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Troy Davis's sister succumbs to cancer

December 4th, 2011

Mary Shaw

On December 1, Martina Davis Correia lost her long battle with breast cancer. Correia was the sister of Troy Davis, who was executed by the state of Georgia on September 21 amidst worldwide protest.

Georgia went ahead with the Davis execution despite compelling evidence suggesting that he was innocent of the murder for which he was convicted. Davis's original trial was flawed. Most of the witnesses have since recanted or contradicted their stories, with many claiming that they had been pressured or coerced by police. And there was no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime. His conviction was based solely on that questionable testimony by witnesses.

Despite her own medical concerns, Correia fought tirelessly for justice in her brother's case, and against the death penalty in general. Correia was chair of the Steering Committee for the Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, and served for 11 years as AIUSA's death penalty abolition coordinator for Georgia. In 2010, Amnesty's Irish section presented Correia with the Sean McBride Award for Outstanding Contributions to Human Rights. She was an inspiration to those of us in the human rights community who knew her, or knew of her.

Curt Goering, chief executive officer for AIUSA, issued the following statement upon the news of Correia's death:

"Our hearts are breaking over the loss of this extraordinary woman. She fought to save her brother's life with courage, strength, and determination, every step of the way. She was a powerful example of how one person can make a difference as she led the fight for justice for Troy Davis, even as she endured her own decade-long battle with cancer. And despite the terrible blow of his execution, she remained brave and defiant to the core of her being, stating her conviction that one day his death would be the catalyst for ending the death penalty. Even as Martina's health failed, she was making plans to continue her work against the death penalty in her brother's memory, as he urged his supporters to do just before he was put to death. She was a tenacious fighter, a graceful inspiration to activists everywhere, and a true hero of the movement for human rights. At this sorrowful time, we at Amnesty International offer our profound sympathy to her family."

RIP, Martina Davis Correia.

May her legacy live on and touch many more lives.

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail: mary@maryshawonline.com

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