Hong Kong: I have not seen anything like this in decades

Pro-democracy protesters put their hands up in the air in front of the police in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. (Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-democracy protesters put their hands up in the air in front of the police in Hong Kong on September 28, 2014. Police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. (Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

By Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International in Hong Kong.

The streets of Hong Kong are hard to recognize these days. The exhilarating energy filling the city’s main roads, crowded with hopeful protesters, is something I have not seen since I was a young student back in 1989, when we took to the streets in solidarity with the Tiananmen protesters.

But not even then had so many people taken to the streets in Hong Kong – nor had the police’s response been so brutal. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Torture, the Way of Life for the Nigerian Security Forces

Bxz_81jIIAI4rpvAn encounter with the Nigerian security forces can be a dangerous thing.

The police and military routinely engage in beating people in their custody with whips, gun butts, machetes, batons, sticks, rods and cables. Rape and sexual assault are widespread Detainees can be shot in the leg, foot or hand during interrogation, or have their nails or teeth extracted with pliers.

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The U.S.-Africa Summit Sessions Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Missed

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the US-Africa summit happening this week, due to US sanctions, but the summit must keep Zimbabweans, many of whom have been suppressed and denied their basic human rights, in mind. (Photo Credit: Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Dr. Rowly Brucken, Zimbabwe Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was not invited to the U.S.-Africa summit this week, as he is currently subject to U.S. sanctions. But let’s imagine he was invited, and what he could have contributed to several events on just the first day:

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‘We Are All Gaza’ – Palestinian Anger in the West Bank

Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014 as fatalities continue to rise everyday.

Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 59 Israelis have died since the war began on July 7, according to the New York Times (Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

By Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Across the city of Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) hang billboards and banners showing images of bloodshed and destruction alongside the words: “Here now, we are all Gaza.”

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A New Low for Internet Freedom in Turkey

People hold placards reading 'Will you censor the streets?' during a demonstration against new Internet controls approved by the Turkish Parliament (Photo Credit: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images) .

People hold placards reading ‘Will you censor the streets?’ during a demonstration against new Internet controls approved by the Turkish Parliament (Photo Credit: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images) .

With a little over a week to go before important municipal elections, the Turkish government blocked access to Twitter for millions of its citizens late last night.

Writing from Turkey, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on Turkey described the move as “a desperate and futile measure, the latest move in the AKP’s clampdown on freedom of expression.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Sentenced to a Psychiatric Hospital For a Peaceful Protest

Mikhail Kosenko stands in a defendant cage in a court in Moscow (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

Mikhail Kosenko stands in a defendant cage in a court in Moscow (Photo Credit: Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Mikhail Kosenko was there last year when tens of thousands gathered in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in protest of Vladimir Putin’s re-election. Video evidence indicates that he was protesting peacefully, yet he was arrested days later by the Russian authorities and charged with taking part in a riot and using violence against police officers.

Although many are being prosecuted for their involvement that day, Kosenko has been sent by the courts to a psychiatric hospital, where treatment is being forced upon him. The prosecution asserts that he is a threat to himself and others, yet there is no evidence of this.

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Indonesia: Democracy Slip Slidin’ Away?

Indonesian workers shout slogans during a protest in front of Parliament building in Jakarta as lawmakers attend the plenary session to pass the mass organization bill. The workers unions vowed to appeal the controversial restriction to Indonesia's freedom of assembly laws in the Constitutional Court (Photo Credit: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images).

Indonesian workers shout slogans during a protest in front of Parliament building in Jakarta as lawmakers attend the plenary session to pass the mass organization bill. The workers unions vowed to appeal the controversial restriction to Indonesia’s freedom of assembly laws in the Constitutional Court (Photo Credit: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images).

I worry about Indonesia. I worry that the democratic progress of the past few years is just slip slidin’ away. While Egypt and Turkey’s passionate and public debates on reform reach the front pages of our newspapers, Indonesia appears calm to the world. But, it looks like the government is worried.

Particularly alarming is a new law on Mass Organizations, passed on July 2, 2013.  Suddenly, organizations operating in Indonesia are limited to eight purposes including maintaining the value of religion and belief in God; preserving the norms, values, morals, ethics and culture; and establishing, maintaining and strengthening the unity of the nation.  Foreign organizations are required to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and must operate under new rules that include not disrupting the “stability and oneness” of Indonesia.

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Deconstructing the Leahy Law: Fact vs Fiction

Photo Credit: Amnesty International

Photo Credit: Amnesty International

This post was written in collaboration with Nate Smith, of the AIUSA Military, Security and Police (MSP) Coordination group.

There are some misconceptions currently floating around about the U.S. government’s Leahy Law and we want to set the record straight on a few things. The Leahy Law is a powerful yet often-overlooked tool to help prevent the U.S. government from directly arming human rights violators in the ranks of foreign security forces and to help the U.S. avoid complicity in the commission of human rights violations.

So how can you distill fact from fiction? Allow us to deconstruct some of the facts, fictions and misconceptions about the Leahy Law. And expect more in the coming weeks about this important law, and other instruments available to the U.S. and global community to prevent arming human rights perpetrators.

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Torture in Mexico: ‘I Still Think It Was a Nightmare’


It took Miriam Isaura López Vargas several weeks to piece together what happened to her after she was tortured and raped by Mexican soldiers.

On February 2, 2011, the 30-year-old mother of four had just dropped three of her children at school in the city of Ensenada, located in northern Mexico, when two men wearing balaclavas forced her into a white van and took her away.

Until then, Miriam didn’t know the men were soldiers or that she was being taken to a military barracks. She was blindfolded and her hands were tied.

“I didn’t know who they were or anything, and when I asked them they put a gun to my head and told me to shut up or they would blow my head off,” she told Amnesty International.

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Loud and Clear: Women’s Rights, In Action!

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda  (right) attends the 2008 Benefactrix Ball presented by YMCA at the Beverly Hills Hotel (Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage).

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda (right) attends the 2008 Benefactrix Ball presented by YMCA at the Beverly Hills Hotel (Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage).

As we reflected on 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls and its themes, including early marriage, violence against women, and sexual and reproductive health, we got to wondering: What does all this integrated human rights talk look like in practice?

So we turned to a woman who walks the talk and leads change herself, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda. Take a look at her examples of women’s participation in claiming their own rights. Then take action on an issue important to you, and join us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected. (Don’t forget to join the World YWCA’s efforts, too!)

In your experience, what does participation mean in the context of women’s rights in your country?

For women to participate, it [is] important that they know and are aware of their rights, have the social empowerment to engage and the space to exercise their voice. Women’s community groups, organizations and networks…have provided the platforms for such participation.

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