By Alicia Koutsoulieris, Case Coordinator for Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian Authority
Freedom of speech has suffered a tragic start in 2015.
As the world calls for the release of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, there is another person who also deserves our support. While you read this, Palestinian Murad Shtewi sits in an Israeli prison. His “crime?” Daring to protest the Israeli military occupation that his village lives under. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Raif Badawi, founder of a website for political and social debate, has been held in a Saudi Arabian prison since 17 June 2012. ©Private
An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been identified for security reasons.
“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today. They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew.
No one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marzieh Afkham
Iranian state-controlled news media have been having an extended field day recently, gleefully reporting on the ever-unfolding news about human rights violations committed by agents of the U.S. government. These include of course the revelations in the recently released CIA torture report and the police killings of unarmed African-American men in Staten Island, Ferguson and elsewhere. Iran’s foreign ministry also recently deplored the United States “flagrant and systematic violation of the rights of its minorities.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Munira al-Hamwi, mother of ‘disappeared’ Syrian human rights attorney Razan Zaitouneh
They asked me to write about my daughter, Razan Zaitouneh. I am not a journalist or a writer but I will write what is on my mind. I will not talk about Razan’s work or her achievements as so many others have done so already.
I will never forget those times at the start of the uprising in Syria when she faded out of the public eye in order to avoid arrest. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
former New York Times Iran correspondent Nazila
Journalists working in Iran face daunting challenges. They are constantly under threat of being suddenly arrested and detained for long periods of time, in inhumane conditions and without knowing the nature of the charges against them.
Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian has just earned the dubious distinction of being the longest-held foreign journalist in Iran. Detained in Evin Prison since his arrest in July, it was just announced that Jason Rezaian’s detention was extended another two months in November. This despite the fact that Iran’s top “human rights” official, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said in early November that he anticipated that Mr. Rezaian would be released within one month. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
When Ghoncheh Ghavami decided to take a stand this past June to protest Iran’s ban on women attending volleyball games, she likely did not figure she’d spend the rest of the summer and fall sitting in a miserable prison cell. Ms. Ghavami, who just turned 26, surely also did not predict that her call for equality would generate hundreds of thousands of supportive voices from around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The noose is tightening around Egypt’s non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These Egyptian NGOs — essentially what we call “nonprofits” in the US – focus on everything from human rights to other important issues. They may soon lose their independence under an old law that the new Egyptian government is bringing back to life. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The same day Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, visited the Gaza Strip saying, “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations” was the root cause of latest escalation in violence, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People hosted a lecture by Noam Chomsky in the UN General Assembly Hall on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.
It couldn’t have happened at a more pivotal time. Significant movement is happening globally and with Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the Quartet (the U.S., the U.N., Russia and European Union) are meeting this Friday in Brussels, it’s time for the international community to finally end the status quo.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Maz Jobrani, the popular Iranian-American comedian, usually makes people laugh. But now he has set mirth aside to send a serious message to the Iranian authorities: they should release noted physicist and prisoner of conscience Omid Kokabee, who is serving a ten-year prison sentence in Iran’s Evin Prison. In his video message, Mr. Jobrani notes that Omid Kokabee was sentenced to his long prison term after a grossly unfair trial in a Revolutionary Court. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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