Document - le fil d'AI. Juillet 2007. Vol. 37, nº 6
July 2007 Vol. 37. No.
AI Index: NWS
Adivasi communities under
fire in India
Hundreds protest against loss
of Indigenous land in Orissa state
communities in Kalinga Nagar, Jajpur district, Orissa, appear to be
fighting a losing battle as business interests increasingly
encroach on their land. Recent talks between adivasi
representatives and those of the Orissa state government ended in
failure in May. Principal on the agenda was the displacement of
adivasi settlements by the construction of a six million tonne
steel plant by Tata Steel in the area.
In January 2006, hundreds of
adivasis in Kalinga Nagar demonstrated against the creation of the
steel plant. Violence erupted as the adivasis, some of whom were
armed with bows and arrows, were attempting to stop the erection of
a boundary wall. Detonators were set off at a ditch near the
construction site as a delegation of four adivasis approached.
During the resultant chaos, members of the police forces reportedly
fired rubber bullets, teargas shells and live rounds at the
protesters, killing 12 people, including three women and a
The adivasi protesters belong
to the Munda community and are affiliated to Bistapan Birodhi Jan
Manch (People’s Forum Against Displacement), a group campaigning
against displacement at Kalinga Nagar.
Displacement affects millions
of people across India. Between 1951 and 1990, more than 20 million
people were displaced largely as a result of dam, mining or
irrigation projects in the country. Estimates suggest that at least
15 million of them have not been assured adequate alternative homes
or land. Around 40 per cent of those displaced are thought to be
Kalinga Nagar is being
promoted as an industrial area by the state government-owned
Industrial Development Corporation (IDCO). In the last five years,
the Orissa government has signed 45 agreements to set up various
industrial plants in the state. Of these, 13 major steel plants are
being set up at Kalinga Nagar, where more than 100 chrome washing
plants are already in operation.
The adivasis at Kalinga Nagar
allege that IDCO has been acquiring their lands either through
force or at a low price without their informed consent or
participation and selling the same land to various companies for
The police shooting last year
occurred after months of protests from adivasis who claimed that
they had received inadequate financial compensation for the land
acquired from them for the proposed Tata Steel plant.
Not satisfied with the state
and national governments’ offer of monetary compensation for the
families of the victims of the police shooting, the adivasis have
made broader demands for justice as well as addressing their land
The May talks came in the
wake of the dismantling of a barricade preventing access to the
proposed Tata plant site. Adivasi protesters lifted the
14-month-long highway blockade in March, following negotiations
with the Orissa government. Discussions so far, however, have left
little in the way of practical solutions. Questions over
displacement are yet to be resolved. The judicial inquiry into the
2006 shootings is not yet over. And the protests continue. At the
end of June, social movements from across India held a national
convention against displacement caused by industrial projects, in
Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa.
was never told why I was held, we never got to know what was going
to happen to us, it was an eternal
woman held incommunicado in Kenya and Ethiopia for more than three
Scores of men, women and
children arrested in Kenya while trying to escape from war-torn
Somalia were unlawfully transferred to Somalia and then to Ethiopia
in early 2007. They became victims of rendition – transferred in
secret from one country to another outside any legal process. Some
are still detained in Ethiopia. Some are missing.
At least 140 people were
arrested by Kenyan authorities between 30 December 2006 and
February 2007 as they tried to enter Kenya from Somalia. They were
held without charge in several police stations in Nairobi and in
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. They were allowed no access to
their relatives. If they wanted to claim asylum they could not, as
they were denied access to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or
any asylum procedure.
After weeks in Kenyan
custody, 85 detainees were unlawfully transferred to Somalia, and
81 further on to Ethiopia. While in custody in Ethiopia, many of
the detainees were questioned by US agents.
Former detainees have alleged
that several were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Two women, who
were heavily pregnant when arrested, gave birth behind bars. All
were subject to unlawful inter-state transfers as the practice of
renditions appears to be spreading.
The Ethiopian authorities
have acknowledged detaining only 41 people. Four UK citizens were
released in Somalia and returned to the UK. That means that 40
detainees who were unlawfully transferred are missing. In addition,
27 detainees do not appear on any of the passenger lists of
unscheduled flights to Somalia. Their whereabouts are also
There is no further news
about Canadian national Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, who is still thought
to be detained incommunicado at the police Central Investigation
Bureau (known as Maikelawi) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Some or all of the missing detainees may be in secret detention in
The Ethiopian authorities
have released 23 people, including Halima Badroudine Hussein and
her children, the youngest just four years old, who were freed on 4
May. Further releases are expected.
Kenya closed its border with
Somalia in early January 2007, cutting off escape routes for people
fleeing the fighting that broke out in late 2006 (see the Wire June
2007). Conflict between militias of the Council of Somali Islamic
Courts (COSIC) and Ethiopian troops supporting the Transitional
Federal Government of Somalia led to hundreds of civilian deaths
and a mass exodus from the Somali capital, Mogadishu. After the
COSIC militias were defeated, US and Ethiopian forces continued to
carry out air strikes and ground operations to "root out" any
remnants of COSIC and possible al-Qa’ida fighters.
Indifference fuels brutality,
devastating women’s lives in Guatemala and Mexico
In the past decade, thousands
of women have been abducted, raped, tortured and killed in
Guatemala and Mexico. But cases are often poorly – if at all –
investigated, and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.
67 per cent of women over the
age of 15 have been affected by violence in the home, school or
workplace in Mexico.
ENDIREH 2006 survey, National
Statistics Institute (INEGI) and UNIFEM
Since 2001, more than 2,000
women and girls have been murdered in Guatemala, with a yearly rate
that currently stands at about 580. The murder rate for women and
men in the country is very high, but according to the Human Rights
Ombudsman’s Office (PDH), women, unlike men, are also subject to
acts of gross brutality and direct physical violence, including
rape. As the PDH puts it: "[T]he difference is that in the case of
women they make them suffer more before being killed."
In Mexico, the situation is
not much better. Domestic violence, including sexual abuse, within
the home and family is widespread and is believed to be common in
Indigenous communities, which are among the most marginalized and
vulnerable groups in the country. However, confronted by cultural
attitudes that disregard, deny or even condone violence against
women, and a criminal justice system that seldom delivers justice,
women in general rarely speak out against such abuses.
"Women in Guerrero have no
access to justice," says Neil Arias, a lawyer with the Mexican
human rights organization Tlachinollan. Guerrero state has one of
the largest and poorest Indigenous populations in Mexico. "The
authorities are not sensitive to the situation of women who want to
denounce the violence... they just tell you to make peace with your
husbands and obey your husbands… they don’t want any more
A similar kind of apathy
prevails in Guatemala, where sham investigations go hand in hand
with a tendency to blame the victim for the crimes perpetrated
against her. "They don’t care," says Jorge Velásquez, of the
attitude shown by the authorities towards the murder of his
daughter, Claudina. The 19-year-old law student was shot dead in
"According to them [the
authorities], Claudina’s death wasn’t worth investigating," says
Jorge Velásquez. "They identified and established four main
reasons: (1) because of the place where she was found; (2) because
she wore a necklace; (3) because she had a pierced navel; and (4)
because she wore sandals."
In Mexico, a federal law
strengthening the right of women to live free from violence was
passed earlier this year. A Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes
of Violence against Women was also established. However, murders of
women, in cities like Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, continue.
Although investigations in some cases appear to have improved,
prosecutions and convictions remain scarce across the
Guatemala introduced a new
National Institute for Forensic Sciences in September 2006,
centralizing the forensic services of different government bodies.
However, a budget has yet to be allocated to the institute – yet
another example of government indifference.
"A woman in Guatemala, it is
said, is dead because she was asking for it," says Jorge Velásquez.
"She’s dead because she was in the middle of something she
shouldn’t be. It’s hard to say this, but perhaps they thought
Claudina was a gang-member or a prostitute. So how can you solve a
case if there’s no interest in it? Then the only word for it is
indifference, and indifference promotes impunity."
Tenfold rise in women and
girls trafficked for sexual exploitation in Greece
Aleksa was brought to Greece
from a country in Eastern Europe. She told AI in January that she
was trying to escape difficulties in her life and had hoped for a
job that would allow her to support her family. A family friend put
her in touch with people who "would help her migrate". They were
traffickers. She said they forced her into prostitution, subjected
her to severe physical and psychological abuse, and sold her on to
different traffickers at least three times.
The police detained Aleksa
because she did not have the necessary documentation. While in
detention she found that she was pregnant – she had been forced by
her traffickers to have unprotected sex with clients. She had an
abortion and, once back in detention, bled for several days. She
only received medical treatment when another detainee put her in
touch with a shelter for trafficked women run by a non-governmental
Aleksa was offered protection
by the Greek authorities only if she co-operated in the daunting
ordeal of testifying against her traffickers at trial. "Now I am
really scared," she told AI. She is so afraid of the traffickers
that she rarely ventures out of the shelter.
Some NGOs believe that
trafficking for forced prostitution in Greece has increased tenfold
in the last decade. Although the government has responded with a
series of laws, most of the women have not been correctly
identified and have therefore received no protection or other
assistance. Some have been detained and deported but the vast
majority remain hidden. Few traffickers have been brought to
justice and the victims of their crimes remain unable to obtain
justice or reparation.
In the face of this modern
form of slavery, protection for trafficked women is only on offer
at a high price. As in Aleksa’s case, it is conditional on their
"co-operation", in most cases their willingness to testify in court
in criminal prosecutions against their traffickers. However, such
women have neither been offered an effective witness protection
programme, nor relocation to another country where they might
Trafficking of women and
girls for forced prostitution is an abuse of human rights. It
violates their rights to liberty and security of person, freedom
from torture or other ill-treatment, freedom of movement, privacy
and family life. It exposes them to a series of human rights abuses
not only at the hands of traffickers, but also to subsequent
violations within the criminal justice system.
report,Greece: Uphold the
rights of women and girls trafficked for sexual
highlights the failure of the Greek authorities to identify
accurately and promptly and to protect the rights of individuals
trafficked for forced prostitution. AI is calling on the government
to comply with European standards by ratifying the Council of
Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and
to encourage women and girls to report crimes of trafficking
against them. AI also urges that assistance, as well as protection
laws and practices, be
Write to the Secretary
General of the Ministry of Justice calling on him to take urgent
steps to ensure that the rights of women and girls trafficked into
Greece for sexual exploitation are upheld.
Send appeals to: Panagiotis
Panouris, Secretary General, Ministry of Justice, Mesogeion 96,
Athens, Greece. Fax: +30 210 7758742 Email:
For more information and to
take action go to:www.amnesty.org/actforwomen
Two weeks after his 18th
birthday in 2006, Sina Paymard was taken to the gallows to be
hanged for murder. As he stood there with a noose around his neck,
he was asked for his final request. He said that he would like to
play the ney – a Middle Eastern flute. Relatives of the murder
victim, who were there to witness the hanging, were so moved by his
playing that they agreed to accept the payment
ofdiyeh(blood money) instead of
retribution by death, as is allowed under Iranian law. Sina Paymard
remains on death row pending negotiations with the victim’s
Other young people facing
execution in Iran have not been spared. Sa’id Qanbar Zahi, who was
sentenced to death when he was 17, was hanged in Zahedan prison on
27 May 2007. Mohammad Mousavi was reportedly hanged a month earlier
in Shiraz for a murder allegedly committed when he was
Iran has the shameful status
of currently being the world’s sole executioner of child offenders
– people convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age
of 18. It also holds the macabre distinction of having executed
more child offenders (24) than any other country in the world since
1990. Eleven of those sentenced to death were still aged under 18
Today, AI knows of 71 child
offenders on death row, but the true figure is probably much
higher. They include Delara Darabi, convicted of a murder committed
when she was 17, and Hossein Gharabaghloo, who was 16 when he
allegedly stabbed a friend to death during a fight.
In most cases, child
offenders sentenced to death in Iran are kept in prison until they
reach 18, before being executed. In this period, some win appeals
or are reprieved by the murder victim’s family.
Elsewhere in the world,
executions of child offenders have all but stopped, reflecting the
widespread recognition that because of children’s immaturity,
impulsiveness, vulnerability and capacity for rehabilitation, their
lives should never be written off – however heinous the crimes of
which they are convicted.
A growing movement has
emerged in Iran that is pushing for abolition of the death penalty
for child offenders. It is driven by courageous human rights
defenders and activists who carry on despite threats and harassment
from the authorities.
Such campaigning inside and
outside Iran has made a difference. Occasionally, convictions
leading to death sentences have been overturned and the person has
One such case was that of
Leyla Mafi, who was sentenced to death in 2004 in Arak for "acts
contrary to chastity" after she was arrested in a brothel when she
was 17. Following an energetic campaign by her lawyer, Shadi Sadr,
and AI, the Supreme Court overturned her death sentence in March
The Iranian authorities have
a historic opportunity to join the world consensus against the
execution of child offenders and end this unacceptable practice. It
should announce an immediate moratorium on all executions of child
offenders and urgently revise the law so that it explicitly
prohibits the death sentence for people aged under 18 at the time
of the crime, as an important step towards abolishing the death
SeeIran: The last
executioner of children(MDE
Sarah Jane Dematera was freed
from prison on 2 May after spending 15 years under sentence of
death. In 1992, aged 19, she left her home in the Philippines to
take a job as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. Four days after
her arrival, she was arrested and charged with murdering her
employer. She consistently denied the charges, but after an unfair
trial and having been denied access to a lawyer, she was convicted
and sentenced to death. Following campaigning worldwide and
apparent intervention by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the
Philippines, she was pardoned by the family of the victim. Diya or
blood money is understood to have been paid to the victim’s family.
She has now returned to her family in the
Viet Nam – trade unionist
Tran Quoc Hien was tried on
15 May. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for
"conducting propaganda" against the state under Article 88 of the
Penal Code, plus two years’ imprisonment for "disrupting security"
under Article 89, followed by two years’ probation on release.
Accusations against him included joining "hostile elements" to
issue a manifesto on freedom and democracy for Viet Nam. The other
four were not put on trial at the same time. It is not known when
they might be tried or on what charges.
The trial of former Liberian
President Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone
opened, for security reasons, in the Hague, on 4 June. He is
accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity
against the people of Sierra Leone. It is the first time a former
head of state has been prosecuted in an international criminal
court for crimes committed in Africa against Africans.
On the first day of the
trial, Charles Taylor refused to appear, also unexpectedly he
sacked his lawyer and in a letter read by his attorney he stated
that he planned to represent himself. The presiding judge then
ordered the remaining member of the duty council from the principal
defender’s office to represent him for the day. The prosecution
then proceeded with their opening statement. The trial was due to
resume on 25 June.
Look out for a first-hand
account of the trial proceedings in the next issue
Lawyer detained in mental
Lawyer Bui Thi Kim Thanh is
detained in a mental hospital where she has been forcibly injected
with unknown drugs which have apparently left her unable to
AI considers her to be a
prisoner of conscience held because of her work as a lawyer for the
Democratic Party of Vietnam (XXI), an unauthorized pro-democracy
organization. She also worked free of charge defending low-income
families in her community who were seeking redress for property
confiscated by the authorities. Like many other dissidents in Viet
Nam, prior to her arrest she was subjected to threats and
harassment by security officials.
Bui Thi Kim Thanh was taken
from her home by police in the early hours of 2 November 2006. They
drove her to a nearby hospital where they tried to have her
committed. However, two psychiatric doctors reportedly assessed her
and concluded that she was not suffering from any mental illness.
She was then taken to Bien Hoa Mental Hospital, where she is said
to have been injected with unknown drugs for no medical reason and
is now detained at that hospital.
The authorities reportedly
offered to release her on condition that she did not speak about
her treatment. She refused. Since then all visitors and deliveries
for her at the hospital have been repeatedly declined. Before this
her family had been allowed to visit her.
It is not known what legal
provisions Bui Thi Kim Thanh is being detained under and she is not
known to have been charged with any offence or to be suffering from
any mental illness. However, there are provisions in Vietnamese law
for confinement to a psychiatric unit, administered locally without
the need to go before a court. Other political and religious
dissidents have reportedly been confined in the past to Bien Hoa
Mental Hospital for non-medical reasons, and suffered
Please write, calling for the
immediate and unconditional release of Bui Thi Kim Thanh who is
detained against her will at Bien Hoa Mental Hospital without
apparent medical need.
Send appeals to: Nguyen Tan
Dung, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Hoang Hoa Tham,
Ha Noi, Viet Nam. Fax: +844 823 1872 (c/o Ministry of Foreign
Affairs) Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
Three teenagers, Ruslan
Bessonov, Maksim Genashilkin and Dmitri Pavlov, have been detained
since March 2005, charged with murdering another teenager, Vusal
Zeynalov. All three boys allege they have been tortured and
ill-treated since their arrest.
Ruslan Bessonov stated that
on 14 March 2005 police investigators punched him and beat him with
truncheons on his head and body. He said they hung him up by his
legs, sat on his chest and stamped on his fingers. They allegedly
threatened to tear out his fingernails, slam his genitals in a
door, kill his mother and give him electric shocks. The other two
teenagers alleged similar threats and beatings.
All three claim they were
forced to sign confessions incriminating each other for the murder
of Vusal Zeynalov. They all maintain they did not commit the murder
and have alibis for that time. Family members believe the boys may
have been targeted because of their Russian ethnicity, allowing the
crime to be explained as ethnically motivated.
Court hearings have been
repeatedly postponed for two years. When two hearings eventually
took place in October and November 2006, one investigator admitted
forging the signature of Dmitri Pavlov’s attorney on one of the
protocols and of destroying documentation relevant to the case.
During a court hearing on 1 June a state prosecutor asked the court
to sentence the three boys to 10 years in a high-security prison.
Local journalists were not admitted into the court room.
AI is concerned that the boys
may be further tortured or ill-treated while in detention, and that
their trial will fail to comply with international
Please write, calling for
Dmitri Pavlov, Maksim Genashilkin and Ruslan Bessonov to be given a
fair trial or immediately released. Call for their allegations of
torture and ill-treatment to be fully investigated and if verified,
for the confessions to be declared as inadmissible evidence in
court. Call for those responsible to be held accountable and the
victims to receive reparation.
Send appeals to: President
Ilham Aliyev, Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic,
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street, Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan. Fax +994 12 492
0625 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com Salutation:
Shi’a cleric may face death
Shi’a cleric Ayatollah Sayed
Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi and 17 of his supporters reportedly
appeared before the Special Court for the Clergy (SCC) on 10 June.
Despite denials, credible reports suggest that he was sentenced to
During a court session in
March, an eyewitness said he was bleeding from the mouth, coughing
up blood and unable to walk upright.
Currently detained in Evin
Prison, he went on hunger strike on 19 February in protest at the
appalling conditions there and at the authorities’ refusal to let
him visit his dying mother and later attend her funeral. He was
allegedly tortured during interrogation and has been denied access
to medical treatment.
He was arrested at his home
in Tehran on 8 October 2006, along with more than 300 of his
followers. His 80-year-old mother was among those arrested and was
allegedly ill-treated while in detention. The arrests took place
during violent clashes with security forces. Most or all of those
arrested are thought to have been released.
Ayatollah Sayed Hossein
Kazemeyni Boroujerdi has reportedly been charged with 30 offences,
including "waging war against God", having links with
anti-revolutionaries and spies, and "acting against state
security". He has had no access to legal representation and is said
not to know "what they want from him". He reportedly advocates the
separation of religion from the political basis of the state, which
is a central part of Iran’s constitution.
The SCC operates outside the
framework of the judiciary and is under the direct control of the
Supreme Leader. Established in 1987 by Ayatollah Khomeini to try
members of the Shi’a religious establishment in Iran, its
procedures fall short of international standards for fair trial and
is widely considered illegitimate. The court can hand down
sentences including flogging and the death penalty.
Please write, urging the
authorities to clarify reports that Ayatollah Sayed Hossein
Kazemeyni Boroujerdi has been sentenced to death and, if so, to
take steps immediately to overturn this sentence and release him
unless he is to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and
tried promptly and fairly. Call for a prompt and impartial
investigation into allegations that he may have been tortured and,
if so, for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Send appeals to: Leader of
the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Iran.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ORistiftaa@wilayah.orgFax:
+98 251 774 2228 (mark "FAO the Office of His Excellency, Ayatollah
al Udhma Khamenei") Salutation: Your
On 31 July it will be two
years since Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi (pictured) was shot dead in
front of his wife and children by uniformed men who broke into his
home in the early hours of the morning. He was one of DRC’s most
prominent human rights defenders and Secretary General of Héritiers
de la Justice (Heirs of Justice), a human rights non-governmental
organization based in Bukavu, South-Kivu province, eastern
A military criminal
investigation resulted in the arrest in August of a number of
soldiers on suspicion of killing Pascal Kabungulu. However, shortly
afterwards, the men were illegally freed from prison at gunpoint by
the then commander of the Bukavu military garrison, Colonel Thierry
Ilunga. He had openly threatened to kill Pascal Kabungulu in 2003
after Héritiers de la Justice had accused him of organizing illegal
mineral exploitation in South-Kivu.
After national and
international protests, the suspects were returned to prison and
appeared before a military tribunal in November 2005, but the trial
was halted after testimony was heard which appeared to directly
implicate Colonel Ilunga in the killing. The court placed Colonel
Ilunga under arrest and ordered the transfer of the trial to a
higher military court with jurisdiction over senior army personnel.
Officials involved in the trial, which lasted little more than two
weeks, complained of threats and political interference.
Since then, no new trial has
begun. Despite the charges against him, Colonel Ilunga was released
after spending less than a day in custody and was later promoted to
serve as a brigade commander in the unified national army, the
Please write, calling for the
prompt resumption of the trial against those suspected of
involvement in the July 2005 killing of Pascal Kabungulu Kibembi.
Urge that the trial meets international standards of fairness and
that the possibility of the death penalty be excluded. Call for
Colonel Thierry Ilunga to be suspended from duty pending completion
of the trial.
Send appeals to: M. Chikez
Diemu, Ministre de la Défense Nationale et des Anciens Combattants,
Ministre de la Défense, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Salutation: Dear Minister
Act now to protect civilians
displaced by war in Darfur
In Darfur, millions of
civilians continue to suffer the consequences of the conflict. In
addition to 2 million internally displaced, tens of thousands have
been forced from their homes in the past couple of months. Many
have fled to neighbouring Chad.
In a recent meeting with Amr
Musa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, AI’s
Secretary General, Irene Khan, discussed the need to deploy
international peacekeepers to Darfur to protect civilians and
strengthen the arms embargo.
AI is calling on Sudan’s
government to facilitate the immediate and full deployment of a
joint African Union and UN peacekeeping force to contribute to the
protection of civilians in Darfur.
On 27 April the
International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for
government minister Ahmad Harun and Janjawid leader Ali Kushayb.
They are accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes
committed in Darfur, Sudan, including murder, rape and torture. The
Sudanese authorities have refused so far to allow them to be tried
by the ICC. (Seethe
Take action on International
Justice Day, 17 July. Join AI’s letter-writing action to ensure
that those accused of the worst human rights violations are brought
Please write to the Embassy
of Sudan in your home country, calling on the authorities to arrest
Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb and surrender them to the
Sudanese Embassy addresses
can be found at:http://www.sudan.net/government/embassy.html
Sign AI’s Global
AI launched a Global Petition
on 12 June, urging the government of Sudan to:
accept and facilitate the
immediate and full deployment to Darfur of the joint African Union
and UN peacekeeping force
take all effective measures
to disarm the Janjawid and respect the UN arms embargo
indiscriminate attacks against civilians
co-operate with the
International Criminal Court and hold those responsible for human
rights violations accountable through fair trials and without
applying the death penalty.
Sign the petition
AI launched a double CD,
featuring more than 20 John Lennon songs, to mobilize
in response to the human
rights catastrophe in Darfur. More than 30 world-class musicians
have interpreted and re-recorded the song of their choice to bring
listeners into the world of human rights activism.
Yoko Ono generously granted
the publishing rights to Lennon’s entire solo songbook to AI, to
use as the centrepiece of this project. The CD, Make Some Noise:
The Campaign to Save Darfur (labelled Instant Karma: The Campaign
to Save Darfur in the USA), was released in June. All tracks are
available as digital downloads on iTunes and other major providers.
The artists – who come from the worlds of rock, pop, hip-hop and
country – include U2, R.E.M., Christina Aguilera and The Flaming
Copies of the double CD can
be purchased at www.amnesty.org/noise and on iTunes. For the US
version, go to www.instantkarma.org. Proceeds will go to support
AI’s work on Darfur and other human rights crises worldwide. Read
more about Darfur at www.amnesty.org/sudan
Celebrating rights, taking
global action in Latvia
More than 400 people
demonstrated their support for the rights of Latvia’s lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender communities at the Riga Pride march on 3
June. Among them were the Latvian organization Mozaika and 70 AI
activists from eight European countries. Thanks in part to AI’s
lobbying efforts, this year, participants could walk in safety
knowing the police were there to protect them.
"This wasn’t a casual stroll
around central Riga," recalls Simon Desjardins, an AI activist and
Pride participant. "We held the march in a park [Vermane Garden]
enclosed by an iron fence and loads of policemen, reportedly as
many as 1,600, many of whom were decked out in full riot gear."
Counter-demonstrators surrounded Vermane Garden, screaming abuse
and, according to Simon Desjardins, "launching the occasional
firecracker at us."
Despite the heavy police
presence, a home-made explosive device was lobbed at a group of
Pride marchers as they left the park. No one was seriously injured
and the Latvian police swiftly arrested those responsible. After
the march, police bussed participants to safe locations in
This was a marked improvement
on previous years. In 2005 and 2006, similar events in Riga had
either been banned by the Latvian authorities, or attacked by
counter-demonstrators. In 2006, counter-demonstrators threw eggs
and human excrement at participants in Pride events. Neither in
2005 nor 2006 did the Latvian law enforcement authorities take
sufficient steps to protect the rights to freedom of assembly and
expression for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This
year, prior to the event, AI informed the Latvian authorities that
it would attend the Pride march. It called on them to provide
adequate police protection to enable the demonstration to take
"This year, visibility was
the main accomplishment of the march," says Simon Desjardins. "Last
year, the same news reports were dominated by violent images and by
a message that the march was unsanctioned and illegal… This year,
the images were... of people demonstrating legally and protected by
the state. I have no doubt that this will result in a bigger Pride
march next year."
So far, more than 80
governments have sent their views on arms control to the UN
Secretary-General following lobbying by the Control Arms campaign,
a record number for this type of UN consultation.
Since February 2007 the
Control Arms campaign has led People’s Consultations in more than
40 countries, in parallel with the UN Secretary-General’s
consultation on arms control.
Activists around the world
have held community, regional and national forums to give people
and communities a voice. They have urged their governments to
submit strong, positive recommendations to the UN to support an
Arms Trade Treaty.
The outcome is due to be
presented to government officials at the October 2007 meeting of
the UN General Assembly Disarmament and International Security
For more information and to
get involved, please visitwww.controlarms.org
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