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I Welcome Refugees

    March 12, 2019
    A young Rohingya girl named Bibi Ayeshi, wearing a black hijab and a white top sits in front of a multicolored background.

    By Kate Schuetze and Alex Neve

    Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

    Bibi Ayesha is a 15 year old Rohingya girl who  was born in Bangladesh. Her family fled Myanmar during a wave of human rights violations against the Rohingya community in 1992. They have never been given official refugee status in Bangladesh.  Her father, determined to ensure that education was accessible for his daughter, managed to enroll her in a local school near the Nayapara Refugee Camp where they live. 

    Earlier this year in January, however, the Bangladeshi government began strictly enforcing a long-standing policy that no Rohingya students would be allowed in local schools on the grounds that they are refugees and must go to schools in the camps.  However, the government does not allow formal schools in the camps, because they believe that will encourage refugees to remain in Bangladesh. The only options are the very basic Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and Learning Centres, which mainly offer a place to play and some very rudimentary lessons.

    February 11, 2019

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

    As I arrive in Bangladesh, joining an Amnesty International delegation that is here for two weeks to meet with and hear from Rohingya refugees in the country, a specific question comes to mind. In this world of ours – a world marked of late by far too much conflict, hate and division – when and why is a crisis no longer seen to be a crisis?

    In a world which feels to have an ever-shortening attention span and seems only able to give real attention to two or three emergencies at once, we forget and move on from today’s or this week’s crisis more quickly than ever.

    Meanwhile, politicians regularly bandy the word crisis about to inflame tensions and score political points when it isn’t a crisis by any measure; be it Donald Trump’s manufactured border wall crisis or the overblown rhetoric around a supposed-influx of refugees crossing the Canada/US border. We see quick resort to the word crisis in those situations, largely to undermine support for refugee protection.

    February 08, 2019

    Photos: Ahmer Khan (Twitter, Instagram) Words: Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner (Twitter)

    The Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have yet to come to terms with the trauma they had experienced in Myanmar. Ahmer Khan visited Cox’s Bazar to document in photographs the Rohingya people with what they held dearest to them during their troubled escape from home…writes Saad Hammadi

    Last November, when word spread of a possible repatriation of a few thousand Rohingya refugees, hundreds sought sanctuary in other camps in Cox’s Bazar to escape a forced return and avoid being identified.

    In the desperately overcrowded camps across Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar, many Rohingya refugees have still not recovered from the trauma they experienced in Myanmar. That painful escape from home still haunts them.

    January 31, 2019
    Mexico USA border wall with barbed wire at top

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers.|

    El Paso, Texas

    So many times over the past two years, since Donald Trump’s presidency and assault on the rights of refugees and migrants began, I have asked myself: what more will it take for the Canadian government to agree that the United States is not “safe” when it comes to refugee protection?

    And while I do not have the answer yet, as the accounts of utter contempt for international obligations and the lack of even a minimal sense of compassion mounted during our visit to Tijuana, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez this week, as a Canadian I felt a deepening sense of shame that this remains an open question.

    What more will it take?

    January 30, 2019

    Photo: Mother and son holding hands at the shelter for the Migrant Caravan in November 2018. 

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    The polarizing and politicized discourse about refugees, migrant and border policy in the United States revolves around ugly chants and a long list of terms and agencies that are at once sinister and incomprehensible: #BuildTheWall, Migration Protection Protocols, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Customs and Border Patrol, pushbacks and zero-tolerance.

    But what is truly at stake and so lost in the swirling toxic debate are peoples’ hopes, lives and rights.

    January 28, 2019

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    Tijuana, Mexico

    We began the day walking across the border between the United States and Mexico, separating San Ysidro, California and Tijuana. We ended the day back at that exact same border post, accompanying three courageous LGBTQ teens from Honduras as they sought, against considerable odds, to lodge their asylum claims with US officials.

    In between we had ample occasion to see and hear firsthand that despite Donald Trump’s toxic rhetoric, the only crisis that is playing out along this frontier is a politically-driven one that spreads distortions and fear on the backs of people – mainly, but not only, from Mexico and Central America – who are fleeing terrifying persecution, endemic violence and grinding poverty.

    It is a crisis of conscience, compassion and justice.

    November 15, 2018

    Since August 2017, more than 720,000 Rohingya have fled a vicious campaign of violence by the Myanmar security forces and sought refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh.

    This week some refugees could be returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar under an agreement reached earlier between the two governments that sidestepped safeguards mandated under international law.

    Here, Amnesty International explains how this situation has come about and why the forcible return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar is unlawful, being premature, and putting their lives, liberty and other key human rights at risk.

    Who are the Rohingya people?

    The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar. Until recently, more than a million lived mostly in Rakhine State, in the west of the country, on the border with Bangladesh.

    July 24, 2018

    As the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration holds hearings as part of its study related to the “Impact of Irregular Crossing of Canada's Southern Border”, a group of civil society leaders is calling for a measured response, focussed on avoiding alarmist rhetoric and ensuring the protection of the human rights of refugee claimants.

    Among the Committee’s top priorities should be to avoid politicization of the topic by recognizing that Canada does not face a crisis along the Canada/US border and focusing on effective coordination between all levels of government in responding to the needs of refugee claimants. In addition, Canada must take the long overdue step of suspending the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, particularly as the Trump Administration continues to assail and strip away human rights protections for refugees and migrants.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty international Canada said:

    June 28, 2018
      US authorities must put an immediate end to both the separation and detention of children and families who come to the US border with Mexico seeking asylum, while also immediately reuniting the thousands of families who remain separated as a result of the Trump administration’s unlawful and damaging policies, said Amnesty International ahead of the Global Day of Action against these practices planned for 30 June.   “Despite the executive order that President Trump signed last week, thousands of frightened children are still being kept apart from their distraught parents, who have no idea when they’ll see them again. By holding kids in cages or flying them to shelters thousands of miles away, the US authorities are deliberately inflicting deep and lasting mental suffering on them in a bid to deter desperate families from seeking asylum,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  
    June 26, 2018

    Myanmar: Military top brass must face justice for crimes against humanity targeting Rohingya

    Report names 13 officials with a key role in murder, rape and deportation of Rohingya Myanmar’s security forces committed nine distinct types of crimes against humanity; responsibility goes to the top of the chain of command Calls for accountability, including a UN Security Council referral to the ICC

    Amnesty International has gathered extensive, credible evidence implicating Myanmar’s military Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and 12 other named individuals in crimes against humanity committed during the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population in northern Rakhine State.

    April 10, 2018
    Don't Let Children Grow Up in Jail

    Kids and their parents are stuck in what are known as “baby jails.” Their so-called crime? Fleeing violence and dreaming of safety in the United States.

    Every year, tens of thousands of people come to the U.S. southern border seeking safety. They are trying to escape horrific violence and persecution, and going there to ask for asylum, a form of protection recognized under U.S. and international law.

    The Problem

    March 14, 2018

    By Rebecca Ma, Associate Campaigner, Amnesty International USA

    For the past three years, fourteen-year-old Astrid and her father Arturo were living an ordinary life in Easton, Pennsylvania. She was in the eighth grade, studying at Easton Area Middle School, where her favorite subject is Math.

    Less than a month before the much anticipated quinceañera celebration of her fifteenth birthday, life as Astrid knew it was turned upside down.

    On February 20, at approximately 5:00 AM, Astrid was asleep in her room when she was awoken by six male Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) armed agents standing before her bed and yelling: “IMMIGRATION — GET UP!” They ordered everyone in the house into a room and asked them for identification. The ICE agents did not show a warrant or say why they were there.

    January 26, 2018

    Saúl* (we are not sharing his real name or his face because of ongoing risks for his family) fled to Mexico from Honduras after surviving an armed attack that caused him to fear for his life.

    He applied for asylum but Mexican authorities rejected his claim, arguing that Saul could find safety in Honduras. He was swiftly deported in violation of his right to appeal the decision.

    Amnesty International researchers interviewed Saúl in Honduras three weeks later. He expressed an acute fear for his life and had already suffered an attack in his house on arriving home. A few days later, Saúl was murdered.

    This is no isolated case.  

    Mexican migration authorities routinely turn back thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to their countries without considering the risk to their life and security upon return.

    January 23, 2018

    Mexican migration authorities are routinely turning back thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to their countries without considering the risk to their life and security upon return, in many cases violating international and domestic law by doing so, Amnesty International said in a new report.

    Based on a survey that captured 500 experiences of Central Americans travelling through Mexico, Amnesty International found that the National Institute of Migration (INM) is systematically violating the non-refoulement principle, a binding pillar of international and Mexican law that prohibits the return of people to a real risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations. This serious failure by the Mexican government can cost, in many cases, the lives or safety of those returned to the country from which they fled. 

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