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Human Rights Defenders

    July 07, 2017
      The Chinese authorities must end their ruthless campaign of detention and torture of human rights lawyers and activists, said Amnesty International, ahead of the second anniversary of the start of an unprecedented crackdown launched under President Xi Jinping. Nearly 250 human rights lawyers and activists have been targeted during the nationwide sweep which began on 9 July 2015. Six have since been convicted for “subverting state power” or “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Three others are still awaiting trials or verdicts. “For two years the Chinese government has been methodically decimating the ranks of human rights lawyers and activists. This vicious crackdown marked by arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, torture and ill-treatment and fake confessions must end now,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International. “Lawyers and rights advocates play a crucial role in protecting human rights and the rule of law. The torment that they and their families continue to be subjected to flies in the face of the Chinese government claim that it upholds the rule of law.”  
    July 06, 2017

    Responding to news that Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty International Turkey, seven other human rights activists and two IT trainers, are being investigated for membership of an armed terrorist organization, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

    “The absurdity of these accusations against Idil Eser and the nine others cannot disguise the very grave nature of this attack on some of the most prominent civil society organizations in Turkey.

    “Their spurious detention while attending a routine workshop was bad enough: that they are now being investigated for membership of an armed terrorist organization beggars belief.

    “If anyone was still in doubt of the endgame of Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, they should not be now. There is to be no civil society, no criticism and no accountability in Erdoğan’s Turkey.”

    “If world leaders meeting at the G20 fail to stand up for Turkey’s beleaguered civil society now, there may be nothing left of it by the time the next summit comes around.

    July 06, 2017
    Lenca indigenous women protest against the murder of Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres, in front of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa on April 5, 2016.

    Lenca indigenous women protest against the murder of Honduran environmentalist Berta Caceres, in front of the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa on April 5, 2016. Photo credit: ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

     

    July 05, 2017
    Responding to the Cambodian government’s decision to ban the NGO coalition called the Situation Room from monitoring next year’s elections, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said:   “The ban on the Situation Room is a blatant attempt to silence the work of civil society in Cambodia, and must be reversed immediately. It is chilling that the government is moving to limit public debate and unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association ahead of next year’s general election.   “Instead of trying to repress civil society, Cambodia must ensure that NGOs can operate without fear of reprisal. The first steps should be to repeal the restrictive law on NGOs enacted in 2015, and stop using the courts to harass and silence human rights defenders. These tactics have left civil society extremely vulnerable, where many NGO workers live under the daily threat of being arbitrarily detained or subjected to other forms of retaliation for the work they do.”  
    July 04, 2017

    Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was arrested and detained in Swaziland after writing an article raising concerns about judicial independence and integrity in the country. He and his wife Tanele sit down with us after his release from prison to tell their story and share their sincere thanks to Amnesty supporters.

    Amnesty: So Thulani tell us what happened to you. What was your story? What happened to you in Swaziland in 2014 and 2015?

    Thulani: March 2014. Maybe the best way to answer the question is to say perhaps most of my life I have been involved in the struggle to create a better society in Swaziland. A society that respects the rule of law, human rights and dignity of the Swazi citizen so that includes me writing for a magazine called The Nation. I’m a monthly contributor.

    June 27, 2017
    Rosmit Mantilla

    “I often woke up believing my strength was running out, believing I couldn’t keep going, and then I received photographs of Amnesty International human rights activists from all over the world requesting my freedom, respect for justice and for life. Infinite thanks, friends—without you I wouldn’t be here!”

    These personal words of thanks for your support came from Rosmit Mantilla during his struggle to be freed from a Venezuelan jail. Rosmit is a prominent Member of Parliament, human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience. He is an activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular. He was freed in November following two years in prison.

    June 14, 2017

    The Sudanese authorities must immediately release prominent human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam and his colleague Hafiz Idris Eldoma, and halt its misguided assault on dissenting voices in the country, said Amnesty International as their trial begins in the capital Khartoum today.

    Dr Mudawi and Hafiz are facing six trumped-up charges, including 'undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state', both of which carry either the death penalty or life imprisonment.

    “Dr Mudawi has continuously been harassed by the Sudanese government for his human rights work in Darfur and across Sudan for more than a decade. Unfortunately, this latest round sees the harassment take a more sinister turn as both he and his colleague Hafiz potentially face the death penalty,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Human rights work is not a crime, so Dr Mudawi and Hafiz must be immediately and unconditionally released. Their arrest and continued incarceration is a miscarriage of justice, plain and simple.”

    June 09, 2017
    Lolita Chavez Guatemala Indigenous defenders

    Maya-K’iche human rights defender Lolita Chavez is known to Canadians for her determined and principled stance on the right of Indigenous peoples to determine what happens in their territories. Lolita has spoken to Canadian leaders, investors and the public about the ways in which the Guatemalan government has failed to protect Indigenous peoples and how this leaves them exposed to abuses by corporate actors, such as mining, hydro-electric or logging interests. Most people in the region rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods and are concerned that these industrial activities would destroy sources of water needed for irrigation and drinking. Lolita organized a community referendum on resource development in Santa Cruz del Quiche, Quiche department and residents overwhelmingly voted ‘NO’ to any form of industrial development on their lands.

    May 24, 2017

    The Egyptian authorities have intensified their crackdown on opposition activists ahead of the upcoming 2018 presidential elections, arresting at least 36 people in 17 cities from five opposition parties and political youth groups, said Amnesty International today. Many were arrested in connection with comments they posted online about the elections.

    Among who have faced arrest is the former presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali who was detained yesterday and released today on bail. He will now face trial on Monday for “violating public morals”. If convicted he faces a one year prison sentence or a fine. He would also be barred from running for the presidency. In February he acknowledged that he was considering a renewed presidential bid for 2018 elections.

    May 24, 2017

    The Israeli authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Qatamesh, a 67-year-old Palestinian academic, writer and political analyst who has been arbitrarily detained under a three month administrative detention order, said Amnesty International.

    Ahmed Qatamesh was seized during a pre-dawn raid on his home on 14 May 2017. Three days later a military commander signed an administrative order to detain him for three months despite the fact that he has not been charged with a criminal offence. An Israeli military court is due to confirm the detention soon. Under Israel’s administrative detention policies, Palestinians are routinely detained indefinitely on security grounds, without charge or trial, using renewable detention orders of up to six months.

    May 19, 2017
    Journalists in Mexico protested this May 16 against the killing of one of their colleagues and called on the government to take action.

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas

    The tragic news of the brutal murder of Javier Valdez Cárdenas, a Mexican journalist renowned for his fearless reporting of the drug war wreaking havoc across Mexico, has sent shockwaves through the country.

    His journalism was particularly well-known in his home town of Culiacán, in Sinaloa. There, thousands of people are virtual hostages of a war between ruthless drug cartels and a government that is at best, unable to protect its people and, at worse, in collusion with those it claims to be fighting against.

    Javier was gunned down by unidentified men near the office of Riodoce, the weekly newspaper he founded and one of the few in the state still reporting on the wave of deaths sweeping through the area.

    May 17, 2017

    By Guadalupe Marengo, Head of Global Human Rights Defenders Programme, Amnesty International

    May 17, 2017

    Amnesty International calls for investigation into ‘war crime’ leaks and stronger  whistleblower protection

    “It seems to me that transparency in government is a fundamental prerequisite to ensuring and protecting the freedom and dignity of all people.” – Chelsea Manning

    Chelsea Manning’s long overdue scheduled release from a US military prison today finally ends her punishment for exposing classified information, including of possible war crimes committed by the US military, Amnesty International said.

    May 15, 2017
    Amnesty International launches new global campaign to stop the wave of attacks against those defending human rights 281 people killed in 2016 for defending human rights, up from 156 in 2015 Human rights defenders facing unparalleled global assault amid demonizing rhetoric, clampdowns on civil society and rampant use of surveillance

    >>Act Now

    Community leaders, lawyers, journalists and other human rights defenders across the world are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, intimidation and violence, warned Amnesty International today as it launched a new global campaign demanding an end to the onslaught of attacks against brave individuals standing up to injustice.

    “What we are witnessing today is a full-frontal assault by governments, armed groups, corporations and others with power on the very right to defend human rights. Human rights defenders bear the brunt of this global attack,” said Salil Shetty, the Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    May 14, 2017

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada

    In early April, the courageous journalists at Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred men suspected of being gay had been abducted, tortured, and some killed in a coordinated government campaign in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Men who are released from detention are not safe; they may face honour killings by family members. In response, Chechen officials denied the existence of gay men in Chechnya, and denied they had ordered ‘preventative mopping up’ of people considered to be undesirable.

    People worldwide were outraged. How could this be happening? What could be done to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities in Chechnya from discrimination and violence? What were we doing and could we do more?

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