A message from Kumi Naidoo

A message to Amnesty International Australia members from Secretary General Kumi Naidoo.

Dear Friends at Amnesty International Australia,

I’m Kumi Naidoo and, as some of you know, I joined Amnesty International as Secretary General in August this year. I’m sorry I could not join you in person for your annual general meeting but I wanted to send a short message in solidarity as you meet this year.

I take up the leadership of Amnesty at a time when the world is facing incredibly complex challenges. In response, I believe our global movement needs to be bigger, bolder and more inclusive, if we are to tackle the challenges that people face today.

I deeply admire all of the tireless work you are doing in Australia. Policies of offshore detention and separation of families in response to people seeking asylum are horrendous and deserve our continued focus. Furthermore, we need to continue to be a voice for the most vulnerable people in Australia, particularly Indigenous communities. I had the opportunity to attend the Garma festival several years ago and was deeply inspired by what Indigenous Peoples themselves in Australia are doing to advance their human rights. I am shocked to learn of the disproportionate rates of incarceration of Indigenous youth and reports that children are being held in solitary confinement.

Australia’s election to the UN Human Rights Council provides an important avenue for our advocacy for it to improve its own human rights record. Please don’t underestimate the impact that each and every one of you have in our fight for justice and equality for all. As a lifelong activist it is my belief that the struggle for justice is not determined by the big sacrifices of the few but the modest sacrifices of the many. Your work campaigning, supporting and developing supporters, raising funds and keeping our systems ticking over in this incredibly complex movement are invaluable. Activism takes many forms and every contribution is precious.

I look forward to visiting Australia soon, hopefully in 2019, and meeting all of you. I wish you an energising annual general meeting and I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of your deliberations. Thank you very much.