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    March 18, 2016

    Amnesty International India Release

    Authorities in Madhya Pradesh must drop charges against and immediately release two men arrested for allegedly sharing a satirical image of the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

    "Arresting people simply because they mocked public figures is an absurd overreaction by the authorities,” said Abhirr VP, Campaigner at Amnesty International India.

    On 17 March, 22-year-old Shaqir Yunus and 21-year-old college student Wasim Sheikh from Khargone, Madhya Pradesh were arrested for allegedly sharing the satirical image on Whatsapp and Facebook, following complaints that the men had hurt the feelings of the Hindu community. The digitally altered image made fun of the RSS’s recent decision to change its uniform from khaki shorts to brown trousers.

    March 18, 2016

    Key legal reforms proposed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health today mark an important breakthrough that could change the lives of transgender people in Norway for generations to come, said Amnesty International.

    If adopted by Parliament, the Ministry’s proposal would give transgender people access to legal gender recognition through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure. Crucially, it would allow individuals to self-determine their gender and do away with Norway’s shameful legacy of compulsory requirements that are discriminatory and violate a range of human rights.

    “This is a milestone for all of us who have been fighting hard for the right to be who we are. Thanks to our combined efforts together with transgender activists and LGBT organizations in the country, we can look forward to the upcoming adoption of a law that will give transgender people access to legal gender recognition,” said Patricia M. Kaatee, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International Norway.

    March 17, 2016

    Azerbaijan’s embattled civil society received a rare glimmer of hope today as President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree ordering the release of 148 prisoners, including 10 prisoners of conscience, said Amnesty International.

    The move came just hours after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Azerbaijan’s detention of one of those released – human rights defender Rasul Jafarov – violated international law.

    “The release of 10 prisoners of conscience is always good news, but celebrations should be muted by the fact that at least eight still remain behind bars. While this is a welcome development, praise for the Azerbaijani authorities should be reserved for when all those unjustly imprisoned are released and the squeeze on civil society ends,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    March 17, 2016

    As Tunisia prepares to extend a nationwide state of emergency on 22 March, Amnesty International has highlighted the government’s disproportionate and repressive use of emergency laws to trample on human rights.

    On 7 March armed men attacked military bases and a police station in the southern town of Ben Guerdane on the border with Libya. The attack and ensuing clashes killed around 68 people, including at least seven civilians and 12 security officers. This is the latest in a spate of deadly attacks in Tunisia over the past few months, which has prompted authorities to place scores of people under assigned residence orders, restricting their movements to specific areas, as part of measures that are, in some cases, excessive and discriminatory.

    March 16, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT  17 March 2016

    The authorities in Lesotho must uphold human rights and the rule of law and end continuing harassment and intimidation of lawyers and human rights defenders, said Amnesty International today, marking Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s first year in office.

    “In the year since Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s inauguration, we have seen a disturbing pattern of human rights violations committed with absolute impunity as illustrated by the repeated flouting of court orders by the Lesotho Defence Force,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Lawyers, civil society leaders and journalists have been intimidated and even threatened with death for simply doing their jobs.”

    March 16, 2016

    "The arrest of 18 peaceful youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo is yet another shameful attempt by the authorities to restrict citizens’ ability to peacefully express themselves in the lead up to elections scheduled for later this year,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “They must be immediately and unconditionally released for they committed no crime when they peacefully protested the continued unlawful detention of their colleagues, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, on trumped up charges.”

    “Bauma and Makwambala, who on 15 March completed a year in jail, must also be released, as well as all other activists arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly. Their arrests violate international law and DRC’s own constitution.”

     

    March 16, 2016

    The release last night of Mohammed al-‘Ajami, also known as Ibn al-Dheeb, is a welcome development that ends a needless four year ordeal for the Qatari poet.

    Amnesty International has spoken to Mohammed al-‘Ajami’s legal representative, who said that relatives of the poet confirmed to him that the poet was released around 7.30pm Doha time on 15 March. The organization has also seen video footage of him after his release.

    “The release of Mohammed al-‘Ajami is long overdue good news,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program,

    “It is absurd that he had to spend more than four years behind bars, when his poetry was simply the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs.

    “We hope that the authorities will take the opportunity of this release to review Qatar’s criminal justice system and ensure that such flagrant violations of the right to freedom of expression are not repeated. This case has been a blight on Qatar’s international reputation.”

    March 13, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT    14 March 2016

             Protest actions to take place outside Nigerian embassies around the world

    Two years after at least 640 recaptured detainees were slaughtered by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, the authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings, said Amnesty International.

    The detainees – men and boys, many arbitrarily arrested in mass screening operations - were killed after they fled the barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state on 14 March 2014 following a Boko Haram attack. The majority were shot. The others had their throats cut. To mark the anniversary of this massacre, Amnesty International campaigners will be gathering outside Nigerian embassies around the world to call for independent investigations and prosecutions.

    “It is shocking that two years after these horrific killings there has been no justice for the victims and their relatives,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    March 11, 2016

    The families of three young men arrested for their involvement in anti-government protests while under the age of 18, fear their sons are among four people reported to be facing execution tomorrow, Amnesty International said today.

    The family of Ali al-Nimr expressed fears on social media that he, along with Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, is among the prisoners referred to in a government-run newspaper article published today. The article said the scheduled executions will complete a wave of punishments for terrorism offences that saw 47 people executed on the same day in January.

    March 11, 2016

    The prosecution of five Mexican marines accused of the enforced disappearance of a man who was found dead weeks after his arrest in 2013 is a long awaited positive step that must herald a new official approach to tackling Mexico’s relentless wave of disappearances, said Amnesty International.

    “These arrests bring a ray of hope to the relatives of Armando del Bosque Villarreal and to the families of the tens of thousands of people whose whereabouts are still unknown across Mexico to finally obtain truth, justice and reparations,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Mexican authorities must urgently build on this positive move and ensure adequate investigations into the more than 27,000 cases of people who have been disappeared or gone missing in recent years. Brining those responsible to justice is the only way to stop this monumental human rights crisis.”

    Armando del Bosque Villarreal, 33, was forcibly disappeared in August 2013, after marines stopped his car and arrested him in the town of Colombia in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León.

    March 11, 2016

    Messages from Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot will be broadcast across the internet by AdBlock and Amnesty International on the World Day against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2016.

    Throughout the day, AdBlock’s 50 million users will be shown messages from Amnesty International where ads would usually appear. The messages will click through to content from people who governments have tried to silence. 

    “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded,” said Edward Snowden in one of the messages.

    “Without freedom of speech there is no modern world, just a barbaric one,” said Ai Weiwei in his message.

    “Authorities don’t just use handcuffs and arrests, but also media attacks,” said Pussy Riot.

    March 10, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs  EAT   11 March 2016

    South Sudanese government forces deliberately suffocated more than 60 men and boys who were detained in a shipping container before dumping their bodies in an open field in Leer town, Unity State, according to new evidence gathered by Amnesty International.

    The organization’s researchers recently visited the grounds of the Comboni Catholic Church where the October 2015 killings took place. They also visited the site, about one kilometer from Leer town, where the bodies were dumped. They found the remains of many broken skeletons still strewn across the ground.The findings are contained in a new briefing South Sudan: 'Their Voices Stopped': Mass Killing in a Shipping Container in Leer.

    “The arbitrary arrest, torture, and mass killing of these detainees is just one illustration of the South Sudanese government’s absolute disregard for the laws of war. Unlawful confinement, torture, willfully causing great suffering, and willfully killing are all war crimes,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

    March 10, 2016

    The violent assault on human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia is further evidence of the authorities’ abject failure to protect those who work to safeguard human rights, said Amnesty International today.

    Human rights defenders from the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) in the Russian North Caucasus, along with journalists from Russian, Swedish and Norwegian media, were beaten up and had their vehicle set ablaze on Wednesday evening.

    “This is the latest and most brazen in a series of attacks on the JMG and journalists in the Russian North Caucasus. So far these attacks have been answered simply with verbal condemnation rather than effective prosecutions,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This is an opportunity for the authorities to demonstrate that their words can be backed by deeds, by bringing to justice not only those who carried out this crime but also those who may have ordered it.”

    March 09, 2016

    The absolute failure of the police to account for the enforced disappearance of Itai Dzamara, a pro-democracy activist and critic of President Mugabe’s government, highlights the culture of impunity for human rights violations in Zimbabwe, said Amnesty International on the anniversary of his abduction.

    “It has been a year since Itai Dzamara was disappeared without a trace, leaving his family in agonizing uncertainty about his fate and whereabouts. This appears to be a well-orchestrated plot to silence a well-known government critic, and is a deeply troubling indictment of the state of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “The authorities must initiate a genuine search for Itai Dzamara’s safe return while establishing a full and impartial judge led commission of inquiry into the circumstances of his disappearance.” 

    March 08, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT   9 March 2016

    Restrictions on communications compound North Korea’s dire human rights situation

    Ordinary North Koreans caught using mobile phones to contact loved ones who have fled abroad, risk being sent to political prison camps or other detention facilities as the government tightens its stranglehold on people’s use of communication technology, reveals Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    Connection Denied: Restrictions on Mobile Phones and Outside Information in North Korea, documents the intensified controls, repression and intimidation of the population since Kim Jung-un came to power in 2011.

    “To maintain their absolute and systematic control, the North Korean authorities are striking back against people using mobile phones to contact family abroad," said Arnold Fang, East Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

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