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Media advisories

    March 06, 2012

    Amnesty International Canada and six prestigious universities (below) are working together to host a visit by four respected Mexican human rights defenders. Each has a compelling story to tell about courageous efforts to protect rights and dignity in Mexico amidst a terrifying increase in threats and violence.
    Vidulfo Rosales Sierra is a lawyer with the renowned Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre that does human rights monitoring and works with Indigenous communities in Guerrero State to defend their rights
    Dolores González Saravia is Director of SERAPAZ, an NGO founded by Bishop Ruiz with extensive experience in southern Mexico that works on conflict prevention and peace building
    Yolanda Moran Isais is a member of FUUNDEM, an organization formed by a growing number of families whose relatives have been forcibly disappeared
    Alberto Xicotencatl Carrasco is Director of the Casa del Migrante shelter in Saltillo, Coahuila, recipient of last year’s prestigious Letelier Moffitt Human Rights Award for work with vulnerable migrants

    March 05, 2012

    Amnesty International is calling on its supporters to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March by taking action in solidarity with women in the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands of individual actions are expected to be taken, with a focus on four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.  

    Iran: The organization’s members will call on Iranian authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prisoner of conscience and human rights lawyer who is serving a six-year jail sentence at Tehran’s Evin Prison.

    Saudi Arabia: The organization is calling on people around the world to share images and messages of solidarity with Saudi Arabian women activists and support them in their “drive to freedom” campaign to overturn the country’s ban on women driving:

     View Saudi Arabian women must drive their way to freedom, a short film produced by Amnesty International which can be embedded:


    February 29, 2012

    The victor in Russia’s presidential elections on 4 March must place human rights at the heart of their political agenda, Amnesty International said.

    During the past few weeks, all the presidential candidates have touched on issues preventing Russian society from fulfilling its rich potential.

    In A Human Rights Agenda for Russia, Amnesty International details how human rights-based solutions are essential for Russia to move forward.

    “As the first generation of post-soviet voters heads to the polls, the hopes and expectations of all Russians remain what they always were – the full enjoyment, for so long denied, of their most basic rights as individuals and as citizens,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Representative Office in the Russian Federation.

    “During elections, we often hear the right words from the various candidates. This time, the future president must lay out specific steps for change and demonstrate action – there can be no more excuses.

    February 22, 2012

    On 28 February Amnesty International will launch a new report “We are ordered to crush you”: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran.

    The report, over 70 pages, is being released just ahead of Parliamentary elections in Iran, which are due to be held on 2 March.

    It describes how, in the wake of pro-reform protests across the country in February 2011, the Iranian authorities have continued their crackdown on freedom of expression, with a wave of arrests in recent months targeting lawyers, students, journalists, political activists and their relatives, religious and ethnic minorities, filmmakers, and people with international connections, particularly to foreign media.

    The report argues that despite the Government's claims to support the aims of protesters across the Middle East and North Africa - calling the events of 2011 an "Islamic awakening" - the authorities have implemented this crackdown precisely to prevent Iranians voicing calls for greater accountability and respect for rights.

    February 16, 2012

    Amnesty International Canada /Amnistie Canada    Assembly of First Nations     Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)   First Nations Summit    Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)    Indigenous World Association   International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)    KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives     Kanehsatake Cultural Center    National Association of Friendship Centres    Native Women's Association of Canada    Treaty Four First Nations    Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

    On February 22 and 23, Canada’s record on combating discrimination will be examined by a high level body of the United Nations. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the independent expert body that monitors compliance with the international treaty of the same name.

    As a signatory to the Convention, Canada is required to report regularly to the Committee on measures taken to comply with its provisions. Key issues concerning the rights of Indigenous peoples were glossed over or ignored in Canada’s report.

    January 31, 2012

    Prime Minister Harper will make his second official trip to China next week. His visit comes at a deeply worrying time for human rights protection in China.  A harsh crackdown on the country’s human rights community throughout 2011 led to hundreds of arrests.  Many human rights advocates are still detained without charge or trial. 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned. In recent weeks the situation in Tibet has deteriorated dramatically, with growing protests met by excessive and often deadly force from Chinese security forces.

    At the same time, with considerable Chinese government interest in the Canadian natural resources sector, Canada may have more influence with China than ever before.

    Canadian human rights advocates will argue that this is a critical time for the Prime Minister to take a strong stand for human rights in China.


    January 18, 2012

     On Friday 20 January, the fifth anniversary of the illegal rendition of a Canadian citizen Bashir Makhtal from Kenya to Ethiopia, family, friends and human right supporters will be holding a vigil outside the Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office in the Langevin Block to draw attention to his plight.

     Bashir Makhtal, originally from the Ogaden region of Ethiopia was arrested at the Kenya-Somalia border in December 2006 and flown in shackles to Ethiopia in January 2007. After 18 months without access to a lawyer or consular officials he was eventually of accused of providing support to an armed group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).  He was sentenced to life imprisonment after a grossly unfair trial in 2009. In the absence of credible evidence, the basis for the charges seemed to be the role his grandfather played in the founding of the ONLF decades ago.

     Supporters of Bashir Makhtal will bring their concerns about his illegal rendition and unfair trial to the attention of Prime Minister Harper. They will be renewing the call that has been repeatedly made for his direct intervention with the Ethiopian government on this case.

    December 16, 2011

    “The scale of arrests and prosecutions are indicative of a new level of repression and send a chilling message to opposition politicians and journalists in Ethiopia – self censor or risk incarceration,” Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher.

    At least 114 Ethiopian opposition politicians and journalists have been arrested in the course of their legitimate activities since March 2011. By November, 107 of these detainees were charged on the basis of alleged involvement with terrorist groups.

    The sheer numbers involved in this wave of arrests represents the most far-reaching crackdown on freedom of expression seen in many years in Ethiopia.

    The report released today,  Dismantling Dissent: Intensified crackdown on free speech in Ethiopia, provides a comprehensive analysis of the arrests, charges and pre-trial proceedings.

    •        Amnesty International believes that all the journalists and opposition members cited in this report were arrested primarily because of their legitimate and peaceful criticism of the government.

    November 17, 2011

    On 22 November Amnesty International is releasing a new report Broken Promises: Egypt's Military Rulers Erode Human Rights.

    The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has repeatedly pledged to break the cycle of repression entrenched over the past 30 years, but it has resorted to familiar patterns of abuse.

    Released ahead of the start of elections on 28 November, the report analyses how the rhetoric has obscured the increasing suppression of people who dare to defy, question or criticize Egypt’s military rulers.

    When: 0001hrs GMT on 22 November.

    Spokespeople: Egypt researchers Said Haddadi and Mohamed Lotfy (English, Arabic, French) and Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director (English, French) will be available for interview from London.


    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    October 26, 2011

    Ladysmith BC – The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (HTG) will hold a media briefing conference call on Friday, October 28, 2011, following the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) hearing on the merits of their land rights claims.  This case is significant because it is the first time that IACHR is considering a Canadian indigenous land rights issue.

    “This represents a historic opportunity to address a human rights issue in Canada that could have far-reaching implications for the indigenous movement worldwide,” said Robert Morales, Chief Negotiator for the HTG.

    HTG has had a longstanding petition against Government of Canada for failing to secure, recognize and safeguard the property rights of the Hul’qumi’num indigenous peoples in their ancestral lands.

    Morales added: “We are not asking to turn back the clock and investigate historic wrongs; rather urging effective resolution of land rights and consultations with the Hul’qumi’num indigenous peoples regarding the on-going deforestation and development activities by private corporations.”

    WHAT: Press briefing conference call following IACHR hearing on Hul’qumi’num land rights case.

    October 07, 2011

    The government of Canada has an obligation to start an investigation into former US President George W. Bush’s alleged involvement in, and responsibility for crimes under international law, including torture, while he is visiting Canada on 20 October, says Amnesty International. A memorandum, that has been given to the government, will be made public at a press conference in the Charles Lynch Theatre, Centre Block, House of Commons on Wednesday 12 October at 10:30 a.m.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada (English branch) and Beatrice Vaugrante, Director General of the Francophone branch of Amnesty International Canada, will present the details of the extensive submission outlining the responsibilities of the Canadian government. The submission asserts that Canada must investigate the role of the former US President in these crimes and secure his presence in Canada during that investigation.

    Speakers:    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
                          Beatrice Vaugrante, Director General, Amnesty International Canada
                          (Francophone branch)

    June 03, 2011

    Amnesty International launches a short campaign document calling on the Rwandan authorities to review ‘genocide ideology’ and ‘sectarianism’ laws that are being used to suppress political dissent and stifle freedom of speech in the country.

    The months leading up to the August 2010 presidential elections, which President Kagame won with 93 per cent of the vote, were marked by a clampdown on freedom of expression through regulatory sanctions, restrictive laws and criminal defamation cases.

    The Rwandan government has expressed a commitment to review laws which are used to criminalize criticism, but recent trials of journalists and opposition politicians suggest that Rwanda’s critics still face prosecution and imprisonment.

    Amnesty International is calling on President Kagame to allow opposition politicians, journalists and human rights defenders to express their views without fear for their safety.



    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332

    May 31, 2011

    The struggle for basic rights in Zimbabwe will be examined in meetings and talks this week in Ottawa by Jenni Williams, the Executive Director of powerful social justice movement led by and for women called Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

    Jenni Williams is in Ottawa after attending a special joint Annual General Meeting of the English and French branches of Amnesty International Canada in Montreal 28-29 May marking 50 years of work by the international organization.

    WOZA was formed in 2003 to defend human rights amidst the political violence in Zimbabwe, and continues their work today by mobilizing to improve living conditions for all Zimbabweans. At the age of 47, Jenni Williams has experience more brutality than most of us will face in a lifetime. WOZA members constantly experience harassment and abuse by the police for engaging in peaceful forms of activism.

    May 30, 2011

    A new brief by the international human rights organization Amnesty International calls for an independent review of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) response to ongoing land rights protests in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

    The brief, based on extensive eye-witness interviews, access to information requests, and a review of court transcripts, demonstrates that the deployment of large numbers of heavily armed police, including snipers, and the aggressive tactics used, were not only excessive, but could easily have led to the loss of life.

    The brief calls for urgent action to ensure that key recommendations of the Ipperwash Inquiry are properly implemented by the provincial government and the OPP.

    Confirmed Speakers:          

    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    Larry Hay, former Chief of Police, Tyendinaga Mohawk Police Service

    Jim and Rhonda Kunkel, bystanders arrested at gunpoint during the April 2008 protests

    Nicole Storms, Tyendinaga community member, para-legal, and eyewitness

    May 20, 2011

    Action must be taken by Canada to pressure Syria to respect human rights. Amnesty International Canada and Canadian citizens who have been victims of human rights violations in Syria will outline a series of proposals for  the Canadian government at a press conference.

     Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the Syrian government to rein in its security forces, cease unlawful killings and other excessive force, and for independent investigations and accountability - with those responsible for human rights violations being brought to justice. The Syrian authorities have failed to take these steps. Canada must join the international community in adopting  measures to increase pressure on the Syrian government to do so. Petitions calling for an end for killings, respect for the right of peaceful protest, and to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be presented to Syrian officials around the world, including to the Syrian Embassy in Ottawa following the press conference. 
    Speakers will highlight actions that should be taken by the Canadian government to put further pressure on Syria to ensure the protection of human rights.


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