US State Department
US State Department
Save the J-1 Au Pair Program
The Wall Street Journal reported on August 28th that the Trump Administration might eliminate several J-1 cultural exchange programs, including the au pair program, as it implements the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order. The au pair program is not a work program, it is a cultural exchange program that allows young students to travel to the United States each year to live as part of an American host family, attend classes and become a part of the local community. The diplomacy-oriented goals of the program are focused on creating meaningful cultural exchange opportunities and strong ties between citizens of this country and young people from around the world. The lasting international relationships that have been created over more than 30 years are a testament to the program’s continued success. The childcare component of the au pair program supports and empowers American families by allowing them to balance work while raising their families. The loss of this program would be devastating to the cultural exchange community and would result in American jobs being lost rather than created. Please join us in showing your support for this invaluable program. The au pair program supports thousands of working American families, connects people forming lasting diplomatic and familial bonds, and promotes American values around the world. It would be undemocratic to eliminate this program without hearing from the participants and constituents who actually benefit from this life-changing cultural exchange experience.
Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon and return to safe zones in Syria
Lebanon has a population of 4.5 million Lebanese people, 2 million Syrian refugees and half a million Palestinian refugees.It is a small country that, due to a 15 year war and the huge debt that accumulated after that for reconstruction, was already suffering economically before the March 2011 Syrian war and the spillover from the Syrian conflict including the influx of Syrian refugees that increased internal tension and slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-15, and less than that in 2016, after four years of averaging 8% growth. Syrian refugees have pushed more and more Lebanese into unemployment. Yet we remain to this day the largest host (on a per capita basis) for displaced Syrians.Lebanese are known for their hospitality, however in this instance we regrettably announce that it is not within our capacity to have refugees in Lebanon, how can we invite a beloved guest to our house when we don't even have enough to feed our own children?!Besides the economical challenge, we are suffering demographic and social challenges that we worry might lead to serious altercations between both parties. Based on the facts of the country, with respect to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, Lebanon is neither a State Party nor has it signed its protocol. We ask you, the international community, our big family, please help us survive in our land, we need your assistance in relocating the displaced Syrians we have in Lebanon to safe zones in Syria designated and agreed upon by yourselves. We as the Lebanese people are willing to work hand in hand with the Lebanese government and international organizations in Lebanon, who have the data relating to the Syrian refugees, to relocate them in an organized, civilized manner. We hope for the best, God bless all the countries and we will continue to pray for world peace
URGENT APPEAL TO SAVE THE LIFE OF HABTAMU AYALEW!!!!!!
June 29, 2016 Urgent Appeal to Prime Minster Haile Mariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia to Allow Mr. Habtamu Ayalew to Seek Immediate Medical Treatment Abroad A global petition drive is underway from concerned persons within and outside Ethiopia urging the Government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn to allow Mr. Habtamu Ayalew, an ex-political prisoner who is in a coma and on life support in Addis Ababa to seek medical treatment abroad immediately. This appeal on humanitarian grounds is premised on fundamental human rights laws, protocols and best practices observed by civilized nations. We remind the Government of Ethiopia, currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council, that it has an obligation to abide by the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights covenants to which Ethiopia is a signatory. More specifically we refer to Article 13 of the Universal Declaration that states clearly the binding obligation of member states as follows: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. In its compelling appeal to the Government of Ethiopia and the global community on June 30, 2016, Amnesty International said “Ethiopian authorities must allow an opposition politician who is now unconscious due to injuries sustained in torture and other ill-treatment to obtain life-saving medical treatment abroad.” We remind the Government of Ethiopia and the global community that medical professionals in Ethiopia have determined that in Mr. Ayalew’s case, life-saving medical treatment, tools and facilities are unavailable in Ethiopia. Therefore, to not grant Mr. Ayalew to leave the country to seek immediate treatment anywhere in the world is tantamount to sentencing him to die. Mr. Habtamu Ayalew is one among the few young prominent democratic activists and political leaders in Ethiopia. Before his arrest on July 8, 2014, he was the spokesman for and chief of public relations of the enormously popular and legally registered Andinet or Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ)) party. He was also instrumental in leading UDJ’s pioneering and grassroots level mobilization work called the “Millions' Voices.” This peaceful national movement was intended to empower citizens to participate in the political process and to advance the democratization process in Ethiopia. Mr. Ayalew stood for peaceful democratic change, national consensus, dialogue and reconciliation. Despite this, he was charged with terrorism and imprisoned at the notorious, unhealthy, diseases ridden and crowded Maekelawi and Qilinto Prisons. As is often the case in similar political situations in Ethiopia, this sentencing was done without any credible evidence to support a political decision by the governing party and justify it using any means necessary. In order to legitimize its assertions, the Government of Ethiopia concocted that Mr. Ayalew was “collaborating” with Ginbot 7 that it had designated as a “terrorist group.” Independent human rights groups, the U.S. Department of State and others provide a plethora of evidence that political prisoners at Maekelawi and other prisons are subjected to inhumane and debilitating treatment including physical and psychological torture. They are often denied access to basic facilities such as toilets and medical care. This is why Mr. Ayalew suffers from painful hemorrhoids and kidney problems; and is in a coma. . On June the 28th 2016 his situation deteriorated and he had to be sent to a hospital. Doctors within Ethiopia, couldn’t do anything other than giving him pain killers to alleviate his pain. Mr. Ayalew is now in a critical situation and faces imminent death unless he leaves Ethiopia and receives treatment abroad. According to medical doctors who know his case, his hemorrhoids could easily and quickly deteriorate to Stage-3. This is the reason why he needs urgent medical care. We concur with Amnesty International that “He must be urgently let out of the country on humanitarian grounds, if for nothing else, if his life is to be saved.” Why would the Government of Ethiopia deny him the fundamental human right to leave his country to seek medical treatment abroad that could potentially save his life? The Government’s prosecutor argues that the decision by Ethiopia’s High Court that released him has now been appealed to the country’s Supreme Court. This political decision by a highly politicized court system must be weighed against the imminent danger that Mr. Ayalew is facing now. Human life must be given precedence over the expediency of political judgment. We therefore urge the Prime Minister to use his authority and let Mr. Ayalew leave the country for immediate medical treatment abroad. This is a humanitarian request that we hope the Prime Minster will treat on its own merit. His release will send a powerful signal to the Ethiopian people and to the world community that Ethiopia’s government is not callous or inhumane or insensitive to the plight of a citizen in dire distres Will you please sign to help save Habtamu?
Save Aysha and Her Family from Being Executed
Aysha's father Mohammed is a heroic interpreter who worked with the US military for 9 years in Afghanistan. His military supervisors praised his work ethic, dedication, and trustworthiness, and his incredible skill of fluently speaking six languages made him indispensable on Special Forces night raids on Taliban insurgents. He once saved an American soldier by dashing into an ambushed vehicle under Taliban fire. But the Taliban considers his faithful service to the US military a capital crime and is working hard to find and kill Mohammed and his wife and children. Tell USCIS to approve Mohammed and his family's humanitarian parole case to save them from the Taliban before it is too late. When the US military mostly pulled out of Afghanistan in 2014, the Taliban gained strength in Afghanistan and killed many interpreters or their family members in revenge. One of Mohammed's brothers and a nephew, Sahil, who was also an interpreter, were shot and left for dead in an assassination attempt on Mohammed and his family. After the Taliban ambush, Mohammed fled his home district, just in time to escape a second Taliban attack that destroyed their family home. Consequently, Mohammed lost all contact with US military personnel who could have helped him apply for an SIV visa. He has been living in hiding for three years with his wife and young children. They are living in daily fear of being discovered and killed by the Taliban and are unable to leave their house. Frequent power outages mean they are often staying in a house in 110 degree weather with no cooling system and no refrigerator. Leaks in the roof have made his children sick on several occasions from getting infections from bacteria in the water or getting cold in the winter. When I learned about Mohammed and his family's case a few months ago, I was determined to do everything possible to save their lives. Mohammed had tried to apply to the US as a refugee, but he was denied for “discretionary reasons,” a very common problem for former military interpreters and their families. When Mohammed's refugee case was denied, he was devastated and lost all hope for saving his life and his family's lives. He said the only option left for him was to surrender to the Taliban and hope that after they tortured and killed him, they would stop looking for his children. I told him not to give up and promised him to find a way to save their lives. Please help me keep my promise to Mohammed to save his life and his family's lives. They do not deserve to suffer and die because of Mohammed's service to the US military. My family has hired a lawyer and filed a humanitarian parole case to sponsor Mohammed and his family to come live in the US while he works to get permanent, legal status in the US. Our humanitarian parole case for them may be our last chance to save their lives. Sign the petition to tell USCIS to approve Mohammed's case quickly. Mohammed is a hero who faithfully served the US military for over 9 years and is now in grave danger because the Taliban is determined to get revenge. He has already lost everything except his and his family's lives because of his service to America, but he is still proud of his choice to work for the US military. All he wants in return is the chance to bring his children to safety and to give them a future. If USCIS does not approve his case, he will be left behind to be killed by the same terrorists that he risked his life to fight for so many years. To learn more about No One Left Behind, the non-profit that advocates for and assists in resettling interpreters like Mohammed, visit http://nooneleft.org/
Allow Afghani Girls Robotics team to compete in USA by July 16th
I'm the father of three young men who participated in, and had their lives changed for the better by participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition through high school. We were so impressed by the goals and results of the program that my wife and I volunteer and it is our #1 charity. This is really a movement that seeks to make the world better by teaching young people to work and collaborate while competing, and to celebrate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Six Afghani teenage girls have been denied visas to the USA to pilot their robot in an international competition designed to show off the teams' design, construction, and programming skills while addressing the challenge of providing clean water for the world. The team is led by Roya Mahboob, Afghanistan's first female tech CEO. A more complete report from Forbes magazine can be found here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hilarybrueck/2017/06/29/denied-afghanistans-all-girl-robotics-team-cant-get-visas-to-the-u-s/#3c884396367f Tens of thousands of high-school and younger students participate in challenges building robots and competing with other teams from around the world in what has been described as "the Varsity Sport for the Mind." A Global Challenge competition will be held 16-18 July 2017 in Washington, DC around the theme of clean water supply. Teams from around the world will be arriving, competing, and cooperating. The Afghani robot has been cleared to enter the USA, but not the young women. More info on the competition and the organization can be found at: www.first.global This petition calls on the US State Department to expedite review and granting of visas for the six young women and their coach, so they can have the experience of collaborating and competing with like-minded youths from around the world, and return with the spirit of STEM and FIRST to their native Afghanistan.
Asking Ambassador Power to follow up on the Qilinto Prison Fire
This is a petition calling on Ambassador Power to follow up on the inconceivable number of deaths that occurred at Ethiopia’s Qilinto prison. It has been confirmed that 23 people, with other accounts suggesting a total of 60 prisoners, were found dead due to multiple gun shoots and suffocation as the prison was set on fire. The Ethiopian government has not provided legitimate evidence of how or why the incident transpired nor have they verified the identities of a major of the deceased. Since many of the prisoner are Oromo activists such as the prominent leader Bekele Gerba et al., journalists, politicians, and human right advocating leaders, we have reason to suspect that foul play is involved and are calling for an independent investigation. During the early morning of September 3rd, gunshots were heard at Qilinto's notorious prison where above 3000 political prisoners are held for more than three years as they await trial. Soon after the incident, several internationally run local news agencies, such as OMN and Addis Standard, confirmed that bodies of prisoners were found with multiple gun shoot wounds while other bodies were on fire. An eye witness told Addis Standard that armed prison guards were indiscriminately shooting at several prisoners who were running "frantically to extinguish the fire out”. This makes the Qilinto prison the 3rd prison fire that has occurred in Ethiopia over the past year. According to BBC, the Ethiopian government has only recently confirmed that approximately 23 deaths due to the prison incident. According to other news and activists, the number of deaths is estimated to be over 60. Over three days have passed since the incident and there is little to no evidence of the whereabouts of survivors as families anxiously wait for news of what has happened to their loved ones. According to Human Rights Groups, over the course of 10 months 500 people have already died while peacefully protesting in Oromo regions around Ethiopia. We are gravely concerned about the safety and well-being of all prisoners in Qilinto and other prisons in Ethiopia, as tens of thousands of civilians and activist are held in several prisons and military training camps. The petition urges Ambassador Power to take measurable action that guarantees the well-being of innocent students and activist who are the foundation of the Ethiopian community. The #OromoProtests and the Ethiopia people in general would like to ask you to make sure that the TPLF regime takes responsibility for the cruel killing of innocent and legal prisoners. As well as request to push for human rights in Ethiopia.
Help Us Stop Horse Slaughter in America!!!
What Do You Think When You Hear The Word Horse Slaughter? Well for me, I think about animal cruelty, how horrible and unfair it is to be slaughtered. So please, Chip in and help me stop the Slaughter of Horses in the U.S The term “horse slaughter” refers exclusively to the killing and processing of horses for human consumption. They say that it is “euthanasia”, which is defined as a gentle, painless death provided in order to prevent suffering. Being slaughtered is the most horrible way of killing such a beautiful creature. What is going to happen if the horses become extinct, just think about it? What is the world going to be like? Did you know that over 150,000 million American horses have been trucked each year over the boarder to become human consumption. Horses bound for slaughter (who may include pregnant mares, foals and horses who are injured or blind) are commonly shipped for more than 24 hours at a time in crowded trucks without food, water or rest. That is so wrong. For all of those horse lovers out in the world, they are probably dying inside because they are reading stuff like horses being slaughtered for human consumption (HUMANS EATING HORSES). So if we don't stop this slaughter, then the horse species are going to become extinct in different parts of the world. Horses SHOULD NOT be made into food, they are very delicate creatures, they deserve to live. I don’t care if they are pregnant but the owner doesn’t want it, you shouldn’t pass it over to the doggers to slaughter them and make them into food for humans. So please can you help me stop the slaughter of horses, they need to live as much as we do. They deserve to live a happy life. So I am begging you to sign this petition and help make a difference to the world and Help save these amazing creatures!!!
Please Grant Political Asylum to Mr. Andres F. Arias and leaders of Colombian Opposition.
The Colombian Government is relentlessly persecuting its critics and opponents. It has also manufactured, against the Colombian people’s will, a total amnesty agreement with narco-terrorist group FARC. In addition to being the largest cocaine cartel in the world, FARC is responsible for thousands of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And yet they will not be punished at all in virtue of the so-called peace deal. Because of their view and political stance against such an impunity deal, many of the most prominent leaders of the opposition party in Colombia have been unjustly prosecuted, preventively imprisoned without conviction, or convicted without a fair trial. This systematic political persecution through the judiciary has been instigated by the Santos Administration in order to decimate the opposition party led by former president Álvaro Uribe. Indeed, some opposition leaders have been forced into exiled and have sought asylum in the US. President Santos of Colombia has repeatedly exerted diplomatic pressure to get the US to extradite his critics back to Colombia. At the same time, he has promised FARC kingpins never to extradite them to the US, regardless of the numerous standing requests by Federal Courts all over the country. The United States cannot tolerate impunity for narco-terrorists while enabling the systematic persecution of democratic activists in Colombia. We kindly ask for your help so that the Department of Homeland Security grants political asylum to Mr. Andrés Felipe Arias and other prominent leaders of the Colombian opposition currently in US soil. Mr. Arias served his country honorably, has been a good friend of the U.S., and is now seeking the protection for his family. We will not rest until the U.S. Government acts in accordance with the values we stand for as a Nation—democracy, the rule of law, and justice.
Save the J-1 Au Pair Program
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (August 27, 2017) reported that the Trump Administration is considering major reductions or elimination in J-1 cultural exchange programs, including the Au Pair program. This activity is to fulfill a major campaign promise of Donald Trump, under his “Buy American, Hire American” program. The premise is that these young people are “guest workers,” who are displacing American workers. The au pair program is not a work program - it is a cultural exchange program. For decades, the privately funded J-1 cultural exchange Au Pair program has been responsible for fostering global understanding in the U.S. and worldwide. Cultural exchange is the cornerstone of our public diplomacy. Alumni of international exchange programs include 565 current or former heads of foreign governments, 82 Nobel Prize winners, 58 ambassadors to the United Nations, and 26 heads of international organizations. We learn from others and we share our culture. It makes us better and stronger as a nation. The loss or elimination of this program would have a devastating effect on America’s public diplomacy and cultural relevance. Please join us in showing your support!
Economic sanctions must be reinstated against Sudan for failing to end violence
Reinstate Sanctions on Sudan to End Violence Against Innocent Civilians The Sudan region is one of the deadliest places in the world. The United States began instituting the first in a series of comprehensive economic and trade sanctions against Sudan 20 years ago as a result of war crimes and genocide. In 2011, South Sudan became the world’s newest country after seceding from Sudan in a referendum effort to end the second Sudanese Civil War. Unfortunately, independence was not granted to the much-contested oil-rich lands in the Nuba Mountains and the onslaught of violence has not only continued but worsened in this region. The unrelenting conflict has forced families with the decision of abandoning their homes or being killed. Since 2011, tens of thousands of refugees have been displaced from their homes. The Obama Administration—during its last week in office—temporarily lifted economic and trade sanctions against Sudan in return for cessation of violence and compliance with specific conditions. The US State Department highlighted 5 key areas that the Sudan government must achieve progress in to justify the lifting of economic sanctions: Ceasing hostilities in Darfur, South Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile State Improving Humanitarian Access Ending negative interference in South Sudan Enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism with the US and Allies Addressing the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army The people of the Nuba Mountains continue to suffer as the government of Sudan (Khartoum) refuses to comply with their agreement with the United States in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Economic sanctions must be reinstated against Sudan for failing to end violence against these innocent people The Sudan Relief Fund (SRF) is a non-profit charity that has been helping the poor and the defenseless in the region since 1999. “The government of Sudan continues to flagrantly defy the stipulations agreed upon with the United States as conditions to lifting economic sanctions. The only hope for progress toward a better future for the region would be the reinstatement of sanctions.” Neil CorkeryPresident of the Board of Directors of Sudan Relief Fund SRF and its partners on the ground have evidence proving that the Sudan government in Khartorum is continually in violation of the stipulations laid out to lift the economic sanctions. Through continued airstrikes on villages and farms, blocking humanitarian aid, and in effectively ignoring prospects for peace in the region Sudan is failing the test time after time. On July 12th, the Trump Administration elected to delay the decision 90 days on whether or not to permanently lift the economic sanctions that were placed on Sudan. We don’t have much time. Adding your signature to this petition is vital to impressing upon the United States government the critical importance of comprehensive economic sanctions is a crucial component of a plan for peace. President Trump and the United States Department of State: Sudan has betrayed the trust of the United States and continues to provoke violence in the region and we believe all economic and trade sanctions should be reinstated.