Saudi Arabia: The Question on Everybody’s Mind

The late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. ©BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

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

#DearObama: Freedom of Expression and the State of the Union – An Opportunity for the President

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

(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

‘He was silent but you could tell that he was in real pain’

RBadawi

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

What’s behind the arrests in Turkey?

Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

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

My Mom is in Prison for Standing up for Human Rights in China

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.

LiuPingDaughter

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

Ferguson: Today marks a pivotal moment for US human rights

Imatter

Today, we learned that a grand jury in Ferguson decided not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown — an unarmed 18-year-old — in August.

The community response to Mike Brown’s death, and the response that is likely still to come, mark a pivotal moment in the human rights movement and in U.S. history.

It’s a moment of passion, of frustration, and of activism.

It’s within this moment that officials in Ferguson and throughout the United States must stand up to ensure that each individual’s human rights — including the right to freely express themselves in the form of peaceful protest — are respected, protected and fulfilled. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

End Saudi Arabia’s relentless crackdown on civil and political rights activists

Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and Dr Moahmmad al-Qahtani are founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). All 11 founding members are currently either imprisoned or on trial facing imprisonment.

Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and Dr Moahmmad al-Qahtani are founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA). All 11 founding members are currently either imprisoned or on trial facing imprisonment.

By Lara-Zuzan Golesorkhi, Amnesty International Saudi Arabia Country Specialist

It didn’t have to happen this way in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this decade, Saudi human rights activists saw promise for change, saw their efforts paying off.

Now they’re facing long prison sentences.

Eleven members of the prominent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) are either imprisoned or on trial, and the remaining silenced, for their peaceful activism. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Declare Your Solidarity with Belgrade Pride 2014!

SERBIA-RIGHTS-GAY

(ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)


By Andy Graan, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Serbia, Macedonia, and Western Europe

LGBT activists and supporters in Serbia have been working tirelessly to prepare for Belgrade Pride, scheduled for September 28. Despite annual efforts to celebrate Belgrade Pride, the 2014 parade, if held successfully, will mark only the third time in more than a decade that the event has actually occurred.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Zone 9: The Growing Gulag in Ethiopia

Free Zone 9 Bloggers

(Credit: Hisham Almiraat, Global Voices Online)

In Ethiopia, an ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists, and other dissenting voices, are imprisoned in the eight zones of the infamous Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa.

However, a ninth zone exists in Ethiopia, one that extends well beyond the walls of Kaliti. The inability to express thoughts freely without fearing for one’s safety represents a virtual ‘imprisonment’ for the vast majority Ethiopian citizens. It was with this principle in mind that “Zone 9” was created.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

3 Reasons Amnesty is Concerned About Turkey’s Mining Disaster

Relatives of the victims of the coal mine fire in Turkey check lists of the dead miners. An explosion and fire followed an electrical fault killed at least 232 miners and injured many others (Photo Credit: Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Relatives of the victims of the coal mine fire in Turkey check lists of the dead miners. An explosion and fire followed an electrical fault killed at least 232 miners and injured many others (Photo Credit: Cem Oksuz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

The mining disaster in Soma, a small town in Western Turkey, is, by any standards, a shocking tragedy. Amnesty International, in a statement issued today, makes clear, however, that this tragedy could have been averted.

Although the total number killed is unlikely to be determined for some time, at least two hundred are confirmed dead already.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST