health condition is severe and the Libyan government knows it.
We've got two strong allies in Congress willing to speak out against Libya's injustice.

Representatives Wolf (R-VA) and Kirk (R-IL) are sponsoring our letter calling on Libya’s authorities to free Fathi el-Jahmi from detention and allow him to seek proper medical care. But they'll need our help to convince other members of Congress to join this effort to keep Fathi alive.

It was the leadership shown then by Congress that helped lead to Fathi's release. Now, we need our representatives to stand in solidarity once again for Fathi, but this time to save his life.
Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya's head of state, and other Libyan authorities will continue to let Fathi's life hang in the balance unless we expose this foul act for what it really is – a sad attempt to silence political opposition at all costs. We cannot just stand by while a bright flame of the human rights movement is extinguished.

Libya is seeking to improve its ties with the United States. And if we get enough members of Congress to sign the letter on Fathi's behalf, then Libya has a stronger incentive to heed our calls for justice. Email your Representatives and ask for them to stand in support of Fathi el-Jahmi.
Amnesty activists have a history of standing in Fathi's corner. His case garnered an outpouring of support and thousands of letters sent on his behalf during this past year's Global Write-a-thon.

In the following weeks, supporters will gather in front of the US mission to the United Nations and hold peaceful vigils as an act of solidarity for Fathi.

But for Fathi to have any chance at a future, we have got to make the present count.

Michael O'Reilly

Campaign DirectorIndividuals at Risk

Amnesty International USA

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thank the President!

Churches for Middle East Peace would like to take this opportunity to extend our wishes for a blessed Easter to the CMEP network. The Jerusalem church leaders in their Easter 2009 message said, "our knowledge of the Resurrection should encourage us to demonstrate hope" even in challenging times and reminded us to express "our belief and love for our Living God by helping others in His name."

In a major visit this week to Turkey aimed at reaching out to the Muslim world, President Obama stated unequivocal U.S. support for the two-state solution and called for accountability by both Israel and the Palestinians. In remarks on April 6th to the Turkish parliament, he said: "…Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security…Both Israelis and Palestinians must take steps that are necessary to build confidence and trust. Both Israelis and Palestinians, both must live up to the commitments they have made…"

Thank the President for his strong support for two states and for making clear that both Israel and the Palestinians have responsibilities in the pursuit of peace.

The President's statement is particularly important in light of Israel's new coalition government whose Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refuses to endorse a Palestinian state, and whose Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has dismissed the Annapolis process as having "no validity." Obama's pushback may be a harbinger of things to come - reports indicate that the administration is "preparing the ground for the possibility of "disagreements with Israel over the peace process."

In speaking about the goal of two states, President Obama specifically referred to the agreements made "in the road map and at Annapolis", which require Israel to freeze settlement activity and the Palestinians to end violence. In a March 2nd letter to Secretary Clinton, CMEP urged the administration to make clear that it will "not tolerate ongoing Israeli settlement activity," pointing out how settlement expansion undermines Palestinian security initiatives and strengthens extremists on all sides. In a response to CMEP received last week, Jeffrey Feltman, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, stated that "settlement activity damages the atmosphere for negotiations and is inconsistent with commitments previously made by Israel." Let the President know that he has support for bold and active leadership to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace and that you will back U.S. efforts to hold both sides accountable.

In his speech in Turkey, Obama emphasized that "pessimism and mistrust" must not take hold. Indeed, urgent action will be needed to restore hope that a viable and independent Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel is possible. The Obama Administration must engage in vigorous diplomacy to ensure that both Israel and the Palestinians take the necessary steps to make progress toward a lasting peace. This spring promises to be an intense time for Israeli-Arab diplomacy. President Obama will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories in June and Special Envoy Mitchell heads back to the region next week.

Take Action Today: Thank President Obama for his statements in support of Holy Land peace and encourage his Administration's vigorous diplomacy with both Israel and the Palestinians!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grill State Department for Selling Arms to Israel!

New information obtained by Amnesty researchers this week confirmed a massive shipment of U.S. weapons was delivered to Israel on March 22nd.

The administration allowed the delivery, despite clear evidence of Israeli human rights violations, some amounting to war crimes, including the controversial use of U.S. made white phosphorous munitions over densely populated areas. That's the white phosphorous that sticks to flesh and sears it until completely deprived of oxygen.

Ask State Department officials why the U.S. would deliver these arms to Israel.

The State Department has a moral and legal obligation to make sure U.S. weapons don't go to foreign forces with a record of committing gross human rights violations.

So, what happened? Did they decide against overwhelming evidence that Israel's actions were completely justified and didn't violate numerous international and U.S. laws? Did they put any extra restrictions on the use of these new arms?

With this new shipment just landing, we have a unique opportunity to find out exactly what happened to the State Department's review into Israel's misuse of U.S. weapons. There should be little difficulty in simply revealing the outcome of such a review. Yes we want a full embargo. But we need to be smart and push them one step at a time.

Ask the State Department officials in charge of U.S. arms exports to come clean on their findings of Israel's use of U.S. weapons in Gaza.

There is no way you and I can let tons of weapons land in Israel's hands with no questions asked.
We've got enough supporters to actually make something happen here. Send your letter now, and we'll let you know what happens.

Edie, Zahir, Colby, Steve and the rest of the team tracking this issue

P.S. If you get any replies with information, please send them to us at with "Arms for Israel" in the subject line. We'll be asking the same questions in person, and we'll let you know once we get some answers.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Join the March: April 19, 2009!

Save Darfur Coalition: Testimony & Advocacy Event (Act Now for Darfur)

Time: Sunday, April 19 from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Buses: leave from Pittsburgh at 6 am. Will return by 11 pm.

Cost: $20 per student, though exceptions will be granted for those who cannot pay in full.

RSVP: See sign-up sheet on second floor table.

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 19, 2009 the Save Darfur Coalition will bring survivors from past genocides and mass atrocities including Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, the Holocaust, and Armenia together with faith leaders, leading anti-genocide advocates, and local activists to reflect on these atrocities and call on President Obama to act now on Darfur.

The event will begin with a memorial ceremony by survivors to honor the lives that have been lost. This memorial will be a powerful symbolic call to President Obama.

Following the ceremony will be a speaking program featuring individuals who have been "upstanders" in the face of genocide.

The program will highlight the importance and power of "standing up", the role of the Darfur movement as part of the broader anti-genocide movement, and the potential to effect change by acting in this political moment.

Please join us!