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    June 02, 2017

    The increased deployment of military forces to repress protests, the rise in excessive use of force against protesters and others, and the use of military courts to try to silence dissenting voices illustrates a terrifying shift of the Venezuelan authorities’ approach to the human rights crisis wreaking havoc across the country, Amnesty International said after at least 60 people were killed in protests in the past 60 days.

    “By deploying military force and military courts to confront an increasingly tense social and political situation, the Maduro administration is only escalating the crisis, like trying to put out a fire with gasoline,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

    “The level of human rights violations and the ruthless actions by the Venezuelan authorities are reminiscent of the worst times for human rights in the Americas.”

    “By dismissing protesters as ‘terrorists’ and charging civilians with crimes only applicable to soldiers, the Maduro administration is turning this political crisis into a violent conflict. Instead, it should be listening to people’s legitimate concerns and working to find solutions.”

    June 01, 2017

    The desecration of a mass grave site in Ahvaz, southern Iran that contains the remains of at least 44 people who were extrajudicially executed would destroy vital forensic evidence and scupper opportunities for justice for the mass prisoner killings that took place across the country in 1988, said Amnesty International and Justice for Iran.

    Photo and video evidence obtained by the NGO Justice for Iran and reviewed by Amnesty International shows bulldozers working on a construction project directly alongside the mass grave site at Ahvaz, as well as piles of dirt and construction debris surrounding the grave. Although the Iranian authorities have made no official announcements about Ahvaz, families learned through a construction worker that the plan is to ultimately raze the concrete block marking the grave site and build over the area.

    May 31, 2017

    In reaction to yesterday’s announcement by the British Columbia NDP and Green parties that, if they form an alliance government, they would send the Site C megaproject for review by the independent BC Utilities Commission, Amnesty International Canada’s Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Craig Benjamin, said:

    May 31, 2017

    Amnesty International USA Release

    In response to reports that President Donald Trump is expected to pull the USA from the Paris Agreement on climate change, Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA said:

    “Let there be no doubt, President Trump’s expected decision to withdraw the USA from the global climate deal is an assault on a range of human rights putting millions of people’s lives and wellbeing around the world in severe jeopardy. By refusing to join other nations in taking necessary steps to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change, the President is effectively saying: ‘Let them drown, burn and starve’.”

    May 31, 2017

    Bahrain’s dissolution of a major political opposition society is the latest troubling move in its blatant campaign to end all criticism of the government, Amnesty International said.

    The secular National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad) was dissolved today after having issued a statement in February, saying that Bahrain was suffering from a “constitutional political crisis” amid continuous human rights violations. The group was subsequently charged with “advocating violence, supporting terrorism and incitement to encourage crimes and lawlessness”.

    “By banning major political opposition groups, Bahrain is now heading towards total suppression of human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office.

    “The suspension of Wa’ad is a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association, and further proof that the authorities have no intention of delivering on promises of human rights progress.”

    May 31, 2017

    Responding to today’s bombing in Kabul that has claimed the lives of 80 people and injured at least 350, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher Horia Mosadiq said:

    “The bombing in Kabul is a horrific act of violence and a heartbreaking reminder of the toll that Afghan civilians continue to pay in a conflict where armed groups deliberately target them and the government fails to protect them.

    “There must be an immediate, impartial and effective investigation that delivers justice to the victims. Civilians must never be targeted under any circumstances.

    “Today’s tragedy shows that the conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down but dangerously widening, in a way that should alarm the international community.

    “The International Criminal Court must make good on its promise to investigate war crimes in the country and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

    May 31, 2017

    Chinese authorities must release three labour activists who were investigating labour conditions at factories that make shoes for Ivanka Trump’s label, Amnesty International said.

    Hua Haifeng, who works for New York based NGO China Labour Watch, was detained by mainland police after he attempted to travel to Hong Kong last week to publicize the findings of the undercover investigation. Two of his colleagues, Li Zhao and Su Heng, are also missing and are feared detained.

    “Hua Haifeng, Li Zhao and Su Heng must be released if they are being held solely for investigating possible labour abuses at factories making shoes for Ivanka Trump’s label. Activists exposing potential human rights abuses deserve protection not persecution from the authorities,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The trio appear to be the latest to fall foul of the Chinese authorities’ aggressive campaign against human rights activists who have any ties to overseas organizations, using the pretence of “national security”.”

     

    May 31, 2017

    France: Unchecked clampdown on protests under guise of fighting terrorism

    Powers designed to combat terrorism have been repeatedly misused to curb peaceful protest, a new report from Amnesty International has found.

    A right not a threat: Disproportionate restrictions on demonstrations under the State of Emergency in France reveals that hundreds of unjustified measures restricting freedom of movement and the right to peaceful assembly have been issued under the guise of countering terrorism.

    “Emergency laws intended to protect the French people from the threat of terrorism are instead being used to restrict their rights to protest peacefully,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s researcher on France.

    “Under the cover of the state of emergency, rights to protest have been stripped away with hundreds of activists, environmentalists, and labour rights campaigners unjustifiably banned from participating in protests.”

    May 30, 2017

    A new law signed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, imposing unprecedentedly harsh restrictions on NGOs, could be a death sentence for human rights groups in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “This is a catastrophic blow for human rights groups working in Egypt. The severity of the restrictions imposed by this law threatens to annihilate NGOs in the country, at a time when the authorities’ escalating crackdown on dissent makes their work more important than ever, said Najia Bounaim, Campaigns Director for North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “This law, which gives the government extraordinary powers to control NGOs and imposes harsh punishments and fines for any violation of its draconian provisions, is the latest ploy by the Egyptian authorities to silence all independent voices.”

    May 30, 2017

    In response to the launch today in Bangui of an extensive United Nations report mapping 620 incidents involving serious human rights violations and abuses, as well as crimes under international law committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between 2003 and 2015, Erica Bussey, Amnesty International’s Senior Legal Advisor said:

    “This report provides a systematic and comprehensive account of hundreds of horrendous human rights violations and abuses committed over 12 years, and clearly demonstrates the need for accountability to ensure justice and peace in the country.”

    “This report will be of critical importance to the newly-appointed Special Prosecutor of the Special Criminal Court, particularly in determining a prosecutorial strategy, given the vast scale of the crimes committed and the need to prioritize amongst them.”

    “The report comes at an important point in the fight against impunity. Several important steps have recently been taken to establish the Special Criminal Court and nominate magistrates, and this report should help advance efforts to ensure justice for victims of the conflict.”

    May 30, 2017
    Activists, leaders and experts from across Canada will discuss human rights, diversity and reconciliation at a free, all-day event on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017. Tareq Hadad, Syrian refugee and founder of Peace by Chocolate to deliver Keynote address

    The University of Calgary and Amnesty International are pleased to host a national human rights conference in Calgary on June 3rd, 2017. Prominent speakers, leaders and activists will address the conference theme of “Living Together: Understanding Human Rights and Diversity and Working Towards Reconciliation.” Admission is free and open to the public.

    May 30, 2017

    The Nigerian security forces must exercise restraint when policing demonstrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Biafra War on 30 May, and avoid a repetition of the bloodbath caused by their heavy-handed response last year when more than 60 people were gunned down, said Amnesty International today.

    “Last year’s heavy-handed response against pro-Biafra activists further stirred up tensions in the south east of Nigeria. The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015, not to mention cases of enforced disappearance and unlawful detention,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

    “We urge the Nigerian security agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure public order without resorting to force.”

    May 30, 2017

    Cambodia’s government is using its courts to silence human rights defenders and political activists, Amnesty International says today in a new report.

    Using its tight grip on the criminal justice system, the Cambodian government has brought a series of trumped-up charges against members of the political opposition, trade union activists, human rights activists, and political commentators, in an attempt to harass, intimidate and punish them.

    “In Cambodia, the courts are tools in the hands of the government. Much lip-service is paid to the judiciary’s independence, but the evidence reveals a cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system to serve political goals and silence people whose views the government refuses to tolerate,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    May 29, 2017

    With the BC provincial election outcome raising new questions about whether the massive Site C dam will proceed, citizen groups are urging the Trudeau government to break its silence and commit to honouring and upholding the Treaty rights of affected First Nations.

    Helen Knott, a great-great-granddaughter of the one of the original signatories of Treaty 8, has travelled from the Prophet River First Nation to take part in a rally on Parliament Hill today.

    Rally for the Peace River Valley

    WHERE: Steps of Parliament WHEN: 12:15-12:45, Monday May 29 CONTACT: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada: jkuehn@amnesty.ca / 613-744-7667 ext 236

    Speakers include:

    Helen Knott, Treaty 8 Stewards of the Land Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Maureen Chapman Alex Neve, Amnesty International Members of Parliament

    Background

    May 28, 2017

    27 May, 2017: Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honoured with the 2017 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award at an evening ceremony in Montreal, Canada.

    The award is the organization’s highest honour for human rights work. This is the first time the award was given to a Canadian recipient.

    “Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience awardees this year stand in the tradition of past winners such as Vaclav Havel and Malala Yousafzai – people who have shown exceptional leadership and courage to champion human rights, often in the face of great difficulty,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    Accepting the award recognizing the Indigenous rights movement of Canada were activists Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière. Activists from across the movement have bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the well-being of Indigenous communities.

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