This is big news. At long last, the Obama administration has reportedly notified both Congress and the UK government that Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer will be transferred home to the UK after 13 years. Shaker’s case has for years compelled the Amnesty movement, along with many others, to call loudly for him to be transferred back to the UK. So today’s news is, to say the least, heartening. But as we celebrate, let us not forget – there is much more to be done, and not much time left to do it. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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.
The state of Georgia is set to execute Kelly Gissendaner next week, on Tuesday September 29. In some ways this case is unusual, even exceptional; in other ways, it’s business as usual – especially in a state like Georgia.
What makes Kelly Gissendaner’s case different? For one thing, she’s a woman. Gissendaner is the only woman on Georgia’s death row. If she’s executed, she’ll the first woman put to death by the State of Georgia in 70 years. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Police and security forces in Angola use the courts, dogs, batons, torture, and murder to attack citizens exercising rights guaranteed in their constitution and under international law. Journalist Rafael Marques is witness to nearly all these tactics as he documents corruption and rights violations in the country he calls home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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
By Josefina Salomón, News Writer at Amnesty International in Mexico @josefinasalomon
It was the most difficult day of her life.
On the morning of 5 September 2010, Mirna Solórzano stood in front of a cargo plane in San Salvador’s airport, watching as soldiers unloaded a coffin. They said it contained the remains of her daughter, Glenda.
The 23 year old had beenmurdered alongside another 71 men and women in the Mexican town of San Fernando, in Tamaulipas, near the border with Texas, a few weeks earlier on 22 August.
Most were attempting to cross Mexico hoping to reach the USA and find jobs that would help them support their relatives back home. But the journey is known to be one of the most dangerous in the world, with those traveling routinely facing abductions, torture and death. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Following a wave of violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly has passed a law establishing increased penalties for hate crimes. Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Director for the Americas, emphasized that this law “should be a catalyst for a series of concrete measures to stop the alarming and growing wave of attacks against members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transexual community, who suffer grave threats and abuses on a daily basis.”
Amnesty offices around the world circulated similar petitions, so that our supporters globally would have an opportunity to take action. Over 500,000 people have so far signed these petitions.
Some media organizations have subsequently released reports which have questioned the petition. Some have said that members of the gram panchayat – the elected village council – and members of the dominant caste have denied the allegations. Others have claimed that Amnesty did not investigate the case.
Unfortunately, these reports have taken the attention away from the situation of the sisters themselves, who along with their family still fear for their safety.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On August 22, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka issued an order “based on the principle of humanism” to release six political prisoners, including Mikalai Statkevich and Yury Rubtsov, recognized as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
Mikalai Statkevich was one of six opposition presidential candidates who were imprisoned in connection with a largely peaceful demonstration that took place on December 19, 2010. Tens of thousands of Belarusians gathered in central Minsk to protest against unfair elections. The demonstration was mostly peaceful, but when a violent incident broke out at the doors of Government House, riot police moved in to disperse the crowds. Over 700 people were detained, the overwhelming majority of whom had been peaceful participants and bystanders. Most of the detained were charged with administrative offences and sentenced to 10 to 15 days in prison. Many who were sentenced for participating in the demonstrations were released after they agreed to sign a confession for organizing or taking part in “mass disorder.” Mikalai was sentenced to six years.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Sandya Eknaligoda wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda with with their two sons Sathyajith Sanjaya and Harith Danajaya
The wife of a disappeared journalist said of her husband’s disappearance, “I think it’s one of the worst crimes in the world, making people disappear. It is not just the one person who disappears…the whole family is psychologically killed.” Yet the crime of enforced disappearance continues unabated in all regions of the world. Governments or their agents are making people “disappear,” repressing suspected adversaries, human rights defenders, witnesses and relatives of victims. Families of the disappeared suffer the anguish of not knowing, sometimes for years, whether their loved ones are being ill-treated or are even still alive.