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    March 25, 2016

    The Chinese authorities must call off their manhunt against those it believes are behind the publication of a letter calling on President Xi Jinping to resign, Amnesty International said, after it was revealed close family members of a prominent dissident are the latest to have been detained.

    Chinese blogger and government critic, Wen Yunchao, 45, who currently lives in New York, said on Friday that his mother, Qiu Qiaohua, 65, father, Wen Shaogan, 72, and younger brother Wen Yun’ao, 41, were taken away by police in Guangdong province, southern China on 22 March.

    Police are believed to have detained at least 20 people in connection to publication of an open letter criticizing President Xi. This includes 16 people who work for Wu Jie News, the website which published the letter earlier this month, who the BBC reported on Friday have been detained.

    “The authorities should call off the political hounding of those suspected to be behind the open letter and release all those detained in connection with it,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    March 24, 2016

    Today’s guilty verdict handed down by a UN Court in The Hague against former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadžić for genocide and other crimes under international law marks a major step towards justice for victims of the armed conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said Amnesty International.

    The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Karadžić guilty on one count of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes for his role in the armed conflict, both for his individual responsibility and as part of a joint criminal enterprise.

    He was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment. His lawyers have said they will appeal.

    “This judgment confirms Radovan Karadžić’s command responsibility for the most serious crimes under international law carried out on European soil since the Second World War,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    March 24, 2016

    Myanmar’s new government will take office with a historic opportunity to change course on human rights but must break away from the deeply repressive legal framework that for years has fuelled arbitrary arrests and repression, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    New expression meets old repression urges Aung San Suu Kyi and the upcoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience still behind bars when it takes office in early April.

    “Myanmar’s legal framework reads like a textbook of repression, and authorities have in recent years increasingly used it to silence dissent,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Director.

    “To break the vicious cycle of political arrests, the new government must prioritize reforming the legal code to ensure that speaking out is no longer a crime, and it must release all those imprisoned simply for doing so.

    March 23, 2016

     Released 14:00 GMT  23 March 2016

    Around 30 Afghan asylum-seekers detained, denied access to asylum procedures and forcibly returned to Afghanistan despite fearing Taliban attacks Follows pattern of forcible returns and other abuses against Syrian and other nationals, documented by Amnesty International in December 2015 Returnees being held in notorious EU-funded centre in Turkey

    Turkey’s forcible return of around 30 Afghan asylum seekers just hours after the European Union (EU)-Turkey refugee deal came into force shows that implementing the deal would risk refugees’ lives from the word go, Amnesty International said.

    The organization has received credible information indicating that Turkey violated European and international law by forcibly returning the asylum-seekers, who fear attacks by the Taliban, to Kabul without granting them access to an asylum procedure.

    March 22, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT   23 March 2016

    The combination of grossly inadequate support from the international community and barriers imposed by the government of Jordan are leaving Syrian refugees unable to access health care and other vital services, said Amnesty International in a new report published ahead of a major high-level meeting on responsibility sharing for Syrian refugees.

    Living on the margins: Syrian refugees struggle to access health care in Jordan features heart-rending cases of refugees in need of emergency care to treat injuries sustained during the conflict in Syria being turned away at the Jordanian border - leaving some to die as result of their wounds. It also highlights how many Syrian refugees, who live outside refugee camps, are either unable to afford medical care since the Jordanian authorities imposed new fees in November 2014, or lack the necessary documents to be eligible to access health care.

    March 21, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT   22 March 2016

    States – including the USA and the UK – must halt all transfers of arms for use in the Yemen conflict in order to stop the fuelling of serious violations that have had devastating consequences for civilians, said Amnesty International today, almost a year since the conflict began.

    More than 3,000 civilians including 700 children have been killed and at least 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes over the past year. At least 83% of the country’s population are also in dire need of humanitarian aid.

    “One year on, the international community’s response to the conflict in Yemen has been deeply cynical and utterly shameful,” said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    March 21, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  22 March 2016

    Government attacks on the encryption of online communication threaten human rights around the world, warned Amnesty International in a briefing published today as tech giant Apple challenges the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in court over an order to provide software to bypass iPhone encryption.

    The briefing, Encryption: A Matter of Human Rights, which is Amnesty International’s first official stance on encryption and human rights, says that people everywhere should be able to encrypt their communications and personal data as an essential protection of their rights to privacy and free speech.

    “Encryption is a basic prerequisite for privacy and free speech in the digital age. Banning encryption is like banning envelopes and curtains. It takes away a basic tool for keeping your private life private,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Global Issues.

    March 18, 2016

    The Egyptian authorities are expected to freeze the assets of two prominent human rights defenders and their family members tomorrow as part of an investigation into foreign funding of NGOs. The move is yet another blatant attempt to paralyse civil society in Egypt that leaves no doubt as to the government’s resolve to crush freedom of expression and association, Amnesty International said today.

    According to a news outlet close to the government, the Cairo Criminal Court will rule tomorrow on the freezing of assets and travel bans against human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat, and two other unnamed persons, as well as members of their families.

    “The measures against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid are arbitrary and punitive, imposed in response to their criticism of the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Amnesty International urges the Egyptian government to refrain from imposing such measures, and to end its onslaught against human rights defenders and civil society,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    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.”

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