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Prisoner of Conscience

    October 06, 2016

    Iranian authorities must immediately repeal the conviction and sentence of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist who is due to begin serving six years in prison on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities” through the writing of an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning, Amnesty International said today.

    “The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous. She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published – she is effectively being punished for using her imagination,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture. It is appalling that Iran continues to allow the use of stoning, and justifies it in the name of protecting morality.”

    September 26, 2016


    Amnesty International welcomes the release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar from Iranian prison after more than three and a half months of arbitrary detention on baseless charges with extremely limited access to her lawyer and family. Amnesty International considered Dr. Hoodfar to have been a prisoner of conscience detained on trumped-up national security-related charges which which solely stemmed from her work on women’s rights issues. The organization lobbied Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally with a petition which garnered over 50,000 signatures. She was imprisoned in solitary confinement in a section of Tehran’s Evin Prison which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. During this period, grave concerns were raised about her health and lack of access to adequate medical care. 

     

    “We are overjoyed by Dr. Hoodfar’s release from prison in Iran.”

    - Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. 

     

    September 19, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada English Branch. Originally published in the Globe and Mail. 

    When Dr. Homa Hoodfar was arrested in Iran 100 days ago, the circumstances and motivation behind her unfounded and illegal imprisonment were far from clear. While much of that uncertainty remains, what is clear is that she has endured more than three months of grave human rights violations.  Her plight resonates with wider concerns Amnesty International has recently documented in Iran, including a broad crackdown against perceived feminists and routine attacks on prisoners’ health.

    It all adds up a grim human rights reality for Dr. Hoodfar.  One hundred days into her nightmare, efforts to secure her immediate and unconditional release must be escalated even further.  

    September 08, 2016
    Congolese activists Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala walked free last week – another success for Amnesty’s global letter-writing campaign Write for Rights.

    A massive thank you to the 170,000 of you who stood up for Fred and Yves and demanded their release. Your solidarity and activism kept hope alive for the many youth activists at LUCHA (Lutte pour le changement or “fight for change”) – the organization that Fred and Yves belong to. LUCHA, which shared Amnesty’s Ambassador of Conscience Award this year, was instrumental in securing the men’s release, having met President Joseph Kabila just days before the two men walked free. 

    “I am happy to finally be free after more than 17 months of imprisonment,” said Fred. “I thank Amnesty International and all those who fought in one way or another for my release. I look forward to seeing my family and friends to continue the fight for democracy and freedom in my country.” 

    August 30, 2016

    Amnesty International is gravely concerned by the rapid deterioration in the health of Dr. Homa Hoodfar, who has been detained in Iran since June 6. Amnesty International reiterates that it considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience, detained with no legal basis, and calls on Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

     “The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release prisoner of conscience Dr. Homa Hoodfar, whose continued detention in the notorious Evin prison is not only illegal, but is now also seriously affecting her health and placing her in grave danger.” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    August 09, 2016

    Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women’s rights activists in the country in the first half of this year, carrying out a series of harsh interrogations and increasingly likening any collective initiative relating to women’s rights to criminal activity, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women’s rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran’s February 2016 parliamentary election.

    July 26, 2016

    Amnesty International’s Prisoner of Conscience Irom Sharmila Chanu has taken an individual decision to end her 16-year-old fast against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on August 9. Amnesty International India calls on the Manipur government to immediately and unconditionally release the 44-year-old activist and to drop all charges against her.

    At a district court hearing in Imphal, Sharmila expressed the desire to come out of her fast and contest state elections. Speaking to local media, Sharmila said, “The only way to bring change is electoral process. I will stand as an independent candidate from Malom constituency. My single issue would be to remove AFSPA from the state. In my next hearing in the court on August 9 I will end my fast.”

    July 21, 2016

    By Gloria Nafziger, Amnesty International Canada's Campaigner for Iran

    Where would you spend a Sunday in July?

    On Sunday July 17, the members of Amnesty International’s TriCities Group in Coquitlam BC chose to stand in solidarity with Iranian prisoner of conscience, Narges Mohammadi

    Narges Mohammadi is a human rights defender who received a 16-year prison sentence after she was convicted, following an unfair trial in April 2016, of the charges of “founding an illegal group”, “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and “spreading propaganda against the system”. She is already serving a six-year prison sentence from a previous case. Her convictions are based solely on her human rights work.

    Narges is critically ill. She suffers from a pulmonary embolism (a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs) and a neurological disorder that has resulted in her experiencing seizures and temporary partial paralysis. She needs ongoing specialized medical care, which she cannot receive in prison, as well as daily medication.

    July 18, 2016

    Iran’s authorities are callously toying with the lives of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners by denying them adequate medical care, putting them at grave risk of death, permanent disability or other irreversible damage to their health, according to a new report by Amnesty International published today.

    The report, Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons, provides a grim snapshot of health care in the country’s prisons. It presents strong evidence that the judiciary, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, and prison administrations deliberately prevent access to adequate medical care, in many cases as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate, punish or humiliate political prisoners, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them.

    July 12, 2016

    The failure of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan to release 65-year old human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Azimjan Askarov is an egregious example of how Kyrgyzstan is failing to implement its international obligations, said Amnesty International.

    At an extraordinary review of his case that ended today the Supreme Court did not comply with the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee to release Azimjan Askarov. Instead, the Court cancelled his sentence and referred the case to Chui Regional Court for a new court review. The human rights defender will remain in detention pending his new trial.

    “It’s a missed opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to do the right thing by finally releasing a man who should never have been jailed in the first place. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court ignores Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, who attended the review on Monday.

    July 11, 2016

    A new report published by Amnesty International today casts a rare light on the torture and other harrowing treatment of prisoners of conscience locked up in Viet Nam’s secretive network of prisons and detention centres.

    Prisons within Prisons: Torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of conscience in Viet Nam details the ordeals endured by prisoners of conscience in one of the most closed countries in Asia, including prolonged periods of incommunicado detention and solitary confinement, enforced disappearances, the denial of medical treatment, and punitive prison transfers.

    “Viet Nam is a prolific jailer of prisoners of conscience; this report offers a rare glimpse at the horror that those prisoners face in detention,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Viet Nam ratified the UN Convention against Torture in 2015. This in itself is not enough. In order to meet its human rights obligations, the authorities must introduce reforms in line with international law and ensure accountability for torture and ill treatment.”

    July 04, 2016

    Jim Joyce: AICS(ES) Coordinator for Israel, OPT, Palestine

    “This state, this country, this society, are too important for me to be silent. I wish my refusal, even if I pay a personal price for it, will help bring the occupation to the Israel public discourse.”

    These are the words of 19 year old Conscientious objector (CO), Tair Kaminer, an Israeli from Tel Aviv who was given her sixth and longest prison sentence [forty-five days] on 19 June 2016 for refusing to serve in the Israeli army. She objects to her military service call-up because she does not wish to participate in the commission of human rights violations against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    Israel’s practice is to sentence a conscientious objector to a short period of detention usually twenty or -twenty five days. Upon its end, the call up is renewed, and if refused, another period of detention is ordered by the military judge. Israel has never granted a CO a hearing on the grounds for the objection to military service.

    June 21, 2016

    The Eritrean foreign minister’s confirmation that all politicians and journalists arbitrarily arrested in 2001 are alive is welcome news but they must now be immediately and unconditionally released, said Amnesty International.

    In a Radio France Internationale (RFI) interview broadcast on 20 June, Foreign Minister Osman Saleh referred to the detainees as political prisoners and said “all of them are alive” and will be tried “when the government decides”. The detainees, who were arrested in September 2001, included 11 politicians and 10 journalists. Until now the Eritrean authorities have refused to disclose their whereabouts or their health status to their families.

    “Amnesty International considers all 21 prisoners of conscience and has campaigned for their release since they were arrested 15 years ago. It is a travesty of justice that they have been held incommunicado for so long without charge or trial,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    June 17, 2016

    Angolan authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the 17 activists arrested on trumped up charges, said Amnesty International today as demonstrations take place in several cities around the world to mark the first anniversary of their arrest.

    The 17 were charged with “preparatory acts of rebellion” (actos preparatórios de rebelião) and “criminal conspiracy” and handed down conviction and sentences ranging from two and eight-and-a-half years after being arrested for attending a meeting where they discussed politics and governance concerns.

    “One year on, it is completely unacceptable that these 17 activists are still in prison when there was no basis for their arrest in the first place,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Arica.

    “By keeping these young innocent activists behind bars for a year now, Angolan authorities have grossly violated their rights. Their sentences must be overturned and they must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience.

    May 25, 2016

    The release of Khadija Ismayilova by Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court is a welcome step but she will not have obtained justice until her conviction is quashed, said Amnesty International.

    Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment at a trial in September 2015 under trumped-up charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office.
    The Supreme Court today reduced her sentence to a suspended term of three and a half years, after it reversed two of the initial four charges against her.

    “Khadija Ismayilova must be fully acquitted if she is ever to obtain justice for her wrongful imprisonment,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Numerous other prisoners of conscience are still in jail for exercising their right to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan and must also be freed to break this dangerous pattern of fear and repression.”

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