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    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.

    May 28, 2018

    Women in Saudi Arabia have publicly campaigned to lift the ban on them driving since 1990, when around 40 women drove their cars down a main street in Riyadh, the capital. They were stopped by police and a number of them were suspended from work.

    Since then, these protests have been sustained. In 2007, campaigners sent a petition to the late King Abdullah, while the following year campaigner Wajeha al-Huwaider filmed herself driving and posted the video on YouTube to mark International Women's Day. 

    Saudi women again used YouTube to post videos of themselves behind the wheel to protest against the ban in 2011. Some were arrested and others were forced to sign pledges to desist from driving. At least one woman was tried and sentenced to 10 lashes.

    May 28, 2018

    The continued appalling treatment of Gehad el-Haddad in the notorious al-Aqrab prison is cruel, inhuman and unacceptable, said Amnesty International today, in response to fresh information that prison authorities have confiscated his wheelchair and other belongings and moved him back to solitary confinement after spending a month in Liman Tora prison awaiting medical treatment which he did not receive.

    “Amnesty International is deeply concerned about Gehad el-Haddad’s deteriorating health and the abusive conditions in which he is being held. The inhumane conditions Gehad has been subjected to since his detention in 2013, including prolonged solitary confinement, have resulted in much of his ongoing suffering, pain and the need for a wheelchair. When he arrived in prison he was a healthy man in his early 30’s. Now he can’t move to perform ablutions or use the bathroom without help,” Said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty international.

    May 26, 2018

    Reacting to news of the victory for the “Yes” campaign in Ireland’s referendum on abortion, Colm O Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:

    “While the final count is not yet confirmed, it has been formally announced as “Yes” result. Today’s historic referendum result is a victory for equality, for dignity, for respect and compassion. It is a victory for a future Ireland where the human rights of women and girls are respected and protected.

    “Today’s important outcome was made possible by the determination of those who campaigned tirelessly for change and by the courage of those women and girls who bravely shared their stories.

    “Through this result, the people of Ireland have demonstrated that positive change is possible and have sent a message of hope around the world.”

     

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

     

     

     

     

    May 25, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of prominent human rights defender Mohammed al-Bajadi in Saudi Arabia today, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said:

    “This new arrest is yet another ominous development in the relentless crackdown on human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

    “Mohammed al-Bajadi is a tireless campaigner for human rights who, along with all those detained in the recent crackdown, has only been targeted because of his important work.

    “Despite global outrage, authorities have again responded with even more repression against Saudi Arabia’s human rights community who have been repeatedly persecuted for their work.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman continues to promote his ‘reforms’ to the international public, while silencing anyone at home who dares to question his policies. It is time for this rank hypocrisy to stop.

    May 25, 2018

    Responding to the news that blogger Merzoug Touati was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 50,000 Algerian dinar (approximately USD $430) for online posts, Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Regional Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is utterly shocking that the Algerian authorities have imposed such a heavy sentence on someone solely for expressing his peaceful opinion online.

    “Merzoug Touati’s arrest, trial and sentence is further proof that freedom of expression remains under threat in Algeria, where the authorities continue to use a range of repressive laws to quell dissent.

    “As a citizen-journalist, Merzoug Touati has every right to document the world around him and the country he lives in.

    "Algerian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Touati, a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing his views on Facebook and YouTube."

    May 25, 2018

    Reacting to the decision of the House of Representatives on Friday to pass into law the revision of the anti-terrorism bill, Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said:

    “The newly-passed law contains a number of draconian articles that threaten to undermine human rights in Indonesia. The law erodes safeguards against arbitrary detention and against torture and other ill-treatment, as well as expanding the scope of the application of the death penalty. Plans to deploy the military in counter-terrorism operations are also deeply concerning.

    “The vagueness of some of the law’s wording could be used by authorities to restrict freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly or misused to label peaceful political activities as terrorism. This lack of clarity violates the requirement under international human rights law that  criminal law must be formulated with enough precision for people to understand what conduct is prohibited.

    May 24, 2018

    Grave health impacts linked to fish from poisoned river

    A new health report by a renowned Canadian mercury expert provides the strongest evidence yet of mercury poisoning in this northern Ontario Indigenous community.  The community health survey finds that health and wellbeing in Grassy Narrows is significantly worse than in other First Nations and links fish eating to a wide range of grave impacts.  The government has yet to acknowledge even one case of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows, which is located downstream from the Dryden mill, one of Canada’s most notorious toxic dumping sites.  This is the first study of its kind in Grassy Narrows, and the most comprehensive assessment of the health of the community to date.

    “Our survey confirms what leaders of Grassy Narrows have been saying for decades,” said renowned environmental health scientist and lead author Dr. Donna Mergler.  “There are long term effects on health and well-being of eating the fish from Grassy Narrows lakes and rivers.”

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