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Prisoner of Conscience

    July 04, 2017

    Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was arrested and detained in Swaziland after writing an article raising concerns about judicial independence and integrity in the country. He and his wife Tanele sit down with us after his release from prison to tell their story and share their sincere thanks to Amnesty supporters.

    Amnesty: So Thulani tell us what happened to you. What was your story? What happened to you in Swaziland in 2014 and 2015?

    Thulani: March 2014. Maybe the best way to answer the question is to say perhaps most of my life I have been involved in the struggle to create a better society in Swaziland. A society that respects the rule of law, human rights and dignity of the Swazi citizen so that includes me writing for a magazine called The Nation. I’m a monthly contributor.

    June 28, 2017
    Responding to the news that Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo has developed late-stage liver cancer while in prison and is currently in hospital receiving treatment, Amnesty International’s China Researcher Patrick Poon said:     “It adds insult to injury that Liu Xiaobo, who should never have been put in prison in the first place, has been diagnosed with a grave illness. “The Chinese authorities should immediately ensure that Liu Xiaobo receives adequate medical care, effective access to his family and that he and all others imprisoned solely for exercising their human rights are immediately and unconditionally released. “The authorities must also stop their shameful and illegal house arrest of Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, and ensure that she is able to receive visitors, travel freely and reunite with Liu Xiaobo.”   Background
    June 27, 2017
    Rosmit Mantilla

    “I often woke up believing my strength was running out, believing I couldn’t keep going, and then I received photographs of Amnesty International human rights activists from all over the world requesting my freedom, respect for justice and for life. Infinite thanks, friends—without you I wouldn’t be here!”

    These personal words of thanks for your support came from Rosmit Mantilla during his struggle to be freed from a Venezuelan jail. Rosmit is a prominent Member of Parliament, human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience. He is an activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular. He was freed in November following two years in prison.

    December 14, 2016

    After Malaysia’s Federal Court today ruled on former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal against his recent “sodomy” conviction and five-year sentence, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The decision to continue the incarceration of Anwar Ibrahim is a final blow to his bid for freedom and raises concerns about the Malaysian judiciary’s independence from political interference.

    “The politically motivated persecution of Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted on trumped up charges of ‘sodomy’ after an unfair trial, is part of a wider crackdown by the Malaysian government to brazenly silence government critics and dissidents at all costs.

    “Anwar Ibrahim is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and he must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    November 26, 2016

    In response to the news of the violent arrest of women’s rights activist and anti-death penalty campaigner Atena Daemi today by Revolutionary Guards, Philip Luther Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

    “This is an extremely distressing turn of events and we fear that Atena may be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. She is being targeted by the Iranian authorities simply for her peaceful activism, in particular speaking out against the use of the death penalty and supporting women’s rights. She should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Amnesty International considers Atena Daemi to be a prisoner of conscience. For more information see https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/3777/2016/en/

    Iran: Further information: Activist released on bail, awaits appeal outcome: Atena Daemi. By Amnesty International, 5 April 2016, Index number: MDE 13/3777/2016

     

    October 06, 2016

    Iranian authorities must immediately repeal the conviction and sentence of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist who is due to begin serving six years in prison on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities” through the writing of an unpublished story about the horrific practice of stoning, Amnesty International said today.

    “The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous. She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published – she is effectively being punished for using her imagination,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture. It is appalling that Iran continues to allow the use of stoning, and justifies it in the name of protecting morality.”

    September 26, 2016


    Amnesty International welcomes the release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar from Iranian prison after more than three and a half months of arbitrary detention on baseless charges with extremely limited access to her lawyer and family. Amnesty International considered Dr. Hoodfar to have been a prisoner of conscience detained on trumped-up national security-related charges which which solely stemmed from her work on women’s rights issues. The organization lobbied Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally with a petition which garnered over 50,000 signatures. She was imprisoned in solitary confinement in a section of Tehran’s Evin Prison which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. During this period, grave concerns were raised about her health and lack of access to adequate medical care. 

     

    “We are overjoyed by Dr. Hoodfar’s release from prison in Iran.”

    - Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. 

     

    September 19, 2016

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada English Branch. Originally published in the Globe and Mail. 

    When Dr. Homa Hoodfar was arrested in Iran 100 days ago, the circumstances and motivation behind her unfounded and illegal imprisonment were far from clear. While much of that uncertainty remains, what is clear is that she has endured more than three months of grave human rights violations.  Her plight resonates with wider concerns Amnesty International has recently documented in Iran, including a broad crackdown against perceived feminists and routine attacks on prisoners’ health.

    It all adds up a grim human rights reality for Dr. Hoodfar.  One hundred days into her nightmare, efforts to secure her immediate and unconditional release must be escalated even further.  

    September 08, 2016
    Congolese activists Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala walked free last week – another success for Amnesty’s global letter-writing campaign Write for Rights.

    A massive thank you to the 170,000 of you who stood up for Fred and Yves and demanded their release. Your solidarity and activism kept hope alive for the many youth activists at LUCHA (Lutte pour le changement or “fight for change”) – the organization that Fred and Yves belong to. LUCHA, which shared Amnesty’s Ambassador of Conscience Award this year, was instrumental in securing the men’s release, having met President Joseph Kabila just days before the two men walked free. 

    “I am happy to finally be free after more than 17 months of imprisonment,” said Fred. “I thank Amnesty International and all those who fought in one way or another for my release. I look forward to seeing my family and friends to continue the fight for democracy and freedom in my country.” 

    August 30, 2016

    Amnesty International is gravely concerned by the rapid deterioration in the health of Dr. Homa Hoodfar, who has been detained in Iran since June 6. Amnesty International reiterates that it considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience, detained with no legal basis, and calls on Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

     “The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release prisoner of conscience Dr. Homa Hoodfar, whose continued detention in the notorious Evin prison is not only illegal, but is now also seriously affecting her health and placing her in grave danger.” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    August 09, 2016

    Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women’s rights activists in the country in the first half of this year, carrying out a series of harsh interrogations and increasingly likening any collective initiative relating to women’s rights to criminal activity, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women’s rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran’s February 2016 parliamentary election.

    July 26, 2016

    Amnesty International’s Prisoner of Conscience Irom Sharmila Chanu has taken an individual decision to end her 16-year-old fast against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on August 9. Amnesty International India calls on the Manipur government to immediately and unconditionally release the 44-year-old activist and to drop all charges against her.

    At a district court hearing in Imphal, Sharmila expressed the desire to come out of her fast and contest state elections. Speaking to local media, Sharmila said, “The only way to bring change is electoral process. I will stand as an independent candidate from Malom constituency. My single issue would be to remove AFSPA from the state. In my next hearing in the court on August 9 I will end my fast.”

    July 21, 2016

    By Gloria Nafziger, Amnesty International Canada's Campaigner for Iran

    Where would you spend a Sunday in July?

    On Sunday July 17, the members of Amnesty International’s TriCities Group in Coquitlam BC chose to stand in solidarity with Iranian prisoner of conscience, Narges Mohammadi

    Narges Mohammadi is a human rights defender who received a 16-year prison sentence after she was convicted, following an unfair trial in April 2016, of the charges of “founding an illegal group”, “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, and “spreading propaganda against the system”. She is already serving a six-year prison sentence from a previous case. Her convictions are based solely on her human rights work.

    Narges is critically ill. She suffers from a pulmonary embolism (a blockage in the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs) and a neurological disorder that has resulted in her experiencing seizures and temporary partial paralysis. She needs ongoing specialized medical care, which she cannot receive in prison, as well as daily medication.

    July 18, 2016

    Iran’s authorities are callously toying with the lives of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners by denying them adequate medical care, putting them at grave risk of death, permanent disability or other irreversible damage to their health, according to a new report by Amnesty International published today.

    The report, Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons, provides a grim snapshot of health care in the country’s prisons. It presents strong evidence that the judiciary, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, and prison administrations deliberately prevent access to adequate medical care, in many cases as an intentional act of cruelty intended to intimidate, punish or humiliate political prisoners, or to extract forced “confessions” or statements of “repentance” from them.

    July 12, 2016

    The failure of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan to release 65-year old human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Azimjan Askarov is an egregious example of how Kyrgyzstan is failing to implement its international obligations, said Amnesty International.

    At an extraordinary review of his case that ended today the Supreme Court did not comply with the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee to release Azimjan Askarov. Instead, the Court cancelled his sentence and referred the case to Chui Regional Court for a new court review. The human rights defender will remain in detention pending his new trial.

    “It’s a missed opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to do the right thing by finally releasing a man who should never have been jailed in the first place. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court ignores Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International, who attended the review on Monday.

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