Posts Tagged ‘arrest’

Two welcome paroles in Russia and Zimbabwe but justice is still to be done

June 11, 2019

Having reported earlier on the Oyub Titiev case in Russia [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/19/human-rights-defender-in-chechnya-oyub-titiev-sentenced-to-4-years/] and that of the seven human rights defenders arrested in Zimbabwe [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/21/four-zimbabwe-human-rights-defenders-detained-at-at-the-mugabe-airport-on-their-return-from-foreign-trip/], I am now happy to report some progress:

Responding to news that Shali City Court in Chechnya has granted parole to the imprisoned human rights defender Oyub Titiev after almost one-and-a-half years behind bars, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said: “We have been calling for Oyub Titiev’s immediate and unconditional release since his detention. The real agenda behind his criminal prosecution on trumped up charges was to stop a human rights defender from doing his lawful human rights work….In spite of overwhelming evidence that the case against him had been fabricated, the authorities in Chechnya crudely abused the justice system to convict an innocent man. Today the court decided to at least partially amend the gross injustice by releasing Oyub in ten days time.” But if justice is to prevail, Oyub Titiev’s conviction should be quashed, and he must be given access to an effective remedy, including compensation, for his unlawful imprisonment.  “This decision comes just days after prominent Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was detained and charged with supplying drugs amid allegations that he was framed, held incommunicado and beaten in custody. He is currently under house arrest and we call on his allegations against the authorities to be immediately investigated.”

High court Judge Justice Army Tsanga ordered for the release of the two activists seized at the Robert Mugabe International Airport upon arrival from Maldives. The state is alleging that the accused are members of the civil society organizations who connived with their accomplices went to Maldives where they underwent a training workshop by a Serbian non-governmental organisation called Center for Applied Non-Violent Action Strategies (Canvas) with intend to subvert a constitutionally elected government.

———-

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/06/russia-titievs-parole-a-welcome-step-but-not-justice/

Breaking: Five Zim ‘Terrorists’ Out On Bail

Four Zimbabwe human rights defenders detained at at the Mugabe Airport on their return from foreign trip

May 21, 2019

Police have arrested four human rights activists at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on their return from a foreign trip. Police officers also took away cellphones and laptops belonging to the activists. In a statement on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda said: “They were detained upon disembarking from a South African flight at Robert Mugabe International Airport last night and held for several hours without access to their lawyers”. Lawyers were only allowed access to them 5 hours hours after they were arrested.

The four are George Makoni, 38, advocacy officer for the NGO Centre for Community Development Zimbabwe; Tatenda Mombeyarara, 37, coordinator for lobby group Citizens Manifesto; Gamuchirai Mukura, 31, executive director of Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD); and Nyasha Mpahlo, 35, governance officer at Transparency International Zimbabwe.

The arrest of the human rights activists follows a report carried in State daily publications, The Herald and Chronicle that suggested that civic organisations are plotting to cause mayhem in the country. The Herald ran a story claiming that “a group of shady organisations with links to the (main opposition) MDC-Alliance has been hard at work laying the groundwork for civil unrest to be unleashed next month.” The newspaper said some activists had attended a workshop on the Maldives archipelago that was conducted by a non-profit Serbian organisation, Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS).

The civil society alliance Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition condemned the latest arrests. It said in a statement: “The police, government and state media have been colluding to criminalise the work of human rights defenders, laying unfounded allegations against civil society leaders as agents of regime change who want to topple the government.

On 27 May 2019 ZW News adds that two more human rights defenders were arrested: https://zwnews.com/human-rights-arrested-at-harare-international-airport/

https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/four-human-rights-activists-arrested-in-zimbabwe-23677924

Govt Goes After Human Rights Activists

Human Rights Defenders in Tanzania start public education campaign re arrest

January 22, 2019

THRDC national coordinator Mr Onesmo Ole

THRDC national coordinator Mr Onesmo Ole Ngurumo
Josephine Christopher reports that two human rights groups have initiated a special campaign on Tuesday, 22 January 2019, seeking to encourage the public to speak against violation of rights of suspects when they get arrested by the police force. The campaign titled: “Tetea haki za watuhimiwa (Defend the rights of suspects)” is a brainchild of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) in association with the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC). [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/04/09/journalists-get-training-in-africa-examples-from-tanzania-and-south-sudan/]

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, the THRDC national coordinator Mr Onesmo Ole Ngurumo said violation of rights of suspects – held by law enforcers – was becoming a new normal in Tanzania, citing the recent ‘unlawful’ detention of three human rights defenders and two citizens at the Loliondo Police Station. “While in custody, the suspects were badly beaten badly. Besides, though they needed emergency medical care, the police continued to hold them in cells until their fellow inmates start rioting for their rights,” he said “Putting suspects under police custody for more than 24 hours without any legal assistance is a violation of human rights, considering that police don’t have the skills and resources to hold people for such long time,” he said.

https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/1840340-4946342-j0nrz/index.html

Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, Iranian environmentalist, dies in prison under suspicious circumstances

March 7, 2018

On 6 March, 2018 Scholars at Risk (SAR) reported the death in custody of Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, a scholar of sociology and an environmentalist in Iran who was arrested in January 2018 on charges of espionage.

Professor Seyed-Emami was a professor of sociology at Imam Sadiq University and a co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. A dual Canadian-Iranian national, he was an environmentalist who led camping trips for Iranian youth in his spare time. SAR understands that, on January 24, 2018, Iranian authorities arrested Professor Seyed-Emami, along with at least seven others, who Iranian authorities claimed were “collecting classified information about the country’s strategic areas under the guise of carrying out scientific and environmental projects.” The information released by authorities does not make clear what classified information Professor Seyed-Emami and others were alleged to have collected, who they were allegedly working for, or what evidence supports these allegations.

On February 9, authorities reportedly notified Professor Seyed-Emami’s wife of her husband’s death. The following day, authorities announced the arrests and Professor Seyed-Emami’s death, claiming it was a suicide. SAR understands that Professor Seyed-Emami’s family was pressured to bury him quickly. Human rights groups have called for an autopsy and investigation, pointing to the suspicious circumstances of his death. Professor Seyed-Emami’s death follows two other recent incidents in Evin Prison in which activists died and authorities later ruled their deaths suicides.

SAR demands an investigation of Professor Seyed-Emami’s deeply troubling death and generally that the ability of intellectuals in Iran to exercise their right to academic freedom be guaranteed. To join the action, follow the link below:

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50943/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=24470

See also my post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/08/23/rouhanis-iran-disappoints-massively-on-human-rights/

One of Ethiopia’s Zone-9 Bloggers, Natal Feleke, arrested

October 6, 2016

On 4 October, 2016 Natnael Feleke, a Zone-9 Blogger and two of his friends, Tsedeke Digafe and Addisalem Mulugeta were taken into detention. The reason given by the police about their arrest is that while sitting at Lalibela restaurant and talking loudly about the death of hundreds on 2 October this year at the yearly thanksgiving ceremony in Bishoftu, Ethiopia. They blamed the government for the deaths that occurred, and thus uttered ‘seditious remarks’. Natnael and his friends were brought to the Federal First Instance court, Kera Branch Criminal Bench awaiting a decision on the bail issue. Zone-9 bloggers are one of the finalist for this year’s MEA (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/ethiopia-high-commissioner-marathon-runner-and-mea-jury-agree/)

Khurram Parvez’s re-arrest in Kashmir illustrates draconian use of Public Safety Act

September 23, 2016

 Kashmir activist arrest highlights Indian detention law

The detention of a Kashmiri human rights defender on Wednesday, the day after a court had ordered his release from a previous arrest, has prompted concerns that Indian authorities have stepped up their use of laws that allow detention without trial.  Khurram Parvez was due to be released after being arrested a week earlier but has instead been moved to prison after the Jammu and Kashmir state government approved a Public Safety Act (PSA) order, which allows administrative detention without trial for up to six months.

Read the rest of this entry »

500 signatories demand release of Indian filmmaker Sarangi

April 4, 2016

A remarkably large and diversified group of some 500 film makers, writers, professionals in the area of art & culture, academics, activists and social organisations demand the release of Indian filmmaker and human rights defender Deba Rajan Sarangi in an open letter published on 3 April 2016.

They state that they are deeply shocked to hear about his arrest on 18 March, 2016, by plainclothes policemen from the Kucheipadar village of Rayagada District, Odisha. Debaranjan was in Kucheipadar to attend a funeral. He was arrested with a non-bailable warrant issued by the court of JMFC, Kashippur in pursuance of a case registered in Tikri police station of Rayagada district in 2005, when Debaranjan was actively involved in the struggle of the Adivasis in Kashipur to protect their lands from the invasion of the bauxite mining companies…

Deba Ranjan Sarangi has highlighted and critiqued policies of destructive development, unbridled mining practices, displacement, police impunity, atrocities on Dalits, Adivasi issues , growth of communal fascism in Odisha, violence on women and farmers’ suicide in the context of acute agrarian. Deba Ranjan has been put behind bars because he had the courage to show what he witnessed to the world through his expressions of film making, writing and speech. He is neither a Maoist nor a terrorist. We call upon the Odisha government to address the issues raised by the human rights defenders in the State of Odisha rather than imprisoning them and crushing the voices of film makers. We call upon the Odisha government to desist from such disgraceful attempts of violating the Indian Constitution and Indian democracy.
The link below gives a partial list of signatories:

Source: 500 Artists, Activists And Writers Demand Filmmaker Sarangi’s Release

Algerian government fails to prove accusation against human rights defenders held in Italy

September 17, 2015

On 15 September 2015, the Turin Court of Appeal ruled to release Algerian human rights defender Mr Rachid Mesli, who has been under house arrest since 22 August 2015, and to allow him to leave the country, as reported by Front Line Defenders.

 

The human rights defender was released before the end of the 40 day period during which the Algerian government could submit a formal request for extradition. The Court recognised Rachid Mesli’s important and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, as well as the high risk of torture he would face if returned to Algeria. While the court is yet to make its final decision on the extradition warrant, the release order highlighted that, according to the information received, Rachid Mesli’s human rights activities were not in any way related to terrorism.

On 22 August, the Italian court placed the human rights defender under house arrest following three days in detention in Aosta prison. Rachid Mesli was arrested on 19 August 2015 (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29390) as he travelled to Italy on holiday with his wife and son. The arrest occurred as a result of an arrest warrant issued by the Algerian authorities in April 2002 on terrorism-related charges.

[Rachid Mesli is the Legal Director of Alkarama, an independent human rights organisation based in Geneva that works to assist victims of extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention in Arab states. And this is not first effort by the Algerian government see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/mourad-dhina-algerian-head-of-the-human-rights-organization-alkarama-detained-in-france/]

Interesting tot note Front Line Defenders’ call on Interpol to ensure the legitimacy of all warrants issued by its members and to put in place safeguards so that the system cannot be abused in order to target human rights defenders.

Two women human rights defenders inside Uzbekistan: amazing story

April 29, 2015

Human rights defenders Adelaida Kim (left) and Elena Urlaeva

Human rights defenders Adelaida Kim (left) and Elena Urlaeva
 I have written often about Uzbekistan’s 2008 MEA Laureate, Mutabar Tadjibaeva [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/mutabar-tadjibayeva/], who now lives in exile in Paris, but Radio Free Europe on 29 April, 2015 carries a piece on two women human rights defenders, among the few left in Uzbekistan. Undaunted by the threats, beatings, and forced incarcerations of authorities, they continue to demand their rights. Especially the second case, that of Elena Urlaeva, is amazing:

Adelaida Kim of the Rights Defenders Alliance of Uzbekistan (PAU) is one such person. She featured in an earlier Qishloq Ovozi. She was in court then, she was in court again in April, and, as was true in the previous post, she brought a complaint against police.  It started when Kim and colleague Lyudmila Brosalina were demonstrating outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Tashkent on May 8, 2014. Kim was demanding an end to hostilities in eastern Ukraine, specifically the “vicious murders of unarmed people…”

There were only the two of them, but Uzbek authorities worry that such acts could mushroom and lead to antigovernment protests, so any picket is dispersed quickly. Kim was detained and brought to police headquarters. There, Kim says, police Colonel Bakhtiyor Egamberdyev insulted and berated her and told her she should move to Ukraine. On April 8, the hearing opened in Kim’s case against Egamberdyev and two other policemen. Bakhtiyor Egamberdyev arrived, except, as Kim pointed out, it was not the right Bakhtiyor Egamberdyev. The person who showed up in the courtroom on April 8 was a deputy district police chief who was also named Bakhtiyor Egamberdyev. Neither of the two policemen named in Kim’s lawsuit showed up for the trial either. The hearing was adjourned and scheduled to reconvene when the correct Bakhtiyor Egamberdyev was located and summoned. As of the time of this writing, there have not been any reports that the trial has resumed.

Standing outside the courthouse on April 8 was PAU leader Yelena Urlaeva, holding a sign of support for Kim. The story of Urlaeva is almost beyond belief:

Bruce Pannier in his blog Qishloq Ovozi has called her the bravest person in Uzbekistan. Urlaeva has been detained many times. She’s been forcibly committed to psychiatric clinics, physically assaulted, and regularly threatened. [see also https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2004]. Under these circumstances it is indeed amazing that on April 7  sent a letter to Uzbekistan’s interior minister requesting that the head of the department for fighting terrorism in the Mirzo-Ulughbek district of Tashkent, Ilyas Mustafaev, be promoted… It’s not a joke. Urlaeva is totally sincere.

Ilyas Mustafaev (left) is a frequent visitor to Urlaeva's apartment.
Ilyas Mustafaev (left) is a frequent visitor to Urlaeva’s apartment.

Mustafaev has been detaining Urlaeva for some 17 years, but in her letter the PAU leader said Mustafaev has always fulfilled his duties honestly — both as an officer and as a human being. “I understand Mustafaev,” she said. “He’s a soldier and carries out orders.”

Mustafaev has had to come to Urlaeva’s flat so often that he is now considered a guest  “Ilyas calls my mother ‘mama’ and mama calls him ‘son’,” Urlaeva said. HE has even shown up at her birthday parties. Urlaeva recalled that when she was demonstrating in 2010, “someone in civilian clothes” started hitting her and Mustafaev pulled the attacker away and apologized “for his colleague” and took her home. In her letter recommending Mustafaev be raised in rank, Urlaeva wrote, “This worthy officer is already more than 50 years old and is still a major.” She asked that he be promoted by April 28, which Urlaeva knows is Mustafaev’s birthday.

Two Of Uzbekistan’s Best And Bravest.

 

High Commissioner leaves Burundi and the repression goes up…

April 29, 2015

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (second left) at a roundtable discussion during his mission to Burundi.Photo: UN Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB)
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights left Burundi on 15 April with a final exhortation that “Burundian parties must choose the path to democracy and the rule of law“. Only a week later the authorities increased their crackdown on dissent to silence those who oppose a third term for the President.
This is a critical moment in Burundi’s history,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein during his mission to Burundi. “Its future may well depend on which path is chosen by individual politicians and their supporters, as well as various key authorities, over the next few weeks.”… “And history – and possibly national or international courts – will judge those who kill, bribe or intimidate their way to power.

He pointed out that recent events were of great concern, with tensions rising sharply over the past few months as the elections approach, reportedly stoked by an increase in politically motivated harassment, intimidation and acts of violence, as well as a reported rise in hate speech. He pointed to “extreme examples of hate speech” heard at a pro-Government political rally in Bujumbura and several examples of attacks on and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians.

“I will put it bluntly,” he said “As I prepared for this mission, I talked to many knowledgeable people, within and outside the UN, in Geneva and New York. They were all, without exception, alarmed about the direction the country appears to be taking. The Secretary-General has signalled his concerns, and so has the Security Council.”

He cited the main cause for concern as the pro-Government militia called the Imbonerakure, which he said appeared to be operating increasingly aggressively and with total impunity. People were fleeing the country, with up to 1,000 people per day crossing into Rwanda, and many of those leaving telling UN officials that their reason for leaving is fear of the Imbonerakure.

Mr. Zeid said the Government needed to send a clear message that extremism and impunity would no longer prevail and he added that all political demonstrations needed to be treated equally and in accordance with international laws and standards relating to freedom of assembly. Opposition politicians needed to play a part, too, refraining from inflation or exaggeration of facts to whip up anti-Government support and feed a climate of fear. They also needed to ensure that their supporters protest peacefully, and do not indulge in hate speech or react violently to perceived provocations. He said he had held several meetings since arriving in Burundi on Sunday, including with the country’s top officials, as well as civil society organizations, the National Human Rights Institution (CNIDH), foreign diplomats, opposition politicians, and key State institutions such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the President of the Constitutional Court. “During the course of these meetings and discussions, it was very clear that many people here are also extremely worried,” …. “Ultimately, it is the authorities who have the obligation to protect all citizens and residents from intimidation and violence committed by any individual or group. They must also accept that criticism is a vital element of democracy, not a threat that must be crushed.”

A week later Front Line Defenders and the African defenders network EHAHRDP reported inter alia:

  • a clampdown on human rights defenders and journalists by Burundian authorities in connection with ongoing protests against President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term widely deemed unconstitutional by Burundi’s civil society (with AP reporting 6 people killed at demonstrations over the weekend)
  • on 27 April 2015, human rights defender Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was arrested and released a day later without charge after being held in police custody approximately 48 hours [Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Laureate of the MEA 2007, is the President of the Burundi Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (APRODH). He is also a member of the coalition “Halt to Nkurunziza’s third term”, a peaceful campaign which was launched in January 2015 by several civil organisations to oppose a third presidential term].  In May 2014, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was also arrested and much later released [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/news-from-burundi-release-of-human-rights-defender-pierre-claver-mbonimpa/].
  • an arrest warrant seems also to have been issued against human rights defenders Messrs Pacifique Nininahazwe and Vital Nshimirimana from the Forum for the Strenghtening of Civil Society (FORSC), who are perceived as leading organisers of the campaign against the Nkurunziza’s third term.
  • state authorities forcibly closed the Bujumbura and Ngozi offices of the African Public Radio (Radio Publique Africaine – RPA), a private radio station of Burundi known for dealing with human rights-related issues
  • 0n Monday morning, police forcibly closed the Media Synergy Press Conference that was taking place at Maison de la Presse in Bujumbura.

The risks facing human rights defenders in Burundi, as well as the wider civilian population, are now at critical proportions,” said EHAHRDP’s director Hassan Shire.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/special-rapporteur-in-burundi-respect-the-work-of-human-rights-defenders-like-mbonimpa/

http://www.defenddefenders.org/2015/04/burundi-unprecedented-state-assault-on-human-rights-defenders-and-journalists/

United Nations News Centre – UN rights chief urges Burundi’s politicians to pick right path at ‘critical moment’ in country’s history.