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    November 29, 2017

    The Bangladesh government must abandon all plans to relocate more than 100,000 Rohingya refugees on to an uninhabitable island, Amnesty International said today.

    On Tuesday, the Bangladesh government approved a $280 million plan to develop the isolated, flood-prone and uninhabitable Thenger Char to temporarily house Rohingya refugees until they are repatriated to Myanmar.

    “It would be a terrible mistake to relocate the Rohingya refugees to an uninhabitable island that is far from other refugee settlements and vulnerable to flooding,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Having opened its doors to more than 600,000 Rohingya over the past three months, the Bangladesh government now risks undermining the protection of the Rohingya and squandering the international goodwill it has earned. In its desperation to see the Rohingya leave the camps and ultimately return to Myanmar, it is putting their safety and well-being at risk.”

    The Thenger Char, also known as Bhashan Char island, only emerged into view 11 years ago. During monsoon season, it is highly vulnerable to flooding.

    November 29, 2017

    In response to the dropping of subversion charges against Zimbabwean Pastor and activist, Evan Mawarire, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said:

    “The dismissal of this case affirms Amnesty’s long-held position that Pastor Mawarire was an innocent victim of Mugabe’s ruthless campaign to criminalize dissent.

    “Hopefully the ruling signals a new beginning for the country, where the political repression which characterized Mugabe’s rule will no longer be tolerated.

    “The task for President Mnangagwa now is to ensure that a culture exists in Zimbabwe in which voices from outside his government are free to air their opinions on an equal platform, without fear of facing criminal charges.”

    Background

    Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested and charged with subversion and “insulting the national flag of Zimbabwe” on 31 January 2017. He was later released on USD 300 bail.

    Founder of the #Thisflag movement, he led several anti-government protests in 2016 against corruption, human rights violations and the declining economy in the country.

    November 29, 2017

    The family of an LGBTI activist hacked to death in Bangladesh, the sister of a young man gunned down by Jamaican police, and 11 human rights defenders in Turkey are among those who will be receiving letters of support from Amnesty International supporters this December, as the organization launches its fifteenth global letter writing campaign, Write for Rights.

    Every December, Amnesty International supporters across the globe write millions of letters and take actions for people whose human rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights campaign. Last year at least 4.6 million actions were taken.

    “For 15 years Write for Rights has given people hope in their darkest moments. Imagine being ill in jail and receiving thousands of letters of support and solidarity; or finding out that people all over the world are behind you in your quest for justice for a murdered relative. Writing letters really can change lives,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    November 28, 2017

    Responding to the news that a Cairo court convicted 16 men of “debauchery” and sentenced them to three years prison followed by three years’ probation, Amnesty International’s Najia Bounaim the North Africa campaigns director said:

    “These sentences strike at the very heart of being human and are another example of the ongoing persecution of LGBTI people and the wider crackdown on human rights by Egyptian authorities. This prosecution violates the rights of these men to be treated equally regardless of their perceived sexual orientation.

    “In the last two months more than 70 LGBTI people have been arrested in an unprecedented crackdown with more than 40 sentenced for up to six years. The Egyptian authorities must quash the sentences against the 16 men immediately and unconditionally release them.

    “At least five of the men sentenced have been subjected to forced anal examinations following their arrest in September. Forced anal examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law. We condemn these actions in the strongest terms.”

    November 28, 2017

    Reacting to the remarks by Pope Francis during his visit to Myanmar today, Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “While it is disappointing that Pope Francis did not use the word Rohingya during his speech in Myanmar today, his calls for respect for all ethnic groups and an inclusive society are welcome. Pope Francis’ visit has also helped focus international attention on Myanmar and the horrific crimes being carried out against the Rohingya people on a daily basis by Myanmar authorities.

    “The real scandal of the visit was the insistence of Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing that ‘there is no discrimination between ethnic groups in Myanmar’. The Myanmar authorities have trapped Rohingya in a system of repression and segregation that amounts to the crime against humanity of apartheid. Myanmar’s security forces, which Senior General Min Aung Hlaing commands, have also carried out a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya in recent months.

    November 28, 2017

    In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, prominent human rights and environmental organizations today are urging the federal and provincial governments to ensure people from the Grassy Narrows First Nation have access to specialized, long term medical care for mercury poisoning. Amnesty International Canada, The Council of Canadians, The David Suzuki Foundation, CUPE Ontario, KAIROS Canada, Canadian Friends Service Committee and Earthroots have written in support of the Grassy Narrows First Nation appeal for the creation of a specialized facility in their community to meet the needs of those suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning resulting from contamination of their river system.

    November 27, 2017
    Massive cache of internal documents and other evidence points to Shell’s complicity in horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military in the 1990s New Amnesty International report calls for a criminal investigation

    Amnesty International is calling on Nigeria, the UK and the Netherlands to launch investigations into Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, over its role in a swathe of horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military government in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in the 1990s.

    The organization has released a ground-breaking review of thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements, as well as Amnesty International’s own archive from the period.

    The Nigerian military’s campaign to silence the Ogoni people’s protests against Shell’s pollution led to widespread and serious human rights violations, many of which also amounted to criminal offences.

    November 27, 2017

    The lives and safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people (LGBTI) from violence-ridden El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are at an increased risk as authorities in their countries fail to protect them, leaving them with no choice but to flee their countries and face further dangers in Mexico, Amnesty International said in a new report today.  

    No Safe Place uncovers the treacherous journey faced by gay men and trans women refugees fleeing rocketing levels of discrimination and gender-based violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras from criminal gangs and members of security forces. It also accuses Mexican authorities of failing to protect them from violations and abuses while travelling through the country, and highlights unbearable experiences during prolonged and systematic immigration detention in the USA.

    “People are facing vicious discrimination in Central America due to their gender identities, and have absolutely nowhere to run for safety,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    November 23, 2017
    Responding to reports that the London Metal Exchange has launched an investigation into whether cobalt mined by children is being traded in London, following an Amnesty International report linking several major brands to human rights abuses in the DRC, Seema Joshi, Head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:   “Transparency is absolutely crucial for eradicating the scourge of child labour from cobalt battery supply chains and we welcome the London Metal Exchange’s pledge to shine a light into the dark corners of the cobalt trade.  
    November 23, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the federal government’s promise of a rights-based national housing strategy aimed at improving access to housing in Canada, including through “new legislation that promotes a human rights-based approach to housing and prioritizes the housing needs of Canada’s most vulnerable. “

    “The adoption of a human rights-based national housing strategy, backed up by legislation, is a positive step toward fulfilling Canada’s international legal obligations to uphold economic, social and cultural rights,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “It stands to help address grave concerns raised by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights during its 2016 review of Canada’s human rights record and recommendations brought forward by several other UN human rights bodies as well, including with respect to homelessness, inadequate housing and a persisting social and economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

    November 23, 2017

    Responding to the news that the Papua New Guinea authorities have sent in immigration officials armed with sticks and knives into the Lombrum refugee detention centre at around 8.00am on Thursday 23 November on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, Amnesty International said:

    “The risks of serious injury if the authorities use force now is completely foreseeable. The government is knowingly placing the refugees at risk,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher who has just returned from Manus.

    “There is no justification for this action. International law and standards demand that refugees enjoy international protection. The country where they sought refuge – Australia - has violated their rights at every turn. PNG has aided and enabled Australia’s policy of cruelty and degradation of the refugees. Now the PNG authorities are putting their lives at risk.”

    November 22, 2017

    An AI USA Release

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the sustained and systemic attacks on the Rohingya population by the Myanmar military “ethnic cleansing” today in an acknowledgment of the nature of the humanitarian crisis. He also called for an independent probe into north Rakhine State. The announcement comes a week after promising an additional $47 million in humanitarian aid.

    “As our own researchers have documented on the ground, the Myanmar military has been brutally murdering, raping, and burning the Rohingya for months. Secretary Tillerson’s acknowledgement of ethnic cleansing and call for an investigation sets an example for how the world can respond to this crisis. The time for outrage and condemnation has passed. The international community must impose a comprehensive arms embargo and targeted financial sanctions against senior Myanmar military officials responsible for crimes against humanity,” said Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government relations for Amnesty International USA.

    November 22, 2017

    Responding to news that Iran, Turkey and Russia will meet in the Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday, while more than 30 Syrian opposition groups hold separate talks in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “As the parties to the conflict in Syria meet separately to discuss a roadmap to peace, millions of Syrian men, women and children face horrific suffering due to the violations and crimes perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.

    Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people trapped under siege throughout Syria in unbearable conditions without access to food, water or healthcare.

    November 22, 2017

    Today’s conviction of the former Bosnian Serb war leader, general Ratko Mladić, for crimes under international law, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes has finally – after more than 20 years - delivered justice to tens of thousands of the victims of 1992-95 armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Amnesty International.

    He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

    The verdict handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague recognizes his individual criminal responsibility as Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, and his participation in joint criminal enterprises, including to terrorize the population of Sarajevo and eliminate Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica.

    “This landmark verdict marks a significant moment for international justice and sends out a powerful message around the world that impunity cannot and will not be tolerated,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    “Whilst it does not end the suffering of those relatives who have waited more than 20 years to see this day, seeing justice delivered might offer them some closure.”

    November 22, 2017

    Responding to today’s decision by the Istanbul Court to continue the pre-trial detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair, Taner Kılıç, John Dalhuisen said:

     

    “Today in court lawyers for the defence and an independent expert witness demolished the prosecution’s arguments. All the evidence shows Taner is innocent but this evening he was nevertheless sent back to the overcrowded cell where he has spent more than five months.”

    “The court’s decision to ignore this evidence and continue his detention flies in the face of reason. It is yet another opportunity missed to correct a gross injustice. We will continue to fight for his release and for the dropping of all charges against both him and the Istanbul 10.”

    The next court hearing has been set for 31 January, 2018

    ++++++++++++++++++

    For media inquiries, contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations at (613) 744-7667 ext 236 or jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

     

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