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    February 09, 2011

    Rallies are being held across at least 30 cities in 12 countries.


    On Saturday 12 February Amnesty International will be part of a rally being held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa between 1- 3 p.m supporting peaceful protestors in Egypt and in the wider region. Alex Neve, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada will speak at the event.

     They will be joining thousands of Amnesty International supporters, Egyptian activists, trade unionists, students and others on 12 February at rallies in at least 30 cities across the world to mark a “Global Day of Action” in solidarity with protestors in Egypt and the wider Middle East and North Africa region who are demanding greater human rights.

    Protests will be held in cities across Australia, Benin, Canada, Germany, France, Mali, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, the USA and others. Demonstrators have been asked to wear red, black or white (the colours of the Egyptian flag) clothing and face paint.

    February 09, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the United Arab Emirates’ authorities to disclose the legal status and whereabouts of a man arrested apparently for expressing support for demonstrators in Egypt and Tunisia.

    Former teacher Hassan Mohammed Hassan al-Hammadi, 52, was taken from his home in the city of Khor Fakkan in the Emirate of Sharjah by State Security (Amn al-Dawla) officers on Friday evening, hours after he had reportedly expressed solidarity with the protestors in a speech to a congregation during Friday prayers.

    His current place of detention is unknown and his family have not been permitted to see him.

    He was moved on Sunday to State Security headquarters in Abu Dhabi after being charged with "disturbing public security", according to some reports, but others suggest he is still being held by State Security in Khor Fakkan.

    "Hassan al-Hammadi's arrest and incommunicado detention is particularly worrying in view of previous evidence of torture of detainees held by the Amn al-Dawla," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 09, 2011

    The Thai authorities should drop all charges against human rights defender and web forum moderator Chiranuch Premchaiporn, whose trial continues this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Chiranuch, the Executive Director of the online newspaper and web forum Prachatai (“Thai People”), has been accused of not removing quickly enough from the web forum a user’s comments deemed offensive to Thailand’s monarchy—a criminal offense under Thai law.  

    “Chiranuch should not be in the dock,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Thailand specialist. “The comments for which she is being held responsible should not be prohibited in the first place—much less when they are posted by someone else.”

    She has been charged under Articles 14 and 15 of the Computer-related Crimes Act of 2007, which covers the liability of online intermediaries, including internet service providers (ISPs) and website moderators. The articles relate to supporting or consenting to an offence implicating Thailand’s national security within a computer system under one’s control.  

    February 08, 2011

    A Libyan writer and political commentator arrested last week and accused of a driving offence appears to have been targeted for calling for peaceful protests in the country, Amnesty International has said.

    Jamal al-Hajji, a former prisoner of conscience who has dual Libyan and Danish nationality, was detained on 1 February in Tripoli by plain clothes security officers. They accused him of hitting a man with his car, which he denies.

    Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest came shortly after he made a call on the internet for demonstrations to be held in support of greater freedoms in Libya, in the manner of recent mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other states across the Middle East and North Africa.

    "Two particular aspects of the case lead us to believe that the alleged car incident was not the real reason for Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest, but merely a pretext to conceal what was really a politically motivated arrest," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 04, 2011

    February 5 marks the 14th anniversary of a violent crackdown on peaceful Uighur protesters by security forces in the city of Gulja (In Chinese: Yining), in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China’s far-West. On 5 February 1997 dozens of people were killed or injured in Gulja when security forces opened fire on Uighur protesters. The Uighurs had begun a peaceful protest against the banning of “meshreps”, a traditional Uighur form of social gathering, the closing of a Uighur football league, high unemployment among Uighurs, and the closure of religious schools. Many dozens were killed and injured, and potentially hundreds in the ensuing days according to unconfirmed reports. In the government crackdown, thousands were detained, many hundreds disappeared, and there were reports of executions after unfair trials.

    February 04, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Egyptian and international human rights activists, lawyers and journalists arrested during a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo on the afternoon of February 3, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    The two organizations demanded the immediate release of all those detained including their staff. In a separate incident yesterday afternoon, three members of the Egyptian Centre for Housing Rights were also arrested and taken from the building and now remain missing.

    Among more than 30 arrested, those detained include; Daniel Williams, a Human Rights Watch researcher; Said Haddadi, an Amnesty International researcher and a female colleague; Ahmed Seif Al Islam, the former director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center; a French and a Portuguese journalist; and at least nine other lawyers associated with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center or volunteers from the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters.

    February 04, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the imprisonment of two Rwandan journalists who criticized president Paul Kagame ahead of last year’s elections.

    Agnes Nkusi Uwimana, editor of the private Kinyarwanda tabloid newspaper, Umurabyo, and her deputy editor, Saidati Mukakibibi, were sentenced today to respectively 17 and 7 years imprisonment over opinion pieces they wrote ahead of the August 2010 presidential elections.

    “Today’s verdict marks yet another blow to freedom of expression and opinion in Rwanda”, said Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director, Erwin van der Borght.

    “Rwanda’s clampdown on critics shows no sign of abating after last year’s elections”.

    Agnes Nkusi Uwimana was found guilty of threatening state security, genocide ideology, divisionism and defamation and Saidati Mukakibibi was found guilty of threatening state security.

    February 03, 2011

    Amnesty international has called on the Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, to stop the violence unleashed by pro-government supporters in Cairo and across the country amid fresh reports of a renewed crackdown on journalists and activists.

    Journalists have reportedly been detained and activists harassed by security forces following violence yesterday that saw at least five killed and several hundred wounded in the fighting between pro- and anti-government supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

    "The Egyptian authorities must ensure that protesters, journalists and human rights activists are protected. The lack of police on the ground responding to the violence is a blatant sign of the complicity of the Egyptian government in the violence, or at best the total abdication of responsibility for law and order at a moment of national crisis," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    "Peaceful demonstrations must be allowed, whatever the views expressed, and peaceful demonstrators must be protected, and regardless of any political negotiations taking place."

    February 02, 2011

    "Security, Peace and Order"?: Violations in the wake of elections in Belarus highlights violations of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression; ill-treatment and disproportionate use of force, arbitrary detention, fair trial concerns and medical care for the detained.

    The document presents the case of opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau and his wife who were severely beaten and injured by riot police and unlawfully arrested. His sister Irina Bogdanova told Amnesty International:  “Most of the information we are getting from the news. In what conditions they are held there we don’t know, how badly my brother is beaten up we don't know, whether they are getting any medical care or not, we don't know.”

    In its latest briefing, Amnesty International is reiterating its call to the Belarusian authorities to release all prisoners of conscience who are detained solely for the peaceful expression of their political views.

    February 01, 2011

    Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian military to respect the rights of protesters as Cairo demonstrators held their biggest protest yet amid ongoing nationwide unrest. 

    Media reports said hundreds of thousands of people had gathered for what organisers dubbed a ‘Million Man’ protest calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down and corruption, poverty and police abuses to end.

    Egypt’s military announced a day earlier that it would not fire on peaceful protesters and said the aims of the demonstrators were legitimate.

    “Protecting the right to demonstrate peacefully is a duty,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    “We welcome the army’s commitment not to fire on protesters, after we have repeatedly raised concerns about the excessive use of force by security forces during the demonstrations.”

    Protesters have accused plainclothes police agents and criminals in the pay of the police of carrying out looting in the past week in order to discredit the demonstrations.

    January 31, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the Sudanese government to end its crackdown on freedom of expression following the arrest of at least 70 people at demonstrations inspired by those in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.

    One student is reported to have died, scores were injured and more than 70 were arrested after armed riot police and security services used batons and teargas to break up Sunday’s protests in Khartoum and Omdurman.

    "The government must immediately open an independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances which led to the death of Mohammed Abdelrahman, a student who had taken part in the demonstration, and who died in Omdurman hospital as a result of his injuries,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and police are said to have beaten protesters while NISS agents were also said to searching for organizers of the demonstration the night before they began.

    A large number of people were arrested in the streets before they had reached the demonstration.

    January 31, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the Egyptian government’s continuing crackdown on freedom of expression after six Al Jazeera journalists were briefly detained by the military and their Cairo bureau was shut down by the authorities, disrupting its reporting of mass nationwide demonstrations.

    Al Jazeera English said that six journalists were detained at an army checkpoint outside Cairo’s Hilton hotel on Monday.  They were held only briefly but their cameras and other equipment was confiscated.

    Yesterday, the Cairo bureau of the Al Jazeera network was officially shut down by order of Egypt's Information Ministry, the network said.

    “This government action against Al Jazeera is just its latest attempt to close down reporting of the protests on the streets and the free flow of information," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "The authorities are clearly trying to intimidate the media and to prevent the truth coming out about abuses by its security forces, as they struggle to maintain their grip on power in the face of unprecedented protests and demands for fundamental change."

    January 28, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Egyptian authorities to rein in security forces to prevent further deaths of protesters, amid continuing nationwide protests. Thousands have joined demonstrations across Egypt in recent days against poverty, police abuse and corruption.

    "The Egyptian authorities must rein in the security forces to prevent bloodshed," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "The authorities cannot continue to rely on the 30-year-old State of Emergency to enforce a blanket prohibition on public demonstrations and grant sweeping powers of search and arrest."

    The organization said protesters must have the right to organize protests and demonstrate free from intimidation, violence, and the threat of detention and prosecution.

    Late last night communication lines to much of Egypt were severely disrupted, with internet connections and mobile phone services being cut off.

    This followed disruption to SMS services, Twitter and Bambuser earlier in the week. Prominent human rights activists had also had their mobile phone accounts deactivated.

    January 28, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the Yemeni authorities to protect a human rights activist and journalist who is alleged to have indirectly received a death threat from a high-ranking official for her role in organizing and taking part in the continuing mass protests in the country. Fears for Tawakkol Karman's safety arose after her brother received a phone call on Wednesday implying that his sister would be killed if he did not ensure she stayed at home.

    The threat came as tens of thousands of protesters in the capital Sana'a continued to call for economic reforms, an end to corruption and for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down.

    Tawakkol Karman, the president of Yemeni NGO Women Journalists without Chains, was arrested on 23 January for taking part in a student demonstration in Sana'a over the weekend.

    The demonstration expressed solidarity with ongoing protests in Tunisia and called for an end to the rule of the current president, who has been in power since 1978.

    January 27, 2011

    Amnesty International has today revealed disturbing new evidence of the brutal methods used by Tunisian security forces to try to quell anti-Government protests in recent weeks. An Amnesty International research team which has just returned from Tunisia found that security forces used disproportionate force to disperse protesters and in some cases fired on fleeing protesters and bystanders.

    Doctors’ testimonies seen by the Amnesty International research team show that some protesters in Kasserine and Thala were shot from behind, indicating that they were fleeing. Others in Kasserine, Thala, Tunis and Regueb were killed by single shots to the chest or head, suggesting deliberate intent to kill.

    “This shocking evidence confirms that the Tunisian security forces were using lethal methods to quell discontent and to deter protesters,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East North Africa Program.

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