Student Activist Spends Birthday Behind Bars in Azerbaijan

Jabbar Savalan

Jabbar Savalan behind bars after making a comment critical of the government on Facebook

Back in February, we told you about 19-year-old Jabbar Savalan, a student activist from Azerbaijan who had been arrested after he posted on Facebook calling for protests against the government.

In May, Jabbar Savalan was convicted on bogus charges and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

This Sunday, September 4th 2011 Jabbar will turn 20 years old in prison. On his birthday we want Jabbar to know that he has the support of people all over the world.

Send him birthday cards showing your solidarity or post a birthday greeting on our Facebook page that we’ll deliver to Jabbar.  Let Jabbar know that he’s not alone and that we’re taking action to ensure he won’t have to spend another birthday behind bars.

You can also send a message to the President of Azerbaijan urging him to immediately and unconditionally release Jabbar from prison.

Join the “Free Jabbar Savalan” Facebook page

Egyptian Blogger Imprisoned for Facebook Comment on Hunger Strike

Image via Facebook

An honest voice of the Egyptian uprising is in danger of being silenced unless the Egyptian government listens to domestic and international pressure to release  prisoner of conscience Maikel Nabil Sanad.

Sanad, whose Facebook postings criticized abuses by the Egyptian military, began a hunger strike on Aug. 23. This week, his family told Amnesty International that his health has greatly deteriorated.

The blogger started the hunger strike to protest his detention in an Egyptian prison north of Cairo. Sanad was arrested on March 28 at his home in Cairo, tried in a military court on April 10 and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for publicly insulting the army through comments he made on Facebook, and for allegedly spreading lies and rumors about the armed forces on his blog.


Celebrate Amnesty's Birthday on Facebook and Twitter!

Amnesty members show their support on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy birthday to us!  And by us we mean YOU — Amnesty activists, members and supporters.

On May 28, 1961, Amnesty International was born. On that day, we didn’t know a simple idea — people should not be jailed for their beliefs — would spark the largest, most powerful human rights movement of our time.

Join the birthday party and celebrate 50 years fighting for justice by adding the Amnesty candle to your Facebook or Twitter profile now!

Then on Saturday, May 28, 2011 join us for a virtual Toast to Freedom.  Amnesty members from around the world will be sharing what freedom they value most (e.g. ‘I am free to vote’) on their blogs and social networks.  If you’re on Twitter use hashtag #tofreedom and follow the conversation.

For inspiration check out our website for highlights on our 50 year history.  And make sure to connect with Amnesty International USA’s Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest.

Speak Out For Imprisoned Journalists On World Press Freedom Day

Shi Tao, serving a 10 year sentence in China for writing an email.

Sending an e-mail seems harmless enough, but Shi Tao has been in prison for it for over six years.  His crime: working as a journalist and exposing censorship.

In that e-mail, Shi Tao commented on Chinese authorities’ directive to downplay the 15th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists. When a journalist speaks out for human rights and the lives of others in China he risks his own — even in a digital world of e-mail and the web.

And how appropriate that today, World Press Freedom Day, focuses on media freedom in the digital age.  World Press Freedom Day was established by the United Nations as a tribute to journalists, celebrating the very rights that Shi Tao cannot enjoy: the fundamental human right to freedom of expression.  All over the world, journalists constantly face imprisonment, violence, intimidation, detainment and even torture for reporting on human rights violations.


The Right to a Facebook Status

Facebook status updates and tweets start revolutions and result in arrests. The updates below from my Facebook friends draw a picture of the ongoing and growing protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

From Iran:

Greens are organizing another protest in Iran: February 20th! power to the people of Iran!

From Egypt:

will demonstrate alone in Tahrir. I want my birthday every year! #Feb29

From Bahrain:

The world has turned upside down. Just got a text message from a friend in Gaza asking me if I’m safe.

About Iraq:

My Kurdish friends need to speak up: Kurds protest in Sulaimaniyah [Iraq], ten killed, nine wounded


Follow Libya too…

Updating one’s Facebook status with political information is a human right. Practice yours by sharing Amnesty International’s action to support human rights throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Azerbaijan Doesn't Like Your Facebook Status

Jabbar Savalan has been jailed for two months pending trial on drugs charges © IRFS

The three-week grassroots protest in Egypt that brought down thirty years of autocracy in the land of the pyramids has authoritarian Azerbaijan, among others, worried.

Amnesty International’s latest statement on Azerbaijan – which, ironically, has a statue of Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian-Azerbaijani Friendship park in capital Baku – details the arrest of a youth activist:

Jabbar Savalan, a 20 19-year-old student, was arrested [on his way home from a political meeting and charged with “possessing narcotics with intent to supply”] in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan, after his Facebook status called for a “Day of Rage” in Freedom Square in Baku, echoing the calls for protest in the Middle East.


On the evening of 5 February he was interrogated without a lawyer, in violation of Article 19 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Procedure Code, and pressured into signing a confession which he has since retracted…. Police reportedly told him that his punishment had already been decided “at the highest level”. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Live Online Chat On Egypt Crisis

Update: Read a transcript of the chat

Violence on 2 February appeared to be orchestrated in part by the authorities © Nasser Nouri

Join us Friday, Feb 4th from 1:00-2:00 PM EST for a live online chat on Facebook with Amnesty International on the crisis in Egypt.

Geoffrey Mock, Egypt Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA, will be on hand to provide answers on the escalating situation that has brought the nation to a standstill. For over 17 years Geoffrey has worked with Amnesty to support human rights defenders, end unfair trials and torture in Egypt and defend Egypt’s civil society against harassment and legal attacks.

Protests in Egypt continue to rage on, centering around Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square in Cairo. Thousands of Egyptians are demonstrating against widespread corruption, police brutality and poverty in their country. Countless protesters have been killed and scores have been injured in the demonstrations, and journalists working in the country have been detained and threatened by the police for their coverage of the historic events.

To Join The Online Chat
To join the chat go to Facebook on Feb 4th from 1:00-2:00 PM EST and visit the Amnesty International USA Facebook page. Post your questions directly to our “Wall.”

Chat Rules

  • Please keep your questions on topic.  We welcome all questions relating to the Egypt crisis and will try to answer them as they are received.
  • Unrelated questions will be removed from our Wall feed for the duration of the chat.  Thanks for your understanding.
  • Please abide by our Community Guidelines

We look forward to answering your questions!

'Click' to Earn Amnesty $1!

'Like' us on Facebook and earn $1 for our lifesaving human rights work!

Get the latest human rights news, spread the word about Amnesty, and earn $1 for human rights.  Simply by clicking!

For every new ‘like’ we receive between now and November 15th, $1 will be donated by a generous supporter to Amnesty International.  Up to $35,000.

Just login to Facebook (it’s easy to create a Facebook account), visit the Amnesty International USA page and click ‘like’.  It’s that easy.  And then help us connect to other human rights defenders like you by inviting your friends.

Hope to see you on Facebook!

Two Days Left to Contact Your Representative on Sri Lanka War Crimes

As we reported last week, there’s a Congressional letter being circulated around the U.S. House of Representatives calling for the U.S. to support an international investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides during the war in Sri Lanka.  We still have two more days to get additional Representatives to co-sign the letter, as the deadline for co-signers has been extended to Thursday, Aug. 5. Thanks a lot to those who’ve already contacted their Representatives.

We need all the support we can get for this letter, so the victims and their families in Sri Lanka can receive justice.  Here’s how you can help:

1. Take action online, urging your Representative to co-sign the letter.

2. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative (if you don’t know who your Representative is, visit the House of Representatives website to find out).  Tell your Representative about the Congressional letter and ask him/her to co-sign it.

3. If your Representative is on Facebook or Twitter, use those media to encourage him/her to co-sign the letter.  For an example on Twitter, follow Christoph’s lead.

Thanks to everyone who can help with this effort.  We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Iranian Protesters Stay One Step Ahead in the Cyber World

In the face of a tightening government grip on all things viral, Iranians have managed to circumvent the communication restrictions laid upon them to tell the world their story in ways previously thought to be reserved only for social networking. For anyone who has so much as glanced at the news during the past week, Twitter has been the name of the game for Iranian protesters.

With a limitation of 140 characters per post, only the most pertinent information is tweeted—rally locations, real-time updates, and details only those on the ground can see. While sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been blocked off before, Iranians have continued to gain access to them via proxies, servers that allow users to access another site through them. Proxy sites are continuously being updated in an effort to stay one step ahead of the Iranian government’s filtering apparatus.

The Iranian government’s strategy for blocking the flow of information appears to be two-fold. Foreign news services have all been asked to leave (just this morning, the BBC reporter Jon Leyne, one of the few reporters left, was given a similar request) and the internet speed has been slowed to a snail’s pace. According to the Wall Street Journal, limiting bandwidth in this manner is meant to discourage and frustrate users so much that they’ll give up.

This strategy is, for now, not working. Iranians have harnessed the internet in ingenious ways—from their Twitter posts to uploaded YouTube videos. All major news networks have caught on to the phenomenon, allowing the messages coming out of Iran to truly reach the entire world.

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post