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Human Rights Defenders

    June 14, 2018

    As Russia prepares for the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Amnesty International is shining a spotlight on 11 Russian human rights champions who routinely put their lives on the line to defend human rights in Russia.

    A new campaign, Team Brave, will profile a human rights defender from each of the 11 regions hosting World Cup matches to raise awareness of their important work, and Amnesty International supporters from around the world will send messages of solidarity to show these brave individuals that they are not alone.

    “As World Cup excitement builds, we want to highlight the work of the inspiring men and women who risk their lives and freedom to fight for human rights in Russia. The lineup of Team Brave includes activists who have fought to end torture in police stations, protect the environment, defend LGBTI rights and sex workers’ rights, and support victims of domestic violence – they are the real champions in Russia,” said Inga Kelekhsaeva, Russia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    June 08, 2018

    An absurd $8 USD fine handed to an environmental activist on fabricated charges is the latest example of the Malagasy government’s continued crackdown on people speaking out against the illegal trafficking of the country’s natural resources, Amnesty International said.

    Christopher Manenjika was today found guilty on trumped-up charges of “rebellion” and “insult to public agents” after spending more than three weeks in detention. His prosecution follows several similar convictions of environmental activists on the island, many of whom are facing prison sentences.

    “There is a striking resemblance between Christopher’s case and that of other environmental activists in Madagascar, who have also faced accusations of ‘rebellion’ as an excuse to silence them,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.

    May 25, 2018

    Women prisoners of conscience from Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish religious community are being subjected to verbal abuse, including sexual slurs, and denied proper medical treatment by doctors and other health professionals at Shahr-e Rey prison on the outskirts of Tehran, Amnesty International revealed today.

    The organization has received testimonies indicating that doctors at the prison, a former industrial chicken farm in Varamin, are routinely dismissing the women’s complaints of pain and discomfort as “fake” while refusing to prescribe them medication on a timely basis or carry out thorough diagnostic tests. They are also failing to ensure that medical equipment in the prison clinic is functioning properly and poses no threat to patients’ health.

    May 25, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of prominent human rights defender Mohammed al-Bajadi in Saudi Arabia today, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “This new arrest is yet another ominous development in the relentless crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

    “Mohammed al-Bajadi is a tireless campaigner for human rights who, along with all those detained in the recent crackdown, has only been targeted because of his important work.

    “Despite global outrage, authorities have again responded with even more repression against Saudi Arabia’s human rights community who have been repeatedly persecuted for their work.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman continues to promote his ‘reforms’ to the international public, while silencing anyone at home who dares to question his policies. It is time for this rank hypocrisy to stop.

    May 22, 2018

    I am here today, a free man, after a nightmare of imprisonment in Ethiopia that stole from me, my wife and my family, more than 11 years of my life.

    May 22, 2018

    The five-year prison sentence against Tibetan language education activist Tashi Wangchuk for “inciting separatism” highlights the Chinese authorities’ unyielding assault on Tibetans who peacefully defend their cultural rights, Amnesty International said.

    Tashi was sentenced on Tuesday morning at Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province, northwest China. According to his lawyer, the main evidence presented against Tashi at his trial in January 2018 was a short video documentary produced by The New York Times in 2015, which documented Tashi’s campaign for Tibetan language education in schools.

    May 04, 2018

    The Iranian authorities must stop their ongoing harassment campaign against Raheleh Rahemipour, a 65-year-old human rights defender, who faces trial for a second time in reprisal for a complaint filed with the UN on the enforced disappearance of her brother and his infant daughter, said Amnesty International today.

    Raheleh Rahemipour is due to appear before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran tomorrow, 5 May, on the charge of “spreading propaganda against the system”. This trial is the latest instalment of an ongoing harassment campaign that began in March 2016 after the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances received a complaint concerning the enforced disappearance of Raheleh Rahemipour’s brother Hossein and his infant daughter, Golrou, while they were held in Tehran’s Evin prison between 1983 and 1984.

    April 23, 2018

    As the space for civil society to peacefully advocate in support of human rights shrinks, being a human rights defender is getting increasingly dangerous. Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are experiencing harassment and violence—both on and offline—because of what they’re advocating for AND because of their gender. The space for WHRDs to safely advocate for human rights, is getting even smaller. And the space for women of colour, Indigenous women, women with disabilities, and other marginalized women to advocate in support for human rights is even smaller still.

    March 20, 2018

    Amnesty International condemns the murder of Javier Bernardo Cuero Ortíz, son of Bernardo Cuero Bravo, on 19 March 2018 in the city of Tumaco, southern Colombia. His brother Silvio Dubán Ortíz was also killed during the events.

    Javier Bernardo and his family were sitting outside of a relative's store, when two unidentified individuals approached them on a motorcycle and fired directly at them, killing them both and wounding one more person. Amnesty International has received reports that the murderers aimed directly at Cuero's relatives, a sign that it was a planned event and that the rest of the family could still be at risk.

    The murder of Javier Bernardo took place just nine months after the murder of his father Bernardo Cuero, human rights defender and victims’ leader of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) in June 2017. The murders occurred just weeks after the trial hearing set to press charges against the perpetrators of the crime, and there is evidence regarding the intellectual perpetrators of this crime.

    February 14, 2018

    Idil Eser, Director of Amnesty Turkey, was arrested along with nine other participants when police stormed a routine workshop in Istanbul on 5 July 2017. Charged with “aiding a terrorist organization”, two were bailed while the other eight, including Idil, were held in pre-trial detention. Their arrest followed that of Amnesty’s Turkey chairman, Taner Kılıç, who had been imprisoned separately in June. After a global outpouring of action, Idil and her seven co-detainees were granted conditional release on 25 October, while Taner remained in jail.

    JULY–SEPTEMBER Thousands of signatures, letters and messages mounted around the world calling for the release of Idil and her colleagues.

    10 JULY Amnesty Belgium Director Philippe Hensmans posed in a cage in front of the Turkish embassy in Brussels, Belgium, to protest against the continued detention of his Turkish colleague.

    February 07, 2018
    Reacting to the news that the Cambodian Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and a 30 months' prison sentence for land rights activist Tep Vanny, James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:   "With today's ruling, Cambodia's judiciary has once again failed to prove that it can act independently, choosing to do the government's bidding instead. Tep Vanny is a brave social activist who has done nothing but peacefully stand up for her community. She should be released immediately and unconditionally, not forced to spend two and a half years in jail.   "The criminal proceedings against Tep Vanny have been deeply flawed from the start. She has become a symbol for the fight for justice in Cambodia and is someone the authorities have been determined to take off Cambodia's streets by any means necessary.  
    February 06, 2018

    Responding to the Chinese authorities’ admission on Tuesday that Gui Minhai, a bookseller with Swedish nationality, is again being detained and faces criminal charges, William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International commented:

    “This is a brazen and outrageous move by the Chinese authorities. They have yet to provide adequate explanation as to why they took Gui Minhai away while he was traveling with Swedish diplomats. Gui Minhai must be released. He and his family have suffered enough, their nightmare should be over not recurring.

    “It is ludicrous for the Chinese government to lecture others about respect, when they have shown utter contempt for fair trials and other human rights.

    “It is crucial that while Gui Minhai remains in detention he receives adequate health care as necessary or requested, is granted consular access, and can meet lawyers of his own choosing. The Chinese government cannot simply sidestep international law because they arbitrarily deem a case to be ‘serious’.”

    Background

    February 01, 2018

    The decision to renew the detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair mere hours after a court ordered his release must be immediately reversed and Taner Kılıç set free, said Amnesty International.

    “Over the last 24 hours we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    "To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner and his family."

    “This latest episode of his malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Taner and those of his wife and daughters who were waiting by the prison gates all day to welcome him into their arms.”

    December 26, 2017
    Reacting to the news that human rights activist Wu Gan received his verdict and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on 26 December in Tianjin, while human rights lawyer Xie Yang had his trial reconvened and was found guilty but exempt from punishment in Changsha on the same day, Amnesty International’s China Researcher Patrick Poon said:   “It is disgraceful that the Chinese authorities have chosen the day after Christmas to deal with two of the remaining people left in legal limbo from the unprecedented July 2015 crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists. Carrying out unfair trials and politicized sentencing of human rights defenders at the very time when diplomats, journalists, international observers and the general public are less likely to be able to respond reeks of a cynical political calculation”.   “By trying to avoid scrutiny from the press and the international community, the Chinese government betrays the fact it knows well these sham trials cannot withstand scrutiny”.  
    November 22, 2017

    Edward Snowden, Catherine Deneuve, Sting, Ai Weiwei, Angélique Kidjo, Anish Kapoor, Francois Morel and MPs sign open letter

    More than 70 renowned cultural and political figures have come together to demand that Turkish authorities drop trumped-up terrorism charges against 11 human rights defenders, including Amnesty International’s Turkey Director and Chair.

    The call made by more than 30 politicians and scores of artists - including Edward Snowden, Sting, Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Catherine Deneuve, Angélique Kidjo - comes as the trial of the 11 resumes in Istanbul on charges which carry jail terms of up to 15 years.

    “We are proud to add our voices to the global demand to end this gross injustice and to immediately and unconditionally release Taner Kılıç from jail,” they write in the letter.

    “When human rights defenders are silenced, all our rights are put at risk. They are the ones that stand up for us. Now we must stand up for them.”

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