The Mubarak Trial that Wasn’t

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The June 2 verdict in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak only confirmed what many Egyptian activists feared all along: The trial, while proving that the former leader was not above the law, was never going to be about truth and accountability.

There wasn’t much rejoicing in Cairo, even though the former president was sentenced to life in prison.  The trial itself was a desultory affair, with the judge claiming that prosecutors failed to present significant evidence tying the former president to attacks by security forces and Egyptian police that led to around 840 deaths and thousands of injuries during the 2011 uprisings.

Rather than serve the nation's deep need for truth, the trial denied full justice to the thousands of Egyptian victims and family members.

Rather than serve the nation’s deep need for truth, the trial denied full justice to the thousands of Egyptian victims and family members.  The day after the verdict was announced, all of Cairo was talking about expectations that it would be overturned on appeal.

Amnesty welcomed the trial of Mubarak and others for their role in the killing of protesters which began in January 2011. However, the trial and verdict have left the families of those killed, as well as those injured in the protests, in the dark about the full truth of what happened to their loved ones and it failed to deliver full justice.

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The Ghosts of Sivas: Justice Denied in Turkey

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In Turkey, echoes of past crimes continue to call out for justice.  Under Turkey’s infamous Article 301 statute (in which it is a crime to “denigrate Turkishness”), Temel Demirer is still on trial for speaking publicly about the Armenian Genocide.  Almost monthly, new mass graves are found from the thousands killed by security forces during the 1980s and 90s.   As we have previously reported, investigations of these graves are slipshod and the perpetrators not held to account.

Emblematic of this grim pattern is the sad legacy of a massacre in Central Anatolian town of Sivas in 1993 (A Turkish documentary on the massacre, with English subtitles, can be found here).  The events of that day are shocking still.

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Friends, Neighbors and the Fight Against Torture

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Many Amnesty International members have long experience with the challenge of opposing state-sponsored torture in other countries.  But when human rights activists in North Carolina found that a trail of torture led to their own backdoor, they learned that talking to neighbors about human rights abuses is just as difficult as challenging a foreign government.

The Washington Post last week featured a story, “Hangar 3’s Mystery” about the work of North Carolina Stop Torture Now to document the activities of a small, nominally private air charter company, Aero Contractors,  whose headquarters are at an airfield in Smithfield, North Carolina.

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Day of Action Against Guantanamo & NDAA

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Wednesday, January 11 marked 10 years since the US government brought the first twenty Muslim men to the US Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in order to detain and interrogate them outside of the law.

People around the world protested the anniversary by issuing a resounding “Not in my name!” to the US government’s use of torture, indefinite detention and unfair trials, as part of the Day of Action Against Guantanamo and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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3 Things You Can Do To Stop Indefinite Detention & Close Guantanamo

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©PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Congress is poised to force through a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would violate human rights and undermine the rule of law.

Provisions that were snuck into the bill with little notice from mainsteam media could spell indefinite detention without a hearing, keep Guantanamo open, and hinder fair trials. With your help, we can ensure that human rights violating provisions in the draft bill do not become law.

Here are three things you can do right now:

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After all that Misplaced Effort — Iran Batting Zero at the UN

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Balloon Delivery to Iran Mission

Amnesty members deliver balloons to the Iran Mission to the UN to draw attention to its human rights abuses.

Poor Mohammad Javad Larijani has been putting so much effort into painting a happy face over Iran’s dismal human rights record, and yet the Iranian government has not succeeded in fooling the international community about its “commitment” to human rights.

Mr. Larijani, the secretary-general of Iran’s “High Council for Human Rights” had spent a good deal of time recently holding press conferences and interviews, apparently hoping that no one would notice that his honey-coated words bore no relationship to the ugly reality. However, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly vote on Monday to adopt a resolution soundly condemning Iran’s human rights record is the fourth slap in Iran’s face by UN entities in two months.

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Graphic Novel About Iran's Post-Election Crackdown Catapults to New York Times Bestsellers List

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The brutal crackdown against Iran’s peaceful post-2009 presidential election protests has been the fodder for grim reports, statements and actions put out by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.

It’s also the backdrop for Zahra’s Paradise, a new graphic novel by writer Amir and artist Khalil (they use only their first names).

Although it might be difficult to imagine that the ugly violence could be turned into a ‘comic strip’, the graphic novel turns out to be an ideal vehicle—perhaps even the only possible vehicle—to convey the extent of the horror that affected and continues to affect millions of Iranians.

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Four Years After Blackwater Massacre in Iraq Gaps in Contractor Liability Remain

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© Scott Olson/Getty Images

This week marks the four year anniversary of the Nisour Square massacre, where on September 16, 2007, 17 Iraqi civilians were allegedly shot and killed and dozens more injured by Blackwater (now known as Xe) security contractors employed by the Department of State.

Five eyewitnesses insisted that the company guards fired without provocation, forcing civilians and Iraqi Police to run for cover.

The incident gained worldwide attention and highlighted the consequences of the U.S. government’s increased privatization of military and security functions. Today it is a reminder that after four years, Congress has still failed to clarify and strengthen jurisdiction of U.S. courts over its security contractors operating overseas by passing the Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.

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Turkey's Disappeared: The Pain of the Past and New Dangers

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Turkey, more than most countries, is a place where forgetting the past has become a central component of national culture.   This August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared, is a time when Turkey should renew its efforts at uncovering and facing some of the uglier pages of that past in the hopes of creating a freer, more democratic future.

Kurdish women hold portraits of their missing sons during a demonstration against the killing of 12 Kurdish rebels by security forces. © Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images

Although many mass graves in Turkey can be traced to the beginning of the century, a map recently published in the daily, Radikal, highlights the startling extent of such sites dating from the 1990’s, when the war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish nationalist, PKK, or Kurdish Workers’ Party, burned hottest.  The bodies of thousands were unceremoniously dumped into mass graves.

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Investigate War Crimes In Sri Lanka!

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This week marks the second anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, between government forces and the opposition Tamil Tigers.  The Tigers were seeking an independent state for the Tamil minority on the island.  As documented by Amnesty International and a recent U.N. panel report, there are credible reports that both sides committed gross abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, including war crimes.  Yet no one has been held accountable for these crimes.

We know that the Sri Lankan government won’t effectively investigate these abuses.

So Amnesty International has been campaigning for an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka.  On March 15, we took to the streets in Chicago to demand justice in Sri Lanka.  In New York City, Amnesty International activists gathered outside the Sri Lankan Mission to the U.N. on April 8 as part of “Get on the Bus – New York.”  On April 15, we demonstrated outside the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington as part of “Get on the Bus – DC.”  More recently, as shown in the photos above, Amnesty members in other parts of the U.S. have joined in calling on the U.N. to hold an international investigation on war crimes in Sri Lanka.

It would be a great help if we can get the U.S. government to publicly support our call for an international war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka.  Please write the U.S. government today, so that the victims and their families can finally receive truth and justice.