Iran May 1st Action

Please join the Labor Day action in support of Iranian labor unionists Ebrahim Madadi (a senior member of the Workers of Tehran Suburbs Bus Company) and Esmail Abdi (a math teacher and a Teachers’ rights activist). We will create a separate collage for each of them and share these collages on our social media.

To participate:

  • Wear Amnesty gear (if you have it, fine if you don’t)
  • Make letter-size banners with one of the following messages
    • For Esmail Ebdi: “I stand with Esmail Abdi”, “Free Esmail Abdi”, “I support Teachers’ rights in Iran”, “Prison is no place for teachers!”, or your own message.
    • For Ebrahim Madadi: “I support Ebrahim Madadi”, “Free Ebrahim Madadi”, “Workers’ rights are human rights”, or your own message.
  • You can draw an Amnesty candle next to your message if you want to
  • Please take a picture of yourself holding this message against your chest and take a picture of yourself.
  • Please submit your photos by this Thursday, April 30, 6:00pm to [email protected]

Write for Rights 2020

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.

American Muslim

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 NYC for American Muslim activists. Following the film, a Q&A was held that included the film’s director and Amnesty’s own Daphne Eviator (she spoke at Group 11 last year).

In addition, Lenore and Sandi tabled on Sunday, Jan 19th at the JCC with Group 11’s letters and brochures. Films and events took place all weekend.

2019 Annual Benefit Concert

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.

Harry began the event with a moving tribute to Steve Abrams, who passed recently at the age of 92. Steve was a consummate supporter of human rights, making significant contributions to Amnesty International and AI/USA as well as Group 11. Most of us will remember Steve for his enthusiastic involvement in group discussions and activities; our last memory of Steve is his hearty marching and chanting with many of us in front of the Iranian mission to the United Nations on May Day in support of an Iranian prisoner of conscience, a Group 11 tradition.

The highlight of the program was a new choral piece, Human Rights, written by Antoine Miannay in honor of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948. The lyrics draw from selected articles of the document, and were beautifully rendered by the choral group CantaNYC and members of Amnesty International/USA. The piece was conducted by Group 11 member Claude Lévy. Many audience members expressed how moved they were by the piece.

The concert recognized Human Rights Day, celebrated around the world on or around the date of the declaration’s signing. Group 11 engaged the audience in its activities for the event; at the intermission concert attendees could sign letters in support of several people being denied their human rights. Sandi McMullen, who organized this activity, reports that 217 letters were signed.

NYC Area Activist Meeting 2/21/19

On February 16, AIUSA held an activist meeting for local and student groups in the NYC area. Group 11 members were excited to meet fellow activists and learn more about their projects. During the event, the participants compiled an action calendar that included all the upcoming Amnesty events in NYC area. The event also included a comprehensive lobbying training session presented by Anita Teekah featuring a current AIUSA lobbying effort to end long-term solitary confinement in the state of New York.

Kamiar Alaei talks about his experience as a prisoner of conscience in Iran Evin prison in 2008-2011

The special guest of the meeting was Dr Kamiar Alaei, an Iranian physician who specializes in HIV/AIDS control/treatment and is the co-founder of the Global Institute for Health and Human Rights at UAlbany. Dr. Alaei was illegally imprisoned by the Iranian government from 2008 to 2011 together with his brother and colleague Arash. Their imprisonment, however, didn’t stop them from continuing their life passion for campaigning for health initiatives and education even within the prison community. Driven by their boundless compassion, they spent three years behind the bars improving living conditions of prisoners. They launched a newsletter, reorganized kitchen work, and provided medical services and education to inmates.

Dr Alaei expressed gratitude to human rights organizations Amnesty, Human Right Watch and others that campaigned for his release and pointed out that every letter, petition, solidarity card, and demonstration in support of political prisoners matter since they put pressure on the governments and give hope to prisoners of conscience and their families reassuring them that the world indeed cares about them.

43rd Benefit Concert

Our benefit concert 2018 was a blast! Kudos to Marcia Eckert for organizing such a wonderful event.

We were fortunate to have Blue Door playing the whimsical Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano as well as a movement from Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Messiaen wrote this piece while a prisoner of war in German captivity and it was first performed by his fellow prisoners. It has come to be recognized as one of his most important works.

Joseph Rutkowski presented the solo clarinet movement from the same piece. The Eckert/Gilwood duo performed the lyrical Schubert Rondo in A Major for piano four-hands. Vivacious and charismatic mezzo-soprano Janice Meyerson, no stranger to Group 11 concerts, sang Mahler’s haunting Songs of a Wayfarer. Robert Muczynski’s jaunty and jazzy Fantasy Trio for clarinet, cello and piano rounded out the concert.

2019 Annual Dinner

To celebrate another year of human rights advocacy, Group 11 held its annual get together dinner at Pearl’s Chinese Restaurant on January 7, 2019. Following the group’s longstanding tradition, its co-coordinator Sue asked the attendants to guess the number or letters that the group had collected during the Amnesty’s Write for Rights letter writing marathon in the end of 2018. Steve Abrams came closest to guessing total number of letters we collected. The lucky winner of the contests received a book and a calendar from Sue.

You probably wonder what is the exact amount of letters our group collected during W4R’18 campaign. No more teasing: we collected 692 W4R letters in 2018. Thanks everyone who contributed to help us reach this impressive number!

Steve, who came closest to guessing the amount of W4R letters the Group 11 collected in 2018, receives his gifts from Sue.