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Freedom of Expression

    May 23, 2017

    The Bahraini security forces used excessive force against protesters in the village of Duraz, the majority of whom were peaceful, as part of an ongoing crack down on the village which has been under siege by the authorities for 11 months, according to evidence uncovered by Amnesty International.

    At least one person has been killed and hundreds injured as security forces fired birdshot from shotguns and teargas against protesters. According to Amnesty’s sources, during the violent clashes, the houses surrounding that of leading Shi’a spiritual leader Sheikh Issa Qassem were raided and people inside arrested.

    “Today’s disturbing developments again show the consequences of rampant impunity enjoyed by the security forces. There must be a prompt, independent investigation and those responsible for unlawful killing and other arbitrary or abusive force must be prosecuted. The authorities must rein in the security forces, order that they strictly comply with international standards on police use of force, and ensure the right to peaceful protest is protected,” said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns, Middle East at Amnesty International

    May 22, 2017

    The dismissal of more than 100,000 Turkish public sector workers is arbitrary and has had a catastrophic impact on their lives and livelihoods, a new report published by Amnesty International reveals.

    No end in sight: Purged public sector workers denied a future in Turkey finds that tens of thousands of people including doctors, police officers, teachers, academics and soldiers, branded as ‘terrorists’ and banned from public service, are now struggling to make ends meet.

    “The shockwaves of Turkey’s post-coup attempt crackdown continue to devastate the lives of a vast number of people who have not only lost their jobs but have had their professional and families lives shattered,” Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey.

    “Tainted as ‘terrorists’ and stripped of their livelihoods, a large swathe of people in Turkey are no longer able to continue in their careers and have had alternative employment opportunities blocked.”

    May 16, 2017

    The killing of a journalist in Mexico - the fifth such incident this year -highlights the alarming situation of freedom of expression in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Javier Valdez Cárdenas, founder of Río Doce media and reporter for La Jornada and El Noroeste, was shot dead a few metres away from his office in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa. Javier was known for his work covering organized crime and drug trafficking. In 2011, he received an international prize for press freedom from the Committee to Protect Journalists. This is the second assassination of a journalist from La Jornada in 2017.

    “Being a journalist in Mexico seems more like a death sentence than a profession. The continuing bloodshed that the authorities prefer to ignore has created a deep void that is damaging the right to freedom of expression in the country,” said Tania Reneaum, director of Amnesty International Mexico.

    May 11, 2017

    Russian authorities have blatantly misused the criminal justice system, including draconian anti-extremist legislation, in a show trial against blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky, said Amnesty International today.



    A court in Yekaterinburg today gave the 22-year-old blogger a three-and-a-half year suspended prison sentence for “inciting hatred” and “offending believers’ feelings”. He was arrested in September 2016 for playing Pokémon Go in a cathedral in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals.

    “While some may see Ruslan Sokolovsky’s comments on religion as disparaging, this alone is not enough to convict him. Sokolovsky came to the attention of the authorities only when he publicly challenged absurdly harsh Russian legislation that criminalized offending believers’ feelings,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

    May 10, 2017

    The release of Xie Yang on bail does not represent a break in China’s relentless crackdown against human rights lawyers, Amnesty International said today.

    Xie Yang was tried in Changsha City Intermediate People’s Court in southern China on 8 May for “inciting subversion of state power” and “disrupting court order” and apparently released on bail even though a verdict has not been announced.

    “This unusual sequence of events does nothing to alleviate the concerns about torture in this case,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International. “While it is a relief that Xie Yang is no longer in detention, it doesn’t diminish the fact that he should never have been arrested in the first place.”

    “While on bail, Xie Yang is likely to experience constant surveillance and severe restrictions to his freedom of movement as we have witnessed in other such cases,” said Patrick Poon. “Such tactics appear to be the authorities’ modus operandi against those defending human rights.”

    The court announced the trial would be broadcast on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, only approximately 20 minutes before it began.

    May 05, 2017

    Over 20 leading organizations ask government to enact panel recommendations on freedom of speech for charities and income tax law reform

    May 03, 2017

    Today, World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an open letter to make "a personal, public call" for Saudi authorities to immediately release Raif Bedawi who, on June 17th, will have spent 5 years unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

    Mr. Badawi has been sentenced to a ten-year prison term, a prohibitive one million riyal fine, and a ten-year travel ban. He was also sentenced to a cruel punishment of 1,000 lashes, to be meted out 50 at a time in public flogging sessions. Amnesty International considers Badawi to be a prisoner of conscience, targeted because of his blogging and because he established a website that encouraged open discussion about issues related to human rights, equality and other important social issues.

    May 02, 2017

    Top journalists, cartoonists and world-renowned artists have joined a campaign to demand the release of more than 120 journalists jailed in Turkey following last summer’s coup attempt and an end to the ruthless crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

    The campaign, which has attracted 250,000 supporters since February, will see protests in cities around the world timed to coincide with World Press Freedom Day and the publication of an Amnesty International briefing, Journalism is not a crime: Crackdown on media freedom.

    “A large swathe of Turkey’s independent journalists are languishing behind bars, held for months on end without trial, or facing prosecution on the basis of vague anti-terrorism laws,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “Today our thoughts are with all journalists who are imprisoned or facing threats and reprisals, but our particular focus is on Turkey where free expression is being ruthlessly muzzled. We call on Turkey’s authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists jailed simply for doing their job.”

    May 02, 2017

    The Bangladeshi government has not only failed to protect dissenting voices or hold accountable the armed groups that threaten them, it has also stifled freedom of expression through a slew of repressive tactics and new laws, according to a new Amnesty International report published today.

    The report, Caught between fear and repression: Attacks on freedom of expression in Bangladesh, documents how armed groups have thrived in a climate of impunity, carrying out a high-profile spate of killings of secular bloggers with few consequences. In four years, only a single case has resulted in convictions.

    Activists also regularly receive death threats, forcing some of them to leave the country for their own safety, while the authorities have refused to offer them protection.

    Over the last year, the Bangladeshi government has also intensified its crackdown on public debate and criticism, harassing media workers, interfering with their work, and bringing criminal charges against them under draconian laws.

    April 12, 2017

    Responding to a government warning that anyone who follows, contacts, or shares posts online with three prominent critics - historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, journalist and author Andrew MacGregor Marshall, and former diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun - will be prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The Thai authorities have plunged to fresh depths in restricting people’s freedoms of expression. After imprisoning people for what they say both online and offline, and hounding critics into exile, they want to cut people off from each other altogether.

    “The move doesn’t reveal strength, but a weakness and fear of criticism. In its determination to silence all dissent, the Thai authorities are resorting to extreme measures that brazenly flout international human rights law.

    “In March, the UN Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the severe and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression, including the Computer Crimes Act. Rather than drawing lessons from the criticism, they are pressing ahead with their repressive tactics.”

     

    December 15, 2016

                                       

    Armoured vehicle sales, forgotten residential school survivors, Bangladeshi climate refugees and Tanzanian girls fleeing FGM are among the human rights issues recently explored by Canadian journalists. Today, journalists who have pursued these stories, are recognized as winners of the 2016 Amnesty International Canada Media Awards.

    March 31, 2017
    The Chinese authorities’ relentless attack on human rights activists continues as two supporters of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests became the latest to be convicted, Amnesty International said, as it called for their immediate and unconditional release.   A court in Foshan city, southern China, on Friday sentenced women’s rights activist Su Changlan to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. The court also sentenced fellow activist Chen Qitang to four-and-a-half years in prison on the same charge. Both have been detained since October 2014 after they expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, and time served will count towards their sentences.    “It is completely callous for the Chinese authorities to condemn Su Changlan and Chen Qitang to even one more day in jail,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International.  
    March 30, 2017
    Spokespeople available Journalists urged to support #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign

    As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Turkey to meet with President Erdoğan and others in Ankara today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “During his visit, Secretary of State Tillerson cannot ignore the fact that Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists. Nor should he overlook the plight of the more than 100,000 public sector employees, dismissed after the coup and the estimated half-a-million people displaced amid military operations and curfews in the south-east.”

    “He should urge President Erdoğan to release journalists currently being held on pre-trial detention and call for an end to the ongoing crackdown against perceived government critics. Failure to do so sends the wrong message about the need to respect human rights and is a missed opportunity to remind the Turkish authorities that journalism is not a crime.”

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