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    September 05, 2019

    Responding to the news that Abdul Samad Amiri, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s acting director in Ghor province, was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Samira Hamidi, said:

    “This brutal act is a war crime. Even as the Taliban claims to be pursuing peace, it continues to kill people in the most gruesome way. Abdul Samad Amiri devoted his life to standing up for the rights of others, those who have no one else to speak for them. Our thoughts are with Abdul Samad’s family and his brave colleagues at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

    “This tragedy underscores the grave dangers that human rights defenders in Afghanistan face. Threatened by all sides in a conflict that continues to claim civilian lives daily, they are left defenceless. The Afghan government and the international community must provide them with the protection they desperately need and not abandon them.”

    Background

    September 05, 2019

    Seven years after the illegal detention and torture of Adrián Vásquez Lagunes at the hands of the Baja California State Police, authorities still have not compensated him or his family, said Amnesty International today.

    “The governor of Baja California has an opportunity to leave a legacy before he ends his term, ensuring that Adrián Vásquez and his family do not have to wait any longer for the justice they are owed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International documented and publicly denounced the case of Adrián Vásquez Lagunes when it occurred. He was detained by state police as he drove in Tijuana on 26 September 2012. During the 12 hours that he remained in police custody, he was subjected to threats, beatings, and near-asphyxiation – including by forcing water into his nose. Afterwards, police presented him to the media declaring that he was a known drug trafficker. Vásquez Lagunes spent three years in prison unjustly on false charges. He was released from prison in December 2015.

    September 04, 2019

    Responding to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement of an official withdrawal of the Extradition Law Amendment Bill, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said: 

    “While the formal withdrawal of this dangerous bill, at long last, is welcome, this announcement cannot change the fact that the Hong Kong authorities have chosen to suppress protests in a grossly unlawful way that has seriously damaged the people’s trust and sense of legitimacy of the government.  

    "A thorough and independent investigation into unnecessary and excessive use of force by police at protests is now needed more than ever. We continue to call on all governments to suspend transfers of less lethal ‘crowd control’ equipment to Hong Kong until a full investigation is carried out and adequate safeguards are put in place. 

    September 03, 2019

    In response to the latest clashes between police and protesters in Hong Kong on Saturday night – which included police storming the platform of Prince Edward metro station and beating people on a train - Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said:

    “Violence directed at police on Saturday is no excuse for officers to go on the rampage elsewhere. The horrifying scenes at Prince Edward metro station, which saw terrified bystanders caught up in the melee, fell far short of international policing standards.

    “Video footage shows police stormed the train carriage and used batons to repeatedly beat people posing no threat whatsoever. Pepper spray was used in a carriage where people had no means to retreat, while medics were barred from entering the station. It is also alarming that a police officer appeared to aim a sponge grenade launcher at close range to those inside the train. Such unlawful police tactics continue to inflame rather than deescalate the situation.

    September 03, 2019

    Brazilian authorities must investigate and prosecute those responsible for starting illegal fires in the Amazon to prevent further destruction of the rainforest, Amnesty International said today as it launched an online campaign to pressure President Jair Bolsonaro and his government to step up protection of Indigenous territories and environmental reserves.

    “The devastating fires in the Amazon are the symptom of a larger crisis of illegal deforestation and land seizures. On paper Brazil has strong laws to protect Indigenous territories and environmental reserves. Yet President Bolsonaro has actively undermined those protections, resulting in the devastation we see today,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “While the President has now signed a decree temporarily banning fires for land clearance, this does not eliminate the potential for further fires because he has taken little action to deter or prevent the illegal deforestation and land seizures that drive them.

    August 30, 2019

    Responding to the arrests in Hong Kong of prominent pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow on Friday morning and independence activist Andy Chan on Thursday night, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said:

    “The ludicrous dawn swoops by police to arrest Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong are an outrageous assault on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. 

    “This past week, we have seen scare tactics straight out of Beijing’s playbook: pro-democracy protest organizers attacked by thugs, prominent activists arrested after being snatched from their homes and streets, and a major rally planned for Saturday banned.

    “The authorities must end this concerted attack on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. It is vital that the authorities send a clear message that people in Hong Kong can still enjoy these rights irrespective of their political beliefs.” 

    Background 

    August 28, 2019

    Responding to news that hundreds of internally displaced Iraqis, mostly women and children, have been forcibly returned today from a northern camp, Hammam al-Alil, to their hometown in Hawija despite serious humanitarian and security concerns, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “These reports that hundreds of internally displaced Iraqis are being loaded onto buses and taken to Hawija are extremely disturbing – much of the city is in ruins. Many of these people don’t have homes to go back to, and will struggle to access essential services such as health care and schooling and may not afford access to water and electricity. Until the government has established a framework to ensure their safe, voluntary return, the Iraqi government must refrain from sending anyone back. 

    August 28, 2019
    Amnesty International urges Canada to lead on providing education for Rohingya youth, following new report

    Two years after a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign forced around 700,000 Rohingya to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh, refugees are still trapped in unbearable conditions in overcrowded camps, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

    “I don’t know what my future will be”: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh warns that a ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya children are being systematically denied an education in Bangladesh, and documents the sense of hopelessness and uncertainty expressed by many teachers, parents and young people in the camps.

    Amnesty International is calling on the Bangladeshi government to lift restrictions that limit the enjoyment of refugees’ rights. The organization also calls on the international community to support Bangladesh in pursuing longer-term solutions to help Rohingya refugees rebuild their lives.

    August 27, 2019

    Responding to an official communication obtained by Amnesty International that the Lebanese authorities forcibly deported almost 2,500 Syrian refugees back to Syria in the past three months, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf, said:

    “We urge the Lebanese authorities to stop these deportations as a matter of urgency, and the Higher Defense Council to cancel its related decision.

    “As long as independent monitoring bodies are not allowed access to Syria - including the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria – in order to assess the security situation for the safe return of refugees, there is no way of determining whether returnees would be at real risk of serious human rights violations once back in Syria.

    “Such access and monitoring mechanism inside Syria would be a first step in setting the process for returns. In the meantime, while risks upon return cannot be determined, any attempts to forcibly return refugees is a clear violation of Lebanon’s non-refoulement obligations.

    August 26, 2019
    100 people arrested by French authorities and many more prevented from peacefully demonstrating Summit talks about the climate crisis and gender equality undermined by heavy-handed restrictions on protest movements who helped get these issues on the agenda Spokespeople available on the ground

    The G7 meeting in Biarritz has been marred by an unjustifiable crackdown on freedom of assembly and movement, Amnesty International said today.

    Authorities also prevented a number of peaceful protests organized around the Summit in cities and areas close to Biarritz, with only two demonstrations allowed to proceed.

    “From the beginning of this G7 Summit in Biarritz, it was clear that the French authorities had a plan to restrict freedom of assembly and movement, with the announced presence of more than 13,000 police to man the area.” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s France Researcher.

    August 26, 2019

    Spokespeople available for interviews

    The Cameroonian authorities must leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of justice for two women and two children who were brutally murdered by the military, Amnesty International said today. Seven soldiers allegedly caught on video carrying out the killings are set to go on trial tomorrow.

    August 26, 2019

    During his first year as President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa has presided over a systematic and brutal crackdown on human rights, including the violent suppression of protests and a witch-hunt against anyone who dared challenge his government, Amnesty International said today.

    The socio-economic conditions of many Zimbabweans have also declined over the past 12 months. The weak economy has seen fuel prices skyrocket and high inflation push the prices of basic commodities such as bread through the roof as well as eroding people’s salaries.

    “What we have witnessed in Zimbabwe since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power is a ruthless attack on human rights, with the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association increasingly restricted and criminalized,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    August 26, 2019

    The Government of India must immediately release all political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir and put an end to the deliberate silencing of voices in the region, said Amnesty International India today.

    “For the 22nd day in a row, life has been derailed for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The communication blockade and security clampdown, the alleged detention of political leaders and restrictions on media to report has created an information black hole in Jammu and Kashmir, a region which has witnessed serious human rights violations in the past. Depriving an entire population of their right to freedom of expression, opinion and movement for an indefinite period runs squarely counter to international norms and standards. Worse, it gives the Government of India a near-total control over the information coming out of the region,” said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India.

    August 23, 2019

     

    Alex Neve is the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    The conflict between the people Hong Kong and their government has become increasingly alarming to watch. While no one wants to imagine an ongoing human rights crisis, there is already cause for grave concern. Amnesty International has repeatedly documented police abuses against protesters, including unlawful use of tear gas and rubber bullets. As hundreds of thousands of protesters continue to flood the streets, the world watches and wonders if various frightening and violent scenarios are forthcoming. Might Hong Kong conduct mass arrests? Might China intervene and take repressive action? Will refugees begin to flee from Hong Kong?

    If so, will Canada be ready to step up and offer safety? We very much need to prepare.

    August 22, 2019

    Responding to the news of the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:

    “The responsibility to stop the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks now lies squarely with President Bolsonaro and his government. They must change their disastrous policy of opening up the rainforest for destruction, which is what has paved the way for this current crisis.

    “Earlier this year Amnesty International documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near Indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondônia state where many of the fires are raging.

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