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Human Rights Abuses

    October 14, 2018
    Disappointing Pentagon communiqué spurns liability for civilian casualties Coalition strikes destroyed 80% of Raqqa, killing hundreds of civilians Ongoing Amnesty International investigation reveals evidence of dozens of new civilian victims

    The US-led Coalition’s ongoing failure to admit to, let alone adequately investigate, the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction it caused in Raqqa is a slap in the face for survivors trying to rebuild their lives and their city, said Amnesty International a year after the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

    October 12, 2018

    On his return from a field visit to Raqqa in Syria, Amnesty International’s new Secretary General Kumi Naidoo has described the horrific destruction and utter human devastation he witnessed, one year after the end of the battle in which the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) used massive firepower to drive the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) out of the city.

    “What I saw in Raqqa shocked me to my core. The city is a shell – bombed-out buildings, very little running water or electricity, the stench of death hanging in the air. That anyone is still able to live there defies logic and stands as testimony to the remarkable resilience of the city’s civilians,” he said.

    “Attacks by the US-led coalition not only killed hundreds of civilians but also displaced tens of thousands, who are now returning to a city in ruins, while many others languish in camps.”

    October 11, 2018

    Reacting to news that the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled the death penalty violates its Constitution, Kristina Roth, Senior Program Officer at Amnesty International USA stated:

    “This is tremendous news for all who fought to abolish the death penalty in Washington. Now that Washington has become the 20th state to end the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment, other states should follow suit.

    “The Court ruled that the death penalty is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner and is invalid. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights, it does not deter crime or improve public safety, and it should be ended once and for all.”

    Background: Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally.

    September 24, 2018
    An estimated up to one million predominantly Muslim people are held in internment camps in Xinjiang in northwest China Families tell Amnesty of their desperation for news on missing loved ones

    China must end its campaign of systematic repression and shed light on the fate of up to one million predominantly Muslim people arbitrarily detained in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The past year has seen an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against the region’s Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups. Most of the detainees’ families have been kept in the dark about their loved ones’ fate and are often too frightened to speak out.

    September 14, 2018

    The Syrian government, backed by Russia, has intensified unlawful attacks on civilians in Idlib using internationally banned cluster munitions and unguided barrel bombs in a prelude to a widely anticipated military offensive, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 13 attacks were reported to have taken place between 7 and 10 September in the southern part of Idlib governorate. The bombardments, which targeted the villages of al-Tah, Jerjanaz, al-Habeet, Hass, Abadeen as well as the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun, killed 14 civilians and injured 35 more.

    “The Syrian government has routinely used banned cluster munitions and barrel bombs across Syria to inflict terrible harm and suffering on civilians. Now, they have started duplicating these horrific tactics in Idlib and we don’t have any reason to believe that they will stop,” said Diana Semaan, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher.

    August 27, 2018

    A blistering report released by the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) today brought yet more damning evidence of the Myanmar security forces’ atrocity crimes against the Rohingya and against ethnic minorities in northern Myanmar, Amnesty International said.

    The FFM – a body of independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council – released its key findings and recommendations today in Geneva, with a more detailed report to follow in the coming weeks.

    “This report, which adds to a mountain of evidence of crimes under international law committed by the military, shows the urgent need for independent criminal investigation and is clear that the Myanmar authorities are incapable of bringing to justice those responsible,” said Tirana Hassan, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

    August 27, 2018

    As rapid technological advances bring “killer robots” ever closer to reality, Amnesty International is calling on states to support the negotiation of new international law to ban fully autonomous weapons systems.

    The Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems will meet in Geneva between 27 and 31 August 2018. The meeting is a key moment for states to discuss options for addressing the human rights, humanitarian, ethical and security challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons systems.

    “Killer robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction. From artificially intelligent drones to automated guns that can choose their own targets, technological advances in weaponry are far outpacing international law. We are sliding towards a future where humans could be erased from decision-making around the use of force,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, Researcher/Advisor on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    August 25, 2018

    World leaders’ failure to act has allowed the Myanmar security forces’ perpetrators of crimes against humanity to remain at large for a year after their murderous campaign against the Rohingya prompted an exodus of epic proportions, Amnesty International said today.

    More than 700,000 Rohingya women, men, and children fled from northern Rakhine State to neighbouring Bangladesh after 25 August 2017, when the Myanmar security forces launched a widespread as well as systematic assault on hundreds of Rohingya villages. The onslaught came in the wake of a series of attacks on security posts by a Rohingya armed group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

    August 17, 2018

    Indonesian police have shot dead more than 70 people in an escalating crackdown on what they have called ‘petty criminals’ in the lead-up to the country’s hosting of the 2018 Asian Games, which open tomorrow in Jakarta, said Amnesty International Indonesia.

    Between January and August this year, at least 77 people have been gunned down across the country, including 31 in the Games host cities of greater Jakarta and South Sumatra. Many of these killings occurred during police operations explicitly devised to prepare the cities for hosting the multi-sport event, which takes place from 18 August to 2 September.

    “In the months leading up to the Asian Games, the authorities promised to improve security for all. Instead, we have seen the police shooting and killing dozens of people across the country with almost zero accountability for the deaths,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director, Usman Hamid.

    August 16, 2018

    Responding to the attack on a Shi’a education centre in Kabul on 15 August 2018, where a bomber stormed in and killed 34 people and injured at least 56 others, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Samira Hamidi, said:

    “The deliberate targeting of civilians and the targeting of places of education is a war crime. The students killed were preparing for their university entrance exams when the bomber struck. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that this appears to have been an attack that was motivated by sectarian hatred, targeting members of the minority Shi’a religious community.

    “The mounting civilian casualties show beyond any doubt that Afghanistan and, in particular, its capital Kabul, are not safe. Violence across the country over the first six months of 2018 has been at record levels. And yet people fleeing the conflict, making desperate journeys to neighbouring countries and to Europe, are being turned away in the thousands. These returns are a violation of international law, breaching the principle of non-refoulement by forcing people into harm’s away.”

    Background

    August 16, 2018

    Amnesty International Indonesia tomorrow will hand over thousands of pages of its documents to the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission (KKR Aceh), detailing hundreds of human rights violations and abuses involving thousands of victims during the conflict between the Indonesian security forces and the pro-independence Free Aceh Movement (GAM). The documents also include the organization’s persistent calls on the Indonesian and Acehnese authorities to fulfil their international obligations to acknowledge the truth and to ensure accountability for victim of serious human rights violations and their families.

    The move, which marks the 13-year anniversary of the peace agreement signed in Helsinki that ended the conflict, saw a team from Amnesty International Indonesia travel to Aceh to meet with KKR Aceh Commissioners in a show of support for the Commission’s work to ensure truth and reparation for victims of the conflict and their families.

    August 15, 2018

    We are thrilled to announce that our colleague, Taner Kılıç, Honorary Chair of Amnesty Turkey, has been released from jail today after over 432 days in prison.

    “We are overjoyed at this news. It has taken us more than a year of campaigning and struggle to get here, but it appears that Taner will finally be freed." Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s new Secretary General.

    Millions of people worldwide have taken action on this case, which has no doubt pressured the authorities, helping to secure Taner’s release.

    Thank you to all of those who sent messages of solidarity for Taner as part of Write for Rights 2017!

    In Canada and thanks to the support of people like you, we have spoken up for Taner:

    February 2018. Solidarity action after Taner’s release and re-arrest.

    June 22, 2018

    In response to the government of President Daniel Ortega’s outright rejection of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ report on grave human rights violations committed in the context of the recent protests in Nicaragua, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “It’s shameful that the government of President Ortega is denying the undeniable. There is a wealth of evidence, including thousands of testimonies, to show that the Nicaraguan state has committed terrible human rights violations and continues to do so on a daily basis. This has to stop before more lives are lost.

    “The government’s reaction to today’s findings by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demonstrates that the rhetoric of denial and division form part of its strategy of repression of the

    Nicaraguan people. We remind the state that it has an obligation under international law to protect the human rights of everyone, without distinction or discrimination.”

    June 05, 2018

    The decision of a federal court to order the creation of an investigative commission for truth and justice in the Ayotzinapa case is an important precedent which could, subject to certain conditions, bring about a substantial change in the way in which serious human rights violations in Mexico are investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    “Following four years of continuous failings in the investigation of the case, this decision represents an important advance in the search for truth, justice and reparation for the 43 students who were forcibly disappeared on the night of 26 September 2014,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    The ruling of the First Collegiate Court of the Nineteenth District in Tamaulipas, made public on 4 June, acknowledges that in Mexico there is no independent public prosecution service, and that the investigation into the enforced disappearance of the 43 students has been deeply flawed and has not taken the pertinent lines of investigation into consideration.

    June 01, 2018

    State officials were complicit in recent mob attacks against the Ahmadiyya religious minority in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, that left six homes destroyed and forced dozens to flee their villages, Amnesty International Indonesia said today.

    The finding comes after the organization interviewed Ahmadis living in the affected neighborhoods of Montongtangi and Gerengeng. They described how state officials including police tried to force them to “return to the true teaching of Islam”, warning they would otherwise be killed. The Ahmadiyya are a religious group who consider themselves Muslims. However, Indonesian law and majority of Muslims in Indonesia do not recognize them as part of Islam.

    “This is a clear example of the state being party to discrimination and violence against a religious minority. For refusing to give up their beliefs, people saw their homes destroyed and their possessions looted,” said Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid.

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