Break the Chain Save Amina Lawal

Created 10/21/2002 (5/6/2003) This is not the first case of a Nigerian woman being sentenced to death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock in recent months. But, with global human rights advocates protesting more loudly with each subsequent case, chain letters like this are growing in popularity.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Subject: Amnesty International

Take 60 Seconds to Help Save A Life

Please sign for Amnesty International if you agree.

You may have heard the story about the Nigerian woman sentenced to death for having a child out of wedlock. She will be buried up to her neck. Then her punishers will surround her and throw rocks at her head until her skull is crushed and she dies a painful and horrible death.

I have attached the link to the Amnesty International site. On the right-hand side, there is a letter to the Nigerian president which you can sign. The woman has 30 days to appeal against her sentence. It takes less than one minute to sign the letter.

Please forward this on to all your friends -- hopefully the power of numbers can help this woman.
http://www.mertonai.org/amina/

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

On March 22, 2002, a Muslim Shari'ah court in northern Nigeria sentenced thirty-year-old Amina Lawal to death by stoning for adultery, citing her pregnancy out of wedlock as adequate evidence. On August 19, an appeals court upheld the conviction, despite global opposition. Lawal's attorney filed another appeal.

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Immediately following her conviction, the Merton (U.K.) chapter of Amnesty International launched the very popular petition campaign cited above. On September 30, 2002, they delivered their petition with 1.3 million signatures to Nigerian ambassadors to the U.K. They are no longer collecting signatures, though they are planning another campaign when Amina Lawal's case comes up for appeal.

In the fall of 2002, another chain letter on the subject asked you to visit Oprah Winfrey's web site and participate through a link there. Oprah did discuss Amina Lawal's case on her show October 4, 2002, but that link is no longer active.

On October 29, 2001, the Nigerian national government took a hard-line stance on northern states' Islamic courts carrying out stonings and other capital punishments, stating that such sentences were not allowed under the country's constitution. Federal courts will address each case on appeal rather than try to force northern states to change their laws. Human Rights Activists fear this won't be enough.

Her appeal was to be March 25, 2003, but was rescheduled for June 3, because only three of the tribunal's required five members were available. The appeal and its delay have prompted another well-meaning petition drive, this time via Amnesty International's Spanish chapter:

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Dear Friends,

I have just learned that the Nigerian supreme court has upheld the death sentence for Amina Lawal, who was condemned for the crime of adultery. She is to be buried up to her neck and stoned to death. Her death has been postponed for one month so that she can continue to nurse her baby.

Amina's case is being handled by the Spanish branch of Amnesty International, which is attempting to put together enough signatures to make the Nigerian government rescind the death sentence. (A similar campaign saved another Nigerian woman, Safiya, condemned in similar circumstances.)

The petition has so far (as of April 7th) amassed over 4,100,000 signatures. It will only take you a few seconds to sign Amnesty's online petition.

Go to the web page http://www.amnistiaporsafiya.org/ enter your first name in the space marked 'nombre', last name ('apellidos'), county/state ('provincia'), and country from the drop down box - choose Reino Unido (UK), Estados Unidos (USA), or whichever is appropriate. Then click on 'Seguir' and go to the second page. There you have the option of entering your email address if you wish to receive follow-up information. In any case, be sure to click on 'aceptar' to have your name added to the petition list.

Please sign the petition now, then forward this message to everyone in your address book.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Amnesty International is adamant about staying out of the judicial process as long as Lawal's right to legal representation, appeal and a fair trial are being respected, which they believe are. However, they maintain their call for the Federal government of Nigeria to "abolish the death penalty and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments at all level of the Nigerian legislation, including the Sharia penal legislation." They are calling upon those concerned to write Nigerian national authorities and "reiterate AI's concerns about punishments under Sharia penal legislation, such as the sentence to death on Amina Lawal, which breaches the international human rights instruments signed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

BreakTheChain.org recommends against signing any online petition (no matter how true or noble) or giving your personal information to any third party to act on your behalf. Amnesty International recommends personally written correspondence to officials because it will likely hold more power than a list of names and e-mail addresses. The Amnesty International campaign is well-designed and well-supported. However, as with all current-events-related chains, check that the link is still active before you forward it to friends, since it could be pulled at any time in response to developments in the case. Break this Chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: Amnesty International, Associated Press

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