In recent days we’ve seen dramatic developments in two countries where Human Rights First does extensive work. In Egypt, citizens are taking to the streets to demand human rights. And in Uganda, amid a climate of hatred and fear, a leading gay rights activist was brutally murdered.
For many years, we’ve been partnering with activists in both Egypt and Uganda, amplifying their voices and working to protect them from persecution. And we’ve been pressing the United States government to use its influence to advance human rights in both countries.
Now—as homophobic violence claims the life of a human rights champion and the protests in Egypt intensify—we are redoubling our efforts to help citizens in each country gain the freedoms to which they’re entitled.
Thank you for your ongoing support, which makes this work possible.
Human Rights First has been working with frontline activists in Egypt for decades—including some who spent years in jail for the cause of democracy, and human rights. And what is happening right now—hundreds of thousands of protestors in the streets, facing off their corrupt, authoritarian leader—shows that the steady drumbeat for freedom will not be silenced. Egyptians deserve basic human rights and an end to repression.
Mubarak responded to these demands with violence. More than 100 protestors have died. He shut down all means of communication in his power—Twitter, cell phones, then the entire Internet.
Mubarak’s actions have demonstrated that he’s not fit to rule in a way that meets the legitimate interests of Egyptians. The Obama Administration has belatedly and tentatively recognized the need for change. What’s needed now—and what the United States should demand—is a transition plan from the Egyptian government that will reestablish order, schedule free elections, and ensure that basic rights are respected. And the United States should make clear that if the Egyptian army uses force against protestors, it will suspend military aid immediately.
Last year in Uganda there was a threat to human rights in the form of a bill that would’ve made homosexuality punishable by death. Joining with other human rights groups and with frontline activists, we helped to block the bill. But the hatred behind it persists.
Last week David Kato, Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activist, was found dead in his home. An intruder had beaten him to death with a hammer. A Ugandan paper had recently featured 100 prominent gay men on its front page under the headline “Hang Them.” David Kato was one of them.
As Ugandan LGBTI advocate Julius Kaggwa said in his acceptance speech at our Human Rights Award Dinner in October, being homosexual in Uganda is a “death sentence.” Sadly, his words were prophetic. Working with Julius, we will intensify our efforts to fight intolerance in Uganda and do all we can to protect those at risk.
Help us put pressure on Ugandan President Museveni to ensure Kato’s murderer comes to justice—and to make sure that the bill that would mete out death sentences for being gay is shelved for good. Take action now!
“This case was tried well, it was tried efficiently, it was tried properly,” the judge in the federal court trial of former Gitmo detainee Ahmed Ghailani said. That’s also what HRF’s Daphne Eviatar said throughout the trial, which she monitored closely and reported on at our blog.
Last week, Ghailani was sentenced to life in prison in a federal court in Manhattan.
In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, General Joseph Hoar and General Charles Krulak, two leading members of the group of retired admirals and generals who have partnered with HRF to make sure that the United States’ national security policies conform with our laws and values, ask: “Where is President Obama’s will to win? Close Guantanamo now.”
Watch our video spoofing what fearmongers had to say about this sentence. Hint: crickets. Since Federal Courts get the job done, ask your members of Congress why they are blocking these trials.
It took two questions to get an answer from Chinese President Hu Jintao about China’s human rights record. His first answer was that he didn’t hear the question.
As HRF’s Elisa Massimino said on Fox News immediately following the White House press conference: “Could there be a more striking metaphor for China and human rights?”
On Human Rights Day, we asked you to vote on your favorite human rights quote. The winner, by a wide margin, was Martin Luther King Jr:
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
Commenting on the Egyptian government’s shutdown of the Internet at MSNBC, HRF’s Neil Hicks makes clear that a crack down on Internet communication is a violation of human rights because it’s a violation of the right of free speech.
On January 6, in a letter to the editors at the Washington Post “Obama needs a stronger strategy on human rights,” Elisa Massimino argued that the U.S. is taking a dangerous path in Pakistan, China, and Egypt in its (lack of) human rights strategy.
On the Ghailani trial—and the question of evidence that was excluded because it was out of torture—HRF’s Dixon Osburn was clear: “When it came to the issue of torture, the court clearly ruled against it.” And he added: “Even with that, the jury got a conviction.”—CNN