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Human Rights Defenders

    March 20, 2018

    Amnesty International condemns the murder of Javier Bernardo Cuero Ortíz, son of Bernardo Cuero Bravo, on 19 March 2018 in the city of Tumaco, southern Colombia. His brother Silvio Dubán Ortíz was also killed during the events.

    Javier Bernardo and his family were sitting outside of a relative's store, when two unidentified individuals approached them on a motorcycle and fired directly at them, killing them both and wounding one more person. Amnesty International has received reports that the murderers aimed directly at Cuero's relatives, a sign that it was a planned event and that the rest of the family could still be at risk.

    The murder of Javier Bernardo took place just nine months after the murder of his father Bernardo Cuero, human rights defender and victims’ leader of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) in June 2017. The murders occurred just weeks after the trial hearing set to press charges against the perpetrators of the crime, and there is evidence regarding the intellectual perpetrators of this crime.

    February 14, 2018

    Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested along with nine other participants when police stormed a routine workshop in Istanbul on 5 July 2017. Charged with “aiding a terrorist organization”, two were bailed while the other eight, including Idil, were held in pre-trial detention. Their arrest followed that of Amnesty’s Turkey chairman, Taner Kılıç, who had been imprisoned separately in June. After a global outpouring of action, Idil and her seven co-detainees were granted conditional release on 25 October, while Taner remained in jail.

    JULY–SEPTEMBER Thousands of signatures, letters and messages mounted around the world calling for the release of Idil and her colleagues.

    10 JULY Amnesty Belgium Director Philippe Hensmans posed in a cage in front of the Turkish embassy in Brussels, Belgium, to protest against the continued detention of his Turkish colleague.

    February 07, 2018
    Reacting to the news that the Cambodian Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and a 30 months' prison sentence for land rights activist Tep Vanny, James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:   "With today's ruling, Cambodia's judiciary has once again failed to prove that it can act independently, choosing to do the government's bidding instead. Tep Vanny is a brave social activist who has done nothing but peacefully stand up for her community. She should be released immediately and unconditionally, not forced to spend two and a half years in jail.   "The criminal proceedings against Tep Vanny have been deeply flawed from the start. She has become a symbol for the fight for justice in Cambodia and is someone the authorities have been determined to take off Cambodia's streets by any means necessary.  
    February 06, 2018

    Responding to the Chinese authorities’ admission on Tuesday that Gui Minhai, a bookseller with Swedish nationality, is again being detained and faces criminal charges, William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International commented:

    “This is a brazen and outrageous move by the Chinese authorities. They have yet to provide adequate explanation as to why they took Gui Minhai away while he was traveling with Swedish diplomats. Gui Minhai must be released. He and his family have suffered enough, their nightmare should be over not recurring.

    “It is ludicrous for the Chinese government to lecture others about respect, when they have shown utter contempt for fair trials and other human rights.

    “It is crucial that while Gui Minhai remains in detention he receives adequate health care as necessary or requested, is granted consular access, and can meet lawyers of his own choosing. The Chinese government cannot simply sidestep international law because they arbitrarily deem a case to be ‘serious’.”

    Background

    February 01, 2018

    The decision to renew the detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair mere hours after a court ordered his release must be immediately reversed and Taner Kılıç set free, said Amnesty International.

    “Over the last 24 hours we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    "To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner and his family."

    “This latest episode of his malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Taner and those of his wife and daughters who were waiting by the prison gates all day to welcome him into their arms.”

    December 26, 2017
    Reacting to the news that human rights activist Wu Gan received his verdict and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on 26 December in Tianjin, while human rights lawyer Xie Yang had his trial reconvened and was found guilty but exempt from punishment in Changsha on the same day, Amnesty International’s China Researcher Patrick Poon said:   “It is disgraceful that the Chinese authorities have chosen the day after Christmas to deal with two of the remaining people left in legal limbo from the unprecedented July 2015 crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists. Carrying out unfair trials and politicized sentencing of human rights defenders at the very time when diplomats, journalists, international observers and the general public are less likely to be able to respond reeks of a cynical political calculation”.   “By trying to avoid scrutiny from the press and the international community, the Chinese government betrays the fact it knows well these sham trials cannot withstand scrutiny”.  
    November 22, 2017

    Edward Snowden, Catherine Deneuve, Sting, Ai Weiwei, Angélique Kidjo, Anish Kapoor, Francois Morel and MPs sign open letter

    More than 70 renowned cultural and political figures have come together to demand that Turkish authorities drop trumped-up terrorism charges against 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair.

    The call made by more than 30 politicians and scores of artists - including Edward Snowden, Sting, Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Catherine Deneuve, Angélique Kidjo - comes as the trial of the 11 resumes in Istanbul on charges which carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

    “We are proud to add our voices to the global demand to end this gross injustice and to immediately and unconditionally release Taner Kılıç from jail,” they write in the letter.

    “When human rights defenders are silenced, all our rights are put at risk. They are the ones that stand up for us. Now we must stand up for them.”

    November 08, 2017

    The passing of Chinese writer and government critic Yang Tongyan underlines an alarming lack of accountability for the pattern of deaths of activists released on medical parole, Amnesty International said.

    Yang Tongyan, 56, passed away on Tuesday, according to his close friends. The prominent activist spent nearly half his life in detention and was released in August on medical parole. He underwent an operation to remove a brain tumour on 23 August.

    “Yang Tongyan was a peaceful champion of human rights and democracy, who made a huge personal sacrifice to stay true to his principles. The authorities feared the power of his writing and did all they could to silence him. He should never have spent a single day in jail let alone nearly half his life,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    October 31, 2017

    Photo Credit: via Bahrain Center for Human Rights

    Download PDF of most recent update to UA 165/17 Bahrain

    165d Bahrain.pdf

    Bahraini woman human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh was released from Isa Town Detention for women, in the Bahraini capital Manama on 22 October. She has yet to receive the conditions of her release or information about her trial. As such, she remains at risk of detention.

    October 12, 2017
    Human Rights Defenders from Turkey who are in prison

    Today marks 100 days since Turkish security forces stormed a routine training workshop and bundled away 10 prominent human rights activists. Most of the group - dubbed the Istanbul 10 - have been locked-up in Turkey’s highest security prison.

    This week the prosecutor filed an indictment calling for the group, which includes a German and Swedish trainer and the director of Amnesty International Turkey, to be sentenced for up to 15 years on terrorism charges.

    The absurdity of the charges against them and the reasons they are being held in prison will leave you incredulous.

    So much for a “secret meeting”

    Turkish prosecutors have attempted to depict the meeting as a shadowy gathering of conspirators seeking to create “chaos in society”, BUT…

    1. This was not a secret meeting ... Many people from lots of organisations had been openly invited.

    October 03, 2017

    Peter Steudtner was detained along with nine others in July during a workshop in Istanbul, where he and Ali Gharavi were training human rights defenders on wellbeing and digital security. Among the attendees was Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. Currently eight of them remain in prison and two are on bail, all facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. They have done nothing wrong.

    Peter has written a message from his cell about coping with life in prison:



    "To all who accompany me in thought and deed!

    A wholehearted thankyou to all who support us, especially to my family and friends (and all who support them), to the German government, Ministries, Embassy, Consulate; to my legal team, and to my holistic security team, HIVOS + KURVE Wustrow, to all political campaigns that demand our release!

    As I do not have any contact anymore with Ali and the other human rights defenders, I am writing this letter on my behalf only.

    October 03, 2017

    In July 2017, our friend and colleague İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, was detained along with nine other human rights defenders in Istanbul. Currently eight of them are in prison and two are on bail, all are facing an investigation under anti-terrorism laws. Yet they have done nothing wrong.

    It came only a month after Amnesty Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç was detained, also unfairly. He remains in prison.

    On 14 October 2017, Amnesty will hold a global day of action demanding their release to coincide with Idil’s birthday.

    So why is this happening to them?

    What happened on 5 July 2017?

    It should have been an ordinary day for İdil Eser, director of Amnesty Turkey. She was attending a workshop on wellbeing and digital security with colleagues from other human rights organisations in Istanbul – the kind of gathering that takes place around the world every week. It included open discussions about the stresses they encounter and practical ways of dealing with these.

    But during the workshop police raided the building and detained them all, including the two workshop trainers.

    September 25, 2017

    Today’s conviction of Khalid Ali, a former presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer who is widely viewed as President Abdelfattah al-Sisi’s top contender for the 2018 presidential elections, is politically motivated, said Amnesty International.

    Khaled Ali was sentenced to three months in prison which would prevent him from standing in the 2018 presidential elections if the verdict is confirmed on appeal. The court found him guilty of “violating public decency” in relation to a photograph showing him celebrating a court victory after successfully reversing a controversial Egyptian government decision to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. He was released on a bail of 1000 Egyptian pounds pending appeal.

    “Khaled Ali’s politically motivated conviction today is a clear signal that the Egyptian authorities are intent on eliminating any rival who could stand in the way of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s victory in next year’s elections. It also illustrates the government’s ruthless determination to crush dissent to consolidate its power,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s Head of North Africa Campaigns.

    September 14, 2017
    65 associations refused authorization for peaceful protests in two years 13 ministerial decrees banning protests in 2016 alone Over 10 critical websites blocked

    Human rights defenders, citizens’ movements, unionists and journalists critical of the government are facing growing danger as the government increasingly uses

    repressive laws and intelligence service to muzzle critics and hamper their work, Amnesty International reveals in a new report published today.

    ‘Between recession and repression. The rising cost of dissent in Chad’ documents how the authorities have over the recent years responded to growing public

    discontent, with ever greater restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

    September 11, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a human rights defender arrested from her home last night, who has previously been targeted by the authorities for her peaceful activism, said Amnesty International.

    Raheleh Rahemipour has spent years trying to uncover the truth about what happened to her brother and baby niece who were forcibly disappeared while in custody during the early 1980s. She was sentenced to a year in prison earlier this year in connection with these efforts and has been awaiting the outcome of her appeal.

    “Raheleh Rahemipour has already been forced to endure the anguish and distress of having her loved ones forcibly disappeared and faces an unjust prison sentence for her efforts to learn their fate. Her arrest provides further evidence of the Iranian authorities’ ruthless determination to intimidate her into silence and prolong her suffering,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of lashing out against aggrieved families searching for their loved ones, the Iranian authorities must meet their legitimate demands for truth and justice.”

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