by Isabell M. Grønnslett
Amnesty International is a worldwide human rights organization that is politically independent and does not receive any governmental funding. The organization works toward a world where the basic human rights are fulfilled for everyone. Amnesty exists because abuse of power exists. The group aims to help those that are suppressed, imprisoned, who have lost their right to education and health services or are being unjustly prosecuted. Amnesty has contributed to change the discriminating laws of several countries, as well as releasing innocent prisoners from death row.
I’ve been an activist for Amnesty in Norway since they fought for Troy Davis in 2011. When I heard about Troy Davis’ story, I got extremely provoked and engaged in his cause. He sat on death row for 22 years, and was executed for a crime he likely didn’t commit. Davis was accused of murdering Mark MacPhail, a police man. There were many witnesses who said they had seen Troy Davis shoot MacPhail, while two other people said Davis confessed to them about the murder. The murder weapon was never found, and there was no physical evidence. Seven of the nine witnesses withdrew their statements and many implied that the police pushed them to witness against Troy Davis. Others, who didn’t testify in the court, had subsequently said there was another man who fired the gun that supposedly killed MacPhail. Troy was executed with a lethal injection on September 22, 2011 in Georgia, USA.
Last Thursday I attended a seminar about the four main campaigns the organization will work with in 2013. The main campaign will focus on the death penalty. The other campaigns will focus on the Middle East and North Africa, rape in Norway, and gay rights. Every time I attend one of Amnesty’s seminars I get exposed to new shocking stories that inspire me to work even harder through the organization to bring an end to these injustices.
One of the stories they talked about at the seminar on Thursday was about Raif Badawi from Saudi-Arabia, who is the creator and blogger for the website “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, which was meant for political and social debates. He was arrested on June 17, 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam through his website. He received a conviction which might carry a death sentence. The indictment points to a series of articles he has written. One of them was about Valentine’s Day, which is forbidden in Saudi-Arabia. Amnesty International considers Raif Badawi a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for the use of speech.
I am very excited to fight for people like Badawi, and to share Amnesty’s work with the readers of this blog.
And who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired and work with Amnesty International as well?