“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

Waterboarding Is Torture: 3 Things You Need to Know

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For years, Amnesty International has witnessed public figures repeating misconceptions and inaccuracies about waterboarding.  This American debate on torture has mostly got it wrong – here are three realities you need to know:

  1. Waterboarding is slow-motion suffocation

People who take the time to learn about Waterboarding see how horrific it is.

But many people don’t. Media and public figures often describe waterboarding as a form of “enhanced interrogation”—a euphemism that rationalizes and sanitizes torture. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

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

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

Guantanamo’s Poetry: 14 Years Too Many

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Can you imagine needing to write? What if you needed to write so badly that’d you use toothpaste instead of a pen, a Styrofoam cup instead of paper, if that’s all you had?

What would it be like if this writing – this poetry – was the only way to preserve your sanity? Your humanity?

That’s how it was – how it may still be – for the prisoners at Guantánamo. As the prison enters its 15th year of operation, there are 107 people still there, and most are held without charge. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Guantánamo is entering its fifteenth year. Here are 5 people waiting for President Obama to keep his promise to close it.

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On January 11, 2016, the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will enter its fifteenth year of existence. The “forever prison” is perhaps the most infamous icon of the human rights abuses resulting from the global war on terror. Instead of justice for the September 11 attacks, Guantánamo has given the world torture, indefinite detention and unfair trials. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

On Your Birthday, You Are Not Forgotten

Azam Farmonov is a member of the unregistered independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU) from Sirdaria region, he was arbitrarily detained in the city of Gulistan. Azam Farmonov is the head of the HRSU Sirdaria regional branch. Alisher Karamatov is the head of the HRSU Mirzaabad district branch, he had been defending the rights of local farmers who had accused some district farming officials of malpractice, extortion and corruption. For further information see: EUR 04/001/2007

This week, Azam Farmonov, a prisoner of conscience in Uzbekistan, is spending his 37th birthday in prison. Azam has spent the last ten years jailed for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Please join Amnesty International in wishing Azam a happy birthday and declaring your support and solidarity with him. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Letter from Shawkan Photojournalist Imprisoned in Egypt

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

This letter was first published by Mada Masr here.

Amnesty International has collected nearly 90,000 signatures worldwide in a petition calling for Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid’s release ahead of his first court session, scheduled for December 12 at Cairo Criminal Court.

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, more popularly known as Shawkan, has written a letter of thanks (below) to all those calling for his freedom.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Free my Father, the World’s Longest Imprisoned Journalist

By Aigul Bekzhanova

My name is Aigul, and I am writing to you about my father, imprisoned journalist Muhammad Bekzhanov.

My father is the world’s longest imprisoned journalist, together with his codefendant Yusuf Ruzimuradov from the same paper, jailed at the same time in 1999.

My father’s crime? He dared to speak the truth about human rights abuses by the Uzbekistani government. In 1999, security forces tortured him nearly to death, and forced him to confess to “anti-state” crimes. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

After 13 years, Shaker Aamer Is Leaving Guantanamo: Here are 5 Things You Should Know

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By Gay Gardner, Amnesty International USA member

I’m an activist with Amnesty International, and today is a reminder of why I have been doing this for more than 30 years. Shaker Aamer is finally returning to his family in the U.K., after being held without charge at Guantanamo for more than 13 years. Amnesty’s campaign, along with the work of countless activists around the world, has helped get the U.S. government to release him. It is the unwavering defense of the dignity of individuals such as Shaker Aamer that inspires me and keeps me active in Amnesty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST