Reports say that Obama advisors will recommend military commissions for 9/11 defendants. Call the White House now to urge the President not to cave in to the politics of fear, and to try terrorist suspects the most effective way: in federal courts.
“Many of us on the ground feel forgotten, fear that human rights and democracy have been traded in, taken out of the equation of new relationships based on engagement.”
- Yuri Dzhibladze, Russian human rights activist
Yuri was one of 25 frontline activists who came to Washington for our Human Rights Summit last month. Together, we forged a strategy designed to ensure that human rights play a more central role in U.S. foreign policy, especially in important–and challenging–relationship like those with Egypt, China, and Russia.
We presented our concerns directly to President Obama in a meeting at the White House during our Summit. I watched President Obama listen to this group of activists from all over the world and offer hope for a new type of engagement based on shared principles and fundamental freedoms.
We followed up on our White House meeting by giving members of the National Security Council our plan of action developed at the Summit. The plan urges the administration to promote freedom of expression in countries where it is under threat, fulfill its pledge to make Internet freedom an international priority, and provide direct support to frontline human rights advocates. We look forward to working with the President and senior administration officials to put this action plan into practice.
If we’re successful, Yuri and his fellow activists will return to their countries with renewed hope that the U.S. will stand with them in their struggle to advance human rights.
A generous donor has agreed to give Human Rights First a dollar for every person who completes our online quiz–it’s fun, quick, and informative!
Liz Cheney and her father, the former Vice President, have recently ramped up their fearmongering around Guantanamo and torture. Ms. Cheney’s organization put together an ad–rather frightening itself–suggesting Americans should be afraid of bringing terrorist suspects to justice.
The Human Rights Summit gathered frontline activists from all over the world to discuss fundamental freedoms of association and expression. The cornerstones of accountable, representative democratic systems, these freedoms are under assault and their champions–activists such as the summit participants–are at risk. The participants gave witness to the problems they face and discussed how government officials can support their struggles for freedom and democracy.
A long-awaited Justice Department ethics report on the torture memos was finally released last week–a step forward, but just the beginning of efforts to understand how the United States came to embrace torture. Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar wrote a series of blogs and hosted an online discussion on Facebook on what the report revealed–and what the next steps are.
Last month Human Rights First’s Fighting Discrimination team headed overseas to Hungary where violence against the Roma–or Gypsy–community is rampant. This trip was particularly timely because of concerns that the upcoming elections there may generate a surge in support for the neo-fascist party.
Paul and Joelle met with Roma families who have been affected by discrimination and violent hate crime–including the family of Robert Csorba, a 27-year-old man who was shot dead along with his 5-year-old son, as they were fleeing their burning home. The case is ongoing but the circumstances are suspect–and what’s worse, the police and justice system have been negligent. Read more in Joelle’s recent blog.
Last week, the New York Times published a compelling article on terrorism trials, quoting General James P. Cullen, a retired brigadier general who is one of many retired military leaders working with Human Rights First in support of closing Guantanamo Bay and ending torture. General Cullen made clear that “military commissions are not as effective as federal courts in delivering justice.”