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    December 02, 2020

    Responding to the prison sentences handed down today to opposition activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam in relation to protests outside Hong Kong Police Headquarters last year, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra said:

    “Once again, the government has used the politically motivated charge of ‘inciting others to protest’ to prosecute people who have merely spoken out and protested peacefully.

    “By targeting well-known activists from Hong Kong’s largely leaderless protest movement, authorities are sending a warning to anyone who dares openly criticize the government that they could be next.

    “Even in protests where isolated acts of violence took place and public property was damaged, these should not be attributed to others or the organizers, or to the assembly in general.

    “Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam now join the many others who have been sentenced to jail in connection with the 2019 Hong Kong protests – the vast majority of whom have been prosecuted despite their activities being entirely peaceful.

    December 02, 2020

    In October and November alone, the Egyptian authorities executed at least 57 men and women, nearly double the recorded 32 people they executed throughout 2019, Amnesty International said today. This horrific assault of the right to life included at least 15 people sentenced to death in cases relating to political violence following grossly unfair trials marred by forced “confessions” and other serious human rights violations including torture and enforced disappearances.

    This shocking death toll is likely to be an underestimate, as Egyptian authorities do not publish statistics on executions or the number of prisoners on death row; nor do they inform families or lawyers in advance of executions. Pro-government media reported 91 executions citing anonymous official sources since October.

    “The Egyptian authorities have embarked on a horrifying execution spree in recent months, putting scores of people to death, in some cases following grossly unfair mass trials,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

    December 01, 2020
    Facebook engaging in country-wide censorship of content Viet Nam imprisoning a record number of prisoners of conscience – with 40% behind bars for their social media use State-sponsored harassment rampant on Facebook and YouTube

    Tech giants Facebook and YouTube are allowing themselves to become tools of the Vietnamese authorities’ censorship and harassment of its population, in an alarming sign of how these companies could increasingly operate in repressive countries, a new report by Amnesty International reveals today.

    The 78-page report, "Let us Breathe!”: Censorship and criminalization of online expression in Viet Nam”, documents the systematic repression of peaceful online expression in Viet Nam, including the widespread “geo-blocking” of content deemed critical of the authorities, all while groups affiliated to the government deploy sophisticated campaigns on these platforms to harass everyday users into silence and fear.

    December 01, 2020

    A dozen young Hongkongers held incommunicado by the Chinese authorities since they were intercepted while leaving Hong Kong by speedboat must have their human rights respected, Amnesty International Hong Kong said today, 100 days after their arrest. 

    The 12 youths have been denied lawyers appointed by their families since being detained on 23 August, and they are at imminent risk of torture. Two of the group were under 18 years old when arrested.

    “The plight of these 12 young people is extremely concerning. Over the past 100 days, they have been subjected to some of the most common tactics from the Chinese police’s playbook.

    “They have been deprived of their basic human right to fair trial, including the chance to select their own lawyers, and they are at risk of torture and ill-treatment. Their families have repeatedly been denied access to them, and at least six lawyers have been threatened by the Chinese authorities to make them drop this case.

    November 27, 2020

    Following the announcement of the release of a list of complaints and information received by the Office on Missing Persons regarding people who were disappeared during Sri Lanka’s internal conflicts, the country’s authorities must now deliver justice, truth and reparation to the families, Amnesty International said today. 

    On 26 November 2020, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) released a list of “missing persons” to its offices. The list includes those who are unaccounted for either in connection with the conflict in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, due to civil or political unrest,  have been subject to enforced disappearance, or personnel of the armed forces, or police who have been identified as Missing In Action. The OMP has a mandate to collate data related to “missing persons” obtained by various past processes and to receive any new complaints.  

    November 27, 2020

    People working for Amazon have faced great health and safety risks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but their ability to speak out and bargain collectively is under pressure from the online retail giant, Amnesty International said today. 

    On Black Friday, one of Amazon’s busiest periods, Amnesty International released a new briefing, Amazon, Let Workers Unionize, documenting the company’s treatment of workers in France, Poland, the UK and USA. 

    Researchers found that Amazon has undermined attempts by workers to unionize and collectively negotiate, including through surveillance in the US and threats of legal action in the UK, and that it has failed to engage on key health and safety issues in Poland and France. 

    November 25, 2020

    Responding to a Saudi Arabian judge’s decision to transfer human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul's case to Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) following a trial session today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, said:

    “With Saudi Arabia’s human rights record back in the spotlight as its hosts the G20 this year, the Saudi authorities could have decided to end the two-year nightmare for brave human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloud. Instead, in a disturbing move, they transferred her case to the SCC; an institution used to silence dissent and notorious for issuing lengthy prison sentences following seriously flawed trials. This is yet another sign that Saudi Arabia’s claims of reform on human rights are a farce.

    “Loujain al-Hathloul must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against her dropped. We also call on the Saudi authorities to ensure she is allowed to be treated by a doctor of her choice and granted proper access to her lawyer and family.”

    Background

    November 25, 2020

    Having analyzed the images of the 21 November protests, which demonstrate that the National Civil Police (PNC) used excessive force against demonstrators and bystanders, Amnesty International is calling upon the Guatemalan authorities to thoroughly investigate the human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the country’s recent protests.

    “The police repression of the 21 November protests was extremely serious. It is clear to Amnesty International that the Guatemalan authorities have violated international standards on the use of force, and have attacked the population’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “We demand that the Public Prosecutor's Office conduct a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the excessive use of force by police during the demonstrations and that the government ensure that the population is able to exercise its right to raise its voice without fear of reprisal.”

    November 25, 2020

    New innovative and interactive online tool launched today will help raise awareness about rape as a violation of human rights and challenge pervasive stereotypes in society, said Amnesty International on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

    Drawn directly from a real-life case, “Violence Against Women: Consent” – an educational toolkit - is based on a landmark ruling of the European Court of Human Rights about a woman survivor of rape that was denied protection and access to justice.

    “Learners navigate their way through several shocking obstacles rape survivors encounter in their fight for justice, such as victim blaming, prejudices and flawed investigations that focus on the perceived lack of resistance of the victim rather than the absence of consent”, said Stasya Denisova, Human Rights Education Coordinator in Europe and Central Asia

    November 25, 2020

    Any compromise on women’s rights in a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban would betray two decades of hard-won progress for Afghan women, said Amnesty International, ahead of a new campaign highlighting the incredible work of women human rights defenders in Afghanistan.  

    The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign starting on 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and running until 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign celebrates Women Human Rights Defenders in every region of the world who fight gender-based discrimination and stand up for women’s rights. It calls on governments to prevent, investigate, and prosecute violence against women and girls. 

    At a moment when the rights of Afghan women are at grave risk of being traded off in a peace deal with the Taliban, Amnesty International is working with women human rights defenders in Afghanistan to showcase their powerful stories. 

    November 24, 2020

    Responding to reports that human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul will stand trial in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, said:

    “The only just outcome for this trial would be the immediate and unconditional release of Loujain al-Hathloul. She is not a criminal – she is a human rights defender who is being punished simply for daring to advocate for change.

    "Loujain al-Hathloul has been on hunger strike since 26 October, in protest at being denied regular contact with her family. She has been held incommunicado and denied access to a lawyer, not to mention having barely one day’s notice ahead of the trial session, leaving therefore no room for adequately preparing a defense. Also, in light of the women rights activists reporting having been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention, we also have concerns about the admissibility of any ‘evidence’ that might be submitted in court tomorrow.

    November 24, 2020

    The cruel and inhuman treatment meted out in prison against Gasser Abdel-Razek, Executive Director of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), is outrageous and shows the Egyptian authorities’ determination to escalate this crackdown against human rights defenders, said Amnesty International. Yesterday, Gasser Abdel- Razek appeared before a prosecutor for questioning, and a meeting of ambassadors to the Human Rights Council took place in Geneva to discuss the international response.

    On the same day, judicial authorities added human rights defender and founder of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed al-Baqer to the "terrorists list" for five years, along with prominent blogger and activist Alaa Abdelfatah and other opposition politicians, without charging them with a criminal offence, nor giving them an opportunity to challenge the evidence.

    November 23, 2020

    In response to the police intervention early in the morning of November 21, 2020 to disperse the occupation of a downtown intersection in Ottawa and arrest activists and allies with the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, Anishinabe Land Protectors, and the Justice for Abdi Abdirahman Coalition, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Ketty Nivyabandi said:

    “We express our solidarity with communities calling for long overdue action to address systemic racism and transformative approaches to public safety.

    “Peaceful protests are a fundamental part of a vibrant society. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is a vital means of political engagement, with a long history of being a valid and effective means of bringing issues and grievances to light. Facilitating and protecting the right to freedom of assembly contributes to the protection of other human rights.

    November 23, 2020

    The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is on the brink of a deadly escalation after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave fighters loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours to surrender before the military begins an assault on Tigray’s capital Mekelle. Amnesty International is calling on all parties to the conflict to prioritize the protection of civilians, and to grant access to human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations.

    “The conflict in the Tigray region has already claimed hundreds of civilian lives, left many more injured, and forced thousands into refugee camps in neighbouring Sudan. As Ethiopian federal troops begin preparations to encircle Mekelle, Amnesty International reminds all parties that deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects is prohibited under international humanitarian law, and constitutes war crimes. Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are also prohibited,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

    November 20, 2020
    Amnesty International highlights Germain Rukuki’s case in its flagship annual letter-writing campaign

    The Burundian authorities must overturn human rights defender Germain Rukuki’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today as it launched its annual letter-writing human rights campaign, Write for Rights.

    “Germain Rukuki has been behind bars for more than three years on trumped-up charges. During this period, he has not seen his family or held his youngest son who was born after his arrest. Rukuki is paying the price for his dedication to human rights in a country where the government and ruling party remain intolerant of any form of dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

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