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Tag: human rights

Activists Bring Solitary Confinement To College Campus For Alvaro Luna Hernandez

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and MintPress News

Dressed in a real prisoner’s clothing, an activist sat in silence on a busy college campus, alone inside a simulated solitary confinement cell drawn in chalk, on Thursday. Thousands of Texas prisoners spend about 23 hours a day in tiny confines with real walls holding them inside.

“Will you sign a postcard for my friend Alvaro?” asked Azzurra Crispino, another activist standing nearby.

The “prisoner” and his friend are part of Prison Abolition and Prisoner Support (PAPS), an Austin-based group that raises awareness about prison conditions while supporting the incarcerated. They were honoring June 11, a national day of action for long-term anarchist political prisoners held in dozens of cities around the world. For the hour and a half activists and supporters gathered under a shady tree at a corner of the University of Texas at Austin campus, the “prisoner” in the cell represented Alvaro Luna Hernandez, who has spent the last 13 years in solitary confinement in Texas prisons.

Disabled Texans Depend On Personal Care Attendants Paid Poverty Wages

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

On May 19, about two dozen disabled Texans and their personal care aides gathered at the entrance to the governor’s office chanting: “Greg Abbott, come on out! We’ve got something to talk about!” Others were inside, refusing to leave. They’d come from around the state to demand better wages for personal care attendants, the helpers on whom their independence depends.

The disabled activists at the governor’s office represented ADAPT of Texas, and the aides were from an ADAPT subgroup, Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas (PACT). At issue in Texas are the wages for a type of aide known as community attendants, who are not hired by home care services that are paid by private insurance. Instead, community attendants’ wages are paid through federal Medicaid dollars and the Texas General Revenue fund.

At the time of the protest, the base wage for community attendants was $7.86 per hour, just slightly higher than the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. By comparison, the city of Austin enforces a living hourly wage of $11 for city employees and at construction projects supported by tax incentives.

Anonymous Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond Promotes Prison Abolition From Behind Bars

Posted in Journalism, Occupy Wall Street, and Truthout

Jeremy Hammond has spent two birthdays in captivity now since his conviction, but his friends have promised to celebrate each one. As with many political prisoners, his supporters send him cards, but they’ve also invented a new tradition: turning his birthday party into political protest against his enemies.

Hammond was sentenced to a decade’s imprisonment in November 2013 for his part in the hack of Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based private intelligence agency. As part of LulzSec, an infamous collective from the Anonymous movement, Hammond liberated 5 million emails and the credit card numbers of Stratfor’s clients, which included government and military officials. The emails became part of a searchable archive on Wikileaks called the Global Intelligence files, while Anonymous used some of the credit card numbers to charge donations to charity.

Saudi Arabia’s Imprisoned Princesses Call For Revolution

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Though they are the daughters of royalty, even princesses cannot escape the plight of women in Saudi Arabia. Despite the United States frequently citing abuses of women’s rights to justify its military incursions, Saudi Arabia remains a key U.S. ally in the region, and one of the world’s most notorious women’s rights abusers. Once hailed for their bravery in speaking out through social media, the whereabouts of these princesses seem to be unknown.

Hala, Jawaher, Maha and Sahar, born to the late Saudi King Abdullah and his ex-wife, Alanoud Al-Fayez, spent over a decade in varying degrees of captivity, according to their mother. According to Al-Fayez, the princesses were imprisoned for their modern upbringing and outspoken views on the rights of women.

Sahar and Jawaher, both held in the same royal compound, made headlines last year for speaking out via social media, even after the House of Saud punished them by restricting their access to food and water. The pair gave several video interviews to the media, and each maintained a Twitter account. Sahar even pledged support for condemned political prisoner Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr in an openly revolutionary media statement last April. Their mother also maintained two Twitter accounts, one for herself and another, @FreeThe4, to raise awareness of her daughters’ imprisonment.

World Ignores Genocide In Central African Republic Because It’s Not ISIS & There’s No Oil

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

When the Seleka, a group of mostly Muslim rebels, led a successful coup in the Central African Republic in March 2013, one of the world’s poorest countries was plunged into turmoil as Christian militias targeted the nation’s minority Muslim population in what amounts to genocide.

The Seleka were ousted from power in January 2014, and the country has since been embroiled in a civil war between the Seleka and an armed coalition called the Anti-Balaka.

While the entire civilian population has suffered enormously throughout the conflicts in the Central African Republic, perhaps no group has suffered more than the country’s Muslim minority.

Texans Build A Diverse Movement For Reproductive Choice And Health Care

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and MintPress News

What does it mean to have a choice?

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Americans’ right to choose an abortion, but that choice is meaningless if someone can’t access a legal abortion clinic or legally obtain the abortion pill. Decades of the anti-abortion movement’s attacks on abortion access depend on this, and it’s a strategy which may have just won a major victory.

The challenge of accessing abortion just became far more difficult for millions of Texans. On Thursday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court upheld all provisions of HB2, the Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill. As a result of the ruling, all but eight of the clinics in Texas providing abortions closed on Friday. Many Texans depended on these clinics for essential medical care beyond abortions.

Other provisions of the bill already restricted access to abortions after 20 weeks and access to the abortion pill, and added onerous requirements on abortion providers to receive hospital admitting privileges, which are often refused by the mostly Catholic hospitals in the state.

“This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women,” Lauren Bean, a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, told Fox News.

“Texas faces a health care crisis, brought on by its own legislators,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, a group of abortion providers that were party to the legal challenge, told RH Reality Check.