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    October 11, 2016

    Ilham Tohti was selected by a jury of 10 global Human Rights organizations (See list below). The Award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be presented on Oct. 11th.

    Ilham Tohti (China)

    A renowned Uyghur intellectual in China, Ilham Tohti has worked for two decades to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. He has rejected separatism and violence, and sought reconciliation based on a respect for Uyghur culture, which has been subject to religious, cultural and political repression in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

    October 11, 2016

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt their plans to execute Zeinab Sekaanvand, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who was arrested when she was just 17-years-old and convicted of the murder of her husband after a grossly unfair trial, Amnesty International said today.

    She is due to be executed by hanging as soon as 13 October.

    “This is an extremely disturbing case. Not only was Zeinab Sekaanvand under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, she was also denied access to a lawyer and says she was tortured after her arrest by male police officers through beatings all over her body,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Iran’s continued use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders displays the authorities’ contempt even for commitments they themselves have signed up to. The Iranian authorities must immediately quash Zeinab Sekaanvand’s conviction and grant her a fair retrial without recourse to the death penalty, and in accordance with principles of juvenile justice.”

    October 11, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must immediately revoke a travel ban on a leading journalist and allow the media to operate freely and without fear, Amnesty International said today.

    Cyril Almeida, assistant editor of Dawn newspaper, was placed on Pakistan’s Exit Control List by the Pakistani authorities after the Prime Minister’s Office took exception to a front page report he wrote, dated 6 October, on tensions between the civilian government and the military.

    “The travel ban on Cyril Almeida is a crude intimidation tactic designed to silence journalists and stop them from doing their jobs,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.

    “Journalism is not a crime. They should be able to work freely and without fear. The Pakistani authorities must break with a longstanding practice of subjecting media workers to intimidation, threats, restrictions on movements, enforced disappearances and violence.”

    Earlier this year Reporters without Borders ranked Pakistan 147th out of 180 countries for press freedom, the lowest position in South Asia.

    October 10, 2016

    Reports about the resumption of humanitarian aid to 75,000 refugees stranded in a remote, arid area along the Jordanian-Syrian border called “the berm” are a long-awaited glimmer of hope that should be followed by a sustainable, long-term solution, Amnesty International said today.

    The news comes as the UN and the Jordanian authorities continue negotiations to open a humanitarian lifeline to the Syrians who have been stranded there since the Jordanian authorities sealed the border following an armed attack in June. Since then the refugees have endured hellish conditions with no aid except one delivery, made by crane in August.

    October 10, 2016

    Hold Security Forces, Attackers on All Sides to Account for October 2015 Abuses

    (Dakar, October 10, 2016) – Authorities in Guinea should take concrete and immediate steps to ensure justice for the victims and the families of those who were shot, raped, or beaten to death during the 2015 presidential election period, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today in a joint letter to President Alpha Condé.

    Guinea’s authorities should ensure that members of the security forces and mobs linked to both the ruling party and opposition groups are held accountable for the killing of 12 people, several rapes, and the looting of several markets in Conakry, the capital, during the election period. To date, no one has been brought to justice in relation to these crimes.

    October 10, 2016

    Countries are increasingly resorting to the death penalty in a flawed attempt to combat terrorism-related crimes, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing ahead of the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    At least 20 countries sentenced people to death or carried out executions for terrorism-related crimes last year (Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, UAE and the USA). Although the use of the death penalty for such offences is often shrouded in secrecy, in recent years Amnesty International has documented a notable rise in its use.

    October 09, 2016
    Yezidi women and girls who have been enslaved, raped beaten and otherwise tortured by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are being failed by a lack of adequate support from the international community, said Amnesty International today.  Researchers from the organization interviewed 18 women and girls abducted by IS, during a visit to the semi-autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq in August 2016. The women and girls had either escaped or were released after payment of ransom by their families. Several were driven to the brink of suicide or had sisters or daughters who killed themselves because of the appalling abuse they endured in captivity. The suffering of survivors is compounded by their current destitute living conditions, their grief for relatives killed by IS and their fears for those who remain in captivity.
    October 07, 2016

    Today’s awarding of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos underscores the expectation that Colombians will persevere in their search for peace with justice, Amnesty International said.

    “Millions of Colombians still demand peace and justice. Today’s announcement honours not only the initiative taken by President Santos and his government, but many others both within Colombia and beyond who are seeking a path to peace with justice,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “We hope today’s announcement will embolden the parties to continue efforts to reach a definitive peace agreement that ensures the right of victims to truth, justice and reparation and brings an end to the human rights violations that have marked the armed conflict.

    October 07, 2016

    100 days after Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines, a wave of unlawful killings has already claimed more than 3,000 lives, shattering progress on human rights in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Rodrigo Duterte’s first 100 days as president have been marked by state-sanctioned violence on a truly shocking scale. His brutal crackdown on those allegedly involved in drug crimes has led to carnage on the streets and the obliteration of key human rights, including the right to life and to due process,” said Rafendi Djamin, Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International.

    “Since he was elected President Duterte has actively created a climate where anyone can kill, or be killed, in the name of the ‘war on drugs’. This mass killing must end immediately and all those responsible, at all levels of command, must be brought to justice.”

    October 06, 2016

    The Afghan government and Taliban forces should urgently facilitate swift and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief into Kunduz, where thousands of civilians are trapped in increasingly dire conditions, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has interviewed medical workers and civilians stuck in Kunduz amid fighting after the Taliban launched an assault on 3 October. Kunduz residents have described grim scenes as food and water supplies have been exhausted and electricity was cut. The city’s civilian hospital has run out of medical supplies and sustained rocket and gunfire attacks on 5 October.

    “Civilians in Kunduz are once again at a precipice, and time is running out. Unless all parties to the conflict permit a humanitarian corridor to allow vital aid in and people to flee, we could soon be looking at a devastating humanitarian crisis,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “International humanitarian law clearly prohibits launching attacks against, or from, civilian areas – those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials.”

    October 06, 2016

    Iranian authorities must immediately repeal the conviction and sentence of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist who is due to begin serving six years in prison on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities” through the writing of an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning, Amnesty International said today.

    “The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous. She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published – she is effectively being punished for using her imagination,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture. It is appalling that Iran continues to allow the use of stoning, and justifies it in the name of protecting morality.”

    October 05, 2016

    The decision to deny Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong entry into Thailand underscores the government’s willingness to suppress the right to freedom of expression and raises serious concerns about how China is using its influence over Thai authorities, Amnesty International said today. 

    “The detention and deportation of Joshua Wong are yet another indicator that Thailand’s military government will use any available means to stifle political discourse in the country,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Wong is a student activist and the Secretary General of Demosistō, a recently formed pro-democracy political party in Hong Kong. Wong rose to international prominence in 2014 as one of the leaders of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that came to be known as the Umbrella Movement. Wong and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement have become a source of inspiration for some student activists in Thailand.

    October 05, 2016

    Fresh protests in Ethiopia since dozens of protesters were killed in a stampede at a religious festival on 2 October underline the need for the Ethiopian government to ensure a full investigation into how the protest was handled, said Amnesty International today.

    Protests have broken out in the capital Addis Ababa, as well as in the Oromia and Amhara regions, since the deadly stampede at a large-scale traditional ceremony in the town of Bishoftu on Sunday. Protest groups blame the tragedy on security agents firing live bullets and tear gas into the massive crowd assembled in a confined space, a charge the government has denied.

    “We have documented multiple complaints of police using excessive force, including lethal force, against largely peaceful protesters since demonstrations began in the Oromia region in November last year,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    October 04, 2016

    "If true, this news will greatly undermine trust in the internet. For a company to secretly search all incoming emails of all its customers in response to a broad government directive would be a blow to privacy and a serious threat to freedom of expression,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of technology and human rights at Amnesty International.

    "Tech companies want us to believe that they are pushing back against intrusive government surveillance but these reports could cast their ability to do so - if not their willingness - into doubt."

    “If true, this would demonstrate the failure of US government reforms to curb NSA’s tendency to try and indiscriminately vacuum up the world’s data. The NSA has clearly not changed its spots. This is a clear sign that people can trust neither their government nor their service providers to respect their privacy: only end-to-end encryption that keeps their communications away from prying eyes will do. Free speech online, and in society in general, cannot thrive in a world where governments can pry into our private lives at will.” 

    October 04, 2016

    Syria should immediately release the Human Rights Lawyer Khalil Ma’touq and his assistant, Mohamed Thatha, 31 human rights organizations said today, on the fourth anniversary of their enforced disappearance.

    On October 2, 2012, the two men are believed to have been arrested at a government-operated checkpoint on their way from Ma’touq’s home in the Damascus suburb of Sahnaya to his office in Damascus.  Despite repeated requests for information to the public prosecutor’s office in Damascus in 2012 and 2013 by family and colleagues, Syrian authorities have denied that they arrested the men.

    Despite these denials, individuals released from the government’s custody in 2015 have informed Ma’touq’s family that while in detention they spotted him in various government-operated detention facilities, including State Security Branch 285 and Military Intelligence Branch 235 in Damascus. Since then, the family has not received any information on his whereabouts. 

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