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    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.

    January 20, 2015

    The release of peaceful activist Dr Tun Aung, jailed simply for trying to prevent communal violence, is a positive step, but authorities in Myanmar should also free the dozens of other prisoners of conscience still behind bars, Amnesty International said.

    Dr Tun Aung, a Muslim community leader and medical doctor, was released from prison yesterday. He was first jailed in 2012 after trying to calm the crowd during a riot involving Buddhists and Rohingya in Rakhine State, western Myanmar, and was sentenced to up to 17 years’ imprisonment under various trumped-up charges.

    “This is a very welcome move by the authorities and we are delighted that Dr Tun Aung is finally free and will be reunited with his family. His release will come as encouragement for all of those inside and outside the country who campaigned for his freedom,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “But he should never have been imprisoned in the first place – the charges against him were baseless and the trials he faced farcical.”

    January 17, 2015

    Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnistie Internationale Canada francophone, gives a snapshot of some of the widespread global campaigning for Raif Badawi. Raif has been sentenced to ten years and 1,000 lashes after starting a website for public debate in Saudi Arabia.

    When the vigil in Montreal ended, we were all frozen to the bone. It was a gorgeous day, but to motivate activists and supporters to stay outdoors for over an hour in -20 degree temperatures, you have to be creative.

    Motivating them to come in the first place wasn’t that hard – I could see the energy and the anger in their faces. They were outraged at what was happening to Raif Badawi, and they wanted to act. Another reason to attend: standing beside me, upright, silent and proud, small in stature but great in spirit, was Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has taken refuge in Quebec along with their three children. Together, we our determined to reunite this family.

    December 10, 2014

    Amnesty International supporters and human rights activists from more than 100 countries around the globe are taking part in the world’s largest annual human rights event around International Human Rights Day December 10 with a two week campaign.

    Called Write for Rights, the event mobilizes supporters to put pen to paper or send electronic messages on behalf of individuals and communities suffering from brutal human rights violations including arbitrary detention and torture.

    Supporters in Canada are signing petitions, writing letters, participating in events and posting tweets calling for justice, freedom and protection from human rights violations. Some of the cases, amongst others, include:

    December 09, 2014

     

    Featured last year in Write for Rights, Jabeur describes how international attention made a difference

    “I have two of them now!” Jabeur Mejri is smiling and pointing at a flick book containing hundreds of photos of support taken by Amnesty International members. They were passed to Jabeur and his family while he was in prison in Tunisia over the last two years.

    Jabeur was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in March 2012, for Facebook posts deemed offensive to Islam and the prophet Mohamed. “Prison was difficult,” he tells us. “The other prisoners used to harass me and beat me because of my views and none of the prison guards did anything to protect me.”

    December 08, 2014

     

    Supporters "Dance for Rights" to raise awareness for Amnesty's global letter-writing event Write for Rights

    This past Saturday on December 6th, supporters of Amnesty International took to the streets in Montreal to be a part of the largest grassroots human rights campaign in the world, Write for Rights! The new flagship event, dubbed “Dance for Rights” brought community members out to dance in solidarity with people fighting injustices all over the world, and to promote and protect human rights. With our music devices in our pockets and headphones in our ears we became a SILENT DISCO, using a flash mob style of street activism to garner attention!

    December 08, 2014

     

    Barrie turns out to mark International Human Rights Day during Write for Rights!

    For the very first time, the Amnesty International Flag was raised at Barrie City Hall and will continue to wave to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10th. Mayor Jeff Lehman, students from Barrie Central, Maple Grove E.S., residents of Barrie and members of our local Barrie Amnesty International Action Circle were in attendance.

    December 03, 2014

    Millions of Amnesty International supporters from around the globe are set to take part in the world’s largest annual human rights campaign launching today 3 December.

    Write for Rights, a two-week-long campaign, is calling on activists to take action on behalf of 10 activists and two communities suffering brutal human rights abuses including arbitrary detention and torture.

    Activist from all corners of the world will be signing petitions, writing letters, organizing events and posting tweets calling for, amongst others:

    •        The release of Chelsea Manning, the US whistler-blower who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified government material to the website Wikileaks.

    •        Proper compensation and medical assistance for the victims of Bhopal who still await justice after the 1984 gas leak disaster which killed more than 22,000 and left half a million injured.

    December 02, 2014

    An act of kindness transformed Liu Ping from a factory worker into a passionate anti-corruption activist in China. Her daughter, 22-year-old Liao Minyue, tells their story.

     

    Kind hearted

    My mother, Liu Ping, was just an ordinary Chinese woman with a kind heart.

    Liao Minyue's mother, Liu Ping, is in jail for trying to expose corruption in China © Private

    We were very close. I chose to live with her after my parents divorced about 10 years back. We never fought, not even once. We used to go to the markets to collect old and unwanted vegetables for food. It never once struck me as anything to be ashamed of. On the contrary, those were warm and intimate times, because we were together.

    November 26, 2014

    When we meet Shahzadi Bi in September, she is busy chaining herself to a fence. It’s not just any fence, but the one that surrounds the Chief Minister’s residence in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where Bhopal is the capital. She is among a group of protesters demanding that the minister keep his promise of providing each survivor of the 1984 gas leak – the more than 570,000 who were exposed – 500,000 Indian rupees (US$8,170) as compensation.

    Shahzadi, aged 60, lives in Blue Moon Colony, one of the 22 slums that surround the old pesticide factory formerly owned by Union Carbide India Limited. This area is blighted by water contamination, caused by chemicals from the abandoned factory site.

    The disaster overturned her and her family’s lives. “Everyone has dreams,” she says. “I too had those. My dream was not about becoming a teacher or doctor… I wished that we would provide a good education to our children… but the gas leak shattered all these dreams.”

    November 26, 2014
    Rampyari Bai is one of Bhopal’s most persistent survivors.

    Now aged 90, she began her struggle in the wake of the disaster. In 1984 she was living with her son and his wife in a shanty near the factory. Her daughter-in-law died during the gas leak.

    INDIA: ACTION FOR SURVIVORS ON 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF BHOPAL TRAGEDY

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