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.
“They’ve already taken my husband. I’m not going to succumb to fear,” wife of disappeared Lao agriculture specialist tells audience.
How does one suddenly disappear from a busy city street?
In 2005, in recognition of his community leadership, Sombath Somphone won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize. Sombath has played a key role in supporting the development of civil society in Laos. Sombath founded the Participatory Development Training Centre in 1996 to promote education, leadership skills and sustainable development in Laos.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children go missing in dozens of countries around the world. In 2012, Amnesty International documented such cases in 31 countries. It’s a crime, all right, but these are not kidnappings for ransom or other criminal motives. These people were taken away by their own governments or agents acting for the government. The government then denies any knowledge of their whereabouts. Their relatives live in a torment of uncertainty – not knowing whether their loved ones are alive, being tortured or even dead. The missing have joined the ranks of the “disappeared.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks. From her prison cell in Kansas, Chelsea tells us why speaking out against injustice can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Why did you decide to leak documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
These documents were important because they relate to two connected counter-insurgency conflicts in real-time from the ground. Humanity has never had this complete and detailed a record of what modern warfare actually looks like. Once you realize that the co-ordinates represent a real place where people live; that the dates happened in our recent history; that the numbers are actually human lives – with all the love, hope, dreams, hatred, fear, and nightmares that come with them – then it’s difficult to ever forget how important these documents are. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Jandira Queiroz, activism and mobilization advisor at AI Brazil at the Paraguayan consulate, Rio de Janeiro, delivering signatures for pregnant 10-year-old girs case. (Photo Credit: Anistia Internacional Brasil)
It was a situation almost too heart-wrenching to comprehend. In April this year came the news from Paraguay that “Mainumby” (not her real name) then a 10-year-old girl, had become pregnant after she was repeatedly raped, allegedly by her stepfather. The girl had been taken to hospital several times in a four-month-period before the pregnancy was discovered.
After finding out the horrific news, Mainumby’s mother, whose legal complaint against her daughter’s abuser had fallen on deaf ears, made a request to the authorities to allow her daughter to have an abortion. But the government refused it, and instead moved the girl into a home for young mothers.
The reason? Paraguay, like many other countries in Latin America, has some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws – where terminating a pregnancy is only allowed if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. Authorities decided this case did not fall under the exception, despite the risk that a pregnancy poses to such a young girl’s physical and mental health.
Demonstrators march through the Manguinhos favela to protest against police killings of blacks on August 22, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Every year, Brazil’s police are responsible for around 2,000 deaths, one of the highest rates in the world. Many of the deaths in Rio involve blacks killed in favelas, also known as slums. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Here in the United States, we know the names. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Rekia Boyd. All African Americans killed by police.
But we don’t know the names of Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira — 10 years old and shot by police who mistook a phone for a gun. Or Alan de Souza Lima — who at 15 was filming his friends laughing and joking and unwittingly captured his own death seconds later in a hail of bullets. Or Claudia da Silva Ferreira, a 38-year-old mother who was wounded in a police shootout, tossed out of the unsecured back door of a police vehicle and fatally dragged 1,000 feet.
Abd al-Rahman Hamada, Hussein Gharir, Mazen Darwish, Hani al-Zitani and Mansour al-Omari
From a country where there is little reason to celebrate, here is some good news: Amnesty International learned Monday that Syrian human rights activist Mazen Darwish, who had been jailed by the Assad government on trumped-up terrorism charges, has been released.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Indian sex workers hold placards as they take part in a rally in New Delhi, 08 March 2006 to mark the International Women’s Day. The protestors demanded social rights and the Immoral Traffic Prevention (ITP) Act to be scrapped. (Photo credit: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images)
A crucial vote to protect the human rights of sex workers was passed today in Dublin at Amnesty International’s decision-making forum, the International Council Meeting (ICM). Delegates from around the world authorized the organization’s International Board to develop and adopt a policy on the issue.
This is a divisive, sensitive and complex issue and our priority has been and remains an approach that best protects the rights of some of the most marginalized people in the world. That is why we have been working for over two years to develop a policy to protect the human rights of sex workers based on research and global consultation with hundreds of organizations, our international membership and many more individuals worldwide.