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    October 28, 2016

    Amnesty International is calling for an prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the conduct of Myanmar’s security forces in the restive Rakhine state for human rights violations committed during ongoing security operations in the region.

    The organization has received numerous reports that Myanmar’s security forces operating in the state – home to most of the country’s oppressed Rohingya minority – are alleged to be involved in extra-judicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, destroying people’s homes and crimes involving sexual violence amongst other violations. Ongoing restrictions on access to northern Rakhine State has made it extremely difficult to independently verify such claims.

    October 28, 2016

    Greece has illegally returned at least eight Syrian refugees to Turkey without respecting procedural guarantees or considering their asylum claims, documentation and testimonies obtained by Amnesty International reveal.

    The Syrians, including four children under the age of five, were rescued in Greek waters when their boat travelling from Turkey to Italy encountered problems and they were taken to the island of Milos on 9 October. All eight registered their intention to claim asylum, but were returned to Turkey on 20 October. The refugees say they were falsely told that they were being transferred to Athens. Instead they were flown under escort of officers from the EU border agency (Frontex) to Adana, Turkey in a violation of international and EU law.

    “The Greek authorities and the EU have repeatedly insisted that all Syrian refugees arriving in the country are having their asylum claims properly assessed, but the evidence we have now seen clearly strongly suggests otherwise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    October 27, 2016

    Military operations to retake Mosul and the surrounding areas from the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are endangering civilians who are being caught in the crossfire or in some cases being used as human shields by IS fighters, said Amnesty International from northern Iraq.

    The organization’s research team met with civilians displaced from their homes in villages north of Mosul in recent days who are now in Zelikan and Khazer camps, in areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and conducted phone interviews with people still trapped under IS control, gathering fresh evidence pointing to civilian deaths and injuries during in recent days.

    “With more than a million people believed to be still trapped in Mosul and its outskirts, the risks to civilians are sky high. IS’s utter disregard for the safety of civilians and their apparently deliberate use of human shields is putting people trapped in areas of active conflict at even greater risk, as Iraqi forces advance,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional Office.

    October 26, 2016

    A 10-year jail sentence handed to Giyas Ibrahimov, a 22-year-old youth activist detained after spraying graffiti on a statue of the former President of Azerbaijan, is a shocking assault on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Giyas Ibrahimov’s sentence is an absolute travesty of justice. He was arrested simply for painting a slogan on a statue, and was later tortured into ‘confessing’ to serious drug crimes. The authorities now want him to spend the rest of his youth behind bars on these fabricated charges,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It is deeply disturbing to see the lengths to which Azerbaijani authorities will go to silence their critics. We are calling on them to quash this sentence based on trumped-up charges and immediately release Giyas Ibrahimov, and to carry out an independent investigation into the torture and other ill-treatment he has been subjected to.”

    October 26, 2016

    Following the announcement yesterday by the Gambian Information Minister that Gambia has withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC), Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa said:

    “The announcement is a blow to millions of victims around the world, particularly coming as it does on the heels of recent moves by South Africa and Burundi to also withdraw from the ICC”. 

    “Rather than joining this drastic march away from justice, other African states should follow the lead of Botswana and many concerned African member states which have encouraged countries to work constructively with the Court to resolve any legitimate issues.”

    “The Information Minister’s statement regarding the Court’s persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans could not be further from the truth. For many Africans the ICC presents the only avenue for justice for the crimes they have suffered”.

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to reports that a flotilla of Russian warships destined for Syria is considering refuelling at Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, Samah Hadid, Deputy Regional Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, said:

    “Neither Spain nor any other country should refuel or provide any other logistical support to Russian warships en route to Syria, given the substantial risk that these ships will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    October 26, 2016

    Responding to the news that nearly 30 civilians, including children, in the Firoz Koh district of Afghanistan’s Ghor province, were abducted and killed by an armed group suspected of links to the so-called Islamic State, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    “The abduction and killing of nearly 30 civilians, including children, is a horrendous crime. There can be no justification whatsoever for targeting and killing civilians under any circumstances.

    “The victims and their families deserve justice. The Afghan authorities must carry out an independent, impartial, and effective investigation into these killings. And the perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.”

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    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    October 26, 2016

    US-led Coalition forces carrying out air strikes in Syria must conduct thorough investigations into reports of civilian casualties from its operations and disclose their findings, said Amnesty International. Eleven Coalition attacks examined by the organization appear to have killed some 300 civilians during two years of strikes targeting the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    So far the US authorities have provided no response to a memorandum Amnesty International sent to the US Department of Defense on 28 September 2016 to raise questions about the conduct of Coalition forces in Syria. The memorandum compiles and analyzes information from various sources, including eyewitnesses to attacks, which suggests that US Central Command (CENTCOM), which directs Coalition forces in Syria, may have failed to take necessary precautions to spare civilians and carried out unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians.

    “We fear the US-led Coalition is significantly underestimating the harm caused to civilians in its operations in Syria,” said Lynn Maalouf Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    October 25, 2016

    Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and opposition leader Fadhel Abbas, two prisoners of conscience who are facing long prison sentences for using Twitter to voice concerns about human rights abuses in the conflict in Yemen, Amnesty International said today.

    Both men have criticized the killing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes Bahrain. They have already been wrongfully detained for months and are expecting their respective court verdicts in the next week.

    “It is an outrage that Nabeel Rajab and Fadhel Abbas have spent even one minute in jail – the Bahraini authorities cannot silence every last critic by throwing them behind bars. They must drop all charges against Nabeel Rajab and quash Fadhel Abbas’ five year jail term, and immediately cease their relentless crackdown on freedom of expression,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International's Beirut regional office

    October 25, 2016

    Joint Statement by Canadian Civil Society Organizations

    Today Canada’s record of women’s equality is under the spotlight at the United Nations in Geneva. The 65th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women happens at an opportune moment for Canadian women. Canada has a new federal government with a Prime Minister who says he is a feminist, calls for a nation-to-nation relationship, and acknowledges that “poverty is sexist”.  We know words matter, but now we need action.

    Decades of regressive legislative changes and budget cuts have substantially eroded women’s rights under the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) in Canada. Since 1995, Canada has fallen from 1st to 25th place on the UN Gender Equality Index.

    October 24, 2016
    South Sudan: Deliberate killings by government troops as UN forces fail to protect civilians   South Sudanese government forces are responsible for deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls and looting property in July in Juba, the country’s capital, Amnesty International said in a new report launched today.   “South Sudanese government troops killed men from the Nuer ethnic group, raped women and girls, and carried out a massive campaign of pillage,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.   “These attacks by government forces are further proof of the urgent need to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, with the aim of stopping the flow of weapons, and establish an effective mechanism to monitor compliance. States should not be profiting off weapons that are being used to kill civilians.”  
    October 24, 2016

    The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release writer and human rights activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, following her arrest today, Amnesty International urged.

    Despite the fact that no official summons has been issued, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s home was raided this morning by officials, who violently broke through her front door before taking her to Evin Prison in Tehran. It appears that she has been taken to the women’s ward to begin serving her six-year sentence. She has been convicted of charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities,” for writing an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning in Iran. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s husband, Arash Sadeghi, a human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, has since started a hunger strike in protest at her imprisonment.

    October 24, 2016

    Geneva, Switzerland – Canada is not doing enough to protect the human rights and safety of women and girls, especially First Nations, Metis, Inuit and migrant and refugee women and girls, says Amnesty International as Canada undergoes its first review before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) since 2008. Amnesty International is particularly concerned that many past recommendations from the Committee remain unimplemented.

    “We welcome the government of Canada’s renewed commitment to gender equality, to Indigenous rights, and to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls,” says Jackie Hansen, Women’s Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada (English). “However, Canada continues to fall short of its international obligations and it is crucial that Canada’s commitments are matched with concrete actions and measurable results in the near-term.” 

    October 20, 2016

    Tech companies like Snapchat and Skype’s owner Microsoft are failing to adopt basic privacy protections on their instant messaging services, putting users’ human rights at risk, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s new ‘Message Privacy Ranking’ assesses the 11 companies with the most popular messaging apps on the way they use encryption to protect users’ privacy and freedom of expression across their messaging apps.

    TAKE ACTION: Tell governments to end indiscriminate mass surveillance 

    “If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise. The reality is that our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities. Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Amnesty International’s Technology and Human Rights Team.

    October 20, 2016

    The Myanmar government must urgently lift restrictions that are preventing access to humanitarian aid in Rakhine and Kachin states, Amnesty International said today.

    The intensification of the conflict in Kachin State, and the eruption of violence in northern Rakhine State, where a major security operation has led members of the Rohingya and Rakhine communities to flee their homes, has aggravated what was already a serious humanitarian situation in the country.

    “The Myanmar authorities must immediately lift restrictions that are preventing the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies from reaching people in need,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Both Rakhine and Kachin States already had tens of thousands of people been displaced by violence in recent years. The events of the past few weeks has aggravated that situation, and put more lives at risk.”

    Kachin State

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