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Torture

    June 08, 2011

    A Bahraini poet faces possible imprisonment for reading out a poem criticizing the country’s King when a military court rules on her case next Sunday.

    Ayat al-Qarmezi, 20, a poet and student was arrested in March for reading out a poem at a pro-reform rally in the capital Manama. She has been charged with "incitement to hatred of the regime" and has reportedly been tortured while in detention.

    "Ayat al-Qarmezi has been put on trial merely for expressing her opinion, peacefully and openly. Her case represents an appalling and sinister attack on free speech. The charge/s against her should be dropped and she should be released immediately," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "If convicted, Ayat al-Qarmezi could face a long prison sentence. If she is imprisoned, she will be the first woman prisoner of conscience to be locked up in Bahrain for peacefully expressing her views," he added.

    While attending a pro-reform rally in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout in February, Ayat al-Qarmezi read out a poem which she said was addressed to King Hamad bin 'Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain's head of state.

    June 03, 2011


    The Myanmar authorities must stop forcing prisoners into cells designed for military dogs, Amnesty International said today, after it emerged that the practice is being used as punishment against hunger striking activists.

    Seven prisoners, including two Buddhist monks who went on hunger strike at Insein prison in the main city of Yangon, were placed in solitary confinement between 24 and 26 May, in the cells, Amnesty International has learned.

    “The shocking accounts of the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prisoners in Insein prison are being subjected to is yet another example of the utter disregard for the most basic human rights by authorities in Myanmar,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar researcher.

    “Authorities in Myanmar must immediately stop any ill-treatment of prisoners. Any official suspected of being responsible for such offences must be suspended and prosecuted”, he added.

    June 03, 2011

    Amnesty International has called for an independent investigation into the death of a Moroccan protester, who has died after being beaten by security forces in the western town of Safi.

    Kamel Ammari, 30, was severely injured in clashes with security forces during a protest in the western town of Safi on 30 May, and died at the Mohamed V hospital on Thursday.

    "The Moroccan authorities must allow people to gather and protest peacefully as is their right under international law," Amnesty International said.

    "Security forces must be given clear instructions to stop using excessive force to suppress peaceful protests," the organisation said.

    The Moroccan authorities deny that Kamel Ammari’s death was related to the street protests but have initiated an investigation into his death.

    "This investigation must be thorough, independent and impartial - if Kamal Ammari is found to have died as a result of excessive force, those found responsible must be brought to justice."

    May 31, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities must bring those responsible for ordering or conducting forced ‘virginity tests’ to justice following a senior military figure’s admission that the army subjected female protesters to them, Amnesty International said today.

    A senior Egyptian general told CNN that women detained on 9 March at Cairo’s Tahrir Square had been forced to undergo ‘virginity tests’, which the government has previously denied.  

    The general, speaking on condition of anonymity, justified the abuse by saying that the women “were not like your daughter or mine.  These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters.”

    “This admission is an utterly perverse justification of a degrading form of abuse,” said Amnesty International.  “The women were subjected to nothing less than torture.”

    “The Egyptian authorities must condemn these discriminatory, abusive and insulting attitudes which have been used to justify torture of women protesters, and which are clearly present at the highest levels.  

    May 31, 2011

    Any investigation into the abduction and reported death of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad must include the country’s feared security and intelligence agencies, especially the ISI, Amnesty International said today.

    The body of Saleem Shahzad, who went missing on Sunday 29th May, was found close to his abandoned car in the north-west of the country, Pakistani media reports say. Reports also suggest that evidence of torture was found on the body.

    “Pakistan’s intelligence agencies face serious allegations that they been involved the numerous killings of activists, lawyers and journalists,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

    “Early indications from this case suggest an alarming expansion of the ‘kill and dump’ operations previously seen mostly in the Balochistan province.”

    “The Pakistan authorities must hold those responsible to account and protect journalists targeted merely for doing their jobs.”

    Saleem Shahzad had published an article on the 27th May reporting on a terrorist attack at a Pakistan Naval base, and alleging links between al-Qaida and Pakistan Naval officials.

    May 25, 2011

    Forces allied to both former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo and incumbent Alassane Ouattara committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during six months of deadly violence following disputed elections, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    ‘They looked at his identity card and shot him dead: Six months of post-electoral violence’ contains shocking testimonies from victims and witnesses to massacres, rapes and manhunts and concludes that forces loyal to both parties committed serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    “Human rights violations are still being committed against real or perceived supporters of Laurent Gbagbo both in Abidjan and in the west of the country,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    “Alassane Ouattara’s failure to condemn these acts could be seen as a green light by many of his security forces and other armed elements fighting with them to continue. Alassane Ouattara must publically state that all violence against the civilian population must stop immediately.”

    May 24, 2011

    A 25-year-old university student tells Amnesty International of the beatings and torture he and other detainees suffered while held in a sports stadium after he was seized with his 73- year-old father by security forces from their home in the coastal town of Banias on 8 May.

    May 22, 2011

    The Indonesian government must end the use of caning as a form of
    punishment and repeal the laws that allow it in Aceh province, Amnesty International said today after at least 21 people were publicly caned since 12 May.

    In Langsa city, 14 men were caned outside the Darul Falah mosque on 19 May, following the caning of seven men a week earlier.

    All 21 were found to have violated an Aceh bylaw (qanun) prohibiting gambling and were given six lashes each as hundreds of people looked on.

    “It seems that Aceh’s authorities are increasingly resorting to public caning in violation of international law,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Victims of caning experience pain, fear and humiliation, and caning can cause long-term or permanent injuries. The Indonesian government must act to stop these punishments, which constitute cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and often amount to torture.”

    According to media reports, at least 16 men and women were also caned in Aceh in 2010.

    May 20, 2011

    Uruguay has missed a historic opportunity in the pursuit of justice for victims of human rights abuses committed during military rule by failing to overturn a controversial law that blocked prosecution of security officials accused of violations, Amnesty International said today.

    Uruguayan politicians were today unable to reach an agreement to annul the effects of the 1986 Expiry Law, a move that Amnesty International and Uruguayan human rights activists and relatives of the victims have repeatedly called for.  
     
    “This would have been a huge step forward for the victims of egregious human rights abuses committed during Uruguay’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director of the Americas programme at Amnesty International.

    “Uruguay has a moral and legal obligation to provide justice to those who suffered from torture and other abuses – not to protect their torturers from investigation and trial.”

    May 20, 2011

    Action must be taken by Canada to pressure Syria to respect human rights. Amnesty International Canada and Canadian citizens who have been victims of human rights violations in Syria will outline a series of proposals for  the Canadian government at a press conference.

     Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the Syrian government to rein in its security forces, cease unlawful killings and other excessive force, and for independent investigations and accountability - with those responsible for human rights violations being brought to justice. The Syrian authorities have failed to take these steps. Canada must join the international community in adopting  measures to increase pressure on the Syrian government to do so. Petitions calling for an end for killings, respect for the right of peaceful protest, and to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be presented to Syrian officials around the world, including to the Syrian Embassy in Ottawa following the press conference. 
     
    Speakers will highlight actions that should be taken by the Canadian government to put further pressure on Syria to ensure the protection of human rights.

    May 18, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities must provide justice to all of the victims of violent repression that took place during mass anti-government protests earlier this year, Amnesty International said in a comprehensive report into abuses that led to at least 840 deaths.

    The release of Egypt rises: killings, detentions and torture in the '25 January Revolution' comes two days before former Interior Minister Habib El Adly goes on trial on charges arising from the killings of protesters.

    The organization said that while the Egyptian authorities have begun holding accountable some of those accused of responsibility for serious human rights violations, many victims of security forces' brutality are at risk of being excluded from efforts to deal with the legacy of the violence.

    "The trial of the senior figures suspected of being responsible for the outrageous use of excessive force against peaceful protesters is an essential first step," said Amnesty International. "But the authorities' response to victims must go much further than this."

    May 16, 2011

    Amnesty International has today condemned the conviction of four Belarusian prisoners of conscience, including former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau, over their involvement in post-election protests.

    A court in Minsk sentenced Andrei Sannikau, who has complained of torture and other ill- treatment during his detention, to five years’ imprisonment on Saturday for his role in protests that followed presidential elections in December 2010.

    Andrei Sannikau’s wife, journalist Iryna Khalip, who also took part in the December protests, was given a two-year suspended sentence on Monday, charged with breaching public order.

    Pavel Sevarnyets and Syargei Martseleu were also sentenced to three years in a correctional facility and two years’ probation, respectively. Both were charged with breaching public order.

    “Andrei Sannikau and these other activists have been convicted solely for exercising their right to peaceful protest,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    May 13, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to not carry out a sentence ordering a man to be blinded by having acid dropped in both eyes as part of a retribution punishment.

    Majid Movahedi was sentenced to “retribution in kind” (qesas) in 2008 after he poured a bucket of acid over Ameneh Bahrami, who had rejected his marriage proposal several times.

    A Tehran court ordered that five drops of acid be placed in each of his eyes and the sentence is reportedly due to be carried out on 14 May.

    “It is unbelievable that the Iranian authorities would consider implementing such a punishment,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “Regardless of how horrific the crime suffered by Ameneh Bahrami, being blinded with acid is a cruel and inhuman punishment amounting to torture, and the Iranian authorities have a responsibility under international law to ensure it does not go ahead.”

    On 3 November 2004, Majid Movahedi poured a bucket of acid on Ameneh Bahrami's head as she was leaving work, after she had rejected his marriage proposal several times.

    May 13, 2011

    Amnesty International will on 19 May release a new report Egypt rises: Killings, detentions and torture in the '25 January Revolution'.
    The 123-page report will be released two days in advance of the trial of former Interior Minister Habib El Adly and six close aides, who are accused of ordering the shooting of protesters. The report covers human rights violations that took place between 25 January and 7 March, when the new interim cabinet was sworn into office.

    The report documents the cases of 93 individuals killed or injured by security forces using excessive force, focusing on casualties in Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Beni Suef governorate, Suez, Port Said and the industrial heartland of El Mahalla. It charts the waves of arrests in Cairo, particularly from 25 January to 3 February, and the many cases of torture of those detained. It describes the unlawful killings of prisoners in the context of the prison unrest.

    May 12, 2011

    The military trial today of a group of 21 Bahraini opposition activists charged over their involvement in anti-government protests has been adjourned until 16 May.

    In a brief proceeding, the 14 defendants in the court in the capital Manama on Thursday denied all the charges against them. Seven others are being tried in absentia.

    The mainly Shi’a activists have been charged with a series of alleged crimes related to weeks of protest, including running a terrorist organization with the aim of toppling the ruling Sunni-led government.

    Amnesty International has called on Bahraini authorities to grant the men a fair trial, citing abuses of their basic legal rights and fears that two, including prominent human rights defender ‘Abdelhadi al-Khawaja, have been tortured in detention.

    “Bahrain’s government has stacked the deck against the defendants and there is very little chance they can receive a fair trial in the current circumstances,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

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