To mark its 57th anniversary, the human rights organisation Amnesty International Australia is sharing some of the incredible wins it secured in 2018 through its efforts to end human rights violations.
Its celebratory ‘2018 wins – thank you’ video highlights the courage of Amnesty and its supporters in their campaigns to free political prisoners and victims of human rights abuses around the world.
In the Asia Pacific region the human rights group has its eyes set squarely on Myanmar, with the video bringing to light the mind-boggling injustice of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s imprisonment under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. The two Reuters journalists are currently serving seven year jail sentences for reporting the massacre of Rohingya villagers in Rakhine state, an attack which was subsequently confirmed by the military. While Amnesty’s campaign for their release is still underway, supporters are hopeful an appeal, due to be heard in court on today (Dec 31), will mark another success.
For many years, Amnesty has pressured the government of Myanmar to end a devastating campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against its Rohingya Muslims, and the rights group has achieved remarkable success so far. Evidence exposing the Myanmar military as perpetrators of genocide against the minority group has resulted in the US Treasury Department imposing sanctions against Myanmar. But the struggle against the ethnic violence continues.
Amnesty also campaigned tirelessly for the freedom of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, one of many prisoners of conscience in the region. Also known as Me Nâm (Mother Mushroom), the Vietnamese blogger was arrested in 2016 on charges of spreading propaganda against the Communist government, and in 2017 was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Amnesty helped secure Me Nâm’s release on the condition she left for the United States.
In the Philippines, Jerryme Corre from Angeles city spent six years in prison, suffering torture at the hands of police for allegedly dealing in shabu (methamphetamine). Mr Corre was released after a massive campaign by Amnesty activists in Australia and around the world.
The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar — real name Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque — was recently imprisoned for up to 43 years for criticising the excesses of the Malaysian government under former Prime Minister Najib Razak. Authorities targeted him not for his politically charged caricatures, but for a series of tweets criticising a 2015 Federal Court decision upholding the five-year prison sentence of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on a charge of sodomy. In response, Zunar tweeted a self-portrait of himself, shackled by the Sedition Act, but still cartooning.
Amnesty supporters campaigned against Zunar’s imprisonment throughout the following three years, sending more than 18,000 emails to Malaysian authorities demanding they drop the charges, and in late July this year, he was acquitted, with all nine charges of sedition dropped.
With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and no apparent let up by authoritarian regimes throughout the region in clamping down on dissenting voices, there is little doubt that the year ahead will prove equally as busy for Amnesty International, and those concerned with the continued erosion of media freedom, human rights, shrinking democratic space.
Feature video Amnesty International Australia
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Between November 2010 and February 2012 she was a staff writer at Daylight Online, Nigeria writing on health, fashion, and relationships. Since 2010 she has worked as a freelance screen writer for ‘Nollywood’, Nigeria.
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