Gao Yu: “History will prove my innocence”

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By T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s International Advocacy Director

Freedom of expression is under constant attack in China. But the recent sentence of prominent journalist, Gao Yu is not just another dissident being silenced. 71-year-old Gao Yu has been speaking out for nearly 30 years. She was detained without charge or trial for 15 months after the June 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Upon release in 1990, she continued to work as a freelance journalist. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why are the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar?

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Khaleda, 15, a refugee in Bangaldesh, 17 November 2008. Khaleda is one of 10 children, she was born a refugee. “I have spent my whole life in a camp,” she says. (c) UNHCR / S. Kritsanavarin

The specter of thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea off mainland Southeast Asia will loom over Friday’s Regional Summit on Irregular Migration in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. The roots of this crisis lie in Myanmar, where the Rohingya have faced institutionalized discrimination for decades.

In the past three years, tens of thousands of Rohingya have boarded ships to flee abroad, to escape persecution in Myanmar. However, the issues they face are not new.

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The State of LGBT Human Rights Worldwide

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LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)

LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)

Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) continue to face endemic violence, legal discrimination, and other human rights violations on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As we move from International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia this week to Pride month in the United States, Amnesty International stands with everyone working to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why is President Obama Letting U.S. Soldiers Get Away with Murder in Afghanistan?

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Afghan relatives of civilian victims of the country's conflict examine the Amnesty International report detailing those killed by U.S. forces in the country at a press conference in Kabul on August 11, 2014. The families of thousands of civilians killed by American forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice or compensation. (Photo credit: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan relatives of civilian victims of the country’s conflict examine the Amnesty International report detailing those killed by U.S. forces in the country at a press conference in Kabul on August 11, 2014. The families of thousands of civilians killed by American forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice or compensation. (Photo credit: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)

By Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director

In the early hours of September 16, 2012, a group of women from different villages in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province set out to collect firewood.

As they stopped to drink water by a small spring, a number of U.S. military planes appeared in the sky and started dropping bombs. Seven of the women were killed and another seven injured, four of them seriously. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Searching for Sombath: What is Laos Hiding?

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Sombath Somphone's wife, Ng Shui Meng, handles a 'missing person' poster of her husband at Saoban, a store selling Lao Village handicrafts that she established with her husband. (Photo credit: Gilles Sabrie/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sombath Somphone’s wife, Ng Shui Meng, handles a ‘missing person’ poster of her husband at Saoban, a store selling Lao Village handicrafts that she established with her husband. (Photo credit: Gilles Sabrie/LightRocket via Getty Images)

By Claudia Vandermade, Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

It’s always in the eyes. When we meet with the families of the disappeared there are a range of messages in the eyes – from fear to loss to sorrow – but also an occasional flicker of hope. Dr. Ng Shui-Meng came to Washington, D.C. recently and expressed all these feelings plus one other – determination.

Ng Shui-Meng is demanding an explanation for the December 15, 2012, disappearance of her husband Sombath Somphone from a police checkpoint in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.

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Will the President of Myanmar Keep His Promise?

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A group of protesters call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests in Yangon on January 5, 2013. Thousands joined a rally in Myanmar's main city to call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests. (Photo Credit: Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of protesters call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests in Yangon on January 5, 2013. Thousands joined a rally in Myanmar’s main city to call for the abolition of repressive laws and an end to politically related arrests (Photo Credit: Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images).

The veneer of progress is wearing thin in Myanmar. A year ago, the President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, promised to release all prisoners of conscience. Earlier this year, to mark Myanmar’s Independence Day, the President ordered the release of thousands of prisoners. Now one year on from the promise to release all prisoners of conscience, the promise remains unfulfilled. Even more troubling is the fact that the government is arresting more prisoners of conscience.

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TAKE ACTION: New Photo Campaign for Disappeared Activist

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Amnesty activists hold up "Where Is Sombath?" signs as part of a Flickr campaign to demand an investigation of his disappearance. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

Amnesty activists hold up “Where Is Sombath?” signs as part of a Flickr campaign to demand an investigation of his disappearance. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty International USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

Amnesty International is launching a “Where Is Sombath?” photo campaign on Flickr.

Activists from around the world are asking the government of Laos to investigate the
disappearance of development worker Sombath Somphone, and we’ll do it through our voices, print, photos and more. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

3 Ways You Can Help End Torture in the Philippines

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Activists in masks at an Amnesty International rally in Manila calling for an end to torture and human rights violations in the Philippines (Photo Credit: Jes Aznar/AFP/Getty Images).

Activists in masks at an Amnesty International rally in Manila calling for an end to torture and human rights violations in the Philippines (Photo Credit: Jes Aznar/AFP/Getty Images).

By Nerve Macaspac, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for the Philippines

Torture is illegal in the Philippines. Yet Philippine police and military continue to use torture to extract information or force an admission of guilt from individuals they arrest for alleged crimes.

Alfreda Disbarro was punched in her stomach and face by a senior police officer in Manila. Her eyes were poked and her head banged against the wall. The police accused her of being a drug pusher. This happened in October 2013 – four years after the country’s Anti-Torture Act was passed.

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Have You Seen What’s Happening in Thailand?

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Protester raise three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok (Photo Credit: Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images).

Protester raise three fingers representing liberty, brotherhood and equality during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok (Photo Credit: Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images).

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

Despite the sunny resorts and hot weather, current events in Thailand are far from a Thai Spring.

The Thai military declared martial law on May 20. A military junta, calling itself the National Council on Peace and Order (NCPO), led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, announced on May 22 that it was taking over the administration of the country. Thai Winter descends.

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