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    December 17, 2015

    Five years since fruit-seller Mohamed Bouazizi sparked wide-ranging protests in Tunisia and the wider region after setting himself alight in protest at police harassment in the town of Sidi Bouzid, ongoing human rights violations across the region are increasingly reminiscent of repressive and abusive measures of the past, Amnesty International warned today.

    In a fact sheet published today Amnesty International gives a brief overview of human rights developments in the countries where there were uprisings five years ago.

    “Many dared to hope that the ‘Arab Spring’, as it became known, would augur real change in the relationship between the rulers and those they ruled – greater power-sharing, social justice, transparency, accountability, and greater respect for human rights. The reality is that across the region, conflict and harsh repression remain the order of the day,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    December 11, 2015
    Delayed trial of renowned human rights lawyer due to start on Monday Amnesty International’s human rights experts on China available for interview

    The Chinese authorities must end their persecution of prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, Amnesty International said, ahead of his trial which is set to begin on Monday in Beijing.

    According to his lawyers, Pu Zhiqiang faces up to eight years in prison on the charges of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and “inciting ethnic hatred”, primarily on the basis of seven social media posts, in total around 600 characters, in which he criticized the government.

    “The chances of Pu Zhiqiang receiving a fair trial are close to zero. He is being punished solely for standing up to the Chinese government in his courageous defence of human rights,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    December 01, 2015

    NGOs and human rights defenders have come under increased scrutiny and pressure from the Huthi armed group in areas of Yemen under its control over the past six months, said Amnesty International in a new statement published today.

    At least 27 NGOs have been raided and shut down since the Huthi armed group took control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, and human rights activists have reported coming under increased monitoring from the group and even received death threats towards their family members.

    “By harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and shutting down NGOs the Huthi armed group is fuelling a climate of repression and sending a clear message that dissenting voices will not be tolerated in areas under its control,” said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.

    November 15, 2015

    World leaders must show true statesmanship and refrain from bowing to a knee-jerk anti-refugee agenda in the wake of the despicable attacks in Paris, urged Amnesty International today.

    “The tragic events in Paris have sickened and stunned the world and our hearts and thoughts go out to all those affected by this atrocious attack. The threat of terrorism must always be responded to resolutely, with the utmost regard for security and respect for human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    “Now is also the time for world leaders to show true statesmanship and refuse to bow to the conflated anti-refugee rhetoric which is already emanating from some quarters. We have to remember that many of those trying to gain sanctuary have fled violence, fear and conflict, and indeed often by the very same group known as the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.”

    November 10, 2015

    •    20 years on from his execution, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s struggle continues

    •    Thousands still blighted by oil pollution

    •    Shell is yet to clean up the Niger Delta

    As hundreds of people remember the killing of environmental activists Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists executed 20 years ago, Amnesty International urged oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and Nigerian authorities to clean up the oil pollution in the Niger Delta.

    “It is heartbreakingly tragic to see how 20 years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned bitterly for the clean-up of the oil pollution in the Niger Delta, we see very little has changed: the oil spills have not stopped, and Shell has still not cleaned up this huge environmental degradation,” said Amnesty International Nigeria Director M K Ibrahim.

    October 30, 2015

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    Azerbaijan’s dire human rights record is rapidly deteriorating as people prepare to head to the polls on Sunday 1 November amid a backdrop of crackdowns on freedom of expression and the right to assembly, said Amnesty International today.

    “Azerbaijani authorities must uphold their human rights obligations and immediately release all prisoners of conscience, as well as stop persecuting civil society activists, including human rights defenders,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    At least 20 people are currently imprisoned in the country merely for having challenged the government’s policies or having attempted to help victims of human rights abuses. Most of the country’s independent human rights organizations – around 20 – have been shut down, with their most prominent leaders arrested or forced into exile.

    October 21, 2015

    South African police must use restraint in response to students participating in nationwide protests, said Amnesty International.

    Police have used teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades against students in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

    University students have been protesting against proposed fee hikes for 2016.

    “We are alarmed by reports of police officers using teargas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters. Students have a right to express their grievances peacefully and police must respect this right,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Law enforcement officials must comply with international standards governing the use of force in policing protests,” said Deprose Muchena. 

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667 #236  jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

    October 21, 2015

    The Algerian government must cease its relentless campaign of censorship of private broadcasters if it is going to live up to its pledge to uphold and strengthen media freedoms in the country, said Amnesty International as the country marks National Press Day on 22 October.

    Only last week police raided and shut down El Watan TV, confiscating equipment and escorting staff out of the station’s office in the capital Algiers after it broadcast an interview with a controversial government critic.

    In 2014 the government introduced restrictive licensing laws which have left many broadcasters in legal limbo operating under the constant threat of censorship.

    “The government’s repeated shutdowns of private TV stations that dare to criticize it, such as El Watan TV, is a clear and present danger to the survival of a free media in Algeria,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Director of North Africa and the Middle East.

    October 19, 2015

    Croatian and Slovenian authorities must urgently come up with effective solutions as hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers who were stranded overnight between the two countries’ border checkpoints are soon to be joined by thousands more, Amnesty International urged today.

    An Amnesty International research team on the scene interviewed multiple refugees who described how Croatian police had ushered around 1,800 people on a 12km trudge from Čakovec train station to the border crossing at Trnovec at around 2:30am, after Slovenian authorities had blocked the train from entering Slovenia.

    Hundreds of children including babies as young as a month old were among the group, who walked or were carried in the rain. They reached the border crossing around two hours later, only to find it blocked by a fence and Slovenian police. Croatian police promptly erected a temporary fence behind the group, effectively trapping them between the two countries with no shelter or humanitarian assistance.

    October 16, 2015

    Venezuela must halt its escalating campaign of attacks and harassment against human rights activists and instead publicly support their crucial and legitimate work, said Amnesty International as the country faces a hearing at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on Monday 19 October.  

    “Defending human rights in Venezuela has become an increasingly dangerous occupation with activists harassed and attacked for criticizing the authorities,” said Marcos Gómez, Director at Amnesty International Venezuela, who will represent the organization at the hearing.

     In recent weeks, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has publicly criticized the work of human rights organizations and activists. In a televised speech on 21 August he discredited Marino Alvarado, a member of local human rights group Provea, stating his organization was right-wing and questioning its work.

    October 13, 2015

     An upsurge of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and in Israel since 1 October has seen at least 27 Palestinians and seven Israelis killed in recent days. Palestinians have carried out a number of attacks on Israelis in Israel and the OPT, killing six civilians and one off-duty soldier and injuring others. Israeli forces have used excessive, sometimes lethal, force against Palestinian demonstrators, injuring hundreds with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets, and have failed to protect Palestinian civilians from a wave of settler attacks.

    A delegation of Amnesty International researchers is on the ground in the West Bank and available for interviews about the ongoing violence.

    October 02, 2015

    The trial of satirical cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer on a charge of “illegitimate sexual relations falling short of adultery” after they shook hands is not only absurd and extreme but clearly politically motivated, said Amnesty International ahead of the General Criminal Court session starting tomorrow in Tehran.

    Both Atena Farghadani, whom Amnesty International regards as a prisoner of conscience, and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi may face up to 99 lashes if found guilty. The organization believes the cartoonist and activist has been detained solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression.

    “It is clearly both absurd and a violation of the right to privacy to consider a man and a woman shaking hands as a criminal offence,” said Raha Bahreini, Amnesty International’s researcher.

    September 29, 2015

    A Cuban graffiti artist who has been unfairly held in prison for nearly a year after he painted “Raúl” and “Fidel” on the backs of two pigs has been named as a prisoner of conscience, said Amnesty International today as it called for his immediate release.

    Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’, was accused of “disrespecting the leaders of the Revolution” and sent to prison after officers opened the taxi’s boot and found the two pigs. Danilo intended to release them in an art show on Christmas Day.

    “To jail an artist for painting a name on a pig is ludicrous. Cuban authorities are using any cowardly excuse to silence Danilo and send a message to others that any criticism of the government and its officials will not be tolerated,” said Carolina Jiménez, Americas Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International.

    September 23, 2015

    Released 23 September 2015 at 00:01 Mexico time (05:00 GMT)

    Omar García – Second-year student at the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos “Ayotzinapa”, in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

    On the night of Friday 26 September 2014, 24-year-old Omar García was writing a paper when he received a desperate call from one of his friends who was in a bus in the nearby town of Iguala.  

    His friend told him police officers were indiscriminately shooting at a group of students who were crossing the town on their way to a demonstration in Mexico City to mark the anniversary of the 2 October 1968 Tlatelolco massacre of unarmed students.

    “I was shocked and alarmed. I ran out of my room calling my friends. ‘Our friends are being shot at in Iguala, we have to go!’ I shouted. Everybody was upset,” he said.

    “Around 30 of us went to Iguala. When we arrived we started visiting hospitals, the courts, the prison. We asked people everywhere if they had seen our friends. But everybody said they had not seen them.

    September 17, 2015

    Cuba is at a human rights crossroads, with important advances such as the recent release of political prisoners and a number of positive reforms to its migration laws overshadowed by the government’s determination to deploy new methods to stifle dissent, said Amnesty International ahead of a state visit by Pope Francis.

    “Over the past few months, we have seen unprecedented openness when it comes to Cuba’s international relations. However, the country still needs to make progress when it comes to allowing people to peacefully express their views without fear of being harassed, detained or attacked,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Over the past few years, authorities in Cuba have switched from a strategy of incarcerating people viewed as political dissidents for long periods of time to consecutive short term arrests and public smear campaigns.

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