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Prisoner of Conscience

    September 19, 2019

    Film director Oleg Sentsov, who was released on the 7th of September as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, has thanked activists from Amnesty International for writing letters of support during his time in the remand centre and the penal colony.  Sentsov, who was arrested in 2014 and whose release was achieved through the many efforts of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, gave a press conference alongside Alexander Kolchenko in Kiev.

    “Of course, I received many letters from Amnesty International. Thank you very much”, said Sentsov. According to him, the activists from Amnesty have contributed greatly to the international campaign for his release.

    June 10, 2019
    Chechen prisoner of conscience Oyub Titiev granted parole Parole comes days after detention of journalist, Ivan Golunov

    Responding to news that Shali City Court in Chechnya has granted parole to the imprisoned human rights defender Oyub Titiev after almost one-and-a-half years behind bars, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

    “We have been calling for Oyub Titiev’s immediate and unconditional release since his detention. The real agenda behind his criminal prosecution on trumped up charges was to stop a human rights defender from doing his lawful human rights work.

    “In spite of overwhelming evidence that the case against him had been fabricated, the authorities in Chechnya crudely abused the justice system to convict an innocent man. Today the court decided to at least partially amend the gross injustice by releasing Oyub in ten days time.

    May 06, 2019

    In response to the news that Dr Eduardo Cardet Concepción was released on probation on 4 May 2019, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “We welcome the news that Dr Eduardo Cardet has been released on probation and can be reunited with his family. However, as long as his freedom is conditional, Eduardo Cardet is still a prisoner of conscience. He should never have been arrested in the first place.”

    “Although his release on parole is a positive step, we reiterate that the arrest and subsequent conviction of Dr Eduardo Cardet in 2016 was politically motivated. Therefore, we will keep demanding his absolute freedom, without any conditions. We will continue to closely monitor his situation and to conduct global campaigning actions in defence of his rights.”

    Dr Eduardo Cardet, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), was arrested on 30 November 2016, five days after the death of Fidel Castro. He was later found guilty of assaulting a state official and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in March 2017.

    March 21, 2019

    Reliable reports that independent journalist and former prisoner of conscience Truong Duy Nhat is being detained in Viet Nam raise major questions about his safety and the circumstances of his disappearance in Thailand in late January, Amnesty International said today.

    “It has been nearly two months since Truong Duy Nhat disappeared from a Bangkok shopping centre, shortly after submitting an asylum claim and following growing harassment by Vietnamese police. Reports that Nhat is now in a Hanoi prison are extremely worrying, and we are calling on the Vietnamese authorities to confirm whether he is in their custody and disclose his whereabouts at once,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser.

    March 18, 2019

    Following today’s decision by the Shali City Court in Chechnya to sentence human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Oyub Tititev, to four years in penal colony, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers said:

    “The four-year prison sentence slapped on Oyub Tititev is an affront to human rights, reason, and justice. By pronouncing him guilty, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the court has demonstrated how deeply flawed the Russian justice system is. The court has revealed itself to be little more than a tool that the regional authorities have used to silence one of the last human rights defenders working in Chechnya.

    “When this sham trial started, the human rights community called on the Russian authorities to transfer proceedings out of Chechnya, pointing out that the court will be under pressure from the regional authorities and unable to try Oyub fairly and reach an independent decision. By failing to do so, the Russian federal authorities proved to be accomplices in this gross injustice and in the violation of Oyub Titiev’s human rights.

    March 14, 2019

    Speaking to Amnesty is not a crime

    The prosecution of 11 women activists before a Criminal Court in Riyadh for their human rights work and contact with international organizations is an appalling escalation of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown on peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

    Some of the women were charged with promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system. The women were also charged with contacting international organizations, foreign media and other activists, including their contact with Amnesty International

    “The charges against the activists are the latest example of the Saudi authorities abusing legislation and the justice system to silence peaceful activists and deter them from working on the human rights situation in the country. This trial is yet another stain on the Saudi authorities’ appalling human rights record, and shows how empty the government’s claims of reform really are,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    March 11, 2019

    The sentencing of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in a new case against her is an outrageous injustice, said Amnesty International today. 

    The sentence, reported on her husband Reza Khandan’s Facebook page, brings her total sentence after two grossly unfair trials to 38 years in prison. In September 2016, she had been sentenced in her absence to five years in prison in a separate case.

    “It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing nearly four decades in jail and 148 lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran’s degrading forced hijab (veiling) laws. Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and this obscene sentence quashed without delay,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

    February 19, 2019

    Permit Peaceful Expressions of Dissent

    Somaliland authorities should immediately and unconditionally release from arbitrary detention Abdirahman Ibrahim Adan, a poet also known as “Abdirahman Abees,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

    Abdirahman, a popular Somaliland poet and British dual citizen, has been held at the central prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, for over a month, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

    Police officers arrested him on January 12, 2019 as he was having lunch at Hargeisa’s Lake Assal Hotel. The day before, he had recited a poem at the Mansoor Hotel that highlighted various human rights concerns in detention in Somaliland such as police brutality, arbitrary detention, and degrading treatment of prisoners.

    According to Abdirahman’s lawyers, he was formally charged on February 18 under Article 269 of the Somaliland penal code for “insulting the police and the government”. On February 19, they appointed a judge and set an initial hearing date of February 21, 2019.

    February 14, 2019

    By T.K.

    We all have that one person we immediately connect with. Someone who you know will always be part of your life. The person you can easily talk to, even though it has been months if not years since you last saw one another. For me, Eman Al Nafjan is such a person. Someone I am proud of, who inspires and makes me laugh. 

    We met in 2010 while I was living in Saudi Arabia. Eman introduced me to Saudi culture and cuisine, and taught me useful Arabic phrases. She took me around the magical souks in Riyadh.

    We used to spend hours discussing all aspects of life. At that time, she was working as an English teacher at a university while completing her PhD in linguistics. Since 2010, our tradition has been to meet once a year to enjoy new places, visit museums and catch up. We are both morning people, but Eman is up earlier than most. Even on holiday, I would often find her sitting at a table, very early in the morning, with a cup of strong coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

    February 12, 2019

    Kenyan Court Drops Oversight

    The Kenyan police and the South Sudanese authorities should ensure effective, transparent and impartial investigations into the enforced disappearance of two South Sudanese critics in Nairobi more than two years ago, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    On January 17, 2019, a Kenyan High Court ended its 24-month oversight of the police investigation into the disappearances of Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the political opposition. They were snatched off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017 respectively. The families had initiated the petition for judicial review following concerns that the Kenyan Police had not effectively investigated.

    February 06, 2019
    Release prisoners of conscience Investigate death of PTM activist Arman Luni Disclose whereabouts of human rights defender Gulalai Ismail

    The Pakistani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release protestors belonging to the peaceful Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) who have been arbitrarily detained, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 19 people were arrested from cities across Pakistan on 5 February 2019 as the PTM marked a global day of peaceful protests calling for an end to discrimination against Pashtuns in Pakistan and for an end to enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations.

    Amnesty International also calls on the Pakistani authorities to investigate the killing of activist Arman Luni, who appears to have been the subject of an extrajudicial execution, and disclose the whereabouts of the well-known human rights defender Gulalai Ismail, who may have been subjected to an enforced disappearance.

    January 29, 2019

    Following the arbitrary arrest of Cameroon’s main opposition leader Maurice Kamto, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Director said: 

    “The arrest of Maurice Kamto and four of his staff supporters signals an escalating crackdown on opposition leaders, human rights defenders and activists in Cameroon. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release them, as well as peaceful protesters detained at the weekend simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    “Instead of taking steps towards improving the country’s human rights record, we are witnessing the authorities becoming less and less tolerant of criticism. This must stop.

    “The authorities should now allow people to enjoy their human rights including by ending the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and dissenting voices.”

    For more information or to request an interview please contact: Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English): + 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca 

    January 28, 2019

    Responding to the news that Bahrain’s Court of Cassation has upheld the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director, Samah Hadid said:

    “Today’s verdict is yet another nail in the coffin for the right to freedom of expression in Bahrain and exposes the country’s justice system as a complete farce. The decision to uphold Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and life prison sentence following an unfair trial highlights the authorities’ determination to silence critical voices.

    “The Bahraini authorities must quash Sheikh Ali Salman’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally. They should also rescind the decision to dissolve the two opposition political groups, al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, and guarantee the right of everyone to freedom of association.”

    Background:

    January 24, 2019

    Amnesty International has obtained new reports of torture and abuse inflicted on a group of Saudi Arabian human rights activists who have been in arbitrary detention since May 2018. These reports follow similar testimonies from November 2018 into the torture of a number of the activists, and highlight the urgent need to allow independent monitors access to those in detention, the organization said today.

    According to the testimonies, a total of ten human rights defenders were tortured, sexually abused, and subjected to other forms of ill-treatment during their first three months of detention, when they were held in an informal detention facility in an unknown location.

    One woman activist was wrongly told by an interrogator that her family members had died, and was made to believe this for an entire month. According to another account, two activists were forced to kiss each other while interrogators watched. One activist reported that interrogators had forced water into her mouth as she was shouting while being tortured. Others reported being tortured with electric shocks.

    January 23, 2019

    The Iranian authorities carried out a shameless campaign of repression during 2018, crushing protests and arresting thousands in a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, said Amnesty International, a year after a wave of protests against poverty, corruption and authoritarianism erupted across the country.

    The organization has today revealed staggering new figures showing the extent of the Iranian authorities’ repression during 2018. Over the course of the year, more than 7,000 protesters, students, journalists, environmental activists, workers and human rights defenders, including lawyers, women’s rights activists, minority rights activists and trade unionists, were arrested, many arbitrarily. Hundreds were sentenced to prison terms or flogging and at least 26 protesters were killed. Nine people arrested in connection with protests died in custody under suspicious circumstances.

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