Happy Holidays from Amnesty St. Louis!

happy holidaysEveryone from the Amnesty International St. Louis chapter would like to wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season. We hope you had a great Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa, and that we’ll see you in 2013! First meeting of the new year is Jan. 8.


Emergency Contraception Over the Counter [Infographic]

This is week is a week of infographics, and below is a great one we found from the Center for American Progress on emergency contraception. Who would have thought that pharmacists discriminate against men trying to purchase emergency contraception for their partners? Who would have thought that pharmacists wouldn’t know the rules when it comes to contraception and prescriptions? Learn more about emergency contraception and the barriers that exist to accessing it:

emergency contraception

Amnesty St. Louis 2013 – What to Look Forward To

amnesty international 2013Events for the Amnesty International St. Louis chapter have come to a close for 2012. No more meetings, no more big events, no more action besides the action we take as individuals on our own time. Although we could reflect on our previous accomplishments, we are choosing instead to look toward the future and to think about what we’ll be doing next. Here are some things to look forward to in the first few months of 2013:

  • Jan. 8 – First business meeting of the new year! One of our members will be doing a presentation on human rights in China. It’s a great way to start 2013 right.
  • Jan. 22 – First letter writing meeting of the new year. Hopefully we will also have good news regarding some of our write-a-thon cases, or even the Reggie Clemons case.
  • Sometime in January – Results from the Reggie Clemons special hearing. After the week-long hearing in September, we should hopefully have a ruling in January. If not, then February at the latest.
  • March 22-24 – Amnesty International’s Annual General Meeting in Washington DC – This is one of the biggest events of the year, where members from all over the country come together to learn about the issues, to learn how to be better activists, and to network with other members from our state and from other states. Our chapter plans on going a day early to lobby our members of Congress, since we’ll be  in the neighborhood. Hopefully, you’ll join us!

Closing the Gender Wage Gap [Infographic]

Did you know that the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law nearly four years ago, yet almost nothing has changed regarding the gender wage gap in the United States?  It’s something may not know about or realize is happening, and finding out if you’re not being paid as much as your male counterparts can be tough to figure out or to take action on. Never mind that despite the wage gap, women often pay more than men for the same items anyway. Never mind that there are more women in college now than ever before, and are doing better in school while also paying the same amount in tuition and accruing the same amount of debt. Learn more about all this in the infographic below:

gender wage gap


Created by: <a href=”http://www.learnstuff.com/“>LearnStuff.com</a>

December Human Rights News Roundup

human rights newsLast roundup of the year! A lot has happened in human rights over the past 12 months, ranging from the legalization of gay marriage in three states to Reggie Clemons’ special hearing, from the imprisonment of Pussy Riot to Saudi Arabia allowing women to compete in the London Olympics. A lot is sure to happen in 2013, and we are ready and willing to take on the challenge. Although this isn’t a top human rights stories of 2012 post, here are some of the top human rights news articles from the past 30 days.

Vivienne Harr, age 8, Sells Lemonade in Times Square for Freedom – Notforsalecampaign.org – This story is really inspiring, perfect for the holiday season. For 173+ days, she has been selling lemonade and donating the funds she raises to the Not For Sale network. So far, she has raised over $50,000. Actually, not a bad idea to building awareness for human rights issues.

Native Women’s Rights Are in Danger: Tell Congress to Pass a Tribal-Inclusive VAWA that Provides Justice for All Women! – Amnesty International Blog – Yes, we still need action on VAWA. The latest is that last week, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK), introduced H.R. 6625, known as the Violence Against Indian Women Act. This bill addresses some of the concerns raised by those who oppose the inclusive VAWA, while still ensuring that Native American women receive protection. It’s designed to push VAWA forward while perhaps filling its holes if the incomplete version of VAWA ends up getting passed.

How Did Your State Rank in the Fight Against Child Sex Trafficking? – Foreign Policy Blogs – Wow! Can you believe Missouri actually got a B in the fight against human sex trafficking? Although it’s not an A, no states received an A so Missouri is one of seven states to receive a top grade. This grade is a reflection of state laws and their response to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking.

How The Disabilities Treaty Senate Debacle Caught the Media’s Attention – UN Dispatch – This was a huge debacle by the Senate, indeed, especially since this treaty was modeled after U.S laws and would do nothing to change them. However, UN treaties have always been something that Congress has trouble coming around on, including treaties such as CEDAW, Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on EconomicSocial and Cultural Rights.

What Compassionate Release? – The New York Times – Even after learning about the criminal justice system in the New Jim Crow, there are even more problems with it than we realized. Who knew about this compassionate release cause, that prisoners could be released because of terminal illness, mental illness, impairment due to old age, or the death or incapacitation of a family member who has been solely responsible for the care of the prisoner’s minor children?


Write for Rights – Girifna

GirifnaToday is the last day in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights! If you haven’t written a letter yet, or still want to write letters, then today is the last day that we will posting a case. However, if you want to write on these cases tomorrow or next week, that’s fine. Just keep in mind that these cases are urgent, and require action as soon as possible.

If you’ve been writing over the past several days, we thank you for your hard work and activism. We will keep everyone updated with any news of progress for any of the cases we profiled. The last urgent case we will feature is that of Girifna.

Sudanese for “we’re fed up”, Girifna is a youth group calling for nonviolent resistance to the  government of Sudan. Its members have been routinely targeted by the authorities by being arbitrarily arrested, detained, tortured and sexually assaulted.They have also had laptops and other items confiscated from their homes, and several have been forced to flee from Sudan.

Girifna was one of the organizations targeted by the Sudanese authorities following the wave of demonstrations that began in June 2012. Several members of Girifna have been detained without being allowed to speak to their families or lawyers. Some say they were tortured in detention. We are asking that the authorities stop targeting members of Girifna and that the organization be allowed to conduct its business in peace. Please write a letter to the address below, using the sample as a guide:

Mr Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed
Minister of the Interior
PO Box 873

Start your letter: Your Excellency

I am writing in concern for GIRIFNA and its members, who have been routinely targeted by authorities for their nonviolent resistance against the government. I call on you to end the harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and other ill-treatment of GIRIFNA members.

GIRIFNA has continued to conduct its peaceful activities revolving around peaceful protests to fight for the respect and protection of human rights. Please ensure that the voices of GIRIFNA are not silenced, and that they can continue to engage in their peaceful activities free from harassment, violence and detention.


Your Name

Write for Rights – Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisheng

Yesterday was Human Rights Day, and this past weekend was our chapter’s write-a-thon, but that doesn’t mean our work and activism is done for the year. We still have a few more cases to profile, so if you still want to help someone out, today’s case is that of Gao Zhisheng.

Zhisheng is a human rights lawyer in China. Because of his work, he has been subjected to enforced disappearance, torture, illegal house arrest and detention. He is currently imprisoned in Shaya County prison in northwest China for violating the conditions of his suspended sentencing. He was originally sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “inciting subversion” in 2006. The sentence was then suspended for five years.

If you don’t have an interest in writing long letters, but still want to do something for prisoners of conscience, then join us tonight at Hartford Coffee Company. From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., we will be signing holiday cards of solidarity. This is also our last event/meeting of the year, so if you haven’t attended in a while, please do so. Otherwise, please send a letter on behalf of Gao Zhisheng, using the sample below, to:

Wen Jiabao
Premier of the People’s Republic of China
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Beijingshi 100017

Your Excellency,

I am writing on behalf of GAO ZHISHENG (高智晟), who is currently being held at the Shaya County Prison in northwest China. I ask that you release him immediately, as he is a human rights lawyer who has been imprisoned solely for his work.

I also urge that you ensure that while GAO ZHISHENG (高智晟) remains in prison, he is protected from torture or other ill-treatment.


Your Name