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Human Rights Defenders

    May 19, 2016

    Prominent Egyptian human rights defender, Mina Thabet, Director of the Minority and Religious Groups Department at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), was arrested today as the government escalates its assault on Egypt’s NGO community.  He was seized during a raid on his home in Cairo in the early hours of this morning by members of the Egyptian National Security Agency, who ill-treated him and his family members and refused to disclose his place of detention.

    “Mina Thabet is a pillar of Egypt’s human rights community. He has tirelessly worked to defend the rights of minority groups, including Coptic Christians whom the government has suppressed for decades. His arrest is a flagrant attack against freedom of expression and association and provides damning proof of the Egyptian authorities’ vindictive resolve to silence anyone who dares to challenge the government’s narrative,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 09, 2016

    Pakistani authorities are failing to protect human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

    The murder of Khurram Zaki, a human rights defender and former journalist, who was gunned down at a restaurant in Karachi on 8 May 2016 marks the latest such killing of a noted Pakistani human rights defender in recent years.

    “As a human rights defender, Khurram Zaki, who was known to face threats from violent groups, deserved protection from those who meant him harm,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Pakistani authorities must immediately initiate a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into his murder and bring his killers to justice.”

    Zaki’s death comes as human rights defenders across Pakistan were marking the anniversaries of the killings of activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was shot dead in Karachi on 24 April 2015, and lawyer Rashid Rahman, who was killed at his office in Multan on 7 May 2014.

    May 04, 2016

    The Cambodian authorities and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) must immediately end its ongoing and unlawful campaign to dismantle the political opposition and undermine the invaluable and legitimate work of the country’s human rights’ groups and political commentators. It is time for the international community to step in and to call on Cambodia to end this campaign which threatens to fatally undermine the Cambodian people’s constitutionally and internationally protected rights.

    On 2 May 2016, four staff members from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, and Lem Mony, were arrested and charged with bribing a witness along with former ADHOC staff member and current deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee, Ny Chakrya, who was charged as an accomplice. The Anti-Corruption Unit also issued an arrest warrant for Soen Saly, an officer of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), despite his immunity from arrest granted under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. He is also charged as an accomplice.

    April 24, 2016

    The sentencing of human rights activist Issa al-Hamid to nine years in prison and a travel ban of equal duration is the latest evidence of the Saudi Arabian authorities’ resolve to continue their ruthless onslaught against civil society in the Kingdom, said Amnesty International.

    Issa al-Hamid is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), an independent human rights organization. The majority of its founding members are currently serving lengthy prison terms for their peaceful human rights activism and calls for reform.

    April 07, 2016

    The vicious killing of another secular activist in Bangladesh is a grave reminder that the authorities are failing to protect people exercising their right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    Four masked men attacked Nazimuddin Samad, 28, with a machete in Dhaka late last night before shooting him dead. No one has claimed responsibility, but the killing fits the pattern of other similar attacks on secular activists by radical Islamist groups over the past year.

    “There can be no justification for the brutal killing of Nazimuddin Samad, who has apparently paid with his life for nothing but being brave enough to speak his mind. This is not just a senseless murder, it is a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director from Amnesty International.

    Nazimuddin Samad was a student activist who had organised campaigns for secularism on social media. He was named on a “hit list” of 84 bloggers published by a group of radical Islamists in 2013.

    March 25, 2016

    The hideous murder of lawyer Yuri Grabovski, whose body was found in central Ukraine bearing gunshot wounds, is a chilling reminder of the dangers faced by lawyers and activists perceived to challenge the authorities, said Amnesty International

    Yuri Grabovski, who faced repeated harassment and intimidation in connection with his work as a lawyer, was found dead in a desolate area in Cherkasy Region, in central Ukraine last night. He was last seen in his office in Kyiv on the evening of 6 March with an unknown man, retrieving documents relating to a high-profile case he had been working on. He has been missing ever since.

    “The killing of a criminal defence lawyer is a hideous crime and the Ukrainian authorities must immediately take all steps necessary to begin to rectify this ultimate abuse of human rights and justice,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International.

    “Yuri Grabovski’s abduction and murder should be promptly, effectively and impartially investigated, and those responsible brought to justice in fair trial proceedings.”

    March 10, 2016

    The violent assault on human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia is further evidence of the authorities’ abject failure to protect those who work to safeguard human rights, said Amnesty International today.

    Human rights defenders from the Joint Mobile Group (JMG) in the Russian North Caucasus, along with journalists from Russian, Swedish and Norwegian media, were beaten up and had their vehicle set ablaze on Wednesday evening.

    “This is the latest and most brazen in a series of attacks on the JMG and journalists in the Russian North Caucasus. So far these attacks have been answered simply with verbal condemnation rather than effective prosecutions,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This is an opportunity for the authorities to demonstrate that their words can be backed by deeds, by bringing to justice not only those who carried out this crime but also those who may have ordered it.”

    January 22, 2016

    By Mohamed Lotfy, Executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and former researcher for Amnesty International. 

    Never before in my 10-year career has working on human rights in Egypt been so dangerous. 

    Today in Egypt, human rights activists, lawyers, political activists and independent journalists, all have to live with their phone calls being tapped, endless smear campaigns and hate speech from state-affiliated media as well as continuous harassment and intimidation from the authorities. 

    For some, this relentless persecution can even lead to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, harsh sentences after unfair trials and sometimes even torture, enforced disappearance at the hands of the state or death in custody as a result of medical negligence. This is pretty much the same list of human rights violations suffered by the people whose rights such defenders are meant to be protecting through their activism and work. 

    December 09, 2015

    The Vietnamese authorities must put an end to a wave of vicious and violent attacks on human rights defenders and end the persistent impunity by ensuring those responsible are brought to justice, Amnesty International said.

    In the latest attack on Sunday 6 December, four activists – including prominent human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience Nguyễn Vãn Ðài – were abducted and beaten by a group of 20 men in plainclothes. They were returning from a public forum on constitutional rights in Nghệ An province, which the authorities had tried to shut down.

    “Brutal attacks on human rights defenders have become routine in Viet Nam yet no steps have been taken to bring those responsible to justice. This wave of violence must end immediately,” said John Coughlan, Amnesty International’s Viet Nam Researcher.

    “Peaceful activists in Viet Nam are working under harsh conditions and suffer impermissible restrictions on their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is outrageous that they have to risk both their health and liberty simply for speaking up for human rights.”

    December 01, 2015

    NGOs and human rights defenders have come under increased scrutiny and pressure from the Huthi armed group in areas of Yemen under its control over the past six months, said Amnesty International in a new statement published today.

    At least 27 NGOs have been raided and shut down since the Huthi armed group took control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, and human rights activists have reported coming under increased monitoring from the group and even received death threats towards their family members.

    “By harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and shutting down NGOs the Huthi armed group is fuelling a climate of repression and sending a clear message that dissenting voices will not be tolerated in areas under its control,” said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.

    November 27, 2015

    The six-year prison sentence against leading Chinese human rights campaigner Guo Feixiong for his peaceful advocacy of human rights and political reforms is a clear-cut act of political persecution, said Amnesty International today, as it called for his and two other activists immediate and unconditional release.

    Guo Feixiong, 48, the better-known pen-name of writer and human rights advocate Yang Maodong, was convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, by a court in Guangzhou, southern China.

    Fellow activists, Liu Yuandong, 37, and Sun Desheng, 32, were sentenced to 3 years and 2 and a half years in prison respectively after being found guilty of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”.

    “It’s a dark day when people advocating for press freedom and democracy are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and sentenced to lengthy prison terms after sham trials,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    October 06, 2015

    Ahmed Mansoor was selected by a jury of 10 Global Human Rights organizations (See list below). The Award is given to Human Rights Defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk. The aim of the award is to provide protection through international recognition. Strongly supported by the City of Geneva, the Award will be presented on Oct. 6th.

    Ahmed Mansoor (United Arab Emirates)
    Since 2006, he has focused on initiatives concerning freedom of expression, civil and political rights. He successfully campaigned in 2006-2007 to support two people jailed for critical social comments, who were released and the charges dropped. Shortly after, the Prime Minister of UAE issued an order not to jail journalists in relation to their work. Mr Mansoor is one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments. He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture, international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, and domestic laws that violate international law.

    October 02, 2015

    A recent armed attack on a human rights defender and his 9-year-old son in a raid on their home in Caracas must be a wake-up call to the Venezuelan government to immediately ensure the effective protection of human rights defenders, said Amnesty International today.

    Marino Alvarado was attacked in his doorway as he arrived home with his son on 1 October, according to local rights group Provea. Three unknown attackers forced their way into the building brandishing 9mm calibre firearms and hitting Marino Alvarado on the head. In the 40 minute ordeal, they bound him and his son, raiding the apartment from which they took two laptops, a tablet, two phones, a camera and cash.

    “This appalling attack on Marino Alvarado and his child is only the latest in a disturbing string of attacks against human rights defenders in Venezuela,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Americas.

    September 30, 2015

    By Tara Scurr, Campaigner, Business and Human Rights  

     

    One year ago, Alex Neve and I were sitting in the Hotel Continental in Guatemala City, waiting for reporters to turn up for our press conference. We were about to launch a new Amnesty International report on mining and human rights. We’d been warned by our experienced Guatemalan media handler not to expect many reporters to show up. Imagine our delight when our press conference began and we saw that the room was packed with radio, print and TV reporters, NGOs, and human rights defenders from  communities affected by mining. It was standing room only.

    September 27, 2015

    Released: 16:01 GMT Sunday 27 September, 2015

    The Chinese authorities must immediately release eight mainland activists detained for supporting last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Amnesty International said on the first anniversary of people taking to the streets in the city.

    Five of the activists, Su Changlan, Chen Qitang, Wang Mo, Xie Wenfei and Zhang Shengyu, have since been formally arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. A sixth person, Sun Feng, has been indicted with the same crime. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

    Two others, Ji Sizun and Ye Xiaozheng, could face up to five years in prison on the charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Ji Sizun faces an additional charge of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”, which also carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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