On August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared, Amnesty launched “Silent Shadows” – a poetry competition in Sri Lanka to mark the decades of enforced disappearances experienced there. That sentence raises at least four questions:
- Why enforced disappearances? Enforced disappearances are a particularly heinous form of human rights violation. Government agents detain a person and the government later denies any knowledge or responsibility for his or her whereabouts or status. The victims are often tortured and in fear for their lives, while their relatives live with the agony of uncertainty over their loved ones’ fate.
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By Gopika Bashi, @gopikabashi, Women’s Rights Researcher, Amnesty International India
On 24 August, Amnesty International India launched a petition regarding two Dalit sisters who had been ordered to be raped and paraded naked by a khap panchayat – an unelected village council – in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh in northern India, as ‘punishment’ because their brother had eloped with a married woman from a dominant caste.
Amnesty offices around the world circulated similar petitions, so that our supporters globally would have an opportunity to take action. Over 500,000 people have so far signed these petitions.
Some media organizations have subsequently released reports which have questioned the petition. Some have said that members of the gram panchayat – the elected village council – and members of the dominant caste have denied the allegations. Others have claimed that Amnesty did not investigate the case.
Unfortunately, these reports have taken the attention away from the situation of the sisters themselves, who along with their family still fear for their safety. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Sandya Eknaligoda wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda with with their two sons Sathyajith Sanjaya and Harith Danajaya
The wife of a disappeared journalist said of her husband’s disappearance, “I think it’s one of the worst crimes in the world, making people disappear. It is not just the one person who disappears…the whole family is psychologically killed.” Yet the crime of enforced disappearance continues unabated in all regions of the world. Governments or their agents are making people “disappear,” repressing suspected adversaries, human rights defenders, witnesses and relatives of victims. Families of the disappeared suffer the anguish of not knowing, sometimes for years, whether their loved ones are being ill-treated or are even still alive.
Today, August 30, is observed by the world as the International Day of the Disappeared. Today, Amnesty International is calling on dozens of governments who use this tactic against their opponents to stop using enforced disappearances once and for all. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
“They’ve already taken my husband. I’m not going to succumb to fear,” wife of disappeared Lao agriculture specialist tells audience.
How does one suddenly disappear from a busy city street?
In 2005, in recognition of his community leadership, Sombath Somphone won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize. Sombath has played a key role in supporting the development of civil society in Laos. Sombath founded the Participatory Development Training Centre in 1996 to promote education, leadership skills and sustainable development in Laos.
In 2012, seven years after winning the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award, Sombath disappeared. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Every year, thousands of men, women and children go missing in dozens of countries around the world. In 2012, Amnesty International documented such cases in 31 countries. It’s a crime, all right, but these are not kidnappings for ransom or other criminal motives. These people were taken away by their own governments or agents acting for the government. The government then denies any knowledge of their whereabouts. Their relatives live in a torment of uncertainty – not knowing whether their loved ones are alive, being tortured or even dead. The missing have joined the ranks of the “disappeared.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s International Advocacy Director
Freedom of expression is under constant attack in China. But the recent sentence of prominent journalist, Gao Yu is not just another dissident being silenced. 71-year-old Gao Yu has been speaking out for nearly 30 years. She was detained without charge or trial for 15 months after the June 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Upon release in 1990, she continued to work as a freelance journalist. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Khaleda, 15, a refugee in Bangaldesh, 17 November 2008. Khaleda is one of 10 children, she was born a refugee. “I have spent my whole life in a camp,” she says. (c) UNHCR / S. Kritsanavarin
The specter of thousands of Rohingya refugees stranded in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea off mainland Southeast Asia will loom over Friday’s Regional Summit on Irregular Migration in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. The roots of this crisis lie in Myanmar, where the Rohingya have faced institutionalized discrimination for decades.
In the past three years, tens of thousands of Rohingya have boarded ships to flee abroad, to escape persecution in Myanmar. However, the issues they face are not new.
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LGBT activists take part in a Gay Pride event in St. Petersburg, Russia, 29 June 2013. (EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV)
Across the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) continue to face endemic violence, legal discrimination, and other human rights violations on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As we move from International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia this week to Pride month in the United States, Amnesty International stands with everyone working to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Laura Haigh, Amnesty International Myanmar team
Journalists critical of the authorities in Myanmar pay dearly for their stories. Five journalists at the Unity newspaper paid with their freedom. On World Press Freedom Day we remind the government of their promises to foster a free press and demand freedom for the ‘Unity Five’.
“What I want is more media freedom.” These are the words of Tint San, Chief Executive Officer at the Unity newspaper in Myanmar during his trial. His crime? Doing his job. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (Sean Gallup/Getty Images))
Following in the steps of Russia’s draconian 2013 anti-LGBT law, Kazakhstan’s Senate has passed a similar law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.”
This new legislation – the Law on the Protection of Children from Information Harming their Health and Development – now awaits President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s signature.
Amnesty International calls on President Nazarbayev to reject this discriminatory law. While the legislation’s complete text has not been made available to the public, and while Kazakhstani authorities have not responded to Amnesty International’s request for a copy of the full law, the local media have quoted members of Parliament referring to provisions that clearly discriminate against LGBT people in Kazakhstan. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST