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    March 24, 2017

    An internationally mandated fact-finding mission to look at human rights violations in Myanmar is welcome, urgently needed and long overdue, Amnesty International said today.

    “The announcement of an independent international fact-finding mission to look into human rights violations in Myanmar is long overdue. After the Myanmar government’s failure to establish a credible investigation into the security forces’ crimes against the Rohingya in northern Rakhine State, there is an urgent need for a team of international experts examine alleged violations there, in Kachin and in northern Shan State,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “The Myanmar government should welcome the fact-finding mission and assist it in every possible way with its work. The world has a right to know the full truth of events after Amnesty International and the UN both found that human rights violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity.”

    Background

    March 23, 2017

    The security forces killed one person and seriously injured at least two others as they opened fire on protesting students in the city of Bo today, Amnesty International said.

    “This bloodshed and loss of young life is a tragedy and suggests a heavy handed response by the security forces to a student protest,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    “We urge the police to refrain from committing human rights violations and instead allow the students to safely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

    “The authorities must conduct an independent investigation to shed light on the circumstances of this killing and all injuries and, if there is sufficient evidence, ensure accountability through fair trials.”

    March 23, 2017

    The USA and UK are fuelling serious violations that have caused devastating civilian suffering through multibillion-dollar arms transfers to Saudi Arabia that vastly overshadow their humanitarian efforts, said Amnesty International.

    Since the conflict began two years ago in March 2015, the US and UK have together transferred more than US$5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia which is leading the military coalition in Yemen. This is more than 10 times the estimated US$450 million that the US State Department and the UK’s Department for International Development have spent or budgeted to spend in aid to Yemen over the past two years.

    “Two years of conflict have forced three million people to flee their homes, shattered the lives of thousands of civilians and left Yemen facing a humanitarian disaster with more than 18 million in desperate need of assistance. Yet despite the millions of dollars’ worth of international assistance allocated to the country, many states have contributed to the suffering of the Yemeni people by continuing to supply billions of dollars’ worth of arms,” said Lynn Maalouf Deputy Director for

    March 22, 2017

    British national Violette Uwamahoro, the pregnant wife of a political opposition activist living in exile, who was arrested by Rwandan authorities and held incommunicado, will make her first appearance in court at a bail hearing in the capital Kigali tomorrow, said Amnesty International.

    Violette Uwamahoro, who lives in the UK with her two children, disappeared in Kigali on 14 February. She had returned to the country to attend her father’s funeral. She had just called a family member to let them know she was arriving at the city’s main bus station when her phone went dead.

    Rwandan government officials initially denied knowledge of her whereabouts, before the police confirmed on 3 March that she was in their custody.

    “Violette Uwamahoro was illegally held without access to lawyers or her family for more than two weeks. This is an unacceptable breach of Rwandan and international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region.

    March 22, 2017

    Pakistan’s lawmakers must immediately reverse their decision to reinstate military courts, Amnesty International said today.

    Two months after their original mandate of two years lapsed, Pakistan’s parliament passed a bill to reinstate military courts that violate international law, strip defendants of key rights, and operate in notorious secrecy.

    “Military courts have no business trying civilians. There is no fair process involved where trials are held in secrecy, there is no right to appeal, and judges may be unqualified to preside in judgment,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Senior Adviser on South Asia.

    “By surrendering the judicial system to the military, Pakistan’s lawmakers have failed in their duty to support an independent civilian judiciary. They are recklessly abandoning people to a court system that has in the last two years produced coerced confessions, unfair trials and executions.”

    Under Pakistan’s military courts, no information about the charges or evidence against the suspects, or the sentences given, is made available in the public domain.

    March 22, 2017

    A three year sentence against the leader of a Christian pro-democracy movement after he criticized Fidel Castro is a stark illustration of ongoing restrictions to the right to free expression in Cuba, said Amnesty International.

    Dr. Eduardo Cardet Concepción, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (Movimiento Cristiano Liberación, MCL) was sentenced on Monday 20 March, his wife told Amnesty International. 

    He was charged with attacking an official of the state (atentado) after he publicly criticized former Cuban leader Fidel Castro a few days after his death. During an interview with Madrid-based radio station esRadio, aired two days before his arrest, Cardet described the mourning in Cuba following the death of Fidel Castro as imposed, and said: “Castro was a very controversial man, very much hated and rejected by our people.”  His lawyer has ten days to file an appeal.

    March 20, 2017

    The Bahraini authorities have once again displayed their ruthless determination to silence activists and crush all signs of dissent by charging prominent political figure Ebrahim Sharif with “inciting hatred against the regime” in a series of tweets, said Amnesty International.

    Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of secular opposition party, the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was summoned for questioning this morning by the prosecution unit for terrorist crimes. He was released shortly afterwards but only after being informed that he was being charged with “incitement to hatred against the regime” over a series of tweets. One of the tweets included an Amnesty International social media graphic featuring 20 individuals who have been imprisoned in violation of their human rights since the 2011 uprising.

    “Once again Ebrahim Sharif is being unjustly punished simply for exercizing his right to freedom of expression. The charge against him is ludicrous and must be dropped immediately,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s office in Beirut.

    March 20, 2017

    Following the arrest of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor at 3:15AM local time after a lengthy room-by-room search of his apartment, Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office, said:

    “Amnesty International is appalled and dismayed at this surprise overnight raid resulting in the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor, a courageous and prominent human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.

    “We believe Ahmed Mansoor was detained for the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs, and we call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

    At around midnight, 10 male and two female uniformed security officials stormed the family’s apartment and carried out a lengthy room-by-room search, including of the children’s bedroom. They confiscated electronic devices and took Ahmed Mansoor away at around 3:15AM local time. They did not inform his wife where he was being taken.

    March 17, 2017

    Myanmar’s authorities must immediately act on the urgent calls made in an interim report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, Amnesty International said today.

    “The authorities must immediately act on the Rakhine Commission’s recommendations to grant humanitarian access, end the media blackout in northern Rakhine State, and ensure the perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    On 16 March 2017, the Commission published its interim report, with recommendations to the Myanmar government on “improving the welfare of all people in Rakhine state”. The report’s authors said their recommendations must be met with “urgent action” by the Myanmar authorities.

    “Unfortunately, the commission’s recommendations do not far enough to address the increasingly dire situation on the ground. There is much more the authorities can and should do, including lifting restrictions on freedom of movement for the Rohingya and other Muslims,” said Champa Patel. 

    March 17, 2017

    The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s governing body must continue to scrutinize Qatar’s record on migrant labour abuse, Amnesty International said, ahead of a crucial 21 March decision on a complaint brought by trade unions against the Gulf state.

    Last week the government stated it had “repealed” its controversial sponsorship law, including the requirement that migrant workers obtain an exit permit from their employers to leave the country. Amnesty International does not accept this claim and considers that there are not currently sufficient grounds to close the complaint against Qatar. The organization is calling for the ILO’s complaint process to continue, in line with a draft decision issued ahead of Tuesday’s session.

    “This is a critical juncture for migrant workers in Qatar. The government has made some public commitments in response to ILO pressure, but its claims that it has abolished the sponsorship system simply do not add up,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

    March 16, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Following a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii blocking President Trump’s revised Muslim ban, Margaret Huang, executive director at Amnesty International USA had the following reaction:

    “As long as this hateful policy remains, it will continue to be fought in courts while thousands of people and families are trapped in uncertainty. Congress can end this by passing legislation that effectively nullifies the ban. This decision against the ban tells us what we already know: this is anti-Muslim bigotry falsely packaged as security. Hatred won’t make us safe. The ban must be repealed now.”

    +++++++

    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    March 13, 2017

    Photographic evidence and witness testimony gathered by Amnesty International at the scene suggest that Palestinian security forces used excessive force to violently suppress a peaceful protest outside of the Ramallah District Court in the West Bank on 12 March 2017.

    Ten minutes after the protest against the prosecution of six Palestinian men, including slain activist Basil al-Araj, began outside the courthouse in al-Bireh area, Amnesty International researchers witnessed heavily armed security forces arriving, carrying batons and shields. They immediately began to charge towards the protesters, violently striking them with the wooden batons, using pepper spray and firing tear gas into the crowd. At least 21 people (13 men and eight women) were injured, including four journalists covering the event. Seventeen were hospitalized.

    March 10, 2017

    On the occasion of World Day Against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2017, ProtonMail and Amnesty International join forces to show how internet restrictions affect people around the world.

    As the world’s largest encrypted email provider, ProtonMail is the privacy tool of choice for journalists, activists and privacy conscious everyday users. Today when logging into their inboxes, ProtonMail’s two million users from 150 countries will see Amnesty International’s latest findings on cyber censorship.

    Amnesty International has documented 55 countries where people were arrested for peaceful expression online.

    March 10, 2017

    In response to today’s court ruling finding Joram Mwesigye, a senior Ugandan police officer, guilty of assaulting journalist Andrew Lwanga in January 2015, Abdullahi Halakhe, Amnesty International’s East Africa Researcher, said:

    “Today’s ruling is a rare victory for freedom of the press in Uganda. It sends a clear message that attacks on journalists must never be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances. It will hopefully assure people working in the media that the courts are watching; willing and ready to uphold their rights.

    “Press freedom has become increasingly restricted in Uganda with numerous attacks on media outlets seen as critical of the government in the past year. Today’s court decision offers a chink of light in an otherwise bleak outlook and demonstrates that the judiciary is prepared to defend freedom of expression.”

    Background

    March 10, 2017

    The Malawian authorities must step up action to protect people with albinism who are being targeted for ritual murders, Amnesty International said today, following another attack in the country’s capital Lilongwe.

    Last night four men attempted to drill through the wall of the home of Gilbert Daire, former president of the Association of the People with Albinism, as he slept. They fled the scene after his neighbours intervened.

    “This brazen attack happened in the middle of the country’s busiest city, and sends a chilling message about the lack protection, safety and security of all people with albinism,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “In the past two years we have seen an alarming surge in attacks on people with albinism. We have documented dozens of individuals being hunted down like animals for their body parts, but these brazen attacks seem to continue unabated. Malawian authorities must end this cycle of impunity of perpetrators of these crimes.”

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