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    May 22, 2018

    Amnesty International has called for an immediate investigation into a deadly attack by a pro-government militia on an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Central Darfur, in which one woman was shot dead and at least 10 people injured.

    On 21 May, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a pro-government militia, on board of five pick-up trucks and armed with machine guns, attacked the IDP camp in the city of Zalingei. A 22-year-old woman was shot in the head and later died in hospital. Ten others, including children, sustained serious head, neck, arm and leg injuries. The reasons for the attack remain unclear.

    “The victims of this appalling attack were forced to flee from their homes by the violence that has plagued Darfur for years, and this camp was supposed to be a place of safety. Unless the perpetrators of gross human rights violations like this are brought to justice, the voluntary and safe return to home of Darfur’s displaced will remain a distant prospect,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

    May 22, 2018

    As the date draws near for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to fulfil its promise to lift restrictions on political activities in June 2018, in place since the military coup of 22 May 2014, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on South East Asia, said:

    “The sweeping and wholly unjustified restrictions on human rights put in place by the NCPO in the wake of the coup were supposed to be exceptional and temporary measures. Four years on and countless abuses later, they remain firmly in place and are relentlessly deployed by authorities.

    “After backtracking on previous promises, it’s vital that the NCPO delivers on its pledge to lift restrictions on political activities by June. But, taken alone, this move goes nowhere near far enough.

    May 22, 2018

    Responding to the news that a Rohingya refugee has reportedly died on Manus Island, Kate Schuetze, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International said:

    “This is extremely sad and heartbreaking news. Amnesty International is extending our sincere condolences to the man’s family and friends.”

    “This tragic and avoidable death is the seventh death of a refugee on Manus Island and the tenth in connection with offshore processing centres on both Manus and Nauru. Australia’s reckless and cruel refugee policies continue to endanger lives and must end immediately.

    “The Australian Government knowingly sends refugees and asylum seekers to places that are unsafe and unsustainable. Enough is enough, offshore processing must end now before further lives are lost.

    “There must be an independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigation into his death, and the other two untimely deaths which happened in August and October last year. The Australian government must bring all refugees and people seeking asylum to Australia immediately, or to a safe third country, and offer them the protection they need and deserve.”

    May 22, 2018

    The five-year prison sentence against Tibetan language education activist Tashi Wangchuk for “inciting separatism” highlights the Chinese authorities’ unyielding assault on Tibetans who peacefully defend their cultural rights, Amnesty International said.

    Tashi was sentenced on Tuesday morning at Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province, northwest China. According to his lawyer, the main evidence presented against Tashi at his trial in January 2018 was a short video documentary produced by The New York Times in 2015, which documented Tashi’s campaign for Tibetan language education in schools.

    May 18, 2018

    The Australian government is attempting to walk away from the human rights crisis it has created for refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) by winding back critical healthcare services, despite the ongoing plight of the people trapped in its offshore detention centres, Amnesty International said today.

    Over the past six months the Australian government has terminated trauma and counselling services for refugees and asylum seekers in PNG, and moved refugees to new detention centres where they have reduced access to healthcare.

    “Nearly five years after Australia began implementing its harmful and illegal offshore detention policy, the situation for refugees and asylum seekers trapped in PNG is as desperate as ever. Rolling back healthcare at this time is making a grave situation even worse,” said Kate Schuetze, Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher.

    May 18, 2018

    Responding to reports that several prominent women’s rights defenders in Saudi Arabia have been detained this week, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said: “This is an extremely worrying development for women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities’ endless harassment of women’s rights defenders is entirely unjustifiable.

    “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has presented himself as a ‘reformer’, but his promises of reform seem entirely superficial as the repression of human rights activists continues unabated.

    “Saudi Arabia cannot continue to publicly proclaim support for women’s rights and other reforms, while targeting women human rights defenders and activists for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    “We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all activists that may still be detained solely for their human rights work.”

    May 18, 2018

    A harsh new property law implemented by the Syrian government effectively deprives thousands of people displaced by the ongoing conflict of their homes and lands and potentially destroys evidence of war crimes it has committed, Amnesty International said today.

    Passed in 2012, Legislative Decree 66 allows the Syrian government to demolish informal settlement areas in Damascus and Damascus Countryside to convert them into urban development zones with residential blocks, markets and public spaces. Under the new regulations passed in Law 10 in 2018, once a development zone has been designated, the authorities must publicly notify home and land owners, who have only 30 days to assemble the necessary paperwork and claim their property.

    May 17, 2018

    The Lebanese authorities’ disruption of activities planned for Beirut Pride Week is an outrageous attempt to deny the human rights of LGBTI people, Amnesty International said today. The authorities cancelled events within the program launched to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), and briefly arrested Beirut Pride Week’s organizer Hadi Damien.

    “The shutdown of Beirut Pride and the arrest of Hadi Damien is a blatant case of state harassment. The Lebanese authorities must stop cancelling events to celebrate LGBTI rights, and ensure freedom of expression and assembly for the LGBTI community.

    “They must also stop arresting those perceived to be LGBTI, and drop charges and release those who have been arrested under the draconian legislation of Article 534. Activists have been bravely struggling to repeal this legislation for over a decade. We hope that the newly-elected members of parliament will recognize this struggle, and move forward with finally repealing it.

    May 16, 2018

    The arrest of musician and activist Fumba Chama, also known as ‘Pilato’, is a shocking demonstration of how far the Zambian government is prepared to go to strangle all criticism and crack down on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    Pilato was arrested at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport this afternoon on his return home after spending four months in Johannesburg, South Africa. He left Zambia in early January after receiving threats in response to his song Koswe Mumpoto (rat in the pot), which was interpreted as criticising President Edgar Lungu and his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ministers.

    A warrant for Pilato’s arrest was issued on 5 February after he failed to appear in a Zambian court on trumped up charges connected to his participation in a peaceful protest in September 2017.

    “The arrest of Pilato as soon as he arrived back on home soil is a shocking affront to justice. It shows the lengths to which Zambian authorities are prepared to go to stifle dissent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    May 16, 2018

    Responding to the news that a court in Bahrain yesterday revoked the citizenship of 115 people and handed 53 of them life sentences on terrorism-related charges, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The sheer scale of this mass trial is ludicrous; it is hard to believe that justice can have been delivered through a fair trial process when this number of people are simultaneously sentenced.

    “This is one of the most severe rulings yet, and is further proof that the Bahrain authorities have no regard whatsoever for international fair trial standards.

    “The Bahraini government is using revocation of nationality – rendering many of its citizens stateless in the process – and expulsion, as tools to crush all forms of opposition, dissent and activism.

    “Arbitrarily depriving citizens of their nationality, turning them into stateless people and banishing them by forcing them to leave the country is a violation of international law.

    May 15, 2018

    A surge in migrants and refugees intercepted at sea by the Libyan authorities has seen at least 2,600 people transferred, in the past two months alone, to squalid detention centres where they face torture and extortion, Amnesty International said today.

    The global human rights organisation accuses European governments of complicity in these abuses by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and sending people back to detention centres in Libya.

    “The EU is turning a blind eye to the suffering caused by its callous immigration policies that outsource border control to Libya,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “When European leaders spare no effort to ensure the Libyan Coast Guard intercepts as many people as possible, they are sending those migrants and refugees straight back to Libya’s detention centres which are notorious for abuse and torture. No one should be sending anyone back to Libya.”

    May 15, 2018

    Reacting to the adoption today of the draft outcome document of an important UN review of Canada’s human rights record, Amnesty International joined 30 Indigenous peoples’ organizations and civil society groups in calling on the federal government to break from past, disappointing responses to international human rights reviews and instead take bold and decisive action to ensure effective implementation of the important recommendations that have been made. The call came in the form of an Open Letter to the federal Ministers of Justice, Canadian Heritage and Foreign Affairs.

    May 15, 2018

    Human rights defenders in Pakistan are under threat from a targeted campaign of digital attacks, which has seen social media accounts hacked and computers and mobile phones infected with spyware, a four-month investigation by Amnesty International reveals.

    In a new report released today, “Human Rights Under Surveillance: Digital Threats against Human Rights Defenders in Pakistan”, Amnesty International reveals how attackers are using fake online identities and social media profiles to ensnare Pakistani human rights defenders online and mark them out for surveillance and cybercrime.

    “We uncovered an elaborate network of attackers who are using sophisticated and sinister methods to target human rights activists. Attackers use cleverly designed fake profiles to lure activists and then attack their electronic devices with spyware, exposing them to surveillance and fraud and even compromising their physical safety," said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    May 14, 2018

    Indigenous peoples’ organizations and social justice groups are welcoming the news that the federal government will not oppose a First Nations court application to suspend construction of the Site C dam.

    “The impact of the Site C dam on First Nations Treaty rights must be addressed before it’s too late,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Now that the federal government has done the right thing, and helped cleared the way for an injunction to be granted, Premier Horgan absolutely must ensure that the province and BC Hydro do the same. Anything less would make a mockery of the province’s commitments to reconciliation and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

    The West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have launched a civil suit alleging that flooding the Peace River Valley would violate rights protected in Treaty 8. West Moberly has asked the court to grant an injunction to protect the valley while the matter is before the courts.

    May 14, 2018

    *Spokespeople available for interview*

    Responding to reports that dozens of Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured by the Israeli military during protests along the fence that separates Gaza and Israel today, Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way. This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes.

    “Today’s footage from Gaza is extremely troubling, and as violence continues to spiral out of control, the Israeli authorities must immediately rein in the military to prevent the further loss of life and serious injuries.

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