Freedom of Expression
The government of Tanzania should end its hostile rhetoric toward civil society groups and threats to obstruct their work, 18 national and international nongovernmental organizations said today. The comments have targeted groups helping pregnant girls finish their education and those working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
The organizations shared the concerns raised in a joint statement by 25 Tanzanian organizations reaffirming their support for re-entry to school for adolescent mothers.
The Bangladesh authorities must make every effort to trace the whereabouts of and recover a prominent writer who has been abducted and may have been subject to an enforced disappearance, Amnesty International said today.
Farhad Mazhar, a prominent columnist, poet and political analyst, was taken from outside his home at approximately 5am this morning by a group of unidentified people. Half an hour later, his wife, Farida Akhtar, received a haunting phone call from Farhad, when he is reported to have told her: “They are taking me away, I’m afraid they will kill me.”
“The Bangladesh authorities must make every effort to locate Farhad Mazhar, bring him back to safety and hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.
“Far too many people have gone missing in Bangladesh over recent years without any further news of their fate. The government must end impunity for these abuses.”
Hong Kong’s political leaders must show they are prepared to fiercely resist pressure from President Xi Jinping to further erode human rights in the city, Amnesty International said, as the Chinese President arrived to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.
“Hong Kong’s political leaders need to step up and show they won’t bend to Beijing’s pressure. They must be prepared to defend the city’s cherished human rights and freedoms and the rule of law that were guaranteed as part of the handover deal,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.
Carrie Lam, who will be sworn in as Hong Kong’s new chief executive this weekend, has so far shown no appetite to stand up to Beijing when it comes to human rights.
There are reports banners critical of the Chinese government will be removed by police during President’s Xi visit to avoid causing “embarrassment”.
Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi was detained on June 17, 2012 and sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. He was also sentenced to a cruel and inhuman punishment of 1,000 lashes. On January 9, 2015 he received the first 50 of these in a public square in Jeddah.
#FreeRaif - 5 Years
10 years in prison. 1000 lashes for writing words of peace. Today marks 5 years since Raif Badawi's arrest, and his children have a message for Saudi Arabia. ACT NOW! Join their demand to #FreeRaif >> http://amn.st/61818mLd3
Posted by Amnesty International Canada on Saturday, 17 June 2017
Lesotho’s newly elected government must act swiftly to ensure accountability for past human rights violations and end the spike in abuses recorded in recent years, Amnesty International said today.
The organization is releasing a human rights agenda today for the new government ahead of the inauguration of the incoming Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, on 16 June.
“For the past few years, Lesotho has been characterized by a political and security crisis, resulting in a spike in human rights violations. Since 2014, we have documented a pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions of opposition party members, journalists, human rights defenders and members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF),” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
The Egyptian authorities have shifted their onslaught against media freedom to the digital sphere, blocking access to more than 40 news sites without justification in recent weeks, in an attempt to eliminate the country’s last remaining spaces for criticism and free expression, said Amnesty International.
The passing of a law stigmatising non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive foreign funding is the latest in an escalating crackdown on critical voices and will hamper critically important work by civil society groups, said Amnesty international.
The Law on the transparency of organizations funded from abroad will force NGOs receiving more than 24,000 EUR direct or indirect funding from abroad to re-register as “civic organization funded from abroad” and to put this pejorative label on every publication.
“Threadbare attempts to disguise this law as being necessary to protect national security cannot hide its real purpose: to stigmatize, discredit and intimidate critical NGOs and hamper their vital work,” said said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe.
“This latest assault on civil society is aimed at silencing critical voices within the country, has ominous echoes of Russian’s draconian ‘foreign agents’ law, and is a dark day for Hungary.”
The Turkish prosecution’s decision to charge Taner Kiliç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, with “membership of a terrorist organisation” is a mockery of justice, and highlights the devastating impact of the Turkish authorities’ crackdown following the failed coup attempt in July last year, Amnesty International said today.
Taner Kiliç became the latest victim of the government’s sweeping purge after he was detained in the early hours of Tuesday on suspicion of involvement with the Fethullah Gülen movement, together with 22 other lawyers based in Izmir. At his court hearing in the western Turkish city today, he was charged with membership of the “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation” and remanded in pre-trial detention. Amnesty International is demanding his immediate and unconditional release.
Responding to the news that Taner Kiliç, the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey, was today detained by police along with 22 other lawyers in Izmir on suspicion of having links with the Fethullah Gülen movement, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:
“The fact that Turkey’s post-coup purge has now dragged the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey into its web is further proof of just how far it has gone and just how arbitrary it has become. Taner Kiliç has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling.
“In the absence of credible and admissible evidence of their involvement in internationally recognized crimes, we are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kiliç along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them.”
The conviction of Natalya Sharina, former Director of the state-run Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, for holding ‘extremist books’ demonstrates utter contempt for the rule of law and highlights flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary, said Amnesty International today.
Natalya Sharina was found guilty of ‘inciting hatred’ and ‘embezzlement’ and handed a four years suspended sentence by the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow. She was arrested in October 2015 after works by Ukrainian nationalist Dmytro Korchynsky were found in an unindexed pile of books in the library she headed. Korchynsky’s works are officially banned in Russia and the books were defined as ‘extremist’ and ‘anti-Russian propaganda’ by the prosecutor.
“This highly politicized case runs totally counter to justice, and highlights serious flaws in the independence of Russia’s judiciary. Natalya Sharina should not have been prosecuted, still less convicted,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.
By William Nee, China Researcher Amnesty International
History. Few words are more important, or even sacred, to Chinese culture. China prides itself on having a rich history and illustrious culture that goes back 5,000 years.
And yet, when it comes to the treatment of history, China’s ruling Communist Party suffers from a case of Orwellian “double think” – holding two mutually contradictory ideas at the same time without recognizing the contradiction.
On the world stage, Chinese leaders boldly assert that history should be viewed objectively, and all parties should acknowledge past human rights violations, no matter how painful it may be to do so.
When responding to a bilateral agreement between the governments of Japan and South Korea in December 2015 concerning the sexual slavery system of Japan’s Imperial Army before and during World War II, Chinese authorities noted people needed a “…full and objective picture of that part of history and [to) stop the tragedy from repeating itself.”
The Colombian government must halt its excessive use of force against protestors taking part in the general strike in Buenaventura, Amnesty International said today.
“Instead of trying to silence the communities of Buenaventura, the Colombian authorities should protect residents and focus on responding to their demands given the critical levels of violence and exclusion suffered by the people who live in Colombia’s Pacific region,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Programme Director.
Communities in the port of Buenaventura declared a general strike on 16 May in protest at the government’s continuing failure to respond to their demands for economic, social and cultural rights, including health, drinking water and education.
The communities denounced the excessive use of violence by the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD) against those participating in the general strike in the city of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca.
Local NGO Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN) has reported the unjustified use of tear gas against peaceful demonstrators, including children and elderly and disabled people.
The Moroccan authorities have carried out a chilling wave of arrests rounding up scores of protesters, activists and bloggers in the Rif, northern Morocco, over the past week following months of protests demanding an end to marginalization of communities and better access to services in the region, said Amnesty International.
Some of those detained have been denied prompt access to their lawyers in police custody. In some cases lawyers who were able to see their clients in court in Al Hoceima said they bore visible injuries and reported being beaten upon arrest. There are also fears that peaceful protesters and bloggers covering the protests on social media could be among those facing trial and potential state security-related charges.