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    February 21, 2019

    Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations reveals the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.

    “We documented how an increasing number of governments are placing unreasonable restrictions and barriers on NGOs, preventing them from carrying out crucial work,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    February 20, 2019

    In response to news that an indictment has been sent to the court setting out the case against Osman Kavala and 15 civil society figures for “attempting to overthrow the government”, Amnesty International’s Andrew Gardner said:

    “These outlandish allegations are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence some of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures who now face the prospect of being tried by Turkey’s deeply flawed justice system.”

    “Almost six years after the Gezi Park protests saw tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting against state repression, this indictment - if accepted by the court - could see the accused facing a lifetime behind bars without the possibility of parole.”

    “The Gezi protests were overwhelmingly peaceful with people simply exercising their rights. They were met by arbitrary and abusive force by police. It should be the authorities’ denial of these rights and the police violence against peaceful protestors that should be examined by the courts, not these 16 civil society figures who have not committed any crime.

    January 02, 2019

    Responding to news that Netflix have removed an episode from a comedy show in Saudi Arabia, after officials from the Kingdom complained that it violated cyber-crime laws,

    Samah Hadid, Middle East Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International, said:

    “Saudi Arabia’s censorship of Netflix using a cyber-crime law comes as no surprise, and is further proof of a relentless crackdown on freedom of expression in the Kingdom.

    “Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power in June 2017, many outspoken human rights defenders, activists and critics have been arbitrarily detained, or unjustly sentenced to lengthy prison terms simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “The authorities have previously used anti cyber-crime laws to silence dissidents, creating an environment of fear for those who dare to speak up in Saudi Arabia.

    “By bowing to the Saudi Arabian authorities’ demands, Netflix is in danger of facilitating the Kingdom’s zero-tolerance policy on freedom of expression and assisting the authorities in denying people’s right to freely access information.”

    December 19, 2018

    Police in Viet Nam’s capital, Hanoi, shut down a major annual meeting of grassroots groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) this morning in an alarming step-up of the authorities’ repression of civil society, said Amnesty International.

    “This is an absurd and shocking crackdown on a well-established, peaceful event. To use an arcane wartime decree about holding events in public spaces to stop a private gathering at a hotel is clearly unjustified and cynical,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations.

    A coalition of local groups were holding their third annual workshop today at the Hanoi Club Hotel. As in previous years, the meeting aimed to discuss approaches to social issues including public service access, health and gender equality.

    Once the workshop was underway, local police entered the premises and ordered organizers to shut it down. Police accused organizers of violating a wartime law from 1957, Decree 257-TTg, which provides that public authorities must be informed of events at least 24 hours in advance.

    December 17, 2018
    Amnesty International will be monitoring the protests

    The police must rein in unnecessary and excessive force, including the use of tear gas, against peaceful protesters, Amnesty International said today ahead of further demonstrations planned tonight in Budapest.

    “Demonstrators are expected to descend onto Budapest’s streets tonight for a sixth night of anti-government protests. Last night we witnessed displays of unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful protesters that included the use of tear gas. This must not be repeated again. The police must use force only when strictly necessary and only when all other means to contain the violence have failed," said Massimo Moratti, Deputy Director for Europe at Amnesty International.

    December 17, 2018

     “Going ahead with Project Dragonfly would represent a massive capitulation on human rights by one of the world’s most powerful companies” – Kumi Naidoo

    Responding to media reports that Google is planning to shut down Project Dragonfly, its controversial censored search app for China, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

    “Media reports that Google is shelving Dragonfly follow intense criticism of the project from human rights groups and Google’s own staff. 

    “We would welcome a decision by Google to drop Dragonfly and abandon its plans to cooperate in large-scale censorship and surveillance by the Chinese government.

    “Going ahead with Project Dragonfly would represent a massive capitulation on human rights by one of the world’s most powerful companies.

    “It’s worrying that these reports suggest that Project Dragonfly has been shelved due to discrepancies over internal process, rather than over human rights concerns.

    December 10, 2018
    ‘This whole case will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who cares about the right to protest in our country’ - Kate Allen

    Following guilty verdicts today in the case of 15 people tried in relation to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted Airport last year, Amnesty International has reiterated its strong concern over the decision to charge the human rights defenders with a terrorism-related offence.

    The 15 people - known as the “Stansted 15” - took non-violent direct action at Stansted in March 2017 to prevent the deportation of 60 people on a charter flight bound for Ghana and Nigeria.

    The Stansted 15’s actions prevented the flight from leaving. Of the 60 individuals due to have been deported, ten are currently pursuing asylum claims in the UK, and at least one has since been granted permission to remain in the UK.

    November 27, 2018

    Amnesty launches global day of action against secretive “Project Dragonfly”

    Google’s plans to launch a censored search app in China could irreparably damage internet users’ trust in the tech company, Amnesty International said today, warning that going ahead with the app would set a dangerous precedent for tech companies enabling rights abuses by governments.

    The organization has launched a global petition calling on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to drop the app, which is codenamed Project Dragonfly and would blacklist search terms like “human rights” and “Tiananmen Crackdown”. Following a public outcry from Google’s own workforce, Amnesty International is reaching out to the company’s staff through protests outside Google offices and targeted messages on LinkedIn calling on them to sign the petition. A spoof promotional video offering Google staff the chance to participate in Project Dragonfly ends with a twist on Google’s motto: “Don’t be evil – unless it’s profitable”. 

    November 16, 2018

    Responding to today’s detention of 13 civil society figures in Turkey in connection with the investigation into jailed civil society leader Osman Kavala, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:

    “This latest wave of detentions of academics and activists, on the basis of absurd allegations, shows that the authorities are intent on continuing their brutal crackdown of independent civil society, and shatters any illusion that Turkey is normalizing following the lifting of the state of emergency.

    “The fact that they have been detained in relation to innocuous activities alleged around the overwhelmingly peaceful ‘Gezi Park’ protests in 2013 shows how desperate Turkish authorities are to crack down on any form of dissent.

    November 16, 2018
    Trial of nine Umbrella Movement leaders due to start on Monday

    The Hong Kong government must drop the politically motivated prosecution of nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests, as it amounts to an attack on free speech and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said ahead of the start of their trial on Monday.

    Among the nine activists facing trial at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts are the co-founders of the “Occupy Central” campaign – legal scholar Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, sociologist Professor Chan Kin-man and retired pastor Reverend Chu Yiu-ming – who each face a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment if convicted. Six other defendants in the case include student leaders, lawmakers and political party leaders.

    November 15, 2018

    AMNESTY INDIA PRESS RELEASE
    BENGALURU/DELHI

    The latest leak of a dossier on Amnesty India by the Enforcement Directorate, a financial investigation agency under the Ministry of Finance, based on its ongoing investigations, indicates a deliberate attempt by the government to tarnish Amnesty India’s reputation. Amnesty India calls for an immediate end to this smear campaign and an independent inquiry into the selective leaks of information that are fueling this smear campaign.

    “In the three weeks since we were raided by the Enforcement Directorate, no formal charges have been filed against us. So, it is really shocking to see media coverage of what is alleged to be documents from the investigation. If the authorities believe that Amnesty India has committed an offence, they must prove it in a court of law. However, the Enforcement Directorate seems to be leaking selective information and conducting a media trial,” said Aakar Patel of Amnesty India

    November 07, 2018

    Responding to the decision by an Istanbul court to further postpone the trial of Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç, former Director, İdil Eser, and nine other human rights defenders, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager said:

    “The farce continues for these human rights defenders who are facing absurd terrorism charges. The ridiculous allegations that the Istanbul 10 participated in a secret and subversive meeting has been proven to be entirely untrue in previous hearings. It boggles the mind that the authorities are yet to analyse the digital devices seized when they were first arrested almost a year-and-a-half ago.

    “The trial has now been heard in six separate hearings. Dragging out proceedings in politically motivated cases is nothing new. It is a deliberate tactic forcing innocent human rights defenders to suffer a tortuous wait with the threat of conviction under terrorism charges hanging over their heads.

    November 06, 2018
    High level delegation to attend trial of Amnesty’s Turkey chair, Taner Kılıç, and the Istanbul 10 

    Almost a year-and-a-half after they were first arrested, and still facing absurd charges, Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, former Director and nine other human rights defenders must be acquitted, said Amnesty International as their trial resumes tomorrow in Istanbul. 

    Taner Kılıç, Amnesty Turkey’s Honorary Chair, and İdil Eser, the organisation’s former Turkey Director, are being tried alongside nine other human rights defenders on baseless allegations of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.  

    October 29, 2018

    Reacting to the election of Jair Bolsonaro and Hamilton Mourão as president and vice president of Brazil, Amnesty International said today:

    “The president-elect has campaigned with an openly anti-human-rights agenda and frequently made discriminatory statements about different groups of society. His election as Brazil´s president could pose a huge risk to Indigenous Peoples and quilombolas, traditional rural communities, LGBTI people, black youth, women, activists and civil society organizations, if his rhetoric is transformed in public policy” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    Bolsonaro’s campaign promises include loosening gun control laws and granting prior authorization for law enforcement officials to kill. These proposals, if adopted, would worse the already dire context of lethal violence in Brazil, where there are 63,000 homicides each year, more than 70% of them from firearms, and police commit approximately 5,000 homicides a year, many of which are indeed extrajudicial executions.

    October 26, 2018

    Amnesty India is the latest target of the Modi government’s assault on civil society. On Thursday,  the Enforcement Directorate, an agency that looks into financial crimes, raided the organization’s office and froze its bank accounts, effectively stopping its vital human rights work.

    Swift on the heels of its assault on Greenpeace India earlier this month, when the environmental group’s bank accounts were frozen, the Indian government is claiming violations of foreign funding regulations to shut down another prominent NGO.

    “The Enforcement Directorate’s raid on our office today shows how the authorities are now treating human rights organizations like criminal enterprises, using heavy-handed methods that are commonly found in repressive states. Our staff have been harassed and intimidated,” said Aakar Patel, Amnesty International India’s Executive Director.

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