Explore the interactive map of suspected places of detention in Eritrea.
As the 20 year anniversary of Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia approaches, the euphoria and – one may speculate – hope, that characterized celebrations on May 24, 1993 could hardly be more incongruent with the bleak reality faced by the Eritrean people today.
The scope of repression in Eritrea is truly striking. Thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners have disappeared into a vast and secret system of detention, many never to be heard from again. This system of abuse is used to silent all dissent and punish anyone who refuses to comply, including suspected critics of the government, journalists, pastors and other members of “unregistered” religious groups, those who have been caught attempting to flee the country and those forcibly returned to Eritrea from other countries.
IDP camp Grace Village, Carrefour municipality, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 2012 (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
By Chiara Liguori and James Burke of Amnesty International’s Caribbean Team
“Be prepared, we will burn down your shelters, shoot you and throw you all out.”
“We’ll burn all the camp down and kill your children.”
“I will get you out of here by any means necessary.”
These are only a few of the recent eviction threats heard by residents of camps in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince which still house hundreds of thousands of those displaced by the January 2010 earthquake.
By Cilina Nasser, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher
When Siham Abou Sitte fell in love with Ghassan al-Shihabi, she was drawn by his determination to keep the memory of old Palestine alive, his passion for reading and writing and his commitment to his work.
They were both Palestinian refugees living in Syria’s Yarmouk neighbourhood in Damascus.
When he proposed, Ghassan promised to cherish Siham’s two children from a previous marriage, Carmen (then 12) and Yamen (then 15), and treat them as his own.
Six years after they got married, Siham says Ghassan never disappointed her.
Siham recalls the day her mother passed away, Carmen was upset by her grandmother’s death and ran to Ghassan who held her in his arms even though her own father was sitting there.
Saudi Arabia is executing nearly two people per week this year: We say NO MORE!
A spree of executions that has sent 10 prisoners to their deaths since the beginning of the year in Saudi Arabia must be halted, Amnesty International said earlier this week.
The beheadings included Abdullah Fandi al-Shammari, who had originally been convicted of manslaughter, but was tried again on the charge of murder in proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards, as well as Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan foreign domestic worker.
Humanitarian Aid for Syria. Click to explore interactive map.
Ahead of a crucial donors conference for Syria tomorrow, UN officials are warning of a funding shortfall that severely might affect the response to the spiraling humanitarian crisis. John Ging, the Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), cited “a funding shortfall that is affecting the ability of the UN and its partners to deliver vital assistance, including food, water and medical supplies”, according to the UN News Centre.
Already last week, Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, urged more funding ahead of the donors conference:
We also need more resources. The humanitarian community has requested US$1.5 billion to help displaced people and the communities hosting them in Syria – and in neighbouring countries – for the next six months.
There is a funding conference on the 30th of this month, in Kuwait, which will be hosted by the Secretary-General of the UN and the Emir of Kuwait. We hope that the conference will yield the resources we need. If we do not receive these funds, we will not be able to reach the poorest and most vulnerable families who so desperately need our help.
The passport of Sri Lankan Rizana Nafeek. She was a foreign domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. And at the age of 17, she was arrested on charges of murdering an infant in her care.
Saudi Arabia has a long, infamous history of denying legal rights to foreign domestic workers, but it’s still outrageous that two recent cases indicate that these workers– whom are predominantly women — can’t even count on basic internationally accepted protections for juveniles and the mentally ill. This month, one Sri Lanka woman paid for this failure with her life. And another’s life is at risk.
The beheading of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan foreign domestic worker, on Jan. 12 underscored the lack of legal protections for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia. The execution came despite an international campaign protesting her death sentence as violating international legal standards preventing the execution of juveniles.
Only 17 years old at the time of the crime, Nafeek was arrested in May 2005 on charges of murdering an infant in her care. A court in Dawadmi, a town west of the capital Riyadh, sentenced her to death in 2007.
At the local level, Americans are demonstrating a strong commitment to advancing human rights. In recent elections, voters legalized marriage equality in nine states and passed the DREAM Act to expand educational opportunities for undocumented residents in Maryland. In addition, legislators in four states abolished the death penalty. The message to the nation’s leaders seems to be this: human rights still matter, and the task of “perfecting our union” remains incomplete.
As President Obama prepares to give his second inaugural address, he should embrace an ambitious rights agenda: enhancing our security without trampling on human rights; implementing a foreign policy that hold friends and foes alike accountable for human rights violations; and ensuring human rights for all in the United States without discrimination.
Measured against international norms and his own aspirations, President Obama’s first term record on human rights merits an “incomplete.” While he made the bold move of issuing an executive order to close Guantánamo on his second day in office, he has yet to fulfill that promise. The U.S. government’s reliance on lethal drone strikes is growing steadily, but the administration has provided no clear legal justification for the program. Congress has abrogated its responsibility to exercise meaningful oversight of this most ubiquitous element of the “global war on terror,” a paradigm which is in and of itself problematic. Although President Obama has on occasion stood up for human rights defenders abroad — in China, Iran, Russia and Libya — his administration has often muted criticism when it comes to U.S. allies, in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
(For a helpful cheat sheet of armed groups in the north of Mali, see the end of this post.)
The notion that Mali faces crisis is not new. For the better part of a year, Amnesty International has been documenting and reporting the long catalogue of abuses and outright atrocities committed in the country, by the Malian military and Junta government, and the various armed opposition groups in the North: amputations and other gruesome corporal punishment, extra-judicial executions, rape and sexual violence, child soldiering, torture, stoning, disappearances, and arrests and killings based on ethnicity, to name just the most egregious.
Indeed, on this very blog, as early as May 2012, the situation in Mali was described as a “forgotten crisis” and by July, an “urgent crisis.” There are many human rights situations that could be called a crisis, to be fair. But with the catalyzed attention as a result of French intervention at the request of the Malian government last week, recognition of the crisis in Mali warrants an urgent appeal to stave off a disastrous worsening of the conditions and abuses faced by Malians, in the north and south, as well as those displaced to neighboring countries.
The UN is expecting up to one million Syrian refugees by mid 2013. Click to explore full map.
Faced with shelling and shortages of food, water and fuel, civilians have fled their homes, becoming refugees in neighboring countries or finding themselves internally displaced. Towns and villages across Latakia, Idlib, Hama and Dara’a governorates have been effectively emptied of their populations. Entire neighbourhoods in southern and eastern Damascus, Deir al-Zour and Aleppo have been razed. The downtown of Homs city has been devastated.
—Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. December 20, 2012.
The impact of Syria’s spiraling conflict can be increasingly seen in neighboring countries, as indiscriminate attacks are sending hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing from their homes across borders in search of safety and shelter. According to the latest update from the Independent International inquiry on Syria—released just hours ago—entire towns and villages have been emptied of their populations. The intensified fighting around Damascus and the mounting atrocities across the country are accompanied by increasing reports of sectarian violence. While we can’t predict the outcome of the conflict, one thing seems certain: the cycle of violence and displacement of civilians will go on for months. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.