Thursday, March 27, 2014

Human Rights Action Update March 21-27

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012

The wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xia, has been able to have medical examinations and treatment, and her health condition has improved. She had been prevented from receiving the treatment she needed after suffering a heart attack in January. She continues to be held under illegal house arrest in Beijing. Liu Xia, 53, has had medical examinations and treatment at several different hospitals in Beijing. The examinations have suggested that she is mainly suffering from psychological stress, anxiety and depression, and the doctors warned this is likely to become worse unless her current living condition changes.

Liu Xia, a poet and artist, has been under house arrest since 8 October 2010, following the announcement that her husband, Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She remains under tight surveillance in her home and is not allowed visitors. She has recently been allowed to speak to friends by phone, and they say that her physical and mental health has improved. Liu Xia had a heart attack and was admitted to Beijing Shijingshan hospital for emergency treatment shortly before Chinese New Year in January. The doctor suggested that she be hospitalized for two weeks for further examination and treatment, but she was returned home. On 8 February, she went back to the hospital under police escort, where she was diagnosed with a heart condition, which the doctors said required further treatment. Her family completed all the necessary forms and paid the hospital fees, however the hospital refused to admit her and she was returned home.

Many thanks to all those who took action on her behalf. We will continue to work on her case through other means, but no more action is required from the Urgent Action Network at this time. Messages or photos to show solidarity with Liu Xia can be posted on a bi-lingual tumblr page here. As you can see, even the Chinese are sensitive to a worldwide outcry.

Former militia leader Charles Blé Goudé is to be transferred to the ICC to face accusations of crimes against humanity.
Former militia leader Charles Blé Goudé is to be transferred to the ICC to face accusations of crimes against humanity.
© STR/AFP/GettyImages
Also good news:The decision taken today by Côte d’Ivoire to send former militia leader Charles Blé Goudé, accused of crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a key step towards justice for the victims of serious crimes following elections three years ago, said Amnesty International.

Now to the bad stuff:

Last week we informed you of the death of Cao Shunli who had been denied medical treatment while in detention. Now the Chinese government is refusing to let the family see her body or her medical records. There is obviously something that they need to hide and it is feared that her body will be cremated to remove evidence of torture.

Two men who are suspects in a robbery have reportedly been tortured while in police custody in the district of Christ Church. They have not received adequate medical treatment and remain at risk of further ill-treatment. Please act to protect them from further torture.

The Guardian recently exposed the slave trade that is driven by the working conditions on tea plantations in India, including those of the Tata Corporation, the owners of Tetley's Tea. Tata is apparently suing the Guardian. No one claims that Tata is selling slaves, but as pointed out by WalkFree the conditions create the situation.  Men and women operating as “recruiters” prey on young girls living on tea plantations in Assam, India. Thousands of girls have reportedly ended up trapped as domestic slaves in middle class homes in Delhi.

So how do these girls become trapped? The short answer is that workers in Assam are trapped in a unique situation of terrible poverty making them vulnerable to the lure of human traffickers. Please click on the WalkFree link and send in your protest.

On 13 March 2014, human rights defender Ms Balendran Jayakumari and her 13-year-old daughter were detained in their Killinochchi home in northern Sri Lanka from approximately 4pm until 10pm.

There are reports that Balendran Jayakumari and her daughter have now been brought to Vavunia for further investigation. Please click on the Take Action tab at the bottom of the page and register your protest.

Trade union leader, Kim Jungwoo, is at risk of receiving a further prison sentence at an appeal hearing on 4 April. He has been detained since June 2013 after taking part in protests in support of dismissed workers and their families. He is due to be released, but there are fears he will be given a heavier sentence by Seoul High Court as part of a continued crackdown on trade unionists in South Korea. Please act on his behalf.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Human Rights Action update March 14-20

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012
Human rights activist Cao Shunli died from organ failure on 14 March after being denied medical treatment while in detention. Her family repeatedly called for her to receive the treatment she needed, but these requests were denied by the Chinese authorities. Cao Shunli was a prisoner of conscience, who had been detained for five months solely as a result of her peaceful activism. May she rest in peace and let us honor her memory by continuing to be active for human rights. Thanks to all who wrote on her behalf.

Three citizen journalists have been detained in China after they published reports online about the activities of petitioners’ at Tiananmen Square, including a woman who tried to set herself on fire. The whereabouts of one of the journalists, a 17-year-old boy, is currently unknown. They are prisoners of conscience.  Please act on their behalf.

Detention Of Human Rights Defender Ms Marlen Cruz Licona:
On 10 March 2014, human rights defender and lawyer Ms Marlen Cruz Licona was brought before the court of San Pedro Sula in southern Honduras and accused of participating in the occupation of land and of instructing a group of campesinos to attack a group of agents from the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DGIC). Please click the Take Action tab at the bottom of the post. A prepared letter is available there.

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of three EuroMaydan activists who disappeared on the evening of 13 March in Crimea. Oleksiy Gritsenko, Natalya Lukyanchenko and Sergiy Suprun have not made contact with friends or family since 11pm on 13 March. Oleksiy Gritsenko’s father told Amnesty International that he believes they have been abducted by paramilitary forces in de facto control in Crimea.  Please act.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Human Rights Action Update March 7-13

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012
This week we marked International Women's Day and noted that the world community came forth with great declarations about the rights of women, their protection and advancement. All three posts in this blog relate to the women and their abuse. It gives you an idea about the extent of the issue and how effective the great statements are. It reminds us of Tom Lehrer and National Brotherhood Week.

In March the Mozambique National Assembly (the Parliament) will consider proposed revisions to the Criminal Code, which contains an article which would enable rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victim. The Parliament could approve and pass into law, this proposed revision. The article provides for the suspension of criminal charges against a person accused of sexual offenses if that person marries the person whom they allegedly sexually violated. It further provides that any penalty imposed will be suspended and dropped after five years of marriage unless there has been a divorce or separation caused by the accused. Changes to Criminal Code, which could be approved and made into law during the next session of parliament in March, represents a grave retrogression in the rights of women and girls in the country. It violates the right of access to justice, bodily integrity, non-discrimination and the right not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of women and girls in Mozambique. In addition, the draft Criminal Code contains a provision preventing criminal proceedings against alleged sex offenders to be started unless survivors of sexual abuse; their parent or guardian if they are minors; or a person they live with make an official complaint. Amnesty International USA has provided as prepared message that you can send by putting in your name etc. and clicking. If you prefer to write your own letter, go here.

On 4 March 2014 it was discovered  that human rights defender Ms Ge Zhihui was detained by police in Beijing on 1 March 2014. She is currently being held in Fengtai District Detention Centre in the capital. Ge Zhihui is a petitioner who has been protesting the Chinese government's demolition of her home in 2008, and in the last number of years has been assisting other petitioners who travel to Beijing seeking justice. It is believed that her detention is related to her recent participation in a human rights training on UN mechanisms held outside China as well as her involvement in an underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.
underground Christian church in Beijing.

Detention of human rights defender Ms Ge Zhihui
Ge Zhihu after her beating

Note that she is on crutches as a result of the beating she received when she protested the demolition of her home. Please act on her behalf.

Yomaira Mendoza, a leader of the Afro-descendant community in the Curvaradó River Basin campaigning for collective land titles, has received repeated death threats. The death threats by text message started after she made a statement to the Office of the Attorney General in January. The Office of the Attorney General is advancing a criminal investigation into the misappropriation of land by powerful economic actors with the support of paramilitary groups, and related human rights violations including the killing of Yomaira Mendoza’s husband José Eustoquio Cifuentes Rojas on 7 January 2007. In spite of repeated orders by the Colombian Constitutional Court to ensure the return of the collective lands to the Afro-descendant communities who were forcibly displaced in the late 1990s, Please act on her behalf.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Human Rights Action Update Feb. 28-March 6

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012
Abuse of Citizens:Please protest the abuse of victims of a forced eviction who were fired upon by security forces who drove them away from the rubble of their destroyed homes. Call upon the  city authorities in Cairo to  investigate and to provide alternative housing for the evicted residents of the Ezbet Al-Nakhl in Al Marg district of Cairo.
Worker Abuse: Transnational agro-food giant Cargill is seeking to destroy a democratic union of workers at their factory in Egypt. Please join the protest against union busting.

A conscientious  objector to military service has been imprisoned and fined in Turkish North Cyprus. The Turkish court chose to ignore recent European Court of Human Rights’ judgments on Bayatyan v. Armenia and Savda v. Turkey, regarding Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) violations in the cases of two conscientious objectors. Please join the outcry on behalf of Murat Kanatlı who  a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely on the basis of him exercising his right to conscientious objection to compulsory military service.
On 24 February 2014, human rights defender and chairperson of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), Ms Martha Tholanah, appeared in court on charges of running an “unregistered” organization. This is part of the wave of homophobia sweeping Africa. Please take action to support her. Please click on the Take Action tab at the bottom of the page.