Group 11 member Alyce Stark participated in the closing of the AIUSA Annual General Meeting on March 5, 2023 in San Diego. It featured a reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Nowruz is the traditional Persian New Year and welcome for spring. In view of our long and deep involvement in human rights in Iran, we will once again send Nowruz greetings by mail and social media to selected Iranian prisoners, others at risk and their families on March 28. All material and information will be available at the meeting.
Amnesty International USA Group 11’s 47th Annual Benefit Concert was held 12/8/22. Our annual human rights fundraiser concert featured classical music performances by New York’s finest musicians. Proceeds benefited our human rights work. Watch the concert below. Text and translations of these songs are in the complete program here.
On October 25, 2022, Group 11 celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. As far as we know, this was the first half-century celebration of human rights achievements by a local AIUSA group.
A crowd of present and former Group 11 activists; members of other AIUSA groups in New York; key AIUSA staff, led by Executive Director Paul O’Brien; and major donors to AIUSA were present for the celebration at the Goddard-Riverside Community Center auditorium. The evening was dedicated to the memory of Steve Abrams, a long-time Group 11 activist and a member of the AIUSA and Amnesty International governing boards.
The evening was beautifully organized by the group’s planning committee. To start, attendees mingled pleasantly while listening to live music; drinking wine and munching on appetizers; and watching a video of Group 11’s history and activities. This was followed by a presentation of some of Group 11’s notable work on behalf of people at risk between 1989 and 2011: a Tianamen Square protester in China, a student dissident in Iran, a death row inmate in the United States, and a woman imprisoned for allegedly performing a self-abortion in El Salvador. Group 11 has helped settle two released Iranian prisoners of conscience in the United States. A group member discussed the group’s 2013 book Two Worlds, One Idea: Ten Years of Correspondence between Amnesty International Group 11 and a Ukrainian Political Prisoner Zinovii Krasivskyj. Attendees were able to order the book and buy Amnesty T-shirts and mugs.
A surprising moment came when Paul O’Brien announced that a tree honoring Group 11 will be planted at a cluster of restored housing in Manhattan. He also presented the group’s co-chairs, Harry Schwartz and Sue Dicker, two copies of Windows on Elsewhere, commissioned by AIUSA, commemorating sixty global human rights activists forced to leave their homes. Each activist contributed a piece of writing accompanying a simple but evocative drawing.
After Paul’s presentation, the group announced a remarkable achievement: in 2021 the group sent 3,394 letters on behalf of human rights defenders and people imprisoned or in danger for exercising their basic human rights, a significant increase over the 1,142 letters sent in 2019.
All in all, Group 11’s anniversary party was a wonderful way to celebrate all group members, past and present, who have contributed to the fight for human rights around the world.
Enjoy a selection of photos from the joyous occasion.
Every year Group 11 holds a Write-for-Rights event, one of many such events occurring all over the country under the aegis of Amnesty International USA. The event commemorates the date on which the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: December 10, 1948. This year, our event was held on Thursday, January 26, at Goddard-Riverside Community Center, where we hold our monthly meetings.
Thirty people came to this event. We signed 291 letters for the following people:
- Joanah Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri — imprisoned for exercising their right of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, in Zimbabwe
- Alexksandra Skachilenko — facing prison in Russia for expressing opposition to the war in Ukraine
- Vahid Afkari — jailed for protesting inequality and oppression, in Iran
- Chow Hang-Tung — jailed for attending a vigil in memory of the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in China, in Hong Kong
- Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara — jailed for leading a group of artists defending their right to freedom of expression, in Cuba
- Zineb Redouane — killed by police with a tear gas grenade during a protests against poor living conditions in Marseille, France
- Shahenwaz Chowdhury — may face imprisonment for using Facebook to raise concerns about a coal-fired power plant, in Bangladesh
- Dorgelesse Nguessan — imprisoned for peacefully exercising freedom of expression and assembly while protesting economic conditions in Cameroon
- Yren Rotela and Mariana Sepúlveda — trans women fighting for their rights, in Paraguay
- Nasser Zefzafi — imprisoned for exercising freedom of expression while protesting poor healthcare, education, and employment opportunities in Morocco/Western Sahara
On January 22 Group 11 held its most successful Write for Rights. Hundreds of letters on behalf of human rights defenders from 10 countries were signed. They will be added to the over 300 letters from the concert and another event.
Special thanks to:
- Sandi for the magnificent organization and management.of the event
- Mariana and Jan for the tasty and varied refreshments.
- Todd and George (and his friends) for the music
- Lara for helping with the setup
- Neil for the photos
And the members, friends and family who joined in.
Amnesty co-sponsored a screening of a new documentary, “American Muslim,” on Friday evening, January 17, 2020 at the Jewish Community Center, Amsterdam Avenue and 76th Street in Manhattan. The film follows several Muslim activists who live in NYC and who are protesting Trump’s Muslim ban. It shows life in New York City for American Muslim activists. Following the film, a Q&A was held that included the film’s director and Amnesty’s own Daphne Eviator who spoke at Group 11 lthe previous year.
In addition, Lenore Beaky and Sandi McMullen tabled on Sunday, Jan 19th at the JCC with Group 11’s letters and brochures. Films and events took place all weekend.
Every spring members of Group 11 gather for dinner at a local restaurant for a convivial evening of conversation and recollection. Prizes are awarded to the member who comes closest to guessing the number of letters sent by Group 11 the previous year. Here are photos of the January 2020 Annual Dinner, the last one before the pandemic. Todd Schwarz was the big raffle winner who had the closest guess as to the total number of letters sent by Group 11 in 2019.
On Sunday, Dec. 8th Group 11 held its 44th Annual Benefit Concert. The approximately 200-seat Christ & St. Stephen’s Church was packed. As people gathered after the performances ended, everyone seemed to agree that it was a great success. We are greatly indebted to Marcia Eckert, pianist and producer of the concert, for this success. For more info see our highlights page.