Saturday, July 22, 2017

MALDIVES: Death Penalty to Resume After 60 Years - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, USA, July 20, 2017.

In 2014, the Maldives government under President Abdulla Yameen announced that executions would resume after more than 60 years without the death penalty being implemented.

“The country was a leader in the region, with an enviable record of shunning this cruel and irreversible punishment at a time when many other countries persisted with it. Now, when most of the world has abolished the death penalty, it is heading in the wrong direction by reviving its use.” (David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Senior Advisor on South Asia.)

As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; in the Asia-Pacific region, 20 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further seven are abolitionist in practice.

Sources close to the government of Maldives have confirmed that executions in the country will resume on 21 July 2017. The Maldives Supreme Court has upheld the convictions and death sentences of three men, who are all now at imminent risk of execution. If carried out, it would be the first executions in the country in over 60 years. 

COLOMBIA: Wounaan Indigenous People in Danger - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, July 20, 2017

Clashes between paramilitary groups, the National Liberation Army and state security forces continue to violate the rights of Indigenous communities in Chocó, in the Pacific region of Colombia.

On Monday 17 July, at around 9am, an armed confrontation was reported between the Colombian Naval Infantry (Infantería de Marina de Colombia) and an illegal armed group, a few metres from the Wounaan Indigenous community of San José and Taparalito of the San Juan River.  Out of fear of facing further violence, this community of 900 Wounaan Indigenous people, have found themselves in a situation of forced confinement. Community members reported the events to the relevant authorities and requested protection measures and emergency humanitarian aid.

In addition to these clashes, the planting of anti-personnel mines in land near Indigenous communities in the department has been reported.  
The Wounaan Authorities’ Community Council (WOUNDEKO) have also reported the forced recruitment of Indigenous children, in addition to further occurrences of forced displacement and fear among the Indigenous communities in Chocó. The Council has warned of the severity of the situation faced by the displaced Indigenous communities, primarily in the municipalities of Riosucio, Quibdó (the capital of Chocó) and Buenaventura (Cauca Valley).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MEXICO: Indigneous Yaqui Leader at Risk - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, Canada, July 16, 2017

Mario Luna Romero is the leader of the Indigenous Yaqui community in Sonora State, northern Mexico. On 27 June, unidentified intruders entered Mario’s family home and set fire to his wife’s car. Mario called for the police after the attack but they didn’t arrive. Authorities have still not provided protection measures for Mario and his family at their home despite the fact he should receive protection measures as a defender of the Indigenous Yaqui community’s territory in Sonora State.

Mario Luna and his family remain at risk.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

UNITED KINGDOM: Zaghari-Ratcliffe & Kamal Foroughi Cases to be Discussed in Parliament - EMAIL ACTION

Amnesty International, UK, July 17, 2017

After over a year of campaigning for British-Iranian prisoners Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi, their cases have been raised and will be discussed in Parliament tomorrow at 4:30pm.

This is our moment – and we need your help to make sure as many MPs as possible show up to let the government know how much support there is for Nazanin and Kamal across the UK.

We asked you to raise their cases with your MP and they have listened. Now Nazanin’s MP, Tulip Sadiq, has secured a debate and hope for their freedom seems possible once more.

You’ve raised your voice, sent letters of support and made sure Nazanin and Kamal’s imprisonment could not be ignored. Now we need you to remind your MP to show up tomorrow and make sure their cases are a priority.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Amnesty International, July 5, 2017

Iranian spiritual teacher Mohammad Ali Taheri is awaiting his second hearing due to take place in July. The authorities are prosecuting him for “spreading corruption on earth”. He has been held in solitary confinement for over six years in Tehran’s Evin prison. If convicted, he can be sentenced to death. 

Prisoner of conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri is accused of “spreading corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel arz) through the establishment of the spiritual group Erfan-e Halgheh and its related teachings. His trial started on 6 March before Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. During the court session, the judge gave him a number of written questions and asked that he provide his responses in writing by the next court session. His lawyer expects the session to take place before the end of July. The questions related to Mohammad Ali Taheri’s writings on Erfan-e Halgheh. Prison officials have not granted his request to access copies of his past writings in order to draft his responses, without which he cannot complete the questions. 

This is the third time that Mohammad Ali Taheri is standing trial on the charge of “spreading corruption on earth”.  A five-year sentence was deemed complete in February 2016.  But he was tried again in 2015, sentenced to death and acquitted in June 2016.  Despite this he was not released and was again charged with “spreading corruption on earth” based on the same activities that had formed the basis of his 2011 conviction.

Friday, July 14, 2017

China: "Shining a Light" for Liu Xiaobo and More Action - NEWS and PETITION

Message to our Group #139 Amnesty International members:

 It is with great sadness that our group sends the news of the passing of Liu Xiaobo. He has been an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience and we have advocated for him for many years. He passed away yesterday while still in prison. As we grieve, we are also concerned for his wife, Liu Xia, who is still in Beijing.

"BEIJING — Liu Xiaobo, the renegade Chinese intellectual who kept vigil at Tiananmen Square in 1989 to protect protesters from encroaching soldiers, promoted a pro-democracy charter that brought him a lengthy prison sentence and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while locked away, died under guard in a hospital on Thursday. He was 61."

 A note from our Group Leader, Azam, Amnesty International-Group 139, Wisconsin
Shine a Light on Liu Xiaobo, the Forgotten Prisoner of Conscious since 2008.
May Mr. Liu rest in peace and human rights campaigns in China and other countries continue by everyone knowing that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice ~ MLK

What can we do for Xiaobo's wife?
U.S. urges China to release Liu Xiaobo's wife and let her leave, Reuters (July 13, 2017)
Please sign this Amnesty International Petition on behalf of Liu Xia.

To learn more about this Liu Xiaobo, check out these links.
Thank you so much for your past efforts. We must continue to "shine a light" for human rights. We must remember. We must honor. We must move forward.In continued peace and solidarity,

Thursday, July 13, 2017

IRAN: Executions in Iran - NEWS

Iran Human Rights (JULY 13 2017))

Twelve of the prisoners who were transferred from Unit 2 of the Ghezelhesar prison (Karaj, west of Tehran) were executed Monday morning, reported Iran Human Rights (IHR) sources from Iran. The report has been confirmed by several independent sources.  All the prisoners were charged with drug offences. 

 In less than one month 56 prisoners from Unit 2 of Ghezelhesar prison have been executed. 34 of the executions has taken place after the prisoners gathered peacefully in the prison yard carrying handwritten banners asking the Iranian Supreme leader for forgiveness. More than 2000 death row prisoners are held in Unit 2 of Ghezelhesar prison. All the prisoners are sentenced to death for drug-related charges. IHR has received several testimonies on unfair trials, torture and forced confessions.  IHR strongly condemns the arbitrary mass-executions of Ghezelhesar prison and calls for the international community to react. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: " Hundreds of prisoners might be executed in Ghezelhesar prison if the international community continues its silence. Iranian authorities' use of the death penalty can only be compared to the ISIS. Unfortunately the arbitrary executions don't seem to have any consequences for the Iranian authorities".  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

VIETNAM: Human Rights Blogger Sentenced to 10 Years - URGENT ACTION UPDATE

Amnesty International, July 12, 2017

Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, also known as blogger Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom), was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment on 29 June 2017 for “conducting propaganda” against the state under Article 88 of the Penal Code. She is currently held incommunicado, preventing her lawyers from finalizing her appeal.

Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh was held in pre-trial detention from the time of her arrest on 10 October 2016 and not granted access to a lawyer until 20 June 2017, nine days before her case was heard at the People's Court of Khánh Hòa. At the trial, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh and her lawyer were prevented from presenting a full defence against the charges and were reportedly frequently cut off by the Judge when they attempted to speak. 
According to a translation of the indictment, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh was charged for her activities on Facebook and other social media, including writing, uploading and sharing articles and video content critical of the ruling Communist Party of Viet Nam and the state. 
The charges violate the right to freedom of expression as provided in international human rights law, which binds Viet Nam. Amnesty International considers Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for her peaceful activities promoting and defending human rights.
With the exception of a short five-minute visit the day before the trial, Vietnamese authorities have prevented any contact with her family, who do not know where she has been detained. Packages of food and clothing delivered by Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh's mother over the course of her pre-trial detention were not passed on, including a bible and hymn book that Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh had specifically requested in writing.  Since the arrest, her mother has been caring for her two young children with support from friends. The family is under daily surveillance by authorities and the children are reportedly withdrawn and distressed at the absence of their mother. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SINGAPORE: Execution of Malaysian Man Set - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, USA, July 7, 2017.

The family of Prabagaran Srivijayan, a Malaysian national, have been informed that his execution has been scheduled in Singapore for 14 July 2017. Against international law and standards, he was convicted of and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2012 for drug-related offences. He has an appeal pending before the courts of Malaysia. 

A 29 year-old Malaysian national, Prabagaran Srivijayan was convicted of and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty on 22 July 2012 for attempting to import 22.24g of diamorphine into Singapore. 

Prabagaran Srivijayan has consistently maintained his innocence. He holds that he had no knowledge of the drugs that were found in the arm rest of a car he borrowed. Under Singaporean law, prohibited substances found in a vehicle are automatically presumed to be in the possession of the driver at that time. In these circumstances, the burden of proof is therefore shifted onto the defendant, violating the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. Additional fair trial concerns have been raised by his lawyer, including the failure of Singaporean authorities to investigate leads and call upon two witnesses that Prabagaran Srivijayan claims could corroborate his innocence. 

In an effort to seek remedy for these violations, his legal representatives launched a case in Malaysia in March 2017 to urge the country to seek the intervention of the International Court of Justice.
 An appeal on the matter is still pending and the authorities of Singapore have been made aware of the ongoing litigation. International safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty clearly state that the death penalty must not be carried out while appeals or other recourse procedures are pending. 

TURKEY: Amnesty International Leaders Detained - ONLINE ACTION

Amnesty International, Australia, July 5, 2017.

Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders.

Police have detained the second Amnesty International Turkey leader within the space of a month.

On the morning of the 5th July, police arrested eight human rights activists, including Idil Eser, and two trainers who were attending a workshop in Istanbul.  For over 24 hours, they weren’t allowed to contact their families or see a lawyer; no one even knew where they were.

Idil and the others were doing nothing wrong.  They are now being investigated on suspicion of "membership of an armed terrorist organisation": a ridiculous and baseless accusation.

This kind of attack on Human Rights Defenders is becoming more frequent. The Turkish government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

BAHRAIN: Human Rights Defender at Risk of Torture - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, July 4, 2017

In response to news about the arrest of human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh by the Bahraini authorities on the night of 3 July 2017 Samah Hadid, Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International in the Middle-East said: 

“The Bahraini authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Ebtisam al-Saegh whose only crime is speaking up against a government committed to crushing all forms of dissent.

“We are deeply concerned about Ebtisam’s wellbeing. When she was arrested in May 2017, she was beaten and sexually assaulted by members of the Bahraini National Security Agency. Bahraini authorities have failed to investigate those claims and we fear that she is at high risk of torture as long as she remains in custody.” 

Ebtisam al-Saegh a prominent human rights defender was arrested at 23:45 on 3 July 2017, after her house was raided by masked officers in civilian clothing carrying body and head cameras. Around twenty-five officers claiming to belong to the CID (Criminal Investigation Directorate) arrived at her house in five civilian cars and a mini bus. 
Three armed men stayed outside the house while seven officers, including two female officers dressed in Abaya and Niqab, entered the home. 
Officers confiscated her mobile phones and her national ID card. The two female officers placed Ebtisam al-Saegh in handcuffs and led her away. 
Amnesty international received information that Ebtisam al-Saegh was seen at the Issa Town detention centre for women,on the outskirts of Manama the capital, in the early hours of 04 July 2017, but was later transferred to an undisclosed place 
On 3 July Ebtisam al-Saegh had been tweeting about the ill treatment of women at the hands of the National Security Agency (NSA) and held the King of Bahrain responsible for their actions.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

NIGERIA: Tell Ester Kiobel You Stand with Her - ONLINE ACTION

Amnesty International Canada; July 5, 2017

Esther Kiobel is taking on one of the world’s biggest oil companies – Shell – in a final fight for justice. She has pursued them for more than 20 years, accusing Shell of colluding in her husband’s killing.  

Shell’s quest for oil has devastated the once fertile land in the Niger Delta. Decades of oil spills have ravaged farmland and rivers, contaminated water, put people's health at grave risk and left communities destitute. In response, one of those communities, the Ogoni people, launched a protest movement in the 1990s that government security forces took every opportunity to crush. Shell urged the government to deal with these protests, even after it knew that serious abuses were taking place. 

The military killed and tortured people in a brutal crackdown that culminated in the 1995 sham trial and hanging of nine Nigerian men, including Esther’s husband, Dr Barinem Kiobel.

22 years later, Esther is taking Shell to court to get justice for her husband's killing.  In a classic David vs Goliath face-off, Esther will finally see her case with Shell go to court this June in the Netherlands.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

AUSTRALIA: Justice System for Indigenous Kids - ONLINE ACTION

Amnesty International, Australia, July 2, 2017

Rodney Dillon is a Palawa Elder and an Indigenous Rights Advisor for Amnesty.
This week is NAIDOC Week – a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It’s an important week for him and hopefully for all Australians too.

He and many others have been working tirelessly on a campaign because governments across Australia are choosing to send many indigenous children to prison instead of embracing the solutions at their fingertips.  But for the Prime Minister to listen, more people are needed to demand change.  A  national plan of action starts with:

Ending the brutal approach to kids in youth detention in favour of rehabilitation and prevention.

Reducing the numbers of Indigenous kids who are locked up by working with communities on cultural programs that will divert kids away from trouble.

Making government accountable at all levels to achieve the plan.


Amnesty International, July 3, 2017

Last night, Amnesty International USA sent a message to the people enforcing the #MuslimBan: Customs & Border Protection. We had real people tell them in their own words about the fear and uncertainty of traveling under the ban.

Iran: 239 executions in the first half of 2017 - NEWS

Iran Human Rights
June 30, 2017

" According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR), 239 executions were carried out in Iran in the first six months of 2017. Among them were three individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time they allegedly committed the offence they were sentenced to death for.
One of the juvenile offenders was reportedly executed in Karaj Central Prison for a murder crime he allegedly committed 30 years ago at the age of 16. The other two juvenile offenders were identified as Arman Bohr Asemani and Hassan Hassanzadeh."
Click here for entire article.