One year ago today, the initial arrests were made of a group of activists in Angola’s capital of Luanda. Dubbed the #Angola17, their crime was meeting to read a book and discuss non-violent methods to promote political change, primarily how to urge the government to expand civil and human rights. However, the Angolan government saw this as a threat, prosecuted them and convicted them to prison sentences ranging from 2 to 8 years. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
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
A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world. The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise. A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made. In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.
Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Andy Graan, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Serbia, Macedonia, and Western Europe
LGBT activists and supporters in Serbia have been working tirelessly to prepare for Belgrade Pride, scheduled for September 28. Despite annual efforts to celebrate Belgrade Pride, the 2014 parade, if held successfully, will mark only the third time in more than a decade that the event has actually occurred.
In Turkey, police violence against peaceful protestors continues. It is time for the world community to make its condemnation clear, not only through words, but through action. In this, Turkey’s most important ally, the United States, should take the lead.
In June and July, the world was galvanized by scenes of police violence against peaceful protestors in Turkey. Turkish police rained more than a hundred thousand tear gas canisters on its own citizens as they exercised their basic rights of freedom of expression and assembly. Hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals across the globe raised their voices against the abuses.
On July 15, the Honduran army fired on peaceful protesters from the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The gunfire killed COPINH leader Tomas Garcia, who also served as a deputy mayor in the region. The attack also seriously wounded his teenage son, Allan Garcia Dominguez. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has condemned this killing, which it has categorized as “murder.”
Every day since April, COPINH has held a peaceful march to protest the construction of a hydro-electric damn that they believe threatens their land. Like other indigenous communities, the culture and livelihood of the Lenca in Honduras is tied to their land. They argue that the authorities did not properly consult with the communities that would be effected by this project.
I worry about Indonesia. I worry that the democratic progress of the past few years is just slip slidin’ away. While Egypt and Turkey’s passionate and public debates on reform reach the front pages of our newspapers, Indonesia appears calm to the world. But, it looks like the government is worried.
Particularly alarming is a new law on Mass Organizations, passed on July 2, 2013. Suddenly, organizations operating in Indonesia are limited to eight purposes including maintaining the value of religion and belief in God; preserving the norms, values, morals, ethics and culture; and establishing, maintaining and strengthening the unity of the nation. Foreign organizations are required to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and must operate under new rules that include not disrupting the “stability and oneness” of Indonesia.
Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the start of protests in Bahrain. Bahrainis have already begun taking to the streets to protest a government that has committed terrible violence against its own citizens.
When Bahrain’s streets awaken in protest tomorrow, will government forces crack down on peaceful demonstrators again? Will there be more tear gas, torture, killings?
We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But we do know that tragedy is not inevitable.
Take action for a better tomorrow in Bahrain. Call on the Bahraini government and security forces to respect peaceful protest and assembly — today, tomorrow, and for all the days to come. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
A quick glance at Wikipedia or this ILGA report is enough to tell you that there are a LOT of countries where it’s dangerous or deadly to be (or even to be perceived as) lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
There are still more than 80 countries with sodomy laws, and punishment can include flogging, imprisonment, and in about a dozen jurisdictions, the death penalty. Those suspected of being LGBT are also routinely the victims of harassment, discrimination and violence. Many of those who speak up for LGBT rights – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – are themselves persecuted with impunity.
Here are 7 countries Amnesty International has recently had particular concerns about:
Since Sunday’s controversial presidential election in the ex-Soviet republic of Belarus, where incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka pronounced himself the winner, a wave of human rights violations has been hitting opposition voices in the country (like it wasn’t bad enough in the first place). Among the silenced are Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Kolyada, the founding couple of Belarus Free Theater who – according to The New York Times – “are now in hiding” after the arrest of their colleagues.
When my colleague phoned the Embassy of Belarus in Washington D.C. for a response on the Times report, she was told that the Embassy doesn’t comment on foreign newspaper content.
Here are other questions that the Belarus government doesn’t want to be asked:
– Why have seven of the nine opposition presidential candidates been detained along with as many as 500 peaceful demonstrators, opposition activists, human rights defenders and journalists, many of whom were beaten by riot police?
– Why was there no autopsy to investigate the allegedly suicidal death of Aleh Byabebin, founder of the unofficial news website Charter’97, who had just joined the campaign team of presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov (Sannikau)?
– And why are candidate Sannikau’s legs broken and why is he not receiving medical care in detention?