Dear Baku: Stop beating activist. Release her. Drop treason charge!

Leila Yunus, director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

Leila Yunus, director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy

Arresting its loudest critic and charging her with “treason” doesn’t seem enough for Azerbaijani officials. Last week, peace activist and human rights defender

was beaten by Kurdakhany detention facility administration staff.

An April 2014 video shows Leyla Yunus confronting officials (in Russian) about not having been allowed to use the toilet during an unlawful detention for interrogation. Although officials eventually allowed her to use a toilet (with a male guard watching her), Leyla says she was not informed of charges against her.

Less than half a year later after the detention, Leyla (and soon her husband Arif Yunus) were arrested and given ridiculous charges of treason and tax evasion. Amnesty International considers both Prisoners of Conscience and calls on Baku to release them immediately and unconditionally (add your voice to our appeal).

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Syria is a Dangerous Place for Journalists – But Here’s Why We Need Them There

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, "We're not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don't try to get really close to what these guys - men, women, American [soldiers] ... are experiencing, we don't understand the world" (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

After three years of the Syrian uprising, it often appears like the world is tuning out. Deaths continue on a daily basis, some 9 million Syrians are listed by the U.N. as either refugees or internally displaced people, but the situation is sliding out of attention on news broadcasts, in newspaper headlines and popular attention.

This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

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Dispatch from Ferguson: Why We Fight

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Residents and faith and community leaders discuss unrest in Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown during a forum held at Christ the King UCC Church on August 14, 2014. ((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Rachel O’Leary, Amnesty Interntional USA Acting Deputy Executive Director for Membership Mobilization

On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old, was shot dead by a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police force. The next day, the community organized protests condemning the actions of the police and demanding to know the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael. Those actions continue still, a week later.

The day after the shooting, I sent a text to my colleague at 3:30 AM. It read,  “We need to go to Ferguson.” Later that week, I was on a plane, leading the Amnesty International USA human rights delegation to Ferguson, Missouri.

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Amnesty International Stands with Ferguson Because All Lives Matter

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

By Muhammed Malik, Amnesty International USA Member

Today, people across the country attended vigils and solidarity actions to mourn the victims of police brutality, a problem that has gripped this nation for far too long.

A few days ago, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri confronted Michael Brown – a teenager who was full of promise and who had his whole life ahead of him. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, but the end result was the officer shooting the unarmed Brown.

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Why #WeAreAfrica and You are Too

US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall style meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 28, 2013. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall style meeting at the University of Johannesburg Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 28, 2013. (Photo credit: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

In early August, Obama hosts the first ever U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, D.C. Nearly every sitting head of state from the continent is invited to discuss primarily bilateral business opportunities through trade and investment. However, from the beginning, the White House stated the intent to also focus on human rights and good governance.  It is time for Obama to honor that commitment. Help us urge the inclusion of civil society in all summit sessions.

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UPDATE: Formal Ruling on Egypt’s Mass Death Sentences Set for Tomorrow

Relatives of the defendants react after an Egyptian court sentenced 638 Morsi backers to death in a mass trial in Egypt (Photo Credit: Ahmed Ismail/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Relatives of the defendants react after an Egyptian court sentenced 638 Morsi backers to death in a mass trial in Egypt (Photo Credit: Ahmed Ismail/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Lives are always at stake when the death penalty is involved. But when the new el-Sisi government is preparing to execute 683 Egyptians, something even more is at stake: the future of the Egyptian judiciary.

On Saturday, an Egyptian court will formally rule on the initial 683 death sentences handed out in April in a case involving the death of a police officer in the August 2013 protests that followed the removal of President Muhamad Morsi. The sentence followed only by a matter of days a second, similar case in which 528 Egyptians were given the death penalty.

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“Thank You”: A Message from Newly Released Prisoner of Conscience Nabeel Rajab

Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab spent two years in prison because of his activity on Twitter (Photo Credit: Hussain Albahrani/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images).

Human rights defender Nabeel Rajab spent two years in prison because of his activity on Twitter (Photo Credit: Hussain Albahrani/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images).

By Nabeel Rajab, Bahraini Human Rights Activist Jailed for Calling for Anti-Government Protests

I am Nabeel Rajab. I have just been released from prison after serving a two-year sentence for my peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

I’m one of many human rights defenders in Bahrain and the region who are being targeted, attacked, arrested and imprisoned. I was imprisoned on the basis of fabricated charges of “illegal practices, inciting illegal assemblies, and organizing unlicensed demonstrations through Twitter and other social networking sites.”

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