From a country where there is little reason to celebrate, here is some good news: Amnesty International learned Monday that Syrian human rights activist Mazen Darwish, who had been jailed by the Assad government on trumped-up terrorism charges, has been released. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Threatened with rape, death, and kidnapping, Rita Mahato has courageously continued her work to stop violence against women in Nepal. A health counselor at the Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) in Bastipur Village Development Committee, Mahato has been repeatedly harassed by men from the village who tell her that an uneducated woman should not be doing a man’s job and that men can suppress women.
Mahato has been an adviser to women who have suffered from violence and ensures that their cases are reported and filed, as they often have not been by the local police. In June 2007, dozens of men came to WOREC to threaten its staff and force them to evacuate the village within five days. Later that month, villagers threw bricks at the building and then at the workers when they came out to protest.
Abdolfattah Soltani, an Iranian human rights defender, was one of hundreds of people who were rounded up and imprisoned in the crackdown that followed Iran’s presidential elections. Plain clothes Iranian security officials arrested the leading human rights activist in June along with countless others — students, opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists — and threw them in prison.
Soltani has for years stood by victims of Iran’s repression. And by putting himself in the line of fire, he too has become a target of the Iranian government crackdown.
Tens of thousands of Amnesty members took action in response to news of his arrest. And last week, Soltani was released. While we continue to have a number of concerns about human rights in Iran, we have found Soltani’s release, along with last month’s release of human rights defender Shadi Sadr, profoundly encouraging.
Amnesty members helped counter the climate of fear instilled by Iranian authorities with a spirit of hope. They sent a vital message of solidarity to Soltani and other human rights defenders like him in their hour of darkness, reminding them that they were not alone.
We sincerely thank everyone who took action on Soltani’s behalf.