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Monday, 10 May 2004


Topic: Yidaho

Events in Abu Ghraib, Chechnya, and Haiti have had at least one tiny ripple, over here - I re-animated my'dormant membership of Amnesty International.

You'll probably think it's tofu knitting, if you're right of centre, or appeasement if you're leftist, but Amnesty really works.
My personal conviction about this stems from a bizarre experience of receiving a reply to an Amnesty letter once.
I recall I was working with a muslim academic from UAE on translating some of Edward Said's fables, many years ago, when an Amnesty letter I'd written to the then leader of Israel resulted in a personal reply. The Secretary of State himself (later to become president) had decided to take the time to write back to me to explain in great detail why his army had been instructed to kill arab children in the street. Apparently I was a victim of media propaganda, and was not to think of these dangerous terrorist militias as 'children' per se. Oh, and that the killing would continue, thanks.
The job I was working on at the time I received this state apologia for the most incredible brutality put me into contact with arab academics some people who were extremely interested in what an Israeli government's justification of child killing might be -- especially when its intended audience was not the UN, the US, any figure of state at all, but a UK undergraduate who had written simply asking why it happened.

It's the simplicity of the thing that makes Amnesty work. You write letters, and you ask why. You ask if it might be possible to calm down, old chap. You remind them that someone somewhere knows these people are still alive.

Current Appeals for Action:
  • Haiti: The re-trial of Louis Jodel Chamblain ? a test of the judicial system in Haiti
  • Women of Rwanda: marked for death
  • Belarus: Stop the silencing of trade union activists
  • Ratification - Bahrain
  • Angola: Stop forcible eviction of families
  • Stop violence against women - Act now
  • Ratification - Jamaica
  • Thailand's anti-drug policy should not be killing people
  • Burundi: Women under attack
  • Ratification - Burundi
  • USA: "Double jeopardy" for some Guantanamo detainees
  • "Justice only in heaven" ? End the death penalty in Uzbekistan
  • Ratification - Yemen
  • Viet Nam: Help free Le Chi Quang, imprisoned for internet use
  • Mexico: Stop violence against women in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua
It costs #24 or USD$25, or CA$20, or AUS$55 or Kr240 to join Amnesty International. Then you get to write some letters to Ministries of Foreign Affairs, and that might cost you a few stamps.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:43 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 10 May 2004 9:23 PM BST
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Monday, 10 May 2004 - 9:58 PM BST

Name: sarah
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I do believe it's worth a few stamps. Amnesty International is possibly one of the greatest things modern humans have done; reminding me that yes, humans care, and yes, we are going to do something about it. Good on you, Vanessa.

Monday, 10 May 2004 - 10:40 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

Cheers, it was your posts and Cacao's that made me get off my fat whingey arse and do something, actually.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 2:15 AM BST

Name: cacoa

we did? :)

Edward Said, I loved that man.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 3:35 AM BST

Name: paul
Home Page:

I think I'm already a part of it, and NARAL, too. Strange but true.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 4:17 AM BST

Name: Lux
Home Page:

I'm partial (so to speak) to the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 6:43 AM BST

Name: Vanessa

Oooh - I *want* the pink T shirt. Wonder if the lezza bookshop in Charing Cross does them....
My great student bookshops : here, and here. Hours of postcard fun.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 6:44 AM BST

Name: Vanessa

Heh, yeah. It was quite a privilege to have shown and explained to me the poetry of his writing in a language I didn't speak.

Anyway, yeah, by getting on and posting about stuff I'd merely been whingeing on about.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 6:48 AM BST

Name: Vanessa

What's NARAL?

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 8:38 AM BST

Name: Cyn
Home Page:

It pretty damned disturbing that almost a third of the current appeals are to stop violence against women,
but all of it's imporantat and it is something you can do that goes beyond discussing the issues.

I've belonged to Amnesty International. It's a very worthwhile endeavor. now I've been gaving my spare change and some time to anti-Bush forces ( and the Kerry people) as well as Planned Parenthood, my old standby, but I could send the next contribution to AI instead of Kerry.

NARAL = National Abortion Rights Action League (American-based)

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 1:09 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

Oh, right. Abortion is allowed in the US, right? But religious zzealots bomb clinics, is that correct?

I think the predominance of women's causes is because women are AI's focus this year, although I could be wrong. I feel fairly sure that men suffer equally as much as women, particularly when you factor military violence into the equation. That's a total assumption, though.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 3:41 PM BST

Name: Lux

You're right about abortion in the US, but the Bush admin is slowly and quietly taking steps to reverse the law. They passed a law mandating health coverage for every fetus, as opposed to coverage for every pregnant woman. And not because they're concerned for those test-tube babies. I know a girl who, while she was pregnant, got Medicaid (public health insurance for the poor) and they sent her two cards: one with her name, and one labeled Unborn.


Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 5:07 PM BST

Name: Vanessa

It doesn't seem such an issue here, for some reason. We have people like the SPUC, but they were effectively stymied by campaigns that painted them as caring obsessively about unborn children, but doing nothing to assist children once actually born.

Eire, though, thassanuvvermarrer.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004 - 9:28 PM BST

Name: Lux

I'm sure.

Wednesday, 12 May 2004 - 7:45 PM BST

Name: Martin Sewell
Home Page:

See also Killings of Civilians in Basra and al-'Amara.

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