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Prisoner of Conscience

    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.

    January 18, 2019

    Responding to the news that the appeals court in Al Hoceima has upheld the conviction of Nawal Benaissa, confirming her 10-month suspended prison sentence with a fine, Heba Morayef Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

    “This verdict is an appalling miscarriage of justice. Nawal Benaissa’s only ‘crime’ was to join peaceful protests to demand the rights of people in the Rif region. The Moroccan authorities are blatantly targeting Nawal Benaissa for her role in the Hirak El-Rif movement and are making an example of her to intimidate others who may wish to speak out. Instead of continuing with their crackdown against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders, the authorities should immediately quash her conviction and drop all the charges against her.”

    Background

    January 14, 2019

    Jailed UK charity worker set to begin three-day hunger strike with human rights defender Narges Mohammadi in protest at denial of medical care

    ‘It’s outrageous it’s had to come to this for Nazanin and Narges’ - Kate Allen

    Ahead of a planned hunger strike by jailed UK charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran this week, Amnesty International has described the move as a “desperate measure” and urged the Iranian authorities to “stop playing cruel games” with her life.

    Last week, Zaghari-Ratcliffe and another prisoner of conscience held in Tehran’s Evin prison - prominent human rights defender Narges Mohammadi - announced they would jointly stage a three-day hunger strike from Monday 14 January in protest at the Iranian authorities repeatedly denying them specialised medical care.

    December 09, 2018
    Amnesty publishes review of human rights in 2018

    Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state of human rights over the past year.

    The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic policies has placed freedoms and rights that were won long ago in fresh jeopardy.

    “In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonize and persecute already marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “But it is women activists who have offered the most powerful vision this year of how to fight back against these repressive leaders.”

    December 04, 2018
    Thousands forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in prison in 1988 Ongoing campaign to deny, distort truth and abuse victims’ families UN must establish independent investigation into crimes against humanity High-profile figures accused of involvement in 1988 prison massacres named

    By concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were forcibly disappeared and secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity, said Amnesty International in a damning report published today.

    The report Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity calls on the UN to set up an independent investigation into the mass enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings which have gone unpunished for three decades.

    November 29, 2018

    A charge of insulting the national flag against prominent Vietnamese human rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy amounts to an attack on freedom of expression by the authorities and must be dropped, Amnesty International said ahead of her trial on Friday.

    It is rare for the authorities to prosecute a human rights activist for this charge, which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, in a disturbing sign of the intensifying crackdown against peaceful dissent in the country.

    This ludicrous charge must be dropped as it is aimed solely at silencing a dedicated, peaceful human rights activist. This is a politically motivated prosecution, brought by the authorities in response to Huynh Thuc Vy's tireless work to expose human rights violations in Viet Nam and hold the powerful to account; said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    October 05, 2018

    Responding to a European Parliament resolution condemning the harassment, persecution and detention of prominent human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in May 2018 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said:

    “The European Parliament has sent a strong message which should propel the international community to step up pressure on the UAE authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Mansoor and other prisoners of conscience. Ahmed Mansoor has been ruthlessly persecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and his unlawful imprisonment is a chilling warning about the dire state of human rights in the UAE.

    “We are particularly concerned about the UAE authorities’ refusal to make details about his case public. It’s only now that we know Ahmed Mansoor has appealed his unlawful conviction and sentencing for the social media posts he made, and that he is allegedly being held in al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi. The authorities must ensure transparency over his appeal and about his whereabouts.

    October 13, 2017
    Idil Eser

    Since July 2017 our friend and colleague İdil Eser has been held in the highest security area of the highest security prison in Turkey.

    İdil, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained along with nine others during a workshop in Istanbul. It came only a month after Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç was detained. Currently eight imprisoned and two bailed defenders are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorirst organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    İdil has written a letter from her prison cell after a massive global response demanding their release. It’s a message of thanks, hope and courage.

    12 September 2017, Silivri Prison No. 9

    I would like to thank the entire Amnesty International movement. I send my heartfelt thanks to the International Secretariat, the [Amnesty Turkey] board, campaigners, people who have supported us with their signatures, and especially my colleagues who continue their work with self-sacrifice.

    October 13, 2017

    Veli Acu was detained along with nine others in July during a workshop in Istanbul in Turkey, where he was training human rights defenders from different organisations, including Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. They are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorist organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    Veli has written a letter from prison about his life and experiences which led him to a career defending human rights:

    “According to my identity documents, I was born on 1 January 1998 in Siirt/Şirvan. Only the province and district names are correct - all the rest including the day, month and year were written on the initiative of the register officer.

    I am one of the eleven children of my illiterate parents, both nomadic Kurdish people who spent the hot summer days on the highlands. When I was four or five, security forces came to our village and wanted us to evacuate it, citing some reasons whose meanings I fully understood only at university. In reality, the main reason was that famous word: “security.” Later I came to know that whenever someone utters this word nothing good would follow.

    October 13, 2017

    Günal Kurşun was detained along with nine others from Turkey’s foremost human rights organisations in July, as they took part in a workshop together. Among them was Amnesty Turkey’s Director İdil Eser. They are facing an investigation on suspicion of aiding a terrorist organisation, a ridiculous and baseless accusation. They have done nothing wrong.

    Günal has been separated from his young son Ali Berk since then. In September he was allowed to speak to him by phone for 5 minutes, and told him that he misses him a lot and that he has forgotten his smell. A few days later he was finally able to see his son in an open visit. He gave Ali Berk some chocolate that he had bought and they played. Günal has written 10 children’s stories for Ali Berk during his long and unfair imprisonment.

    Günal has also written a letter from prison giving an insight into his life and why he feels it is so important to live by human rights principles:

    “I was born on 5 September 1975 in Ankara. My father is a military judge who retired as a colonel in 2004, and my mother is a soprano singer/pianist. I have one brother, Mete.

    August 22, 2017
    Erkin Musaev, a former Uzbekistani government official and UN employee, who was tortured and then wrongly imprisoned by the authorities, has written a letter of thanks to Amnesty International following his early release from prison last week.

    Erkin Musaev was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2007 after a series of grossly unfair trials – he was accused of spying for an unnamed NATO member-state and of misusing UN funds. His conviction was based on a confession he was forced to sign after security service officers threatened his family.

    Outraged at the injustice of his detention without a fair trial thousands of Amnesty International supporters sent 427,000 messages of solidarity for Erkin Musaev, demanding his release as part of Write for Rights 2014.

    Now free, he has written a letter offering his personal thanks to Amnesty International activists who spoke up for him:

    August 11, 2017

    Almost 70,000 people from across the world have urged China’s President to lift all restrictions and end the harassment against poet and artist Liu Xia, one month after the death of her husband, Nobel Peace laureate, Liu Xiaobo.

    Liu Xia has not been heard of since her husband’s hastily arranged funeral ceremony and sea burial on 15 July. Prisoner of Conscience, Liu Xiaobo, passed away in custody two days earlier.

    In an open letter to President Xi Jinping, nearly 70,000 people call on the Chinese authorities to lift all arbitrary restrictions against Liu Xia, and ensure she can travel freely.

    “Liu Xia is being cruelly punished for never giving up on her wrongfully imprisoned late husband,” said Lisa Tassi, East Asia Director of Campaigns at Amnesty International.

    “Liu Xia’s immeasurable loss is being callously compounded by the Chinese authorities’ vindictive and illegal attempt to silence her. Our message to President Xi is clear: end the harassment and free Liu Xia now.”

    August 03, 2017

    Photo: Tarek Hussein with his brother Mahmoud (Twitter @HMahmoudmohmed)

     

    Human rights defender Tarek Hussein is free!

    After being arbitrarily detained for 40 days, the former prisoner of conscience has now joined his family. The Egyptian police released Tarek Mohamed Ahmed Hussein on 27 July after arbitrarily detaining him since 17 June. That day, police officers arrested him from his home in Cairo. The police kept him in detention despite AlKhanka Prosecutor's order to release him on bail on 18 June. They claimed that Tarek Hussein has been sentenced in 16 different cases. During his detention, the police held him incommunicado for 12 days and abused him. Tarek Hussein could still potentially be imprisoned as the Prosecutor has not formally closed the investigation.

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