Banned Book Week U.S.A.: Think globally, act globally

You can bring BBW and human rights into your library by making use of petitions that Steve Marquardt has created from Amnesty International case statements about six individuals imprisoned -- and one victim murdered -- because of what they dared to write.

As a sample, the text for the Myanmar (Burma) case is pasted immediately after his signature below.

Petitions usually cannot be attached to listservs, but if the information below and on the Amnesty web site is of interest to you, let Steve know and he'll send the petitions directly. Already he has 60 librarians and human rights activists around the USA making use of these resources.

It's a great way to inform citizens and students of the real dangers faced by persons in other lands for the usual expressive activities that we take for granted in the USA. It's not only books that need defending -- in too many countries it's authors, bloggers, journalists, etc., who also must be defended.

FOR BACKGROUND case descriptions, posters and more info, GO TO Amnesty International's web site -- http://www.amnestyusa.org/Individuals_at_Risk/Banned_Books/page.do?id=1101492&n1=3&n2=34&n3=842
or simply Google "Amnesty International Banned Books Week" to get there -- where in the right hand sidebar you'll find the following useful links:

  • "2007 Cases" -- Full descriptions of each of the five appeals for 2007.
  • "DOWNLOADS, Case Sheets" to take to a print shop (Office Max, Kinkos) to enlarge and laminate into postable posters.
  • Poster graphics that also can be blown up and posted.
  • "Overview & recent examples," which contains past cases and a useful BIBLIOGRAPHY of Banned Books Week readings.

Whether you use these human rights resources or not, have a successful Banned Books Week!

For more information, contact:
Steve Marquardt
South Dakota State University Dean of Libraries Emeritus
Amnesty International Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota
9383 123rd Avenue SE
Lake Lillian, Minnesota 56253-4700
(320) 664-4231

SAMPLE PETITION TEXT:

Dear Senior General:

We wish to bring to your attention prisoner of conscience Ko Aung Htun, also known as Aung Htun or Aung Tun, who was imprisoned during 1990-1995 for organizing student demonstrations against military rule. After his release, he wrote a seven-volume history of the student movement in Myanmar, reportedly enlisting the assistance of U Thar Ban and Dr Maung Maung Kyaw, who were also previously imprisoned former student activists at various stages of Burmese history, who reportedly provided him with photographs and papers for the history.

They all were re-arrested in February 1998 during a crackdown by authorities on political opponents. U Thar Ban and Dr. Maung Maung Kyaw were sentenced to 7 years' imprisonment and reportedly were released in 2005. Ko Aung Htun, sentenced to a total of 17 years' imprisonment, was reportedly tortured while interrogated in 1990 and again in 1998, and his health has suffered as a result.

The legislation under which the group was sentenced has been used regularly to silence freedom of expression in Myanmar and to imprison critics of the government. This legislation circumscribes rights and freedoms more than is necessary to preserve security. Amnesty International has therefore called on Myanmar authorities to review all legislation that is being used to criminalize peaceful dissent and freedom of assembly, expression and association, and we ask the authorities to revoke or amend laws as necessary to ensure conformity with international standards.

We appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of Ko Aung Htun and all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.

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