"It is hard to fathom the idea of being incarcerated for six years simply for speaking my mind, or to be banned from making films for 20 years." – Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby," "Crash")
I have often gotten in trouble for opening my mouth, but I could never imagine being imprisoned and silenced for making a film.
Distinguished filmmaker Jafar Panahi and his artistic collaborator, Mohammad Rasoulof, were each sentenced to an exceptionally harsh six years in prison because they make socially critical films in Iran, where a brutal artist crackdown is escalating.
Jafar and Mohammad were also outrageously forbidden to travel, make movies or even speak to the press for an unimaginable period of 20 years.
They broke no laws. They expressed their views peacefully. Yet they are paying an awful, inhumane price for exercising their human rights.
Gagging artists and suppressing art are corrosive and dangerous threats to civil society. Repression of dissent is growing at a frightening rate in Iran.
Still, we know the voices of freedom and human rights can overcome the forces of persecution and injustice. Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi was once held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison on trumped-up charges of espionage. Roxana was freed after Amnesty International and other organizations rallied for her unconditional release.
I urge you to raise your voice now, for Jafar and Mohammad and courageous human rights activists everywhere, to say, “Stop.”
Joining you are Sean Penn, Harvey Weinstein, Martin Scorsese, actress and AIUSA spokesperson Nazanin Boniadi and dozens of other artists. These great talents are working with Amnesty to raise awareness of Jafar and Mohammad’s plight and dial up the international pressure on the Iranian government to drop the preposterous charges against the filmmakers.
When we shine our lights together, we can open prison doors and set the innocent free. No special effects needed, just the unwavering commitment of human rights defenders like you.
Well done! Thanks to you, 8 million out-of-school children have found more than 2 lakh Champions to speak up for their rights. Our collective voice has already been heard and it is making a big difference. But we need
more people like you speaking up about the Right to Education. On January 25th, UNICEF Representative,
Ms. Karin Hulshof will meet with Honourable Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr. Kapil Sibal to present him with a symbol of the massive support of the Awaaz Do movement. That's why we need more champions now, to show how many people are willing to do their bit to make sure that the right to education becomes a reality for every child in India.
Two lakh people standing up and raising their voice for child
rights is already a huge success. But imagine if each one of
us were to refer at least one friend today, our voice for
children would become twice as loud in an instant. We must act now! Every one of us! Awaaz Do!
Over the past year, the risk of rape has increased dramatically for women and girls displaced by Haiti's earthquake.
Myriam was raped when she was 11.
Suzie was gang-raped in front of her children.
Guerline's rapists said they would shoot her if she went to the police.
A year after a devastating earthquake killed 230,000 people and injured 300,000, more than one million people still live in squalid, unsafe tent cities in the capital Port-au-Prince and in the south of Haiti.
Most of those displaced by the quake are women and girls.
This dire situation has made girls and women – already struggling to come to terms with losing loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the earthquake – easy targets for violent sexual attack.
Armed men and youth gangs prowl the poorly lit camps at night, slicing through tents and raping at will. Women and girls are completely exposed - their makeshift shelters providing no protection against attackers.
A complete breakdown of law and order in the camps where Haiti's earthquake survivors live has made girls and women easy targets of sexual violence. Your gift today will help Amnesty fight for their protection and human rights.
There's simply no security for the women and girls in the camps.
Amnesty is calling on the new Haitian government to protect girls and women in the camps and stop the sexual violence now.
Sexual violence was widespread in Haiti before January 2010, but the destruction and displacement caused by the earthquake made women and girls even more vulnerable to abuse - separating them from family and community networks and shattering protection mechanisms.
According to the Amnesty International report, Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti's camps, more than 250 cases of rape – in just several camps – were reported in the first 5 months after January’s earthquake.
Victims say few rapes are reported, either because they fear retribution or because they don’t know where to turn. Women who do report rape to the authorities are turned away or asked to pay the police for inquiries.
Women and girls in the camps have a right to safety. The government has an obligation to protect them. With your help, we can convince the new government to make ending violence against women a priority.
Hope you are having a great New Year. 2010 was a hectic year and 2011 looks like it will be exciting too. This year our aim is to help ensure that development in India takes the sustainable path. Among other things we will continue supporting renewable energy in the country and seeking a reform in the fertiliser policy to make our agriculture chemical free and sustainable.
To accomplish these and many other tasks we need your support. Greenpeace does not take any financial aid from government bodies or corporate houses. The contribution comes in the form of financial support given by individuals like you.
The Greenpeace calenders are here and you can own one by making a contribution. These calendars, printed on recycled paper, have 12 beautiful images of endangered animals and stunning landscapes which talk about our campaigns. They also have eco-tips to help you green your life. There are very few calendars left, only the first 100 contributors will get one.
Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan appears on the January cover of Elle magazine, but she's outraged by the image. Her skin appears far more pale than it is in real life. Her dark brown hair is shown to be practically red.
Elle claims to celebrate women of color by featuring them on magazine covers, but this is the second time in just six months that Elle has blatantly made women of color more white. (The last controversy surrounded Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe.)
For better or worse, publications like Elle play a huge role in determining global standards of beauty -- especially for young girls and teenagers who read it. It sends a cruel and dangerous message to women of color everywhere when Elle manipulates the skin color of one of India's most famous actresses just so she can appear on a magazine cover.
Here's our opportunity: Elle is a business that cares more about its bottom line and public image than anything else. To change their behavior -- and send a message that reverberates through the whole fashion industry -- we need a public outcry.
India already has a billion-dollar skin-whitening industry. Many women burn their skin through the use of unsafe whitening products. And there's a pervasive prejudice against girls who are "too dark" and therefore can't get hired or married.
A global publication like Elle has no business reinforcing that racist and damaging stereotype. Elle suffered from some bad press when the magazine cover came out, but there still needs to be a massive public campaign to force them to take real action. This is that campaign.
Tell Elle that women don't have to be white to be beautiful – and to apologize for its offensive doctoring of its cover models:
Amnesty's Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a chance for our supporters to take their activism to the next level. Connect with your fellow human rights leaders from around the globe to collaborate, recharge, get inspired, build organizing skills, and guide our human rights movement.
There's no better place than San Francisco to celebrate the history of the social justice movement - and its bright future.