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Member blog

    August 25, 2020
    ID: Tosha is a thin white woman with shoulder-length wavy brown hair. She is wearing jeans, a blue shirt, and a grey scarf. She is holding a black and yellow sign that reads "Let's stand together against hate" and smiling at the camera.

    Why become an Amnesty International Fieldworker? Have you been involved with Amnesty for 6 months or more? Are you looking for ways to promote human rights work in your community beyond signing petitions and writing letters? Are you looking for a new challenge? Join us!

    My name is Tosha Mallette and I am an Amnesty member at my local group in Vernon, B.C, as well as the Co-Chair of the Fieldworker Coordinating Committee. I really enjoy documentaries and learning about the world and the issues we face. Learning about a problem is always the first step I take in my activism, but I also recognize that it’s also important to take action on what I’ve learned. This approach of education informing action is what brought me to Amnesty International and to the Fieldworker Program.

    May 19, 2020

    If there is one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it is the power of ingenuity in the face of adversity, and the current work Amnesty International activists are doing is nothing short of powerful!

    First online letter writing meeting for Winnipeg's Group 19

    Our volunteers have had to think outside the box to continue the essential work of human rights activism from their homes rather than in the usual community-based events and as excellently put by Nazila Nik, AI Canada Iran Country Coordinator, it is the nature of the work that must keep us inspired. She writes:

    April 29, 2020

    Activists across the country are looking at creative new ways to take action for human rights, whilst we practice social distancing. Long-time member Kim tells us how she is continuing her human rights activism, from home.

    Here is what she wrote:

    This weekend my kids and I created a virtual protest in front of a virtual legislature, with LEGO! My son dug deep in his LEGO collection, finding figures; my daughter used her talent for exceedingly TINY printing to make up the protest signs. I cut up cotton swabs for handles and glued them to the tiny signs. We printed an old photo of the Alberta legislature I had on the computer. This is a pretty basic kids’ diorama, but we had so much fun putting it together! My oldest was even helpful with looking around on the internet for good slogans to use! What an educational opportunity for discussion of human rights and using our voices of dissent for change!

    January 17, 2020

    B-r-e-a-t-h-e.  That was difficult for the residents of Lahore, Pakistan on 21 November 2019. The Air Quality Index hit 598, twice the ‘hazardous’ level which begins at 300. Within hours, Amnesty International issued its first Urgent Action focusing directly on climate change. The UA argued that the government’s failure to adequately protect people from exposure to the toxic air puts their human rights at risk, including their rights to health and life.

    The Urgent Action generated worldwide media – and success! On 30 November, Prime Minister Imran Khan convened a press conference to announce what steps the government would take to curb emissions. The Minister for Climate Change then sent a letter to Amnesty International: “I want to assure you that our Ministry is committed to play its role for shifting the landscape in Pakistan towards a cleaner, greener and sustainable future and particularly targeting the growing challenge of air pollution and climate change.”

    Learn more about the Urgent Action Network here! 

    October 30, 2019

    Are you already involved with Amnesty and looking for the next step in your activism journey? We invite you to consider joining the Fieldworkers! 

    Fieldwork is a great way to be involved in activism because we have the ability to shape our human rights work and be involved in our communities in a way that makes sense. As Fieldworkers, we are catalysts of activism and we work to support activists near us to take action on human rights issues. We can do this by writing letters with local groups and helping to support the projects that activists are taking on in their communities.

    Fieldworkers, like Gord and Crystal in Regina, Saskatchewan, support groups in their human rights actions and provide leadership for folks who want to defend human rights.

    Fieldworkers serve as key resources and work to educate Amnesty members as well as the public on human rights issues and Amnesty campaigns. Shelley is a Fieldworker in Calgary, Alberta, fresh out of training with keen skills for learning new things and teaching others.

    September 19, 2019

    Film director Oleg Sentsov, who was released on the 7th of September as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, has thanked activists from Amnesty International for writing letters of support during his time in the remand centre and the penal colony.  Sentsov, who was arrested in 2014 and whose release was achieved through the many efforts of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, gave a press conference alongside Alexander Kolchenko in Kiev.

    “Of course, I received many letters from Amnesty International. Thank you very much”, said Sentsov. According to him, the activists from Amnesty have contributed greatly to the international campaign for his release.

    September 19, 2019

    In reaction to the public statement by Under Secretary for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas announcing Mexico's intention to promptly accept the competence of the Committee against Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider cases of disappeared persons in Mexico, Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International's Americas Director, stated:

    "The Mexican government's announcement is an important sign of its willingness to achieve justice, truth, and reparation in cases of enforced disappearance in the country. This issue, which for years has cast a shadow over human rights in Mexico, requires all available efforts and resources to find a solution. Amnesty International looks forward to the prompt implementation of this decision and will continue to monitor the situation of disappeared persons in the country, aware that it will only change with a strong commitment from all authorities."

    September 17, 2019

    Alejandra Barrera, a transgender Salvadorian activist who had been held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017, was released September 6, 2019, as a result of international advocacy efforts, spearheaded by Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition, National Immigrant Justice Center, and dozens of members of the United States Congress.

    August 21, 2019

    In response to a ruling by a court today in El Salvador under which Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador. It reaffirms that no woman should be wrongly accused of homicide for the simple fact of suffering an obstetric emergency. Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nation’s draconian anti-abortion laws.”

    Background information

    On 6 April 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

    August 15, 2019
    January

    As a tribute to Julián Carrillo, an environmental rights defender killed in October 2018, we launched Caught between bullets and neglect, a digest on Mexico’s failure to protect environmental human rights defenders. Just a few hours after the launch, two suspects in Julián’s murder were arrested, showing the immediate impact Amnesty can have on justice.

    August 14, 2019

    My name is John Edward Henry Sato. I am 95 years old. What brought me here? Well, they tell me it was the stork.

    My mother was born in Scotland and my father is from Japan. They both served in the First World War – my mother was a nurse; my father was in the Japanese navy – and eventually settled in New Zealand.

    As a child, I remember people of two different races were called half-breeds and I’d hear people referring to people of Italian descent as “daegos” [a derogatory term for Italian immigrants]. But I never heard an unkind word spoken about me.

    I was quite a sickly child and I suffered from bad asthma, but I didn’t let it deter me from going to school. I loved school. When I was 14 or 15, I studied comparative religion. I wanted to discover the essence behind it all. People get the wrong impression of religion - if they don’t understand something, they are quite often afraid of it.

    Horrific attacks

    July 22, 2019

    In 2010, Google, the largest search engine in the world, made a promise not to support China’s censorship of the internet. But in 2018 it was revealed that Google was preparing to break its promise.

    Google started working on a secretive program to re-launch its search engine in China code-named “Google Dragonfly”. People using Google in China would be blocked from accessing banned websites like Wikipedia and Facebook. Content from search terms like ‘human rights’ would be banned. The Chinese government would also be able to spy on Google’s users – and this is a government that routinely sends people to prison for simply sharing their views online.

    To raise attention about the issue, Amnesty produced a couple of spoof videos that were widely circulated online. To increase pressure on Google to “drop Dragonfly”, we launched a global petition and Amnesty volunteers held demonstrations outside of Google’s offices around the world - including in Toronto.

    Even many of Google’s employees were appalled by the Google Dragonfly project and spoke out against it.

    July 19, 2018

    Share your story of human rights activism! 

    July 03, 2018

    Regina member Nathan Bauche descibes how he became involved in Amnesty International through letter-writing. 

    On June 24th, 2003 I sat down to write my first Amnesty International appeal letter. It was addressed to the Canadian government about the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. I received a reply to this letter from the Minister for International Cooperation at the time.

    I had been acquainted with the movement earlier that spring in an education class. Our professor had invited the community AI group to speak to us. Through skits and discussion they explained Amnesty’s mission and role. During the presentation, I realized how easy it was to make a difference simply by writing a letter.

    Afterwards I became heavy involved with AI. I joined the university’s Amnesty chapter, volunteered at many events, attended the Human Rights College in 2005, served on Amnesty Group 91’s board, and participated in twelve annual Write For Rights events.

    June 08, 2018

    By Jasmiha Ganeshanathan & Kishanaha Piratheepan, on behalf of the GTA Youth Leaders

    On May 26th, 2018 Youth Leaders of Amnesty International in the GTA put together their 2nd Youth Café and it was a fantastic event!

    This year’s Cafe incorporated learning and actions on three key human rights issues: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women of Canada, Refugees and Water Defenders. We made the event unique by using participatory discussions and games as tools for learning and sharing information. One of the highlights of the day was the creation of a solidarity banner for water defenders in Guatemala that all participants got to paint ( and is now with our partners in Guatemala). We got inspired by youth author Stephanie Woodworth who talked about water and her experience growing up in a small rural community and were moved by the words of spoken word artist Frishta ‘Fresh’ Bastan.

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