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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The U.S.-Africa Summit Sessions Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Missed

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 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 Dr. Rowly Brucken, Zimbabwe Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the U.S.-Africa summit this week, as he is currently subject to U.S. sanctions. But let’s imagine he was invited, and what he could have contributed to several events on just the first day:

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Swaziland Prisoners of Conscience Stay Behind Bars During U.S.-Africa Summit

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the 4th EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the fourth EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/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 Jamie Skaluba, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Swaziland, Malawi and Lesotho

As King Mswati III and his delegation board their royal airplane to Washington, D.C. to lend a Swazi voice to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, two men remain imprisoned in Swaziland for merely exercising their human right to use their voices.

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Will the President of Myanmar Keep His Promise?

A group of protesters call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests in Yangon on January 5, 2013. Thousands joined a rally in Myanmar's main city to call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests. (Photo Credit: Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of protesters call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests in Yangon on January 5, 2013. Thousands joined a rally in Myanmar’s main city to call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests (Photo Credit: Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images).

The veneer of progress is wearing thin in Myanmar. A year ago, the President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, promised to release all prisoners of conscience. Earlier this year, to mark Myanmar’s Independence Day, the President ordered the release of thousands of prisoners. Now one year on from the promise to release all prisoners of conscience, the promise remains unfulfilled. Even more troubling is the fact that the government is arresting more prisoners of conscience.

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When Chevron Subpoenas an Amnesty International Activist

 

The lawyer of Ecuadorean people affected by Texaco-Chevron --who have long sought compensation for pollution between the 1970s and early 1990s-- Steven Donziger, gestures during a press conference on March 19, 2014 in Quito. (Photo credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)

The lawyer of Ecuadorean people affected by Texaco-Chevron –who have long sought compensation for pollution between the 1970s and early 1990s– Steven Donziger, gestures during a press conference on March 19, 2014 in Quito. (Photo credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images)

In an unprecedented legal move, 17 U.S.-based civil society organizations – among them Amnesty International, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, and Friends of the Earth – have just filed an amicus brief in federal appeals court defending their First Amendment rights from attack by Chevron.

Let me back this story up by about 18 months.

In November 2012, Chevron subpoenaed me.

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