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    September 16, 2016

    Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez must be immediately released from administrative detention unless he is charged with recognizable criminal offences, Amnesty International India said today.

    The 39-year-old, who is the coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society Organisation (JKCCS), a prominent human rights organization, was arrested from his Srinagar residence and detained by the state police on Thursday evening, a day after he was prevented from traveling to the ongoing UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    “Preventing a well-known activist from traveling abroad for human rights advocacy, and then locking him up on spurious grounds, is a shameful attempt to suppress a peaceful dissenting voice from Kashmir,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.

    “The JKCCS has been consistently working on several human rights issues including mass graves, torture and extrajudicial executions. Khurram Parvez has a right to raise these important human rights concerns abroad, but his attempt to exercise this right is now being painted as an imminent crime.”

    September 15, 2016

    The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have overseen a systematic crackdown on opponents of President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to stay in power beyond the constitutionally mandated second term, Amnesty International said today.

    In a new report, ‘Dismantling dissent: DRC’s repression of expression amidst electoral delays’ Amnesty International says the DRC government is using state institutions to prevent people who oppose a prolongation of President Kabila’s term in office to organize and express themselves.

    “The government is violating the rights of opposition politicians and pro-democracy activists to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly while expelling foreign researchers and threatening human rights organizations that are working to monitor these violations with closure,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    September 14, 2016

    US President Barack Obama should place himself on the right side of history by pardoning whistleblower Edward Snowden, who faces the possibility of decades in prison for speaking out to defend human rights, said Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch and a host of other organizations and individuals as they launched a global petition today.

    Ahead of an upcoming Oliver Stone film about Snowden’s whistleblowing and exile in Russia in 2013, the campaign is calling for a presidential pardon for the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor before President Obama leaves office.

    September 14, 2016

    As Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in the United States to meet with President Barack Obama and attend the United Nations General Assembly, the international community must maintain pressure on Myanmar’s authorities to improve the country’s human rights record, Amnesty International said today.

    Aung San Suu Kyi’s trip to the US comes as the new civilian-led government enters its sixth month in office. In this time, it has taken some steps to address human rights but still faces challenges bequeathed by a half a century of military rule.

    “We have seen encouraging changes as Myanmar eases out from under the shadow of military rule. But there is still a lot more to do to ensure a decisive break with the country’s ugly past of human rights violations,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “For almost a quarter of a century, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on human rights in Myanmar. It is important that the same happens this year. The gains made so far have to be consolidated and built upon, not left incomplete or eroded.”

    September 13, 2016

    As the latest session of the Human Rights Council Session opens today Amnesty International is calling on states not to support anything short of an independent, investigation into the conflict in Yemen. Last year states failed to support such a move, instead adopting a watered-down resolution spearheaded by Saudi Arabia supporting the newly established national commission as the mechanism to investigate violations. So far this commission’s working methods suggest it will struggle to either establish truth or facilitate justice.

    September 12, 2016

    Security forces are using arbitrary and excessive force in response to protests in Jammu and Kashmir, violating international standards and worsening the human rights crisis in the state, Amnesty International India said today.

    At least 78 people, including two security force personnel, have been killed in the state since 8 July, following protests and violent clashes after the killing of a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group. Some demonstrators have thrown stones and attacked police stations, government buildings and politicians’ homes. Security force personnel have fired live ammunition, tear gas and pellets from pump action shotguns.

    “Pellet-firing shotguns have injured and blinded peaceful protestors and bystanders,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India. “Children have been hit by pellets from these shotguns while sitting inside their homes.”

    “These weapons are inherently indiscriminate and always carry the risk of causing serious injury to people who are not engaging in violence. There is simply no proper way to use these weapons, and they should be prohibited.”

    September 12, 2016

    The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) must immediately end the shocking and arbitrary detention of a Yezidi woman who has been held without trial for nearly two years after surviving captivity at the hands of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS), Amnesty International said.

    Bassema Darwish, a 34-year-old mother of three from the Babira village in Ninewa Governorate, has been detained by the KRG since October 2014. She has been accused of complicity with IS forces who killed three members of the Peshmerga (KRG’s armed forces) when they arrived at the house where she was being held captive in Zummar, north-western Iraq.

    “Yezidi women abducted by IS have suffered truly harrowing abuses including rape and sexual slavery. In the case of Bassema Darwish, liberation from IS captivity did not put an end to her mistreatment. Instead of detaining her for nearly two years in violation of her rights, the authorities should ensure she receives medical and psychosocial assistance, as well as counselling, to help her overcome her ordeal in captivity,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    September 09, 2016

    Responding to the violent attack last night by masked men on activists from Greenpeace Russia and Environmental Watch for the North Caucasus camp in Krasnodar Region (Southern Russia), Amnesty International said:

    “The violent attack on Greenpeace and Environmental Watch activists who came to Krasnodar Region to help extinguish forest fires takes a step further the ongoing assault on the right to freedom of association in Russia. Whoever is behind this vicious act, it clearly happens in the context of reprisals and smear campaigns against independent civil society organizations which have been orchestrated by the authorities. Failure to investigate this incident promptly and effectively, and to protect the activists from further violence would be akin to official acquiescence in this attack,” said Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International’s office in Russia.

    Background

    September 09, 2016

    Reacting to the conviction earlier today of Kem Sokha, the acting head of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, on charges under Article 538 of refusing to appear as a witness, Amnesty International said:

    “Cambodia is in crisis with the government engaging in a campaign of intimidation against peaceful political and civil society activists, using frivolous prosecutions designed to punish, isolate and marginalise any peaceful dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Today’s conviction of acting opposition leader Kem Sokha for refusing to appear as a witness is yet another transparent act of political intimidation and the latest development in the ongoing campaign. The government’s appears to believe that violating human rights is a legitimate tool of government, as is compromising the independence of the country’s judiciary and the government’s standing in the international community.”

    September 07, 2016

    The government of Zimbabwe must respect a court ruling overturning the ban on protests in the country, Amnesty International said today, as the High Court issued its verdict allowing public demonstrations.

    “Today’s High court decision is a victory for Zimbabwe’s constitutional principles. It sends a clear message to the authorities that the right to protest, as enshrined in the country’s constitution, cannot just be stripped away by the state on a whim,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Zimbabwe’s authorities must respect and obey today’s ruling and allow people to assemble and raise their grievances, as long as they are doing it within the confines of the laws that govern public protests.”

    Today’s ruling comes after President Robert Mugabe publicly threatened the country’s judges on 3 September accusing them of being reckless by allowing demonstrations in the country.

    Background

    September 06, 2016

    The Lao authorities should lift all restrictions on journalists and allow them to do their job and move  freely, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s call comes as foreign journalists arriving in Laos to cover USA President Barack Obama’s participation in the US-ASEAN Summit from 6-8 September have been told that their articles and broadcasts will have to be approved by a censor before publication.

    Foreign journalists may also be assigned a minder who will trail them for the duration of their stay in Laos.

    “The restrictions imposed on journalists covering the ASEAN summit in Laos amounts to a violation of their right freedom of expression, and the right of the public, both in Lao and globally, to receive information. Journalists should be able to do their job without fear, interference or harassment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Journalists travelling to Laos have told Amnesty International that they may not be allowed to raise questions on certain human rights issues by the authorities.

    September 06, 2016

    “The attack by an armed group on the aid agency CARE International in Kabul is the deliberate targeting of civilians and constitutes a war crime. The cardinal rule of international humanitarian law is that parties to an armed conflict must never deliberately attack civilians,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “This is sadly the latest in a series of horrific attacks in the Afghan capital, leading to unlawful killing of civilians. Victims and survivors, including the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured, have a right to justice and reparation. The government has a duty to protect civilians and prevent further such attacks. There must be an independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials – without recourse to the death penalty.”

     

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    September 06, 2016

    President Francois Hollande of France must confront Vietnamese authorities over their treatment of one women’s fight for justice when he visits the country this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International calls on the French president to raise in particular the case of Ngô Thanh Kiều, a young man who died in police custody in Phú Yên province in 2012. Since his death, his sister Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family have undertaken a brave crusade for justice in the face of physical attacks, death threats and other forms of intimidation.

    Recently, the family found the carcass of a shaved cat flung at their home. It bore a chilling note warning Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family to stop raising her brother’s case or suffer a similar fate.

    “Human rights must not be sacrificed to trade and security deals. President Hollande must use his visit to call on the Vietnamese authorities to meet their human rights obligations under international law,” said Camille Blanc, Chair of Amnesty International France.

    September 05, 2016
    The detention of Ruslan Sokolovsky, a Russian blogger from Yekaterinburg (Urals region) who was sentenced to administrative arrest for two months after posting a video of himself   playing Pokémon Go in a church is a farcical attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.   “The absurdity of the case of the Russian blogger jailed for playing Pokémon Go in a church highlights what happens when authorities hold the freedom of expression in such low regard. Even if Sokolovsky’s behaviour may have been regarded as disrespectful by some, states should not be jailing people simply for offending religious sensibilities,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.   Ruslan Sokolovsky was arrested under charges of “preventing the realisation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion and incitement of hatred” on 3 September.   Background
    September 05, 2016

    On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia.

    First Nations community members from Treaty 8 are setting out today to travel by bus across Canada to focus attention of the importance of this case to the rights of all treaty nations and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised new relationship with First Nations.

    The Justice for the Peace caravan is endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations British Columbia, the First Nations Leadership Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

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