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    March 12, 2018

    The Israeli authorities must immediately release Palestinian prisoner of conscience Munther Amira, whose arrest, continued detention and sentencing to six months in prison and five years’ probation for peacefully participating in protests is a blatant and appalling attempt to intimidate those who peacefully protest against Israel’s occupation, Amnesty International said today.

    Munther Amira was sentenced to six months in prison by Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank today. He was convicted on four charges relating to his participation in demonstrations, including “participating in a march without a permit”, which is not a recognised criminal offence under international law.

    “By sentencing Munther Amira to six months in prison for his peaceful participation in protests, the Israeli authorities continue to show contempt for their obligations to protect the rights of Palestinians living under their occupation. Munther Amira must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    March 12, 2018

    Responding to the news that UN officials have called for nearly $1bn (USD) in assistance for the nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar District, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik, said:

    “The money is urgently needed to help the Rohingya refugees to be able to live in safe and adequate living conditions in the camps in Bangladesh. This is not a short-term crisis and there is little prospect of them being able to return to their homes in Rakhine State any time soon.

    “As the monsoon season looms, there is a great risk of landslides and floods striking the camps. The threat of diseases, such as diphtheria, measles and cholera, has to be aggressively combated with mass vaccinations and appropriate sanitation. The refugees also need food, clean water and healthcare. The needs of the local host communities, which have been severely affected, must also be carefully considered.

    March 12, 2018
    Dramatic increase of security infrastructure since January Military bases, helipads and roads built on burned villages Rohingya people forcibly driven off their lands to make room for construction

    Myanmar’s Rakhine State is being militarized at an alarming pace, as authorities are building security force bases and bulldozing land where Rohingya villages were burned to the ground just months ago, Amnesty International said in a new briefing today.

    Through eyewitness testimony and expert analysis of satellite images, Remaking Rakhine State reveals how flattening of Rohingya villages and new construction have intensified since January in areas where hundreds of thousands fled the military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing last year. New roads and structures are being built over burned Rohingya villages and land, making it even less likely for refugees to return to their homes.

    March 09, 2018

    Following a court ruling today that Cumhuriyet’s editor in chief, Murat Sabuncu, and prominent journalist, Ahmet Şık, should be released from jail, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “After well over a year in prison on pre-trial detention, the release of these two journalists is long-overdue. The decision provides a glimmer of hope for the scores of other journalists behind bars in the country that has become the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

    “As Ahmet and Murat are reunited with their loved ones, shamefully, their colleague Akın Atalay will be led back to the prison cell where he has been held for more than sixteen months.

    “Akın Atalay and all other wrongfully imprisoned journalists must be immediately and unconditionally released and charges against them dropped. It is time for Turkey to let journalists do their essential work freely.”

    March 09, 2018

    Two women human rights defenders jailed for defending women’s rights and opposing the death penalty are being subjected to escalating ill-treatment in Shahr-e Rey prison, a former industrial chicken farm in Varamin, a town on the outskirts of Tehran, Amnesty International revealed. The organization is calling for the women’s immediate and unconditional release.

    Atena Daemi and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are being held in unsanitary conditions in the quarantine section of the prison and their access to the outside world is being severely restricted. People detained in this section are given inadequate food and provided with salty water to drink. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, who has been on hunger strike for 35 days, is in very poor health. In the past week, she was placed on IV fluids without her consent, and at times has been unable to move. She is suffering from severe cramping in her muscles, which the prison doctor has confirmed is a result of the hunger strike.

    March 08, 2018

    Russia urgently needs legislation to protect against all forms of gender-based violence, along with an end to the government-endorsed culture of stigmatization of women and girls who report it, said Amnesty International as it led a protest marking International Women’s Day in the country.

    The picket outside the State Duma in Moscow comes the day after sexual harassment allegations against a senior MP were met with mockery in parliament.

    The Speaker of the State Duma yesterday told three female journalists to “find another job” after they accused the MP of sexual harassment, including groping them during interviews. Under current Russian law, such behaviour is not a crime.

    “Last year Russian lawmakers passed a law to decriminalize some forms of domestic violence; now they are marking International Women’s Day by showing solidarity with an alleged perpetrator of sexual harassment,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    March 08, 2018

    Five Ottawa-area feminist leaders recognized for contributions toward gender equality

    Ottawa, March 6, 2018 – Ottawa-Gatineau’s largest International Women’s Day celebration is marking its 10th anniversary while honouring five Ottawa-area feminist leaders for their tireless work advancing women’s human rights and gender equality.

    This year’s International Women’s Day Ottawa event theme is Hashtags & Beyond, encouraged by #MeToo, #TimesUp and other growing movements of people breaking the silence about discrimination, harassment, and violence in Canada and internationally.

    For ten years, the Femmy Awards have honoured Ottawa-area feminists for their outstanding contributions to feminism under the categories of frontline service provision, thought leadership, arts and media, advocacy and youth. Recipients of the 2018 Femmy Awards are:

    March 07, 2018

    Officer Admits Superiors Ordered Dubious Charges

    (Nairobi, March 7, 2018) – An Equatorial Guinean court on March 7, 2018 released an artist imprisoned on dubious charges for nearly six months, 18 human rights groups said today. The prosecution dropped all charges against Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist whose work is often critical of the government, at his February 27 trial after the police officer who had accused him of counterfeiting $1,800 of local currency admitted making the accusation based on orders from his superiors.

    "It is a huge relief that the prosecution dropped its charges against Ramon, but they should never have been pressed in the first place," said Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International's Writers-in-Prison Committee. "We urge the authorities to guarantee his safe return to his family, allow him to continue creating his hard-hitting cartoons, and ensure that Equatorial Guinea respects the right to freedom of expression.”

    March 07, 2018

    The Sri Lankan authorities must respect human rights under the state of emergency, Amnesty International said today.

    A state of emergency has been declared after two incidents of serious violence against members of the country’s Muslim minority. On 5 March, a mob set homes, shops and a mosque ablaze in the Digana area of Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. The incident came just days after a similar attack in the eastern coastal district of Ampara, on 26 February.

    “It is important that the authorities take action against mobs who have incited hatred and carried out acts of violence against religious minorities. They have a duty to protect vulnerable groups and hold the perpetrators accountable. But a state of emergency must not become a pretext for further human rights abuses,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    The declaration of the state of emergency comes amid fears that violence against members of the Muslim minority may spread to different parts of the country. Under emergency powers, the authorities have sweeping powers, including to search, arrest, and detain. A state of emergency was previously in force from 1971 to 2011.

    March 06, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is launching a new initiative to counter online underrepresentation of women, transgender and non-binary human rights defenders in Canada through a “Feminist Wikipedia Takeover,” launching in Ottawa on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018.  The campaign aims to address gender bias in the open source encyclopaedia by crowdsourcing the creation of new biographies highlighting the work of women, transgender and non-binary people in Canada who peacefully advocate in support of human rights.

    “Gender bias online is well documented and too often renders invisible the enormous contributions of feminist activists in the online space, contributing to the marginalization of their work and presenting a gender-skewed and disempowering view of our world,” said Jacqueline Hansen, gender rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada. “This International Women’s Day, we are launching a campaign for online equality by honouring the bravery and commitment of our sisters, transgender and non-binary activists who struggle for justice every day, often with little public awareness of their contributions and struggles.”

    March 06, 2018

    Reacting to the UN’s claim that Myanmar is continuing its campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya including through “forced starvation”, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The UN’s findings sadly echo our own – there is no question that the Myanmar authorities’ vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya is still ongoing. Fleeing Rohingya told us how they are still being forcibly starved in a bid to quietly squeeze them out of the country.

    “This is yet more evidence that any plans for organised repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh are extremely premature. No one should be returned to Myanmar until they can do so voluntarily, in safety and dignity – something that is clearly not possible today.

    “The Myanmar authorities must end all operations aimed at forcing Rohingya out of their homeland, whether at gunpoint or through starvation. It is also high time the international community took meaningful action, including by imposing an arms embargo and targeted sanctions.”

    Background

    March 05, 2018

    Following the Honduran authorities’ decision to charge Roberto David Castillo, the executive president of Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), for his involvement in the killing of environmental human rights defender Berta Cáceres, Erika Guevara-Rosas, the director of Amnesty International in the Americas, said:

    “The investigation into the alleged role of senior members of DESA, the company building the dam that Berta Cáceres campaigned against, in her brutal murder two years ago, was long overdue. But the buck must not stop here. The authorities must ensure that all those implicated in the killing of Berta Cáceres are brought before justice in fair trials.”

    “Last year, a team of international experts presented evidence indicating that other high-ranking state agents and DESA executives may have been involved in ordering Berta’s killing. Honduran authorities must continue the investigations, and if sufficient evidence exists, bring charges against all those involved in the killing, including those who ordered the crime.”

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    March 02, 2018

    Responding to an announcement by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government that it is launching a new drive to tackle child labour in cobalt and copper mines, Seema Joshi, Head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Child labour and other human rights abuses have tainted the mining industry in the DRC for far too long, and we welcome the news that the government finally appears willing to tackle the problem.

    “When we first revealed that children were risking their lives doing back-breaking work in cobalt mines for products like smartphones and car batteries, there was outrage and rightly so. But child labour is not an isolated problem. The reality is that adults are risking their lives in hazardous conditions and earning a pittance to mine one of the world’s most lucrative minerals. If the DRC government is serious about eliminating human rights abuses in cobalt mines, it must address the root causes.

    March 02, 2018

    The Honduran authorities’ failure to identify those who ordered the brutal murder of the environmental human rights defender Berta Cáceres and bring them to justice puts hundreds of human rights defenders at grave risk, said Amnesty International on the second anniversary of her killing on 2 March.

    “Two years on from Berta Cáceres’ tragic death, the failure to resolve this case and bring all those responsible to justice sends a chilling message that human rights defenders can be killed with impunity if they dare question those with power in Honduras,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Real justice for Berta also means going after those who ordered her killing, something that this outrageously flawed investigation has failed to do. By not taking action, Honduran authorities are also failing in their obligation to protect human rights defenders from further attacks.”

    March 02, 2018

    Commenting shortly after the Ethiopian parliament approved the state of emergency declaration in full this morning, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said:

    “It is deeply disappointing and irresponsible that Ethiopia’s MPs have chosen to restrict the people’s fundamental freedoms further instead of listening to their legitimate grievances. At this critical time of heightened political tension and protests, what is needed in Ethiopia is greater respect for human rights, not less.

    “Under the last state of emergency, we documented a series of grave human rights violations including unlawful killings, forced displacement, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. Aspects of this new declaration abysmally fail to comply with established international human rights principles.”

    Amnesty International’s review of the state of emergency declaration was shared with MPs in an open letter dated 1 March ahead of their debate.

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