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    June 05, 2017

    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.

    June 04, 2017

    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.”

    June 02, 2017

    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.

    June 02, 2017

    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.

    June 02, 2017

    The increased deployment of military forces to repress protests, the rise in excessive use of force against protesters and others, and the use of military courts to try to silence dissenting voices illustrates a terrifying shift of the Venezuelan authorities’ approach to the human rights crisis wreaking havoc across the country, Amnesty International said after at least 60 people were killed in protests in the past 60 days.

    “By deploying military force and military courts to confront an increasingly tense social and political situation, the Maduro administration is only escalating the crisis, like trying to put out a fire with gasoline,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

    “The level of human rights violations and the ruthless actions by the Venezuelan authorities are reminiscent of the worst times for human rights in the Americas.”

    “By dismissing protesters as ‘terrorists’ and charging civilians with crimes only applicable to soldiers, the Maduro administration is turning this political crisis into a violent conflict. Instead, it should be listening to people’s legitimate concerns and working to find solutions.”

    May 31, 2017

    Bahrain’s dissolution of a major political opposition society is the latest troubling move in its blatant campaign to end all criticism of the government, Amnesty International said.

    The secular National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) was dissolved today after having issued a statement in February, saying that Bahrain was suffering from a “constitutional political crisis” amid continuous human rights violations. The group was subsequently charged with “advocating violence, supporting terrorism and incitement to encourage crimes and lawlessness”.

    “By banning major political opposition groups, Bahrain is now heading towards total suppression of human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office.

    “The suspension of Wa’ad is a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association, and further proof that the authorities have no intention of delivering on promises of human rights progress.”

    May 30, 2017

    A new law signed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, imposing unprecedentedly harsh restrictions on NGOs, could be a death sentence for human rights groups in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a catastrophic blow for human rights groups working in Egypt. The severity of the restrictions imposed by this law threatens to annihilate NGOs in the country, at a time when the authorities’ escalating crackdown on dissent makes their work more important than ever, said Najia Bounaim, Campaigns Director for North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “This law, which gives the government extraordinary powers to control NGOs and imposes harsh punishments and fines for any violation of its draconian provisions, is the latest ploy by the Egyptian authorities to silence all independent voices.”

    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.”

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