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    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 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 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.  

    February 09, 2011

    Rallies are being held across at least 30 cities in 12 countries.


    On Saturday 12 February Amnesty International will be part of a rally being held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa between 1- 3 p.m supporting peaceful protestors in Egypt and in the wider region. Alex Neve, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada will speak at the event.

     They will be joining thousands of Amnesty International supporters, Egyptian activists, trade unionists, students and others on 12 February at rallies in at least 30 cities across the world to mark a “Global Day of Action” in solidarity with protestors in Egypt and the wider Middle East and North Africa region who are demanding greater human rights.

    Protests will be held in cities across Australia, Benin, Canada, Germany, France, Mali, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, the USA and others. Demonstrators have been asked to wear red, black or white (the colours of the Egyptian flag) clothing and face paint.

    February 08, 2011

    A Libyan writer and political commentator arrested last week and accused of a driving offence appears to have been targeted for calling for peaceful protests in the country, Amnesty International has said.

    Jamal al-Hajji, a former prisoner of conscience who has dual Libyan and Danish nationality, was detained on 1 February in Tripoli by plain clothes security officers. They accused him of hitting a man with his car, which he denies.

    Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest came shortly after he made a call on the internet for demonstrations to be held in support of greater freedoms in Libya, in the manner of recent mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other states across the Middle East and North Africa.

    "Two particular aspects of the case lead us to believe that the alleged car incident was not the real reason for Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest, but merely a pretext to conceal what was really a politically motivated arrest," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 04, 2011

    February 5 marks the 14th anniversary of a violent crackdown on peaceful Uighur protesters by security forces in the city of Gulja (In Chinese: Yining), in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China’s far-West. On 5 February 1997 dozens of people were killed or injured in Gulja when security forces opened fire on Uighur protesters. The Uighurs had begun a peaceful protest against the banning of “meshreps”, a traditional Uighur form of social gathering, the closing of a Uighur football league, high unemployment among Uighurs, and the closure of religious schools. Many dozens were killed and injured, and potentially hundreds in the ensuing days according to unconfirmed reports. In the government crackdown, thousands were detained, many hundreds disappeared, and there were reports of executions after unfair trials.

    February 04, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Egyptian and international human rights activists, lawyers and journalists arrested during a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo on the afternoon of February 3, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    The two organizations demanded the immediate release of all those detained including their staff. In a separate incident yesterday afternoon, three members of the Egyptian Centre for Housing Rights were also arrested and taken from the building and now remain missing.

    Among more than 30 arrested, those detained include; Daniel Williams, a Human Rights Watch researcher; Said Haddadi, an Amnesty International researcher and a female colleague; Ahmed Seif Al Islam, the former director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center; a French and a Portuguese journalist; and at least nine other lawyers associated with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center or volunteers from the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters.

    February 04, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the imprisonment of two Rwandan journalists who criticized president Paul Kagame ahead of last year’s elections.

    Agnes Nkusi Uwimana, editor of the private Kinyarwanda tabloid newspaper, Umurabyo, and her deputy editor, Saidati Mukakibibi, were sentenced today to respectively 17 and 7 years imprisonment over opinion pieces they wrote ahead of the August 2010 presidential elections.

    “Today’s verdict marks yet another blow to freedom of expression and opinion in Rwanda”, said Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director, Erwin van der Borght.

    “Rwanda’s clampdown on critics shows no sign of abating after last year’s elections”.

    Agnes Nkusi Uwimana was found guilty of threatening state security, genocide ideology, divisionism and defamation and Saidati Mukakibibi was found guilty of threatening state security.

    February 03, 2011

    Amnesty international has called on the Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, to stop the violence unleashed by pro-government supporters in Cairo and across the country amid fresh reports of a renewed crackdown on journalists and activists.

    Journalists have reportedly been detained and activists harassed by security forces following violence yesterday that saw at least five killed and several hundred wounded in the fighting between pro- and anti-government supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

    "The Egyptian authorities must ensure that protesters, journalists and human rights activists are protected. The lack of police on the ground responding to the violence is a blatant sign of the complicity of the Egyptian government in the violence, or at best the total abdication of responsibility for law and order at a moment of national crisis," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    "Peaceful demonstrations must be allowed, whatever the views expressed, and peaceful demonstrators must be protected, and regardless of any political negotiations taking place."

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