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Human Rights Defenders

    July 31, 2017
      Tanya O'Carroll is a technology and human rights adviser at Amnesty International. Follow Tanya on Twitter @TanyaOCarroll    When the colleagues of Ali Gharavi and Peter Steudtner heard that they had been detained in Turkey, along with representatives of six renowned Turkish NGOs, they assumed there had been a misunderstanding. Ali, a Swedish IT strategy consultant, and Peter, a German nonviolence and wellbeing trainer, had been in Istanbul delivering a routine workshop, as they had done many times before in countries as far afield as Mexico and Pakistan. This was the first time their work had landed them in a police station.   But the detention of the two trainers was no accident. After 12 days in police custody, both men were remanded in prison along with four others including İdil Eser, the director of Amnesty Turkey. They are facing absurd and baseless allegations of terror links, and lengthy pre-trial detentions.   
    July 28, 2017
      By Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific   There is nothing left of Boeung Kak lake in the centre of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. What used to be the largest body of water in the city has over the past years been completely filled with sand, as part of a development project to build new condominiums and office buildings. Since construction started in 2007 thousands of families have been illegally evicted, and the Boeung Kak area has become a focal point for human rights defenders in Cambodia.  
    July 28, 2017
      ‘The global outcry over Turkey’s human rights crackdown is growing louder by the day’ - Kate Allen   Amnesty International has welcomed a call from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for the release of detained Turkish human rights activists - including Idil Eser, Amnesty’s Turkey Director, and TanerKiliç, Amnesty’s Turkey Chair.   Speaking at an event in Sydney, Australia, last night Mr Johnson said he ‘deplored’ the actions of the Turkish authorities in arresting human rights activists, including Amnesty campaigners. In a lecture at the Lowy Institute, the Foreign Secretary said:
    July 27, 2017

    By Kathy Price, AI Canada's Honduras campaigner. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KPriceAmnesty

    “Admirable, courageous, inspiring”: those were the words we heard over and over again from the Members of Parliament, government officials and Amnesty supporters who heard the testimony of Central American human rights defenders we brought to Ottawa in June.

    All have paid dearly for their efforts to defend the rights of vulnerable people seeking to protect the land and water on which their lives depend.

    Luis Fernando García Monroy (left) was shot by security guards of a Canadian-owned mine in Santa Rosa, Guatemala during a 2013 protest against its impacts on the environment so vital to the livelihoods and well-being of local inhabitants. Following surgery and reconstruction of his face, Luis Fernando went on to co-found Youth Organized in Defence of Life (known by its Spanish acronym JODVID), to carry on the creative, determined activism of Topacio Reynosa, another young human rights defender who was killed in 2014.

    July 25, 2017
      Responding to statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu at a press conference following his meeting with High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen said:   “Whilst we welcome the acknowledgement by the Foreign Minister that Amnesty International are regarded as “a credible global organization”, his assertion that we will be “able to conduct activities freely” is a bold claim in light of the fact that both the Director and the Chair of Amnesty International Turkey are languishing behind bars alongside seven other human rights activists.”   “The absurd case against Idil Eser is not based on any nefarious activities but instead rests entirely upon the legitimate work of Amnesty International. If this work is criminalised, it is hard to see how the organization – or indeed the wider human rights movement in Turkey – can continue to function.  
    July 25, 2017
      ·         Salil Shetty meets Mogherini ahead of her meeting with Turkey Ministers ·         Major public stunt demands end to human rights crackdown ·         “For me this is personal” - partner of jailed activist speaks out   Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, urged the European Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, to urgently raise the issue of jailed human rights defenders at her meeting with the Turkish Foreign Affairs and EU Ministers later today. Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair, Idil Eser and Taner Kılıç are currently in detention facing terrorism related charges.  
    July 24, 2017

    Responding to news that the Turkish authorities have issued detention orders against four human rights defenders released on bail on Tuesday, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe said:

    “With this cruel and retrograde step, Turkey has underlined its growing reputation as an indiscriminate jailer of civil society activists and a stranger to the rule of law.”  

    One of the four, Nalan Erkem was detained from her house in Istanbul last night. A second, İlknur Üstün was detained from her home in Ankara today. 

    “These four people should never have been detained in the first place. Having already endured twelve days behind bars, they are forced to relive the ordeal yet again. Instead of dropping the baseless investigation, the Turkish authorities have raised their absurdity to fresh heights,” said John Dalhuisen.

    The four human rights defenders will now join their six co-suspects behind bars, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey. 


    July 24, 2017
      ·         Salil Shetty to meet Mogherini ahead of her meeting with Turkey Minister ·         Major public stunt will demand end to human rights crackdown ·         Partners of two of the jailed activists available for interview in Brussels   Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, will urge High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini to urgently raise the issue of jailed human rights defenders - including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair, Idil Eser and Taner Kılıç - at her meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister tomorrow.  
    July 21, 2017

    By Alex Neve, Amnesty Canada Secretary General. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexNeveAmnesty.

    As a human rights advocate you know you will not make everyone happy. Government officials, military leaders, armed groups and businesses all attract your scrutiny, criticism and suggestions for improvement. Some act on the advice. Others ignore it. Some strenuously disagree.

    Public debate can get heated. The recent exchanges around Omar Khadr’s case are a striking reminder of that. Even in Canada, leading Amnesty International, I’ve felt that heat. I’ve been insulted and called names. I’ve been rebuffed. I’ve been threatened.

    But no matter how inflamed things have become, I’ve never been jailed for standing up for human rights.

    My close colleague Idil Eser, who does my job in Turkey, heading up our national section there, has been jailed for doing just that. She has been behind bars for the past two weeks because she passionately defends human rights; in Turkey and around the world.

    July 20, 2017
    Just days after six human rights defenders were remanded in pre-trial custody in Turkey, the European Commission has joined governments and world leaders, including Angela Merkel, to demand their immediate and unconditional release.   Speaking today a European Commission spokesperson called for the “immediate release of these people”. This call follows similar demands by the governments of Germany, the US, France, Belgium, Ireland and Austria.   “The jailing of these six human rights activists – including the director of Amnesty International Turkey - has spurred world leaders to break their silence on the ongoing human rights crisis in Turkey. They are now coming together with remarkable speed and speaking with uncommon unity. Momentum is growing and now is the moment for other world leaders to speak out,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe Director for Amnesty International.  
    July 20, 2017

    The Malaysian authorities must immediately release a distinguished Bangladeshi human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience and allow him to speak at and participate in a conference on the death penalty, Amnesty International said today.

    The Malaysian authorities at Kuala Lumpur airport detained Adilur Rahman Khan, the Secretary of Odhikar, a leading Bangladeshi human rights organization, this morning as he arrived in the country to speak at a conference on the death penalty.

    “The Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Adilur Rahman Khan and allow him to participate in and speak at the conference,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “There is no justification for detaining him whatsoever. It is an outrage that a human rights activist cannot even travel freely to speak on a key human rights issue. Moreover, we understand that he still has not been given access to legal advice and is at risk of being deported.”

    July 19, 2017
      The Bahraini authorities’ decision to bring terrorism charges against Ebtissam al-Saegh, a human rights defender detained since 3 July 2017, is a chilling blow to human rights in the country, said Amnesty International.   Ebtisam al-Saegh was previously tortured, including by being sexually assaulted by members of the Bahrain National Security agency while she was held in custody last May.   “Ebtisam al-Saegh is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released. Her only ‘crime’, is her bravery in challenging the government’s appalling human rights record. By charging her with terrorism for her work on human rights, the Bahraini government is itself attempting to  intimidate and silence civil society in Bahrain,” said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns for the Middle-East at Amnesty International.  
    July 18, 2017

    Police have detained two leaders of Amnesty International within the space of a month. These arrests are just the latest in an escalating human rights crisis.Thousands, including political activists, lawyers, journalists and others critical of government policy in Turkey are facing criminal prosecutions on trumped up terrorism charges. Take action now! 

    July 18, 2017

    ·         Press conference and analysis of absurd charges - 1pm London

     The remanding of six human rights defenders in pre-trial custody is an appalling affront to justice and a new low in Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, said Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International Turkey’s Director, Idil Eser who was among those remanded in custody, was detained alongside nine other human rights defenders on 5 July whilst attending a routine workshop. Four of them were released on bail in the early hours of this morning but are still under investigation. All ten are suspected of ‘committing crime in the name of a terrorist organization without being a member'. The six who were remanded in custody join Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kiliç, behind bars. 

    “Turkish prosecutors have had 12 days to establish the obvious: that these ten activists are innocent. The decision to proceed shows that truth and justice have become total strangers in Turkey,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    July 14, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada’s Latin America campaigner

    It is a story of immeasurable courage and the lengths to which shadowy and not-so-shadowy forces will go in brazen attempts to extinguish it.

    The place is Honduras, a country of staggering poverty and a tiny minority with enormous wealth, who will go to extraordinary lengths to protect it.

    It was just eight years ago that a military coup was executed in order to remove a democratically-elected president seeking to make changes that threatened the rich and powerful. What followed was a wave of repression against opponents of the coup and those speaking up for the rule of law.

    Deadly violence and injustice has only continued in the years since.

    Among the targets are the women and men of COPINH, acronym of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. Its co-founder Berta Cáceres, winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, was gunned down in her home in March 2016.


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