YOU(TH) FOR YOU(TH)
The gender-based violence epidemic in South Africa finds itself in the spotlight again as the international campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), kicked off in November.
Like us, we are sure that you are sick and tired of the government saying GBV remains “worrying” and “a concern”, while the police and the state continue to fail all who live in South Africa because of the failures of the police and the criminal justice system. This failure to do more is violating people’s rights to safety, life and dignity.
The state has an obligation to protect people’s rights to life and security and we are not seeing this obligation realised.
The campaign starts on 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and runs until 10 December, which is International Human Rights Day.
In this edition of YOU(th) for YOU(th) we look at different forms of abuse during 16 days of activism such as cyber bullying, especially on social media, where we are seeing more and more women targeted. Amnesty International South Africa partnered with Joe Public United on the creation of some very powerful cyberbullying posters.
We ask our activists what their message is to the government as we commemorate 16 Days of Activism, and we have space to hear from you what you think.
You will read about the Digital Disruptors project and the great work this team of 15 activists from Orange Farm and Alexandra are doing on the issue of GBV in their communities.
In this edition we also give you an update on what happened at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference – Conference of the Parties (COP27).
Other topics to look out for is our annual Write for Rights campaign, where you can harness your letter writing skills for human rights impact, and learn why there is controversy around the FIFA World Cup.
We hope you enjoy this edition of Amnesty International South Africa’s youth newsletter, and we look forward to engaging with you.
If you have ideas of what you would like to read about, please send us an email with your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matla! Ke a rona (the power is ours!)
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM
Authorities must show that they take women and girls’ rights to safety, dignity and life seriously, and stop paying lip service to this, Amnesty International South Africa said at the launch of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on 25 November.
Two days before the international campaign started, the quarterly crime statistics released by the South African Police Service showed once again that women and girls are not safe. Between July and September this year, 13,283 sexual offences were reported to police, including 10,590 reports of rape, 1,895 reports of sexual assault, 536 attempted sexual offences, and 262 contact sexual offences. There was an increase in all categories of sexual offences compared to the same period last year, showing that things are not getting any better.
Read more about what Amnesty International South Africa had to say here.
Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed spoke to Aldrin Sampear on SAFM about the our 16 days of activism campaign and how we are tired of the state paying lip service to fighting the epidemic.
Violence against women has no boundaries – it spills into social media. Women are being targeted and abused, whether it is body shaming, physical threats of violence or attacking a woman’s identity. This needs to end now. There is no space for violence against women on social media- there is no space for it at all.
Some words can’t be deleted ❌
We asked our youth activists what their message to the government is, as we commemorate 16 days of activism.
Check out what they had to say.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
What is your message to the government as we commemorate 16 days of activism?
On 24 November, Amnesty International South Africa held a second discussion with Children of Success on the consequences of early pregnancy. We touched on issues of what your body goes through as a young mother, options for young mothers and more!
WRITE FOR RIGHTS
In a world where the opinions of people are often repressed, protecting human rights, land, and the environment becomes more and more dangerous.
The world needs more people to turn their outrage into action, to invite their friends and family to participate, to get involved, and demand equality and justice from their governments.
For over 20 years, Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign has transformed the lives of people whose rights have been wronged. Using the power of their words, Write for Rights supporters have united behind a common purpose: together, we can change lives for the better.
This year, Amnesty International South Africa is putting our might behind Fikile Ntshangase – respected environmental human rights defender who was gunned down in 2020.
Intimidated, threatened and in the end, silenced – respected environmental human rights defender Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down in her home near Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal. Fikile was a vocal opponent of the expansion of mining operations in her community.
Fikile was a mother, grandmother, teacher, and respected activist who loved gardening and looking after those she cared about.
But on 22 October 2020 in the early evening, Fikile was shot six times and killed inside her home, allegedly by three hitmen known to police in the area. Her body was found by her then 13-year-old grandson.
Fikile was part of the Somkhele community, living near the Tendele coal mine, owned by Tendele Coal Mine (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Petmin. As Vice-Chairperson of a sub-committee part of the iMfolozi Community Environment Justice Organisation, a community-based organisation advocating for environmental justice in the area, she was a vocal opponent of the open coal mine and its expansion of mining operations in the area.
Those close to Fikile speak to the intimidation and threats she and other activists received following the growing opposition against Tendele Coal Mining Limited in 2016. This was due to fear that the mining venture would lead to their forced eviction and threaten their livelihoods.
Under international and national law, the South African government has an obligation to ensure the protection and safety of its people. But sadly, for many HRDs this is not always the case, leaving those who are fighting to defend their rights and those of others largely without protection. This is all too common for activists in mining-affected communities who face the brunt of the devastating impacts of mining activities.
Without accountability, we will continue to see activists threatened, intimidated, and killed. We all need to fight for justice for Fikile because if there is no accountability for her, there is no accountability for anyone.
Take action and demand those responsible for Fikile’s killing are immediately arrested and prosecuted.
School W4Rs Event
On 28 November, Adam Fairall, a member of Amnesty International South Africa and an English teacher at Reddam High School organised a school W4Rs event.
Here is what Adam had to say about the event:
Students at Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard collectively wrote letters and postcards standing in solidarity with Fikile Ntshangase the environmental activist, who in 2020 was gunned down in her home after raising concerns about the environmental impact of mining operations expansion in her community.
Altogether, about 60 letters and postcards were written in the space of an hour supporting Fikile and her family and a call to justice on their behalf to the Minister of Police Bheki Cele.
After the writing event, the students said they really enjoyed writing in support of a cause that is important and they hoped that their contribution would support Fikile’s family in attaining justice.
We are so grateful to Amnesty International South Africa for the opportunity to write for the rights of those around us who stand against humanitarian and environmental atrocities.
AI Vaal (Evaton)
The AI Vaal community chapter hosted a Write for Rights event on 26 November 2022, in honor of environmental activist, Fikile Ntshangase. The chapter invited community members as well as local groups to join the event and managed to receive 80 actions from the event.
Amnesty International South Africa’s Digital Disruptors project officially kicked off in October with 15 activists from Orange Farm and Alexandra selected to be part of the first cohort.
Check out the video below to meet these incredible activists and why disrupting GBV in their communities is important. The team have exciting activities planned for 16 Days of Activism and a creative stunt organised for the 10 December – stay tuned for more details.
Make sure to follow the Digital Disruptors on the below channels and show your support for their vision to decrease the high levels of GBV in their communities – both of which are recognised as GBV hotspots. Your support will go a long way.
Facebook: Digital disruptors
In May this year, a coalition of human rights organisations—including Amnesty International—fans groups and trade unions launched a global campaign calling on Qatar and FIFA to compensate migrant workers for human rights abuses endured to make the world cup a reality.
Our campaign has been publicly supported by multiple football associations, fans groups, and FIFA World Cup sponsors. Our global opinion poll also showed the campaign is backed by the vast majority of the public – but despite this, neither FIFA nor Qatar have yet responded.
Sign the petition here and call on Qatar and FIFA to do the right thing.
AI Vaal (Savannah) – Amalungelo Wethu Film Screening
The community chapter hosted the Amalungelo Wethu two day film screening event which took place between 12-13 November 2022 at Savannah City. The focus was educating people about human rights, GBV, climate change, teenage pregnancy as well as facilitating a space for engagement on these human rights issues and challenges faced by the community.
AI Vaal (Evaton) – Early Pregnancy
As part of their GBV and early pregnancy work, the community chapter held a youth and community discussion on early pregnancy where the aim was to provide human rights education as well as make the link between GBV and early pregnancy. The event also facilitated a space for the community members to share their GBV and early pregnancy experiences.
On 15 and 16 November 2022, AISA hosted its activist training to induct the incoming 2023 university and community chapter leaders on the organisation’s ways of working and upcoming campaigns. At the end of the training, university chapters decided that their priority youth-led campaign for 2023 would be focused on mental health while the community chapters decided to prioritise GBV and will be developing a community chapter-led campaign on the topic in 2023.
SUPPORTERS ASSEMBLY 2022
Amnesty International South Africa hosted its Supporters and Activist Assembly on 19 November 2022 where all our activists and activist groups showcased the campaigns and projects they worked on in 2022.
You can watch a recording of the Supporters Assembly here.
The assembly included a prize giving ceremony, honouring the most impactful chapters’ projects and activists in 2022.
The winners were:
Youth Activist of the Year
She is a passionate and hard-working activist and chairperson of the AI University of Cape Town chapter. Tara’s commitment has been consistent since she took over as chair and was able to mobilise and reactivate the UCT constituency for human rights action.
We recognise and celebrate Tara and wish her all the best as she moves on from UCT.
Activist of the Year
Samson is a passionate and committed leader and human rights educator who is the current AI Vaal – Evaton chapter chairperson. He has recruited hundreds of young people within the Emfuleni local municipality to join and attend initiatives led by AI Vaal on GBV, right to water and early pregnancy to name a few.
Samson’s loyalty and commitment to building the AISA movement in his community is commendable and we look forward to future projects led by Samson and the AI Vaal team.
Activist Wellbeing Survey
Would you like to contribute to making activism work more balanced with wellbeing? We really want to hear from YOU!
Amnesty International, in partnership with Greenpeace, is developing a wellbeing programme to support and protect activists as they are trying to save the world. To design this programme, we’d like to ask you a few questions.
Thanks in advance for your precious help!
The survey is open until 31 December.
YALI Regional Leadership Programme 2023
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.
The YALI Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa (RLC SA) is hosted by the University of South Africa at the Graduate School of Business Leadership in Midrand, South Africa. The RLC SA aims to create critical thinkers who can solve complex, multidisciplinary problems; foster entrepreneurial and innovative thinking, and encourage cross-border communication and multicultural collaboration.
The RLC SA develops the skills of young African leaders by providing core training in contemporary African issues, as well as specialized training in three key areas: Business and Entrepreneurship; Civic Leadership, and Public Management.
2023-2024 Judicial Fellowship Programme of the International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) invites applications from eligible universities around the world for the 2023-2024 Judicial Fellowship Programme.
The Programme was established in 1999 to enable recent law graduates to gain professional experience working at the ICJ. The Fellowship Programme aims to improve participants’ understanding of public international law and of the Court’s procedures by actively involving them in the work of the Court and allowing them to build on their experience under the supervision of a judge.
This is our last edition of YOU(th) for YOU(th) for 2022.
Thank you for your contribution to Amnesty International South Africa and to this newsletter. We look forward to engaging with all of you in the new year.
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