Another Busy June with AI in Seattle

June has always been a busy month for our Amnesty International group, and we went into it with a busy May, some of which I’ve already posted. . . and. . . I didn’t even make it to everything. 

Untitled by AmnestyWA Justice, on Flickr

It was a nice, if overcast, day on May 22, the Saturday we took group and individual photos at Kerry Park in support of  AI Prisoner of Conscience Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (or Myanmar, as the current military rulers call it). Aung San Suu Kyi has been under unofficial detention, house arrest and/or with restrictions on her movements for 14 of the last 20 years. In 1990, her party, the National League for Democracy, won 80% of the parliamentary seats in a general election, and the military leadership refused to cede power and instead jailed NLD party leaders and activists. 

Read more about Aung San Suu Kyi at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/priority-cases/myanmar-aung-san-suu-kyi/page.do?id=1101239 

 

The  photos were part of the Stand with Suu Kyi! action by Amnesty International, to gather at least 2,100 photos in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and human rights in Burma/Myanmar, representing the 2,100 political prisoners detained in Burma. 

Learn how you can take part here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/priority-cases/stand-with-suu-kyi/page.do?id=1691013 

Photos are online at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/standwithsuukyi 

Then Lakeside School‘s Amnesty International club hosted a Freedom of Speech Night at the Neptune Coffee House the next weekend, in the middle of Memorial Day weekend and Folklife (more on that music soon). They focused on Prisoner of Conscience cases including Aung San Suu Kyi and Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist/blogger in prison for sending an e-mail to the US about the Chinese government’s orders to play down the anniversary 1989 Tiananman Square Massacre (after Yahoo! gave up his name). 

Their entertainment included a rock group called Radio Static, who played great music of their own, and covers including Springsteen‘s Radio Nowhere

 

They also had an impressive poet, who started out by reading Shi Tao’s poem June in Chinese, then proceeded to mesmerize the audience and a guy who was standing outside waiting for a bus who came on in with his own poems: 

 

More information on Shi Tao at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/priority-cases/china-shi-tao/page.do?id=1101243 

Radio Static has music on their MySpace page at: http://www.myspace.com/radiostaticband 

I missed our Tiananmen Square memorial this year, on June 3, as it was in the afternoon at UW and I got there too late. Our Amnesty International group took part in a Capitol Hill garage sale that weekend. I just came and bought a t-shirt. Thanks to everyone who did all the work! We also tabled a Sting concert that weekend at the White River Amphitheatre, and then Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Gorge the next weekend (carpooling it to both, as I don’t drive). Those are a lot of fun, and we do get to talk to new people about AI, even if it can get frustrating trying to get signatures for our petitions at times (and challenging, literally doing it by candlelight before finally breaking down for the evening and catching the rest of the show). 

 

I’m not going to go too much into the Sting and Tom Petty concerts since I’m so far behind, and I figure everyone knows who they are and what they sound like (and Joe Cocker, who opened for Tom Petty – at least for those of my generation). Although, I’d like to get around to a review of Ton’s latest, Mojo, at a later point, as he and the Heartbreakers going to their blues roots on this one. 

 

Sting was playing with a full orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, for this tour (with no opening act, and an intermission).  He was really impressive with the orchestra and the woman singing with him, and having so much fun with it (including howling at the moon at one point, and 4 encores!). Sting’s audience was a little more aware of who Amnesty International was from the benefits he played for AI back in the 80s & 90s. I also noticed quite a few people with Russian accents, and thought about his song The Russians (which he played that night) and the power of music in reaching people. 

 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were awesome and still rocking out with no signs of slowing down, and it was great hearing Joe Cocker with all those classics from the 60s. Good thing we had a full crew for the table, because there was always one of us who just had to catch one of Joe’s or Tom’s songs, until it finally got too dark and we packed up to watch the show. Tom’s is a mixed crowd politically. There were a lot of peace t-shirts along with folks who are more to the right. It was frustrating, because even most of them walked right by the table. 

I think AI needs to do a better job of reaching people, so they at least know who we are and what we stand for in the US. It’s my impression that more people are aware in Europe. I think more people should be stopping by (and I don’t count out reaching people with more conservative views – human rights shouldn’t be political). 

The Gorge itself was absolutely beautiful, as promised. I’ve got to find some way of getting there the next time Pearl Jam plays! There are times it’s real frustrating not being able to afford a car. . . 

 

More photos of the Gorge and our drive there at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/javacolleen/sets/72157624142632977/ 

Coming up solstice, the next weekend, our Amnesty International group had our booth at the Fremont Fair, as we always do. It was a rainy, dreary weekend this year (though fortunately it held off a bit for the Solstice Parade, and those bicyclists wearing only paint beforehand. . .). 

 

In addition to our usual petitions, t-shirts, buttons & literature; this year we raffled off a copy of the Pearl Jam vs Ames Bros concert poster book and a new, silver, iPod Shuffle. We were off the main track this year, near the Rocket; our new t-shirts didn’t get done because of a death in the screen printer’s family;  and it was rainy and cold much of the time. We still collected a lot of signatures and it sounds like we broke even; which is good because our main reason for being there is outreach. Let’s just say the raffle winners got a good deal and great odds, and that fortunately both items were previously won at other events by Group 4 members, then donated (the Pearl Jam book, by me, at the Backspacer Bash at Easy Street Records back in October). 

Photos from the Fremont Fair, and especially the Solstice Parade (but not the bicyclists – in keeping with community standards) at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/javacolleen/sets/72157624313617514/ 

Then last Tuesday, we had a vigil and solidarity event for Troy Davis, who is on death row in Georgia.  Troy’s evidentiary trial (ordered by the Supreme Court)  started Wednesday.  We are still awaiting the outcome, and I’m going to hold off blogging until then to do it more justice. I need to find some way to keep caught up. 

Learn more about Troy’s case at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/troy 

June isn’t totally over yet, either, and I’ll be tabling the Steve Earle concert at Zoo Tunes for Amnesty International on Wednesday night (& hopefully blogging about it sooner than a month or so later. . . ) 

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