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Human Rights Abuses

    September 20, 2016

    Last night’s attack on a UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy, intended for 78,000 people in Aleppo, is a flagrant violation of the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    Witnesses in Syria have told the organization that the convoy, along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse where it had docked, were bombed intensively for two hours on Monday evening, heightening the suspicion that Syrian government forces deliberately targeted the relief operation.

    “A sustained attack on a humanitarian convoy and workers, horrific enough in any circumstances, will in this case also have a disastrous impact not only on those desperate civilians for whom the assistance was intended, but for life-saving humanitarian operations throughout Syria,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 12, 2016

    The authorities must take immediate and effective action to once and for all put an end to the spate of recent killings of human rights defenders and social and community activists, said Amnesty international today as yet another activist was killed yesterday.

    On 11 September, Néstor Iván Martínez, a member of the Afro-descendant Community Council (Consejo Comunitario) of La Sierra, El Cruce and La Estación, and a leader of the People’s Congress (Congreso de los Pueblos) social movement, was shot dead by unknown assailants in a rural part of Chiriguaná Municipality in the department of Cesar. Néstor Iván Martínez had been active in environmental and land rights campaigns in Cesar, and had also campaigned against mining activities in the region.

    On 29 August, three leaders of the NGO Integration Committee of the Colombian Massif (Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano, CIMA), Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán and Ariel Sotelo, were stopped in the vehicle they were travelling in and shot dead by a group of armed men in Almaguer municipality in the department of Cauca.

    September 12, 2016

    The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) must immediately end the shocking and arbitrary detention of a Yezidi woman who has been held without trial for nearly two years after surviving captivity at the hands of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), Amnesty International said.

    Bassema Darwish, a 34-year-old mother of three from the Babira village in Ninewa Governorate, has been detained by the KRG since October 2014. She has been accused of complicity with IS forces who killed three members of the Peshmerga (KRG’s armed forces) when they arrived at the house where she was being held captive in Zummar, north-western Iraq.

    “Yezidi women abducted by IS have suffered truly harrowing abuses including rape and sexual slavery. In the case of Bassema Darwish, liberation from IS captivity did not put an end to her mistreatment. Instead of detaining her for nearly two years in violation of her rights, the authorities should ensure she receives medical and psychosocial assistance, as well as counselling, to help her overcome her ordeal in captivity,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    September 06, 2016

    “The attack by an armed group on the aid agency CARE International in Kabul is the deliberate targeting of civilians and constitutes a war crime. The cardinal rule of international humanitarian law is that parties to an armed conflict must never deliberately attack civilians,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “This is sadly the latest in a series of horrific attacks in the Afghan capital, leading to unlawful killing of civilians. Victims and survivors, including the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured, have a right to justice and reparation. The government has a duty to protect civilians and prevent further such attacks. There must be an independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials – without recourse to the death penalty.”

     

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    September 06, 2016

    President Francois Hollande of France must confront Vietnamese authorities over their treatment of one women’s fight for justice when he visits the country this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International calls on the French president to raise in particular the case of Ngô Thanh Kiều, a young man who died in police custody in Phú Yên province in 2012. Since his death, his sister Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family have undertaken a brave crusade for justice in the face of physical attacks, death threats and other forms of intimidation.

    Recently, the family found the carcass of a shaved cat flung at their home. It bore a chilling note warning Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family to stop raising her brother’s case or suffer a similar fate.

    “Human rights must not be sacrificed to trade and security deals. President Hollande must use his visit to call on the Vietnamese authorities to meet their human rights obligations under international law,” said Camille Blanc, Chair of Amnesty International France.

    September 02, 2016

    Reacting to Friday’s attacks on a court in Mardan and on a Christian community just outside Peshawar, both in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s attacks a horrific reminder that Pakistan’s authorities must do more to ensure vulnerable groups are protected. The authorities have a duty to protect the right to life, prevent human rights abuses, and hold perpetrators to account in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty or other human rights violations. Armed groups are seeking to undermine the rule of law by targeting both the people who defend it in court and the people it should protect,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

     

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    September 01, 2016

    "Security forces in Gabon must refrain from using excessive force against protesters in the wake of the country’s disputed election result," said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, amid reports that several anti-government demonstrators had been shot and injured on Wednesday afternoon.

    "Such a brutal response violates protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as inflaming an already tense situation following the vote.

    “The authorities must instead do everything in their power to allow for peaceful protest, in order to bring much-needed stability and security after the election period.”

    “They must also independently, impartially and efficiently investigate any excessive use of force by security forces, and bring those responsible to justice.

    Background

    The election result announced on Wednesday gave incumbent Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba 49.8 per cent of the vote against 48.23 per cent for his rival, Jean Ping.

    August 26, 2016

    As the Prime Minister begins his first trip to China, the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China is releasing an Open Letter, documenting serious human rights concerns and laying out recommendations for human rights reforms in China.  The Coalition has also urged the Prime Minister to press for freedom for thirteen prisoners.

    The Prime Minister’s first trip to China comes at a critical time.  There has been a clampdown on human rights lawyers and activists and intensified measures to curtail freedoms of expression, association and assembly.  These are indications of a deteriorating climate for human rights protection in the country.   

    Event:             Press Conference

    Speakers:      Sonam Chokey, National Director, Students for a Free Tibet Canada

                         Gloria Fung, Director, Canada-Hong Kong Link 

    August 25, 2016

    The conviction of Mohammed Fakhrulrazi Mohammed Mokhtar for sedition should be quashed immediately, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. Malaysia’s sedition law is a crude colonial-era instrument designed to silence dissent. It has no place in a modern rights-respecting society and should be repealed immediately,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

     

    Background

    Mohammed Fakhrulrazi Mohammed Mokhtar, the vice-chief of the Parti Amanah Negara Youth, was found guilty of sedition by the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur and sentenced to eight months in prison.

    Fakrhulrazi, also known as Ustaz Fakhrulrazi, was charged with sedition for calling for the release of opposition politician and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim, at a rally in February 2015.

    The charge, under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and a fine of RM5,000.

     

    August 24, 2016

    The establishment of a high-level commission headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is a welcome step towards addressing the human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, Amnesty International said today.

    “Today’s announcement is a sign that Myanmar’s authorities are taking the situation in Rakhine state seriously. But it will only have been a worthwhile exercise if it paves the way for the realization of human rights for all people in the state,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar is home to many minority groups that have faced decades of human rights violations and abuses, in particular, the persecuted Rohingya minority. The situation there has deteriorated markedly since 2012, when clashes between different groups sparked waves of violence, culminating in scores of deaths, destruction of property and mass displacement.

    August 22, 2016

    The legacy of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been shattered with at least eight people killed in police operations in the city during the Games and peaceful protests heavily repressed, Amnesty International said.

    “Brazil has lost the most important medal at play during Rio 2016: the chance to become a champion on human rights,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    “The Brazilian authorities missed a golden opportunity to follow on their promises to implement public security policies to make Rio a safe city for all. The only way to undo some of many wrongs that took place during the Games is to ensure all killings and other human rights violations by the police are effectively investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

    Rise in killings by police

    In 2016, police killings in Rio increased month on month as the city prepared to welcome the world.

    According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 35 people in April 2016, 40 in May and 49 in June – an average of more than one every single day.

    August 17, 2016

    The Huthi armed group in control of parts of Yemen must immediately ensure the release of all 27 members of the Bahá’í religion who have been detained in the capital, Sana’a, for a week without charge, in a blatant case of persecution of a minority faith, Amnesty International said today.

    Armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which works hand in hand with the armed Huthi authorities, stormed a Bahá’í youth workshop in Sana’a on 10 August and arrested 65 people, including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Further arrests were carried out yesterday.

    “The arbitrary arrests of Bahá’í people for doing nothing more than attending a peaceful community event is completely unjustifiable. It is just the latest example of authorities’ persecution of minority faiths,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 16, 2016

    Increased humanitarian assistance is urgently required to alleviate the suffering of millions of Iraqis displaced across the country and to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to be displaced by military operations to recapture territory controlled by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International today following a three-week research trip to the country.

    Humanitarian organizations have already been struggling to meet the most basic needs of the more than 3.4 million people who have been forced to flee IS rule and ongoing fighting to recapture IS territory. The impending battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an IS stronghold, is expected to displace hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.

    August 15, 2016

    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial bombardment of a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Yemen is an atrocious attack that could amount to a war crime, Amnesty International said today.  The Abs Rural Hospital which was hit at around 3:30pm local time, has treated 4,611 patients since MSF began to support it in July 2015.

    “The bombardment of this hospital is a deplorable act that has cost civilian lives, including medical staff who are dedicated to helping sick and injured people under some of the most challenging conditions. Deliberately targeting medical facilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law which would amount to a war crime. The circumstances of this attack must be thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Today’s air strike appears to be the latest in a string of unlawful attacks targeting hospitals highlighting an alarming pattern of disregard for civilian life.”

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    August 12, 2016

    A series of apparently coordinated blasts at tourist spots in southern Thailand overnight are reprehensible acts of violence that must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    At least four people were killed in the blasts and dozens more were injured as four bombs exploded in the resort town of Hua Hin and several others in Phuket, a popular tourist destination, as well as in Trang province.

    “Nothing can justify intentionally carrying out indiscriminate attacks, which disregard the basic right to life. These acts of violence show utter contempt for human rights,” said Champa Patel, Senior Research Advisor for Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “Those behind the attacks must be brought to justice through fair trials. Amnesty International calls on Thai authorities to ensure their response is in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

    So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

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