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Human Rights Defenders

    September 30, 2015

    By Tara Scurr, Campaigner, Business and Human Rights  

     

    One year ago, Alex Neve and I were sitting in the Hotel Continental in Guatemala City, waiting for reporters to turn up for our press conference. We were about to launch a new Amnesty International report on mining and human rights. We’d been warned by our experienced Guatemalan media handler not to expect many reporters to show up. Imagine our delight when our press conference began and we saw that the room was packed with radio, print and TV reporters, NGOs, and human rights defenders from  communities affected by mining. It was standing room only.

    September 27, 2015

    Released: 16:01 GMT Sunday 27 September, 2015

    The Chinese authorities must immediately release eight mainland activists detained for supporting last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Amnesty International said on the first anniversary of people taking to the streets in the city.

    Five of the activists, Su Changlan, Chen Qitang, Wang Mo, Xie Wenfei and Zhang Shengyu, have since been formally arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. A sixth person, Sun Feng, has been indicted with the same crime. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

    Two others, Ji Sizun and Ye Xiaozheng, could face up to five years in prison on the charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Ji Sizun faces an additional charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”, which also carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

    September 11, 2015

    Angolan authorities must drop the charge of “rebellion” against human rights activist José Marcos Mavungo and immediately and unconditionally free him, Amnesty International said today ahead of the court’s final decision on his case on 14 September 2015.

    “The trial against José Marcos Mavungo had nothing to do with justice. Instead it was designed to silence him and intimidate other human rights defenders in Angola,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “This trial is indicative of the shrinking human rights space in the country and Angolan authorities must release him and stop intimidating dissenting voices.”
    José Marcos Mavungo, who spent six months in pre-trial detention, was charged with “rebellion” after he was arrested on 14 March 2015 for helping to organize a peaceful demonstration against bad governance in Cabinda Province.

    Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.

    August 31, 2015

    Narges Mohammadi has been in and out of prison for more than a decade for her support of human rights in Iran. Three months after her most recent imprisonment, she wrote this personal letter from jail on what it means to be apart from her children.

     

    MY TWINS WERE BORN ON 28 NOVEMBER 2006

    I was not allowed to hold my son Ali and my daughter Kiana when they were born because of my poor health. I was only able to see them through the door of the hospital room. It seems as if their fate was to be apart from me from birth. When I held them for the first time, all the scars from the caesarean, the difficulties I had breathing, the fear of death and all the pain were forgotten. I had become a mother.

    WHEN KIANA AND ALI WERE THREE YEARS AND SIX MONTHS OLD

    August 24, 2015

    By Tanya O'Carroll, Technology and Human Rights Officer for Amnesty International. Follow Tanya on Twitter @TanyaOCarroll

    One year after the launch of Panic Button, our phone app for human rights activists, we find out how it’s helping them to prepare for attacks, coordinate with their networks, and stay safe.

    “We are afraid. We are afraid that the abduction that happened to our parents might also happen to us.”

    August 14, 2015

    Sixteen international organizations have joined the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in welcoming the release of its president Mazen Darwish and in calling for all charges against him and his colleagues to be dropped, as well as for the release of all other prisoners of conscience who remain detained by the Syrian authorities.

    Whilst welcoming this week’s release of Mazen Darwish and of his SCM colleagues Hani al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir last month we are extremely concerned that they continue to face charges of ‘publicizing terrorist acts’ and are due to face trial later this month. We continue to call for all charges against them to be dropped immediately and unconditionally, and for an end to the persecution and judicial harassment of the three men for their legitimate human rights work. The authorities in Syria must further guarantee that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

    August 13, 2015

    The eight-and-a-half and seven year sentences respectively handed down today to human rights defenders Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus show the continuous criminalization of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, Amnesty International said.

    Both were convicted for “fraud” and other crimes related to their NGO work at a trial in the capital Baku. International observers and journalists were refused entry to the court and only a handful of diplomats were allowed to attend.

    A charge of treason, purportedly spying for Armenia, is also pending against the couple, but it has been sent to a separate court for consideration.

    July 11, 2015

    The Chinese authorities must end their assault on human rights lawyers, Amnesty International said on Saturday, after more than 50 lawyers and activists were targeted by police in a nationwide crackdown.

      LATEST UPDATE
    3.30pm [Beijing time] Monday 13 July   Total number of lawyers and activists targeted: 101  
      Total number of lawyers and activists still missing or in police custody: 25   TAKE ACTION

    Prominent human rights lawyers Li Heping and Sui Muqing are among at least 20 people feared detained. All the individuals missing since the crackdown began on Thursday 9 July are well-known for their work on human rights cases.

    July 09, 2015

    The authorities must respect due process and ensure an impartial investigation in the case of 15 people, most of them human rights defenders and student activists, arrested yesterday in the capital Bogotá in connection with last week’s explosions in the city, Amnesty International said today.

    On 2 July, two small explosive devices were detonated in Bogotá leaving several people injured but no fatalities. The authorities attributed the attack to the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN).

    In setting off these explosives in the city, with the high risk to civilian life that this entailed, those responsible clearly showed a complete disregard for human life.
    The authorities have a duty to investigate any criminal activity and bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility through an independent and impartial process which conforms to international law and standards.

    June 18, 2015

    The Chinese government must release and drop all charges against three human rights campaigners about to be tried on state security charges for publishing books on democracy and activism, Amnesty International said today.

    Tang Jingling, Yuan Xinting, and Wang Qingying will be tried by Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate People’s Court on Friday for “inciting subversion of state power”, a state security charge regularly levelled against human rights activists and peaceful critics of the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. They each face up to five years imprisonment.

    “This trial is another dark day for freedom of expression in China. It has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with arbitrarily silencing critics of the government,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Anything other than these men walking free will amount to a gross injustice.”

    May 15, 2015

    The Chinese authorities must end their persecution of prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, and drop all charges against him, Amnesty International said.

    Pu Zhiqiang was indicted on the charges of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and "inciting ethnic hatred" by Beijing prosecutors on Friday, primarily on the basis of online comments he made. If convicted he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

    “The charges against Pu Zhiqiang are another act of political persecution. The chances of him receiving a fair trial are close to zero,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “He did nothing more than comment on current affairs on social media. The Chinese government is blatantly violating his freedom of expression and attempting to silence an independent voice.”

    Pu Zhiqiang was originally detained by police on 6 May 2014, after he attended a seminar in Beijing that called for an investigation into the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

    May 13, 2015

    The continued detention of two human rights defenders held on fabricated charges of ‘crimes against the security of the state’ is a blatant oppression of freedom of expression and a mockery of justice in Angola, said Amnesty International and four other human rights organizations two months after the men were arrested.

    Jose Marcos Mavungo and Arão Bula Tempo were arrested on 14 March 2015 solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in the country’s Cabinda region.

    Amnesty International, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, the International Commission of Jurists and the SADC Lawyers' Association are calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

    “The use of state security and other crimes to punish those expressing critical opinions in Angola is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to crush dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    April 16, 2015

    A letter from Samar Badawi to her imprisoned husband, the Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair. Samar is also the sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

    Words are not enough for me to express how proud I am of my husband. How deeply proud I am of the man who believed in me and my cause when I was imprisoned. As my lawyer, he defended me and never left me alone to face those who unjustly attempted to impose their patriarchal authority over me just because I am a woman who dared to speak up. Everyone turned their backs on me except for my husband who remained by my side until he had helped achieve justice for my cause.

    He has always been my rock whenever I felt weak, he was my strength and my source of motivation and inspiration.

    April 14, 2015

    By Ensaf Haidar, via The Washington Post

    On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.

    Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws.

    April 13, 2015

    “I was not jailed because I represented myself, but because I defended the oppressed in my country. Don’t forget me. But most importantly do not forget those I was defending.”

    Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human rights defender and lawyer for imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, is currently serving a 15 year sentence in addition to a fine of 200,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (approximately $67,000 CAD) and a 15-year travel ban. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience detained solely for his peaceful human rights work.

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