At Amnesty International East Bay chapter, we work on a number of human rights issues.  Here are some of the short and long-term campaigns that we continue to work on.

Longer Table Initiative 

As part of its ongoing Global Refugee Campaign, AIUSA has launched the Longer Table Initiative ("Build a longer table, not a higher wall") and the East Bay chapter is one of five groups in the USA participating in this initiative by partnering with the International Rescue Committee HOME program to mentor a refugee family for the first six months of their settlement in the US. 

Money Bail Reform Campaign

Only the USA and Philippines permit "money bail" -- the process by which bail is set based on arbitrary criteria without taking into consideration the individual's ability to pay. In California, this results in large numbers of poor people being held in pre-trial detention while wealthy people, charged with the same offense, are released. 

Amnesty International USA has withdrawn its support from SB-10 because the bill, as amended August 16, 2018, no longer meets the basic requirements for bail reform: 
  • The United States has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • Under the ICCPR, certain rights pertain when an individual is arrested and detained:-.
    • Trial within a reasonable time or release
    • Presumption of innocence
    • Equal treatment under the law 

Global Refugee Campaign

We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 21.3 million refugees worldwide; 51% of all refugees are children, and currently 86% of all refugees are hosted by developing countries. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are fleeing violence and persecution, yet public figures often scapegoat refugees and asylum seekers – particularly Muslim refugees – by responding with hate and fear instead of facts and human rights.

In response to this global crisis, Amnesty International has launched the I WELCOME campaign, a global campaign focused on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Global Responsibility Sharing: wealthier countries—including the United States—must do more to resettle refugees and support humanitarian efforts
  • Fair and transparent asylum processes: no matter how a person arrives at a border, they have the right to request asylum
  • Safe and legal routes for people on the move, including people fleeing extreme violence from Central America
  • Protection of children at the border: when children arrive at the US border, they should be protected, not detained, and the best interests of children should govern the protection process .
Many Amnesty International chapters around the country have initiated or partnered with efforts to pass City Council resolutions that welcome refugees to their communities.

Free Prisoners of Conscience in Eritrea-- Petros Solomon

Please read this moving speech from June 22, 2016 by Hanna Petros Solomon, daughter of Prisoners of Conscience Petros Solomon and Aster Yohannes.

In September 2001, Eritrean authorities arrested 11 people, including former cabinet member Petros Solomon, and have held them for nearly 15 years incommunicado.  Those arrested, all former members of the Central Council of the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice party, were arrested after calling for democratic reform.

You can read more about the case here, and download an appeal to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here.  Amnesty calls for the immediate and unconditional release of these 11 people, and for all prisoners held solely for peacefully expressing their beliefs.


Past Campaigns

2016 Death Penalty Propositions: Yes on 62, No on 66! - Sadly, 62 failed and 66 passed.

Proposition 62 in 2016 would end California's death penalty.  Our group strongly supports this proposition, and opposes the death penalty.  Another proposition, Prop. 66, would attempt to make executions happen more quickly.  We oppose this.  Since the propositions contradict each other, if they both pass the one with the larger number of votes will go into effect.  That's why it's important that you

Vote Yes on 62 and No on 66 in November!

Our group is showing the film After Innocence on Oct. 8 to support Prop. 62.  Details are here.  It's a great chance to learn more about Prop. 62 and find out how to help.

Information about Prop. 62 and ways to help support it are: also known as Justice That Works - homepage of the group that got 62 on the ballot

RELEASED!  Free Prisoner of Conscience Shi Tao

In April 2004, the Chinese journalist Shi Tao used his Yahoo! email account to send a message to a U.S.-based pro-democracy website.In his email, he summarized a government order directing media organizations in China to downplay the upcoming 15th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Police arrested him in November 2004, charging him with “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities.”

Shi Tao was sentenced in April 2005 to 10 years’ imprisonment and two years’ subsequent deprivation of his political rights. According to the court verdict, part of the evidence for the case was account holder information supplied by Yahoo!. Spokespersons for Yahoo! claimed the company was simply following local laws.

Good news finally came on August 23, 2013, when Shi Tao was released after more than eight years in prison.

Please visit AIUSA’s Shi Tao page to read more and download a letter to send to the Chinese government officials.

Raúl Hernández and other members of the Me’phaa Indigenous People’s Organization (OPIM), Mexico

On 17 April, 2008, indigenous activists Raúl Hernández, Manuel Cruz, Orlando Manzanarez, Natalio Ortega and Romualdo Santiago were detained and charged with the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García on 1 January 2008 in the village of El Camalote, Guerrero state. On 19 March 2009, Manuel Cruz, Orlando Manzanarez, Natalio Ortega and Romualdo Santiago were released when a Federal Review judge ruled that the evidence presented did not implicate them. Amnesty International believed that the case against the remaining detainee, Raúl Hernández, is spurious and has been brought in reprisal for his legitimate activities promoting the rights of their community and exposing abuses by a local political boss (cacique) and local authorities. 

Members of Group 612 met with the Mexican Consul in San Francisco in the summer of 2010.  Raúl was released shortly thereafter. 

Walter Wilmer Cubas BaltersarPrisoner of Conscience, Peru

Walter Wilmer Cubas Baltasar was a textile factory worker in Lima, Peru before his arrest in 1993. He is married and has four children. Mr. Cubas was designated by Amnesty International (AI) as being a Prisoner of Conscience. In 1995, Mr. Cubas was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason when he was accused of possession of a firearm which was used to kill a soldier. This sentence was imposed despite the lack of verifiable evidence.  He was later retried and sentenced to 16 years for graffiti. This sentence represents further injustice as it was not only disproportionate, but likewise not supported by the evidence.  AI also requested the deletion of Mr. Cubas’s criminal record and for adequate compensation that would allow Mr. Cubas to restart his life. Group 612 took up Walter's case in 2005. He was released in 2006.