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    April 13, 2016

    Today’s decision to suspend the Mejlis, a representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars in Crimea, demolishes one of the few remaining rights of a minority that Russia must protect instead of persecute, said Amnesty International.

    The decision – announced by the de facto prosecutor of Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya – signals a new wave of repression against Crimean Tatar people. It comes after increased attacks to the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine two years ago.

    “Anyone associated with the Mejlis could now face serious charges of extremism as a result of this ban, which is aimed at snuffing out the few remaining voices of dissent in Crimea,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “The decision to suspend the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and ban all its activities under Russia’s anti-extremism legislation is a repugnant punitive step denying members of the Crimean Tatar community the right to freedom of association.”

    April 08, 2016

    The release of dozens of student protesters in Myanmar is a step forward for human rights that should pave the way for the new government to release all remaining prisoners of conscience and amend or repeal all laws that fuel arbitrary arrests, Amnesty International said.

    The Tharawaddy Court in Myanmar today dropped charges against scores of students facing jail for largely peaceful protests in March 2015. The move came after the new government announced on 7 April that it would work to release all prisoners of conscience as soon as possible.

    “Today’s release of most of the student protesters is a huge step forward for human rights in Myanmar, and we are delighted that these men and women will walk free. It sends a strong message about the new government’s intention to end the cycle of political arrest and detention in Myanmar. We are now looking forward to the release of all other prisoners of conscience - including those students who are facing charges in other courts. The new government must ensure that no prisoner of conscience is left in jail,” said Laura Haigh, Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher.

    March 24, 2016

    Myanmar’s new government will take office with a historic opportunity to change course on human rights but must break away from the deeply repressive legal framework that for years has fuelled arbitrary arrests and repression, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    New expression meets old repression urges Aung San Suu Kyi and the upcoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience still behind bars when it takes office in early April.

    “Myanmar’s legal framework reads like a textbook of repression, and authorities have in recent years increasingly used it to silence dissent,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Director.

    “To break the vicious cycle of political arrests, the new government must prioritize reforming the legal code to ensure that speaking out is no longer a crime, and it must release all those imprisoned simply for doing so.

    March 23, 2016

    Human rights activists risk prosecution, asset freezes

    In recent weeks, the Egyptian authorities have summoned human rights workers for questioning, banned them from travel and attempted to freeze their personal funds and family assets. These steps indicate that a five-year-old investigation into the funding and registration of independent human rights groups could soon result in criminal charges, 14 international organizations said today.

    The authorities should halt their persecution of these groups and drop the investigation, which could threaten human rights defenders with up to 25 years in prison, the organizations said.

    “Egypt’s civil society is being treated like an enemy of the state, rather than a partner for reform and progress,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 22, 2016

    The trial and continuing detention of a blogger and his assistant who have already spent almost two years in jail is farcical and a blight on the country’s human rights record, said Amnesty International ahead of the opening hearing in Ha Noi tomorrow.

    The organization is calling for the immediate release of Nguyễn Hữu Vinh, founder of the popular blogsite Anh Ba Sàm, and his assistant Nguyễn Thị Minh Thúy who were arrested for “abusing democratic freedoms” in May 2014 in connection with political blogs which were critical of government policies. The pair face a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment if convicted.

    “This is a textbook example of the authorities’ stamping out legitimate criticism and perpetuating a climate of fear in which people are forced to think twice before expressing themselves and asking questions of government,” said Champa Patel, Director of South East Asia Regional Office.

    March 18, 2016

    The Egyptian authorities are expected to freeze the assets of two prominent human rights defenders and their family members tomorrow as part of an investigation into foreign funding of NGOs. The move is yet another blatant attempt to paralyse civil society in Egypt that leaves no doubt as to the government’s resolve to crush freedom of expression and association, Amnesty International said today.

    According to a news outlet close to the government, the Cairo Criminal Court will rule tomorrow on the freezing of assets and travel bans against human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat, and two other unnamed persons, as well as members of their families.

    “The measures against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid are arbitrary and punitive, imposed in response to their criticism of the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Amnesty International urges the Egyptian government to refrain from imposing such measures, and to end its onslaught against human rights defenders and civil society,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    March 18, 2016

    Amnesty International India Release

    Authorities in Madhya Pradesh must drop charges against and immediately release two men arrested for allegedly sharing a satirical image of the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

    "Arresting people simply because they mocked public figures is an absurd overreaction by the authorities,” said Abhirr VP, Campaigner at Amnesty International India.

    On 17 March, 22-year-old Shaqir Yunus and 21-year-old college student Wasim Sheikh from Khargone, Madhya Pradesh were arrested for allegedly sharing the satirical image on Whatsapp and Facebook, following complaints that the men had hurt the feelings of the Hindu community. The digitally altered image made fun of the RSS’s recent decision to change its uniform from khaki shorts to brown trousers.

    March 16, 2016

    "The arrest of 18 peaceful youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo is yet another shameful attempt by the authorities to restrict citizens’ ability to peacefully express themselves in the lead up to elections scheduled for later this year,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “They must be immediately and unconditionally released for they committed no crime when they peacefully protested the continued unlawful detention of their colleagues, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, on trumped up charges.”

    “Bauma and Makwambala, who on 15 March completed a year in jail, must also be released, as well as all other activists arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly. Their arrests violate international law and DRC’s own constitution.”

     

    March 16, 2016

    The release last night of Mohammed al-‘Ajami, also known as Ibn al-Dheeb, is a welcome development that ends a needless four year ordeal for the Qatari poet.

    Amnesty International has spoken to Mohammed al-‘Ajami’s legal representative, who said that relatives of the poet confirmed to him that the poet was released around 7.30pm Doha time on 15 March. The organization has also seen video footage of him after his release.

    “The release of Mohammed al-‘Ajami is long overdue good news,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program,

    “It is absurd that he had to spend more than four years behind bars, when his poetry was simply the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs.

    “We hope that the authorities will take the opportunity of this release to review Qatar’s criminal justice system and ensure that such flagrant violations of the right to freedom of expression are not repeated. This case has been a blight on Qatar’s international reputation.”

    March 11, 2016

    Messages from Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot will be broadcast across the internet by AdBlock and Amnesty International on the World Day against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2016.

    Throughout the day, AdBlock’s 50 million users will be shown messages from Amnesty International where ads would usually appear. The messages will click through to content from people who governments have tried to silence. 

    “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded,” said Edward Snowden in one of the messages.

    “Without freedom of speech there is no modern world, just a barbaric one,” said Ai Weiwei in his message.

    “Authorities don’t just use handcuffs and arrests, but also media attacks,” said Pussy Riot.

    March 09, 2016

    Gambia should free an ailing journalist who has been arbitrarily detained since July 2015 and drop all charges against him, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

    Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, the managing director of the independent radio station Teranga FM, has been charged with sedition and “publication of false news.”  He has been hospitalized twice since the beginning of 2016. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on Gambia last week to release Ceesay and drop all charges against him.

    “The use of archaic sedition laws to harass and lock up critics is a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International deputy regional director for West and Central Africa. 

    “Alagie Ceesay’s case is a further example of Gambia’s blatant disregard for freedom of the press, and he should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    March 08, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT   9 March 2016

    Restrictions on communications compound North Korea’s dire human rights situation

    Ordinary North Koreans caught using mobile phones to contact loved ones who have fled abroad, risk being sent to political prison camps or other detention facilities as the government tightens its stranglehold on people’s use of communication technology, reveals Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Connection Denied: Restrictions on Mobile Phones and Outside Information in North Korea, documents the intensified controls, repression and intimidation of the population since Kim Jung-un came to power in 2011.

    “To maintain their absolute and systematic control, the North Korean authorities are striking back against people using mobile phones to contact family abroad," said Arnold Fang, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    March 01, 2016

    Musicians and filmmakers around the world are being asked to join forces with Amnesty International activists to call on the Iranian authorities to quash the torture-tainted convictions of filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, his brother Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, both musicians, ahead of Music Freedom Day on Thursday.

    The three men are at risk of imminent arrest after an appeal court upheld their prison sentences for ludicrous charges related to their artistic work, Amnesty International warned today amid an ongoing crackdown on artists and freedom of expression in Iran.

    “These sentences lay bare the absurdity of Iran’s criminal justice system, which brands individuals as criminals merely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression through making music and films. These young men should never have been arrested, let alone brought to trial,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    February 28, 2016

    The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) violation of the rights of detainees will come under increased scrutiny over the next couple of weeks as a series of counter-terror trials reach their end, said Amnesty International. 

    Since 2011 scores of Emiratis and non-Emiratis have been arbitrarily arrested using broad counter-terrorism laws.

    “In recent years the UAE authorities have increasingly resorted to using catch-all ‘terrorism’ or national security allegations to arbitrarily detain suspects. In many cases they are held in secret detention for months on end, in some cases reporting torture or other ill-treatment, before being put through deeply unfair trials,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    February 27, 2016

    The Republic of Congo’s refusal of entry and return of an Amnesty International research manager on mission is another worrying sign of the government’s attempt to muzzle criticism ahead of Presidential elections, Amnesty International said today.

    Late on Friday 26 February, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Stephen Cockburn, was refused entry at the border and sent back to Dakar, despite having a valid visa, invitation letter and confirmations of meetings with authorities including the Minister of Defense and officials from the Ministry of Justice.

    “Stifling independent human rights monitoring is unacceptable, and will do little to build confidence as Congo prepares for elections, especially in a context where political opponents have been detained and protestors killed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

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