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    August 21, 2019

    In response to a ruling by a court today in El Salvador under which Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador. It reaffirms that no woman should be wrongly accused of homicide for the simple fact of suffering an obstetric emergency. Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nation’s draconian anti-abortion laws.”

    Background information

    On 6 April 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

    August 15, 2019
    January

    As a tribute to Julián Carrillo, an environmental rights defender killed in October 2018, we launched Caught between bullets and neglect, a digest on Mexico’s failure to protect environmental human rights defenders. Just a few hours after the launch, two suspects in Julián’s murder were arrested, showing the immediate impact Amnesty can have on justice.

    August 14, 2019

    My name is John Edward Henry Sato. I am 95 years old. What brought me here? Well, they tell me it was the stork.

    My mother was born in Scotland and my father is from Japan. They both served in the First World War – my mother was a nurse; my father was in the Japanese navy – and eventually settled in New Zealand.

    As a child, I remember people of two different races were called half-breeds and I’d hear people referring to people of Italian descent as “daegos” [a derogatory term for Italian immigrants]. But I never heard an unkind word spoken about me.

    I was quite a sickly child and I suffered from bad asthma, but I didn’t let it deter me from going to school. I loved school. When I was 14 or 15, I studied comparative religion. I wanted to discover the essence behind it all. People get the wrong impression of religion - if they don’t understand something, they are quite often afraid of it.

    August 13, 2019

    The Assembly of the Southern Africa Development Community - Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), an organization of parliamentarians from Southern African states, has spoken out against attacks, abductions, killings and discrimination against persons with albinism. On July 24, the organization adopted a motion condemning the attacks and discrimination.

    In recent years, Amnesty International has been a global leader in spotlighting and advocating on issues of persons with albinism. Amnesty has pressed governments in the Southern African region to address failures which leave people with albinism at the mercy of criminal gangs.

    Ritual killings of people with albinism are influenced by superstitions and myths that their bones or body parts can bring riches.

    This year, Amnesty has been working with the SADC-PF to ensure that the organization plays a stronger leadership role in building a society in which persons will albinism enjoy their human rights.

    August 09, 2019

    Vitalina Koval, one of the human rights defenders featured in Write for Rights 2018 is an LGBTI advocate who was met with violence on International Women's Day. She posted this note to her Facebook page after taking home her letters from Amnesty supporters worldwide: 

    "'Rebel! Love! Don't give up your rights!' – is the kind of messages I receive from all over the world. Yesterday I received all the Amnesty International's Write for Rights letters and I am reading them today. Thank you Amnesty International Ukraine for collecting and delivering them and for everything!

    August 08, 2019
    Portrait of Saeed Malekpour

    On August 2, Maryam Malekpour was finally reunited with her brother Saeed in Vancouver after she had campaigned tirelessly for 11 years to free him from prison in Iran.

    “The nightmare is finally over!” Maryam wrote on Twitter. “Together we prevailed.”

    Maryam thanked “every single person who supported us throughout this time.”

    Saeed, a permanent resident of Canada, was arrested in Iran in October 2008 while on a visit to his dying father.

    Saeed was a web programmer and it was alleged that a program he developed was used to upload pornographic photos to the internet. Saeed had no knowledge of the program being used for that purpose.

    After his arrest, Saeed was held in solitary confinement for more than a year. Ill-treated, tortured and denied medical care until he "confessed", Saeed’s televised “confession” was the only evidence used against him.

    Following an unfair trial, Saeed was sentenced to death. In 2012, his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.

    August 08, 2019

    There was good news from Mauritania on July 29 when blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir was freed after five years in prison.

    Mohamed was arrested in January 2014 after he published a blog that discussed slavery and discrimination, including discrimination against the blacksmith caste to which Mohamed belongs. For this he was sentenced to death in December 2014.

    Amnesty International members spoke out against the outrageous sentence and demanded that the authorities quash the death penalty and free Mohamed.

    Finally, in November 2017, an appeal court overturned the death penalty and ordered Mohamed’s release. But the injustice against Mohamed was not yet over. The Mauritanian authorities continued to detain him. He had no access to his lawyers and only limited contact with his family. He spent most of the five years in solitary confinement.

    After his release last week, Mohamed immediately went to Senegal for safety reasons, and then on to Europe. He was able to meet with Amnesty staff and he thanked Amnesty supporters for their relentless campaigning.

    July 25, 2019

    At 19 years of age, Abdul Aziz Muhamat made the impossible decision to leave his family in the Darfur region of Sudan in 2013. He is one of the hundreds and thousands of people who have been displaced by the conflict. Fearing for his life, Aziz flew to Indonesia where he was promised safe passage to Australia by a smuggler but instead he was transferred to a detention centre on Manus Island.

    July 22, 2019

    In 2010, Google, the largest search engine in the world, made a promise not to support China’s censorship of the internet. But in 2018 it was revealed that Google was preparing to break its promise.

    Google started working on a secretive program to re-launch its search engine in China code-named “Google Dragonfly”. People using Google in China would be blocked from accessing banned websites like Wikipedia and Facebook. Content from search terms like ‘human rights’ would be banned. The Chinese government would also be able to spy on Google’s users – and this is a government that routinely sends people to prison for simply sharing their views online.

    To raise attention about the issue, Amnesty produced a couple of spoof videos that were widely circulated online. To increase pressure on Google to “drop Dragonfly”, we launched a global petition and Amnesty volunteers held demonstrations outside of Google’s offices around the world - including in Toronto.

    Even many of Google’s employees were appalled by the Google Dragonfly project and spoke out against it.

    July 12, 2019

    After many years of hard campaigning, Canada has joined the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)!

    Amnesty International’s efforts to establish an international treaty to regulate the arms trade date back to the early-1990s. The ATT entered into force on 24 December 2014, and so far 130 countries around the world have signed the treaty.

    June 07, 2019

    At the end of April 2019, Urgent Action writers in Canada and around the world mobilized to protect Cristina Palabay. She is the Secretary General of a human rights alliance called Karapatan and she had just been told her name is on a death list. Supporters of Amnesty jumped into action and so far, she is safe. Read further for her message!

    May 16, 2019

    Aasia Bibi, who experienced discrimination in Pakistan, has relocated to Canada. Merzoug Touati from Algeria is free! Members of the Urgent Action Network in Toronto participated in an action for World Press Freedom Day, and more...

    May 08, 2019

    “I want to thank everyone who helped us in prison, and everyone around the world who called for our release. I can’t wait to get back to the news room now.”

    Those are the words of Wa Lone as he left prison on May 7, 2019. He and his colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, both Reuters journalists, received a presidential pardon after serving over 500 days of a seven-year prison term.

    March 08, 2019

    The final numbers are in...

    If you participated in Write for Rights 2018 in December, your messages are among 54,928 from Canada that fed into an international total of 5,796,150.

    February 05, 2019

    In the space of two hours last November, Amnesty acquired the passionate support of eight youths. It was through their Human Rights class at Centennial College in Scarborough last November that the students participated in Write for Rights 2018. “They ignored my suggestion of writing just three sentences to describe who they are, what their concern is, and what action they request,” noted Marilyn McKim. “They wrote long, engaged and personal letters to the authorities.” Read about their experience as described by student Loni Welch.

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