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Human Rights Defenders

    April 11, 2014
    A court in Beijing has rejected an appeal by Chinese human rights activist Xu Zhiyong (left) against a four year jail sentence.© Private

    A Chinese court’s decision to reject an appeal by prominent activist Xu Zhiyong and uphold his four year jail sentence is an affront to justice, said Amnesty International.

    A court in Beijing on Friday rejected Xu Zhiyong’s appeal against his conviction in January for “gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place.”
     
    “Today’s ruling makes a mockery of justice as the decision was a foregone conclusion. The shock would have been if the appeals court had overturned the guilty verdict.  Instead of upholding freedom of expression and assembly, the court opted yet again to trample all over these fundamental rights,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Xu Zhiyong is a prisoner of conscience and he should be released immediately and unconditionally. The authorities must end this merciless persecution of all those associated with the New Citizens Movement.”

    April 04, 2014

    Amnesty International has paid tribute to Dinh Dang Dinh, the Vietnamese environmental activist, blogger and former prisoner of conscience, who has died aged 50.

    The activist was unjustly jailed in 2011 after starting a petition against a mining project and was diagnosed with cancer while in prison.

    The authorities only allowed Dinh Dang Dinh to be treated in hospital from January 2014, where he was kept under constant surveillance. He was released temporarily on medical grounds in February, before being released permanently in March.

    Dinh Dang Dinh died of stomach cancer at his home in Dak Nong province in Viet Nam’s Central Highlands yesterday evening.

    “We join human rights defenders in Viet Nam and across the world in mourning the loss of Dinh Dang Dinh and express our deepest condolences to his family,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “It is a tragedy that the Vietnamese authorities stole the last years of Dinh Dang Dinh’s life, locking him up away from his loved ones.”

    March 24, 2014

    The Chinese authorities must end the persecution of all those trying to remember victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, Amnesty International said, after a man was jailed for 18 months on Monday.

    A court in Changshu, in eastern China, found Gu Yimin guilty of inciting state subversion after he tried to post images of the crackdown online and applied to stage a protest on the 24th anniversary last year.

    “Gu Yimin should be released immediately and unconditionally. Nearly 25 years on from the Tiananmen Square crackdown the authorities continue to stop at nothing to bury the truth of 1989,” said Anu Kultalahti, China Researcher at Amnesty International.
    Hundreds if not thousands, of protestors were killed or injured during the military crackdown against student protestors in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989.

    “As the 25th anniversary approaches, this could well mark the start of the annual round-up of activists attempting to remember the tragic events of 1989. Rather than ratchet up such persecution the authorities should acknowledge what really happened and deliver justice for the victims,” said Kultalahti.

    March 20, 2014

    Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli died from organ failure last Friday at a hospital in Beijing, after six months in detention.© Private

    The Chinese government’s attempt to block a tribute by the UN Human Rights Council to Cao Shunli, a prominent human rights activist who died in detention, is disgraceful, said Amnesty International. 

    China objected to efforts to observe a moment of silence in her memory during a review of the country’s human rights record at the UN in Geneva today.

    “This is a shameful and insulting ploy by Chinese officials. Not only have the authorities shown complete disregard for Cao’s life, they now appear intent on burying the truth as they have so many times before,” said Roseann Rife, East Asia Research Director at Amnesty International. 

    Cao, 52, died from organ failure last Friday at a hospital in Beijing, after six months in detention. She had repeatedly been denied medical care.

    March 18, 2014

    The arbitrary arrest and detention of prominent human rights defenders is an attempt to silence criticism and divert the spotlight from ongoing abuses, leading global and Asian human rights monitors said today in a joint statement.

    The statement was issued by Amnesty International, Forum Asia, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the International Commission of Jurists.

    Arbitrary arrest and detention

    Ruki Fernando of the Colombo-based INFORM and Father Praveen Mahesan, a Catholic priest, were arrested in Kilinochchi on March 16, and are believed to be detained without formal charges under Sri Lanka’s notoriously draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

    “The Sri Lankan authorities need to release Fernando and Father Praveen, and end the ongoing state harassment of human rights defenders,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Asia Pacific.

    “How can the international community take Sri Lanka’s claims to respect rights seriously when rights defenders continue to face intimidation and criminal charges for demanding accountability and human rights protection?”

    March 14, 2014

    The Chinese authorities must immediately ensure detained activists receive all necessary medical care, Amnesty International said, after the reprehensible death of a leading campaigner who was repeatedly denied treatment.

    Cao Shunli, 52, died from organ failure on Friday at a hospital in Beijing, after five months in detention. Repeated requests by Cao’s family for her to receive medical treatment for serious health problems were denied.

    "Cao Shunli's death exposes just how callous and calculating the Chinese authorities are prepared to be to silence critics. The authorities today have blood on their hands." said Anu Kultalahti, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    "Cao Shunli was a courageous woman who paid the ultimate price for the fight for human rights in China.  She should have never been detained in the first place; but to then deny her the medical treatment she desperately needed is a most barbaric act.”

    Join us for a webinar introducing Amnesty's latest global campaign, We Defend. 

    Human rights defenders are people who stand up for justice in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. But they are under attack. Around the world, these brave people who take a stand are being undermined by smear campaigns, government surveillance, unjust imprisonment and forced disappearance. Thousands have been killed. We all want to live in a world where justice is possible and human rights are protected. But that is only possible if human rights defenders are protected. We must defend the defenders.

    This webinar will introduce you to our new global campaign and give you resources and information to help you get started. 

    Have a question? Email amorgan-welden@amnesty.ca. 

    Drop by the Amnesty table and take action to defend human rights defenders. 

    This is a public panel, co-organized by Amnesty International Canada and Breaking the Silence, featuring youth activists from Guatemala and Atlantic Canada. Panelists will share and exchange stories and experiences with social justice and activism. All are welcome to attend. 

    This public event kicks of Breaking the Silence's annual gathering, which will take place the following two days. 

    In the submission prepared for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran in October-November 2014, Amnesty International noted the following concerns:
     

    Executions, including of juvenile offenders, carried out in violation of international standards for fair trial. Torture and other ill-treatment in detention centres continue to be committed with impunity, Violence against women and girls, Discrimination on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, ethnic identity or religious belief. Religious and ethnic minorities. Criminalization of Adult same-sex sexual conduct. Undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, affecting in particular human rights defenders, trade unionists, women’s rights activists, journalists and student activists, Control of universities, including by limiting academic freedoms.

    Read the full report here

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