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    May 06, 2011

    Human rights activists seen to be involved in pro-reform protests in Syria have been forced into hiding after receiving threats from Syrian authorities, Amnesty International said today as a “Day of Defiance” took place around the country.

    Syrian authorities heightened security measures ahead of today’s protests, leading to several protester deaths and the detention of a key opposition activist.

    “Given recent events, Syrian human rights and political activists have cause to fear for their lives and liberty, and a number have gone into hiding after receiving threats,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Syrian security forces have killed hundreds and arrested many more during and after protests. This campaign of violence and intimidation must cease and human rights defenders must be allowed to carry on their work without fear for their personal safety.”

    Amnesty International has learned of several prominent human rights and political activists who have recently been forced into hiding.

    May 05, 2011

    Authorities in China must clarify the current status and reveal the whereabouts of a lawyer and a journalist who have gone missing in the past week, Amnesty International said today as a clampdown on activists appeared to be widening.

    Li Xiongbing, a prominent Beijing human rights lawyer known for taking on politically sensitive cases, has been missing since yesterday after he was telephoned by police.

    Zhang Jialong, 23, a former Caijing magazine journalist who has covered the detention of acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei, went missing on 28 April after reportedly being approached by a person claiming to represent Beijing police.

    “The sudden disappearance of these activists is alarming; the authorities must immediately provide clarification as to Li Xiongbing and Zhang Jialong’s whereabouts. If they have been detained for their legitimate human rights work, they must be released,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

    May 04, 2011

     The Bahraini government must end its relentless crackdown on human rights, Amnesty International said today after the country's parliament voted to extend a repressive state of emergency amid continued arrests of dissidents.

    "The Bahraini authorities must stop detaining anyone who opposes them and release protesters who have been locked up for peacefully demanding reform," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "Even since the protests on the streets were violently crushed in mid-March the government's persecution of dissidents has not abated, while the renewal of the so-called 'State of National Safety' will only exacerbate this human rights crisis."

    Bahraini media reported that members of parliament yesterday voted overwhelmingly to extend the “State of National Safety” for another three months, even though it is not due to expire for another six weeks.

    Emergency law had been used to arrest without judicial warrant and detain incommunicado protesters and political activists, as well as to try civilians before military courts.

    May 04, 2011

    Kyrgyzstan’s authorities must urgently investigate and prosecute those responsible for human rights violations during unrest in June 2010, Amnesty International said today after an international commission of inquiry found that the violence amounted to crimes against humanity.

    Four days of violent clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the south of the country left around 470 people dead, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced.  

    Despite having cooperated with the commission’s investigation, the Kyrgyzstani government has rejected the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission’s finding that crimes against humanity were committed.

    “This report is comprehensive and constructive, and the Kyrgyzstani authorities cannot afford to ignore its findings,” said Nicola Duckworth, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.  

    “They must ensure that the crimes that took place are properly investigated and prosecuted in accordance with their qualification under international law. The international community must both push and support the Kyrgyzstani authorities to do this.”

    May 03, 2011

     Amnesty International has received first-hand reports of torture and other ill-treatment from detainees held in Syria as a wave of arrests of anti-government protesters intensified over the weekend.

    Detainees who were recently released told the organization of beatings and harsh conditions in detention, raising fears for the safety of hundreds of others being held, including at least 499 people who were arrested on Sunday in house-to-house raids in the southern town of Dera’a.

    “These disturbing new accounts of detainees being tortured further underscore the need for President Bashar al-Assad to put an end to his security forces’ violent onslaught against his own people,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The use of unwarranted lethal force, arbitrary detention and torture appear to be the desperate actions of a government that is intolerant of dissent and must be halted immediately. Syrians must be allowed to voice their calls for change peacefully.”

    May 03, 2011

    Amnesty International has published satellite imagery and new testimony that shed light on the horrific conditions in North Korea’s network of political prison camps, which hold an estimated 200,000 people.

    The images reveal the location, size and conditions inside the camps. Amnesty International spoke to a number of people, including former inmates from the political prison camp at Yodok as well as guards in other political prison camps, to obtain information about life in the camps.

    According to former detainees at the political prison camp at Yodok, prisoners are forced to work in conditions approaching slavery and are frequently subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. All the detainees at Yodok have witnessed public executions.

    “North Korea can no longer deny the undeniable. For decades the authorities have refused to admit to the existence of mass political prison camps,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International Asia Pacific Director.

    April 30, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities must abolish a recent law criminalizing peaceful protests and strikes, Amnesty International said ahead of tomorrow’s planned protests for International Workers’ Day in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.


    The organization called for workers’ rights to be protected, as protesters gather to demand the lifting of restrictions on forming trade unions, the introduction of an adequate minimum wage and the reinstatement of co-workers dismissed for their trade union activities.

     

    April 28, 2011

    The arrest of six civil society activists and the government’s takeover of a rights organization in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are part of a worrying clampdown on dissent in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Five of the activists were among more than 100 signatories of a recent petition calling for democratic reforms in the UAE, according to local media reports.

    At the same time, a lawyer for three of the detainees has said that he has received anonymous threats via Facebook and by way of text messages.

    The UAE authorities also dissolved the board of the Jurists Association, a leading civil rights organization after it joined a call for greater democracy alongside three other civil society organizations. Board members have been replaced with state-appointees for a six-month period.

    “These recent arrests and the government’s takeover of the Jurists Association fly in the face of international standards on freedom of expression, assembly and association,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.

    April 28, 2011

    Amnesty International has called for an urgent independent investigation into an attack yesterday by armed men believed to be affiliated to security forces which left at least 12 protesters dead in the capital, Sana'a.

    Men in plainclothes reportedly fired at protesters as they marched past the May 22 Stadium in the capital Sana'a. Men described as ‘thugs’ also attacked protesters with batons.

    A 14-year-old boy, Abdulrahman Muhammad al-Okairi, was among those killed. Scores of other protestors were injured.

    "If real reform is to take place in Yemen, the current spiral of violence must be brought to an end and those responsible for killings such as those committed yesterday must be brought to justice," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "Disturbingly, this is one of the deadliest attacks seen in Yemen in over a month and may have been intended to undermine plans to strike a political deal that will see President Saleh stand down and bring an end to the killings on the streets."

    April 26, 2011

    The UN Security Council must refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International said today, amid escalating government violence against protesters calling for reform.

    The call comes as the Security Council considers its response to the brutal crackdown that has left some 400 people dead since mid-March.

    “The Syrian government is clearly trying to shatter the will of those peacefully expressing dissent by shelling them, firing on them and locking them up,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “The Syrian government and its security forces have long felt able to operate with total impunity, and we are now seeing the result of that in the kinds of bloody acts that they have been committing on the streets of Syria in recent days.”

    “President al-Assad and those around him have to understand that their actions will have consequences, namely that if they gun down their own citizens the international community will hold them individually criminally responsible before the ICC or national courts of states exercising universal jurisdiction.”

    April 25, 2011

    The Syrian government's brutal reaction to its people's demand for change has reached a new and outrageous low, Amnesty International said today, as army tanks continued to shell residential areas in the southern city of Dera'a.

    After the Syrian army deployed in Dera'a early on Monday, tanks were used to shell civilian buildings, sources told Amnesty International.

    "By resorting to the use of artillery against its own people today, the Syrian government has shown its determination to crush the peaceful protests at virtually any cost, whatever the price in Syrians' lives," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.

    "President Bashar al-Assad must call a stop to this now. He must pull back his army from Dera'a immediately and ensure that basic services to the city are restored. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the victims of this latest totally unacceptable onslaught."

    All water and electricity services have been cut off to the town, which has been at the centre of protests that have swept the country since mid-March and was where the first protesters were killed by security forces.

    April 22, 2011

    At least 75 people have been killed today in Syria during mass protests, local human rights activists told Amnesty International, as the government launched its deadliest crackdown yet on demonstrators calling for political reform.

    Security forces fired live ammunition at demonstrators who had gathered across the country following Friday prayers.

    Thirty were killed in the southern town of Izzra’, 22 in Damascus, 18 in the Homs area and the rest in other towns and villages, activists said, in what is the deadliest day so far during weeks of protest.

    Two boys aged 7 and 10 years old were among those killed in Izzra’ as was a 70-year-old man.

    “The Syrian authorities have again responded to peaceful calls for change with bullets and batons. They must immediately halt their attacks on peaceful protesters and instead allow Syrians to gather freely as international law demands,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

    April 21, 2011


    The Syrian authorities must not respond with violence to mass demonstrations planned across the country tomorrow, Amnesty International urged on the eve of a Facebook-promoted "Great Friday" protest.

    "It is imperative that these demonstrations are policed sensibly, sensitively and in accordance with international law to avoid further bloodshed on Syria’s streets," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "These ‘Great Friday’ protests could be the largest yet. If government security forces resort to the same extremely violent tactics they have used over the past month, the consequences could be exceedingly grave."

    Peaceful protests calling for freedom are expected to take place in cities and towns across the country including Damascus, Dera'a, Homs and Banias, in all of which demonstrators have been killed by security forces in recent weeks.

    The death toll has already exceeded 228 as a result of the crackdown on the protests, which began on 15 March and have since mushroomed as people have taken to the streets to express their grievances.

    April 21, 2011

    The Ugandan government must immediately end the excessive use of force against protestors, Amnesty International said today, after police fired live rounds at crowds of protesters in different parts of the country reportedly killing a child.

    Five people have been killed in Uganda since the protests, sparked by a rise in fuel prices and the cost of living, began on 11 April.

    “The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at peaceful protesters,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director.

    “They must now investigate these deaths immediately in a thorough, independent and effective manner.”

    One child was killed and two protesters injured by bullets during protests in the town of Masaka today, a local journalist told Amnesty International. Two police officers were reportedly badly beaten by protesters during the disturbances.

    April 20, 2011

    Members of the security forces that have for decades brutally repressed Egyptians must be held to account, Amnesty International said today as it released a damning report into the use of emergency powers under former President Hosni Mubarak.

    In Time for Justice: Egypt's Corrosive System of Detention, Amnesty International calls for the immediate establishment of an independent inquiry into human rights abuses committed by the much-feared State Security Investigations Service (SSI).

    "Under the cover of the state of emergency, President Mubarak’s state security forces were for years allowed to commit gross violations without fear of scrutiny or punishment," said Amnesty International.

    “This is a moment for fundamental change,” said Amnesty International. “It demands immediate concrete steps from the authorities so that those responsible for serious human rights violations are held to account.”

    “Egyptians must see justice done for the human rights abuses of the past.”

    The organization said it was prepared to make its archive of human rights reports available to the Egyptian authorities to assist with an investigation.

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