Wednesday, September 30, 2020

INDIA: Amnesty International halts India operations after 'freezing' of its bank account


Amnesty International has halted its operations in India after the "complete freezing" of its bank accounts by the Indian government, the not-for-profit human rights organization said in a statement Tuesday.

Staff have been laid off, and campaign and research work in the region paused, the statement said.

Amnesty called it the "latest (move) in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations" by the Indian government over "unfounded and motivated allegations."

USA: Yuri Orlove Death - PRESS RELEASE

Amnesty International, USA, 9-30-2020.

“The death of Yuri Orlov is a genuine loss not only for Russia but the entire world, and all those who stand for justice and human rights. 

A true icon to many, he founded the Moscow branch of Amnesty International and later helped create the Moscow Helsinki Group to help monitor whether the actions of Soviet leaders were in compliance with the Helsinki Accords to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. I

n honor of his lifetime commitment to freedom for all, he was the first recipient of the Andrei Sakharov Prize, recognizing outstanding leadership and/or achievements of scientists in upholding human rights.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

IRAN: Demand Release of Nasrin Sotoudeh - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, USA, 9-2020.

Jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh’s health is at serious risk after the Iranian authorities returned her to prison from hospital, even though a doctor said she needed a heart-related medical procedure. She had been hospitalized when her health severely deteriorated on a hunger strike, which she is doing in protest at the Iranian authorities abuses in the criminal justice system, including their refusal to release eligible prisoners held on politically motivated charges. She is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.


IRAN: UN Demands Release of Nasrin Sotoudeh - Report

United Nations:  GENEVA (25 September 2020) – UN independent experts expressed alarm at human rights lawyer and woman human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh’s return to Evin Prison in Iran this week despite her deteriorating health condition, and called for her immediate release.

“It is unfathomable that the Iranian authorities would return Ms. Sotoudeh to prison where she is at heightened risk to COVID-19, as well as with her serious heart condition,” the experts said. 

“We urge the authorities to immediately reverse this decision, accept her requests to recuperate at home before undergoing a heart procedure, and allow her to freely choose her own medical treatment,” they added. 

As well as raising their deep concerns for her health, the experts stressed that Ms. Sotoudeh’s current detention is again allegedly arbitrary. In 2011, after previously being imprisoned, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found she had been arbitrarily deprived of her liberty and called for her immediate release. Ms. Sotoudeh’s current imprisonment comes after she was sentenced in March 2019 to a combined prison sentence of over 30 years and 148 lashes on seven charges. Iranian law requires that she serve 12 years, the harshest of her seven sentences.

“Ms. Sotoudeh is a recognised human rights lawyer who fearlessly defends the rights of Iranians despite constant State harassment for over a decade,” the experts said. “She continues to raise her voice to defend human rights despite being imprisoned and in poor health.”

“The evidence suggests Ms. Sotoudeh’s imprisonment, both now and in the past, is State retaliation for her tireless work defending human rights. She is one of many Iranian human rights lawyers who are currently imprisoned for defending fundamental freedoms. Her convictions and sentences, as well as those of all other lawyers arbitrarily detained in Iran, should immediately be quashed and her case reviewed consistent with fair trial standards,” the experts added.

On 23 September 2020, the Iranian authorities returned Ms. Sotoudeh to Evin Prison from Taleghani Hospital, where she was admitted on 19 September for a serious heart condition. While in hospital, she was under the surveillance of State security officials, who reportedly obstructed her treatment, blocked family contact and mistreated her. She is also in a weakened condition after refusing food for over 40 days in protest  against poor hygiene measures in Iran’s prisons during COVID-19 and the authorities’ refusal to temporarily release detained human rights defenders, lawyers, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience under official COVID-19 directives.  

The experts echoed Ms. Sotoudeh’s call for the Iranian authorities to grant temporary release to human rights defenders, lawyers, dual and foreign nationals, prisoners of conscience, political prisoners and all other individuals detained without sufficient legal basis during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Friday, September 25, 2020

IRAN - Men in Danger of Amputation of Fingers - PRESS RELEASE

Amnesty International, USA, 9-24-2020.

The international community must do everything in its power to stop Iranian authorities from amputating the fingers of four men convicted of robbery following forced “confessions” and grossly unfair trials, said Amnesty International today.


According to information obtained by the organization, the sentences against the four men, Hadi Rostami (33), Mehdi Sharfian (37), Mehdi Shahivand (42) and Kasra Karami (40), have been upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court and referred to the Centre for the Implementation of Sentences. The sentences may be carried out at any moment.


The four men, currently held in Urumieh prison in West Azerbaijan province, are sentenced to “have four fingers on their right hands completely cut off so that only the palm of their hands and their thumbs are left”, as per the punishment stipulated for certain types of robbery under Article 278 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code.


“Carrying out such unspeakably inhumane punishments is not justice and underlines the cruelty of Iran’s criminal justice system. Amputation constitutes torture, which is a crime under international law, and an abhorrent assault on human dignity,” said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.


“We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally stop such shocking acts of cruelty. The international community must urgently act to ensure the sentences are quashed. The prosecution and judicial authorities responsible for ordering and executing such practices should know that they are liable to face criminal prosecution under international law.”



Sunday, September 20, 2020

IRAN: Free Nasrin - PETITION

PEN AMERICA, September 19, 2020.

As the United Nations marks the opening of its 75th anniversary General Assembly, Iranian activist and writer Nasrin Sotoudeh will mark the 42nd day of her hunger strike. Sotoudeh, Iran’s leading women’s rights lawyer, is demanding the release of political prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Who is the woman described as Iran’s Mandela? Why does the situation of Sotoudeh and Iran’s political prisoners matter? And why must the world’s leaders, gathered at the UN, defend the UN Charter—principles of law, rights, dignity, and freedom—reflected in the plight of one woman? Join PEN America and Convisero for our panel on Sotoudeh’s urgent and dire situation, and the importance of her case and her advocacy in a global context. 

This event is in support of PEN America’s petition demanding Sotoudeh’s immediate and unconditional release, signed among many others by Ayad Akhtar, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Hillary Clinton, Geralyn Dreyfous, Khaled Hosseini, Kweku Mandela, Azar Nafisi, Samantha Power, and Gloria Steinem.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

IRAN: Secret execution of wrestler Navid Afkari a ‘travesty of justice’ - NEWS

Amnesty International, Sept 13, 2020.

The secret execution this morning of wrestling champion Navid Afkari, without prior notice to him, his family or lawyer, after a grossly unfair trial, is a horrifying travesty of justice that needs immediate international action.

Before his secret execution Navid Afkari, 27, was subjected to a shocking catalogue of human rights violations and crimes, including enforced disappearance; torture and other ill-treatment, leading to forced “confessions”; and denial of access to a lawyer and other fair trial guarantees.

“This young man desperately sought help in court to receive a fair trial and prove his innocence. Leaked voice recordings of him in court expose how his pleas for judges to investigate his torture complaints and bring another detainee who had witnessed his torture to testify were unlawfully and cruelly ignored,” said Diana Eltahawy.

Before his execution, another voice recording from inside prison was released, in which he said: “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed.”

“Given the impunity which prevails in Iran, we urge the international community, including UN human rights bodies and EU member states, to take strong action through public and private interventions,” said Diana Eltahawy.“We deplore the Iranian authorities’ repeated use of the death penalty, which has earned it the shameful status of consistently being among the world’s most prolific executioners. There is no justification for the death penalty, which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and we urge the Iranian authorities to abolish it.”

Saturday, September 12, 2020

CHINA: Urghur Jailed in Secret Trial - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, Sept 11, 2020.

Maiwulani Nuermaimaiti, an internet technician, was sentenced to nine years in prison for “separatist activities” in August 2017. Taken away in January 2017, his family members only found out about the sentencing in December 2019. 

No evidence against him or information about a trial has ever been made public, but his family members believe that he was charged merely for having visited Turkey to study Turkish between 2012 and 2014. There are grave concerns for Maiwulani Nuermaimaiti’s wellbeing. 


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

USA: Act now - Tell your Senators to fund gun violence prevention

This Labor Day weekend, there were more than 57 shootings in Chicago. Already this year, there have been more shootings in New York City than in all of 2019.

Horrifically, shootings have notably risen in other cities across the country with seemingly no end in sight, and no substantial action by our policymakers.

Exacerbated by COVID-19, gun violence is killing hundreds of people each month — and just like the pandemic, it is disproportionately harming Black communities and communities of color.

Say it with me: gun violence is a human rights crisis in the United States. And if we are going to address — and solve — it, we MUST address the underlying causes, exactly how we would any other crisis.

Amnesty has been fighting tooth-and-nail to apply pressure on Congress to invest $150 million in community-based prevention and intervention programs and pass into law substantive reforms, like the Break the Cycle of Violence Act. This July, in part due to pressure from Amnesty members like you, the House passed an appropriations bill containing an increase in funding for these programs — but the fight isn’t over. We need the Senate to do the same before it’s too late. Demand your two senators support increased funding for gun violence prevention programs this year.

Communities of color in the U.S. have suffered generations of marginalization and disinvestment, contributing further to the disparate impact of gun violence. But the solution isn’t more policing. Instead, we need to invest in the programs that have already been proven to work: supporting individuals most at risk of being involved in gun violence through street outreach programs, group violence intervention strategies, and other community-led approaches.

These approaches are evidence-based ways to save lives — but right now, many of the community organizations that champion this work are struggling to keep afloat because of the pandemic. What’s worse, even when these programs have been most successful, they’ve been defunded, leading to a resurgence of violence. If Congress fails to make a long-term commitment to violence-reduction, we will lose even more people to the crisis of gun violence.

Urge your senators: prioritize investing in gun violence prevention and intervention programs now.

Thanks to the relentless advocacy of activists like you, the House of Representatives just increased funding for community-based gun violence prevention in July. But that’s not the end of the fight. Now, we’re turning our sights to the Senate — your senators need to know where their constituents stand.

This is literally a matter of life and death for so many. Thank you for your voice in this fight.

BANGLADESH: Migrant Workers Detained - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, 9-8-2020.

The arbitrary arrest and detention of 81 Bangladeshi migrant workers in September after they arrived in Bangladesh from Vietnam having been trafficked brings a total of more than 300 Bangladeshi workers arrested and detained upon their return from various countries since May 2020. 

Detained for “tarnishing the image of the country” by allegedly engaging in criminal activities, no credible evidence concerning their alleged crimes has yet been provided in any case. Their arrest and detention violate Bangladesh’s obligations under international human rights law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They must be freed immediately unless they are promptly charged with a recognizable offense.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

NIGERIA: Singer at Risk of Execution - URGENT ACTION

Amnesty International, USA, 9-7-2020.

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a 22-year old singer detained in Kano prison, Kano State, in northern Nigeria, is at risk of imminent execution after an Upper Shari’a Court sentenced him to death by hanging for circulating a song via WhatsApp considered blasphemous. Influential individuals and religious leaders are mounting pressure on the authorities to carry out the judgement as soon as possible. Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is now appealing the sentence. He must be immediately and unconditionally released. 


Thursday, September 3, 2020

IRAN: Trampling Humanity: Report

Amnesty International, USA, 9-2-2020.

Today, Amnesty International has published a new report titled Trampling humanity: Mass arrests, disappearances and torture since Iran’s 2019 November protests. The report documents the human rights violations committed against protesters and others arrested in connection with the nationwide protests that took place in Iran between 15 and 19 November 2019 and which were brutally suppressed by the authorities. Following Amnesty International’s documentation of unlawful killings carried out during the protests, the organization has investigated the actions of the Iranian authorities since then and concluded that they have committed further widespread patterns of serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, and flagrant breaches of the right to a fair trial. Given the gravity of the violations perpetrated and the systematic impunity prevailing in Iran, the report renews Amnesty International’s call on member states of the UN Human Rights Council to mandate a UN-led inquiry into the violations committed with a view to ensuring accountability and guarantees of non-repetition.


The report is attached to this email and is available in both English and Persian on the Amnesty International website at the following link: