People hold campaign posters of Iranian presidential candidate, Hassan Rowhani in the streets during a presidential election rally on June 11, 2013 in Tehran, Iran (Photo Credit: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images).
Iran’s challenges are not few, from job creation and stopping inflation to improving foreign relations. Most presidential candidates in 2013 ran on such platforms. However, there was a key issue that was not directly addressed in their political vernacular: human rights.
While many jubilant Iranians and a hopeful international community are touting president-elect Hassan Rouhani as a reformist because of his promise to ease restrictions at home, free political prisoners, and to offer more transparency for Iran’s controversial nuclear program, it should not be ignored that he remains, nevertheless, among those select few candidates approved to run by Iran’s Guardian Council.
It took Miriam Isaura López Vargas several weeks to piece together what happened to her after she was tortured and raped by Mexican soldiers.
On February 2, 2011, the 30-year-old mother of four had just dropped three of her children at school in the city of Ensenada, located in northern Mexico, when two men wearing balaclavas forced her into a white van and took her away.
Until then, Miriam didn’t know the men were soldiers or that she was being taken to a military barracks. She was blindfolded and her hands were tied.
“I didn’t know who they were or anything, and when I asked them they put a gun to my head and told me to shut up or they would blow my head off,” she told Amnesty International.
“…there is still a length of heavy chain bolted to the floor in front of each of their seats should it be deemed necessary. They are not in prison uniform, they all wear white clothing, with turbans or headscarves…” (Photo Credit: Michelle Shephard-Pool/Getty Images).
By Anne FitzGerald, Director of Research and Crisis Response
In the military commission court - a prefabricated industrial building on a decommissioned airfield surrounded by razor wire – we observers sit behind four layers of soundproof glass, watching proceedings via a 40-second delay. The delay allows the court to cut audio to the gallery, in case someone lets slip any classified information. But even 40 seconds late, the tension is clear between secrecy and the open examination of evidence that marks a fair trial.
The five 9/11 defendants- Yemeni nationals Walid bin Attash and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Saudi Arabian Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi, and Pakistani nationals Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ammar al Baluchi (Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali) – have been in the court three of four days this week. None seem to be taking part in the ongoing hunger strike.
Shaker Aamer (Photo Credit: Department of Defense/MCT via Getty Images)
Shaker Aamer is a U.K. resident who has been held in U.S. custody since 2001 – originally detained in notorious detention facilities at the Bagram and Kandahar Air Force bases in Afghanistan before being transferred in February 2002 to Guantanamo Bay. He was allegedly tortured – both in Afghanistan and during his time at Guantanamo – and has now been on hunger strike for more than 120 days, joining more than 100 other detainees at the facility who are also on strike.
In a recent op-ed in the Guardian, Shaker stated that every day at Guantanamo is torture. He finished the piece with this poignant point: “I hope I do not die in this awful place. I want to hug my children and watch them as they grow. But if it is God’s will that I should die here, I want to die with dignity. I hope, if the worst comes to the worst, that my children will understand that I cared for the rights of those suffering around me almost as much as I care for them.”
We had a makeshift hospital here for two days. We used our desks and tables as beds for injured people, there were sleeping bags on the floor, and medicine and food everywhere. On June 11, we finally had time to clean up the mess and put our desks and computers back.
Russia’s crackdown is not just about silencing opponents at the political fringes. It is about stifling all who would question his consolidation of power (Photo Credit: Mikhail Klimentye/AFP/Getty Images).
New controls over the media are being used to smear government critics and bolster the government’s policy line. Authorities use secret detention facilities and torture, especially in the North Caucuses region, to silence critics and deny them access to counsel. These measures are widespread and systematic.
This crackdown,should be a matter of grave concern to the United States. Moscow’s lack of respect for human rights speaks volumes about its reliability as a potential partner to the United States and Europe in addressing pressing international security concerns, from the conflict in Syria to the danger of nuclear proliferation.
On May 23, 2013, President Obama stated that history will cast a harsh judgment on the legacy of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center and those who fail to end it. Unfortunately, the current reality is that dozens of men are detained in Guantanamo despite being cleared for transfer. Here are just a few:
Yusef Abbas, Hajiakbar Abdulghupur, and Saidullah Khalik – Detained in Guantanamo for 10 years and 11 months. The three men are ethnic Uyghurs from China. They were arrested in Pakistan in late 2001. After they were given over to U.S. forces, they were transferred to Guantanamo in 2002. In 2008, they, along with 14 other Uyghurs, successfully filed writs of Habeas Corpus. While all the other Uyghur held at Guantanamo have been transferred, these three remain detained.
Shaker Aamer - Detained for 11 years and 4 months. Originally from Saudi Arabia, he was arrested in Afghanistan, where he was living with his family, in 2001. He was transferred to Guantanamo in February, 2002. Under President Bush he was cleared for transfer. Despite the U.K. government’s requests he be transferred to the U.K., Shaker Aamer remains in Guantanamo.
If so, read this note Amnesty received from Sami al Hajj, who was held at Guantanamo without charge for years and finally transferred home to Sudan in 2008:
“I received more than 20,000 letters from members and supporters of Amnesty International during my last two years at Guantánamo Bay…These letters really encouraged me during my very difficult time. They made me feel as though I was not alone and not to give up…Also, I felt and could notice that from all these letters, the Administration of Guantánamo Bay changed and improved towards me, as they knew I was not alone and I had people who cared about me. The guards said to me that they could see I was someone who mattered and must be important because of all the letters – this made them respect me more.”
Turn to Guantanamo today – we’re entering month five of the hunger strike and over 11 years of indefinite detention. It is well past time for each detainee to either be charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released.
After over two months of dragging its feet, the Salvadoran government has finally acted to save Beatriz’s life. On Monday, Beatriz, the young mother we’ve posted frequently about, received an early cesarean section and is now recovering in the hospital.
Our activism helped to save Beatriz’s life.
The hundreds of thousands of people around the world who mobilized on Beatriz’s behalf helped make it possible for her to – upon recovery – be able to return home to her family which is what she has wanted all along. Because of this overwhelming support, Beatriz was never alone in her struggle to access the medical care she wanted and needed.
Our report makes clear that, while there were encouraging signs in the speech, the continuing absence of international human rights law from the US government’s counterterrorism framework remains a grave cause for concern.
Here are seven key recommendations from the report: