Prisoner of Conscience
The Chinese authorities are demonstrating new-depths of cruelty by preventing Liu Xiaobo from leaving the country to receive urgent medical treatment for his late-stage liver cancer, Amnesty International said.
On Wednesday, the authorities announced medical experts from Germany and the US will be invited to China to assist with the treatment of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. The move appears in part an attempt to limit international criticism, as the authorities continue to refuse to grant Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia’s wish to travel abroad to receive treatment.
“Time is running out for Liu Xiaobo. It is not too late for the authorities to end this cruel farce. They must let Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, travel abroad to get the medical treatment he so desperately needs,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
The pro-democracy activist and former university lecturer was placed on medical parole last Monday and transferred to a hospital in Shenyang municipality in north-east China. His wife Liu Xia was able to reunite with him last week. The authorities’ claim that Liu Xiaobo is too ill to travel is disputed by his family.
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.
“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.
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.”
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.