Turkey Could Be Taking A Big Step Backwards In Human Rights

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AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

Please note this article first appeared on Time.com here.

By Katy Pownall, News Writer at Amnesty International

It’s rush hour on Istanbul’s Bosphorus Bridge. Queues of cars jostle for position, the noise of horns fills the air, a young man selling Turkish flags weaves through the traffic carrying dozens of fluttering pieces of fabric; red and emblazoned with the country’s striking crescent and star.

Looking at the bustling scene, it’s difficult to believe that just a week ago, this same bridge was the scene of bloody carnage. The place where heavily armed soldiers and tanks first stationed themselves, and Istanbul’s inhabitants realized that a military coup was underway. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Former Refugee Who Rescued His Own Family on a Greek beach

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The relief is visible as Ghias Aljundi (left, in yellow) welcomes his family after 18 years apart in Lesvos, Greece, December 2015. © Private

On World Refugee Day, we talk to Ghias Aljundi, who fled to the UK from Syria 18 years ago. He is one of thousands volunteering to help refugees arriving in Greece since last year. But he’d never expected that one day he’d rescue his own family from a rubber boat. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Azerbaijan: Khadija, On Your Birthday, You Are Not Alone!

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Khadija Ismayilova.jpgBy Ella Shen and Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik, Eurasia Coordination Group at Amnesty International USA

**UPDATE: Khadija was freed on May 25th, 2016, however, her conviction is still yet to be overturned.

Renowned investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova turns forty on Friday, May 27, celebrating her birthday for the second consecutive year in Baku’s Kurdukhani jail. Prior to the politically motivated charges and her imprisonment, Ismayilova worked as a senior investigator with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and as a political radio host at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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

IDAHOT 2016: LGBT Human Rights Around The World

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IDAHOT

Today, May 17, Amnesty International celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This IDAHOT, Amnesty International condemns the ongoing discrimination, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Scholars Jailed in Turkey’s On-Going War Against Freedom of Expression: How You Can Take Action

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Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya, Kıvanç Ersoy and Meral Camcı are academics currently held in pre-trial detention in Istanbul after they held a press conference on 10 March 2016, reiterating their support for a statement they had signed in January. The appeal for peace criticizing ongoing curfews and security operations in south eastern Turkey and calling for a resumption of peace talks between Turkey and the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) initially attracted 1,128 academics across Turkey. A further 1,084 academics since signed to appeal, bringing the total to 2,212 signatories.

Esra Mungan, Muzaffer Kaya, Kıvanç Ersoy and Meral Camcı are academics currently held in pre-trial detention in Istanbul after they held a press conference on 10 March 2016.

Turkey has suffered from a series of horrendous attacks in recent months.  The security challenges it faces are very real. Unfortunately, the rhetoric coming out of Ankara suggests that, under the umbrella of fighting terrorism, the most basic civil liberties are to be targeted.

Citizens from all walks of life, including journalists, scholars, lawyers, and thirteen year olds sharing stuff on facebook, have all been targeted by the Turkish authorities simply for expressing ideas that the government doesn’t like.  Turkey’s current campaign against academics who signed a “peace petition” is emblematic of a much larger problem.  It is time to take action.  It is time to add your voice to those calling on Turkey to respect the most basic rights of freedom of expression.

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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

Beaten up for Being in Love

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Costas and his refugee partner were brutally beaten during a homophobic and racist attack on 23 August 2014. The couple were sitting on a bench in a square in central Athens when a group of 12-15 young men wearing black shirts violently attacked them. Costas says that the men threw a bucket of filthy water on them, and then punched and kicked him for more than 10 minutes. The attackers then overturned a trash bin over Costas' head, and broke his leg in three places above the ankle, leaving him in need of surgery and months of recovery. No perpetrators have been punished, and no suspects have been identified.Costas and his refugee partner were brutally beaten during a homophobic and racist attack on 23 August 2014. The couple were sitting on a bench in a square in central Athens when a group of 12-15 young men wearing black shirts violently attacked them. Costas says that the men threw a bucket of filthy water on them, and then punched and kicked him for more than 10 minutes. The attackers then overturned a trash bin over Costas' head, and broke his leg in three places above the ankle, leaving him in need of surgery and months of recovery. No perpetrators have been punished, and no suspects have been identified.

By Costas

In August 2014, Costas and his partner were badly beaten up by thugs in a violent homophobic and racist attack in central Athens.

We had met a couple of months previously at Athens Pride, and we had decided to move in together. We lived in a small studio in central Athens. One day in late August, we went to buy some things from the shop, and I suggested spending some time outside instead of going back home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Civil Society and Human Rights Continue to Disintegrate Under Russia’s Heavy Handed ‘Rule of Law’

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Yekaterina VologzheninovaBy Courtney Dobson, Country Specialist for Russia at Amnesty International USA.

There is a clear juxtaposition between Putin’s ambition for Russia to be a superpower in the global arena and the disintegration of human rights and civil society at home. In recent months, Putin may have gained diplomatic points in the global arena for commanding the world’s attention to its aggressive activities both in eastern Ukraine and its military action in Syria. However this grandstanding on the world stage should not be cause for distraction; the attack on Russian civil society continues, as a single mom and shop assistant from the Sverdlovsk region of Russia has been charged with inciting ethnic hatred for sharing links on social media.

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16 Years of Silence: Enforced Disappearances in Belarus Must Be Investigated

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By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik, Belarus Country Specialist, Amnesty International USA

The legal term may be clunky – “enforced disappearance” – but the human story is simple: People literally disappear, from their loved ones and their community, when state officials (or someone acting with state consent) grab them from the street or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are. It is a crime under international law.

September 16 marked the 16 anniversary of enforced disappearance of prominent Belarusian opposition politician Viktar Hanchar and his business associate Anatol Krasouski. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST