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    June 01, 2018

    The international community and allies of the Saudi Arabian government must speak up to help secure the immediate and unconditional release of the women’s rights defenders currently detained in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International said today.

    More than two weeks have now passed since a number of prominent women’s rights activists, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Youssef were arrested, and yet they remain detained without charge and incommunicado with no access to their families or lawyers.

    Yesterday, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling for their unconditional release and that of all human rights defenders. It also called for a more vocal European response.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ endless harassment of women’s rights activists is entirely unjustifiable, and the world must not remain silent on the repression of human rights defenders in the country”, said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

    June 01, 2018

    Leaders of the European People’s Party (EPP) must urgently respond to Hungary’s draconian assault on human rights during their crucial meetings in Warsaw and Munich next week, Amnesty International said.

    The EPP meetings coincide with a debate in the Hungarian Parliament on controversial new anti-migration laws targeting NGOs and human rights activists.

    “This is a moment of reckoning for Europe’s largest political group, which cannot stand idly by as one of its members, the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz, introduces laws which criminalize the legitimate and vital work of civil society and lawyers in the country,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

    “If passed, the laws proposed by the Hungarian government would flout the most fundamental principles of EU law on human rights, not to mention the EPP’s own stated values.’’

    A package of punitive laws tabled in the Hungarian Parliament this week aims to criminalize legitimate migration-related work by activists and NGOs.

    June 01, 2018

    The Israeli authorities must immediately cancel plans to demolish the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and the forcible eviction of the community living there, said Amnesty International, ahead of the anticipated arrival of bulldozers on 1 June after the demolition was authorized by Israel’s Supreme Court last week. 

    Residents of the village are set to be transferred to a site near the former Jerusalem municipal garbage dump near the village of Abu Dis.

    "Last week’s outrageous decision by the Supreme Court to allow the Israeli army to demolish the entire village of Khan al-Ahmar was a devastating blow to the families who have spent nearly a decade campaigning and fighting a legal battle to remain on their land and maintain their way of life. Going ahead with the demolition is not only cruel, it would also amount to forcible transfer, which is a war crime,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi.

    May 31, 2018

    The Ethiopian government must immediately withdraw and disband the Liyu police unit of the Somali regional state, whose members are unlawfully killing the Oromo people, Amnesty International said today.

    Members of the unit, set up by the Somali state as a counter-terrorism special force, this week burnt down 48 homes belonging to Oromo families who were living in Somali, forcing them to flee to Kiro in the regional state of Oromia.

    “The Ethiopian authorities must immediately demobilize the Liyu police and replace them with police that abide by international human rights law. These rogue officers must not be allowed to brutalize people at will,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    On 23 and 24 May the unit also attacked four neighborhoods in the Chinaksen district of East Oromia, killing five farmers and burning down around 50 homes. These attacks caused residents to flee their homes looking for safety.

    May 31, 2018

    The Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples – made up of Indigenous Nations, Indigenous peoples’ organizations, civil society groups and individual experts and advocates - is commending Members of Parliament on the adoption of Bill C-262, a private members bill to implement the UN Declaration.  

    Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, who served as Commissioner with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said today, “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a crucial and indispensable tool for the urgent work of reconciliation. Romeo Saganash deserves the thanks of all Canadians for bringing this Bill forward, as do all the other Members of Parliament who supported it. With Bill C-262 now moving to the Senate, we have cleared an important hurdle in bringing the UN Declaration to life in Canada.”

    May 31, 2018
      A new attack against a massive demonstration led by the mothers of those who have lost their lives as a result of the violent state repression in Nicaragua demonstrates the systematic “shoot-to-kill” policy of President Ortega’s government, said Amnesty International today after participating in the march.   The Amnesty International delegation accompanied the Mother’s Day march and witnessed the chaos caused by the detonation of firearms. The organization has been able to verify that the attacks against demonstrators were led by police and pro-government armed groups known as “Sandinista mobs” in the vicinity of the National University of Engineering and the Central American University. The possible use of snipers firing from the Dennis Martínez Stadium has also been reported.  
    May 31, 2018

    Following today’s vote by Denmark’s parliament to ban the wearing of face coverings in public, Amnesty International’s Europe Director Gauri van Gulik said:

    “All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa. 

    “Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion.

    “If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalizes women for their choice of clothing and in so doing flies in the face of those freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”

    Background

    The Danish ban follows similar recent bans on full face veils in Belgium, France, Bulgaria and parts of Switzerland.

     

    May 31, 2018

    The jailing of a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for posts he made on Facebook and Twitter is a devastating blow to freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Ahmed Mansoor was this week sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 1,000,000 Emirati Dirham (approximately USD $270,000) for posts he made on social media.

    “Ahmed Mansoor is one of the few openly critical voices in the UAE, and his persecution is another nail in the coffin for human rights activism in the country,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

    “The decision to lock up Ahmed Mansoor for the next 10 years for simply sharing his opinion on social media is what causes the real damage to the UAE’s reputation and so-called ‘social harmony’, not Ahmed Mansoor’s peaceful activism.

    “Ahmed is a prisoner of conscience who has been targeted, tried and sentenced for using Facebook and Twitter to share his thoughts. He should never have been charged in the first place and now he must be released immediately.”

    May 31, 2018

    Human rights activist and prisoner of conscience Husham Ali Mohammad Ali must be released from detention in Khartoum immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today.

    Husham Ali was deported from Saudi Arabia this week, arrested upon arrival in Sudan and detained at the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) headquarters.

    “Having been a courageous political and online activist against torture and corruption Husham Ali is at great risk of torture and other ill-treatment while in the hands of the NISS. Pending his release, he must be granted unfettered access to a lawyer of his choice and to his family,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    Husham Ali was arrested by the Saudi Arabian authorities in November 2017 and held in solitary confinement until January 2018, when he was moved to shared cell. In March 2018, he was moved from Dhaban prison to Al Shumaisi detention centre, an immigration centre outside Jeddah.

    May 31, 2018

    The Ethiopian government must immediately withdraw and disband the Liyu police unit of the Somali regional state, whose members are unlawfully killing the Oromo people, Amnesty International said today.

    Members of the unit, set up by the Somali state as a counter-terrorism special force, this week burnt down 48 homes belonging to Oromo families who were living in Somali, forcing them to flee to Kiro in the regional state of Oromia.

    “The Ethiopian authorities must immediately demobilize the Liyu police and replace them with police that abide by international human rights law. These rogue officers must not be allowed to brutalize people at will,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    On 23 and 24 May the unit also attacked four neighborhoods in the Chinaksen district of East Oromia, killing five farmers and burning down around 50 homes. These attacks caused residents to flee their homes looking for safety.

    May 31, 2018

    Reacting to the Bangkok South Criminal Court’s decision to overturn its conviction of Andy Hall, a British migrant rights worker found guilty of criminal defamation in September 2016 for his work on a report into the abuse of migrant workers’ rights in Thailand, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Thailand, said:

    “This successful appeal is very welcome, and it underlines how the original conviction against Andy Hall was an abuse of justice that should never have been allowed.

    “Unless followed by legislative and policy changes, however, this decision will do little to compensate for a system that allows for the targeting of human rights activists who dare to stand up against companies involved in abusive practices.

    “The Thai government must work to repeal all criminal defamation laws and take measures to protect both the rights of migrant workers and the freedom of expression of those who are defending their rights.”  

    Background

    May 29, 2018
     

    A protester is in critical condition in hospital after being attacked by police dogs on 27 May, as part of a crackdown on freedom of association, assembly and expression that stifles dissenting views, Amnesty International said today.A protester is in critical condition in hospital after being attacked by police dogs on 27 May, as part of a crackdown on freedom of association, assembly and expression that stifles dissenting views, Amnesty International said today.

    The protester was participating in a peaceful protest demanding justice for the victims subjected to torture and extrajudicial executions in Angola in 1977 under late president Agostinho Neto.

    “This latest crackdown on dissent in Angola is unfortunately a clear demonstration that there is little space for differing views,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “This crackdown shows that freedom of expression, association and assembly are still in danger in Angola. Authorities must stop targeting dissent.”

    May 29, 2018

    Responding to a package of punitive laws tabled in Parliament today that will criminalize migration-related work by activists and NGOs, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “In their desperate drive to make Hungary the most hostile territory for asylum seekers and refugees in Europe, the Hungarian government has taken their attempt to enshrine intolerance, xenophobia and racism in law to a new level.

    “This cruel plan to hermetically seal their borders would criminalize legitimate activities such as offering information and providing legal advice to asylum-seekers. This could result in paralysis for organizations and leave already vulnerable people in an ever more precarious situation.

    “MPs should to do the right thing and vote down this brazen attack on activists, on NGOs, and on those seeking safe haven from persecution.”

     

    For more information please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    May 29, 2018

    JOINT RELEASE OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANADA   PEN CANADA   TORONTO ASSOCIATION FOR DEMOCRACY IN CHINA

    Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China jointly announced today the kickoff of the Liu Xiaobo Memorial project to erect a bronze sculpture of an empty chair to commemorate his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.

    Liu Xiaobo was a writer, literary critic, human rights activist, and co-author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform in China. He was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment. 

    Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. At the award ceremony in Oslo, the award was presented to an empty chair. In 2017, Liu became the second Nobel Peace Laureate to die in state custody.

    May 28, 2018

    Students from the National University of Engineering who were defending their campus in Managua, Nicaragua, were attacked with firearms today, confirmed Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, in a live broadcast from her Facebook account.

    Erika Guevara-Rosas broadcast two videos of the attacks carried out first by pro-government armed groups known as “turbas sandinistas” (Sandinista mobs) and then by riot police:

    https://www.facebook.com/erikaguev/videos/10155309685356021/

    https://www.facebook.com/erikaguev/videos/10155309827286021/

    Violence against students has been increasing since 18 April, when protests against social security reforms began. Since then, Amnesty International has carried out in-depth research in Nicaragua in order to confirm the reports of human rights violations.

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