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Journalist/Bloggers

    March 10, 2017

    "Now I know they jailed me to teach me a lesson - and that lesson, I learnt it."
    Celebrated novelist Aslı Erdoğan

    Turkey has earned an accolade which holds no glory: according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, it is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

    Globally, one third of all imprisoned journalists, media workers and executives are in Turkey’s prisons, with the vast majority among them waiting to be brought to trial.

    Some have been languishing in prison for months. An ongoing state of emergency was declared in July, following a violent coup attempt, blamed by the President and the government on those loyal to the cleric Fethullah Gülen. Journalists have been targeted in an unprecedented crackdown on all strands of opposition media.

    Coupled with the closure of more than 160 media outlets, the message - and the resulting effect on press freedom - is clear and disturbing: the space for dissent is ever-shrinking and speaking out comes at an immeasurable cost.

    April 14, 2015

    By Ensaf Haidar, via The Washington Post

    On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.

    Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws.

    June 16, 2015

    By Sevag Kechichian, Saudi Arabia Researcher at Amnesty International

    Today, like many people around the world, I waited to find out if Raif Badawi would again be hauled out of his prison cell and mercilessly lashed another 50 times in a public square in Jeddah.

    The same suspense has gripped people for 23 weeks since the first time this act of cruelty was inflicted on the imprisoned blogger on 9 January this year. That day, a crowd of onlookers gathered in the square immediately after Friday prayers to witness this hateful spectacle.

    While flogging and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments are commonplace in Saudi Arabia, they are not necessarily carried out on Fridays and in public. There is often an air of secrecy even around the many beheadings and other executions in the country – which have seen a macabre spike since the beginning of this year.

    Amnesty International has campaigned for Raif’s release since his arrest in 2012. Since he was flogged, it joined more than a million activists, journalists and political leaders in calling for an end to the horror and for his immediate release.

    December 02, 2015

    Photojournalist, Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkan), is passionate about taking pictures. He is now paying the price for his peaceful work and faces life imprisonment.

    Police arrested Mahmoud Abu Zeid in August 2013 after he photographed security forces’ violent dispersal of street protests in Cairo. Mahmoud Abu Zeid has been in detention ever since, in violation of Egyptian law that sets the maximum period for pre-trial detention at two years. He is the only Egyptian journalist to have been held beyond the two-year cap on pre-trial detention.

    Shawkan has been referred to Cairo’s Criminal Court to face trumped-up charges in a mass trial of 738 defendants. The first court session is set for December 12, and his lawyer has yet to be given access to the full casefile. Amnesty International considers Shawkan to be a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. 

    This is his latest letter from prison:

    January 08, 2016

    Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi was released from custody on January 13. But her arrest provides further damning proof of the Saudi authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissen. One year after Raif Badawi was publicly flogged, he and many other activists across Saudi Arabia urgently need your support.

     

    by Ella Knight, Amnesty International

    A year after the international outcry over his public flogging, Raif Badawi and dozens of activists remain in prison and at risk of cruel punishments in Saudi Arabia. More and more are being sentenced under a harsh counter-terrorism law, while Saudi Arabia’s allies shamelessly back the Kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’. Join the fight back today – here are six ways you can demand action from Saudi Arabia.
     

    November 09, 2015

    Charbak* who recently escaped Bangladesh after his name appeared on several kill lists, reflects on what the recent murder of Faisal Arefin Dipon and others means for the future of free thought in Bangladesh.

    I have come to tell you this with so much helplessness, suffering and agony in my heart. The post-independence young generation of Bangladesh – my generation – who collectively dreamt of a secular homeland, has lost another one of our own. Just over a week ago, machete-wielding extremists tore Faisal Arefin Dipon’s body to pieces, tearing our dream as well.

    This time it wasn’t a blogger who was hacked down, but a publisher of secular books. So it seems that any kind of activity that facilitates free expression (not just blogging) will not be tolerated by thesegroups.

    September 25, 2015

    Media workers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are free. Just weeks after a court sentenced them to another three years in prison, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has cut short the rest of their sentences and released them under a presidential pardon.

    For more than a year and a half they have been persecuted by Egyptian authorities – forced to endure two drawn-out, politically-motivated trials and months in prison – simply for their work for news channel Al Jazeera English.

    Their release is very welcome news, although they should never have been jailed for the ludicrous charges of ‘broadcasting false news’ and operating as journalists without authorisation. We continue to call on Egyptian authorities to drop all criminal charges against them and their colleague Peter Greste.

    June 04, 2015
    Gao Yu journalist and prisoner of conscience

    By William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. On twitter @williamnee

    26 years have passed since the tragic days in 1989 when thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters were brutally repressed in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

    But even though the tanks have long left the city’s infamous square, President Xi Jinping, appears as determined to quash anyone perceived as challenging the Communist Party’s hegemony.

    When President Xi took office in late 2012, he declared power would be put “in a cage”, but it is the independently minded academics, journalists, lawyers, and rights activists that have been thrown in jail.

    We are witnessing one of the darkest periods for freedom of expression in China since the bloodshed of 1989.

    April 29, 2015

    In the lead up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, the parents of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was recently released from prison in Egypt, remain concerned about his colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy.

    As we proudly watched our son Peter Greste finally speak outside the Tora fortress that had been his prison for more than a year, addressing an audience filled with politicians and journalists at the National Press Club in Canberra, our pride couldn’t help be tinged by the knowledge this freedom couldn’t be shared by his Al Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed and Baher.

    These welcoming faces felt a long way from June 2014, when Peter, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, the ‘Al Jazeera three’ as they’d become known, were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges of broadcasting false news and aiding the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This nightmare had followed their arrest on the 29th of December, 2013, for simply doing their jobs and was without a doubt the lowest point in the campaign to have all three released.

    April 30, 2015

    When 12 people working at the satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo were gunned down at their offices in central Paris in January, the world woke up to the grim reality of the threats thousands of media professionals face daily.

    The global campaigns of support for the magazine’s work sent the unequivocal message that no one should pay with their lives the price of exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    But behind this single story that dominated the international news headlines are thousands of media professionals who, in every corner of the world, are harassed, intimidated, threatened, tortured and unfairly jailed by governments and armed groups in a vile attempt to prevent them from holding up a mirror to society.

    In countries such as Mexico and Pakistan, owning a press card is so dangerous that many media professionals end up quitting their jobs altogether, out of utter fear.

    According to Reporters without Borders, 22 journalists and media workers have been killed and more than 160 have been imprisoned in 2015 alone. Nearly 100 media professionals were killed because of their work in 2014.

    January 23, 2015

     By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.

    The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.

    “What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.

    The answer is not simple.  

    Since taking the throne in 2005, King Abdullah initiated some positive reforms.

    Women, for example, have slowly been included in the Shura Council, a powerless consultative body to advise the King, and incorporated into the workforce – with some being allowed to work in courts as lawyers.

    The late King is credited for opening a dozen new universities and providing thousands of Saudi Arabian citizens with generous scholarships to study abroad. He also initiated seemingly ambitious judicial reforms that have not really gone anywhere.  

    He even decreed the founding of a formal National Human Rights Commission and allowed the establishment of a supposedly independent human rights organization.

    But that’s where the good news ends.

    January 19, 2015

    Guest writer: Verity Stevenson, in a special to the Globe and Mail
     

    Ensaf Haidar stood beside the kitchen table, urging her three children to eat. Newspapers featuring her husband’s face on the front were spread in the spaces between three pizza boxes, and a banner covering most of the wall showed him as well, with several dozen signatures of those who attended a #FreeRaif vigil in Montreal.
     

    January 17, 2015

    Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnistie Internationale Canada francophone, gives a snapshot of some of the widespread global campaigning for Raif Badawi. Raif has been sentenced to ten years and 1,000 lashes after starting a website for public debate in Saudi Arabia.

    When the vigil in Montreal ended, we were all frozen to the bone. It was a gorgeous day, but to motivate activists and supporters to stay outdoors for over an hour in -20 degree temperatures, you have to be creative.

    Motivating them to come in the first place wasn’t that hard – I could see the energy and the anger in their faces. They were outraged at what was happening to Raif Badawi, and they wanted to act. Another reason to attend: standing beside me, upright, silent and proud, small in stature but great in spirit, was Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has taken refuge in Quebec along with their three children. Together, we our determined to reunite this family.

    January 09, 2015

    An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been named for security reasons.

    When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today.

    They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew. But no one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray?

    August 26, 2014
    James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world”
    Syria is a Dangerous Place for Journalists – But Here’s Why We Need Them There

    by Geoffrey Mock, Egypt country specialist and chair of the Middle East County Specialist, Amnesty USA.

    After three years of the Syrian uprising, it often appears like the world is tuning out. Deaths continue on a daily basis, some 9 million Syrians are listed by the U.N. as either refugees or internally displaced people, but the situation is sliding out of attention on news broadcasts, in newspaper headlines and popular attention.

    This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

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