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    October 31, 2015

    The brutal attacks against two publishers of the slain blogger Avijit Joy and their colleagues in Bangladesh today is further chilling evidence of the horrific pattern of violence against people exercising their freedom of expression in the country.

    “We are deeply shocked by today’s news of yet more attacks against independent voices in Bangladesh,” said Abbas Faiz, Bangladesh Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The situation in Bangladesh is becoming increasingly dangerous for those brave enough to speak their own minds. The latest heinous criminal attacks are a deliberate assault against freedom of expression in the country.

    “Given the horrific pattern of violence, we have reason to believe many other lives are now at risk.  

    “We are calling on the Bangladesh authorities to urgently act to ensure the protection of others in the country against such horrific and targeted violence.

    October 27, 2015

    A UN vote to lift the US embargo on Cuba today sends, once again, a strong message to US President Barack Obama and Congress about the dire human rights impact of the economic embargo on ordinary Cubans, said Amnesty International. 

    “Claiming to be open to fostering a new kind of relation with the Cuban authorities on the one hand and maintaining an economic embargo that prevents ordinary Cubans from accessing medicines and other basic commodities on the other is a complete incongruence on the part of the US and greatly contributes to further undermine human rights in Cuba,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  

    “The US Congress must listen to the loud message sent by the international community through the UN today and lift an embargo that has no place in today’s world.” 

    Earlier today, 191 countries voted in favor of the resolution calling on the USA to lift its economic embargo against Cuba. Only the USA and Israel voted against it. 

    October 21, 2015

    An armed raid on a journalism NGO in Cairo today marks a dangerous escalation in the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and association, said Amnesty International.

    Members of the security forces carrying guns and wearing masks stormed the office of the Mada Foundation for Media Development this morning and arrested all staff members present. The reasons for the raid are not clear but, according to information available to Amnesty International, security forces did not have a search or arrest warrant from the prosecutor’s office as required by Egyptian law.

    “Carrying out an armed raid against an NGO which works to expand the skills of journalists sends a chilling and clear message that independent journalism and activities of civil society will not be tolerated in today’s Egypt. This is an unlawful assault and has all the hallmarks of yet another attempt to clamp down on independent journalism in the country,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    October 21, 2015

    The opening of the trial of three police officers and two members of the military on charges of physically and sexually assaulting a man in their custody must be accompanied by an independent and impartial investigation of all past abuses by Fiji’s security forces, said Amnesty International today.

    Four of the men appeared at Nasinu Magistrate’s Court after a “torture video” released online appeared to show them attacking Iowane Benedito with iron bars and batons in November 2012.

    The whereabouts of the fifth man is not known.

    “This video reveals the shocking level of brutality that the police force and members of the military are capable of. The repeated beatings that Iowane Benedito was subjected to were vicious in the extreme and they clearly amount to torture,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Campaigns Director.

    Amnesty International has received multiple reports of Fiji’s security forces using torture and other ill-treatment against people in its custody.

    October 20, 2015

     The release of a Cuban graffiti artist who had been held in prison for nearly a year after he painted “Raúl” and “Fidel” on the backs of two pigs must herald a new approach to freedom of expression and dissent in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Danilo Maldonado Machado -- known as “El Sexto” -- was released, without any warning, from the Valle Grande prison, in the outskirts of Havana, earlier today.

    “Danilo’s release is great news but he should have never been jailed in the first place. Peacefully expressing an opinion is not a crime,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This long awaited positive move must open the door for much needed political reform in Cuba, where people are routinely harassed, arrested and thrown in jail on spurious charges for speaking their minds. This needs to change urgently if Cuba is serious about respecting human rights, including the rights of people opposing the Cuban government.”

    October 20, 2015

    Security forces in the Republic of Congo must refrain from using excessive force against protesters, Amnesty International said today.

    Five people are reported to have been killed among reports that the police used live ammunition against protesters who gathered to demonstrate against the proposed changes to the country’s constitution ahead of Sunday’s referendum.

    “A heavy-handed response by security forces not only violates the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, but may enflame an already tense situation,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher.

    “The use of force and the deaths of protesters must be independently, impartially and effectively investigated and if there are grounds to suspect individuals of criminal responsibility they must be brought to justice.”

     Media freedom is also under threat with mobile Internet services, text messaging and the signal of some radio stations cut in Brazzaville.

    October 19, 2015

    The Hong Kong authorities must uphold international standards of fair trials in the two cases involving Ken Tsang Kin Chiu, a protester who was beaten and kicked by seven police officers during the pro-democracy protests last year, said Amnesty International today.

    The seven policemen were suspended shortly after the incident and formally charged last Thursday, 15 October, exactly a year after the incident. That same day, Ken Tsang was formally arrested and charged as well, for allegedly having assaulted police officers and resisted arrest in an incident that took place about 10 minutes before the beating took place, in what the Hong Kong Department of Justice said was a “different” case.

    “The government is trying to draw attention away from this important case of police accountability through what many see as the politically-motivated timing of Ken Tsang’s simultaneous arrest and prosecution” said Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

    October 16, 2015

    The Cuban authorities’ failure to keep to their commitment to release a graffiti artist unfairly imprisoned nearly a year ago is a painful illustration of their disregard for freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

    “Committing to release Danilo Maldonado Machado on 15 October only to keep him behind bars for no reason other than speaking his mind and criticising the government is not only cruel but sends a strong message that freedom of expression is not on the Cuban government’s radar,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Danilo is a prisoner of conscience, deprived of his liberty as punishment for peacefully expressing his opinions. He must be released immediately and unconditionally and not be made to spend another second behind bars.”

    Yesterday, prison authorities told Danilo’s mother that he had served his time but that they did not know when he would be set free. Danilo, however, has never been brought before a judge or sentenced.

    October 16, 2015

    The acquittal of three bloggers by an Ethiopian court after 539 days in detention must not be dressed up as a victory for freedom of expression, said Amnesty International today.

    Natnael Feleke, Atnaf Berhane and Abel Wabela, who were tried on terrorism charges, were acquitted by the federal court today in Addis Ababa but have yet to be released. The fourth, Befeqadu Hailu, was also acquitted of terrorism charges but trial hearings on an incitement charge will continue. A fifth blogger, Soliyana Gebremichael, in exile in the USA, was also acquitted.

    “The imminent release of three bloggers must not be dressed up as a victory for freedom of expression in Ethiopia. It is shameful that the Ethiopian authorities arrested them in the first place, subjected them to a sham judicial process and incarcerated them for nearly a year and a half,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    October 15, 2015

    The US Congress must launch an immediate independent inquiry into the Obama administration’s drone strikes overseas, Amnesty International said following today’s publication of a series of files and documents disclosing long-standing secrets of the global killing program.

    “The Drone Papers”, leaked by an anonymous whistle-blower to the online media outlet The Intercept, reveal the startling human costs of armed drone use and highlight chronic flaws in the decision-making process behind the strikes carried out in multiple countries.

    “These documents raise serious concerns about whether the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as ‘combatants’ to justify their killings,” said Naureen Shah, Director, Security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA.

    “This warrants an immediate congressional inquiry into why the Obama administration has kept this vital information secret, including the real identities of all those killed in this global killing programme.

    October 09, 2015

    The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet’s newly awarded Nobel Peace Prize is a fitting tribute to its members’ work in strengthening civil society and human rights in a society still struggling with the legacy of decades of repression and abuse, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has worked with and spoken out to defend the rights of three of the four Quartet’s members, which have for decades been at the forefront of the fight to defend the human rights of Tunisians.

    “This is an important recognition of the key role that civil society can play in a country emerging from years of dictatorship and human rights violations,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “These organizations were continually threatened by the government before the 2011 uprising, and showed great courage in a climate of repression. In the difficult years since then, they held firm in speaking out for human rights and the rule of law.”

    September 28, 2015

    The Taliban and Afghan security forces must ensure that civilians are protected in accordance with international law and that nobody is targeted in reprisals against their work, Amnesty International said as fighting intensifies in the northern Kunduz province.

    Heavy fighting is ongoing in Kunduz after the Taliban launched a major assault on the provincial capital this morning. There are unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties and the Taliban taking over official buildings, including a public hospital.

    “The Taliban have many times in the past showed their callous disregard for human life and civilians often suffer the brunt of their attacks. As fighting rages in Kunduz, all sides must ensure that civilians and civilian objects are protected according to international humanitarian law, which governs all parties to an armed conflict,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Deliberately targeting civilians not directly participating in hostilities, as well as indiscriminate attacks or disproportionate attacks, would amount to war crimes.”

    September 23, 2015

    Today’s presidential decree granting pardons to 100 people including Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and several unlawfully imprisoned activists including Sana Seif and Yara Sallam is welcome news, but represents little more than a token gesture, said Amnesty International.

    The organization said the pardons, made ahead of the Muslim Eid holiday, should be followed by further action to seriously address the appalling human rights record under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, including the intolerance of peaceful dissent and criticism of the authorities.

    “While these pardons come as a great relief, it is ludicrous that some of these people were ever behind bars in the first place. Hundreds remain behind bars for protesting or because of their journalistic work. All those jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association or because of their journalistic or human rights work must have their convictions quashed and be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    September 21, 2015

    Security forces in Nepal must refrain from using excessive force against protestors, Amnesty International said after at least twenty protesters were shot when security forces opened fire on several demonstrations against the country’s new constitution.

    Force and the use of live ammunition by security forces to contain often violent protests have already claimed more than 40 lives in Nepal since August, most of them protesters.

    Investigations by Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission and civil society, including Amnesty International, have found that in many of the protest-related deaths, the force used by security forces was excessive, disproportionate or unnecessary, contrary to international legal standards.

    “More than 40 people, the majority of them protesters, have been killed in recent weeks. We continue to urge the Nepali authorities to rein in their security forces and prevent them from using excessive force,” said David Griffiths, Research Director for South Asia at Amnesty International.

    September 16, 2015

    At least nine people including at least four children separated from their families by Hungarian police during the breach of a border fence in Röszke must be immediately released and reunited with their families, said Amnesty International today. Their exact whereabouts is unknown but they are thought to have been taken to a nearby border control building.

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