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    March 25, 2016

    The Chinese authorities must call off their manhunt against those it believes are behind the publication of a letter calling on President Xi Jinping to resign, Amnesty International said, after it was revealed close family members of a prominent dissident are the latest to have been detained.

    Chinese blogger and government critic, Wen Yunchao, 45, who currently lives in New York, said on Friday that his mother, Qiu Qiaohua, 65, father, Wen Shaogan, 72, and younger brother Wen Yun’ao, 41, were taken away by police in Guangdong province, southern China on 22 March.

    Police are believed to have detained at least 20 people in connection to publication of an open letter criticizing President Xi. This includes 16 people who work for Wu Jie News, the website which published the letter earlier this month, who the BBC reported on Friday have been detained.

    “The authorities should call off the political hounding of those suspected to be behind the open letter and release all those detained in connection with it,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    March 04, 2016

    Today’s government takeover of Zaman newspaper is the latest deeply troubling episode of the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media, Amnesty International said today.

    “By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert.

    “A free and independent media, together with the rule of law and independent judiciary are the cornerstones of internationally guaranteed freedoms which are the right of everyone in Turkey.”

    Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air, silencing the only national news channel reporting a counter view of the situation in south-eastern Turkey, where round-the-clock curfews were imposed as armed clashes devastated entire towns. 

    February 10, 2016

    The discovery of the dead body of a Mexican crime reporter who had been kidnapped on Monday is a tragic reminder of the harrowing reality faced by thousands of journalists across Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers, said Amnesty International.

    The lifeless body of Anabel Flores Salazar, 32, was found in the state of Puebla, a few kilometres from where she was kidnapped by armed men on Monday. Anabel worked for a local newspaper in the violence-ridden state of Veracruz, one of the most dangerous states for journalists in Mexico. At least 16 media workers have been killed there since 2010.

    “The Mexican authorities must not waste one second in launching a thorough investigation into this brutal murder. The message must be crystal clear: those who are willing to stop at nothing to silence journalists will have to pay for their crimes,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    February 05, 2016

    The Chinese authorities are showing total contempt for due process and the rule of law in the case of five detained Hong Kong booksellers, Amnesty International said, after police in Guangdong in southern China confirmed that three of the men missing since last October are in their custody and being investigated.

    Guangdong police confirmed late on Thursday that Lui Por, Cheung Chi-ping and Lam Wing-kee are suspected of “illegal activity”. The Hong Kong publishing company that the men work for, Mighty Current Media, is known for its books on Chinese leaders and political scandals, which are banned in China but are popular with mainland Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong.  

    “The latest official disclosures about the last three missing book publishers are anything but satisfactory. The Chinese authorities need to end their smoke and mirrors strategy and come clean with a full and proper explanation,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    January 08, 2016

    Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi was released from custody on January 13. But her arrest provides further damning proof of the Saudi authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissen. One year after Raif Badawi was publicly flogged, he and many other activists across Saudi Arabia urgently need your support.

     

    by Ella Knight, Amnesty International

    A year after the international outcry over his public flogging, Raif Badawi and dozens of activists remain in prison and at risk of cruel punishments in Saudi Arabia. More and more are being sentenced under a harsh counter-terrorism law, while Saudi Arabia’s allies shamelessly back the Kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’. Join the fight back today – here are six ways you can demand action from Saudi Arabia.
     

    December 02, 2015

    Photojournalist, Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkan), is passionate about taking pictures. He is now paying the price for his peaceful work and faces life imprisonment.

    Police arrested Mahmoud Abu Zeid in August 2013 after he photographed security forces’ violent dispersal of street protests in Cairo. Mahmoud Abu Zeid has been in detention ever since, in violation of Egyptian law that sets the maximum period for pre-trial detention at two years. He is the only Egyptian journalist to have been held beyond the two-year cap on pre-trial detention.

    Shawkan has been referred to Cairo’s Criminal Court to face trumped-up charges in a mass trial of 738 defendants. The first court session is set for December 12, and his lawyer has yet to be given access to the full casefile. Amnesty International considers Shawkan to be a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. 

    This is his latest letter from prison:

    November 09, 2015

    Charbak* who recently escaped Bangladesh after his name appeared on several kill lists, reflects on what the recent murder of Faisal Arefin Dipon and others means for the future of free thought in Bangladesh.

    I have come to tell you this with so much helplessness, suffering and agony in my heart. The post-independence young generation of Bangladesh – my generation – who collectively dreamt of a secular homeland, has lost another one of our own. Just over a week ago, machete-wielding extremists tore Faisal Arefin Dipon’s body to pieces, tearing our dream as well.

    This time it wasn’t a blogger who was hacked down, but a publisher of secular books. So it seems that any kind of activity that facilitates free expression (not just blogging) will not be tolerated by thesegroups.

    September 25, 2015

    Media workers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are free. Just weeks after a court sentenced them to another three years in prison, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has cut short the rest of their sentences and released them under a presidential pardon.

    For more than a year and a half they have been persecuted by Egyptian authorities – forced to endure two drawn-out, politically-motivated trials and months in prison – simply for their work for news channel Al Jazeera English.

    Their release is very welcome news, although they should never have been jailed for the ludicrous charges of ‘broadcasting false news’ and operating as journalists without authorisation. We continue to call on Egyptian authorities to drop all criminal charges against them and their colleague Peter Greste.

    September 01, 2015

    Azerbaijan’s jailing of an award winning journalist barely two weeks after two prominent human rights activists received jail sentences is another severe attack on free speech, Amnesty International said today.

    Investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova, who works for Radio Free Europe, was jailed at a closed session trial in Baku for seven and a half years under trumped-up charges of embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office.

    “This was yet another unfair trial relying on fabricated charges. The government has stepped up its brutal crackdown on political activists, journalists, human rights defenders - indeed anyone who dares to publicly raise a critical voice,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
     
    “By adopting draconian laws and aggressively applying them the Azerbaijani authorities have effectively criminalised free speech and the freedom of association. They are simply abusing the criminal justice system to persecute dissenters.“

    September 01, 2015

    Responding to news that three journalists from Vice News have been charged and remanded in pre-trial detention, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said:

    “Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to release immediately three VICE News journalists. The three were remanded in pre-trial detention late on Monday night on the charge of ‘committing a crime in the name of an illegal organisation’.

    “They were detained after filming clashes between youths and police in southeastern Turkey. The detentions smack of a blatant case of punishing legitimate journalism using anti-terrorism laws.” 

     

    For more information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    September 01, 2015

    The acquittal of two journalists in Thailand -  on trial for reproducing parts of an article on human trafficking – is a welcome move for freedom of expression, but the two should never have had to stand trial in the first place, Amnesty International said.

    The online news outlet Phuketwan’s editor Alan Morison and reporter Chutima Sidasathian were today found not guilty of for criminal defamation and for violating a provision of the Computer Crime Act. The measure penalizes importing forged or false digital information in a manner likely to cause harm to a third party or the public.

    The charges – brought following a complaint by the Thai Royal Navy - stem from one paragraph copied from a Pulitzer Prize-winning article by Reuters, that examined Thailand's role in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants, published in 2013.

    June 16, 2015

    By Sevag Kechichian, Saudi Arabia Researcher at Amnesty International

    Today, like many people around the world, I waited to find out if Raif Badawi would again be hauled out of his prison cell and mercilessly lashed another 50 times in a public square in Jeddah.

    The same suspense has gripped people for 23 weeks since the first time this act of cruelty was inflicted on the imprisoned blogger on 9 January this year. That day, a crowd of onlookers gathered in the square immediately after Friday prayers to witness this hateful spectacle.

    While flogging and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments are commonplace in Saudi Arabia, they are not necessarily carried out on Fridays and in public. There is often an air of secrecy even around the many beheadings and other executions in the country – which have seen a macabre spike since the beginning of this year.

    Amnesty International has campaigned for Raif’s release since his arrest in 2012. Since he was flogged, it joined more than a million activists, journalists and political leaders in calling for an end to the horror and for his immediate release.

    June 04, 2015
    Gao Yu journalist and prisoner of conscience

    By William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. On twitter @williamnee

    26 years have passed since the tragic days in 1989 when thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters were brutally repressed in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

    But even though the tanks have long left the city’s infamous square, President Xi Jinping, appears as determined to quash anyone perceived as challenging the Communist Party’s hegemony.

    When President Xi took office in late 2012, he declared power would be put “in a cage”, but it is the independently minded academics, journalists, lawyers, and rights activists that have been thrown in jail.

    We are witnessing one of the darkest periods for freedom of expression in China since the bloodshed of 1989.

    May 02, 2015

    Released 3 May 2015 00:01 GMT

    Journalists in Egypt face acute dangers including arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention without charge, prosecution and intimidation according to a statement published by Amnesty International on World Press Freedom Day (3 May) highlighting the dangers of media reporting in the country.

    At least 18 journalists are currently detained in Egypt, dozens more have faced arbitrary arrest. Since June 2013, at least six journalists have also been killed while covering protests, either by security forces or in clashes between demonstrators.

    “In Egypt today anyone who challenges the authorities’ official narrative, criticizes the government or exposes human rights violations is at risk of being tossed into a jail cell, often to be held indefinitely without charge or trial or face prosecution on trumped-up charges,” said Philip Luther Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 02, 2015

    Released 3 May 2015 00.01 am Myanmar time / 2 May 05.31pm GMT

    At least a dozen media workers in Myanmar will spend World Press Freedom Day (3 May) behind bars as authorities are leading an intensifying crackdown on journalists, Amnesty International said in a statement today.

    The past year in Myanmar has been marked by an increasingly restrictive climate for media, as authorities have resorted to old tactics of harassing and imprisoning journalists.

    “The fact that 12 media workers will spend World Press Freedom Day languishing in prison speaks volumes about the reality journalists face in the country. The past years have seen a vibrant media scene emerge in Myanmar, but the authorities are doing their best to undermine this. Those journalists who dare to report on topics considered ‘sensitive’ by the government or military are harassed and imprisoned,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

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