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Saturday, December 29, 2012

A message from Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford

Amnesty International USA

We believe deeply in Amnesty’s vision. Please, join us as proud members of Amnesty today. 

Dear Dwijendra,

Taylor and I have supported Amnesty International for decades, because it unites us in saving lives and defending human rights.

We are both very fortunate to live and work in countries where artists have freedom of speech and artistic expression - they are even lauded and awarded for their work.

However, in many countries in the world, creating art or speaking openly can land you in jail, or much worse. Artists doing the same work that we take for granted have been tortured and "disappeared" for exposing painful truths about corruption and inhumanity in their societies. The fall-out for family and friends can be agonizing - even they can become targets of harassment.

Over the last 50 years, Amnesty has freed thousands of people who have been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs or peaceful activism.

We believe deeply in Amnesty’s vision. Please, join us as proud members of Amnesty today.

In the realm of defending human rights, no voice carries farther or stronger than Amnesty’s. For that voice to remain strong, it needs all of us to step up.

If you give now, every dollar of your gift will be matched. 

We are bound together by a passion for human rights. Take that next step with us. Become a member now.

Your gift can make a world of difference.

Very truly yours,
Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford

Dame Helen Mirren is an actor known for her work in films such as The Queen, Hitchcock and The Madness of King George. Her husband, filmmaker Taylor Hackford, is known for directing movies such as Ray, An Officer and a Gentleman and The Devil's Advocate

*Photo courtesy L.A. Times
Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford
Amnesty ornament

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© 2012 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The future of this movement

Amnesty International USA

The future of this movement

Dear Dwijendra,

I want to share something with you.

For more than 50 years Amnesty International has shown that tremendous progress is possible, that ordinary people can unite across borders and beliefs to affect great change. We have made human rights a household phrase.

But the human rights landscape is shifting, and we must challenge ourselves to adapt the way we work. We must be bold and imaginative. We must move ahead of the curve.

LIGHT THE WAY to the future successes of the human rights movementDonate to Amnesty International today and your generous gift will make twice the impact through our matching gift campaign.

Amnesty needs your donation to respond to the dramatic changes taking place all over the world.

Your gift today will allow us to inject innovation, speed and expanded capacity into this movement. It will enable us to:
Operate from the frontlines. We're increasing our presence in India, South Africa, Brazil and Hong Kong. We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with human rights defenders, activists and partners, wherever they are, and enhance the speed, relevance and credibility of our response to human rights violations.

Recruit the next generation now. By offering young people an immersive and inclusive experience, from social media to social life, we will make it easier than ever to connect with human rights activism.

Unleash the power of technology. We are turning the devices our activists use every day into weapons for the defense of human rights in real-time. We will use our phones to free prisoners of conscience, satellites to predict human rights abuses, and maps to connect us to activists worldwide.
We owe it to all who are facing human rights abuses to be the most effective force for freedom and justice that we can be.

You know what we're fighting for together. And you know where we're headed.

This is in your hands now.

With great respect and appreciation,
Frank Jannuzi
P.S. Even though we're shifting into high gear, one thing will never change – supporters like you will remain the heart and soul of Amnesty. Move forward with us – make your gift today.
Light the way
Amnesty ornament

Become a monthly donor in December and receive a beautiful, ethically made Amnesty Ornament.
Give Monthly
Double your impact
All donations made before December 31st will be doubled by a generous donor.*
*Up to $222,500
Match my gift
Shine our strength
© 2012 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400

Saturday, December 22, 2012

asking Governor Perdue to reverse the injustice that tore our lives apart and pardon the members of the Wilmington Ten. Will you sign my petition?

A racist prosecutor put me and nine other people in prison for a crime we didn't commit. North Carolina's Governor is the only person who can issue us a pardon -- join me in calling on Governor Perdue to pardon us before she leaves office on January 1.
Sign My Petition
When I was 19, a prosecutor framed me and nine other civil rights activists for firebombing a building in Wilmington, NC. We were dubbed the Wilmington Ten, convicted by a jury that included multiple KKK members, and sentenced to 29 years in prison.
At nineteen, I had dreams of becoming a lawyer or running for office. But when I was released on parole eight years after my conviction, I was shunned by my community and had trouble finding enough work to get by. Worst of all, after being away for so long, my children no longer trusted me.
I'll never get back what I lost -- nor will the other nine people who were wrongly imprisoned. But we deserve to be officially declared innocent. The governor of North Carolina will issue her last pardons over the next two weeks, before she leaves office. I started a petition on Change.org asking Governor Perdue to reverse the injustice that tore our lives apart and pardon the members of the Wilmington Ten. Will you sign my petition? 
The Wilmington Ten were working together in 1971 to integrate public schools in our community. 
Jay Stroud is the District Attorney responsible for our unjust sentencing. He built his case on the testimony of three convicted felons, all of whom retracted their statements just a few years later. A few weeks ago, the notes he took during the trial were released. They show that Stroud bribed witnesses and tried to recruit a jury with as many white racists as possible -- one note next to a jury member read "possibly KKK good."
I have been fighting against my wrongful conviction for decades, before and after I was released. I have struggled tremendously over the years to overcome the paralyzing effects of being imprisoned for crimes I never committed -- but I am determined to clear my name. 
Governors usually issue pardons during their last week in office, and with North Carolina's governor set to leave at the end of the year, this could be our last chance to get a pardon and send a message to the entire country that this injustice will not be tolerated.
The city of Wilmington has already apologized. It is now time for the state of North Carolina to do the same by granting The Wilmington Ten a full pardon of innocence. Please sign my petition today and urge Governor Perdue to pardon me and the other members of the Wilmington Ten.
Thank you for your help.
Wayne Moore

P.S. Following Friday's tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, hundreds of Change.org members have started campaigns with what they want to see changed. Click here to see what petitions people have started about Newtown, or start your own petition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Look at this crazy, beautiful thing we've created together

Dear Amazing Avaaz community,

With 2012 almost over, I wanted to take a second to stop and reflect on this crazy, beautiful community of hope that we've all created together. The numbers are mind-boggling --

Avaaz growth curve
  • 17.2 million of us are getting this email today, and that number is skyrocketing -- almost doubling in the last several months!
  • We've come together from all 194 nations, 1.7 million of us in Brazil, 1.6M in France, 773,000 in India. Here's the map
  • We've taken more than 100 million actions, online and offline, and told over 250 million friends about important campaigns
  • Our voices have brought awareness to critical issues, with coverage in at least 15,000 news reports this year alone
  • 400,000 of us have donated, giving almost $7 million through Avaaz to other humanitarian and democracy organisations
  • 20,000 of us have already started, and started winning, campaigns using our new community petition tool
The Pakistani President signs our petition that helped 3 million children go to school

Our massive Palestine action right outside the EU commission as foreign ministers met
But behind the numbers is so much more -- thousands of stories of people coming together with a hope that is powerful enough to overcome cynicism and achieve change. Not just in small ways, but in some really, really big ways.   

Remember Malala, the incredibly brave young girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls education? In a week, the Avaaz team worked with partners in Pakistan to identify an ambitious plan to get all kids into school, and after 886,000 of us signed the petition for this plan, the UN education envoy Gordon Brown presented it directly to President Zardari who himself signed the petition! Malala was "thrilled" to be greeted in hospital with the news that Zardari had approved funds to get 3 million more children into school! Brown called our mobilisation "crucial".  

This was just before 1.8 million of us played a major role in winning a Palestinian state. After Israel and the US started bullying countries to vote against it at the UN, we unleashed opinion polls in 4 countries, thousands of phone calls, lobbied leaders and erected giant 4 storey flags outside official meetings. In the final vote only 9 countries out of 193 voted against! The EU Palestinian Ambassador said "Avaaz played a critical role in persuading governments to support the Palestinian people's bid...their solidarity and support will be remembered and cherished across Palestine".

And earlier this year, a whopping 2.8 million of us joined a powerhouse campaign to stop the ACTA treaty -- a critical win against global corporations trying to censor the Internet. The treaty died in Europe, and the Parliament's president said he was "very impressed by Avaaz's massive petition which was taken seriously by the European Parliament". Other leading members of Parliament publicly cited our voices as critical to getting them to scrutinize and oppose ACTA.

That's 3 of literally hundreds of stories to tell about this year alone! (Check out our updates page for more.) I can't wait to see what our community is capable of in 2013, from protecting rainforests and wildlife to standing with the Syrian people and the Arab Spring to dismantling Rupert Murdoch's corrupt media empire, and so much more.   

This is an amazing thing we've built together, an engine of hope and change in the world. And every one of us has contributed to make it happen. Next time you're out at dinner with friends or at a party, try asking if anyone else is part of Avaaz. Chances are someone will be, and maybe you'll have a conversation that builds your hope. Because we can achieve a lot on our own, but if we come together and stick together, anything is possible.

With enormous appreciation for every lovely and committed person in this unique community,

Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

Support the Avaaz Community!
We're entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way.Donate to Avaaz

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Get on the map with me and Sting!

Amnesty International
Sting, Roger Waters and other artists have put their Pussy Riot activism on the map! Won't you join them?
Dear Dwijendra,

If you feel like I do, then put your fist in the air!
I am deeply troubled that Masha Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot are still in prison. A Russian appeals court failed to overturn their sentence in October despite the international outcry against their imprisonment.

If you feel like I do, then raise your voice with me.

I am disturbed that they can be so harshly silenced just because they performed a song that criticizes Vladimir Putin.
I am outraged that officials can shut down free speech all across Russia – and get away with it.

If you feel like I do, then add yourself to the Free Pussy Riot Map! 

Pussy Riot's case connects the worlds of music and human rights. When you add yourself to the Free Pussy Riot Map – Amnesty International’s newest human rights project for solidarity, you help deepen that connection.

When asked how he felt about Pussy Riot’s case, Sting had this to say: “Dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance.” 
Take a look for yourself and see the range of artists who have also been inspired to speak out on Pussy Riot's behalf: From Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to Switchfoot, from Amanda Palmer to Matt Cameron, drummer for the band’s Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. There’s no better time than right now to unite with them as well as others to make our voices heard and our rights known.

Get on the Free Pussy Riot Map! We will share all entries with members of Pussy Riot. We want them to see that people like YOU are in their corner!

Pussy Riot is one of this year’s signature Write #4Rights cases because their case so clearly illustrates that we can never take the right to free expression for granted. You may not like how they expressed themselves, but they broke no law. Their sentences – two years each in a penal colony for performing a 40-second protest song – are inhumane.

It doesn’t matter if you’re punk rocker or not – if you care about justice, then you should raise your voice for Pussy Riot. You should join me, Sting and the growing number of artists and activists by adding yourself to the map!

In Solidarity,

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

 Get on the map!

Sting, Roger Waters and a growing number of other artists and activists are joining Amnesty International supporters like you who are raising their voices to help free Pussy Riot.

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© 2012 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001 | 212.807.8400