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    February 23, 2011

    Amnesty International has today accused the international community of failing the Libyan people in their hour of greatest need as Colonel Gaddafi threatened to “cleanse Libya house by house”.

    The organization said the response of the UN Security Council fell shamefully below what was needed to stop the spiralling violence in Libya, and called for concrete action, including an immediate arms embargo and assets freeze.

    The UN Security Council yesterday issued a statement calling for an end to the violence and urging Libya to act with restraint and respect human rights, but took no substantive measures.

    The organization also criticized the African Union, which has not convened its Peace and Security Council to address the human rights crisis in Libya.

    “Colonel al-Gaddafi has publicly made clear his readiness to kill those who oppose him in order to stay in power,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

    “This is unacceptable. Colonel al-Gaddafi and all those reporting to him need to know that they will be held personally accountable under international law for the crimes they commit.”

    February 23, 2011

    The Pakistan government must immediately provide accountability for the alarming number of killings and abductions in Balochistan attributed to government forces in recent months, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International also called on Baloch armed groups to avoid attacks that target or endanger civilians, in the face of escalating attacks on government workers and non-Baloch residents of the province.

    In the last four months, at least 90 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have disappeared or been murdered, many in ‘kill and dump’ operations, according to information compiled by Amnesty International. Their bullet-ridden bodies, most bearing torture marks, have been recovered across Balochistan.

    “Since October, every month has seen an increase in the cases of alleged disappearances and unlawful killings,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “These atrocities are carried out with flagrant impunity. Credible investigations into these incidents – resulting in prosecutions – are absolutely necessary to establish some trust between the Baloch people and the Pakistan government.”

    February 23, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged the Yemeni authorities to end its crackdown on anti-government demonstrations after two protesters were reported to have been killed in Sana’a.

    They would be the first fatalities in the capital since the outbreak of unrest earlier this month and bring the total killed to 16, including 13 in the southern city of Aden.

    The two protesters reportedly died after being shot on Tuesday night, when security forces, aided by men described by witnesses as “thugs”, stormed a group of people who had set up a protest camp outside Sana’a University.

    “This disturbing development indicates that the heavy-handed tactics which we have seen the security forces using with lethal effect against protesters in the south of Yemen are increasingly being employed elsewhere,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “If the authorities continue in this manner, more demonstrators will inevitably be killed, particularly as more protests are due to take place in cities across Yemen in the coming days. People must be allowed to assemble and protest in peace.”

    February 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of people participating in peaceful protests and of all detainees after one demonstrator described how police tortured him and his friend repeatedly late last week.

    'Abdallah Salman Mohammad Hassan told Amnesty International that he and a friend endured torture and other ill-treatment during hours of detention and interrogation after police arrested them in Manama, Bahrain's capital, on Friday.

    The pair were punched and beaten with sticks by police who questioned them about their role in the protests before releasing them without charge on Saturday evening.

    "The Bahrain authorities must respect the rights of people to participate in peaceful protests  and to exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of retaliation, arbitrary arrest, detention or torture," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "They must also investigate the alleged torture and other ill-treatment of 'Abdallah Salman Mohammad Hassan and his friend and hold those found responsible to account.”

    February 22, 2011

    Human rights violations including sexual violence and unlawful killings are being perpetrated by forces loyal to both Côte d’Ivoire’s outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo and internationally recognized incumbent Alassane Ouattara, an Amnesty International investigation has revealed.

    Victims and eyewitnesses first-hand accounts of the ongoing abuses, which follow the disputed November 2010 election, are contained in a six-page summary of preliminary findings compiled by Amnesty International researchers during a four-week visit to Côte d’Ivoire.

“In the west of the country, women told us that they have been gang-raped in January 2011 in their homes in view of their children and others told us they were raped on their way to the market. Eyewitnesses have also seen men beaten and deliberately killed in the street,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, one of the two researchers who carried out the investigation.

    February 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has today called on the UN Security Council and the Arab League to launch an immediate mission to Libya to investigate events that have left hundreds of protesters dead.

    The call for the investigation, which could lead to prosecutions at the International Criminal Court (ICC), comes as both the UN Security Council and the Arab League meet today for special sessions to discuss the spiralling violence in the country.

    The organization also called on the UN Security Council to impose a total arms embargo on Libya, amidst reports that security forces are continuing to deploy a range of weaponry, munitions and related equipment to use lethal force against protesters.

    “Colonel al-Gaddafi and his government appear to be prepared to kill as many people as it takes to stay in power. The international community needs to act now to put a stop to this.” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

    February 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged Cuban authorities to end the harassment of relatives of a human rights activist who died during a hunger strike last year.

    Reina Luisa Tamayo, whose son Orlando Zapata Tamayo died at a Havana prison in February 2010, told Amnesty International she was arrested by state security agents who threatened to stop her and other mourners from commemorating the anniversary of Orlando’s death in church, on 23 February.

    “The fact that the Cuban authorities have so far failed to initiate an investigation into Orlando’s death is outrageous and preventing his family from properly celebrating his life is a scandal,” said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

    Tamayo, 72, her husband and another activist, Daniel Mesa, were forcefully detained on Friday 18 February by more than a dozen local security agents as they were walking around their village in Banes, north-west Cuba. Tamayo and her husband were released 12 hours later and Mesa, two days later.

    Tamayo said the agents had threatened to prevent her leaving her home and go to the cemetery where her son is buried, in breach of her human rights.

    February 21, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged the Chinese authorities to stop detaining and harassing more than one hundred activists targeted in an apparent attempt to block anti-government demonstrations inspired by protests across the Middle East.

    More than a dozen prominent human rights lawyers were among those detained or placed under various forms of house arrest or surveillance. The crackdown followed an anonymous call that spread via social media to mount a Chinese version of the “Jasmine revolution” in Tunisia.

    “This wave of detentions is deeply disturbing and appears to be a fearful, misguided reaction to events in North Africa and the Middle East,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

    “The Chinese government seems to think it can simply flout the law and lock up anyone who might even be thinking about criticizing its policies. This is an unsettling trend, and one that is only getting worse.”

    On 17 February, the US-based news site Boxun reported an anonymous appeal for Chinese to stage protests across the country on 20 February.

    February 21, 2011

    Egyptian prison guards in watchtowers are feared to have shot dead scores of inmates and a visitor during continuing unrest at a prison near Cairo.

    Inmates at the al-Qatta al-Gadeed Prison have given the names of 43 prisoners to Amnesty International who they say have been killed inside the jail.

    The body of a male received at a Cairo morgue and identified as “coming from al-Qatta” on Saturday (February 19), may belong to a family member who was shot while visiting an inmate when shooting broke out a week earlier, sources at the morgue and prison said.

    A further 81 inmates have been injured since unrest broke out at the prison on January 29, according to lawyers representing the families of prisoners. A security officer is also reported to have died.

    “The authorities must stop the use of lethal force against inmates and allow all those injured to receive medical treatment immediately,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

    February 20, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on Libyan leader Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi to immediately rein in his security forces amid reports of machine guns and other weapons being used against protestors and a spiralling death toll in Benghazi, Misratah and other cities.
     
    “Forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi are using unwarranted lethal force against protestors calling for change and the result is a wholly predictable one,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Large numbers of people are being killed and the situation is escalating alarmingly. More than one hundred have been killed so far.”
     
    “It looks like Libya’s leader may have ordered his forces to put down the protests virtually at any cost, and that cost is being paid in the lives of Libyans.”
     
    Amnesty International researchers have been told by eyewitnesses, lawyers and medical staff in Benghazi that at least 34 people were shot with live ammunition last Friday, mostly with bullet wounds to the head, chest and neck. Dozens more people were injured.
     

    February 18, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Yemeni authorities to stop using excessive force to control anti-government demonstrations as continued violence against protesters across the country reportedly left several wounded.

    At least six Yemeni protesters taking part in what appears to have been a peaceful sit-in were reportedly seriously injured in the city of Ta’izz today when security forces attacked them with what eyewitnesses described as a hand grenade, with dozens more also injured.

    Meanwhile, activists in the capital Sana’a told Amnesty International today that they had been surrounded by security forces, aided by men described as “thugs”, who were firing at them and issuing beatings.

    “The Yemeni authorities seem to be stepping up their crackdown on protesters and we are gravely concerned that if that continues, the death toll will inevitably rise,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “Yemen’s government must allow people to peacefully assemble and protest.”

    February 18, 2011

    Amnesty International has accused the Libyan authorities of recklessly shooting at anti-government protesters after the organization learned that at least 46 people had been shot dead by security forces in the last 72 hours.

    Sources at al-Jala hospital in Benghazi today told Amnesty International that patients' most common injuries were bullet wounds to the head, chest and neck.

    "This alarming rise in the death toll, and the reported nature of the victims' injuries, strongly suggests that security forces are permitted use lethal force against unarmed  protesters calling for political change” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa

    "The Libyan authorities must immediately, rein in their security forces. Those responsible for unlawful killings and excessive force – both the direct perpetrators and those who gave the orders – must be identified and brought to justice."

    Sources at al-Jala hospital have reported 28 fatalities from yesterday’s protests in Benghazi with more than 110 people injured, and at least three further deaths in today’s protests.

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged the Egyptian military to take action to stop the use of torture and other ill treatment against detainees, amid fresh evidence of abuse.

    The call comes as former detainees have told Amnesty International they were tortured, including by whipping and with electric shocks, after being detained by members of the military in the last days before President Mubarak stood down.

    “The Egyptian military authorities have committed publicly to creating a climate of freedom and democracy after so many years of state repression. Now they must match their words with direct and immediate action,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The military authorities must intervene to end torture and other abuse of detainees, which we now know to have been taking place in military custody.”

    Recently released detainees told Amnesty International researchers in Egypt that members of the armed forces used beatings, whipping and other forms of torture and other ill-treatment to intimidate protestors and to obtain information about plans for the protests.

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the Bahraini authorities’ forcible eviction of a peaceful protest camp in the centre of the capital Manama that reportedly left at least three and possibly as many as six people dead.

    “The Bahraini authorities have again reacted to legitimate protest by using deadly force. They must end their continuing crackdown on activists calling for reform,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

    “They must also carry out a full impartial investigation into the force used this morning against peaceful protestors, including families with children, and whether the use of deadly force was justified.”

    "If not, those who gave the orders and used excessive force must be brought to justice."

    Two people were killed in Bahrain earlier this week in incidents involving the security forces during continuing protests calling for political reform.

    Note to Editors
    Amnesty International’s experts on Bahrain are available for comment and analysis.

    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on Yemen to stop its security forces using excessive force after protesters and journalists were today reportedly attacked at peaceful demonstrations around the country.

    “Today is the sixth day in a row on which the Yemeni authorities have attacked protesters peacefully calling for political reform,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, on Thursday.

    “Yemenis have a legitimate right to freedom of expression and assaults against both them and journalists covering their protests are totally unacceptable.”

    At least 10 demonstrators in Sana’a were injured, several of them in the head reportedly after security forces in plain-clothes opened fire on them with live bullets as they called for the president to stand down, sources in Yemen told Amnesty International.

    Plain-clothes security officers and attackers described by protesters as “thugs” also openly beat demonstrators, witnesses said.

    Activists told Amnesty International that cameramen for Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya were beaten by unidentified attackers who reportedly broke their cameras.

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