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    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.”

    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.”

     

    April 07, 2017

    Iranian journalist Hengameh Shahidi is in a critical condition in Tehran’s Evin prison. She has been on hunger strike in protest at her arrest on 9 March. She has a heart condition and is refusing her medication. She is being held in solitary confinement and has been denied access to a lawyer.

     

    The health of journalist and political activist Hengameh Shahidi, aged 41, has seriously deteriorated since she went on hunger strike on 9 March 2017 in protest at her arbitrary arrest the same day. She has a pre-existing heart condition, for which she was previously hospitalized, and needs ongoing medical care, including medication. Her heart condition is exacerbated when she is under stress. At the beginning of April, she stopped taking her medication and is also refusing intravenous fluids.

    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.  

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