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    July 13, 2020

    OTTAWA – Today, on the anniversary of the death of Liu Xiaobo, human rights groups commemorated the incredible life of the Nobel Laureate, writer, philosopher, and lifelong advocate for human rights in China.

    Amnesty International, the Toronto Association for Democracy in China, and the Alliance Canada Hong Kong laid a commemorative wreath on the Liu Xiaobo Empty Chair Memorial, which sits in Ottawa on the front lawn of the Canadian offices of Amnesty International.

    “We must honour Liu Xiaobo’s legacy and remember that his fight for a free, democratic China is far from over,” said Cheuk Kwan, of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China (TADC). “This small gesture of remembrance serves to remind us that his spirit will never fade, even as we witness the horrifying deterioration of human-rights in Hong Kong.”

    On June 30, almost two weeks before the anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s death, Chinese authorities approved the passage of the national security law, banning all individuals, institutions, and organizations in Hong Kong from “engaging in activities that endanger national security”.

    July 12, 2020

    Governments must be held accountable for the deaths of health and essential workers who they have failed to protect from COVID-19, Amnesty International said today, as it released a new report documenting the experiences of health workers around the world. The organization’s analysis of available data has revealed that more than 3000 health workers are known to have died from COVID-19 worldwide - a figure which is likely to be a significant underestimate. 

    Alarmingly, Amnesty International documented cases where health workers who raise safety concerns in the context of the COVID-19 response have faced retaliation, ranging from arrest and detention to threats and dismissal. 

    “With the COVID-19 pandemic still accelerating around the world, we are urging governments to start taking health and essential workers’ lives seriously. Countries yet to see the worst of the pandemic must not repeat the mistakes of governments whose failure to protect workers’ rights has had devastating consequences,” said Sanhita Ambast, Amnesty International’s Researcher and Advisor on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

    July 10, 2020

    Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Srebrenica when more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by the Bosnian Serb Army in what was a designated UN “safe area”, Amnesty International’s Balkans Researcher Jelena Sesar said:

    “As the world remembers those who lost their lives in Srebrenica and shows solidarity with survivors, it is wholly unacceptable that families of more than 1,000 victims are still searching for their remains. The truth about the fate of their loved ones has been buried for a quarter of a century making it hard for them to find peace or some measure of closure.

    “This sombre anniversary also marks 25 years of struggle to secure justice, truth and reparation for survivors, including victims of wartime rape and sexual violence. While many perpetrators, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, have been brought to justice, survivors are still facing insurmountable obstacles to obtaining truth, justice and remedy for their suffering.

    July 08, 2020
    Group of 77 privacy, human rights and civil liberties advocates call on Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to act

    July 8, 2020, Ottawa – The Canadian government must enact an immediate ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance for all federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, says a group of 31 Canadian and international organizations and 46 individuals active in protecting privacy, human rights and civil liberties. The call came in an open letter sent this morning to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

    “Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada,” said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), which, along with OpenMedia, initiated the campaign. 

    July 08, 2020
    Airstrikes kill civilians, including children Arbitrary detention and torture in crackdown on insurgents Residents unprotected against COVID-19 amid internet blackout

    Amnesty International has collected new evidence showing that indiscriminate airstrikes by the Myanmar military have killed civilians, including children, amid worsening armed conflict in the country’s Rakhine and Chin States.

    These attacks and other serious human rights violations by the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw, are taking place in townships where internet has been cut off for more than a year. Residents have been in the dark over the threat from COVID-19 and deprived of information about humanitarian assistance. Rakhine State has been largely spared a major COVID-19 outbreak, although cases were on the rise in June.

    July 08, 2020

    Reacting to the Russian and Chinese veto of a UN Security Council draft Resolution that would have renewed the provision of cross-border humanitarian aid to civilians in Syria, Sherine Tadros, Amnesty International’s Head of UN Office, said:

    “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of ensuring the crossing points, delivering vital aid, stay open. For millions of Syrians, it is the difference between having food to eat and starving. For hospitals, it is about having enough supplies to save lives. That’s why Russia and China’s abuse of the veto power is despicable and dangerous.”

    There have been months of negotiations between Security Council members over which crossing points into Syria should remain open for the delivery of humanitarian aid and other key services, including health and education. The UN cross-border delivery mechanism, set up in 2014 and renewed ever since, is due to expire in just three days, on 10 July. If that happens it will severely impact the ability to deliver aid to millions of Syrians in time.

    July 06, 2020

    We Need a Ban on Police Street Checks!

    “Indigenous people continue to experience institutionalized discrimination in the justice system and a disproportionately high level of interaction with police, which is furthered by the practice of street checks. In an era of reconciliation, this is simply unacceptable.”

    – Chief Don Tom, Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

    We are urgently calling on the Vancouver Police Board and the Province of BC to immediately ban police street checks.

    The BC Civil Liberties Association, Black Lives Matter-Vancouver, Hogan’s Alley Society, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and WISH Drop-In Society are releasing an open letter, co-signed by 68 organizations, including Amnesty International, as well as a petition for an immediate municipal and provincial ban on police street checks.

    Sign the petition to the Province of BC, Vancouver Police Board, and Vancouver City Council calling for an immediate ban on street checks:

    July 03, 2020

    Following a majority court ruling to convict Taner Kılıç for ‘membership of the Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization’ and to convict Özlem Dalkıran, İdil Eser and Günal Kurşun for ‘assisting the Fethullah Gülenterrorist organization’, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher who observed the hearing said: 

    “Today, we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. This verdict is a crushing blow not only for Taner, Özlem, İdil and Günal and their families but for everyone who believes in justice, and human rights activism in Turkey and beyond.

    “The decision of the court is staggering. During 12 court hearings, each and every allegation has been comprehensively exposed as a baseless slur. The court’s verdict defies logic and exposes this three-year trial as the politically motivated attempt to silence independent voices it was from day one.”  

    June 30, 2020

    The Israeli authorities must immediately abandon plans to further “annex” territory in the occupied West Bank which breach international laws and exacerbate decades of systematic human rights violations against Palestinians, Amnesty International said on the day the Israeli cabinet is due to begin its deliberations on the plans. 

    Amnesty International is also calling on the international community to take firm action against the “annexation” proposals and illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territory. 

    “International law is crystal clear on this matter – annexation is unlawful. Israel’s continued pursuit of this policy further illustrates its cynical disregard for international law. Such policies do not change the legal status of the territory under international law and its inhabitants as occupied nor remove Israel’s responsibilities as the occupying power – rather it points to the ‘law of the jungle’ which should not have a place in our world today,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy regional director for Amnesty Middle East and North Africa.

    June 30, 2020

    Today an international group of 142 scientists, community groups and NGOs from 24 countries published a set of 16 guidelines for the safer storage of mine waste. The guidelines aim to protect communities, workers and the environment from the risks posed by thousands of mine waste storage facilities, which are failing more frequently and with more severe outcomes.

    Safety First: Guidelines for Responsible Mine Tailings Management states that the ultimate goal of tailings management must be zero harm to people and the environment and zero tolerance for human fatalities. Last year’s tragic dam collapse in Brazil killed 270 people and destroyed the town of Brumadinho, and came on the heels of tailings dam failures at the Mount Polley mine in Canada and the Samarco mine in Brazil, among others. Across the world, communities in the shadow of large tailings dams live in a state of perpetual fear.

    June 30, 2020

    Responding to today’s passing of a national security law for Hong Kong by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, the head of Amnesty International’s China Team, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:

    “The passing of the national security law is a painful moment for the people of Hong Kong and represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city’s recent history. From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses.

    “The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully.

    “The fact that the Chinese authorities have now passed this law without the people of Hong Kong being able to see it tells you a lot about their intentions. Their aim is to govern Hong Kong through fear from this point forward.

    June 26, 2020

    This weekend’s Pride celebrations are a chance to celebrate and promote the rights of LGBTI people at a time when their rights are under increased threat, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization warned that existing inequalities have been entrenched by months of lockdown measures, exposing LGBTI people to terrifying levels of discrimination, stigma, hostility and violence. 

    “This Pride weekend, LGBTI people, activists and allies around the world will show that even a global pandemic cannot stop them from demanding the rights which many governments continue to deny them,” said Nadia Rahman, Researcher and Policy Advisor in Amnesty International’s Gender, Sexuality and Identity Team.

    “While virtual celebrations are a moment of hope in difficult times, countless LGBTI people will be spending Pride trapped in hostile or dangerous lockdown situations where their sexualities or identities are not accepted. 

    June 25, 2020

    As Israel steps up construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), in brazen defiance of international law, Amnesty International is calling on TripAdvisor to urgently remove its listings in settlements and send a clear message that it will no longer contribute to human rights violations.

    With a sharp increase in settlement expansion underway, and persistent attacks on Palestinians and their properties by some Israeli settlers, it is more important than ever that companies do not further legitimize settlements by doing business in them.

    Amnesty International today submitted a petition to TripAdvisor’s CEO Stephen Kaufer, signed by more than 300,000 people from around the world, calling on the company to pull out of illegal settlements. The company has not responded to Amnesty International’s requests for comment.

    June 25, 2020

    Within weeks of lockdown measures shuttering businesses across Canada, the federal government announced broad-reaching emergency income supports. But three months later, and even after government extended existing emergency income supports, many sex workers remain out of work and ineligible to receive emergency income supports, and all are working in precarious conditions.

    “Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups of people in Canada,” said Jenn Clamen, National Coordinator of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform. “Sex workers and other marginalized groups should be at the heart of the government’s pandemic response, but instead, continue to be ignored. Sex workers’ rights to health, safety, and dignity need to be protected in the context of a pandemic, so that they, too, can support themselves and their families.”

    June 23, 2020

    Egyptian security forces today whisked away human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience Sanaa Seif from outside the Public Prosecutor’s office in New Cairo, where she was waiting to file a complaint after suffering a violent assault. 

    Sanaa Seif was taken to the office in Cairo of the Supreme State Security Prosecution, a branch of the Public Prosecution specialized in investigating national security threats. Family and supporters gathered outside the office subsequently learnt that prosecutors had questioned her over the charges of “disseminating false news”, “inciting terrorist crimes” and “misuse of social media.”

    Sanaa Seif’s brother, activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, has been in arbitrary detention since September 2019. On 22 June, Sanaa Seif, her mother and sister were waiting outside the Tora Prison Complex to receive a letter from him when they were beaten and robbed by a group of women armed with sticks, in full view of security forces. 

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