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    October 11, 2019

    Amnesty International is welcoming news that Maryam Mombeini has finally reunited with her two sons in Canada, more than 18 months after Iranian authorities separated the family at Tehran’s airport.

    In a heartfelt video posted to Twitter, Maryam is seen embracing her sons, Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami, at the Vancouver International Airport on October 10. It had been 582 days since they had last seen each other.

    “We are grateful to the Canadian government, and specifically Foreign Minister Freeland for their unwavering support from day one. We are also thankful to Iran for allowing our mother, Maryam Mombeini, to finally leave and join us in Vancouver,” said Ramin in a statement sent to media and shared with Amnesty International.

    “We have been overwhelmed with an amazing outpour of love and support from everyone. And we cannot be happier to have such an amazing network of friends and family, who’ve stood by our side through thick and thin.

    October 09, 2019

    We're delighted that Aung Ko Htwe walked free on 6 September 2019 after completing the two years of his sentence. Thank you to the over 30,000 of you who took action and emailed the Myanmar authorities. We know building international pressure on cases like these makes a real impact.

    What happened?

    In October 2005 Aung Ko Htwe was kidnapped by the Myanmar military at the main railway station in Yangon – the country’s largest city – and forced to serve in the army. He was only 13 years old at the time.

    In 2017 he spoke out about what he experienced in a radio interview with Radio Free Asia, shortly after which he was arrested and charged under Section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal code – a vague law which severely restricts freedom of expression.

    He was sentenced to the maximum two years in jail.

    September 30, 2019

    Ahmed H, his wife and two daughters had found safety in Cyprus after escaping war-ravaged Syria. But he worried about his elderly parents and six other family members who were still inside Syria’s border. In August 2015, he left his young family at home in Cyprus and traveled to Turkey, intending to help the rest of his family escape from Syria too. They made their way to the Hungarian border only to find themselves stranded along with hundreds of refugees after President Orban closed the crossing from Serbia.

    Tensions rose and clashes broke out. Hungary’s police responded with tear gas and water cannon, injuring dozens. Some threw stones, including Ahmed, but news footage also clearly shows him using a megaphone to call on both sides to remain calm. Of eleven people arrested, he was the only one charged under the counter-terrorism law. 

    September 27, 2019

    Twelve countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have signed the Escazú Agreement in a major victory for the environment and human rights that should inspire the rest of the region to follow suit, said Amnesty International.

    Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, and Uruguay all signed the treaty at the first opportunity today as the UN General Assembly started in New York, while the Dominican Republic and Haiti have also committed to signing in the coming hours.

    “The leadership of the dozen countries who signed the Escazú Agreement today should serve as inspiration for the rest of the region and beyond,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “We urge all other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to promptly follow their example for the survival and wellbeing of current and future generations.” 

    September 19, 2019

     

    Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019.

    The awards ceremony took place in Washington D.C., USA, while further events were held in cities around the world, honouring Fridays for Future activists who represent the movement.

    Upon receiving the award, Greta Thunberg said:

    “This award is for all of those millions of people, young people, around the world who together make up the movement called Fridays for Future. All these fearless youth, fighting for their future. A future they should be able to take for granted. But as it looks now, they cannot.

    September 19, 2019

    Responding to news that Google has agreed to pay a record US$170 million to settle a complaint filed by US regulators, alleging that Google illegally harvested personal data of children on its YouTube platform, Joe Westby, Big Data and AI Researcher at Amnesty Tech, said:

    “Today’s record fine exposes the rotten core at the heart of Google’s business model, which relies on the harvesting and monetisation of personal data, in brazen contempt for privacy. A major problem is that online advertising practices are complex and secretive, so people are not able to give meaningful consent as to how their personal data is used. 

    September 19, 2019

    Film director Oleg Sentsov, who was released on the 7th of September as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, has thanked activists from Amnesty International for writing letters of support during his time in the remand centre and the penal colony.  Sentsov, who was arrested in 2014 and whose release was achieved through the many efforts of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, gave a press conference alongside Alexander Kolchenko in Kiev.

    “Of course, I received many letters from Amnesty International. Thank you very much”, said Sentsov. According to him, the activists from Amnesty have contributed greatly to the international campaign for his release.

    September 19, 2019

    In reaction to the public statement by Under Secretary for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas announcing Mexico's intention to promptly accept the competence of the Committee against Enforced Disappearances to receive and consider cases of disappeared persons in Mexico, Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International's Americas Director, stated:

    "The Mexican government's announcement is an important sign of its willingness to achieve justice, truth, and reparation in cases of enforced disappearance in the country. This issue, which for years has cast a shadow over human rights in Mexico, requires all available efforts and resources to find a solution. Amnesty International looks forward to the prompt implementation of this decision and will continue to monitor the situation of disappeared persons in the country, aware that it will only change with a strong commitment from all authorities."

    September 17, 2019

    Alejandra Barrera, a transgender Salvadorian activist who had been held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017, was released September 6, 2019, as a result of international advocacy efforts, spearheaded by Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition, National Immigrant Justice Center, and dozens of members of the United States Congress.

    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.

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