Today, May 17, Amnesty International celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This IDAHOT, Amnesty International condemns the ongoing discrimination, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Bangladesh, which left more than 1,100 workers dead and many more injured. The disaster has become the most shocking recent example of business-related human rights abuse, and the images of dead workers in the debris of the collapsed factory have become powerful symbols of the pursuit of profit at the expense of people.
The Rana Plaza building housed numerous garment factories supplying international clothing companies. Over the past year, there have been various initiatives to provide compensation to the victims, involving government, global brands, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). However, these efforts have so far proved insufficient, and survivors continue to suffer and struggle to support themselves and their families.
Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:
By Rebecca Landy, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group
You probably are aware of the news reports in the last twelve months regarding the horrific sweatshop fires and building collapses in Bangladesh that killed and injured over a thousand, mainly women, laborers.
Or maybe you read recently about U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling out Bangladesh for the injustice and violation of international law in the recent verdict of death sentences for 152 border guards accused of murder.
But chances are you have not heard of Kalpana Chakma and the 17-year miscarriage of justice in waiting for a proper investigation into her disappearance.
By Tarah Demant, Co-Chair of Amnesty International USA Women’s Rights Co-Group
A life free from violence is a fundamental human right, yet daily, women and girls are targeted specifically because of their sex or gender, and violence in communities often affects women disproportionately. Violence against women is a global epidemic; no country or community is immune.
Violence against women is used as a tool of discrimination, control, and intimidation, and it restricts women’s choices and increases their vulnerability to further injustices. 1 in 3 women will be raped, beaten, or abused in her lifetime, yet violence against women affects us all. Consider the following cases:
- In Sudan, women can be can be stopped by the police, arrested, jailed, and even sentenced to public flogging for nothing more than wearing pants or leaving her hair uncovered.
- In Egypt, women protesters have faced harassment and assault while Egypt’s political leaders have remained silence about the rampant sexual violence and discrimination.
- In Syria, more than 2 million people have fled the armed crisis, and now tens of thousands of women and girl refugees in Jordan risk further violence simply because they have no safe access to a toilet.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo, often ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman, women human rights defenders provide grassroots assistance to civilians, yet they themselves face intimidation, attack, rape, and sexual violence for their efforts.
- In Bangladesh, women human rights defenders work for the rights of indigenous people throughout the country, yet 17 years after the disappearance of a high-profile Pahari activist, her family and community still waits for justice.
- In Honduras, women human rights defenders are threatened with sexual violence for championing human rights throughout the country.
- In Mexico, Miriam López Vargas and hundreds of other women wait for justice after torture and rape by Mexican soldiers.
What these cases have in common is a global culture of discrimination and violence against women as well as impunity for those who commit gender-based violence. And this year’s theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women highlights the relationship between heightened militarism and communal and interpersonal violence.
Despite a culture of violence and discrimination women around the world are raising their voices against violence and discrimination, demanding their basic human rights, and standing against intimidation and fear. Today, what unites women internationally is their vulnerability to the denial and violation of their fundamental human rights, and their dedicated efforts to claim those rights.
You can join them this 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence as we join activists worldwide from Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 to help end violence against women. This year, we’re highlighting the seven cases above – in each instance, you can learn more, take action, and stand with women demanding their rights!
Imagine a world without violence against women. Join us this 16 Days to make that vision a reality.
Since February 5, there have been a series of large protests across Bangladesh coupled with violent counter-demonstrations. The protests were in response to the sentences given to Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. He received life in prison for his role in “beheading a poet, raping an 11-year old girl and shooting 344 people” during the 1971 Liberation War. The protesters are demanding that Mollah be executed for his role in the 1971 massacres. We are calling for the government to resist such pressure. Meanwhile the Jamaat-e-Islami has been implicated in acts of violence against minority religious shrines in the southern part of the country.
“Hot smoke filled the air within minute as soon as fire alarm rang and electricity supply became off. We were running to escape death through the dark. Many died inhaling smoke”
I get very squeamish over military intervention. Often it results in more human rights violations that it was intended to stop. But the case of Bangladesh makes me less cynical about military-led humanitarian interventions than I would otherwise be. Bangladesh is better off than it could possibly have been under the brutal military rule of Pakistan.
On December 16, 1971, a dramatic ceremony took place at the Rama Race Course in what was then East Pakistan. The picture was beamed across the world showing Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi signing an “instrument of surrender” with Indian General J.S. Aurora watching. Forever more, Bangladeshis know this day Bijoy Dibosh or Liberation Day.
Human Rights Watch has released a statement insisting that the Bangladeshi government take action without delay to enforce the orders from the Supreme Court to stop illegal punishments such as whipping, lashing, or public humiliations of women.
The issue became especially urgent when a local self-appointed group in Shariatpur district in the Dhaka division ordered 100 lashes in January 2011 for Hena Akhter, an adolescent girl, for an alleged affair, though by most accounts she had reported being sexually abused instead. She collapsed during the lashing and ultimately died. Since Akhter’s death, the local media has reported at least three suicides of girls following similar punishments.
The High Court division of the Supreme Court issued its judgment in the case on July 8, 2010, criticizing the Bangladesh government for not protecting its citizens, especially women, from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment. Saying that the punishments contravened constitutional guarantees of the rights to life and liberty, the court directed the government to investigate and prosecute those responsible and to take preventive steps with awareness campaigns in schools, colleges, and madrasas. It instructed the Ministry of Local Government to inform all law enforcement and local government officials that extrajudicial punishments are criminal offenses.