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Pogledaj Full Version : Amnesty’s Urgent Action Network



Željko Zidarić
29th-May-2012, 03:53 AM
UAN Canada (http://www.amnesty.ca/urgentaction/about_the_urgent_action_network.php) - UAN USA (http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/campaigns/individuals-at-risk/urgent-action-network) - UAN UK (http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=770)

Amnesty International's Urgent Action Network was once based in Nederland (http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/03/amnesty_international_urgent_action_network_nederl and.php)

Using text-messaging to build issue awareness, attract new constituencies and mobilize people for action

Amnesty International-Netherlands has recognized the power and potential of new text-messaging technology (SMS). The organization has used it to attract new members (especially young people), to build awareness of the campaign against torture and to encourage people to respond quickly to urgent action appeals. About 520 new members joined as a direct result of the SMS campaign and over 5,000 more responded to the SMS urgent action appeals.

In the first years of Amnesty’s Urgent Action Network, the quickest way to protest was by airmail and telex. A few years later, the fax was introduced. And after many more years, e-mail – the best and quickest way. The SMS technique was originally developed in 2001, within the framework of Amnesty International's Campaign Against Torture. When immediate action was required to protect someone from being tortured, the Dutch section of Amnesty International sent out an SMS to the mobile phones of thousands of participants. These participants, who had taken a voluntary and free subscription to the SMS campaign network, responded to the appeal. Within hours, Amnesty International collected many thousands of protests “signatures” against a case of torture, or threat of torture. The organization then forwarded these protests by fax or e-mail to the authorities.

AI Netherlands introduced the technique on the most popular Saturday night television program, whose audience numbers 2.5 million people. AI Netherlands, along with a man from Tunisia who was once the subject and beneficiary of an AI Urgent Action, explained the SMS actions. People were informed that the text of an Urgent Action is summarized in just 160 characters by SMS. To respond, people only need to respond with a 'JA' (Yes) to SMS number “4777”. One minute later, participants receive another SMS to thank them and to tell them how many people have already sent a protest. “Thank you for your participation. You are the [Xth] person to react.” Later, participants receive an SMS to inform them of the follow-up of the campaign, such as the release of the person from custody.

As a result, The Dutch section had forwarded nearly 6,000 SMS protests some weeks before to ask for the release of the Uzbek poet Yusuf Dzhumaev. He was subsequently released on 29 December 2001. Mohamad Fuad Mohd Ikhwan was reportedly released unconditionally on 16 July 2001, three days after the Dutch section of Amnesty International had sent a fax with 5,355 SMS messages to the Malaysian government. Wajih Ghanim was released on 18 November 2001 under an amnesty issued by President Bashar al-Assad. He was one of nine prisoners of conscience released under the amnesty. A fax with 6,394 SMS appeals had been sent to the government on 22 October.

Although Amnesty International rarely claims direct responsibility for improvements in the situation of the people featured in Urgent Action cases, some improvement is reported in the follow-up of around one third of all Urgent Action cases issued. This has resulted in death sentences being commuted, 'disappeared' people reappearing, the whereabouts of detained persons announced, thus reducing the chances of torture as well as increasing the chances of seriously ill prisoners being given medical attention.

There were a number of additional benefits of the SMS actions for the AI Dutch section. This method has attracted many, possibly many thousands of participants who had not joined the Urgent Action network previously. An indication of this is that SMS participants are young: 16% of participants are between 11 and 15; a total of 44% is younger than 20 years of age. One young Dutch participant in the SMS network expressed it this way, “This is just the way I like to campaign for Amnesty: it’s simple, modern and effective. Amnesty uses the best weapon to prevent people from torture: the mobile phone!”

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