• Egypt = The new law announced this past Thursday which bans “strikes and demonstrations that impede the work of public institutions” is one more blatant example of why the current state of emergency should be immediately revoked; human rights are being subjugated by security concerns (sound familiar?). The current state of emergency is scheduled to be in effect until May 2012. (HRW)
• Ivory Coast = Civil war? Increased fighting has led to more than a million people currently displaced in the capital, Abidjan, and the Western part of the country, with 100,000 refugees in Liberia. The pro-Gbagbo (ousted former president) forces are accused of burning people alive and the pro-Outtara (president-elect) forces are committing extrajudicial executions in the territories under their control. The UN Human Rights Council on Friday decided to send a commission to investigate this post-election violence. (HRW, JURIST)
• Uganda = Human Rights Watch has published a report about the numerous extrajudicial punishments carried out by the Ugandan police Rapid Response Unit, available online at HRW.
• Cuba = Yay! Activists Jose Ferrer and Felix Navarro were released from prison on Wednesday after 8 years as part of a deal struck between Raul Castro and the Roman Catholic Church regarding prisoners of conscience. (AI)
• United States = Oh, Bradley Manning. Traitor he may (or may not) be as he has not yet stood trial, but isn't this another chance for us, America, to demonstrate the benefits of our democracy and justice system where all are presumed innocent until proven guilty and the ideals of prisoner care are—no, who am I kidding? Of course, we are keeping him in unreasonable detention conditions. Apparently that's just how we roll … human rights concerns go out the door when our national security is at stake (see Egypt post above). Shame on us. Again. (AI)
• China = Activist and writer Liu Xianbin was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment “for writing articles critical of the government,” the 3rd time Mr. Liu has been imprisoned for writing about democracy and human rights. Additionally, this week saw the website of the Aizhixing Research Foundation (ARF) shut down by the local government's Municipal Information Office. ARF promotes the human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. (AI, FIDH)
• Indonesia = Journalist Banjir Ambarita was recently brutally attacked after accusing police officers of sexual abuses, suffering stab wounds to the chest and stomach. The police allegedly participated in the gang-rape of a 15 year old and the repeated sexual assault of a detainee. (FIDH)
To take action helping to guarantee Mr. Ambarita's safety and carry out a thorough investigation into his stabbing, you may contact Mr. Patrialis Akbar, Minister for Justice and Human Rights, at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Hungary = This week begins the trial of four people accused of killing people of Roma descent in racially-motivated murders. Six people were killed in a series of nine attacks across Hungary, all upon Romani people, in a violent spree of hate-crimes. As recently as 6th March, the extremist Jobbik Party held an anti-Roma march in the village of Gyongyospata and vigilante groups are continuing to harass local Romani people. (AI)
• Syria = Security forces are using live ammunition on activists and detaining peaceful protestors; four days ago, protestors were hit with tear gas and live ammunition, killing at least 34 people. Security forces have also attacked a mosque and possibly at least one ambulance, murdering a doctor. Journalists and bloggers are being detained, and locals fear for their care. Locals are responding peacefully: more than 20,000 people gathered for the funerals of the people killed in the mosque in a show of solidarity. (AJ, HRW, DN)
ALSO OF INTEREST:
• Los Angeles teachers rap about the layoffs; you can listen here, courtesy of anonymous duo Two Teachers & a Microphone. They advocate for community action – if you like what they say and live in Cali, by all means contact your local rep on their behalf.
• The United Nations has released new Guiding Principles on Human Rights for businesses. The Principles create distinct benchmarks rather than legal obligations; the hope is that these Principles will shape operational contexts in the business world. (BHR)
• The Brookings Institution is hosting an event entitled, “Foreign Policies of Emerging-Market Democracies: What Role for Democracy and Human Rights?” on April 14th and 15th; info available here.
• Did you celebrate Earth Hour this year? YouTube went silent this Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30pm in each time zone. Did that move have any effect on you? Did you “celebrate” Earth Hour? What does it mean to you? (FC)