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    February 10, 2014
    Like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal

    By Khairunissa Dhala, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International

    When Khalil, 26, entered Lebanon having escaped the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria, he thought his life would finally improve.

    But one night, he was lured into a meeting with two men. He says they raped him, stole money from his wallet and his mobile phone.

    Khalil never reported the alleged rape to the police. He is a refugee, and he is also gay. He feared he would be penalized, and that no one would care about what had happened to him.

    Since then, he has tried to commit suicide – a friend found him and took him to hospital.

    Although Lebanon is often perceived as more tolerant than most countries in the region, like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal. The country’s lesbian gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) community is growing in prominence but the issue is still a taboo.

    As one of the nearly one million refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Khalil claims to suffer daily discrimination on the basis of his nationality. But as a gay man he faces further hardship.

    October 11, 2013

    Following the announcement that The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International commented:

    “This is a worthy winner, and a choice that reaffirms international principles against the use of chemical weapons and other banned weapons that cause untold suffering.

    “It is a timely reminder to all governments and to those fighting in armed conflicts that wars have rules that must be respected. The prohibition of chemical weapons is one example of these important rules whose aim is to spare civilians.

    “The recent deal in Syria was of course a positive step to remove banned chemical weapons from the battlefield, but we can’t lose sight of the enormity of the human rights crisis in the country.

    September 17, 2013

    The UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic investigating the 21 August attacks on the outskirts of Damascus on Monday reported that it had found convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used on a large scale.

    Amnesty International condemns the use of chemical weapons in the strongest possible terms. They are internationally banned and their use is a war crime.

    Crimes under international law are being perpetrated on a daily basis in Syria. Accountability for the 21 August attacks and other violations are long overdue.

    We reiterate our call for the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry on Syria to be given immediate and unfettered access to Syria to seek to uncover further evidence about who was responsible for these attacks. It should also be allowed to investigate the other crimes under international law being committed by all parties to the conflict.

    September 13, 2013

    By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Researcher

    As the threat of military intervention looms over an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus, in a far flung corner of Syria the town of Deir Ezzour offers an insight into the suffering of ordinary Syrians.

    September 10, 2013

    By Refugee and Migrants Campaigner Gloria Nafziger and Secretary General Alex Neve

    With over 2 million Syrian refugees having fled to neighbouring countries and well over 4 million Syrians internally displaced within the country, the crisis of displacement that has resulted from the massive human rights violations in Syria over the past 2 ½ years has been termed the gravest humanitarian emergency the world has faced in years. In the face of such a massive crisis, it is vital that Canada play a leadership role in ensuring a strong and effective global response to the pressing needs of displaced Syrians.

    September 06, 2013

    By Maha Abu Shama, Syria campaigner at Amnesty's International Secretariat

    “We have no women for marriage” is Khawlah’s usual response when Jordanian or other foreign men ask about marrying her 14-year-old daughter when they come looking for a bride.

    Like other Syrian women refugees I met during a recent visit to Jordan, Khawlah – who lives in the Jordanian capital Amman – complained how Jordanian men constantly bombard her with marriage proposals or requests to arrange marriages with refugee girls. 

    “I do not have work for you, but could marry you if you like,” is what ‘Aisha was told when she went looking for work. A 22-year-old student of English Literature, she complained that one of the reasons her job search in Amman has been futile so far is that she often receives marriage proposals instead of paid work.

    September 05, 2013

    Easing the suffering of millions of civilians affected by Syria’s ongoing armed conflict must be a top priority for world leaders meeting at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg, Amnesty International said today.

    The G20 is made up of some of the world’s wealthiest countries and includes states with strong ties to each of the sides in Syria’s armed conflict.

    “Working together, these powerful countries can and must come up with a plan of action to ease the current humanitarian crisis,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    Although Syria is not on the official agenda of the two-day summit hosted by Russia, it is expected to feature prominently in the talks as the USA and other nations consider launching a military intervention against the Syrian government following allegations it used internationally banned chemical weapons.

    February 14, 2013

    by Conor Fortune

    Syrian activist Bassam Ahmed Al-Ahmed recalls his time as a detainee alongside his friend, doctor Ayham Mustafa Ghazoul, whose family was recently informed of his death while in the custody of Syrian security forces in November 2012. Both men were among a group of people detained in a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression on 16 February 2012.

    What more can I say about Ayham than that he was a human being before anything else?

    What was most striking to me about him was that he was so self-sacrificing and strongly believed that every person should give up what’s most precious to them – their work, their studies, or even a lover or family members – for this revolution.

    He was a very peaceful person who would always say, “Don’t carry a weapon, just go protest and if you die, you die a martyr”.

    When they arrested us last February and brought us to the Air Force Intelligence we were all too scared to get off the bus.

    They called out for Mazen Darwish, the director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.

    Fundraising dance with a live Swing Band! Featuring Moonglow & Manhattan Satin with many guest artists from the Vancouver Swing community. Bandleader: Rueben Gurr.

    Cash bar and snacks.
    45 minute swing dance class.
    Prizes for best Swing Era costumes

    For more information and tickets please contact:

    Dave Myles

    Ticket sales go to Amnesty International


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