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    April 20, 2011

    The US soldier accused of leaking documents to the Wikileaks organisation is being moved to a new detention centre following concerns over his treatment.

    Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of providing documents to Wikileaks, is being moved from a maximum security military brig at the Quantico Marine Corps Base to a pre-trial facility in a new, medium-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.  

    While at Quantico he has been detained for 23 hours a day in a small cell, sometimes naked, and forbidden from exercising.  

    “We believe sustained public pressure for the US government to uphold human rights in Bradley Manning’s case has contributed to this move” said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s director for the Americas.  

    “We hope Bradley Manning’s conditions will significantly improve at Fort Leavenworth, but we will be watching how he is treated very closely.  His conditions at Quantico have been a breach of international standards for humane treatment of an untried prisoner.”  

    April 20, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged the Yemeni authorities to ensure the safety of a prominent human rights activist after she was warned anonymously for allegedly passing information to the UN Security Council.

    Amal Basha, chairperson of the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), received a telephone warning via her office this morning telling her not to leave her home and to take extra precautions.

    The anonymous caller said Yemeni security forces believe that she briefed the UN Security Council about the current situation in Yemen, thereby “internationalizing” the country’s problems. Amal Basha says she has not provided any such briefing to the UN.
     
    “The Yemeni authorities must urgently investigate this threat against a leading human rights activist and take steps to ensure that those responsible for planning any action against Amal Basha’s life are quickly identified and brought to justice” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

    “Human rights activists must be able to go about their lawful work without threat or intimidation.”

    April 18, 2011

    As Zimbabwe’s celebrates 31 years of independence, Amnesty International today expressed concern about the lack of effort by the government to address the legacy of human rights violations and respect for human rights guaranteed in the country’s own constitution as well as international treaties.

    Despite the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009, human rights violations have continued unabated. Unjustifiable restrictions of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are undermining the stability brought about by the setting up of the GNU.

    For example, six activists, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Eddson Chakuma and Tatenda Mombeyarara, are facing treason charges after organizing a public lecture to discuss events in Egypt and the Middle East. If convicted they face the death penalty. The six were part of a group of 45 activist arrested on 19 February 2011. The other 39 were acquitted after a magistrate in Harare dismissed the charges against them.

    April 18, 2011


    The Nigerian military must not use excessive force to quell riots and demonstrations taking place around the imminent announcement of presidential election results, Amnesty International said today.  

    “We are extremely concerned about the escalation of violence in northern and central Nigeria by protestors and urge the Nigerian authorities to ensure that excessive force is not used against protesters,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.

    “Political leaders on all sides must act responsibly and tell their supporters to stop all acts of violence and human rights abuses.”

    Rioting and violent attacks have been reported in the north and centre of the country, including Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Plateau states and the Federal Capital Territory.

    “The security forces' response to this unrest must not lead to further human rights violations. The police and military must respect human life and use proportionate means to police demonstrations,” said Tawanda Hondora.

    Presidential poll results show incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan is set to win.

    April 15, 2011

    India’s Supreme Court today granted bail to Dr Binayak Sen, a human rights defender who has spent 100 days in prison as part of a politically motivated life sentence on sedition and conspiracy charges.

    The 61-year-old prisoner of conscience has been in Raipur prison in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh since 24 December after a district court convicted him of collaborating with armed Maoists who are part a banned organization.

    “The decision to grant bail to Dr Binayak Sen is hugely positive,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director. “Dr Sen is an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence and the decision to release him is welcome."

    "However, we hope the courts will overturn the sentence still hanging over Dr Sen. We maintain that the charges against him are baseless and politically motivated."

    Dr Sen is likely to be released on Monday pending the arrival of the detailed court order confirming the Supreme Court's decision, according to his wife Ilina Sen.

    April 14, 2011

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must rein in his security forces and prevent further unlawful killings, Amnesty International said today, as the coastal city of Banias remained under virtual lockdown and the army was reported to have detained all males over 15 in the nearby village of al-Baydah.

    “The human rights crisis in Syria is growing by the day, almost by the hour,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The government appears intent on trying to crush all dissent using the most repressive means – shooting peaceful protesters, carrying out mass arrests and locking down areas where people have dared to call for reform. This has to stop. Syria’s President must make it stop.”

    Amnesty International has received lists naming at least 200 people who have been killed since protests began in Syria on 18 March, but the true number may be much higher. Most of the dead were shot by the security forces or men in plain clothes acting alongside them using live ammunition, though the government claims that opposition “armed gangs” are the chief culprits.

    April 14, 2011

    The Azerbaijani authorities have initiated a new wave of arrests and criminal charges in an attempt to stifle the latest opposition rally, “Great Unity Day” planned for 17 April. On 9 April a further five opposition activists were charged with “organising mass disorder” for their participation in the violently dispersed 2 April “Day of Wrath” protest in Baku.

    The new charges bring the total number of activists facing long prison terms for their involvement in the 2 April protest to 10, seven of whom Amnesty International considers to be prisoners of conscience.

    The treatment of these 10 activists highlights the range of human rights abuses currently occurring in Azerbaijan. Local rights groups report that the activists have been beaten by police and remanded in custody after closed hearings on the basis of no or very little evidence, without having been granted access to a lawyer of their choice.

    April 13, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the use by the Swaziland authorities of state of emergency-style measures to crush peaceful anti-government protests taking place across the country and urged the authorities to return to the rule of law.

    "We are alarmed by the levels of state violence in the past 24 hours and the numbers of arbitrary and secret detentions witnessed during this period and fear that those targeted may be at risk of torture," said Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International has learned that union leaders who had been released from custody late yesterday were placed under unlawful house arrest today.

    The security forces used excessive force yesterday in dispersing protests.

    Today heavily armed security force members again besieged the headquarters of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers and are currently conducting a search without a warrant inside the building. Union members and possibly also both national and foreign journalists are present.


     

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    April 12, 2011

    The Iraqi authorities must stop attacks on peaceful protesters calling for an end to unemployment, poor services, and corruption and demanding political reforms, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    Days of Rage: Protests and Repression in Iraq documents how Iraqi and Kurdish forces have shot and killed protesters, including three teenage boys, threatened, detained and tortured political activists, as well as targeting journalists covering the protests.

    “The Iraqi authorities must end the use of intimidation and violence against those Iraqis peacefully calling for political and economic reforms,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Eight years on from the end of Saddam Hussain’s long and grossly oppressive rule, it is high time that Iraqis are allowed to exercise their rights to peaceful protest and expression free from violence at the hands of government security forces. The authorities in both Baghdad and the Kurdistan region must cease their violent crackdowns.”

    April 12, 2011

    Bahraini authorities must urgently reveal the whereabouts and legal status of more than 400 mostly Shi’a opposition activists detained in recent weeks, Amnesty International said today amid concerns about their safety after reports that at least three have died in custody.

    Security forces detained leading human rights defender ‘Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and his two sons in law in a raid on his daughter’s home, where they were staying, last Saturday. He was assaulted before being taken away barefoot and denied access to his medication.  Alkhawaja’s and his sons in law’s whereabouts remain unknown. One of Alkhawaja’s daughters has launched a hunger strike to demand her relatives’ release.

    “These further arrests are evidence of the mounting toll of opposition activists who have been thrown into jail because of their involvement in the protests that have rocked Bahrain since people came onto the streets in February to demand reform,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    April 11, 2011

    The Ugandan authorities must drop all criminal charges against several leading opposition figures temporarily detained today for taking part in protests in the capital Kampala, Amnesty International said today.

    The opposition politicians, activists and their supporters were arrested during demonstrations calling for people to walk to work in protest at fuel price rises.

    Most of the politicians were later released on bail but still face criminal charges.

    “The stifling of this protest and the force used against the protesters is an outrageous affront to freedom of expression, made possible by Uganda's unjust ban on public rallies," said Amnesty’s researcher on Uganda, Dr. Godfrey Odongo.

    "The Ugandan government must not use criminal charges against people engaged in peaceful protests, and all those still in custody must be released."

    Among those arrested were Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao and four newly elected opposition members of parliament affiliated to the FDC party.

    April 11, 2011


    Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and nine human and labour rights organizations today expressed dismay at parliamentary proceedings in Iran which look set to pass into law a bill which appears intended to wipe out independent civil society in the country, in violation of international standards on freedom of association and assembly, which Iran is obliged to uphold.

    The nine - a mix of international and Iranian organizations - Amnesty International, Arseh Sevom, Education International (EI), Hivos, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, FIDH’s affiliate the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – along with Shirin Ebadi called on members of Iran’s parliament to reject the draft law.

    April 11, 2011

    Authorities in Swaziland must ensure the safety of four key activists who were detained last night in an apparent bid to disrupt planned protests marches, Amnesty International said today.

    The arrests of the activists, which took place at a roadblock near Mbabane last night according to eyewitnesses, follow the Swaziland government’s recent announcement that all protests from 12 to 14 April are illegal.

    “We are deeply concerned for the safety of these activists, who are held incommunicado and at risk of torture," said Amnesty International’s deputy Africa Program Director, Michelle Kagari.

    "The authorities must ensure that the detainees are given immediate access to legal counsel and that their families are told where they are.”

    “The fact that several of the arrested men have been previously unlawfully detained, ill-treated and had police raids on their homes increases the concerns about their well-being.”

    April 11, 2011


    Amnesty International condemns the detention of several people, including two women wearing the full-face veil, who were protesting against the law banning the wearing of any form of clothing concealing one's face in public. Amnesty International understands that those taken in for questioning by police have subsequently been released.

    The law came into force today. Police said the people were detained for joining an unauthorised protest in central Paris.

    “Women in France have the right to freedom of religion and expression. They must also be free to protest when this right is violated,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “This law puts France to shame – a country that prides itself on the human rights it claims to promote and protect, freedom of expression included.”

    “The law preventing women in France from expressing their values, beliefs and identity should be scrapped.”

    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332

    April 09, 2011

    Amnesty International today condemned the excessive use of force used by the Egyptian army when at least two protesters were reportedly killed when soldiers attempted to disperse those gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

    Protesters told Amnesty International the army used sticks, electric batons, shot in the air and drove armored vehicles into the protest causing a number of injuries.

    Some 15 people were also reportedly detained, as well as six army officers who joined the protest.

    “The Egyptian authorities have once again failed to respect the right to peaceful protest by using the same tactics of repression as those of the former government,” said Amnesty International.

    "All those arrested for merely exercising their right to protest peacefully must be released immediately and an independent investigation begun into these disturbing events."

    Thousands of protesters had gathered in Tahrir Square following Friday prayers to demand the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak and other officials suspected of corruption and human rights violations.

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