Amnesty International launches human rights mission to South Sudan

Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary-General Alex Neve arrives today in South Sudan. He is joining an important human rights research mission called to investigate attacks on villages and aerial bombings of the tens of thousands of civilians living in vulnerable conditions along the border region of Sudan and the world’s newest country, South Sudan.

   We wish Alex and the team of AI researchers our best, and pray for their safety as they travel to remote and volatile areas, doing the important work of gathering first-hand reports from those affected by the violence in the region.

 

 

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Instead of arresting George Clooney and his dad, arrest despot Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and other despots

 Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. This is certainly one of those Stories, even though George Clooneyand his dad have been released from jail, they should never have been arrested in the first place. Rather, despots like Omar al-Bashir should be arrested immediately and brought to justice before the International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for his arrest back in 2009. Yet, he is allowed to travel freely, and avoid being brought to justice for his alleged crimes.

   In this same vein, I have recently supported Amnesty International’s appeal to the UN Secretary General, urging further arrests of fugitives from the International Criminal Court.

   The 11 with outstanding International Criminal Court arrest warrants are: Democratic Republic of Congo: Bosco Ntaganda, whom the ICC has charged with enlisting and conscripting children under 15. The Congolese government is shielding him following his integration into the national army.   Uganda: Accused Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony and LRA commanders Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen continue to evade trial after being charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. They and the fighters they lead continue to move between the Central African Republic, north-eastern DRC and South Sudan and commit crimes.   Sudan: President Omar al-Bashir has been charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur region. He has yet to be arrested despite regularly conducting state visits abroad. Sudanese officials Ahmad Harun and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein and accused “Janjaweed” leader Al! i Kushayb are also at large.   Libya: Saif al Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are charged with crimes against humanity committed during the crackdown on protesters in Libya. Saif al-Islam was captured on 19 November 2011, but has not yet been surrendered to the ICC.

   The UN has a critical role to play by providing political, diplomatic, and logistical support for efforts to arrest individuals named in ICC arrest warrants and to protect civilians in countries where the ICC is investigating crimes.

   I encourage readers of my blog to take action to protect victims of war criminals, please consider these actions: 1. Write a letter – A hand-written letter is Amnesty International’s oldest, and time-proven method of getting results. Please address the points in our online action, and address your letter, “Dear Secretary General” Address your letter to: Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon United Nations Secretariat New York, NY 10017 Affix $1.80 (Canada postage). Or you can go here to take action on this issue online. 2. Make a financial gift in support of Amnesty International’s human rights work – Your donations help A.I. mobilize letter-writers, publish highly respected human rights reports, and campaign directly to decision-makers. To donate now, go here.

Thank you and may God bless you as you work for justice and peace for the world’s most vulnerable.

 

Earthquake in Chile

Canadian Lutheran World Relief has put out a press release appealing for support for the people of Chile who were hit by a recent earthquake. Prayers in the form of words and action are certainly appropriate at this time. You can read the press release here.

Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced again

Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced again

The Burma Nobel Prize Winner and human rights activist, Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced Chi) has been sentenced once again to another 18 months of house arrest. She has spent 14 of the last 20 years in Burma either in prison or under house arrest, even though she won a democratically held election back in the 90s. Over against the hue and cry of world opinion, the Burma military state refuses to unconditionally release her, when there were no legitimate grounds for arresting her in the first place. Yet, she is gifted and graced with an indomitable spirit, passionately striving for justice and peace, and democracy in her native land. U2 recently paid her tribute in this YouTube video, which really rocks, check it out here. Amnesty International honoured Aung San Suu Kyi this year with the Ambassador of Conscience award. Readers can call for her release by signing AI’s petition here. Thank you! May God grant Aung San Suu Kyi her long awaited freedom and may God bless all of her endeavours to continue the righteous quest for peace, justice and democracy in Burma.

Book Review 3 Cups of Tea

 

Book Review: Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time

New York, Toronto, London, et al: Penguin Books, 2006

349 pages, including index, ISBN 978-0-14-303825-2, CAN. $16.50

American Greg Mortenson, a trained nurse and mountaineer, failed to climb the summit of K2, the second highest mountain in the world. His serendipitous descent landed him in a remote Pakistan village named Korphe. The villagers, Shiite Muslims, took him under their wing and nursed him back to health.

Village chief, Haji Ali, offers Greg the following words of wisdom: “The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die,” he said laying his hand warmly on Mortenson’s own.” (p. 150)

In return for the hospitality and kindness offered him by these village people, Mortenson makes a promise to build them a school. Other Westerners had made them promises before, which had never come to fruition. Greg’s promise was different. Mortenson’s promise was like a fertile seed sown or a pebble causing significant ripples in quiet waters. The more committed Mortenson is to building the school in Korphe, the more his compassion, determination and vision grows. Working day and night, Mortenson makes all kinds of sacrifices—as do his wife and children—to build over fifty secular based schools in the remote mountain villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This was Mortenson’s answer to the fight against Islamic terrorism. Greg has a special concern for the girls of these villages, providing them equal access to education. Many Muslims from various traditions agree with Mortenson and out of one person’s love of the Muslim neighbour grows the Central Asia Institute.

For those readers in the Western world who are subject to the media bias of the stereotype that all Muslims are violent and anti-Western; Three Cups of Tea is an excellent antidote. Mortenson and Relin tell a beautiful story of these remote village Muslims and their love of the non-Muslim, Western stranger, who becomes an honored guest, and, after the third cup of tea, a respected family member. Ultimately, this book is about how one person of good will can make a huge difference in the advancement of deeper understanding, friendship and peace between Muslims and non-Muslims. Three cups of tea served by a Muslim to a non-Muslim has made a world of difference.