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Freedom of Expression

    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

    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.

    June 18, 2018

    •         Police report finds nothing to suggest Taner Kılıç ever had the controversial ByLock app on his phone

    •         Trial resumes in Istanbul on 21 June

    •         Amnesty Secretary General and directors from four countries to attend trial

    More than a year after his arrest, a 15-page police report finally submitted by the prosecution, fails to find any evidence that Amnesty International Turkey’s Honorary Chair, Taner Kılıç, ever had ByLock on his phone. The alleged presence of the secure messaging application was central to the case against the rights defender, who is still languishing in prison.

    The findings of the police report do not substantiate the central accusation against Taner and Amnesty International is therefore renewing its call for his immediate release and acquittal.

    June 13, 2018

    Honduran authorities have continued to violate the human rights of people arrested during last year’s post-election protests by denying their right to due process and holding them in inhumane conditions, said Amnesty International in a report released today.

    Protest prohibited: Use of force and arbitrary detentions to suppress dissent in Honduras documents how the authorities used excessive force and arbitrary or prolonged pre-trial detention, among other measures, to suppress the wave of demonstrations that followed the elections on 26 November 2017 and to discourage further dissent.

    “Not only did Honduran security forces use excessive force to repress peaceful protesters in the immediate aftermath of last year’s contested election; the state then held detainees in deplorable conditions for months on end while denying their rights to due process and an adequate defence,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 06, 2018

    Despite the government’s cynical crackdown on human rights, activists for justice and freedom will not be silenced, Amnesty International said on the first anniversary of the detention of Taner Kılıç.

    The Honorary Chair of Amnesty International Turkey was arrested on 6 June 2017 on a baseless charge of belonging to a terrorist organization. More than a million people have since raised their voices and backed Amnesty’s campaign for his immediate release.

    “Today we mourn the year of Taner Kılıç’s life that Turkey’s government has unjustly taken from him, but this is also a moment to redouble our efforts to secure his release and that of many other civil society activists whose work has cost them their freedom,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “Turkish authorities have fostered a climate of fear by mercilessly persecuting those who dare to speak out. But today, Taner’s hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide stand in solidarity to send a resounding message to the Turkish government: we will not be silenced.”

    May 29, 2018
     

    A protester is in critical condition in hospital after being attacked by police dogs on 27 May, as part of a crackdown on freedom of association, assembly and expression that stifles dissenting views, Amnesty International said today.A protester is in critical condition in hospital after being attacked by police dogs on 27 May, as part of a crackdown on freedom of association, assembly and expression that stifles dissenting views, Amnesty International said today.

    The protester was participating in a peaceful protest demanding justice for the victims subjected to torture and extrajudicial executions in Angola in 1977 under late president Agostinho Neto.

    “This latest crackdown on dissent in Angola is unfortunately a clear demonstration that there is little space for differing views,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “This crackdown shows that freedom of expression, association and assembly are still in danger in Angola. Authorities must stop targeting dissent.”

    May 29, 2018

    JOINT RELEASE OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANADA   PEN CANADA   TORONTO ASSOCIATION FOR DEMOCRACY IN CHINA

    Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China jointly announced today the kickoff of the Liu Xiaobo Memorial project to erect a bronze sculpture of an empty chair to commemorate his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.

    Liu Xiaobo was a writer, literary critic, human rights activist, and co-author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform in China. He was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment. 

    Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. At the award ceremony in Oslo, the award was presented to an empty chair. In 2017, Liu became the second Nobel Peace Laureate to die in state custody.

    May 16, 2018

    The arrest of musician and activist Fumba Chama, also known as ‘Pilato’, is a shocking demonstration of how far the Zambian government is prepared to go to strangle all criticism and crack down on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    Pilato was arrested at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport this afternoon on his return home after spending four months in Johannesburg, South Africa. He left Zambia in early January after receiving threats in response to his song Koswe Mumpoto (rat in the pot), which was interpreted as criticising President Edgar Lungu and his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ministers.

    A warrant for Pilato’s arrest was issued on 5 February after he failed to appear in a Zambian court on trumped up charges connected to his participation in a peaceful protest in September 2017.

    “The arrest of Pilato as soon as he arrived back on home soil is a shocking affront to justice. It shows the lengths to which Zambian authorities are prepared to go to stifle dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

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