In the last 30 days, two unjustly imprisoned men walked free – thanks to you.
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is an opportunity to draw the attention of political and cultural leaders, the media, and the broader public to the human rights of LGBT people.
This IDAHOT, Amnesty International reaffirms our core belief that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to exercise their full human rights, and we stand in full solidarity with LGBT people whose fundamental rights are endangered.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face disproportionately high levels of discrimination when accessing health care, education, housing, and employment. In almost 80 countries, consensual same-sex conduct remains criminalized; even where homosexuality has been decriminalized, LGBT people are frequently subject to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, imprisonment, torture, and other violence.
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By Viachaslau ‘Slava’ Bortnik, Amnesty USA’s Country Specialist for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine
On May 9, the opening day of the Ice Hockey World Championship, the U.S. will play with Belarus in Minsk.
It is very rarely that Belarus holds an event of such large scale, and one would think that it would be in the interest of a country with such a notorious human rights record to provide a safe and comfortable environment for foreign guests and native hockey fans.
In the past couple of weeks, Viet Nam has released 3 prominent prisoners of conscience: Nguyen Tien Trung, Vi Duc Hoi and Cu Huy Ha Vu.
The release of the 3 prisoners seems, at first glance, to be a step in the right direction for human rights. But, is this Viet Nam playing the old “shell game?”
President Barack Obama has an opportunity this month to lead from behind on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia – behind, that is, a woman driver.
The president is visiting the repressive Gulf kingdom this month. In a letter delivered to the White House, Amnesty International is calling on him to take a stand on women’s rights by meeting with the female leaders of a campaign to end the ban against women driving. We are also calling on him to have a woman Secret Service driver himself during his visit.
Take action to demand the president support women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.
Video evidence appears to show a group of men violently interrupting Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina’s breakfast in a restaurant near the Nizhny Novgorod train station. Nadya and Masha, who were joined by other members of the new prisoners’ rights NGO “Zone of the Rights,” say they were in the city to inspect a local prison colony.
Their assailants charged into the restaurant, carrying a sign saying “Dirty whores out of our town,” and allegedly attacked the activists with pepper spray, green antiseptic and other projectiles.
Following the incident, Nadya Tolokonnikova tweeted images of medical records showing she received treatment for eye injuries. Masha Alyokhina reportedly needed stitches and suffered from a concussion.
The legacy of the Sochi Olympics will be tainted by the numerous human rights violations in the run-up and during the Games, as well as the failure of the International Olympic Committee to confront the Russian authorities over the arrests and beatings that marred this prestigious sporting event.
The Olympic Games are meant to contribute to a peaceful and better world. This goal was not achieved in Sochi. The reason is simple: Russia’s repression continued unabated throughout the Games, and the Olympic movement failed to challenge the host country on its pledge to promote human rights.
By Ludmila Krytynskaia, Amnesty USA Russia Country Specialist
President Vladimir Putin lifted a blanket ban on protests and rallies in Sochi shortly before the Olympic Games were launched, thereby fulfilling his promise to the International Olympic Committee to relax the rules governing protests in the city.
The easing of the protest ban coupled with the release of dozens of high-profile prisoners last month – including former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot – has led to speculation in the Western media about whether these decisions were a sign of a political thaw in Russia, a result of diplomatic behind-the-scenes maneuverings or just a public relations stunt to stave off criticism of the human rights situation in the country on the eve of the Olympics.
It was the end of January 2011. Young Iranian physics whiz Omid Kokabee had just had a pleasant winter break visiting with his family in Iran and was eagerly anticipating returning to Austin to continue his doctoral studies in the Physics Department at the University of Texas. He was at the airport in Tehran when security agents approached him; instead of boarding his flight as planned, his life suddenly turned into a nightmare from which he has yet to awaken.
It is now three years later and Omid Kokabee sits in Evin Prison in Tehran, serving a ten-year prison sentence after being convicted in a Revolutionary Court of unsubstantiated charges of “communicating with a hostile government” (presumably the U.S.) and “accepting illegal funds” (apparently a reference to the stipend that graduate students at his department typically receive).
While in detention, he was held in solitary confinement, subjected to prolonged interrogations, and pressured to make a confession. His interrogators reportedly threatened that he would be tortured and that professors at Iranian universities with whom he had worked would be arrested. During questioning, he was reportedly made to write down details of individuals he had seen in embassies or at conferences, and was told by those questioning him that some of the people he had met were CIA operatives.
Amnesty International has declared him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his refusal to work on military projects in Iran and as a result of spurious charges related to his legitimate scholarly ties with academic institutions outside of Iran. AI calls for his immediate and unconditional release from prison.
By Emile Affolter, Press Officer at Amnesty International Netherlands, currently in Sochi
Just a couple of days before the Winter Olympic Games start in Sochi, an activist was arrested. Sadly, such arrests are not unusual in Russia, but the timing of this particular arrest sent a chilling message across Russian civil society.
His crime? According to Russian authorities, he cursed while standing at a bus stop.