In Human Rights News: Protests in Three State Capitols, Bradley Manning Sentencing, Update on the Dream 9, and More

In Human Rights News: Week of July 27 - August 2, 2013

Three State Capitols around the country are echoing with the songs and chants of people who feel scorned by their state government.  In Wisconsin, protesters who participate in a daily sing-along are facing a crack down from the Capitol Police, with over 50 people arrested in three days. In Florida a group called the Dream Defenders has been occupying the State Capitol for 13 days, demanding that Governor Rick Scott call a special session to address the repeal of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law and to address racial profiling. And in North Carolina, civil rights and religious organizations are organizing weekly protests at the Capitol, dubbed "Moral Mondays," to express their opposition to an avalanche of retrograde policies that are radically reshaping the state.

From the Human Rights Watch Statement on the Bradley Manning Verdict:  "On July 30, 2013, Pfc. Bradley Manning was convicted of 19 of 22 counts by a US court martial in Fort Meade, Maryland, for leaking thousands of government documents to the online publisher Wikileaks for public dissemination. The military judge, Col. Denise Lind, acquitted Manning of the most serious charge, “aiding the enemy.” The cumulative charges could amount to 136 years of prison time for Manning. The sentencing phase of his trial will begin on July 31. […] Manning’s trial points to the urgent need for reform in the laws the US has used to prosecute those who leak information to the public, as well as the need for stronger protections for national security whistleblowers. " 

Margo Cowan is attorney for the "Dream 9" - five women and four men brought to the United States illegally as children who staged a risky and unorthodox protest more than two weeks ago at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Cowan said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials finished interviewing her clients this week and will probably hand down a decision soon on whether the Mexican nationals will be deported to their place of birth or released back to the American communities they’ve lived in most of their lives.  “These are young people who are the future of our country and they deserve to be able to document their status and continue their education and work and make the contributions they are poised to make,” Cowan said of the “Dream 9” and others like them.

A Missouri college’s policy that fails to excuse students for pregnancy-related absences violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, says a complaint filed by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).  NWLC's Lara S. Kaufmann, senior counsel and director for education policy for at-risk students, said the attendance policy at Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs that fails to excuse students for pregnancy-related absences is in clear violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education.

Sign this petition (created by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, parents of Trayvon Martin) calling on governors of the 21 states that have Stand Your Ground laws to review and amend the legislation.  From the petition:  "Here in Florida, we are pushing for an amendment to Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law. Sign our petition to call on all at least 21 governors to review their laws and consider similar amendments so that they can protect children in their states, just as we wish Florida would have protected Trayvon."

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