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Prisoner of Conscience

    February 19, 2019

    Permit Peaceful Expressions of Dissent

    Somaliland authorities should immediately and unconditionally release from arbitrary detention Abdirahman Ibrahim Adan, a poet also known as “Abdirahman Abees,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

    Abdirahman, a popular Somaliland poet and British dual citizen, has been held at the central prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, for over a month, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

    Police officers arrested him on January 12, 2019 as he was having lunch at Hargeisa’s Lake Assal Hotel. The day before, he had recited a poem at the Mansoor Hotel that highlighted various human rights concerns in detention in Somaliland such as police brutality, arbitrary detention, and degrading treatment of prisoners.

    According to Abdirahman’s lawyers, he was formally charged on February 18 under Article 269 of the Somaliland penal code for “insulting the police and the government”. On February 19, they appointed a judge and set an initial hearing date of February 21, 2019.

    February 14, 2019

    By T.K.

    We all have that one person we immediately connect with. Someone who you know will always be part of your life. The person you can easily talk to, even though it has been months if not years since you last saw one another. For me, Eman Al Nafjan is such a person. Someone I am proud of, who inspires and makes me laugh. 

    We met in 2010 while I was living in Saudi Arabia. Eman introduced me to Saudi culture and cuisine, and taught me useful Arabic phrases. She took me around the magical souks in Riyadh.

    We used to spend hours discussing all aspects of life. At that time, she was working as an English teacher at a university while completing her PhD in linguistics. Since 2010, our tradition has been to meet once a year to enjoy new places, visit museums and catch up. We are both morning people, but Eman is up earlier than most. Even on holiday, I would often find her sitting at a table, very early in the morning, with a cup of strong coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

    February 12, 2019

    Kenyan Court Drops Oversight

    The Kenyan police and the South Sudanese authorities should ensure effective, transparent and impartial investigations into the enforced disappearance of two South Sudanese critics in Nairobi more than two years ago, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    On January 17, 2019, a Kenyan High Court ended its 24-month oversight of the police investigation into the disappearances of Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the political opposition. They were snatched off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017 respectively. The families had initiated the petition for judicial review following concerns that the Kenyan Police had not effectively investigated.

    February 06, 2019
    Release prisoners of conscience Investigate death of PTM activist Arman Luni Disclose whereabouts of human rights defender Gulalai Ismail

    The Pakistani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release protestors belonging to the peaceful Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) who have been arbitrarily detained, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 19 people were arrested from cities across Pakistan on 5 February 2019 as the PTM marked a global day of peaceful protests calling for an end to discrimination against Pashtuns in Pakistan and for an end to enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations.

    Amnesty International also calls on the Pakistani authorities to investigate the killing of activist Arman Luni, who appears to have been the subject of an extrajudicial execution, and disclose the whereabouts of the well-known human rights defender Gulalai Ismail, who may have been subjected to an enforced disappearance.

    January 29, 2019

    Following the arbitrary arrest of Cameroon’s main opposition leader Maurice Kamto, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Director said: 

    “The arrest of Maurice Kamto and four of his staff supporters signals an escalating crackdown on opposition leaders, human rights defenders and activists in Cameroon. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release them, as well as peaceful protesters detained at the weekend simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    “Instead of taking steps towards improving the country’s human rights record, we are witnessing the authorities becoming less and less tolerant of criticism. This must stop.

    “The authorities should now allow people to enjoy their human rights including by ending the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and dissenting voices.”

    For more information or to request an interview please contact: Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English): + 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca 

    January 28, 2019

    Responding to the news that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation has upheld the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director, Samah Hadid said:

    “Today’s verdict is yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country’s justice system as a complete farce. The decision to uphold Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and life prison sentence following an unfair trial highlights the authorities’ determination to silence critical voices.

    “The Bahraini authorities must quash Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally. They should also rescind the decision to dissolve the two opposition political groups, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, and guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of association.”

    Background:

    January 24, 2019

    Amnesty International has obtained new reports of torture and abuse inflicted on a group of Saudi Arabian human rights activists who have been in arbitrary detention since May 2018. These reports follow similar testimonies from November 2018 into the torture of a number of the activists, and highlight the urgent need to allow independent monitors access to those in detention, the organization said today.

    According to the testimonies, a total of ten human rights defenders were tortured, sexually abused, and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during their first three months of detention, when they were held in an informal detention facility in an unknown location.

    One woman activist was wrongly told by an interrogator that her family members had died, and was made to believe this for an entire month. According to another account, two activists were forced to kiss each other while interrogators watched. One activist reported that interrogators had forced water into her mouth as she was shouting while being tortured. Others reported being tortured with electric shocks.

    January 23, 2019

    The Iranian authorities carried out a shameless campaign of repression during 2018, crushing protests and arresting thousands in a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, said Amnesty International, a year after a wave of protests against poverty, corruption and authoritarianism erupted across the country.

    The organization has today revealed staggering new figures showing the extent of the Iranian authorities’ repression during 2018. Over the course of the year, more than 7,000 protesters, students, journalists, environmental activists, workers and human rights defenders, including lawyers, women’s rights activists, minority rights activists and trade unionists, were arrested, many arbitrarily. Hundreds were sentenced to prison terms or flogging and at least 26 protesters were killed. Nine people arrested in connection with protests died in custody under suspicious circumstances.

    January 18, 2019

    Responding to the news that the appeals court in Al Hoceima has upheld the conviction of Nawal Benaissa, confirming her 10-month suspended prison sentence with a fine, Heba Morayef Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

    “This verdict is an appalling miscarriage of justice. Nawal Benaissa’s only ‘crime’ was to join peaceful protests to demand the rights of people in the Rif region. The Moroccan authorities are blatantly targeting Nawal Benaissa for her role in the Hirak El-Rif movement and are making an example of her to intimidate others who may wish to speak out. Instead of continuing with their crackdown against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders, the authorities should immediately quash her conviction and drop all the charges against her.”

    Background

    January 14, 2019

    Jailed UK charity worker set to begin three-day hunger strike with human rights defender Narges Mohammadi in protest at denial of medical care

    ‘It’s outrageous it’s had to come to this for Nazanin and Narges’ - Kate Allen

    Ahead of a planned hunger strike by jailed UK charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran this week, Amnesty International has described the move as a “desperate measure” and urged the Iranian authorities to “stop playing cruel games” with her life.

    Last week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another prisoner of conscience held in Tehran’s Evin prison - prominent human rights defender Narges Mohammadi - announced they would jointly stage a three-day hunger strike from Monday 14 January in protest at the Iranian authorities repeatedly denying them specialised medical care.

    December 09, 2018
    Amnesty publishes review of human rights in 2018

    Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state of human rights over the past year.

    The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic policies has placed freedoms and rights that were won long ago in fresh jeopardy.

    “In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonize and persecute already marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “But it is women activists who have offered the most powerful vision this year of how to fight back against these repressive leaders.”

    December 04, 2018
    Thousands forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in prison in 1988 Ongoing campaign to deny, distort truth and abuse victims’ families UN must establish independent investigation into crimes against humanity High-profile figures accused of involvement in 1988 prison massacres named

    By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a damning report published today.

    The report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity calls on the UN to set up an independent investigation into the mass enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings which have gone unpunished for three decades.

    November 29, 2018

    A charge of insulting the national flag against prominent Vietnamese human rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy amounts to an attack on freedom of expression by the authorities and must be dropped, Amnesty International said ahead of her trial on Friday.

    It is rare for the authorities to prosecute a human rights activist for this charge, which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, in a disturbing sign of the intensifying crackdown against peaceful dissent in the country.

    This ludicrous charge must be dropped as it is aimed solely at silencing a dedicated, peaceful human rights activist. This is a politically motivated prosecution, brought by the authorities in response to Huynh Thuc Vy's tireless work to expose human rights violations in Viet Nam and hold the powerful to account; said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    October 05, 2018

    Responding to a European Parliament resolution condemning the harassment, persecution and detention of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in May 2018 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said:

    “The European Parliament has sent a strong message which should propel the international community to step up pressure on the UAE authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience. Ahmed Mansoor has been ruthlessly persecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and his unlawful imprisonment is a chilling warning about the dire state of human rights in the UAE.

    “We are particularly concerned about the UAE authorities’ refusal to make details about his case public. It’s only now that we know Ahmed Mansoor has appealed his unlawful conviction and sentencing for the social media posts he made, and that he is allegedly being held in al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi. The authorities must ensure transparency over his appeal and about his whereabouts.

    October 13, 2017
    Idil Eser

    Since July 2017 our friend and colleague İdil Eser has been held in the highest security area of the highest security prison in Turkey.

    İdil, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained along with nine others during a workshop in Istanbul. It came only a month after Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç was detained. Currently eight imprisoned and two bailed defenders are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorirst organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    İdil has written a letter from her prison cell after a massive global response demanding their release. It’s a message of thanks, hope and courage.

    12 September 2017, Silivri Prison No. 9

    I would like to thank the entire Amnesty International movement. I send my heartfelt thanks to the International Secretariat, the [Amnesty Turkey] board, campaigners, people who have supported us with their signatures, and especially my colleagues who continue their work with self-sacrifice.

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