Sunday, February 20, 2011

20 February 2011


Djibouti = Mr. Jean-Paul Noel Abdi, president of the Djiboutian League of Human Rights, has been arrested after opposing the arbitrary arrests of human rights activists on 5th February. Abdi publicly denounced the arrests and was then arrested himself and has been charged with “participation in an insurrectory movement” despite a complete lack of evidence to support these charges. Activists are deeply concerned for Abdi’s health, a 60-something diabetic. (HRW)

Libya = Protestors have been killed in Misratah, Benghazi and other Libyan cities this week. Colonel al-Gaddafi, Libya’s leader, has allegedly ordered his security forces as well as hired foreign mercenaries to shoot to kill demonstrators in order to suppress protests. At least 34 people were shot on Friday and at least 173 people have been killed. At least 10,000 demonstrators are protesting today in Benghazi; hopefully without incident. (AI, HRW, FIDH)

Morocco = Today thousands of demonstrators are protesting in the streets of Tangiers, Fes and Marrakech. Apparently a police station was vandalized and certain shops have been looted – it is now unclear how much of this is the result of protestors and how much is the result of street thugs joining in the “fun.” No reports yet on numbers of people who are injured. (GV)

USA = Following up on our story previously published in the 6 February 2011 Human Rights RoundUp, “border vigilante” Shawna Forde was found guilty this Tuesday on two counts of 1st degree murder for killing Brisenia Flores and Raul Flores in their Arizona home. (IPS)

USA = Boo! The state senate of Wyoming this week passed a bill that would “preserve” a valid marriage as between one man and one woman and would additionally allow the state to not recognize as legal any civil unions or same-sex marriages legally entered into outside of Wyoming. (ADV)

Thailand = Thai activist Daranee Chamchoengsilpakul made three speeches against government repression in 2008 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for “insulting the monarchy.” This week, her sentence was overturned in what appears to be a positive step toward freedom of speech in Thailand. (CHNG)

  • Unfortunately, this week in Thailand was not all positive: Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the director of a Thai political website, was charged with violating Thailand’s freedom of expression laws regarding cyberspace. She could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if found guilty of “failing to promptly remove offending comments from the website.” (HRB)

Italy = Over 5,000 people who are trying to migrate to Italy from Tunisia are being detained on the Italian island of Lampedusa. This “migrant wave” is causing political unrest at home in Italy, allegedly prompting Italian border police to open fire on a boat carrying Egyptian asylum seekers. According to Amnesty International, “Italy routinely detains irregular migrants, and in the past has conducted mass expulsions, in violation of international law.” (AI)

  • Let’s keep our eye on this situation.

Ireland = The Irish Centre for Human Rights now has its own YouTube channel. (HRD)

Jordan = Yay! A new public health initiative in Jordan is connecting Bedouin women with doctors through mobile phones. Patients can use their phones to ask questions and receive recorded audible responses, confidentially. (FC)

Yemen = As in Libya and Morocco (see above), protestors are motivating in Yemen and the authorities are doing what they can to suppress the demonstrations. Security forces allegedly attacked demonstrators in Ta’izz with a hand grenade, leaving at least 10 people injured. (AI)

• The Brookings Institution in Washington, DC is hosting a UNESCO event on March 2nd entitled The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education which focuses on the effect of violent conflicts on school children and the local educational systems and institutions; information about the conference is available online here.

The Qosbi Show?? Apparently it was originally Katie Couric’s idea: having a television show about Arab-Americans on the US airwaves could “promote more cross-cultural understanding,” like the Cosby show did for black and white Americans in the US in the 1980s. (IPS)

• The Nelson Mandela Foundation is hosting an event this coming week marking the 10th anniversary of legalized freedom of information in South Africa.

• The March 2011 edition of the Human Rights Law Review has published a piece on the human rights of older people … a topic we should all be considering as health care systems improve and populations in the West, especially, are growing older.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

13 February 2011


Botswana = The Court of Appeal decided what was the 1st test case of the UN Right to Water Resolution this week. The Kalahari Bushmen will retain legal access to the waters on their ancestral lands. The ruling quoted a UN Report categorizing water as a “fundamental human right.” (PMBZ, COC)

Egypt = On Thursday, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor on behalf of missing detainees and victims of the alleged massacre at Al Qata prison. This filing follows the protestors’ successful movement to force President Mubarak out of office this week in an 18-day-short revolution. (EIPR, FIDH, CHNG)

  • You can view an 18-day photo recap of the Egyptian uprising here.

Tunisia = Yay! Tunisia is abolishing the death penalty and ratifying the 2nd Additional Protocol to the ICCPR. (HRD)


USA = Civil Unions are now legal in the state of Hawaii after the state’s House of Representatives voted 31-19 in favor of legalization. (ADV)

USA = Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas may have had conflicts of interest in the Citizens United case (increasing corporations’ allowable election spending), which they failed to disclose. Allegedly, both justices engaged in strategy sessions with key corporate interests in the case and justice Thomas’ wife benefitted financially from the decision. (CHNG)

  • You can sign this petition asking the Department of Justice to investigate these claims.

Venezuela = A group of students is on a hunger strike protesting in front of the Caracas office of the Organization of American States. The students want justice for people who are currently detained, “deprived of their freedom” including Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni and three members of Parliament. (OAS)


Afghanistan = The Council of Ministers, which meets every Monday, is debating passing a draft regulation on Women’s Protection Centers. This would give the government control over domestic violence shelters for women and girls in Afghanistan. As the Afghan government is “increasingly dominated by hard-line conservatives who are hostile to the very idea of shelters,” local women and activists fear that passage of this regulation will result in the closure of many shelters and resources for women seeking freedom from their abusive family members. (HRW)

  • To take action and contact the council of ministers, click here.

Thailand = 91 Rohingya people were found on a boat in the Indian-administered Nicobar Islands this week, claiming that the Thai Navy had set them adrift in the boat, without an engine or adequate food and water. People who are Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Burma and have been fleeing to Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for decades to escape persecution. Three boatloads of refugees have entered Thailand this month; the first boat arrived on January 22nd and the people aboard are missing and were allegedly “returned to Myanmar by Thai authorities.” (IRIN)


Holland = This week, prosecutors and defense attorneys made their closing arguments in the case against Charles Taylor of Liberia in the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The trial has been under way for 3 years and revolves around allegations of murder, rape, and dismemberment committed by Taylor’s rebel groups in Sierra Leone. (OSF, HRD)


Yemen = On Friday morning, protestors gathered in Sana’a, calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. These protests follow those in Egypt (see above) and also raise concerns about demonstrators’ safety. Yemeni security forces have allegedly been working together with “armed thugs” using tasers against activists, along with clubs, axes, traditional daggers, and sticks, contravening the freedom of assembly. (HRW)

• The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) is launching 2 short public service announcements, “Slavery Lives”, in Times Square. These PSAs come prior to the US governmental debate on whether or not to renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). You can watch the PSAs online here.

• A December 2010 interview with the Islamic Human Rights Commission is now online here at the Institute for Policy Studies’ website.

• The movie, Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter about a Malian immigrant in the US who is seeking asylum so that her daughter will not be subjected to Female Genital Mutilation will be airing on PBS this month.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

6 February 2011


Egypt = Protests against police brutality and President Mubarak continued this week, despite Egypt’s prior attempts to quash the demonstrations by using live fire against civilian marchers and instituting a nation-wide internet blackout. Egyptian security forces, including the police and the Special Police, have been detaining and abusing Egyptian citizens, activists and journalists, as well as international activists and journalists in an apparent attempt to cover up or at least minimize the reporting of the protests. On Friday, security forces raided a Law Center in Cairo, detaining 30 people including two Amnesty International staff and local human rights activists. (AI, ICTJ)

Gambia = YAY!! 24 communities in Gambia’s Upper River Region have officially abandoned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). (AA, GRD)

Uganda = After last week’s murder of David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights activist, his local colleagues are calling on both the Ugandan government and American evangelicals to take responsibility for the role they played in spreading the homophobia and hate which led to Kato’s death. (CHNG)

· You can sign a petition to “Tell Evangelicals to Condemn the Murder of a Gay Activist in Ugandahere.

USA = Closing arguments are expected this week in the Arizona murder trial of 9 year old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul in their Arizona home by anti-immigration extremists. The accused vigilante group leader, Shawna Forde, is a former member of the Minuteman Project and was known to espouse her extremist views to such a degree that she was expelled from some civilian border patrol groups. (IPS, WP)

Bangladesh = Sometimes “village justice” just isn’t – according to the local human rights advocates. 14 year old Hena Akhter died this week after being whipped by her village elders for having “an illicit relationship with a married man.” (GRD)

· The married man in question is her cousin, who found her outside her home in the early evening one night, gagged her with a cloth and beat her senseless. This attack led her cousin Mahbub’s wife Shilpi to accuse Hena of engaging in a relationship Mahbub. This man Mahbub, Hena’s cousin and attacker, had been found guilty of rape before, but the village elders had him marry that woman—Shilpi—to invalidate any shame on Shilpi’s family.

· Justice did not serve Shilpi, forcing her to marry her rapist, and Shilpi used that same justice system, the shalish—a village meeting led by the elders (elder men only?)—to get her revenge on her husband Mahbub.

· How absurd that Hena got caught up in the middle of this; that village elders, village ANYONE, would think it reasonable to give 101 lashes to a 14 year old girl who could barely stand from the beating her cousin Mahbub had given her.

· The only way to turn this into a positive is to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government to enforce its own laws, which make these village-level punishments illegal. You can contact the Supreme Court of Bangladesh here, and the Prime Minister here.

European Court of Human Rights = The Court is introducing fees on applications, which many rights groups fear will deter individuals from filing legitimate human rights claims. (PAMB)

Cell Phones = Blood Diamonds? Six African Heads of State are backing a certification plan to track and eliminate conflict minerals from being used in electronic devices, much like the processes that were adopted to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds. The four “dirty” minerals are tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold – regularly used in our cell phones and laptops. This initiative aims to prevent armed groups from reaping the profits of these minerals. (CHNG)

· You can get in on the action, by signing a petition to “Tell the SEC: Keep Conflict Minerals Out of Our Electronics” here.

• The 2nd Annual Women in the World Summit is happening in New York City this coming March 10th-12th. (DB)

• The Draft UN Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training is available online here.