Dear Baku: Stop beating activist. Release her. Drop treason charge!

Leila Yunus, director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

Leila Yunus, director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

Arresting its loudest critic and charging her with “treason” doesn’t seem enough for Azerbaijani officials. Last week, peace activist and human rights defender

was beaten by Kurdakhany detention facility administration staff.

An April 2014 video shows Leyla Yunus confronting officials (in Russian) about not having been allowed to use the toilet during an unlawful detention for interrogation. Although officials eventually allowed her to use a toilet (with a male guard watching her), Leyla says she was not informed of charges against her.

Less than half a year later after the detention, Leyla (and soon her husband Arif Yunus) were arrested and given ridiculous charges of treason and tax evasion. Amnesty International considers both Prisoners of Conscience and calls on Baku to release them immediately and unconditionally (add your voice to our appeal).

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Declare Your Solidarity with Belgrade Pride 2014!

SERBIA-RIGHTS-GAY

(ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)


By Andy Graan, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Serbia, Macedonia, and Western Europe

LGBT activists and supporters in Serbia have been working tirelessly to prepare for Belgrade Pride, scheduled for September 28. Despite annual efforts to celebrate Belgrade Pride, the 2014 parade, if held successfully, will mark only the third time in more than a decade that the event has actually occurred.

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Amnesty Goes On the Ground as Repression Worsens in Turkey

A man protects a woman as they face a police officer dispersing protesters who gathered near Taksim square in Istanbul as the police blocked access to the square during the one year anniversary of the Gezi park and Taksim square demonstrations (Photo Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images).

A man protects a woman as they face a police officer dispersing protesters who gathered near Taksim square in Istanbul as the police blocked access to the square during the one year anniversary of the Gezi park and Taksim square demonstrations (Photo Credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images).

On the first anniversary of the Gezi Protests and their brutal suppression in Turkey, central Istanbul resembled nothing so much as a city under occupation. Public transportation into the city center was cancelled. Ferry service from the Asian to the European side of the metropolis was ended by the late afternoon. You could leave, but you couldn’t come back.

This is the image of the new Turkey, where dissent is stifled with overwhelming force and massive police presence.

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Turkey’s Dreadful Response to the Soma Mining Disaster

Relatives of a miner mourn beside his grave following the Soma mining disaster, on May 17, 2014 in Soma, Turkey (Photo Credit: Halit Onur Sandal/Getty Images).

Relatives of a miner mourn beside his grave following the Soma mining disaster, on May 17, 2014 in Soma, Turkey (Photo Credit: Halit Onur Sandal/Getty Images).

Last week’s mining disaster in Turkey represented more than simply an industrial accident, but raised very real human rights concerns. The government’s response in the last week, however, have only heightened these concerns.

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3 Reasons Amnesty is Concerned About Turkey’s Mining Disaster

Relatives of the victims of the coal mine fire in Turkey check lists of the dead miners. An explosion and fire followed an electrical fault killed at least 232 miners and injured many others (Photo Credit: Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Relatives of the victims of the coal mine fire in Turkey check lists of the dead miners. An explosion and fire followed an electrical fault killed at least 232 miners and injured many others (Photo Credit: Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

The mining disaster in Soma, a small town in Western Turkey, is, by any standards, a shocking tragedy. Amnesty International, in a statement issued today, makes clear, however, that this tragedy could have been averted.

Although the total number killed is unlikely to be determined for some time, at least two hundred are confirmed dead already.

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Introducing a Different Type of Social Media Campaign to Help Prisoners of Conscience in Belarus


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

By Viachaslau ‘Slava’ Bortnik, Amnesty USA’s Country Specialist for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine

On May 9, the opening day of the Ice Hockey World Championship, the U.S. will play with Belarus in Minsk.

It is very rarely that Belarus holds an event of such large scale, and one would think that it would be in the interest of a country with such a notorious human rights record to provide a safe and comfortable environment for foreign guests and native hockey fans.

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What’s Behind Turkey’s Crackdown on the May 1 Protests?

Turkish riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters during a May Day demonstration on May 1, (Photo Credit: Burak Kara/Getty Images).

Turkish riot police use water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters during a May Day demonstration on May 1, (Photo Credit: Burak Kara/Getty Images).

A History of Protest

For decades, May Day celebrations in Turkey have been an important litmus test of the government’s tolerance for freedom of expression and assembly. At the center of this history have been demonstrations in Taksim Square, arguably the “hub” of modern Istanbul and, where, in 1977, dozens of protesters were killed in what has been termed the “Taksim Square Massacre.”

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How Much Do You Know About Turkey’s “Twitter Trial”?

Turkey on March 27,2014 banned video-sharing website YouTube, a week after blocking access to Twitter (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkey on March 27,2014 banned video-sharing website YouTube, a week after blocking access to Twitter (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

In Turkey, 29 men and women are about to go on trial for Twitter messages they sent during the Gezi Protests last June. This is another ugly step in the Turkish government’s increasingly intense war on dissent. It is important to let the government – as well as those on trial – know that the whole world is watching.

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How Much Do You Know About Turkey’s Social Media Crackdown?

Turkish riot police use water cannon to disperse protesters outside the Supreme Electoral Council on April 1, 2014 (Photo Credit: Adam Altan/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkish riot police use water cannon to disperse protesters outside the Supreme Electoral Council on April 1, 2014 (Photo Credit: Adam Altan/AFP/Getty Images).

Despite a number of disputes over vote counts and numerous allegations of impropriety,  the municipal elections in Turkey held this past Sunday clearly gave the Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP a resounding victory.

Just as clearly, however, government actions in the lead up to  elections, along with statements since, have given Turkish human rights advocates ample cause for concern.

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Crimea: A Culture of Fear, Made in Russia

People wave Russian and Soviet flags as they look at fireworks in the center of the Crimean city of Sevastopol celebrating the annexation of the peninsula by Russia (Photo Credit: Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images).

People wave Russian and Soviet flags as they look at fireworks in the center of the Crimean city of Sevastopol celebrating the annexation of the peninsula by Russia (Photo Credit: Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images).

This post originally appeared in Foreign Policy under the title “A Culture of Fear, Made in Russia.”

By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General

Two decades of stuttering human rights reform in Ukraine was almost scuppered overnight when, on January 16 this year, the Parliament in Kiev railroaded through a raft of new legislation to restrict the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

A virtual carbon-copy of laws adopted in neighboring Russia in recent years, they were tailor-made to give the Ukrainian authorities increased powers to prosecute those involved in the anti-government protests in Kiev’s central Maydan Square, as well as silence dissent more widely.

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