On September 20th, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and recently elected member of Myanmar’s parliament, Aung San Suu Kyi, spoke to Amnesty International student activists and a few other guests and staff at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The town hall-style presentation was part of Daw Suu Kyi’s historic visit to the United States following her release from house arrest a little more than a year ago. I was very lucky to be in the audience in the event. Daw Suu Kyi was a truly wise and eloquent speaker on human rights and the struggles her nation faces. After a couple student leaders spoke to fire up the crowd, Daw Suu Kyi offered a few remarks directed at the mostly student audience, calling on them to work on the structural roots that lead to human rights abuses. Several students then read questions selected from many submitted online for the event. I found it particularly interesting that Daw Suu Kyi’s remarks seemed to reflect that, as an elected member of parliament, she is in fact a part of the government in Myanmar. When a student asked about the recent conflicts between muslims in Burma and the government, which the student’s question referred to as “persecution” by the government, Suu Kyi cautioned that human rights activists should be careful in using charged rhetoric in criticizing either side. She went on to reflect on the importance of the rule of law generally and that it should apply to both sides in the conflict. She also talked about the importance of setting aside accusations in the pursuit of reconciliation, an admonition she seems to have taken to heart, reflected in a later comment that she feels no need to seek forgiveness from the military for her long house arrest
The morning turned out to be every bit as incredible and inspiring as I’d hoped. After the forum, a short march for abolition of the death penalty had been organized to commemorate the execution of Troy Davis. It was nice to be able to follow up some listening and reflection with a little action!
Kevin Scruggs, the Maryland State Death Penalty Action Coordinator, sent out the following update and request for action in commemoration of the 1 year anniversary of the execution of Troy Davis:
“It’s been one year since Troy Davis was executed.
Help keep his memory alive.
Leading up to the moment Troy Davis was executed one year ago – Sept. 21 at 11:08pm – Amnesty International USA is asking all of our partners to honor Troy Davis and show support for Reggie Clemons, a man who remains on death row despite shockingly similar flaws in the case against him, as well as support California’s ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty, Proposition 34:
· Tweet a message of support using the #IamTroy or #TooMuchDoubt hashtags throughout the day on Sept. 21 (Amnesty will be tweeting a new fact every hour).
· Tweet a message at the exact moment Troy Davis was executed one year ago – Sept. 21 at 11:08pm – to honor Troy’s memory
· Share these graphics on your Facebook page:
· Email a message (or post on your website) to your fans asking them to take one or both of these actions: http://www.amnestyusa.org/reggie OR http://www.amnestyusa.org/iamtroy (live on Sept 20)
· Change your profile picture to any graphic in support of Troy Davis:
Troy: “The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me” #IamTroy
Troy: “This struggle is for all the Troy Davises… who will come after me” #IamTroy
What if #TroyDavis was innocent? California – vote #YESon34
#TroyDavis proved the #deathpenalty must go. CA vote #YESon34
Is Reggie Clemons the next Troy Davis? #IamTroy
On Sept 21 @ 11:08pm, Georgia killed Troy Davis #IamTroy
#IamTroy Witness: “After a couple of hours of the detectives…threatening me, I…told them what they wanted.”
#TooMuchDoubt KM, witness: “Troy never confessed to me…about the shooting. I made up the confession.”
Witness: “the officers…gave me a statement…I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.”
Juror: “If I knew then what I know now #TroyDavis would not be on death row…verdict would be not guilty.”
Witness: “I [said] #TroyDavis was the shooter, even though…I didn’t see who shot the officer.”
Witness: “I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up.”
Reggie: “It’s like … telling you that I’m going to kill you someday…I just haven’t decided when.”
The cases against Troy Davis and Reggie Clemons are textbook for why the death penalty must end #IamTroy
Did you know that the most reliable predictor of someone being sentenced to death is the race of the victim? #IamTroy
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, feel free to contact our SDPACs, Andrea Hall (email@example.com) or Kevin Scruggs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks again for your interest in abolishing the death penalty!
Andrea, Kevin, and the Amnesty International USA Death Penalty Abolition Campaign
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!
Opportunities and Upcoming Events:
· Be sure to sign our online petition to Governor O’Malley:http://tinyurl.com/omalleydp
· Monday, January 21: Rally and Lobby Night in Annapolis. Save the date!
· Not from Maryland, but want to help? Contact Andrea or Kevin for more information about how you can support repeal!”