Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest and most crowded nations, plans to go ahead with work to develop an isolated, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal to temporarily house tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in neighboring Myanmar, officials say.
Dhaka says the Rohingya are not welcome, and has told border guards to push back those trying to enter the country illegally. But close to 125,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh in just 10 days, joining more than 400,000 others already living there in cramped makeshift camps.
The Rohingya are caught up in a deadly and desperate situation in the Rakhine State on the western coast of Myanmar (also known as Burma). Tens of thousands of people are at risk of serious rights violations and aid efforts have been shut down.
For decades, unrest has rocked northern Rakhine State because of a wider context of long-standing discrimination against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
The ethnic Muslim group are denied the right to a nationality, and face severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of movement, access to education, healthcare, and livelihoods, to practice their religion and participate in public life.
The situation has been coming to a head in recent days after Rohingya militants launched a series of coordinated attacks on security forces in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine state in the early morning of 25 August.
Since then, clashes between Myanmar’s military and the Rohingya armed group have continued and security forces have engaged in a disproportionate campaign of violence against the Rohingya.
Villages burned down
We have received numerous reports of human rights violations and abuses, including security forces opening fire on civilians fleeing, and homes and villages being burned down.
According to the Myanmar government almost 400 people have been killed since the clashes as of 4 September.
Humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State has also been suspended, while in other parts of the state the Myanmar authorities are preventing humanitarian agencies from reaching communities in need. As a result, life-saving relief efforts have been halted, and vital supplies of medicine, food and water are not making their way to the tens of thousands of desperate civilians caught in the middle of this deadly feud.
According to the UN, an estimated 90,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh, while the Myanmar government has evacuated over 11,000 people belonging to other ethnic minority communities. Despite the huge influx, the Bangladesh government has maintained a policy of sealing the border with Myanmar, and border guards have pushed back hundreds attempting to flee.
The recent attacks mark a dangerous escalation in an already volatile area. Following similar (but smaller) attacks in northern Rakhine State in October 2016, the Myanmar authorities launched major security operations.
At the time we documented wide-ranging human rights violations against the Rohingya during these operations, including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence, as well as destruction of homes and property.
People in Rakhine State, in particular the Muslim Rohingya minority, have suffered a horrific catalogue of rights abuses for decades. Through our own investigations we have concluded that the Myanmar security forces may have committed crimes against humanity.
A humanitarian disaster
Simply put, Rakhine State is now on the precipice of a humanitarian disaster.
Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director for Crisis Response, said:
‘Nothing can justify denying life-saving aid to desperate people. By blocking access for humanitarian organisations, Burma’s authorities have put tens of thousands of people at risk and shown a callous disregard for human life.’
Authorities in Myanmar must swiftly improve the human rights situation and end discrimination. In particular, they must urgently lift restrictions on movement, allow full access for humanitarian workers and media in affected regions, and review and amend the country’s discriminatory citizenship laws.
What can be done to help the situation?
Put pressure on Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Army, the person responsible for the ongoing security operations. Tweet the following at him now:
.@SGMinAungHlaing Shocking human rights violations by security forces in northern #Rakhine must end immediately. http://bit.ly/2gByLtV
.@SGMinAungHlaing It’s time to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to all people in all areas of #Rakhine State. http://bit.ly/2gByLtV
Without concrete action by the authorities to address long-standing grievances and decades of human rights violations, people in the region will continue to be trapped in a bloody cycle of deprivation and abuse
Malala Yousafzai (Malālah Yūsafzay: Urdu: ملالہ یوسفزئی; Pashto: ملاله یوسفزۍ [məˈlaːlə jusəf ˈzəj]; born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Her family came to run a chain of schools in the region. Considering Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto as her role-models, she was particularly inspired by her father’s thoughts and humanitarian work. In early 2009, when she was 11–12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She rose in prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by activist Desmond Tutu.
In afternoon of 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was injured after a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her. Yousafzai remained unconscious, in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. The murder attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that she may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.” Weeks after her murder attempt, a group of fifty leading Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her.
Since recovering, Yousafzai became a prominent education activist. Based out of Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization and in 2013 co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller. In 2015, Yousafzai was a subject of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary “He Named Me Malala”. 2013; 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured her as one of the most Influential people globally.
Saudi Arabia is the top oil exporter and a member of the oil rich OPEC countries, the late King had a personal wealth himself of £18 billion. Saudi Arabia as a country is extremely important historically to the world’s Muslims as it’s believed to be the birthplace of Islam. However although many have been praising King Abdullah for his ‘modernisation’ within his rule, it’s still quite apparent that his country’s human rights practices are still abhorrent to many in the western world with public floggings been met to anyone who has fallen fowl of it’s extremely harsh Islamic teaching.
Only recently was Raif Badawi, a liberal Islamist and blogger sentenced to 1000 lashes of a cane and it has also stoned and beaten and even sentenced to death homosexuals and women accused of adultery or infidelity. Those who have praised him; including the former Prime Minister and Middle Eastern ‘Peace’ envoy, Tony Blair have pointed to more positive attitudes now adopted in Saudi Arabia such as the introduction of education for women in the country. However Saudi Arabia still is one of the countries that human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly monitor, and it often calls on members to take urgent action on.
Following his inauguration the new King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir. Today the following announcement surrounding King Abdullah was made, “His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning.”
King Abdullah who was 90 years old and was suffering from illness for quite recently has ruled Saudi Arabia as King for the past 8 years (since 2006), but had run the country for 10 years prior to this as a de facto ruler after it’s previous King Fahd had become incapacitated following a stroke.
Countries throughout the world will be closely watching the new King’s progress amidst the turmoil across the Middle East, and also on the country’s direction in terms of it’s human rights of it’s citizens. King Salman is a self-appointed champion of Sunni Islam and the US hopes that the country will remain a close ally in the face of the ISIS threat that has engulfed other middle eastern countries such as Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s was a strong influence in the overthrow of President Mubarak’s Egyptian government in 2012 when they intervened militarily in support for it’s current government, they also have supported Syrian rebels against President Bashar al-Assad.
The new King, who is 79, was crown prince and the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.
Saudi Arabia, holds more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil and is influential to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population, as the King is regarded as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and Medina.
Despite an international outcry and calls by Amnesty International for the Saudi Arabian authorities to quash the severe sentence and punishment of 1000 lashes for a charge of blasphemy, Saudi Arabian rights activist Raif Badawi was publicly flogged on Friday it is reported. This has been confirmed by Amnesty international from an eye-witness in Jeddah and from Mr Badawi’s wife.
Mr Badawi is a Saudi Arabian writer and activist and was the creator of the website “Free Saudi Liberals”
This is the first of 20 such public floggings that Mr Badawi will face after his conviction for insulting Islam through a forum/blog that his wife actually said he set up to merely examine and provide people the opportunity to discuss their Islamic faith. The forum was taken down by the Saudi authorities and Mr Badawi handed a sentence of 1000 lashes in 2014.
It is reported by an eye-witness that Mr Badawi raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arched his back in preparation for his flogging and remained silent after it but it was obvious it was said through his face and his body that he was in pain. Mr Raif Badawi was “beaten by a officer on his back and legs, who counted the lashes until they reached 50” the witness states.
This flogging it is worth noting took plays only days after the Saudi Arabian government and authority announced their condemnation of the actions of the terrorists who last week killed staff at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
It is also worth mentioning that Amnesty International gravely concerned for Mr Badawi’s lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair a well known human rights lawyer in Saudi Arabia following his Mr Badawi’s arrest and conviction in 2012-4. Amnesty International is running a separate campaign for Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison last July. It is unfortunately expected that he could also face a similar sentence to Mr Badawi handed down as well as his prison term that he currently serving.
Cicero Lounge has today sent a letter to the Saudi Authorities immediately calling for his sentence to be either commuted immediately or nullified. Anyone wishing to contact the Saudi embassy and respectfully call for action to the following: Prime Minister Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, also Deputy Prime Minister Ministry of Defense HRH Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and His Excellency Adel A. Al-Jubeir was appointed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
A tribute to one of the greatest men that the 20th Century witnessed who died almost a year ago.
For more information on his struggle against Apartheid and his unifying of South Africa visit http://www.nelsonmandela.org/
South Africa had it’s first democratic election in 1994, below is the story of how that struggle was eventually won after 46 years of the most oppressive apartheid ruling regime.
Amnesty International UK will host a free screening of the acclaimed documentary about the notorious case of the “Angola 3” on Tuesday 10 July.
The 2010 film – In the Land of the Free, with narration by Samuel L Jackson – tells the story of how three men – Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King – were placed in solitary confinement at Louisiana State Penitentiary (known as Angola prison) in the USA in 1972.
Wallace and Woodfox – who were convicted of the murder of prison guard Brent Miller, a crime they have vigorously denied – have now spent the last 40 years in solitary. King, who was convicted of a different crime, spent 29 years in solitary confinement at Angola until his release in 2001. He will appear on a panel with the film’s director to discuss the case after the film screening.
Amnesty is currently calling on the Louisiana authorities to remove Wallace and Woodfox from solitary confinement, and is challenging the authorities’ contention that the pair remain a threat to prison employees and others (see http://amn.st/MQcp2U). Meanwhile, Woodfox’s lawyers are pursuing a claim of racial discrimination in jury selection at his 1998 retrial. This could see his conviction overturned (for the third time) and lead to his release.
It has grown to an international movement – and it all started with putting a pen to paper to help another human being gain their human rights (as provided in Universal Declaration of Human Rights created after the World War II).
On a personal note – I learned to letter write a lot by this organization and have been privileged to write to many people to call for the release or fair trial of other people and urge any person to enjoy the wonderful experience of also having the opportunity to do so by joining their local group.
Manchester, where I’m currently living meets every second Wednesday of the month at Cross Street Unitarian Church.
As Rt. Hon Jack Straw MP, says in this documentary – “If people do nothing, nothing will happen!”
Below is it’s history. Go to Amnesty
Courtesy: BBC Four/Amnesty International/AP/ITV
Fantastic News! Jabbar Savalan the young activist from from Azerbaijan has been released and recieved a pardon for his detention. today. He is now at home with his family. This is fantastic news however, 16 prisoners of conscience remain in jail in Azerbaijan.
He originally was detainedby Azerbaijan authorities after he’d posted messages against the government rule in the country on Facebook he was charged with ‘drug offences’ and detained on 4 May 2011 for two and a half years in prison. Amnesty International considered Jabbar a prisoner of conscience and many activisits worldwide have been campaigning for his release. A call for his immediate release and the right of freedom of expression to be upheld in the country.
Initially on the 4th February 2011 Jabbar had posted calls for protests against the government. The next evening he was arrested on his way home from a meeting of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party.
Tens of thousands of people around the world are participating in Amnesty’s annual Global Write-a-thon, joining together to write letters that can save lives.
Now’s the time to finally put pen to paper.
Don’t forget to shine a light, literally — download our powerful paper lanterns to help illuminate your letter-writing event.
And you can watch videos about all the cases at your event — check out our Write for Rights video playlist on YouTube.
Even if you’re writing as an individual, you won’t be alone. Join the conversation with your fellow writers — live! We’ve set up a live blog on our Write for Rights homepage. Send in comments and pictures with your writing experiences — and you can even upload video messages straight from your webcam!
It all starts tomorrow. Write letters to amplify the voices governments are attempting to silence. Write letters demanding freedom. Write letters of solidarity.
Above is the amazing Amnesty International “Ink” animation – which carries the important message of just how powerful a person’s signature can be!
IRANIAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND MOTHER ARRESTED
Kouhyar Goudarzi, a member of the Committee for Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), was arrested on 31 July 2011 in Tehran, Iran, by plainclothes individuals believed to be from the Ministry of Intelligence. His mother, Parvin Mokhtareh, was arrested the next day. They are at risk of torture or other ill treatment.
Kouhyar Goudarzi was arrested at the home of a friend, together with the host and a friend. Neighbors reported seeing the three men taken away by plainclothes individuals believed to be from the Ministry of Intelligence. Since his arrest, members of Kouhyar Goudarzi’s family and his lawyer, Mina Jaffari, have inquired as to his whereabouts and have neither been given information on his whereabouts, nor confirmation of his arrest. Amnesty International fears he may be currently held in solitary confinement at Evin Prison in Tehran
Source : Amnesty USA
In the last twelve months the Royal Bank of Scotland has invested $80million in companies that make cluster bombs.
98% of all cluster bomb victims are civilians, and a third of those are children. Last year the UK joined over 100 countries in outlawing their use and manufacture. Yet more than a year on from the ban, the publically owned RBS continues to fund companies that manufacture these abhorrent weapons.
While RBS is not alone in this irresponsible investment, it is the worst offender. Help us end the suffering cluster bombs cause. For more information read the report on stopexplosiveinvestments.org.
Source: Amnesty International
May 28 is a day that changed the human rights movement forever. Fifty years ago one person – Peter Benenson – outraged by injustices he read about in the paper, asked others to unite with him in common action.
He knew we could use our activism to achieve extraordinary things. He created Amnesty International.
Change did not happen overnight.
It took many conversations, many letters. Friends spoke to family members, the message spread, and one by one we secured the release of tens of thousands of people. People imprisoned for their beliefs or their way of life.
As activists lobbied governments, and researchers interviewed survivors, we demanded accountability for previously untouchable leaders. One by one each person who took action changed laws and changed lives.
50 years on, our work is not done – but we are more determined than ever to protect human rights. 50 years has shown that one by one we can. We have.
So today, we thank you for your work to defend human rights. Will you celebrate our birthday today?
In honor of 50 years of hard work and meaningful change, wish Amnesty a happy birthday today on Facebook, Twitter, and to your friends and family at home.
Source : Amnesty USA
The United States must prosecute former President George W. Bush for torture if his admission in a memoir that he authorised waterboarding holds true, rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
In “Decision Points,” published this week, Bush defended his decision to authorise waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by some as torture.
Bush said the practice was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks and saved lives. He told NBC in an interview to publicise the book that his legal adviser had told him it did “not fall within the anti-torture act.”
Amnesty International’s Senior Director Claudio Cordone said in a statement: “Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W. Bush.
“If his admission is substantiated, the U.S.A. has the obligation to prosecute him,” he said. “In the absence of a U.S. investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”
Source : Reuters -November 10th 2010
Source: Amnesty International website
The Thai government should remove restrictions on free speech contained in today’s emergency decree, Amnesty International said. Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s researcher on Thailand, said:
‘The government is ultimately responsible for the security of all Thai citizens, regardless of their political views. ‘But the government should not use this state of emergency to silence free speech or infringe on other human rights."
"Deep Cut”, the story of four young soldiers who died from gunshot wounds at Deepcut Barracks between 1995 and 2002, and of their parents’ campaign for an inquiry into the deaths, has won the 2008 Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Festival.
‘It is now essential that we receive a timetable for Guantánamo’s closure’ – Ming Campbell
Sir Menzies Campbell has this evening spoken of the ‘essential’ need to close the notorious military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba after meeting members of the US government in Washington today as part of an Amnesty International delegation to the US capital.
The comments came on the first day of his three-day trip to discuss ways of closing the prison and allow fair trials or safe releases for the roughly 270 Guantánamo detainees still held.
The former Liberal Democrat leader, who is Vice Chair of the All Party Group on Rendition as well as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has also been raising the issue of ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights and secret ‘war on terror’ detentions with the US government.
After meetings today with US government officials, Sir Menzies said:
‘Today I was told that the US government intends to close the camp ‘as soon as possible’, but this is not good enough.
‘We’ve heard these promises on numerous occasions from both Republican and Democrat leaders, yet we are now well into the seventh year of Guantánamo’s shameful existence.
‘The time for talking is over and the time for action is long overdue. It is now essential that we receive a timetable for Guantánamo’s closure.’