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    September 29, 2020

    By Marco Peronlini, Amnesty International researcher. Follow Marco on Twitter @esteban80paris

    A year ago, monitoring the G7 protests in Biarritz, I was kettled for more than two hours by police under a baking sun. The following day, I was almost choked by tear gas in Bayonne. What I experienced in the southwest of France was part of a heavy-handed police and judicial response to peaceful protest that is being that is being increasingly rolled out across many parts of Europe.

    September 23, 2020

    By Stefan Simanowitz, Amnesty International's media manager for Europe, Turkey and the Balkans

    The first day of Julian Assange's extradition hearing, which started on Monday 7 September, drew more than two hundred people to gather outside the Old Bailey in London. People in fancy dress mingled with camera crews, journalists and a pack of hungry photographers who would disappear regularly to give chase to any white security van heading towards the court, pressing their long lenses against the darkened windows.

    Arriving at the court each morning was an assault to the senses with the noise of samba bands, sound systems and chanting crowds and the sight of banners, balloons and billboards at every turn. One of the vans had come from Belmarsh high security prison, Julian Assange's home for the last 16 months.

    September 17, 2020

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the organization’s lack of access to the Julian Assange extradition hearing, which began on 7 September at the Old Bailey in London, undermines the recognition of trial observers as guardians of international fair trial standards. The organization lodged three separate applications to request access to the premises of the Court for the hearing. All applications were rejected, signaling a retreat on the part of the UK authorities from the principle of open justice.

     Amnesty International has called on the US government to drop all charges against Julian Assange for his publishing activities and on the UK authorities not to send Assange to the USA or any country where he would be at risk of serious human rights violations. As part of its research, advocacy and campaigning work on the Assange case, Amnesty is committed to monitoring the UK extradition hearing by engaging expert international trial monitors to observe and document the proceedings.

    September 08, 2020

    By Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on human rights in Europe

    The last time I saw Julian Assange he looked tired and wan.

    Dressed neatly in casual business attire, the Wikileaks founder was sitting in a glass-enclosed dock, at the back of a courtroom adjoining Belmarsh high security prison in London, flanked by two prison officers.

    I had travelled from the US to observe the hearing. He had travelled via tunnel from his cell to the courtroom. 

    Today, Julian Assange will be in court again, for the resumption of proceedings that will ultimately decide on the Trump administration’s request for his extradition to the US.

    But it is not just Julian Assange that will be in the dock. Beside him will sit the fundamental tenets of media freedom that underpin the rights to freedom of expression and the public’s right to access to information. Silence this one man, and the US and its accomplices will gag others, spreading fear of persecution and prosecution over a global media community already under assault in the US and in many other countries worldwide.

    July 17, 2020

    On 30 June, China’s top legislature unanimously passed a new national security law for Hong Kong that entered into force in the territory the same day, just before midnight. The law is dangerously vague and broad: virtually anything could be deemed a threat to “national security" under its provisions, and it can apply to anyone on the planet.

    The Chinese authorities forced the law through without any accountability or transparency: it was passed just weeks after it was first announced, bypassing Hong Kong’s local legislature, and the text was kept secret from the public and allegedly even the Hong Kong government until after it was enacted.

    Here are 10 reasons why everyone should be worried about this new law:

    June 18, 2020

    This virus won’t kill me; what will kill me is your system. 

    Lorry driver Malik Yılmaz

    Corona virus is devastating lives worldwide, whether because of the illness itself or the social and economic impact of lockdowns and other government measures. Everywhere, the poorest are being hit hardest. In Turkey, the authorities are making the situation worse by using the pandemic as an excuse to further stifle the right to freedom of expression. They are hounding social media users, journalists, doctors and others, and invoking legal provisions that criminalize dissent, in efforts to silence their critics.

    Crackdown on social media

    Around 54 million people use social media in Turkey, nearly two-thirds of the population. The country ranks seventh on the list of active Twitter users (13.6 million people) and tops the list for legal requests by the state to remove content.

    December 18, 2019

    By Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director at Amnesty International

    Mesut Ozil’s social media post about the political situation in Xinjiang has prompted an angry response from the Chinese authorities. The Arsenal footballer’s accusation that China is persecuting the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority has been dismissed by Beijing as “fake news”. Meanwhile, a Gunners match was pulled from the state TV schedule and Chinese football fans have reportedly burned Arsenal shirts in protest at the player’s comments.

    Amnesty International has extensively documented the situation in Xinjiang over the past several years. We have interviewed more than 400 people outside of China whose relatives in Xinjiang are still missing, as well as individuals who said they were tortured while in detention camps there. We also collected satellite photos of the camps and analysed official Chinese documents that detail the mass-internment programme. This is what is really happening:

    October 28, 2019

    The past few months have seen a seemingly massive surge in protests globally. From the streets of Hong Kong to La Paz, Quito, Barcelona, Beirut and Santiago, we have witnessed a huge wave of people taking to the streets to exercise their right to protest and demand change from those in power.

    Sadly, a common thread throughout these protests has been an extremely harsh response from the state, which in many instances have amounted to gross violations of human rights.

    June 12, 2019

    In response to the use of force against largely peaceful protestors by Hong Kong police, who used tear gas, guns firing bean bags and rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray to disperse a demonstration against the extradition bill in central Hong Kong on Wednesday, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

    “The ugly scenes of police using tear gas and pepper spray against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters is a violation of international law. Police have a duty to maintain public order, but in doing so they may use force only when strictly necessary. Hong Kong’s police have today failed to live up to this standard.

    “The police have taken advantage of the violent acts of a small minority as a pretext to use excessive force against the vast majority of peaceful protesters.

    “Tear gas and projectiles like rubber bullets are notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate and can result in serious injury and even death. They should only ever be used in a targeted response to specific acts of violence and never to disperse peaceful protesters.

    June 12, 2019

    Responding to the arbitrary arrests of over 400 people in Moscow who were peacefully protesting the treatment of journalist Ivan Golunov, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Office, said:

    “Today’s arbitrary and often brutal arrests of over 400 peaceful protestors, including children, are a perfect example of the cruel repression that brought protestors to the streets in the first place. Amnesty International observers witnessed police violence and recorded complaints of detainees being beaten. Yet again, the Russian authorities met peaceful dissent with an assault on rights and freedoms.

    “Those who took to the streets of Moscow today were demanding accountability for the appalling treatment of journalist Ivan Golunov, who was arrested on fabricated drugs charges in a blatant attempt to silence him. Confronted by unprecedented public indignation, the authorities backtracked and released Ivan Golunov.

    May 21, 2019

    The Indonesian authorities must ensure full respect for the human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly ahead of the announcement of the official general election results scheduled for 22 May, Amnesty International said today.

    “The authorities in Indonesia must let people demonstrate freely and peacefully. Security forces must refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force or intimidating demonstrators,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid.

    Prior to the announcement by the Election Commission (KPU)  tomorrow, civil society organizations and prominent opposition political activists have announced plans to stage mass protests in Jakarta on 22 May, saying they would reject the 17th April presidential election results.

    On Sunday 19 May, media reported that police were intimidating groups travelling on busses to Jakarta,  instructing them to turn back and not join the rally.

    “Preventing people from joining a peaceful protest is a violation of their human rights. Everyone has the right to join others and express their thoughts peacefully,” Usman Hamid added.

    May 17, 2019

    The arbitrary detention of labour rights lawyer, Haytham Mohamdeen, and former political activist, Mostafa Maher, this week has raised fears that the Egyptian authorities might be embarking on a fresh crackdown targeting peaceful dissent or individuals with history of activism, said Amnesty International.

    “These latest arrests have reignited a climate of fear amongst independent activists and human rights organizations about a renewed assault by the Egyptian authorities on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. 

    May 14, 2019

    Responding to the killing of at least one individual and the spate of attacks against Muslim-owned businesses, mosques and houses in several parts of Sri Lanka, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, Thyagi Ruwanpathirana said:

    “The Sri Lankan authorities must protect the country’s Muslim minority as it is being targeted by mobs in horrific attacks on their homes, mosques and businesses in the wake of the Easter Sunday massacre. The authorities must take steps to promote unity in diversity against the forces of hatred, those promoting fear and violence, and pitting communities against each other.

    “The authorities must put the protection of human rights at the heart of its response and prevent further violence, including holding the suspected perpetrators of earlier attacks accountable. In particular, prosecutions must also meet international fair trial standards.

    “It is alarming to see reports that those suspected to be involved in the March 2018 anti-Muslim violence may have been involved in these recent attacks as well.

    May 10, 2019

    Reacting to the news that a Pride march organized by students at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara has been violently broken up by police and 25 students arrested, Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is heartbreaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, and that at least 25 people have reportedly been unlawfully detained. Reports of excessive use of force by the police must be urgently investigated.”

    “Amnesty International condemns the police intervention to break up this celebration of pride on the METU campus today. It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality.

    All those detained by police must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    May 03, 2019
    Nasrin and her 2 children
    Iranian lawyer and women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh’s heartbreaking letters from prison reveal the trauma inflicted on families by the government that claims to protect them.

    Nasrin Sotoudeh is a lawyer who has never shied away from doing what’s right in Iran. In her long and impressive career, she has exposed the injustices of the death penalty and campaigned for children’s rights. Most recently, she defied degrading laws that force girls as young as nine to wear a hijab or face prison, flogging or a fine. Nasrin has been sentenced to a total of 38 years and 148 lashes after two unfair trials because she demanded choice for women and girls. She will have to serve 17 years of this sentence.

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