This weekend, Bahrain will host the Formula One Grand Prix. But behind the shiny fast cars and super-sized champagne bottles lies a government that is willing to stop at nothing to punish those who dare to speak out about the tragic human rights situation in the country.
Here are five facts you should know about the Gulf Kingdom ahead of one of the most glamorous events in the sporting calendar. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Ensaf Haidar, wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi
By Ensaf Haidar, via The Washington Post
On June 17, 2012, my husband, Raif Badawi, the father of my three children and my best friend, was arrested in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. For nearly three years, as he has languished in prison, my family has been trapped in a nightmare.
Raif is a man of principle and a respected activist in Saudi Arabia. In 2008, he started a blog where readers could openly discuss politics, religion and other social issues. But in Saudi Arabia, one can pay an unthinkable price simply for blogging. Raif was convicted of insulting Islam and violating the kingdom’s repressive information-technology laws. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Honduran journalists take part in a vigil in memory of journalists killed in Honduras. (ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/GettyImages)
On January 24, a high-ranking military official told Honduran journalist César Omar Silva Rosales that he would be found “in a ditch, gagged and with yellow legs” if he continued to produce unfavorable coverage of the military. Even more shocking, the official made this threat directly to the journalist’s face as he was trying to cover a congressional session on military policy. Amnesty International has issued an urgent action in this case. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Tomorrow marks eight weeks since the Saudi Arabian authorities publicly flogged the blogger and activist Raif Badawi, sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam” and founding an online forum for political debate.
After his first session of 50 lashes in front of a mosque in Jeddah on 9 January, a doctor advised prison authorities that his wounds had not healed sufficiently for him to undergo the second round of this brutal punishment. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Nic Carter, Amnesty International USA
Over the last year, Azerbaijan has imprisoned dozens of journalists, human rights advocates, bloggers, lawyers, and academics who have criticized the regime. Ilham Aliev’s repressive petro-state has brazenly stepped up its harassment of journalists amidst international criticism. In December, the Aliev regime struck a terrible blow against the freedom of the press by arresting the country’s best-known investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova, on fabricated charges. Her pre-trial detention, due to expire on February 5, has been extended for a further two months. Recently, new charges have been brought against her, including embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship, abuse of power, and tax evasion. She faces 12 years in prison if convicted. Her case has rightfully received a lot of attention. Yet she is only one of an estimated 98 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, of which around a dozen are journalists. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. ©BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty
By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.
The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.
“What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.
The answer is not simple. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.
By Adotei Akwei and Cindy Tsz-nga Ko
On Tuesday January 20, President Obama will have an opportunity to address the nation and underscore the priorities for his administration in 2015. Much of the speech is expected to focus on domestic economic issues but the White House has also indicated that issues such as policing in the United States, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo and violent extremism will also be addressed. Given that a key the underlying theme connecting these issues is human rights, the central question is whether the Obama administration will shape foreign policy that will help build a safer world where rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.
The President’s framing of key human rights concerns in this evening’s State of the Union address may be an indication of whether or not the Obama administration will use 2015 to champion human rights, as so many hoped, or whether he will pursue misguided policies that sideline human rights in the name of security. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Raif Badawi, founder of a website for political and social debate, has been held in a Saudi Arabian prison since 17 June 2012. ©Private
An eyewitness account of the flogging today of Raif Badawi an activist in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website for public debate. The witness has not been identified for security reasons.
“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today. They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew.
No one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world. The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise. A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made. In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.
Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
An act of kindness transformed Liu Ping from a factory worker into a passionate anti-corruption activist in China. Her daughter, 22-year-old Liao Minyue, tells their story.
My mother, Liu Ping, was just an ordinary Chinese woman with a kind heart.
We were very close. I chose to live with her after my parents divorced about 10 years back. We never fought, not even once. We used to go to the markets to collect old and unwanted vegetables for food. It never once struck me as anything to be ashamed of. On the contrary, those were warm and intimate times, because we were together.
But one night, everything changed. My mom was moonlighting as a street vendor in the evenings to supplement her monthly income of RMB 800 (130 US Dollars) as an iron and steel plant worker. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST