As an Amnesty International East Bay chapter, we work on a number of human rights issues. Here are some of our short and long-term campaigns.

Advocating and Lobbying

California Senate Bill 2 - Police Decertification Act of 2021 - Passed Senate, Assembly considering - Under current state law, a peace officer can only have their certificate revoked if the certificate was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation or issued as a result of administrative error. SB2 creates a fair and impartial statewide process (with due process safeguards) to revoke a law enforcement officer’s certification for certain serious acts of misconduct or criminal convictions. California is one of four states in the U.S. without a process to decertify law enforcement.

California Assembly Bill 256 - Racial Justice Act for All of 2021 - Passed Assembly, Senate considering - The Racial Justice for All Act provides equal opportunity to pursue justice for those who have already been harmed by the racial bias and discrimination that permeates our criminal legal system. It essentially makes the already passed California Racial Justice Act of 2020 retroactive. Please use this letter to urge your State Senator to support this bill.

End the Global Gag Rule - support the federal Global HER (Health, Empowerment, and Rights) Act - Former President Trump expanded a policy that cuts almost all U.S. global health funding to providers, clinics, and other health organizations abroad if they provide any visitor with information about abortion. The policy dictates how organizations can spend their own money, and, because it limits free speech, it is commonly called the Global Gag Rule. Research shows when the Global Gag Rule is in effect, the number of abortions increase and people have reduced access to basic health care. It is time to permanently end the gag by passing the Global HER Act, and support women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, and their families around the world. Please use this PDF to learn how to take action. President Biden has rescinded Trump's executive order that imposed the Gag Rule. The HER Act will permanently end the Gag Rule and the decades-old dynamic of some Presidents issuing this order and others rescinding it.

Writing Urgent Actions

Each month individual members of group 612 write Urgent Action letters (Urgent Action Network – Amnesty International USA). Urgent Actions ask us to flood the mailboxes, inboxes, phones and social media of authorities when someone is in imminent danger of human rights violations. Our letters have helped to halt executions, support human rights defenders and free prisoners of conscience—people jailed solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs and identity.

Advocating for Refugees & Asylum-Seekers

We have been active in advocating for immigrant rights including writing to ICE officials about closing ICE detention sites, seeing that detainees get the medical care they need. We have participated virtually at hearings for immigrants who are detained in the Yuba County Jail and asking to be released on bail. We have also attended a virtual court hearing for someone applying for asylum. We have done this in partnership with other organizations.

Freeing Prisoners of Conscience in Eritrea

  • Petros Solomon & Aster Yohannes

In September 2001, Eritrean authorities arrested 11 activists and cabinet members, including Petros Solomon, who had signed an open letter to the President calling for democratic reform. They became known as the G-15 group, all former members of the Central Council of the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice party. The Afwerki government arrested them and has held them incommunicado since, without charges, trial, or contact information, along with tens of thousands of other Eritrean political prisoners. In 2003 Aster Yohannes, also a PFDJ member and wife of Petros Solomon, was arrested and has been held incommunicado since then. In 2015 she was reported to be still alive and in good health. Amnesty International has designated them both to be Prisoners of Conscience.

Petros Solomon and Aster Yohannes have four children, all of whom were subsequently able to flee Eritrea, and who continue to work on their behalf. Please listen to the videotaped talk, above, by two of their daughters, Hannah Petros Solomon and Meaza 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 2013, Amnesty International reported that "Petros Solomon, a former Foreign Minister and one of the G15 group [...] was reportedly hospitalized in July [2012] due to a serious illness. However, adequate medical care was unavailable in Eritrea. His fate remain[s] unknown."

You can read more about the G-15 case and Petros and Aster here, and download an appeal to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken here. Alternatively, if you prefer you could edit and/or print out this prepared letter to Blinken, after adding your own information and signature.

Amnesty International continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested G-15 members, as well as Aster Yohannes, and for all prisoners held solely for peacefully expressing their beliefs.


Eritrea: Immediately and Unconditionally Release Prisoners Of Conscience, 2016

Joint NGO letter calling for the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, May 2020

Past Campaigns

  • Money Bail Reform

  • RELEASED! - Prisoner of Conscience Shi Tao

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

  • Walter Wilmer Cubas Baltersar, Prisoner of Conscience, Peru

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

RELEASED! - 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.

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 Baltersar, Prisoner 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.