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Journalist/Bloggers

    November 09, 2015

    Charbak* who recently escaped Bangladesh after his name appeared on several kill lists, reflects on what the recent murder of Faisal Arefin Dipon and others means for the future of free thought in Bangladesh.

    I have come to tell you this with so much helplessness, suffering and agony in my heart. The post-independence young generation of Bangladesh – my generation – who collectively dreamt of a secular homeland, has lost another one of our own. Just over a week ago, machete-wielding extremists tore Faisal Arefin Dipon’s body to pieces, tearing our dream as well.

    This time it wasn’t a blogger who was hacked down, but a publisher of secular books. So it seems that any kind of activity that facilitates free expression (not just blogging) will not be tolerated by thesegroups.

    September 25, 2015

    Media workers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are free. Just weeks after a court sentenced them to another three years in prison, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has cut short the rest of their sentences and released them under a presidential pardon.

    For more than a year and a half they have been persecuted by Egyptian authorities – forced to endure two drawn-out, politically-motivated trials and months in prison – simply for their work for news channel Al Jazeera English.

    Their release is very welcome news, although they should never have been jailed for the ludicrous charges of ‘broadcasting false news’ and operating as journalists without authorisation. We continue to call on Egyptian authorities to drop all criminal charges against them and their colleague Peter Greste.

    September 01, 2015

    Azerbaijan’s jailing of an award winning journalist barely two weeks after two prominent human rights activists received jail sentences is another severe attack on free speech, Amnesty International said today.

    Investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, who works for Radio Free Europe, was jailed at a closed session trial in Baku for seven and a half years under trumped-up charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office.

    “This was yet another unfair trial relying on fabricated charges. The government has stepped up its brutal crackdown on political activists, journalists, human rights defenders - indeed anyone who dares to publicly raise a critical voice,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
     
    “By adopting draconian laws and aggressively applying them the Azerbaijani authorities have effectively criminalised free speech and the freedom of association. They are simply abusing the criminal justice system to persecute dissenters.“

    September 01, 2015

    Responding to news that three journalists from Vice News have been charged and remanded in pre-trial detention, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said:

    “Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to release immediately three VICE News journalists. The three were remanded in pre-trial detention late on Monday night on the charge of ‘committing a crime in the name of an illegal organisation’.

    “They were detained after filming clashes between youths and police in southeastern Turkey. The detentions smack of a blatant case of punishing legitimate journalism using anti-terrorism laws.” 

     

    For more information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    September 01, 2015

    The acquittal of two journalists in Thailand -  on trial for reproducing parts of an article on human trafficking – is a welcome move for freedom of expression, but the two should never have had to stand trial in the first place, Amnesty International said.

    The online news outlet Phuketwan’s editor Alan Morison and reporter Chutima Sidasathian were today found not guilty of for criminal defamation and for violating a provision of the Computer Crime Act. The measure penalizes importing forged or false digital information in a manner likely to cause harm to a third party or the public.

    The charges – brought following a complaint by the Thai Royal Navy - stem from one paragraph copied from a Pulitzer Prize-winning article by Reuters, that examined Thailand's role in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants, published in 2013.

    June 16, 2015

    By Sevag Kechichian, Saudi Arabia Researcher at Amnesty International

    Today, like many people around the world, I waited to find out if Raif Badawi would again be hauled out of his prison cell and mercilessly lashed another 50 times in a public square in Jeddah.

    The same suspense has gripped people for 23 weeks since the first time this act of cruelty was inflicted on the imprisoned blogger on 9 January this year. That day, a crowd of onlookers gathered in the square immediately after Friday prayers to witness this hateful spectacle.

    While flogging and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments are commonplace in Saudi Arabia, they are not necessarily carried out on Fridays and in public. There is often an air of secrecy even around the many beheadings and other executions in the country – which have seen a macabre spike since the beginning of this year.

    Amnesty International has campaigned for Raif’s release since his arrest in 2012. Since he was flogged, it joined more than a million activists, journalists and political leaders in calling for an end to the horror and for his immediate release.

    June 04, 2015
    Gao Yu journalist and prisoner of conscience

    By William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. On twitter @williamnee

    26 years have passed since the tragic days in 1989 when thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters were brutally repressed in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

    But even though the tanks have long left the city’s infamous square, President Xi Jinping, appears as determined to quash anyone perceived as challenging the Communist Party’s hegemony.

    When President Xi took office in late 2012, he declared power would be put “in a cage”, but it is the independently minded academics, journalists, lawyers, and rights activists that have been thrown in jail.

    We are witnessing one of the darkest periods for freedom of expression in China since the bloodshed of 1989.

    May 02, 2015

    Released 3 May 2015 00:01 GMT

    Journalists in Egypt face acute dangers including arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention without charge, prosecution and intimidation according to a statement published by Amnesty International on World Press Freedom Day (3 May) highlighting the dangers of media reporting in the country.

    At least 18 journalists are currently detained in Egypt, dozens more have faced arbitrary arrest. Since June 2013, at least six journalists have also been killed while covering protests, either by security forces or in clashes between demonstrators.

    “In Egypt today anyone who challenges the authorities’ official narrative, criticizes the government or exposes human rights violations is at risk of being tossed into a jail cell, often to be held indefinitely without charge or trial or face prosecution on trumped-up charges,” said Philip Luther Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 02, 2015

    Released 3 May 2015 00.01 am Myanmar time / 2 May 05.31pm GMT

    At least a dozen media workers in Myanmar will spend World Press Freedom Day (3 May) behind bars as authorities are leading an intensifying crackdown on journalists, Amnesty International said in a statement today.

    The past year in Myanmar has been marked by an increasingly restrictive climate for media, as authorities have resorted to old tactics of harassing and imprisoning journalists.

    “The fact that 12 media workers will spend World Press Freedom Day languishing in prison speaks volumes about the reality journalists face in the country. The past years have seen a vibrant media scene emerge in Myanmar, but the authorities are doing their best to undermine this. Those journalists who dare to report on topics considered ‘sensitive’ by the government or military are harassed and imprisoned,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    May 01, 2015

    Media freedom has increasingly come under attack in many countries across Africa with journalists targeted for exposing corruption and human rights violations, said Amnesty International ahead of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.

    The organisation is calling on all African governments to ensure that journalists are able to carry out their work without fear, free from intimidation and harassment.

    WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

    “In West and Central Africa violations of media freedom continue unabated. From Gambia to Cameroon, journalists are either threatened or forced into exile because of their work. Over the past few years, repressive governments in the region passed legislation restricting and undermining the right to freedom of expression,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    “It is important to protect the right to freedom of expression of journalists and bloggers while allowing free and independent media to investigate and report global issues without fear, intimidation or harassment. Media freedom must be fully and effectively guaranteed,”

    April 30, 2015

    When 12 people working at the satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo were gunned down at their offices in central Paris in January, the world woke up to the grim reality of the threats thousands of media professionals face daily.

    The global campaigns of support for the magazine’s work sent the unequivocal message that no one should pay with their lives the price of exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    But behind this single story that dominated the international news headlines are thousands of media professionals who, in every corner of the world, are harassed, intimidated, threatened, tortured and unfairly jailed by governments and armed groups in a vile attempt to prevent them from holding up a mirror to society.

    In countries such as Mexico and Pakistan, owning a press card is so dangerous that many media professionals end up quitting their jobs altogether, out of utter fear.

    According to Reporters without Borders, 22 journalists and media workers have been killed and more than 160 have been imprisoned in 2015 alone. Nearly 100 media professionals were killed because of their work in 2014.

    April 29, 2015

    In the lead up to World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, the parents of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was recently released from prison in Egypt, remain concerned about his colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy.

    As we proudly watched our son Peter Greste finally speak outside the Tora fortress that had been his prison for more than a year, addressing an audience filled with politicians and journalists at the National Press Club in Canberra, our pride couldn’t help be tinged by the knowledge this freedom couldn’t be shared by his Al Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed and Baher.

    These welcoming faces felt a long way from June 2014, when Peter, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, the ‘Al Jazeera three’ as they’d become known, were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in prison on charges of broadcasting false news and aiding the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This nightmare had followed their arrest on the 29th of December, 2013, for simply doing their jobs and was without a doubt the lowest point in the campaign to have all three released.

    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 09, 2015

    The Zimbabwean authorities must urgently step up their search efforts for abducted journalist and pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara and update the public on any progress so far, Amnesty International said today, a month after his enforced disappearance.

    A High Court judge last month ordered Zimbabwean police and state security agents to search for Itai Dzamara, including by advertising on radio and newspapers, and to give fortnightly updates to the Court.

    “It is worrying that a month after Itai Dzamara’s abduction, there seems to be no credible investigation in place. It is also worrying that police and state security agents have not been fully complying with the order to keep the High Court informed,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “If someone can just disappear without a trace, it begs the question who is safe in Zimbabwe? Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law that must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”

    January 23, 2015

     By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.

    The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.

    “What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.

    The answer is not simple.  

    Since taking the throne in 2005, King Abdullah initiated some positive reforms.

    Women, for example, have slowly been included in the Shura Council, a powerless consultative body to advise the King, and incorporated into the workforce – with some being allowed to work in courts as lawyers.

    The late King is credited for opening a dozen new universities and providing thousands of Saudi Arabian citizens with generous scholarships to study abroad. He also initiated seemingly ambitious judicial reforms that have not really gone anywhere.  

    He even decreed the founding of a formal National Human Rights Commission and allowed the establishment of a supposedly independent human rights organization.

    But that’s where the good news ends.

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