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    February 18, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Yemeni authorities to stop using excessive force to control anti-government demonstrations as continued violence against protesters across the country reportedly left several wounded.

    At least six Yemeni protesters taking part in what appears to have been a peaceful sit-in were reportedly seriously injured in the city of Ta’izz today when security forces attacked them with what eyewitnesses described as a hand grenade, with dozens more also injured.

    Meanwhile, activists in the capital Sana’a told Amnesty International today that they had been surrounded by security forces, aided by men described as “thugs”, who were firing at them and issuing beatings.

    “The Yemeni authorities seem to be stepping up their crackdown on protesters and we are gravely concerned that if that continues, the death toll will inevitably rise,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “Yemen’s government must allow people to peacefully assemble and protest.”

    February 18, 2011

    Amnesty International has accused the Libyan authorities of recklessly shooting at anti-government protesters after the organization learned that at least 46 people had been shot dead by security forces in the last 72 hours.

    Sources at al-Jala hospital in Benghazi today told Amnesty International that patients' most common injuries were bullet wounds to the head, chest and neck.

    "This alarming rise in the death toll, and the reported nature of the victims' injuries, strongly suggests that security forces are permitted use lethal force against unarmed  protesters calling for political change” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa

    "The Libyan authorities must immediately, rein in their security forces. Those responsible for unlawful killings and excessive force – both the direct perpetrators and those who gave the orders – must be identified and brought to justice."

    Sources at al-Jala hospital have reported 28 fatalities from yesterday’s protests in Benghazi with more than 110 people injured, and at least three further deaths in today’s protests.

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on Yemen to stop its security forces using excessive force after protesters and journalists were today reportedly attacked at peaceful demonstrations around the country.

    “Today is the sixth day in a row on which the Yemeni authorities have attacked protesters peacefully calling for political reform,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, on Thursday.

    “Yemenis have a legitimate right to freedom of expression and assaults against both them and journalists covering their protests are totally unacceptable.”

    At least 10 demonstrators in Sana’a were injured, several of them in the head reportedly after security forces in plain-clothes opened fire on them with live bullets as they called for the president to stand down, sources in Yemen told Amnesty International.

    Plain-clothes security officers and attackers described by protesters as “thugs” also openly beat demonstrators, witnesses said.

    Activists told Amnesty International that cameramen for Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya were beaten by unidentified attackers who reportedly broke their cameras.

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Libyan authorities to cease using excessive force to suppress anti-government protests after at least another person was shot and killed today by police.
     
    Nacer Miftah Gout'ani was shot dead when government security forces opened fire on demonstrators taking part in a social network-led "Day of Rage" in the city of Al Bayda, 100 km east of Benghazi. Dozens more were injured in the protests.
     
    At least two people were killed in clashes yesterday and more than 30 were reported to have been injured, 11 critically, while many more were arrested in the crackdown.
     
    "The Libyan authorities tried to smother this protest before it even got off the ground but that, clearly, did not work. Now they are resorting to brutal means to punish and deter the protestors,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
     
    "The police in Libya, as elsewhere, have a responsibility to ensure public safety but this does not extend to using lethal or excessive force against peaceful protesters.
     

    February 16, 2011

    Amnesty International is calling on the Libyan government to end its clampdown on peaceful political activists after violence erupted at demonstrations in the city of Benghazi following the arrest of activists ahead of a protest planned for Thursday.

    Hundreds of people took part in demonstrations on Wednesday following the arrests of Fathi Terbel and Fraj Esharani, both members of the Abu Salim families’ organising committee set up by relatives of victims of a prison massacre in 1996, and three other activists.

    They were leading calls for a major demonstration on 17 February in support of calls for far-reaching political reforms, inspired by similar protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

    “The Libyan authorities must allow peaceful protests, not try to stifle them with heavy-handed repression,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Libyans have the same rights as Egyptians and Tunisians to express discontent and call for reform in their own country, and it is high time the Libyan government recognized that and respected it.”

    February 15, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the heavy-handed tactics used by Bahrain’s riot police earlier today after the second death in two days of protests calling for political reform in the tiny Gulf state.

    Fadhel ‘Ali Matrook was among a crowd of people mourning the death yesterday of ‘Ali ‘Abdulhadi Mushaima’, killed in clashes between protesters and police, when he was shot dead by police earlier today in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Riot police are said to have opened fire on the crowd without warning during the funeral.

    “This second killing within two days is both tragic and a very worrying development,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

     “The Bahrain authorities must thoroughly investigate what occurred, stand down the police involved in these shootings and make clear to the police that the use of excessive force will not be tolerated.”

    “An independent investigation is also urgently required to establish the facts, particularly whether the level of force used by the police, both yesterday and today, can possibly be justified.”

    February 14, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian authorities for breaking up an apparently peaceful march held in Tehran in support of Egyptian and Tunisian protests. Protests were also reportedly held in other cities across Iran, such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Kermanshah.

    Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest by the authorities ahead of the protests on Monday.  

    “Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia.  While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “This crackdown is the latest in a series of moves by the authorities aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent.”

    The march comes amid a wave of pre-emptive arrests of political and other activists over the past several days.

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

    February 14, 2011

    Amnesty International today condemned the actions of Yemen’s security forces after they beat protesters with sticks and reportedly shocked them with electric batons amid ongoing demonstrations inspired by protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt.

    Security forces in uniform and plain clothes attacked a crowd of some 2,000 people protesting peacefully in Sana’a yesterday and also appear to have beaten protesters in both Sana’a and Ta’izz today.

    “We are appalled by these reports of vicious attacks on peaceful protesters by security forces. Yemen needs to rein in its security forces immediately and stop excessive use of force,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    Human rights activist and lawyer Khaled al-Ansi told Amnesty International security forces attacked him with electric shock batons during yesterday’s demonstration in Sana’a and he heard other protesters screaming “Electricity!” as they were beaten.

    “Security forces in Yemen cannot be trusted with electric shock batons, given the persistence of torture in the country. They can be too easily misused,” said Philip Luther.

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International today published a report looking at the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain.

    The report Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads focuses on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 political opposition activists, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody. The government has failed to open independent investigations into any of the reports of torture and has actively prevented reporting of the alleged abuses.

    More broadly, the reports highlights restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Bahrain, including constraints imposed on independent human rights organizations.  

    Amnesty International’s findings are being published ahead of the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the National Action Charter, which paved the way for major political and legal reforms in Bahrain, resulting in turn in human rights improvements in the country.

    “Bahrain is at a crossroads when it comes to human rights,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International is urging the Algerian authorities not to crack down on planned nationwide anti-government protests tomorrow, amid reports demonstrations in the capital, Algiers, have been banned. 

    Protests calling for "democratic change", the lifting of a 19-year state of emergency and greater freedom for civil society and the media, have been planned by the newly-formed Coordination for Change and Democracy, an umbrella group of opposition parties, trade unions and human rights organizations.

    "Algerians must be allowed to express themselves freely and hold peaceful protests in Algiers and elsewhere. The Algerian authorities cannot hide behind a 19-year state of emergency to stifle dissent," said Amnesty International. 

    “We urge the Algerian authorities not to respond to these demands by using excessive force”.

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International today published a report looking at the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain.

    The report Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads focuses on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 political opposition activists, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody. The government has failed to open independent investigations into any of the reports of torture and has actively prevented reporting of the alleged abuses.

    More broadly, the reports highlights restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Bahrain, including constraints imposed on independent human rights organizations.  

    Amnesty International’s findings are being published ahead of the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the National Action Charter, which paved the way for major political and legal reforms in Bahrain, resulting in turn in human rights improvements in the country.

    “Bahrain is at a crossroads when it comes to human rights,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    February 10, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged Egypt's authorities to end 30 years of repressive emergency rule and allow ordinary Egyptians to fully participate in shaping the country's future.

    The organization called for a curb on the sweeping powers of security forces, the release of prisoners of conscience, and for safeguards against torture to be introduced in a new human rights action plan addressed to the country's authorities.

    "Egyptians have suffered under a state of emergency for three decades; the decisions made in this momentous period will be critical for Egypt and the region," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    "Those now in power should view the activism on the streets of Cairo and other cities not as a threat, but as an opportunity to consign the systematic abuses of the past to history. Political transition must involve the people and foster respect for human rights."

    The call came as unrest and political uncertainty continued to grip Egypt, with protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir square demanding human rights and calling for political reform.

    February 10, 2011

    On the second anniversary of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Amnesty International is urging Zimbabwe’s coalition government to act on ongoing human rights abuses and to institute reforms of the security sector and the media.

    Two years since the unity government was set up in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International is concerned about lack of progress in implementing key reforms to address the legacy of human rights abuses.  

    “The hope for an end to a decade of human rights abuses that greeted the unity government two years ago, is rapidly fading away and has been replaced by fear and instability amid talk of another election in 2011,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.

    In recent weeks, supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party in Harare have targeted perceived supporters of the MDC-T formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, with violence with the tacit approval of the police.

    February 09, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the United Arab Emirates’ authorities to disclose the legal status and whereabouts of a man arrested apparently for expressing support for demonstrators in Egypt and Tunisia.

    Former teacher Hassan Mohammed Hassan al-Hammadi, 52, was taken from his home in the city of Khor Fakkan in the Emirate of Sharjah by State Security (Amn al-Dawla) officers on Friday evening, hours after he had reportedly expressed solidarity with the protestors in a speech to a congregation during Friday prayers.

    His current place of detention is unknown and his family have not been permitted to see him.

    He was moved on Sunday to State Security headquarters in Abu Dhabi after being charged with "disturbing public security", according to some reports, but others suggest he is still being held by State Security in Khor Fakkan.

    "Hassan al-Hammadi's arrest and incommunicado detention is particularly worrying in view of previous evidence of torture of detainees held by the Amn al-Dawla," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 09, 2011

    The Thai authorities should drop all charges against human rights defender and web forum moderator Chiranuch Premchaiporn, whose trial continues this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Chiranuch, the Executive Director of the online newspaper and web forum Prachatai (“Thai People”), has been accused of not removing quickly enough from the web forum a user’s comments deemed offensive to Thailand’s monarchy—a criminal offense under Thai law.  

    “Chiranuch should not be in the dock,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Thailand specialist. “The comments for which she is being held responsible should not be prohibited in the first place—much less when they are posted by someone else.”

    She has been charged under Articles 14 and 15 of the Computer-related Crimes Act of 2007, which covers the liability of online intermediaries, including internet service providers (ISPs) and website moderators. The articles relate to supporting or consenting to an offence implicating Thailand’s national security within a computer system under one’s control.  

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