Irene Khan on The Unheard Truth

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan came to Seattle on October 26 to talk about her new book, The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights, at Town Hall.

Members of our local group came early to set up our information table, including t-shirts from the Western Regional Office to give to members who signed up that night.


Thanks to the generosity of former AIUSA Staff and Board Member (and current Social Justice Fund Northwest Executive Director, Magdeleno Rose-Avila (Leno) covering the table, all of us got to meet Irene Khan before the event.


 Irene’s new book, The Unheard Truth, focuses on poverty as a human rights issue, part of AI’s new Demand Dignity Campaign.

Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity Campaign works to end the human rights abuses that are a cause and a consequence of poverty. Poverty is not just a matter of lack of income – it is a matter of lack of security, inclusion and participation. These are human rights violations.

Irene highlighted how poverty itself is a basic human rights issue, how poverty works against people persuing other human rights – like a woman killed by her husband who didn’t have the money for bus fare to get help that was available, and the excuses countries like China gives claiming they can only lift people out of poverty by banning political human rights.

Maternal mortality is one of the issues Amnesty’s campaign and Irene Khan’s book focuses on.  High maternal mortality isn’t limited to poorer countries who have suffered recent wars like Sierra Leone. Sadly, the U.S. has a high rate of maternal mortality, and I’ll have more on that when I report back on AI’s Western Regional Conference held in San Francisco last weekend.


After Irene Khan’s speech, we signed up members for AIUSA, offering the t-shirts as incentive, and encouraged people to join our local group to work on Demand Dignity and other issues with a sign up sheet for our listserv and bookmarks with our website and meeting time and place information.

I feel like I haven’t said enough, but I’m also realizing, at nearly 3 weeks and at least 5 events behind in my blog, I’m probably going to have to learn to be briefer and let people follow links to learn more on their own if I’m going to keep up.


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