End Saudi Arabia’s relentless crackdown on civil and political rights activists

Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and Dr Moahmmad al-Qahtani are founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). All 11 founding members are currently either imprisoned or on trial facing imprisonment.

Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and Dr Moahmmad al-Qahtani are founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). All 11 founding members are currently either imprisoned or on trial facing imprisonment.

By Lara-Zuzan Golesorkhi, Amnesty International Saudi Arabia Country Specialist

It didn’t have to happen this way in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this decade, Saudi human rights activists saw promise for change, saw their efforts paying off.

Now they’re facing long prison sentences.

Eleven members of the prominent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) are either imprisoned or on trial, and the remaining silenced, for their peaceful activism. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

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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Hong Kong: I have not seen anything like this in decades

Pro-democracy protesters put their hands up in the air in front of the police in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. (Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-democracy protesters put their hands up in the air in front of the police in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. (Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

By Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International in Hong Kong.

The streets of Hong Kong are hard to recognize these days. The exhilarating energy filling the city’s main roads, crowded with hopeful protesters, is something I have not seen since I was a young student back in 1989, when we took to the streets in solidarity with the Tiananmen protesters.

But not even then had so many people taken to the streets in Hong Kong – nor had the police’s response been so brutal. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

A Time to Grieve and a Time to Dance

Polina Andrianova and Anna Abramova of the Russian LGBTI organization “Coming Out” (« Выход ») in St Petersburg.

Polina Andrianova and Anna Abramova of the Russian LGBTI organization “Coming Out” (« Выход ») in St Petersburg.

By Conor Fortune, News Writer at Amnesty International, who recently returned from St Petersburg

Ekaterina Khomenko’s throat was slit when a street cleaner found her in a car with the engine still running in St Petersburg earlier this month.

According to media reports, police initially suggested – somewhat incredibly – that she might have committed suicide. An investigation is now under way into the actual cause of the 29-year-old’s death. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Zone 9: The Growing Gulag in Ethiopia

Free Zone 9 Bloggers

(Credit: Hisham Almiraat, Global Voices Online)

In Ethiopia, an ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists, and other dissenting voices, are imprisoned in the eight zones of the infamous Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa.

However, a ninth zone exists in Ethiopia, one that extends well beyond the walls of Kaliti. The inability to express thoughts freely without fearing for one’s safety represents a virtual ‘imprisonment’ for the vast majority Ethiopian citizens. It was with this principle in mind that “Zone 9” was created.

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Who “Disappears”?

Artwork for disappeared uncle 'Lost Loved Ones'

Artwork by Shirmeen, aged 16, niece of disappeared Faisal Faraz, who was apprehended during a bus journey to Peshawar in Pakistan in July 2005. Several other persons who had been subjected to enforced disappearances testified to seeing them in detention but state officials denied their detention and any knowledge about their whereabouts.

A mother’s broken heart keeps waiting to know something about her only son, whom she has not seen for 670 days. A new hope is born on every sunrise to see Dr Mohamed Arab once again with us.”

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Syria is a Dangerous Place for Journalists – But Here’s Why We Need Them There

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, "We're not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don't try to get really close to what these guys - men, women, American [soldiers] ... are experiencing, we don't understand the world" (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

After three years of the Syrian uprising, it often appears like the world is tuning out. Deaths continue on a daily basis, some 9 million Syrians are listed by the U.N. as either refugees or internally displaced people, but the situation is sliding out of attention on news broadcasts, in newspaper headlines and popular attention.

This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

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Tense Night In Ferguson: Update From the Amnesty Team

Amnesty delegates in Ferguson.

Amnesty delegates in Ferguson.

As Amnesty International delegates head into their second week monitoring the tense situation in Ferguson, they’re learning first-hand what protesters on the ground have been dealing with since tensions flared after the shooting of an unarmed teen.

Last night, Twitter followers asked whether the Amnesty team encountered any problems as they tried to leave Ferguson on police orders. The team sent in this account:

Last night in Ferguson, after 11:00 pm CT, police were on loudspeaker announcing that anyone who was not credentialed media must leave the area. The Amnesty observer delegation decided to leave. They walked to leave the area, which required them to move toward police who were holding guns. The Amnesty observers put their hands up proactively as a sign that they did not hold weapons and were not a threat. A police officer stopped them and told the first three observers to kneel, which they did. The observers explained to an officer that they were human rights observers who were leaving as requested and they were granted passage.

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Amnesty International Stands with Ferguson Because All Lives Matter

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

By Muhammed Malik, Amnesty International USA Member

Today, people across the country attended vigils and solidarity actions to mourn the victims of police brutality, a problem that has gripped this nation for far too long.

A few days ago, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri confronted Michael Brown – a teenager who was full of promise and who had his whole life ahead of him. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, but the end result was the officer shooting the unarmed Brown.

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Burundi in Crisis: Government Pursues Campaign of Intimidation

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza talks during an interview at the Westin hotel in Paris on June 4, 2014. (Photo credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza talks during an interview at the Westin hotel in Paris on June 4, 2014 (Photo credit: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summitoccurring August 4-6, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Kenneth Harrow, Country Specialist on Burundi for Amnesty International USA

Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, a Burundian human rights defender, is one of the vital civil society members working for positive change in Africa. Sadly, his voice is currently silenced by the Burundi government.

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