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    December 15, 2010

    Amnesty International has called on the Chinese authorities to immediately reveal the whereabouts of Hada, a missing Inner Mongolian human rights activist, who was due to be released last Friday, and two of his family members. Hada’s wife Xinna and son Uiles have reportedly been detained in an unknown location for at least 10 days by the Inner Mongolian Public Security Bureau. Hada appears to have joined them since at least last Friday.

    “China is using enforced disappearance to keep activists and their family members out of the spotlight while the world’s attention is focused on China’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

    Hada, who like many ethnic Mongolians goes by a single name, was scheduled for release on 10 December 2010 after serving 15 years for “splittism” and “espionage” due to his involvement in the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. Amnesty International consideredhim a prisoner of conscience.

    December 14, 2010

    The Australian government’s newly announced policy of transferring prisoners detained in Afghanistan to Afghan and United States forces could violate international law, Amnesty International warned today. On 14 December 2010, Australian Minister of Defence, Stephen Smith, announced an agreement for managing detainees, with allegedly ‘high risk’ prisoners handed over to the US, ‘low risk’ prisoners handed to Afghan forces, and the remainder of those being held released.

    “The handover of detainees to the US and Afghan forces raises real concerns about potential human rights abuses,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. “The US continues to hold prisoners without access to fair legal processes. And the Afghan National Directorate of Security, which runs some of the detention facilities, is all too often linked to disturbing accounts of torture and mistreatment.”

    December 10, 2010

    Amnesty International today condemned reports that Iran’s state-controlled Press TV will tonight broadcast a new “confession” by an Iranian woman who faces possible execution by stoning or hanging. “If reports are accurate that tonight’s broadcast will contain another televised ‘confession’ from Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, its potential impact on her case should not be underestimated,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “If the authorities are seeking to use this ‘confession’ to try to construct a new case against her, for a crime that she’s already been tried and sentenced for, we would condemn this in the strongest terms.”

    Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to a 10-year prison term in 2006 for the murder of her husband, which her lawyer has said was subsequently reduced to five years for “complicity” in the murder.

    She was also sentenced to death by stoning for “adultery while married”. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is held in Tabriz Prison, East Azerbaijan province, awaiting the outcome of a judicial review of her stoning sentence.

    December 10, 2010

    Amnesty International has welcomed the arrest of a former Croatian military official accused of responsibility for war crimes committed during the 1991-95 war. Tomislav Merèep, who was named by Amnesty International in a report released yesterday as an individual whose case needed urgent attention, was arrested in Zagreb this morning at the request of the country’s state prosecutor.

    "The arrest of Tomislav Merèep is a welcome development. Investigations into those alleged to have been involved in war crimes has been slow in coming,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “People need to know the truth about events from the recent past that have marred the lives of many. Victims and their families need justice. The Croatian authorities must intensify efforts to investigate and, if appropriate, to prosecute all those responsible for committing crimes during the 1991-95 war.”

    The arrest comes one day after the release of an Amnesty International report that called on Croatia to speed up the investigation and prosecution of war crime suspects.

    December 09, 2010

    Amnesty International has facilitated a unique photographic project that helps two Indigenous communities in Paraguay tell their own stories through the pictures they take. The organization, alongside NGOs Photovoice and the Paraguayan NGO Tierra Viva, backed the project that enables the Yakye Axa and the Sawhoyamaxa communities, who have been fighting to regain the right to live on their ancestral lands, to take photographs that reflect their struggle and tell the stories of their daily lives.

    “For decades, the Yakye Axa and the Sawhoyamaxa have been living on a narrow strip of land alongside a highway, while waiting to be able to return to their ancestral land. This project enables them to voice their demands, and express their hopes and expectations for the future” said Louise Finer, South America Researcher at Amnesty International.

    December 08, 2010

    Amnesty International is today calling on the Chinese government to end its intensifying crackdown on Chinese human rights activists ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in Oslo on 10 December.

    Amnesty International and Chinese human rights groups have documented hundreds of cases of people being detained, interrogated, or arrested in advance of the event honouring jailed Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.

    “The Chinese government’s travel restrictions target not just human rights defenders, but also ordinary travellers who somehow trigger the government’s suspicion,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. “This reaction violates Chinese law as well as China’s international obligations and constitutes a serious breakdown in the rule of law.”

    Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power" for his part as the leading author behind “Charter 08”, a manifesto calling for the recognition of fundamental human rights in China.

    December 08, 2010

    Chinese diplomats in Norway have been systematically pressurizing Chinese residents into joining anti-Nobel demonstrations, which are planned to take place in Oslo on Friday, Amnesty International has learned. Amnesty International has been informed by reliable sources in the Chinese diaspora that mainland Chinese residents in Norway have been repeatedly visited and called to meetings over the last two months by representatives of the Chinese government.

    The pressure exerted by these representatives is perceived by those visited or attending the meetings as threats, with concrete and serious consequences for the future livelihood of Chinese residents who fail to show up for these demonstrations.

    “We are shocked that Chinese authorities would bring the oppressive atmosphere of Beijing to Oslo,” said John Peder Egenæs, Director of Amnesty International Norway. “It’s shameful and saddening that Chinese people feel pressured to demonstrate against the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on a day that should be one of pride and celebration.”

    December 08, 2010

    Video footage allegedly showing evidence of war crimes by Sri Lankan soldiers in the closing days of the war against members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) underlines the need for an independent investigation by the United Nations, Amnesty International said today. Footage aired this evening by the UK’s Channel 4 News television, allegedly reveals new details about the location, date and time of the events, the military units involved in the incident and the identity of at least one victim. The Channel 4 video was allegedly filmed in northern Sri Lanka in May 2009 and appears to show Sri Lankan soldiers executing prisoners. A portion of the five-minute video was aired last week, but the remainder was considered too graphic. Channel 4 released a similar, but shorter, video segment in August 2009.

    December 07, 2010

    The Nobel Committee has confirmed that nineteen countries have declined invitations to attend the Peace Price ceremony in Norway on 10 December, a rise on the usual number of declines. This year, the Nobel Peace Prize is being awarded to Chinese prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo. The 19 countries that have declined to attend according to the Committee are Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

    “China has been arm-twisting behind the scenes to stop governments from attending the Nobel Prize ceremony, using a combination of political pressure and economic blackmail” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Director for the Asia-Pacific.

    “The fact that, despite the pressure and threats, the Chinese could only cajole a small minority of countries, reflects the unacceptable nature of their demands. Governments and international institutions must continue to resist this type of bullying.”

    December 07, 2010

    On December 10th, thousands of Canadians across the country will join hundreds of thousands of activists in 50 countries to participate in the world’s largest letter-writing event. Write for Rights celebrates International Human Rights Day and the write-a-thon, as it is known has grown tremendously. Last year, participants used their pens or keyboards to send 700,000 letters to governments for people facing human rights violations. There were more than 2,000 events held in Canada alone. Events are held in schools, community centres, faith institutions, cafes and living rooms across the country. They write on behalf of prisoners of conscience, human rights defenders under threat, and other cases of serious human rights violations. Participation in the event is free and open to everyone.

    December 06, 2010

    The Malaysian government must immediately end the practice of judicial caning, which subjects thousands of people each year to systematic torture and ill-treatment, leaving them with permanent physical and psychological scars, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    A Blow to Humanity provides an in-depth look at Malaysian caning, which leaves victims, including many foreigners seeking asylum, with little recourse, support or hope. Many have no understanding of the charges or fate that awaits them.

    “Caning in Malaysia has hit epidemic proportions,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “In every case that we examined, the punishment amounted to torture, which is absolutely prohibited under any circumstances.”

    In recent years, Malaysia has increased the number of penal offenses subject to caning to more than 60. Since 2002, when Parliament made immigration violations such as illegal entry subject to caning, tens of thousands of refugees and migrant workers have been caned.

    December 06, 2010

    Amnesty International has called on the security forces in Côte d’Ivoire to protect civilians, as the number of people shot dead in violent incidents following the country's presidential elections rose to at least 20. Tensions have risen in Côte d’Ivoire since both presidential candidates in the 28 November election declared themselves the winners on Friday. Both the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara have sworn themselves in, prompting increased clashes between supporters of both parties and the security forces.

    The call comes ahead of meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria on Tuesday to discuss the crisis.

    "The international community, especially the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and ECOWAS must take steps to prevent further escalation of violence in Côte d’Ivoire," said Salvatore Saguès, Amnesty International's West Africa researcher.

    December 03, 2010

    Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai’da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits. “For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “It makes a complete mockery of any suggestion that these suspects will receive a fair trial, and sets a most ominous precedent for others.”

    Jawad al-Bolani said at a press conference in Baghdad on 2 December:

    "Today, we will send those criminals and the investigation results to the courts that will sentence them to death. Our demand is not to delay the carrying out of the executions against these criminals so that to deter terrorist and criminal elements."

    December 02, 2010

    Amnesty International has condemned an armed raid led by a paramilitary force (gendarmerie) on an opposition party headquarters in the city of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire on 1 December, which left at least four people dead and several wounded. The raid happened at the offices of the Rally of Republicans (RDR), the party of Alassane Ouattara, a presidential candidate in last Sunday's election. More than 10 people were arrested during the attack in the Yopougon neighbourhood of Abidjan. The whereabouts of those arrested are unknown.

    "If the authorities do not condemn this attack and bring those responsible to justice, it will be a sign that they condone this very serious human rights violation,” said Salvatore Saguès, Amnesty International’s West African researcher.

    December 02, 2010

    Recently disclosed documents indicate that the Canadian Forces have mishandled these children in a manner that contravenes Canada’s international obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. In a letter sent to Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) call on the Department of National Defence to take immediate action to bring its policies and practices regarding children apprehended in course of military operations in Afghanistan into compliance with international law.

    “International treaties that Canada has ratified make it clear that when alleged child soldiers come into the custody and care of Canadian Forces, Canada’s primary obligation must be to ensure that they are demobilized and that they receive the assistance they need to ensure their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration,” says Alex Neve, Secretary- General of Amnesty International Canada.

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