Document - Amnesty International News, January 2001. Vol.31, No.1.


January 2001, Vol.31, No.1

PLEASE NOTE: The symbol ø in the Turkey WWAis actually an i without the dot at the top. ð is a g with an upside down roof on the top of it.



Ridwan* was just 14 years old when his father was taken away by the Indonesian special command forces, Kopassus, in March 1991. While searching for his father over the next three days, Ridwan estimates he saw 20 corpses.

''Each day we would hear of more bodies – we would go immediately to see if it was my father – we would find them on the side of the road, in plantations and in other places,'' he said.

On the third day, they found his father's body in a plantation. He had been shot in the head and there was a 15cm nail through his skull. His arms and legs had been cut and his hands were swollen from having been tied up. When Kopassus troops came to their home a week later seeking documents, they threw Ridwan to the ground and smashed his hand with a stone for trying to help his mother who only spoke Acehnese.

Ridwan and his family are among thousands of people in the province of Aceh, North Sumatra, who have suffered terrible human rights violations during the course of counter-insurgency operations by the Indonesian security forces against the pro-independence armed opposition group, Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM), the Free Aceh Movement. Several thousand civilians are believed to have been unlawfully killed between 1989 and 1998.

Although recent government initiatives to investigate past human rights violations have raised hopes that impunity may finally be tackled, the cycle of violence continues. A whole generation of young Acehnese has been affected. Thousands of children whose parents have been killed or have ''disappeared'' continue to be obstructed in their attempt to find out the fate of their loved ones now, and even risk becoming victims themselves. Saiful* was 13 years old when his father ''disappeared''. His uncle was arrested soon after and has been missing ever since. Eight years later, in November 1999, Saiful's older brother was taken by the military. Saiful decided he must find out the fate of his family – but has been accused of being a GAM member and threatened with death himself.

Women also continue to suffer serious violations, including rape and other forms of torture. Several women and girls were reportedly raped or sexually assaulted when men in military uniforms entered their house in Matangkuli, North Aceh, on 7 March 2000 during an operation by security forces to track down suspected GAM members. Although investigations have been carried out into the incident, no one has yet been brought to justice.

Those who seek to highlight human rights abuses and assist the victims are also targeted. Humanitarian workers, human rights defenders and other political activists have been killed, arrested, tortured and have ''disappeared''. On 2 September 2000, the body of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, a human rights activist with the US-based International Forum for Aceh (IFA), was discovered dumped in a ravine with four others, around one month after he had gone missing in Medan, North Sumatra. His body was reportedly bound in barbed wire and bore marks of torture. Both the security forces and GAM have denied responsibility for his death. A police investigation has so far failed to identify the perpetrators.

Amnesty International (AI) has consistently called for an end to the violence against civilians and has urged effective systems of accountability be set up. In November 2000, the organization launched three reports to highlight the desperate human rights situations for women, children and human rights activists: Indonesia: Activists at risk in Aceh (AI Index: ASA 21/61/00); Indonesia: The impact of impunity on women in Aceh (AI Index: ASA 21/60/00); and Indonesia: A cycle of violence for Aceh's children (AI Index: ASA 21/59/00).


AI holds two-day workshop on the role of the media in protecting human rights

Journalists and media representatives from across Lebanon took part in a two-day workshop – the first event to be organized by AI's Middle East regional office in Beirut.

The workshop, run in collaboration with UNESCO's regional office, focused on ''the role of the media in protecting human rights''. The formal opening was attended by more than 150 people, including human rights activists and prominent members of Lebanese society. Journalists, representatives of the country's media institutions, media departments at universities and human rights associations all attended the event, which took place on 19 and 20 October 2000.

Workshop panel discussions examined the important role of the media in increasing human rights awareness and fighting all kinds of discrimination against women. The second day of the workshop was devoted to training sessions led by prominent Lebanese journalists and university professors of journalism. More than 30 young journalists took part in the sessions.

The main recommendations that arose from the workshop included:

1) practical suggestions encouraging the media to adopt a more analytical and positive approach, such as highlighting the implications and effects of human rights issues and violations rather than just reporting information;

2) examining the obstacles journalists face both inside and outside their institutions: their need for a proper legal framework, as well as support from civil society, to protect them in their work and provide them with better access to information concerning human rights issues;

3) strengthening ties and networking between the media and civil society institutions.

The workshop, which was followed by an exhibition of the launch of AI's international campaign against torture, enjoyed extensive coverage by the Lebanese print and electronic media.


Human rights abuses continue

Amnesty International noted in its report, Bahrain: Human rights developments and Amnesty International's continuing concerns, launched in November 2000, that there have been many positive developments in the human rights field in Bahrain. Human rights violations are being reported on a lesser scale than in previous years. Hundreds of political prisoners have been released and Bahrain has ratified the UN Convention against Torture without reservation. A human rights committee has been set up and there are greater margins for freedom of expression, including discussion of women's rights.

However, the laws that facilitated past abuses remain in force. Anti-government protesters or suspected political opponents are still routinely at risk of arrest by the authorities. Several hundred prisoners are detained without charge or trial, including five prisoners of conscience who have been in detention since January 1996. The State Security Court continues to pass sentences after grossly unfair trials.

Although systematic torture has decreased in recent years, the practices of beating on the soles of the feet (falaqa) and suspension by the limbs continue to be reported.

The deaths in custody of a number of people, including some who were detained after the anti-government protests of December 1994, are not known to have been investigated. Every year suspected opponents and their families who have spent time abroad are denied entry to the country. Independent human rights organizations and other similar groups are not allowed to function. In October 2000, a request by a group of people, including lawyers, to set up an independent human rights organization was refused.


Twenty-seven inmates at a rehabilitation camp killed in vicious attack

Twenty-seven Tamil men aged between 14 and 23 were killed when the rehabilitation camp in which they were held was attacked by hundreds of local villagers. Among those killed were several former child soldiers of the armed opposition group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who had been arrested or had surrendered to the security forces.

The attack, by members of the largely Sinhalese community at Bindunewewa in central Sri Lanka, happened on 25 October 2000 amid tension in the camp over various issues, including delays in the release of inmates and receipt of correspondence. Some sources said the attack was provoked by posters that appeared a couple of days earlier urging the closure of the rehabilitation camp.

AI wrote an open letter to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga calling for a full and impartial inquiry into the killings. The organization also urged a thorough review of the detention regime for those people held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and emergency regulations, which it believes was a key contributing factor in this incident.

According to AI's information, the police personnel deployed at the camp were at the very least negligent in their duty to protect the inmates. There have also been allegations that some of these police officers may have incited villagers to violence. Sri Lanka's National Human Rights Commission, in an interim report submitted to the President on 1 November, stated that ''it is clear that the police officers, approximately 60 in number, have been guilty of a grave dereliction of duty in not taking any effective action to prevent the acts of violence.'' As of late November, 13 officers of the nearby Bandarawela police station and two army personnel who had been running the rehabilitation camp were being held in detention but had not been charged. Twenty-two civilians were also held on suspicion of involvement, including three trainee teachers from a nearby college who were identified by survivors as among the attackers.

AI has noted the President's swift condemnation of the attack, and the granting of compensation to the injured and the relatives of those killed. In late November, there were reports that the government was due to appoint an independent commission of inquiry, but at the time of writing, no such commission had yet been constituted.


Alleged rape and sexual abuse in custody

Zeynep Avcø was reportedly tortured, including being raped and sexually abused, while held in incommunicado detention. The alleged perpetrators have still not been investigated.

The 21-year-old Kurdish woman was arrested in Izmir on 24 November 1996 on suspicion of being a member of the illegal armed opposition group Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

She was reportedly held by the anti-terror branch at Izmir police headquarters until 3 December before being transferred to the same branch in Istanbul, spending a total of up to 25 days in incommunicado detention. The maximum period for detention in police custody then permitted by the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code was 15 days.

Zeynep Avcø said that during her detention at Izmir police headquarters she was given electric shocks repeatedly over several hours; a truncheon was inserted into her anus and she was forced to sit on it until she bled; and one officer, believed to be of a high rank, then raped her.

A formal complaint was submitted by Zeynep Avcø's lawyer in May 1997, but the Izmir prosecutor decided not to investigate the charges because he was told it was impossible to get medical verification of her claims. When her case, which is still ongoing, went to the European Court of Human Rights the Turkish authorities reportedly tried to tarnish her reputation by alluding to previous sexual encounters.

Zeynep Avcø, who has been in Gebze prison since her arrest and still awaits the outcome of her trial, began receiving psychological therapy in March 1999, though she stopped after three sessions because security officers insisted on being present. In November 1999, she was diagnosed as suffering from chronic post traumatic stress disorder.

+Please write, calling for a full and impartial investigation into Zeynep Avcø's allegations of torture and ill-treatment. Send appeals to: Professor Hikmet Sami Türk, Minister of Justice, Adalet Bakanø, Adalet Bakanløðø, 06659 Ankara, Turkey.


Human rights defenders 'disappear'

Angel Quintero and Claudia Patricia Monsalve, two human rights defenders, ''disappeared'' in Medellín, Antioquia department, on 6 October 2000, barely a month after AI condemned death threats made against them. Their whereabouts are unknown and there is grave concern for their safety. Witnesses say that they were abducted by two gunmen on a motorcycle and a group of men in a pick-up truck.

Angel Quintero has faced continuous threats as a result of his work with the human rights organization, Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (ASFADDES), Association of Relatives of the Detained Disappeared, on the ''disappearances'' of members of his wife's family. Claudia Monsalve has been working with ASFADDES to find out what happened to her brother, a university student who ''disappeared'' in 1995. In recent months ASFADDES workers and other human rights defenders in Medellín have increasingly been threatened with death and several have left the region in fear of their lives. Despite national and international condemnation, the authorities have taken no decisive action to find out who issued these threats. ASFADDES members all over Colombia have suffered continuous threats and harassment, as well as killings and ''disappearances'' by the security forces and their paramilitary allies.

+Please write, calling for a full and impartial investigation and urging the authorities to intensify the search for Angel Quintero and Claudia Patricia Monsalve and to take immediate action to protect human rights defenders in Medellín. Send letters to: Presidente Andrés Pastrana Arango, Presidente de la República, Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 no. 7/26, Bogotá, Colombia (fax: +57 1 2867434/287 7938/2842186/289 3377).


Prisoners of conscience sentenced after unfair trials

Opposition leader Alpha Condé and 10 other prisoners of conscience were given prison sentences in September 2000 after an unfair trial.

Alpha Condé, president of the Rassemblement pour la Guinée (RPG), Guinean People's Rally, was arrested on 15 December 1998 – a day after he had been placed third in presidential elections.

He was later charged, along with 47 others, on counts including illegal use of armed force and attacking the state's authority and territorial integrity.

Alpha Condé was sentenced to five years' imprisonment after a five-month trial. Nine defendants received prison sentences of between 18 months and three years; one defendant received a one year suspended sentence. Thirty-three defendants were acquitted and four others were sentenced in absentia to 10 years' imprisonment.

There were serious pre-trial irregularities, including failure to observe the time-limit for police custody, denial of family visits in detention and access to case files for defence lawyers. Some defendants complained of being regularly tortured to extract false confessions and implicate Alpha Condé.

The trial singularly failed to meet the majority of international standards of fair trial. The defendants were tried before a special court, whose members were appointed by the Head of State and which does not allow any appeals. Defence lawyers consistently raised objections regarding the irregularities, and collectively withdrew when the court rejected them. State lawyers were subsequently assigned to the case by the court, against the wishes of the defendants.

+Please write, in French if possible, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Alpha Condé and the other prisoners of conscience and for all allegations of torture to be investigated. Send appeals to: Son Excellence le Général de Brigade, Lansana Conté, Président de la République et Chef du gouvernement, Présidence de la République, Conakry, Guinea (fax: +224 41 16 73); and to: Son Excellence, Monsieur Abou Camara, Ministre de la Justice, Ministère de la Justice, Conakry, Guinea (fax: +224 41 16 17).


Child soldiers at risk

Children recruited into the armed forces in the United Kingdom (UK) face the real risk of being deployed into battle as well as being vulnerable to bullying and ill-treatment by fellow soldiers and their superiors.

Two 17-year-old soldiers and one 18-year-old on the day of his birthday died in the Falklands War. About 200 under-18s were sent to the Gulf war, and two of them died. Under-18s were deployed during the Kosovo crisis. In April 1999, the media reported that the youngest tank driver, a 17-year-old, was ''ready for battle'' in Macedonia.

In May 2000 a 17-year-old rifleman was found not guilty of desertion after he argued that he had been systematically bullied, including from his superiors. He had been dragged out of his room, forced to strip and to sing with others jeering at his genitals. In 1998 a sergeant was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for the rape of a 17-year-old recruit during her first weeks of training.

Training exercises can also be lethally dangerous. In March 2000 a 17-year-old was shot and killed, allegedly because of a mix-up of live and blank ammunition. In October 1998 a 16-year-old died during a river-crossing exercise.

Recruitment and deployment put at risk the right to life and the physical and mental integrity of children.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict sets out to limit any deployment of under-18s into combat. But this has been undermined by the UK's declaration in September 2000 that even if it ratifies the Optional Protocol, there would be circumstances in which it would send children into the battlefield.

AI urges the UK to ratify the Optional Protocol promptly without any reservation and to stop the recruitment of children. The country should not rely on school leavers to tackle its armed forces' recruitment and retention problems.

In November 2000 AI called on the UK government to stop its policy of recruiting under-18s and deploying them into armed conflict situations, as it launched a new report, United Kingdom: U-18s: Report on the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers (AI Index: EUR 45/57/00).


A major step towards ending impunity

In a major step towards ending impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses, the UN Security Council decided in August 2000 to establish a Special Court to prosecute those most responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Since the internal armed conflict began in 1991, thousands of civilians have been deliberately and arbitrarily killed or had limbs hacked off. Women and girls have been systematically raped and thousands of children have been forced to fight.

A peace agreement between the government and the armed opposition Revolutionary United Front (RUF), signed in July 1999, provided a total amnesty to those responsible for these atrocities. Although the UN added a disclaimer that the amnesty did not apply to crimes under international law, it remained unclear how the perpetrators of such crimes would be brought to justice.

Killings, rape, abductions and recruitment of children into both rebel and government-allied forces increased from May 2000 when rebel forces captured UN peace-keeping forces and hostilities resumed. Implementation of the peace agreement collapsed and RUF leader Foday Sankoh, who had been given a government position, was arrested. The government asked the UN for assistance to establish a special court to try leading RUF members.

AI made recommendations to the UN for ensuring a credible, effective and fair mechanism to achieve justice for the victims of human rights abuses. It insisted that no individual or party to the conflict should be singled out for prosecution to the exclusion of others.

Commenting on the draft Statute of the Special Court in November 2000, AI called in particular for the Court to try crimes committed throughout the conflict, for any recruitment of children, whether forced or voluntary, to be defined as a crime, and for adequate and sustained funding for the Court.

Momentum for establishing the Special Court must be maintained and the necessary political, financial and practical support provided. It is also essential, however, that Sierra Leone's judicial system, all but destroyed during the conflict, be rebuilt and strengthened so that it can eventually assume responsibility for bringing perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice.

Picture captions

A young Acehnese refugee. A whole generation has been affected by the violence. © Reuters

Delegates at AI's two-day media workshop © Ina Tin/AI

Zeynep Avcø © Private

The headstone of a 17-year-old who died in the Falklands ©Tom Pilston/The Independent

Help may finally reach the victims of atrocities © AI

PLEASE NOTE: Turkish name in the list of on-going WWAs - EÕber Ya—murdereli. Õis an s with a cedilla at the bottom; is a g with an upside down roof on the top of it.

Campaigning for change

Just over two years ago, a group of students from Belgrade University made a decision that would unexpectedly transform their country. Concerned by the increasing dominance of the government over the country's universities, they agreed they wanted to see greater democracy returned to Yugoslavia and decided to campaign for free and fair elections.

So Otpor – meaning resistance – was born. It was to be an organization that would carry out its mission peacefully, delivering the message through street drama, concerts and publicity. Their symbol would be a clenched fist to signify strength and unity. There would be no leaders and any decisions would be made by consensus, both to ensure that everyone took responsibility for Otpor's actions and to confuse the police.

What sprung from youthful idealism and determination in October 1998 eventually inspired 60,000 activists and half a million supporters. On 27 September 2000, Otpor's founders finally achieved their dream – the country had said 'no' to the government of Slobodan Miloševiƒ and demanded change.

''We succeeded because a lot of people accepted our idea that something had to change,'' explained 23-year-old Sonja Papak, of Otpor, when she took part in a student speakers' tour of British universities last November for AIUK.

''We were getting attacked a lot by the police – for organizing concerts and street demos, selling tickets and putting up posters – and I think a lot of people got angry with it. Our parents and our friends were saying, 'why are they attacking our children when they are only wearing a t-shirt with a clenched fist on it?'

''On one occasion the police came to our offices and took everything away, including 600 t-shirts and computers. So we informed the media that we would be replacing everything. A lot of media came to our offices and so did the police who then took away all the boxes – only this time the boxes were empty.

''It was because of actions like these that many people wanted to join us. We were showing that we weren't afraid of the regime so people were saying, 'well, if the children are not afraid then why should we be'.''

However, by spring 2000 Otpor activists were increasingly becoming targets of police violence. AI's Yugoslavia researcher Kim Burton said: ''AI became concerned about the number of students being harassed. The number of arrests increased from 10 to 20 cases a month to as many as 400. Towards the end there were up to 50 a day.''

Aca Radic, aged 23, was carrying out Otpor activities in his home town of Vladicin Han in southern Serbia when he was arrested and tortured by the police.

He and five friends had been putting up Otpor's ''He's finished'' stickers over existing posters of Miloševiƒ when they were caught by police. They were asked to go to the police station the next day, which they did. After filling in the required forms, they were about to leave when a group of drunk police officers confronted them. It was the start of a four-hour nightmare for the activists. They were forced to squat in a painful position for half an hour; three had their feet bound and beaten; another was beaten until his head was bloody and swollen and he lay unconscious on the floor.

At one point, Aca was asked to write a statement. ''These police officers came in with a stick, and a third one with a rope. They said they could do what they wanted with us; and even threatened to drop us at the Kosovo border. One officer started to make a noose from the rope. He swore horribly all the time, and then brought the noose forward towards my neck and laughed. I started to lose breath. I could feel the pressure in my head and thought my eyes would pop out.''

Pretending to write his statement, Aca was in fact sending out text messages on a mobile phone. Not long after, as many as 400 friends and family arrived at the police station to demand their release.

Although Otpor fulfilled its initial aim, its work has not ended. Its new symbol is a bulldozer ''to signify the rebuilding of a state after 10 years of decay,'' explained Sonja. They are also working to overturn impunity. ''We want to find out the truth of what happened over the last 10 years. We have asked people to bring information about what has happened to them, so we can take it to the lawyers.''

Just before the end of 2000, three policemen from Vladicin Han, including police chief Major Radivoje Stamenkovic, were put on trial charged with beating up Aca and the other five activists.

Nepal - April 2000

Bishnu Pukar Shrestha

Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, whose whereabouts remained unknown for 10 months, was finally released from unacknowledged detention on 7 July 2000. AI received reliable information indicating that for the majority of the time Bishnu Pukar Shrestha was held incommunicado within the Armed Forces Section of the Police Training Centre at Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, an unofficial place of detention.

Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, a secondary-school teacher and human rights activist, ''disappeared'' on 2 September 1999, after witnesses saw him being grabbed by six men while getting off a bus.

Appeals on behalf of Bishnu Pukar Shrestha were sent to the Nepal government authorities by members of parliament, the diplomatic community and local and international human rights organizations, as well as members of AI.

In a letter to AI dated 6 August 2000, Bishnu Pukar Shrestha wrote: ''I owe for the tremendous job performed by you, the Secretary General, the staff and officials of Amnesty International for my release. I would like to extend my cordial thanks to all of them who [were] involved to bring me out of the mouth of death...''

Thanks to all who sent appeals.

Uzbekistan- April 2000

Arsen Arutyunyan and danis sirazhev

Arsen Arutyunyan and Danis Sirazhev have had their death sentences commuted. The two singers, in a well-known Uzbek pop group, were transferred from their death cell in a prison in Tashkent to a prison colony in the town of Andizhan in May 2000.

They were charged with the April 1998 murder of Laylo Aliyeva, a singer and, on 3 November 1999, were sentenced to death. Although they had originally confessed to the killing, Arsen Arutyunyan later claimed that his confession had been extracted under duress.

Arsen Arutyunyan's sister wrote: ''Had it not been for the work of your organization, your approaches to the media, your persistent work, we couldn't have hoped for a good outcome. When I first turned to you, my whole family and I were desperate and, to tell the truth, didn't think that anything or anybody could help. But the miracle came true, a miracle worked not by God, but by people.''

Thanks to all who sent appeals.

Tajikistan - June 2000

Dilfuza Numonova

Dilfuza Numonova, a 21-year-old trainee jeweller, has had her death sentence commuted. She was given 15 years' imprisonment by the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Tajikistan on 25 July 2000. It is believed she will be moved from Dushanbe City Prison to the women's prison in the town of Khodzhand where she will be able to receive regular family visits and medical treatment.

AI and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had been pressing the Tajik authorities not to execute Dilfuza Numonova.

She had been sentenced to death in January 2000, after a reportedly unfair trial, for the November 1999 shooting of her lover. She consistently maintained her innocence, saying she had confessed under duress.

Thanks to everyone who sent appeals.

Turkmenistan - April 2000

Roman Sidelnikov and oleg voronin

Prisoners of conscience Roman Sidelnikov and Oleg Voronin have been released under an amnesty. Another prisoner of conscience, Kurban Zakirov, is believed to be still in prison.

Both men had refused to perform military service on the grounds that, as Jehovah's Witnesses, their faith did not permit them to bear arms or swear allegiance to the Turkmen army.

Kurban Zakirov, aged 19, was first arrested in January 1999 while discussing the bible with fellow Jehovah's Witnesses in a private home. He was held in custody for 30 days for participating in an illegal religious meeting. Shortly after his release he was told to collect his call-up papers. He refused and, on 23 April 1999, he was imprisoned for two years.

+Please continue writing, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Kurban Zakirov and urging the Turkmen authorities to introduce a civilian alternative to compulsory military service. Send appeals to: President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurad Atayevich Niyazov, 744000 g. Ashgabat, Apparat Prezidenta, Prezidentu Turkmenistana NIYAZOVU S.A., Turkmenistan (fax: + 993 12 or 7 3632, then 35 51 12).


Hundreds of political prisoners released

Hundreds of political prisoners were released in November 2000 following an amnesty issued by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to mark the 30th anniversary of his late father coming to power.

According to the press, some 600 people belonging to different unauthorized political parties, including the Party for Communist Action (PCA), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Communist Party Political Bureau (CPPB) are to benefit from the amnesty. AI knows of 125 so far.

These releases are significant because it is the first time the authorities have acknowledged the presence of political detainees and the fact they belong to different political organizations.

One of the released prisoners of conscience, the poet and journalist Faraj Birqdar (pictured above) told AI that they had been aware of the organization's campaign on behalf of the Syrian political prisoners. He said it boosted morale in prison to hear news of AI's work.

please keep sending appeals

Despite some good news from our Worldwide Appeals 2000, those on the list below have seen very little or no change to their situation. They remain in detention after unfair trials; they have ''disappeared''; they are sentenced to death; their cases continue to be ignored by the authorities. Please keep sending your appeals.

To see further updates to all our worldwide appeals over the coming year, go to:

Thet Win Aung

Myanmar, January

Abel Acha Apong, Chrispus Kenebie, John Kudi, Jack Njenta and Arrey Etchu Wilson

Cameroon, January

Khaled 'Abd al-Latif, Samir Abd al-Nabi Abd al-Magid, Abd al-Aziz Sa'ad and 26 others

Egypt, February

Julio González and Everardo de Jesús Puerta

Colombia, February

Mariano Oyono Ndong and Antonio Engonga Bibang Equatorial Guinea, February

Déogratias Bazabazwa

Rwanda, March

Robert Hamill

UK/Northern Ireland, March

Juan Raúl Garza

USA, March

EÕber Ya—murdereli

Turkey, May

Menase Erary, Maksimus Bunay and Willem Manimnwarba Indonesia, May

James Torh

Liberia, May

Norbert Zongo

Burkino Faso, June

Jiang Qisheng

China, June

Alexander Obando Reyes Honduras, July

Ma Khin Khin Leh

Myanmar, July

Tadigbe Traore

pard Guinea, July

Rowshan Ara

Bangladesh, August

Fabián Salazar Olivares

Peru, August

Adam Abubakarov

Chechnya, August

Siti Zainab

Saudi Arabia, August

Jairo Bedoya Hoyos

Colombia, September

Wael Talab Nassar

Palestinian Authority, September

Rafael Mubarakshin and Polvonnazar Khodzhayev Uzbekistan, September

Yumlembam Sanamacha

India, October

Brahim Laghzal, Cheikh Khaya and Laarbi Massoudi Morocco/Western Sahara, October

José Alfredo Quino and María Elena Mejía

Guatemala, October

Anwar Ibrahim and Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja Malaysia, November

Andrey Klimov

Belarus, November

Boniface Lukoye

Kenya, November

Lenido Lumanog, Rameses de Jesus, Joel de Jesus, Cesar Fortuna and Augusto Santos Philippines, December

Shagildy Atakov

Turkmenistan, December

Philip Workman

USA, December


Irene Fernandez

Irene Fernandez, a Malaysian human rights defender, has been on trial since 1996 for writing a report about torture and ill-treatment in camps for detained migrants. She has made more than 250 court appearances in what is now Malaysia's longest-ever trial and has been featured in many AI actions. She sent this message in October 2000 to AI members who campaigned on her behalf:

''I would like to express my deepest thanks to Amnesty International and want you to know how much your work makes a difference. Even though the charges against me have not been dropped, your efforts have given me strength to continue. You have also given strength to the migrant workers and victims of abuse, some of whom have opened the many letters and cards received at Tenaganita's office. Even the witnesses testifying at my trial express their appreciation when they see the letters in my office. I also received many bracelets from children in Canada; I have given some of them to the families of ex-detainees in Bangladesh. They were so excited to receive them.

''Amnesty International's campaigning has helped to raise consciousness of human rights violations in Malaysia. It has created awareness and brought changes within ourselves, among migrant workers and the wider community. Since my trial began, more and more Malaysians have started talking about freedom of expression, something which never happened before. Global support is so important, especially now during Amnesty International's campaign against torture. Please keep up the good work.''

Survivors of torture from around the world spoke of their experiences during a global rolling launch of AI's campaign against torture.

The 24-hour launch consisted of dozens of events that started in Tokyo and moved west through Nairobi, Beirut, Paris, London and Buenos Aires. The aim was to send out the message that torture is a ''worldwide plague''.

Two former torture victims from Tibet spoke of their ordeal at the hands of the Chinese during the launch in Tokyo. Francois Bizot, a writer who was a former detainee of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, attended the Paris event and former prisoner of conscience Alfredo Bravo was present at Buenos Aires.

Writers, pop stars and government ministers also showed their support. Chilean MP, Isabel Allende, attended a press conference in Buenos Aires; the Malawi Deputy Police Commissioner, the Uganda Prisons' Commissioner and the Sudanese women's NGO coordinator were at the Nairobi launch; and AI Ireland's use of the well-known Irish pop band, The Corrs, attracted a lot of media attention.

The campaign's distinctive logo, the use of torture free zone (TFZ) tape, the state-of-the-art website and a series of reports being published throughout the next year have helped to give the campaign a real impetus and captured the imagination of AI sections and members throughout the world.

AI Nepal organized a huge bike rally, in which motorcyclists visited every police station around the country seeking a commitment to stop torture and asking police officers to put up TFZ stickers. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark signed a statement against torture and agreed to make the whole country a torture free zone.

Music concerts were organized by AI Mexico and AI Paraguay; AI Chile held a cycling event; AI Peru, AI Norway and AI Sweden held events for children.

TFZ tape was used to wrap significant buildings in Yemen, Morocco, Thailand, Ghana and Turkey. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Sir Nigel Rodley, spoke at AI Poland's annual general meeting and members of AI Nigeria were thrilled by the number of police who attended their launch and pledged to fight against torture.

Picture captions

An Otpor student raises her fist during a rally in Belgrade© Reuters

Aca Radic and Sonja Papak © AI

Bishnu Pukar Shrestha © AI

Arsen Arutyunyan and Danis Sirazhev © AI

Dilfuza Numonova © Private

Faraj Birqdar © AI

Irene Fernandez © Private

Gearing up for action (from top to bottom): Cyclists in Nepal; street action in Siberia; and painted faces at an AI Peru-hosted marathon. © AI © AI © AI

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