For Immediate Release
Amnesty International Hosts US Speaking Tour for Somali Human Rights Activists
Meetings Planned With US Government Leaders, U.N. Representatives, International Media, Somali Immigrant and Refugee Communities
NEW YORK - Two Somali human rights activists
will speak about the desperate plight of the Somali people on a tour of
U.S. cities Nov. 20-26 organized by Amnesty International. Media interviews
are available in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis-St.
Activists Abukar Albadri, who is an
independent photojournalist, and Zamzam Abdullah Abdi, a women's
rights defender who works with women survivors of violence, have exposed
and documented human rights abuses against civilians while living through
the fighting in Mogadishu.
Abdullah Abdi was forced to flee Mogadishu
because of death threats related to her work counseling survivors of violence
at a hospital run by the African Union Peacekeeping Mission to Somalia.
"The plight of the people of Somalia
often goes untold," said David Coperman, Amnesty International Somalia
campaigner. "International journalists in Somalia have been
attacked and killed and can no longer safely travel in Somalia due to the
risk of kidnapping or attack by armed groups. People who speak out
risk death threats. This speaking tour gives the international community
the opportunity to hear more about the personal experiences of people like
Abukar and Zamzam. Our hope is that their message will be a call
to action for more protection for Somali civilians."
The conflict in Somalia is inflicting a terrible
toll on civilians. Many thousands have been killed, more than 1.5
million people are internally displaced and more than three million Somalis
-- nearly half the population -- depend on food aid to survive. But with
armed groups attacking humanitarian aid agencies -- 40 humanitarian or
human rights workers were killed this year -- aid groups have been forced
to abandon the country, fearing for their safety.
The Transitional Federal Government and the
military of the Ethiopian government that supports them, and various armed
groups opposed to them, including Al-Shabab and clan militias, utilize
young men and youths in the fighting, including significant numbers of
Amnesty International is urging the United
Nations Security Council to establish an International
Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses
in Somalia, to strengthen the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia.
New York City- Thursday Nov. 20 and
Friday, Nov. 21 (media interviews available Thursday)
Minneapolis-St. Paul -- Saturday,
Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 23
(An estimated 60,000 Somali immigrants and
refugees have settled in the Twin Cities since Somalia's civil war erupted
in 1991. Minneapolis-St. Paul and the surrounding region has become the
de facto "capital" of the Somali community in North America.)
Washington DC -- Monday, Nov. 24 through
Wednesday, Nov. 26
Abukar Albadri is a prominent Somali photojournalist
and human rights activist who has captured on film the plight of the Somali
people in the current conflict. Abukar has made it his mission to visually
document and record the impact of the violence on civilians, taking a balanced
and impartial stance. He has faced death threats and threats of attack
from forces associated with the Transitional Federal Government, and from
armed groups opposed to them.
For a decade, Abukar has worked as a freelance
correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, Deutsche Presse Agentur-dpa,
Spanish News Agency (Agencia EFE), and European Pressphoto Agency
(EPA). Amnesty International has featured Abukar's images in its campaigns,
including a recent report on attacks against civilians in Somalia. During
the speaking tour, Abukar will present many of his most powerful images
and use them to help people understand the nature of the human rights abuses
faced in Somalia.
Zam Zam Abdullahi Abdi
Coalition of Grassroots Women's Associations
Zam Zam Adbullahi has been a women's rights
activist in Somalia for many years.
She has worked to provide counseling and
support to women who survive violence in Mogadishu, both in armed conflict
and domestic violence. In July 2008, Zam Zam was forced to flee from Mogadishu,
due to threats made against COGWO, and because of threats she received
personally for conducting psycho-social counseling to victims of violence
at a hospital run by the African Union Peacekeeping Mission to Somalia
(AMISOM). She earned a Bachelor of Sharia law from Mogadishu University,
a diploma in management and administration from Cambridge International
College and is qualified in psychosocial support.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.