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    November 24, 2015

    What is it like to be a refugee in Lebanon? The answer you'll get will be different depending on whether you speak to a women, girl, man, or boy. 

    Early marriage and street harassment are just a few of the serious issues uniquely faced by refugee women and girls in Lebanon. And because of legal restrictions imposed on Syrian refugees by the Lebanese government, many refugee women and girls feel unable to report threats, harassment, or violence to the police. Refugee women and girls living in Lebanon, especially those in women-led households, are at risk of experiencing human rights abuses.

    As part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, Amnesty International is sharing the stories of two refugee women living in Lebanon. 

    Learn more and take action today! 

    November 20, 2015

    Bassel Khartabil, a defender of freedom expression being held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance may be facing a death sentence, 30 local and international organizations said today. His wife has received unconfirmed reports that a Military Field Court has sentenced him to death. His whereabouts should be disclosed immediately, and he should be released unconditionally, the groups said.

    Military Intelligence detained Bassel Khartabil on 15 March 2012. He was held in incommunicado detention for eight months and was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. He is facing Military Field Court proceedings for his peaceful activities in support of freedom of expression. A military judge interrogated Bassel Khartabil for a few minutes on 9 December 2012, but he had heard nothing further about his legal case, he told his family. In December 2012 he was moved to ‘Adra prison in Damascus, where he remained until 3 October 2015, when he was transferred to an undisclosed location and has not been heard of since.

    November 04, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST    5 November 2015

    The vast scale and chillingly orchestrated nature of tens of thousands of enforced disappearances by the Syrian government over the past four years is exposed in a new report by Amnesty International published today.

    Between prison and the grave: Enforced disappearances in Syria reveals that the state is profiting from widespread and systematic enforced disappearances amounting to crimes against humanity, through an insidious black market in which family members desperate to find out the fates of their disappeared relatives are ruthlessly exploited for cash.

    “The government’s enforced disappearances are part of a coldly calculated, widespread attack against the civilian population. These are crimes against humanity, part of a carefully orchestrated campaign designed to spread terror and quash the slightest sign of dissent across the country,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    October 12, 2015

     Released 00:01 BST Tuesday 13 October 2015

    A fact-finding mission to northern Syria has uncovered a wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the Autonomous Administration led by the Syrian Kurdish political party Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD) controlling the area, said Amnesty International in a report published today. The Autonomous Administration is a key ally, on the ground, of the US-led coalition fighting against the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

    ‘We had nowhere else to go’: Forced displacement and demolitions in northern Syria reveals evidence of alarming abuses, including eyewitness accounts and satellite images, detailing the deliberate displacement of thousands of civilians and the razing of entire villages in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration, often in retaliation for residents’ perceived sympathies with, or ties to, members of IS or other armed groups.

    October 05, 2015

    By Diana Semaan, Syria campaigner at Amnesty's International Secretraiat.

    With reports in the news of a new push for negotiations to end the conflict in Syria, and Western countries contemplating the future of Syria and Bashar al-Assad as Russia engages in combat, a crucially important goal—accountability for countless war crimes and other violations committed by all sides in this conflict—appears to be slipping off the agenda.

    Despite an international outcry over the killing of civilians by the Syrian government, in reality most of the world—including Western governments—have turned a blind eye to events in the country, utterly failing to agree on effective measures to protect civilians from the brutality of the Syrian government.

    Their main priority appears to be combating the armed group calling itself the Islamic State and keeping refugees from reaching their borders. Any pursuit of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity has taken a back seat.

    October 05, 2015

    Three years after her father’s disappearance, 24-year-old Raneem Ma’touq tells her family’s story.

    Raneem Ma'touq is the daughter of Khalil Ma’touq, a human rights lawyer and the director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, who disappeared on 2 October 2012, along with a colleague, while they were on their way to work in Damascus. It is believed he was arrested after being detained at a government checkpoint, and has been held in conditions amounting to an enforced disappearance ever since. Today marks three years since he was arrested.

    When Raneem Ma’touq’s father disappeared nearly three years ago, she was 21 years old. She and her family felt as if their whole world had fallen apart.

    “[His disappearance] left a huge hole in our lives. For a young woman in our neighborhood, it was like hell living without him,” she said.

    As a human rights lawyer defending political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Syria, her father, Khalil Ma’touq, was no stranger to threats, harassment and intimidation by the Syrian authorities. Even before the Syrian conflict began, he was subjected to a travel ban.

    September 11, 2015
    Wadih, 25, and Shan, 4, from Syria play at a refugee accomodation facility in an exhibition hall on September 7, 2015 in Munich, Germany. Photo by Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

    With pressure on the federal government mounting, from Canadians from all walks of life and all corners of the country looking for Canada to do much more to assist Syrian refugees, twelve organizations have today released a comprehensive set of recommendations that should form the basis of Canada’s response to the crisis.

    The organizations have decades of wide-ranging experience in refugee resettlement, protection and advocacy, and include the Syrian Canadian Council which has been at the forefront of highlighting the pressing needs of Syrian refugees in Canada and abroad.

    September 08, 2015
    Refugees in the region

    More than 4 million refugees from Syria (95%) are in just five countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt:

    Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria which amounts to around one in five people in the country Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria, which amounts to about 10% of the population Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria, more than any other country worldwide Iraq where 3 million people have been internally displaced in the last 18 months hosts 249,463 refugees from Syria Egypt hosts 132,375 refugees from Syria The UN humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is just 40% funded.

    Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive just $13.50 per month or less than half a dollar a day for food assistance.

    More than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan living below the local poverty line.

    Conflict in Syria

    Around 220,000 people have been killed and 12.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria

    September 07, 2015

    The Democratic Union Party (PYD)-led autonomous administration in northern Syria is using a crackdown against terrorism and the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) as a pretext to unlawfully detain and unfairly try peaceful critics and civilians believed to be sympathizers or members of alleged terror groups, said Amnesty International.

    Researchers interviewed 10 detainees at two prisons run by the PYD-led autonomous administration, during a fact-finding mission to northern Syria.

    Some had been arbitrarily detained for periods of up to a year without charge or trial. Those who did face trials said they suffered from lengthy pre-trial detention and that proceedings were blatantly unfair. They were denied basic rights including the right to defend themselves, to see the evidence against them, and access to a lawyer and their family.

    “The PYD-led autonomous administration cannot use their fight against terrorism as an excuse to violate the rights of individuals in areas under their control,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

    September 04, 2015

    By Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International. Follow Gauri on Twitter @GaurivanGulik.

    A solemn moment of silence. The world over, this is the traditional response when lives are cut short by tragedy.

    It has also been a common response to tragedies in Europe and off its shores which have ended the lives of thousands of refugees and migrants. Not killed by bombs in Syria, but killed while making terrifying journeys in search of safety and better lives in Europe.

    But the scale and rapid succession of these tragedies calls for breaking the silence.

    In the space of a week, along with people across the world, I recoiled in horror as four new tragedies added to a growing list of events that have already brought a record number of refugees and migrants to untimely deaths this year. According to UNHCR, 2,500 have already perished en route to Europe since 1 January 2015.

    On 26 August, 52 bodies were found inside the hull of a ship about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Libya.

    September 02, 2015

    Work on Maher Arar’s case has been one of our most intensive campaigns for justice spanning well over a decade. Here are some of the highlights:

    September 01, 2015

    The following statement was read by Monia Mazigh, Maher Arar's wife, as a press conference earlier today.

    I welcome today's announcement by the RCMP to lay criminal charges against Colonel George Salloum who was directly responsible for my torture while I was detained at the Palestinian Branch of the Syrian Military Intelligence.

    Since I launched my complaint in 2005, I gave the RCMP investigating team, during the many interviews I had with them, the information they needed to advance their investigation. This lengthy international investigation took the officers overseas to gather evidence. As a result, they were able to better understand the nature of interrogations in Syrian detention centers. Upon their return, the investigators were able to pass on their knowledge to other RCMP staff. 

    I believe this is vital for the RCMP to grasp given the increased urge to share information even with regimes who don't respect our understanding of basic human rights.

    August 31, 2015

    By Giorgos Kosmopoulos, Director of Amnesty International Greece 

    The view was staggering upon my arrival in the village of Idomeni, near Greece’s border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia).

    Up to 4,000 refugees, many of them from Syria including many families with children, were trapped after Macedonia’s government designated the southern border just outside the town of Gevgelija a “crisis area”, closing the border crossing and bringing in military backup. The refugees were all trying to pass through Macedonia on their way to northern European countries.

    August 14, 2015

    Sixteen international organizations have joined the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in welcoming the release of its president Mazen Darwish and in calling for all charges against him and his colleagues to be dropped, as well as for the release of all other prisoners of conscience who remain detained by the Syrian authorities.

    Whilst welcoming this week’s release of Mazen Darwish and of his SCM colleagues Hani al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir last month we are extremely concerned that they continue to face charges of ‘publicizing terrorist acts’ and are due to face trial later this month. We continue to call for all charges against them to be dropped immediately and unconditionally, and for an end to the persecution and judicial harassment of the three men for their legitimate human rights work. The authorities in Syria must further guarantee that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

    August 11, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST   12 August 2015

    Relentless aerial bombardment and shelling by Syrian government forces is magnifying the suffering of civilians trapped under siege and facing an escalating humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    ‘Left to die under siege’: War crimes and human rights abuses in Eastern Ghouta, Syria reveals damning evidence of war crimes and describes the Syrian government’s siege on Eastern Ghouta and unlawful killing of its besieged civilians, occurring as part of a widespread as well as systematic attack on the civilian population, as amounting to crimes against humanity. The report also highlights the agonizing struggle to survive of more than 163,000 people living under siege in Eastern Ghouta, as well as exposing abuses by non-state armed groups in the area.

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