Iran: Prisoner of conscience faces death threats

Prisoner of conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri, who has spent over three years in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison in Iran’s capital, Tehran, has been threatened with death by interrogators. He is serving a five-year prison sentence on a charge of “insulting Islamic sanctities”, in relation to his spiritual beliefs and practices.

Mohammad Ali Taheri, founder of a new spiritual group in Iran called Erfan-e-Halgheh, was arrested on 4 May 2011 by officials linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and held incommunicado for nine months in Section 2A of Evin Prison. Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted him, on 30 October 2011, of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment. However, it found that his offence did not involve, as the prosecution had argued, saab ul-nabi (deliberately denigrating Prophet Mohammad) which would have carried the death penalty under the Islamic Penal Code. Amnesty International understands that the authorities have, nevertheless, continued to threaten him with death, apparently based on religious fatwas that order the killing of apostates.

Mohammad Ali Taheri has been serving his prison sentence entirely in solitary confinement and his repeated requests to be transferred to a cell shared with other inmates have been denied, leading him to undertake at least seven hunger strikes and attempt suicide four times. Except for a six-day period of leave in March 2013, his interaction with the outside world has been limited to brief bi-weekly visits from his wife in a “cabin” (behind a glass screen) and limited telephone calls, both of which have stopped since his wife was arrested on 2 July 2014 for a period of two weeks.

Please write immediately in Farsi, Arabic, English or your own language:

  • Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Mohammad Ali Taheri immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression;
  • Calling on them to ensure that he is protected from all forms of torture and other ill-treatment, and that he is no longer held in solitary confinement;
  • Urging them to allow him regular visits from his family and lawyer.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 7 OCTOBER 2014 TO: (Time difference = GMT + 3.5 hrs / BST + 2.5 hrs)

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Cambodia: Opposition party members arrested, charged

Five youth members and two officials from Cambodia’s main opposition party are facing arbitrary and politically motivated legal action over a protest which ended in violence on 15 July 2014.

On 15 July there were violent clashes between Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters and district public order personnel at a demonstration against the closure of Freedom Park in the capital, Phnom Penh, and to call for a ban on peaceful assemblies to be lifted. The Cambodian authorities have claimed that 38 public order personnel were injured, some of them critically. At least six CNRP supporters were also injured.

Seven CNRP members of parliament and a mobilisation official were arrested between 15 and 17 July and charged with instigating violence, incitement and leading an insurrection. They were released on bail after spending a week in prison. Charges against the MPs have not been followed up because they have parliamentary immunity. The official, Oeur Narith, was questioned again by the court on 13 August.

The head of the CNRP’s youth wing, Khin Chamrouen, was arrested on 2 August, as were the party’s Phnom Penh youth leaders Neang Sokhun and San Kimheng. They have been charged with joining an “insurrection” and other offences. They are in pre-trial detention in Prey Sar CC1 prison in Phnom Penh and have been refused bail. Their appeal against denial of bail will be heard on 22 August. Around 13 August, another three CNRP members were summonsed for questioning in relation to the 15 July events: youth members San Seyhak and Tep Narin, and party official Meach Sovannara.

Amnesty International considers the legal action to be arbitrary, politically motivated and designed to silence dissent, in violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and to freedom from arbitrary detention.

Please write immediately in Khmer, English, French or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities to ensure that the seven CNRP members facing legal action are treated in accordance with international human rights law and standards, including freedom from arbitrary detention, and fair trial rights;
  • Demanding that those in pre-trial detention are given a fair bail hearing at which they are granted bail unless the authorities can demonstrate convincingly that no less restrictive measure can attain any legitimate aim;
  • Urging the authorities to ensure the independence of the courts and an end to their use for political ends.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 SEPTEMBER 2014 TO:  (Time difference = GMT + 7 hrs / BST + 6 hrs)

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Azerbaijan: Karimov Brothers Tortured In Custody

Azerbaijani political activist Faraj Karimov and his brother Siraj Karimov have complained of torture in detention to make them “confess” to drug-related crimes.

Azerbaijani political activist Faraj Karimov was visited by his lawyer on 2 August after being held incommunicado for 10 days. Faraj Karimov told his lawyer that he had been beaten by police to make him admit to drug-related charges. He was threatened that unless he signed a “confession”, police would “cause problems to his parents” by planting weapons at their house.

Although held on drug-related charges, Faraj Karimov was questioned about his political and social activities. Police asked him about the Facebook groups and pages he manages, which are well-known for their criticism of the Azerbaijani government. He was also asked for information about his fellow activists at the opposition political party Musavat.

His brother, Siraj Karimov, who had been arrested six days earlier, was also allegedly tortured by police. He claims he was pressured to sign a confession to drug-related charges and was asked questions by police about his brother. Siraj Karimov had not been involved in activism himself, but his family have insisted that he was targeted because of his brother’s work.

Amnesty International has documented regular use of trumped-up drug-related charges in Azerbaijan against political activists and their family members, and considers Faraj Karimov and Siraj Karimov prisoners of conscience.

Please write immediately in Azeri, English, Russian or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities to release Faraj and Siraj Karimov immediately and unconditionally;
  • Urging them to ensure the brothers’ safety and freedom from threats, harassment and persecution;
  • Calling for an immediate, impartial and effective investigation of Faraj and Siraj Karimov’s allegations that they have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated and forced to testify against themselves.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 SEPTEMBER 2014 TO:  (Time difference = GMT + 5 hrs / BST + 4 hrs)

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humanrightswatch:

Fleeing Luhansk
As the crisis in eastern Ukraine deepens, the world’s attention is currently focused on the Ukrainian and Russian governments’ race to deliver aid to civilians in the besieged city of Luhansk. But that shouldn’t eclipse the crucial need for all parties to avoid harming civilians with explosive weapons attacks and by locating military targets within or near civilian populations.
The humanitarian situation in Luhansk is indeed very difficult. In Shchastya, a town just north of Luhansk under Ukrainian government control, we spoke to more than a dozen people who fled Luhansk in the past few days. They said that it’s difficult to find drinking water, there is no electricity or gas, and they feel cut off from the rest of the world as cell phones no longer work. Food in the shops, which operate only a few hours a day, from morning to noon, is scarce, and the prices for basic necessities have gone up.
Many who have the means have already fled but others, especially the frail and the elderly, are left in an increasingly desperate situation. One man told us about his 80-year-old paralyzed neighbor who is alone and abandoned in her apartment. A friend stops by every once in a while to bring her water. Delivering impartial humanitarian aid to the people trapped in the devastated city would make a big difference.
Read more.

humanrightswatch:

Fleeing Luhansk

As the crisis in eastern Ukraine deepens, the world’s attention is currently focused on the Ukrainian and Russian governments’ race to deliver aid to civilians in the besieged city of Luhansk. But that shouldn’t eclipse the crucial need for all parties to avoid harming civilians with explosive weapons attacks and by locating military targets within or near civilian populations.

The humanitarian situation in Luhansk is indeed very difficult. In Shchastya, a town just north of Luhansk under Ukrainian government control, we spoke to more than a dozen people who fled Luhansk in the past few days. They said that it’s difficult to find drinking water, there is no electricity or gas, and they feel cut off from the rest of the world as cell phones no longer work. Food in the shops, which operate only a few hours a day, from morning to noon, is scarce, and the prices for basic necessities have gone up.

Many who have the means have already fled but others, especially the frail and the elderly, are left in an increasingly desperate situation. One man told us about his 80-year-old paralyzed neighbor who is alone and abandoned in her apartment. A friend stops by every once in a while to bring her water. Delivering impartial humanitarian aid to the people trapped in the devastated city would make a big difference.

Read more.

Reblogged from humanrightswatch

Egypt: Syrian-Palestinians Face Forcible Return

The Egyptian authorities are preparing to forcibly return two Palestinian refugees from Syria back to Syria or to Gaza. The men were part of a group of 15 who fled the conflict in Gaza, 13 of whom were forcibly returned to Syria on 14 August.

Youssef Farid Youssef, 23, and Hamza Issa, 20, fled Syria in 2013 to escape the crisis that began in the country in 2011. They travelled to Gaza and lived there for one year. They fled Gaza because of Israel’s military operation which began on 8 July in the Gaza Strip, placing it under intensive bombardment from air, land and sea.

However, the Egyptian security forces arrested them when they left Gaza via the Rafah crossing on 9 August, along with 13 other Palestinian refugees from Syria, and told them they had two options: either to be forcibly returned to Gaza or to Syria. The Egyptian authorities took their passports, and transferred all 15 to detention at Cairo International Airport the next day.

Thirteen of them were forcibly returned to Syria on 14 August. Youssef Farid Youssef and Hamza Issa are now at risk of forcible return as well. They do not know when they will be forcibly returned, or to where. They do not have enough money for food.

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

  • Urging the authorities not to forcibly return Youssef Fard Youssef or Hamza Iza to Syria or Gaza;
  • Urging them to uphold their international obligations, under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, to provide international protection for those fleeing serious human rights violations and the armed conflict in Syria.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 SEPTEMBER 2014 TO:  (Time difference = GMT + 2 hrs / BST + 1 hrs)

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Egypt: Court to Try 494 People Over Protests

A court in Cairo is due to try 494 people for their alleged role in violence during protests in August 2013, in a case which may lead to mass death sentences. Those on trial include 11 children and 18-year-old Ibrahim Halawa, an Egyptian-Irish national who Amnesty International has established is a prisoner of conscience.

The trial relates to protests that took place on 16 and 17 August 2013, in the Ramsis area of central Cairo. At least 97 people died in the protests – most as a result of a reckless use of force by the security forces. More than 400 of the 494 defendants have been charged with murder and attempted murder, offences punishable by death under Egyptian law. The remainder have been charged with offences including “destroying public property”, “protesting without authorization”, “attacking the security forces” and “hindering the work of national institutions”.

According to the case file, seen by Amnesty International, most of the over 100 witnesses due to be called in the trial are police officers or government officials. Others among the 494 may also be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

The trial was scheduled to start on 12 August, but was delayed after the judges due to hear the case recused themselves after the defendants’ lawyers objected to them. The Cairo Appeals Court will schedule another court panel of judges at a later date, likely to be soon.

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

  • Urging the Egyptian authorities to ensure the trial of all 494 defendants in connection with the August 2013 protests complies with international fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty;
  • Calling on them to ensure that anyone under the age of 18 is treated in accordance with the principles of juvenile justice and, if detained, is held separately from adults;
  • Calling on them to release Ibrahim Halawa immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly;
  • Urging them to also release any others detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 25 SEPTEMBER 2014 TO:  (Time difference = GMT + 2 hrs / BST + 1 hrs)

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