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Freedom of Expression

    October 05, 2018

    Amnesty International condemns the conviction on 3 October of activist and artist Seelan Palay, who was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment after refusing to pay a fine of SGD 2,500 (USD 1,800), for holding a piece of art outside Parliament in 2017. The organisation considers the conviction a violation of the right to freedom of expression and calls for the quashing of the conviction and sentence.

    September 20, 2018

    The crackdown on freedom of expression under Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi has reached alarming new levels unparalleled in Egypt’s recent history, Amnesty International said today as it launched a campaign calling for the unconditional and immediate release of all those who have been detained solely for peacefully expressing their views.

    The campaign, “Egypt, an Open-Air Prison for Critics”, is being launched in response to the unprecedented severity of the crackdown in Egypt, as people around the country increasingly express discontent with the economic and political situation. Amnesty International invites supporters from around the world to show solidarity with those risking their freedom to express their views by writing to the Egyptian government and calling for an end to the persecution.

    “It is currently more dangerous to criticize the government in Egypt than at any time in the country’s recent history. Egyptians living under President al-Sisi are treated as criminals simply for peacefully expressing their opinions,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

    September 19, 2018

    The order by an Istanbul court to remand 24 construction workers and union leaders in prison pending trial is a blatant attempt by the authorities to silence legitimate protest, Amnesty International said today.

    The workers and union leaders were amongst the hundreds of others who had been detained in police custody since 15 September following protests in Istanbul about working conditions at the construction site of a new airport due to open in the city next month. Clashes ensued after the police intervened to end the protest.

    “Rather than stifle legitimate peaceful protest with water cannons, tear gas and detentions, the Turkish authorities must listen to the complaints of the workers and ensure they have a safe and dignified place of work,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Expert.

    Workers complained of inhumane working and living conditions at the site and lack of workplace safety as well as delays or omissions in receiving their salaries and social security payments.

    September 10, 2018

    Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, Minar Pimple, has been refused an entry visa to speak at this week’s World Economic Forum on ASEAN event in Hanoi, further evidence of the Vietnamese government’s ongoing crackdown against freedom of expression.

    Minar Pimple, who is part of Amnesty International’s senior leadership team, was due to speak on diversity and pluralism, yet has been refused permission to attend.

    World Economic Forum (WEF) officials who communicated with the Viet Nam government were told Pimple’s visa had been earmarked for refusal.

    Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said, “We condemn this decision to stifle debate from a regular contributor to the WEF who has spoken at the highest levels on human rights issues around the world. This comes at a time when freedom of expression is under deep threat in Viet Nam. The government’s actions undermine an event that depends on a plurality of views, and they are giving ASEAN a bad name.”

    August 30, 2018

    AI UK Press release

    In response to the news that the Australian government is considering denying American activist Chelsea Manning a visa to enter the country for a series of public talks, Claire Mallinson, National Director of Amnesty International Australia said:

    “Amnesty International is very concerned that the Australian government is seeking to silence American activist Chelsea Manning by intending to deny her a visa into Australia.

    “By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government. It is not too late for the Government to change their mind.

    "Chelsea Manning is travelling to Australia for a series of talks which will include discussion of the potential human rights violations she exposed as a whistle-blower and her human rights activism since she got out of prison, including as an outspoken LGBTQI rights advocate.

    August 03, 2018

    In response to prominent Chinese activist Sun Wenguang, 84, being taken away by police as he gave a live TV interview at his home, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International said:

    “It's shocking and outrageous to see Sun Wenguang taken away in this way. If he is being detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, he must be immediately and unconditionally released. 

    "This disgraceful police action against a prominent intellectual is a vivid example of the Chinese authorities’ ruthless clampdown on freedom of expression. It is disturbing that police can harass dissidents anytime and anywhere they like in this way.”

    Background

    Professor Sun Wenguang was in the middle of an interview with US broadcaster Voice of America when police broke into his home in Ji’nan and forced him off air on Wednesday. The 84-year-old has been openly critical of the Chinese government in the past. He was last heard to say "I have my freedom of speech”, before being stopped from speaking further.

     

     

    August 02, 2018

    Renowned Ethiopian journalist, Eskinder Nega, has been imprisoned nine times simply for doing his job. He was released earlier this year after spending his longest stint in prison. In this letter to Amnesty International’s supporters, he reflects on his time in prison, how he survived and why the voice of human rights needs to continue…

    Dear Amnesty International supporters,

    I became a journalist by accident. I was in my twenties. For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, we had independent magazines. I knew we had to venture into freedom of expression and push the boundaries, so I wrote articles criticizing the Ethiopian regime’s abuse of power. My newspaper became the first to be charged under the press law; my editor and I the first to be imprisoned.

    August 01, 2018

    Authorities must launch a prompt and effective investigation into the army’s killing of three protesters and injury of scores others following post elections violence, Amnesty International said today.

    “It is unfortunate that this election has descended into bloodshed, which could have been avoided if security forces had exercised restraint against protesters. The army’s conduct should be promptly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice,” said Colm Ó Cuanacháin, Amnesty International’s Acting Secretary General.

    “By using live ammunition against unarmed protesters, the army has broken the very same rule of law that they should protect. The militarization of the prevailing post-election environment is muzzling freedom of expression, association and assembly. People must be guaranteed their right to protest.”

    Police have confirmed that three people have been killed after soldiers fired live ammunition on fleeing people following post-election protests in Harare, with some of the injured and dead being shot from the back.

    August 01, 2018

    We are thrilled to share this good news with all our supporters! The Malaysian authorities have acquitted and dropped all sedition charges against political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar "Zunar" Ulhaque and others. Zunar was facing prosecution for his peaceful political activities.

    Zunar was charged with nine sedition charges on 3 April 2015 for allegedly insulting the judiciary in tweets relating to then opposition leader and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Anwar Ibrahim, after he was jailed on sodomy charges

    Thank you to all of those who sent messages of solidarity for Zunar as part of Write for Rights 2015.

    August 01, 2018

    Responding to a report in The Intercept that Google is allegedly developing a search engine app that complies with strict Chinese censorship rules in order to re-enter the search market in the country, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, commented:

    “It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China’s extreme censorship rules to gain market access. It is impossible to see how such a move is compatible with Google’s ‘Do the right thing’ motto, and we are calling on the company to change course.

    “For the world’s biggest search engine to adopt such extreme measures would be a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom. In putting profits before human rights, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.

    July 31, 2018

    In response to the detention of 30 individuals who were peacefully protesting in support of factory workers’ attempt to form their own trade union at Jasic Technology in Shenzhen, southern China, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International commented:

    “The detention of the workers and their supporters is deplorable. The workers’ demand to form a union of their choice to protect their rights is entirely legitimate. Instead of trying to silence the protesters, the authorities should address the underlying allegations of abusive working conditions and respect the workers’ right to freedom of association. 

    “The charges against many of those detained by police are nothing more than an attempt to restrict their rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. All those involved in the protest should be released immediately and unconditionally unless there is evidence that internationally recognized crimes were committed.”

    Background

    June 22, 2018

    Amid persistent human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Amnesty International wants the government to ensure that everyone can exercise their freedom of expression and association as the country prepares for the long-awaited December elections.

    DRC authorities must open up the civic space by lifting the ban on peaceful protests, releasing dissidents and stopping the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders.

    “All unlawful measures that prevent or limit citizens’ participation and engagement, including the blanket ban on demonstrations, must be removed immediately, and freedom of expression – including press freedom - fully restored ahead of the elections,” said Jean-Mobert Senga, Amnesty International’s Researcher for the DRC.

    The country’s Electoral Commission is expected to announce the elections on 23 June, six months before the polling date, 23 December 2018.

    June 21, 2018

    Nicaragua remains mired in an ongoing cycle of violence, despite numerous efforts by Nicaraguan civil society for national dialogue and calls from international organizations to stop the grave violations of human rights committed by state agents and affiliated groups.

    Amnesty International has continued to monitor and document the grave human rights crisis in the country and can confirm that state repression and violence have intensified in recent weeks. According to the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH), the number of people killed, most at the hands of the police and pro-government armed groups, has risen to over 190. The harassment of journalists and human rights defenders is continuing, as are restrictions on access to the right to health of injured protesters.

    “The upsurge of violence and attacks against civilians by Nicaraguan government agents and pro-government armed groups acting with their acquiescence in recent days highlights President Ortega’s insincerity and lack of commitment to resolving this crisis peacefully,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 21, 2018

    In response to the continued detention of human rights defender, Taner Kılıç, after the latest hearing against him, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “Today’s heart-breaking decision to keep our colleague in jail is yet another travesty of justice.

    “After more than a year away from his family, and without a a shred of credible evidence presented to substantiate the absurd charges made against him, his cruel and protracted incarceration defies all logic.

    “Earlier this month, any fig-leaf of legitimacy for the prosecutor’s case was stripped away with the submission of the long-delayed police report. By failing to find any evidence that Taner ever had the ByLock messaging app on his phone, the report removed the central accusation against him. A second police report submitted to the court this morning, confirmed that there was no trace of Bylock on Taner’s phone.

    June 20, 2018
    Amnesty Secretary General meets Taner Kılıç in jail for first time Trial resumes in Istanbul on 21 June Amnesty Secretary General and directors from four countries to attend hearing

    On the eve of the resumption of his trial, jailed Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç, has made an impassioned plea for people not to stay silent on the issue of human rights abuses in Turkey and vowed to carry on his work when he is released.

    “When I am released I want to carry on. I know now more than ever how important human rights are,” Taner told Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, who visited him in Şakran high security prison today.

    “Others in are in a worse situation than me,” Taner continued, stressing the need for solidarity with everyone who has been unjustly jailed in Turkey.

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