Myanmar: Student Activist, Phyoe Phyoe Aung, Finally Free

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Family members welcome student protest leaders Nandar Sitt Aung (L) and Phyo Phyo Aung (R) as they arrives for a hearing at her trial in Tharrawaddy town, Bago Region in Myanmar on April 8, 2016. Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi on April 7, vowed to press for the release of political prisoners and student activists, hinting that a mass amnesty may be imminent as her government seeks to stamp its mark on power in the former junta-run nation. / AFP / YE AUNG THU        (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)

Phyoe Phyoe Aung (right) outside court, 8 April 2016. Credit: YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images

Phyoe Phyoe Aung, who was detained in Myanmar after helping to organize largely peaceful student protests, has finally been released more than one year on.

Amnesty supporters across the world wrote more than 394,000 letters, emails, tweets and more for Phyoe Phyoe Aung during Write for Rights, our global letter-writing marathon. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Beaten, Arrested & Facing a Decade Behind Bars

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On March 10, 2015 hundreds of student protestors were at a standstill near the city of Letpadan in Myanmar.

They had reached the eighth day of a standoff between largely peaceful activists marching for academic freedom, and the police forces who were blocking their path when, suddenly, things came to a head. Police began beating students violently, including those who had fallen to the ground. Some tried to flee, and hundreds were arrested. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What’s the State of Human Rights Around the World?

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In 2015, Amnesty International investigated the human rights situation in 160 countries and territories worldwide. Progress continued in some areas, but many people and communities faced grave human rights abuses.

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At least 113 countries arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression and the press. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Malaysian government has no sense of humor – and that’s dangerous

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By Zunar, via The Washington Post

I’m a cartoonist in a country where cartooning can be a crime. Under my pen name, Zunar, I expose corruption and abuses of power by the Malaysian government. As it happens, I have a good deal of material to work with. For instance, Prime Minister Najib Razak is currently facing questions about a $700 million “donation” made to his personal bank account.

Last February, police raided my home in the middle of the night and hauled me off to jail. I was handcuffed for eight hours and thrown into a cell with all the other criminal suspects. I managed to avoid telling my cellmates what I was in for: using Twitter. Continue reading

Read the full piece published by The Washington Post here

On Your Birthday, You Are Not Forgotten

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Azam Farmonov is a member of the unregistered independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU) from Sirdaria region, he was arbitrarily detained in the city of Gulistan. Azam Farmonov is the head of the HRSU Sirdaria regional branch. Alisher Karamatov is the head of the HRSU Mirzaabad district branch, he had been defending the rights of local farmers who had accused some district farming officials of malpractice, extortion and corruption. For further information see: EUR 04/001/2007

This week, Azam Farmonov, a prisoner of conscience in Uzbekistan, is spending his 37th birthday in prison. Azam has spent the last ten years jailed for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Please join Amnesty International in wishing Azam a happy birthday and declaring your support and solidarity with him. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Azerbaijan: Leyla Yunus Released, but 18 Other Prisoners of Conscience are Still Behind the Bars

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By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik, chair of the Eurasia Coordination Group at Amnesty International USA

Leyla Yunus, one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights defenders and former prisoner of conscience was freed on December 9. The Baku Court of Appeals changed her sentence with a conditional release due to her deteriorated health. The court placed her on probation for the next five years and maintained her guilty verdict, widely denounced as political retaliation for her work. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why I’m Taking Action for Zunar

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Drawing with embedded photograph showing one of this years cases for Write for Rights. All design assets associated with this campaign available here: https://amnesty.app.box.com/s/9w3s2c96tz7kl0i26gb914bj0ua1qvlb Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque faces a lengthy jail sentence after taking to Twitter to condemn the jailing of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Zunar is a political cartoonist well known for his satirical attacks on government corruption and electoral fraud. He now faces nine charges under the Sedition Act, a draconian, outdated law from 1948 dredged up to grant the government sweeping powers to arrest and lock up its critics. In the first six months of 2015, more than 40 journalists, academics, political activists and lawyers were interrogated, arrested or charged under the Sedition Act. The space for dissent and debate in Malaysia is disappearing fast.

By Harry Belafonte, artist and activist 

All my life I have used my art to fight for social justice. So when I see freedom of expression under serious attack, I must act.

That is why I stand with Amnesty International today in demanding justice for courageous Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque, who is facing decades in prison for political Tweets he sent in February.

Join me. Urge the Malaysian government to immediately drop the charges against Zunar.

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After a Decade in Jail for Raising a Flag, Filep Karma is Freed

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By Max White, Country Specialist, Indonesia and Timor-Lesté, Amnesty International USA

Indonesian authorities this week released Filep Karma from prison more than 10 years after arresting him for simply raising a flag.  Amnesty International USA celebrates this long-overdue release of prisoner of conscience Filep Karma from Abepura Prison in Papua, Indonesia.

On December 1, 2004, police violently beat and stomped on Filep Karma, after arresting him for leading a peaceful ceremony which included raising the Morning Star flag, a Papuan symbol. He was (and is) a prominent advocate for the rights of Indonesia’s Papuan population. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

“Simple, honest, kind”: My Wife, the Jailed Student Activist

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By Lin Htet Naing, husband of activist & prisoner of conscience Phyoe Phyoe Aung

In March, Phyoe Phyoe Aung was locked up for helping to organize a student protest in Myanmar. After eight months in hiding, husband Lin Htet Naing was also arrested in November. Before his arrest, he told us about his partner and their fight for justice.
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Can Poetry Bring Back the Disappeared?

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On August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared, Amnesty launched “Silent Shadows” – a poetry competition in Sri Lanka to mark the decades of enforced disappearances experienced there.  That sentence raises at least four questions:

  • Why enforced disappearances? Enforced disappearances are a particularly heinous form of human rights violation.  Government agents detain a person and the government later denies any knowledge or responsibility for his or her whereabouts or status.  The victims are often tortured and in fear for their lives, while their relatives live with the agony of uncertainty over their loved ones’ fate. 

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