Ye Haiyan, one of China’s most prominent sex worker-rights activists, won’t be attending the major international conference on AIDS in Melbourne, Australia next week. Known by her online nickname “Hooligan Sparrow,” Chinese authorities have told Ye her passport has been “lost” after she attempted to apply for a visa, making it impossible to travel.

Ye’s efforts have invoked the authorities’ wrath before. In 2006, she began providing information and counseling to sex workers, eventually establishing organizations in two provinces to provide them with health and legal services. And she has been a forceful advocate for sex workers’ legal rights. For these efforts she has endured house arrest, harassment by local authorities, and police raids of her offices and home. In May 2013, the police detained Ye for several days after unidentified assailants assaulted her at her home in Guangxi province because she exposed abusive conditions in local brothels.

Why wouldn’t the Chinese government want all the help it can get in tackling HIV? The track record is clear in country after country: where sex workers are criminalized, where their human rights are violated and their access to HIV prevention and treatment are denied, HIV epidemics get worse. Where sex work is legal, and sex workers can organize and promote HIV programs and services, the epidemic wanes. The International AIDS Conference is the premier global event at which policymakers, academics, activists, and others come together to swap solutions and debate strategies. Sex workers had planned to have a session in advance of the formal conference, and Ye had intended to give a presentation on “Sex workers as human rights defenders.”

Iran: Juvenile offender at risk of execution in Iran

Iranian juvenile offender Rasoul Holoumi is at risk of execution for allegedly causing fatal injuries to a boy in a fight. He was 17 years old at the time. His death sentence has been sent to the Office of the Implementation of Sentences in Ahwaz, and could be carried out at the request of the family of the deceased victim at any time.  

Rasoul Holoumi, now aged 22, was sentenced to death in October 2010 under qesas (retribution-in-kind) by Branch 17 of the Criminal Court of Khuzestan Province. The court convicted him of murder based on allegations that he threw a hard object at the head of Nasim Nouri Maleki during the course of a fight in September 2009. The allegations have been made by several of the people involved in the fight. The court documents indicate that Rasoul Holoumi initially admitted causing the fatal head injuries. He retracted his admission after several weeks with statements that raise doubts about the events, including the identity of the individual who struck the victim, the intentionality of the injuries caused, and even the presence of Rasoul Holoumi at the scene of the incident.

Despite his age at the time of the offence, the seriousness of the charge, and the risk of the imposition of the death penalty, Rasoul Haloumi was not given access to a lawyer during the investigative phase nor was he provided with adequate time and facilities to prepare effective defence through competent appointed counsel before and during trial. In spite of this the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence in 2010 without justifying its decision.  

The execution of Rasoul Holoumi was to be implemented on 4 May, but was stopped after the family of the deceased victim agreed to forgo their request forqesas if Rasoul Holoum’s family transferred the deeds of their house and farm to them and paid them 3.5 billion rials (135,323$) as diyah (blood money). Rasoul Haloumi is at imminent risk of execution as the amount of diyah asked appears to be beyond his family’s means. Sentences of qesas are not open to pardon or amnesty by the Supreme Leader, in breach of international law, but they can be temporarily stayed by the head of the judiciary in order to allow the family time to raise the requested blood money.

Please write immediately in Persian, English, Spanish or your own language:

  • Urging the Iranian authorities to immediately halt the execution of Rasoul Haloumi;
  • Calling on them to ensure his case is reviewed urgently with a view to overturning his death sentence;
  • Reminding them that execution of people for crimes committed under 18 is strictly prohibited under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), both of which Iran has ratified;
  • Reminding them that under Article 6(4) of the ICCPR, anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 22 AUGUST 2014 TO: (Time difference = GMT + 3.5 hrs / BST + 2.5 hrs)

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Survival International: First Contact in the Amazon: Tribes of Brazil recall their experiences of contact and the dangers that followed.

There are tribes all over the world who have decided to remain isolated from national society or even other indigenous peoples.

That does not mean that they remain ‘undiscovered’ or ‘unchanged’. Most are already known about and however isolated, all constantly adapt to their changing circumstances.

Many have occasional, sometimes hostile, contact with neighbouring tribes. They are well aware of other societies around them.

Neighbouring indigenous groups and FUNAI often know the rough whereabouts of such groups.

Since 1987, FUNAI has had a department dedicated to uncontacted Indians, whose policy is to make contact only in cases where their immediate survival is at risk.

Otherwise, no attempt at contact is made. Instead, FUNAI seeks to demarcate and protect their land from invaders with its protection posts.

Uncontacted peoples must have the right to decide whether to live in isolation or not. But in order to exercise this right they need time and space to do so.

They will only survive if their land, which they have a right to underinternational and national law, is protected. They should be allowed to live in peace, free from fear of extermination and disastrous contact.

Contact should only happen when and where isolated peoples decide that they are ready for it.

My throat, unable to speak, will die
For the sounds of my homeland.
My ancestors’ patter will vanish
Like water into sand.
I am a storyteller of immortality
In Semitic and Etruscan tongues;
I am the dust of Turkic dialects
Writing in Russian.
Many lives’ twisted fates
Are lost inside me, mourning,
And I myself am a naked tangle of nerves Pulsating with verses.

My Throat Will Die, by poet and journalist Aron Atabek, sentenced to two years’ solitary confinement in a maximum security jail – 1,600km away from his family – for writing The Heart of Eurasia, a book that fiercely criticised President Nursultan Nazarbayev. After international campaigns, he was moved out of solitary confinement, but his prison conditions remain harsh. Write a message of support to Aron Atabek!

PEN International joins English PEN in expressing its concern for imprisoned poet and activist Enoh Meyomesse following his recent admission to the prison hospital in the overcrowded Kondengui Central Prison, Youandé.
We are currently awaiting further details of his condition. However, in May 2014 Meyomesse was moved to the prison infirmary to be treated for malaria and amoebiasis, and we are seriously concerned that his condition may have deteriorated. We are calling on the Cameroonian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds.
Cameroonian poet Enoh Meyomesse has been imprisoned since November 2011, and is currently serving a seven-year sentence for supposed complicity in the theft and illegal sale of gold, charges which PEN believes to be politically motivated. It has now been 15 months since Meyomesse’s lawyers succeeded in having his case referred to a civil court for appeal. His appeal was expected to be heard on 20 June 2013 but the hearing was postponed. At least eleven further hearings – including the most recent hearing on 19 June at which the Head of the Political Section from the British Embassy was present – have been postponed due to various legal technicalities.
His next hearing is now scheduled to take place on Thursday 17 July.
For more information on Meyomesse’s case, please see the most recent PEN International case list.
TAKE ACTION: Share on FaceBook, Twitter and other social media
Send appeals
Protesting the ongoing detention of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated;
Expressing concern over his recent hospitalisation and urging that he be given full access to the necessary medical attention;
Urging the authorities to release Meyomesse immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds.
Write to:
President Paul BiyaFax: +237 22 22 08 70Email: cellcom@prc.cmTwitter: @PR_Paul_Biya
Mr Philemon Yang, Prime MinisterFax: +237 22 23 57 35Email: spm@spm.gov.cm
Please also send a copy of your appeal to your nearest Cameroonian diplomatic representative (the contact details for Cameroonian embassies abroad are listed here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/cameroon).
(Or you could complete English PEN’s online form. A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.)
***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 14 August 2014***
Spread the word
If you are active on social media, please share information about Enoh Meyomesse’s case with your friends and contacts.
Tweet: Imprisoned poet Enoh Meyomesse has been hospitalised again. Please release him @PR_Paul_Biya! #FreeEnoh #Cameroon @englishpen @pen_int
Buy his book
‘when i get out of here a different man i’ll be / i’ll bear no grudge against the earth / i’ll bear no grudge against the sea’ 
As a result of the numerous postponements and additional months in prison, funds to cover Meyomesse’s legal fees and daily needs – including food, medicine, family visits, and writing materials – are now dwindling. English PEN has published a crowd-sourced translation of his prison poetry, in order to raise funds for him and his family, and greater awareness of his case.
Show your support for Meyomesse – buy your copy today.

 

PEN International joins English PEN in expressing its concern for imprisoned poet and activist Enoh Meyomesse following his recent admission to the prison hospital in the overcrowded Kondengui Central Prison, Youandé.

We are currently awaiting further details of his condition. However, in May 2014 Meyomesse was moved to the prison infirmary to be treated for malaria and amoebiasis, and we are seriously concerned that his condition may have deteriorated. We are calling on the Cameroonian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds.

Cameroonian poet Enoh Meyomesse has been imprisoned since November 2011, and is currently serving a seven-year sentence for supposed complicity in the theft and illegal sale of gold, charges which PEN believes to be politically motivated. It has now been 15 months since Meyomesse’s lawyers succeeded in having his case referred to a civil court for appeal. His appeal was expected to be heard on 20 June 2013 but the hearing was postponed. At least eleven further hearings – including the most recent hearing on 19 June at which the Head of the Political Section from the British Embassy was present – have been postponed due to various legal technicalities.

His next hearing is now scheduled to take place on Thursday 17 July.

For more information on Meyomesse’s case, please see the most recent PEN International case list.

TAKE ACTION: Share on FaceBook, Twitter and other social media

Send appeals

  • Protesting the ongoing detention of writer and activist Enoh Meyomesse on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated;
  • Expressing concern over his recent hospitalisation and urging that he be given full access to the necessary medical attention;
  • Urging the authorities to release Meyomesse immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds.

Write to:

President Paul Biya
Fax: +237 22 22 08 70
Email: cellcom@prc.cm
Twitter: @PR_Paul_Biya

Mr Philemon Yang, Prime Minister
Fax: +237 22 23 57 35
Email: spm@spm.gov.cm

Please also send a copy of your appeal to your nearest Cameroonian diplomatic representative (the contact details for Cameroonian embassies abroad are listed here: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/cameroon).

(Or you could complete English PEN’s online form. A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.)

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 14 August 2014***

Spread the word

If you are active on social media, please share information about Enoh Meyomesse’s case with your friends and contacts.

Tweet: Imprisoned poet Enoh Meyomesse has been hospitalised again. Please release him @PR_Paul_Biya! #FreeEnoh #Cameroon @englishpen @pen_int

Buy his book

‘when i get out of here a different man i’ll be / i’ll bear no grudge against the earth / i’ll bear no grudge against the sea’ 

As a result of the numerous postponements and additional months in prison, funds to cover Meyomesse’s legal fees and daily needs – including food, medicine, family visits, and writing materials – are now dwindling. English PEN has published a crowd-sourced translation of his prison poetry, in order to raise funds for him and his family, and greater awareness of his case.

Show your support for Meyomesse – buy your copy today.

 

More than six years ago, violence rocked Kenya following general elections. At least 1,100 people were killed, 660,000 displaced and thousands injured in beatings, machete attacks, rapes and police shootings. The Kenyan authorities have failed to conduct thorough investigations into serious crimes committed during the violence, and impunity remains pervasive.

1. Kenyan police walk past burning shacks in the Mathare slum (December 2007). AFP/Getty Images

2. Supporters of presidential candidate Raila Odinga tear down and burn a billboard of opposition presidential candidate and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi. (December 2007) AFP/Getty Images.

3. Political graffiti on the main street of the Kibera slums in Nairobi (February 2008). Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

4. Displaced people at Haruma police station in Nairobi await assistance (January 2008) UNHCR/B. Bannon

Cuba: Sentencing of three brothers postponed

The sentencing of three prisoners of conscience originally scheduled for 1 July has been postponed with no further information. They are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Twenty-two-year-old Alexeis Vargas Martín and his two 18-year-old twin brothers, Vianco Vargas Martín and Django Vargas Martín, were tried on 13 June at the Provincial Court in Santiago de Cuba, south-eastern Cuba, under the charges of public disorder of a continuous nature (alteración del orden público de carácter continuado).

The sentencing was scheduled for 1 July but was postponed with no indication of a new date. The mother of the three brothers visited the Court on 1 July in order to collect the sentencing documents but they were not finalised. According to local activists the authorities may try to convince the three brothers to give up their activism and this could be the reason behind the postponement.

Amnesty International believes that their arrest and detention is in response to their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and that it is intended to send a message of intimidation to other government critics, particularly other members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU). The three brothers are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

Please write immediately in Spanish, English or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities to release Alexeis Vargas Martín, Vianco Vargas Martín and Django Vargas Martín immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression;
  • Urging them to allow the free exercise of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, without fear of reprisal.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 AUGUST 2014 TO:  (Time difference = GMT - 5 hrs / BST - 6 hrs)

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Myanmar: Media Workers Imprisoned

Five media workers in Myanmar have been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with hard labour in connection with their journalistic activities. All five are prisoners of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.

On 10 July a court in Pakokku District, Magwe Region sentenced Unity journalists Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, Sithu Soe and the newspaper’s chief executive officer Tint San to 10 years’ imprisonment with hard labour under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. They had been arrested between 31 January and 1 February 2014 after Unity published an article on 25 January about an alleged secret chemical weapons factory in Pauk Township, Pakokku District. According to state media, the five were charged with “disclosing State secrets, trespassing on the restricted area of the factory, taking photographs and the act of abetting” under Article 3(1) A/9 of Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. All five are reportedly planning to lodge an appeal against their conviction.

The five are currently detained at the Pakokku prison, however there are concerns they may be transferred to remote prisons, far away from their family members. The transfer of prisoners of conscience to remote prisons was a hallmark of the previous military government.

Lu Maw Naing has received some medical treatment after suffering from back and stomach pain. However, conditions in detention in Myanmar are poor, and all are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment and a lack of access to adequate medical treatment.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

  • Calling on the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, Sithu Soe and Tint San;
  • Pending their unconditional release, calling on the authorities to ensure that the five men are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated, that they are not transferred to remote prisons, that they have regular access to family members and lawyers of their choosing, and are provided with any medical treatment which they may require;
  • Calling on them to immediately and unconditionally release all other prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, and to drop charges against all those who have been arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression;
  •  Urging them to repeal or else review and amend all laws which impose unlawful restrictions on the right to freedom of expression to ensure they comply with international human rights law and standards.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 AUGUST 2014 TO:  (Time difference = GMT + 6.5 hrs / BST + 5.5 hrs)

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