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    December 09, 2020

    As Airbnb prepares to go public in a multi-billion-dollar Initial Public Offering (IPO) it must withdraw listings of rental properties built illegally on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Amnesty International said today.

    The San Francisco-based online accommodation company has around 200 properties for rent in the illegal Israeli settlements that are at the heart of systematic human rights violations faced by Palestinians.

    Two years ago, Airbnb said it would remove accommodation in the settlements from its listings, before reversing its decision.

    December 07, 2020

    Leading human rights organizations have come together to demand the acquittal of 19 human rights defenders for their participation in a Pride parade in 2019, ahead of the verdict expected on Thursday.

    The 18 students and an academic at the Middle East Technical University (METU) are facing prison sentences of up to three years simply for organizing and participating in a Pride march on campus that the University management had unlawfully banned.

    “In the summer of 2019, students and others peacefully participating in a celebration of love and solidarity were met with police pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas. Nineteen of them have also been dragged through the courts on baseless criminal charges and face absurd jail sentences,” said Nils Muižnieks, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    “The ban of the Pride march lacked legal grounds and these brave students who defied it had their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly violated. They must be acquitted.”

    December 02, 2020

    New statistics revealing deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon region increased 9.5 per cent year-on-year show the tragic cost of President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies of systematically undermining environmental protections, Amnesty International said today.

    The statistics, published by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), showed that 11,088 km² of rainforest was lost between August 2019 and July 2020, an increase of 9.5 per cent when compared to the same period the previous year. 

    The statistics show Brazil’s Amazon has suffered its worst destruction in 12 years, since 12,911 km² was deforested in 2008.

    “By declaring the Amazon region open for business, Jair Bolsonaro has prioritised profits of large companies over the wellbeing of vulnerable people. Protected areas continue to burn so that commercial cattle ranching can expand,” said Richard Pearshouse, Head of Crisis and Environment at Amnesty International.  

    December 02, 2020

    In October and November alone, the Egyptian authorities executed at least 57 men and women, nearly double the recorded 32 people they executed throughout 2019, Amnesty International said today. This horrific assault of the right to life included at least 15 people sentenced to death in cases relating to political violence following grossly unfair trials marred by forced “confessions” and other serious human rights violations including torture and enforced disappearances.

    This shocking death toll is likely to be an underestimate, as Egyptian authorities do not publish statistics on executions or the number of prisoners on death row; nor do they inform families or lawyers in advance of executions. Pro-government media reported 91 executions citing anonymous official sources since October.

    “The Egyptian authorities have embarked on a horrifying execution spree in recent months, putting scores of people to death, in some cases following grossly unfair mass trials,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

    November 27, 2020

    People working for Amazon have faced great health and safety risks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but their ability to speak out and bargain collectively is under pressure from the online retail giant, Amnesty International said today. 

    On Black Friday, one of Amazon’s busiest periods, Amnesty International released a new briefing, Amazon, Let Workers Unionize, documenting the company’s treatment of workers in France, Poland, the UK and USA. 

    Researchers found that Amazon has undermined attempts by workers to unionize and collectively negotiate, including through surveillance in the US and threats of legal action in the UK, and that it has failed to engage on key health and safety issues in Poland and France. 

    November 25, 2020

    Responding to a Saudi Arabian judge’s decision to transfer human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul's case to Saudi Arabia’s Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) following a trial session today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf, said:

    “With Saudi Arabia’s human rights record back in the spotlight as its hosts the G20 this year, the Saudi authorities could have decided to end the two-year nightmare for brave human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloud. Instead, in a disturbing move, they transferred her case to the SCC; an institution used to silence dissent and notorious for issuing lengthy prison sentences following seriously flawed trials. This is yet another sign that Saudi Arabia’s claims of reform on human rights are a farce.

    “Loujain al-Hathloul must be immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against her dropped. We also call on the Saudi authorities to ensure she is allowed to be treated by a doctor of her choice and granted proper access to her lawyer and family.”

    Background

    November 25, 2020

    Having analyzed the images of the 21 November protests, which demonstrate that the National Civil Police (PNC) used excessive force against demonstrators and bystanders, Amnesty International is calling upon the Guatemalan authorities to thoroughly investigate the human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the country’s recent protests.

    “The police repression of the 21 November protests was extremely serious. It is clear to Amnesty International that the Guatemalan authorities have violated international standards on the use of force, and have attacked the population’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “We demand that the Public Prosecutor's Office conduct a prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the excessive use of force by police during the demonstrations and that the government ensure that the population is able to exercise its right to raise its voice without fear of reprisal.”

    November 25, 2020

    Any compromise on women’s rights in a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban would betray two decades of hard-won progress for Afghan women, said Amnesty International, ahead of a new campaign highlighting the incredible work of women human rights defenders in Afghanistan.  

    The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign starting on 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and running until 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign celebrates Women Human Rights Defenders in every region of the world who fight gender-based discrimination and stand up for women’s rights. It calls on governments to prevent, investigate, and prosecute violence against women and girls. 

    At a moment when the rights of Afghan women are at grave risk of being traded off in a peace deal with the Taliban, Amnesty International is working with women human rights defenders in Afghanistan to showcase their powerful stories. 

    November 24, 2020

    The cruel and inhuman treatment meted out in prison against Gasser Abdel-Razek, Executive Director of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), is outrageous and shows the Egyptian authorities’ determination to escalate this crackdown against human rights defenders, said Amnesty International. Yesterday, Gasser Abdel- Razek appeared before a prosecutor for questioning, and a meeting of ambassadors to the Human Rights Council took place in Geneva to discuss the international response.

    On the same day, judicial authorities added human rights defender and founder of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed al-Baqer to the "terrorists list" for five years, along with prominent blogger and activist Alaa Abdelfatah and other opposition politicians, without charging them with a criminal offence, nor giving them an opportunity to challenge the evidence.

    November 23, 2020

    The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is on the brink of a deadly escalation after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave fighters loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours to surrender before the military begins an assault on Tigray’s capital Mekelle. Amnesty International is calling on all parties to the conflict to prioritize the protection of civilians, and to grant access to human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations.

    “The conflict in the Tigray region has already claimed hundreds of civilian lives, left many more injured, and forced thousands into refugee camps in neighbouring Sudan. As Ethiopian federal troops begin preparations to encircle Mekelle, Amnesty International reminds all parties that deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects is prohibited under international humanitarian law, and constitutes war crimes. Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are also prohibited,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

    November 20, 2020
    Amnesty International highlights Germain Rukuki’s case in its flagship annual letter-writing campaign

    The Burundian authorities must overturn human rights defender Germain Rukuki’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today as it launched its annual letter-writing human rights campaign, Write for Rights.

    “Germain Rukuki has been behind bars for more than three years on trumped-up charges. During this period, he has not seen his family or held his youngest son who was born after his arrest. Rukuki is paying the price for his dedication to human rights in a country where the government and ruling party remain intolerant of any form of dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

    November 20, 2020

    Through the immediate verification of audiovisual evidence, Amnesty International has confirmed the veracity of material showing the excessive and unnecessary use of force by the National Police in the demonstrations related to the political crisis that has gripped Peru.

    “The videos that Amnesty International has digitally verified are strong evidence of the violence that the police are using against the population they should be protecting,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    According to the information received, more than 15 people have been injured, at least three of them seriously wounded by firearms, since 10 November 2020, mostly in the massive protests that took place yesterday in several cities across the country.

    Amnesty International has also received reports of arbitrary arrests by National Police officers in civilian clothes who refused to identify themselves, and of ill-treatment by the security forces.

    November 20, 2020

    The Bangladeshi authorities must abandon plans to relocate more than 100 Rohingya families to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal which has not yet been declared safe for human habitation by the United Nations and where many refugees are still reluctant to relocate, said Amnesty International. 

    According to local media reports, the Bangladeshi government has completed preparations to relocate 300 to 400 Rohingya refugees to the silt island of Bhashan Char this month on a “voluntary basis”. Rohingya refugees, interviewed by Amnesty International this month, said that government officials in charge of refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar have coerced them into registering for relocation. 

    Amnesty International has obtained a partial list of the Rohingya families identified for relocation to Bhashan Char, where more than 300 Rohingya refugees are already living in poor conditions.  

    November 19, 2020

    Amnesty International today launches the world’s biggest human rights campaign, Write for Rights, calling on governments to put right injustices against individuals who are detained or persecuted in countries across the globe, and to lead by example in building a fairer post-COVID-19 world. 

    “Devastating though it has been, the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought out the best in people. We have witnessed countless acts of compassion and solidarity as people come together in their communities to help those most in need. Sadly, many governments have pursued the opposite course, detaining and persecuting people who stand up for human rights,” said Julie Verhaar, Acting Secretary General of Amnesty International. 

    November 13, 2020

    The Pakistani authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of Idris Khattak and lift the veil of secrecy surrounding his case, said Amnesty International, on the first anniversary of the prominent human rights defender’s enforced disappearance. 

    Idris Khattak, who has worked extensively to tackle enforced disappearance, including with Amnesty International, has not been seen or heard from since being abducted while on his way home from Islamabad to Peshawar on 13 November 2019. On 16 June 2020, more than six months after his disappearance and following a public campaign by his family, the Pakistani Ministry of Defence confirmed that Idris Khattak was in their custody and had been charged with treason under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) – a charge punishable by death. They also stated he would be tried in a military court. 

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