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
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
If you care about the crucial role of human rights defenders as much as Amnesty International, you want to know the answer to this question. Longino Bacerra is the Executive Director of the Committee for Free Expression, C-Libre. On April 20, an anonymous caller warned him, “I lead a campaign to kill you, your mum, your dad, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your friends and your friends’ friends. If they are dead, I will revive them and kill them again, did you hear me?”
Unlike Amnesty, the Honduran government has not demonstrated interest in identifying and punishing those behind attacks on journalists. In its 2012 report on conditions in Honduras, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) indicated that the government has not solved 80% of the cases of journalists murder in the nation. 15 of these murders took place since the 2009 coup. Last month, the CPJ reported an attempt on the life of Honduran television journalist Fidelina Sandoval.
Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
On August 30, Amnesty International and other human rights groups around the world will observe the International Day of the Disappeared. We’ll be pressing governments to disclose the status of the disappeared and to prosecute those responsible for enforced disappearances. Here’s how you can join us:
Lydia Cacho, a journalist and human rights defender based in Cancún, Mexico, received new death threats last month by email and telephone.
On June 14, Cacho received a death threat by email, which was sent to the Lydia Cacho Foundation (Fundación Lydia Cacho) based in Spain. Three days later on June 17, she received another death threat by telephone from an unknown man. Both threats referred to her work as a journalist and warned her to shut her mouth or she would be killed.
As complaints were filed with the Police both in Mexico and in Spain, Amnesty International released an Urgent Action asking members to write to the Mexican authorities to provide adequate protection to Lydia Cacho. Take online action for Lydia right now.
Amnesty International condemns all enforced disappearances as crimes under international law. And on August 30, we’ll be doing something about them.
An enforced disappearance occurs when a person is arrested or abducted by the state or agents of the state, who then deny that the person is being held or conceal their whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law.
Enforced disappearances take place around in the world, including in countries such as China, Nepal, Chad, Sri Lanka and North Korea. In Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of enforced disappearances occurred during decades of civil conflict on the island. One recent example is the journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who went missing after work on Jan. 24, 2010.
Next Tuesday, August 10, will be the 200th day since the Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda went missing after work. Amnesty International and other organizations have been calling on the Sri Lankan government to investigate his disappearance. In Sri Lanka, the Alliance of Media Organizations (Alliance) will mark this day by holding a protest and a seminar. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is asking its affiliates to support the protest by contacting Sri Lankan embassies around the world on Tuesday to express concern over his disappearance.
Amnesty supports these actions by the Alliance and IFJ. Please join in this day of action by doing the following on Tuesday, August 10:
1. Send an online letter to the Sri Lankan government asking them to effectively investigate Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance, make the results public and hold accountable those responsible for his disappearance.
2. Call the Sri Lankan embassy in your country and express concern about his disappearance (in the U.S., the Sri Lankan Embassy‘s phone number is 202-483-4025).
It’s long past time for the Sri Lankan government to provide justice for him and his family. With your help, we may see it happen.
On Mar. 11, I wrote on this site about Prageeth Eknaligoda, the Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist. He’s been missing since leaving work on Jan. 24. Amnesty Interrnational and other organizations (like the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders) have all expressed concern and have called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate his disappearance.
Well, it’s been six months since he disappeared and we haven’t seen any evidence of an effective investigation so far. His wife, Sandhya Eknaligoda, has repeatedly said she holds the government responsible. This past Saturday, she reportedly went to a famous Hindu temple and prayed for help in finding her husband, having lost faith in the Sri Lankan legal process.
The Sri Lankan government needs to live up to its responsibility here. Please write to the government and ask that it conduct a proper, effective investigation into his disappearance and hold accountable those found responsible. Thanks.
The Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam (often referred to as “Tissa“) is finally free! As I wrote on this site earlier, Tissa had been sentenced last year to 20 years’ hard labor, after an unfair trial, for criticizing the Sri Lankan government’s conduct of the war against the Tamil Tigers in a couple magazine articles. Amnesty International had adopted Tissa as a “prisoner of conscience,” since he was being prosecuted solely for his legitimate journalistic activities. While the Sri Lankan government had announced on May 3 that President Rajapaksa had decided to pardon Tissa, as of June 9 the pardon still hadn’t been issued. Nor did we know whether his rights would be fully restored, including the right to leave the country.
Well, his pardon has finally come through and he has gotten his passport back. As the Committee to Protect Journalists has reported, Tissa arrived in Washington, DC yesterday morning. Thank you very, very much to all those who wrote on his behalf; I’m sure it helped a lot in getting his freedom restored.
Now’s the time for the Sri Lankan government to take other steps to demonstrate its respect for media freedom and human rights, including determining the fate of the disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda and repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the emergency regulations. I hope I’ll be able to report more good news again soon.