The veneer of progress is wearing thin in Myanmar. A year ago, the President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, promised to release all prisoners of conscience. Earlier this year, to mark Myanmar’s Independence Day, the President ordered the release of thousands of prisoners. Now one year on from the promise to release all prisoners of conscience, the promise remains unfulfilled. Even more troubling is the fact that the government is arresting more prisoners of conscience.
In an unprecedented legal move, 17 U.S.-based civil society organizations – among them Amnesty International, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, and Friends of the Earth – have just filed an amicus brief in federal appeals court defending their First Amendment rights from attack by Chevron.
Let me back this story up by about 18 months.
In November 2012, Chevron subpoenaed me.
There’s an anniversary this week in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that its government wants the world to ignore.
The country has the reputation as being the “welcoming and open” Middle Eastern country, and the government works hard to burnish that image around the world. UAE political reformers know better, and a year ago, a trial of 94 government critics exposed the reality that dissent is muzzled and political freedom severely limited.
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Johanna Lee contributed to this post.
Starting August 4, the Obama Administration will host a mini replica of an African Union (AU) summit. As many as 40 heads of state from the continent will be on hand for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a conference that will look at ways to boost trade and investment in the continent, tap into Africa’s burgeoning youth population, and promote good governance.
The idea for such a summit is laudable, considering the critical issues that will be discussed – issues that will continue to be key challenges for both Africa and U.S. policy towards the continent and as part of addressing the chronic need to raise educate the public about the realities of the different countries that make up Africa, unknown success stories and it’s untapped economic potential.
Unfortunately, unless a major change is made, the summit risks simply becoming an AU heads of state road trip with a photo-op at the end to confirm that they visited Washington before returning home.
Somewhere in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak must be smiling, knowing that three years after his downfall, he has won after all.
After three decades of muzzling civil society, of harassing, detaining and torturing political activists, scholars, journalists, lawyers, doctors and regular citizens of all stripes, Mubarak never was able to accomplish what the new regime has achieved in a matter of months.
By Ensaf Haidar, Wife of Imprisoned Saudi Arabian Activist Raif Badawi
I still pursue that mirage…two years have passed and I am still faced with a scorching emptiness and a series of agonizing questions.
When will he be back, and in what condition? What will I put on, and how will I react? Should I hug him, kiss him, or should I cry?
By Nabeel Rajab, Bahraini Human Rights Activist Jailed for Calling for Anti-Government Protests
I am Nabeel Rajab. I have just been released from prison after serving a two-year sentence for my peaceful and legitimate human rights work.
I’m one of many human rights defenders in Bahrain and the region who are being targeted, attacked, arrested and imprisoned. I was imprisoned on the basis of fabricated charges of “illegal practices, inciting illegal assemblies, and organizing unlicensed demonstrations through Twitter and other social networking sites.”
By Haitham Ghoniem, Egyptian Human Rights Activist and Researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
It was in the first week of this April, before noon prayers, when the doorbell rang. My mother saw a muscular man dressed in a white shirt and trousers standing at the door. She was too scared to open it, especially as he looked like a military man.
He rang the bell several times. When no one answered, he asked our neighbor if someone named Haitham Ghoniem lived here. He questioned her about my whereabouts. Then he proceeded to scour the entire building.
My mother called and warned me not to come home ever again.
By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator
Despite the sunny resorts and hot weather, current events in Thailand are far from a Thai Spring.
The Thai military declared martial law on May 20. A military junta, calling itself the National Council on Peace and Order (NCPO), led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, announced on May 22 that it was taking over the administration of the country. Thai Winter descends.
On the first anniversary of the Gezi Protests and their brutal suppression in Turkey, central Istanbul resembled nothing so much as a city under occupation. Public transportation into the city center was cancelled. Ferry service from the Asian to the European side of the metropolis was ended by the late afternoon. You could leave, but you couldn’t come back.
This is the image of the new Turkey, where dissent is stifled with overwhelming force and massive police presence.