Nowruz Action to Bring Comfort to Prisoners of Conscience in Iran

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An Iranian boy holds a fire cracker in southern Tehran on March 19, 2013 during the Wednesday Fire feast, or Chaharshanbeh Soori, held annually on the last Wednesday eve before the Spring holiday of Noruz. The Iranian new year that begins on March 20 coincides with the first day of spring during which locals revive the Zoroastrian celebration of lighting a fire and dancing around the flame. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI        (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

An Iranian boy holds a fire cracker in southern Tehran on March 19, 2013 during the Wednesday Fire feast, or Chaharshanbeh Soori, held annually on the last Wednesday eve before the Spring holiday of Noruz. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

For the past eight years, activists have been sending messages of solidarity and support to prisoners of conscience in Iran and their families around Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, which marks the beginning of Spring. Sadly, scores of people in Iran—labor activists, journalists, social media users, artists, women’s rights activists and human rights defenders—will not be able to celebrate this important holiday with their family and friends because the Iranian government has slammed them into prison, just for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The ‘Arab Spring’: Five Years On

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MANAMA, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 19:  A person holds a flower in front of a barbed wire fence as anti-government demonstrators re-occupy Pearl roundabout on February 19, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain. Anti-government protesters were fired at with tear gas and rubber bullets as they marched to retake the roundabout, injuring several protestors at the site of two deadly previous confrontations between police and demonstrators. The Bahrain military has since backed off by order of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and instead police have been positioned to squelch the uprising.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MANAMA, BAHRAIN – FEBRUARY 19: A person holds a flower in front of a barbed wire fence as anti-government demonstrators re-occupy Pearl roundabout on February 19, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Protesters took to the streets across the Arab world in 2011, pushing their leaders to end decades of oppression.

The Middle East and North Africa was engulfed in an unprecedented outburst of popular protests and demand for reform. It began in Tunisia and spread within weeks to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What’s the State of Human Rights Around the World?

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In 2015, Amnesty International investigated the human rights situation in 160 countries and territories worldwide. Progress continued in some areas, but many people and communities faced grave human rights abuses.

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At least 113 countries arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression and the press. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why Protecting Torture Victims Scares Egypt’s Leaders

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Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

In 2014, Amnesty International USA gave one of its highest awards for human rights activism to a collection of women who for more than two decades ignored governmental harassment and ran a torture and domestic violence rehabilitation center in Cairo, Egypt.

This week, the Egyptian government gave an order to shut them down.
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“My Heart Is Exhausted”: A Mother’s Story of Death Row in Saudi Arabia

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By Nassra al-Ahmed, mother of Ali al-Nimr

Ali al-Nimr was just 17 when he was arrested on 14 February 2012 a few months after taking part in anti-government rallies. He was sentenced to death, despite being a minor when he was arrested and following a deeply unfair trial based on “confessions” he says were obtained through torture. He now awaits his execution. His mother, Nassra al-Ahmed, tells their story:

When I first heard the verdict to execute my little boy, I felt as if a thunderbolt was hitting my head. It rendered me bereaved and rid of the most cherished and beautiful things I have.

His absence has exhausted my heart. My eyes shed tears automatically, yearning for him. I am overtaken by missing his angelic features. His smile never leaves my mind and memories prompt me to weep each time I see one of his pictures. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Muhammed, What Were You Thinking About When You Accepted the Reality of Your Death?

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Fayha Shalash, the wife of Palestinian journalist Muhammed al-Qiq, sits with her son at her home in the West Bank village of Dura on January 20, 2016. Al Qiq is seen in the poster.  Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA images

Fayha Shalash, the wife of Palestinian journalist Muhammed al-Qiq, sits with her son at her home in the West Bank village of Dura on January 20, 2016. Al Qiq is seen in the poster. Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA images

Muhammed -What were you thinking about when you accepted the reality of your own death?

What thoughts and images went through your mind when you realized you were willing to risk permanent physical damage or even death to gain your freedom?

Were you thinking about the softness of your babies’ cheeks? How they smelled so fresh and their skin felt so soft after bath time?

Muhammed al Qiq, a Palestinian journalist and father of two small children, has been on hunger strike for over seventy-five days – refusing everything but water, to protest the torture and other ill-treatment to which he says he was subjected to in Israeli custody, and to demand his release from detention he believes is motivated by his work as a journalist. He was placed under administrative detention, unable to see the evidence against him and unable to challenge the ‘evidence’ or his accusers in a fair judicial setting. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

A letter from Mahienour El-Massry on the Fifth Anniversary of the Revolution

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By Mahienour El-Massry, Prisoner of Conscience in Egypt

This is the fifth year of the Revolution… I almost cannot believe that five years have passed since the chants of “the people want to bring down the system” and “Bread… Freedom… Social Justice… Human Dignity” … Maybe this is because even in my cell I am filled with dreams of freedom and with hope.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

A Year of Bloody Repression Since Flogging of Raif Badawi

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Raif Badawi with his kids.

One year after Raif Badawi was publicly flogged, he and many other activists across Saudi Arabia urgently need your support.

A year after the international outcry over his public flogging, Raif Badawi and dozens of activists remain in prison and at risk of cruel punishments in Saudi Arabia. More and more are being sentenced under a harsh counter-terrorism law, while Saudi Arabia’s allies shamelessly back the Kingdom’s repression in the name of the so-called ‘war on terror’. Join the fight back today – here are six ways you can demand action from Saudi Arabia. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Executions of Juvenile Offenders in Iran Are an Affront to the World’s Conscience

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In a very rare piece of good news in an otherwise bleak landscape, Iranian authorities recently postponed the scheduled execution of juvenile offender Salar Shadizadi at the eleventh hour. He was to be hanged on November 28 for a killing that occurred when Mr. Shadizadi was just 15 years old.

Iran is one of the very few countries in the world that continues to execute juveniles. At least four juvenile offenders — including one female — have been executed already in Iran in 2015. This is a blatant violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Iran has ratified; Article 37 of the Convention states: “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without the possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Who Is Responsible for Arming Islamic State?

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Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. Militant Islamist fighters held a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said.  REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province on June 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

By Susan Waltz, Military, Security, Police Co-Group, Amnesty International USA

Masked militants dressed head to toe in dark jumpsuits, lifting black flags and brandishing Kalashinov (AK-47) rifles: that is the now-iconic image of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). Over the past few years IS has amassed a vast arsenal, which it has deployed to commit a staggering array of atrocities with open disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law. Without hesitation, the IS military campaign has targeted its small arms and artillery at civilians – abducting, torturing, raping, and summarily executing people across Iraqi and Syrian territory. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST