Posts Tagged ‘arrest’

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:

See also my post:

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 (

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 ( 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:]

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 [], 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]. 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 [].
  • 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.

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

Zimbabwe celebrates by arresting 2 women per day over the last two years

March 8, 2015

Of all the stories that reach us at the occasion of International Women’s Day this is perhaps the most astonishing:

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) says 1390 women human rights defenders were arrested over the past 24 months.

ZLHR said the women activists were arrested for either staging street protests or petitioning and litigating government with the aim of pressing for political, social and economic rights. Beatrice Mtetwa said: “When these women were arrested they were trying to assert their rights as women first and foremost and as citizens of Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwe Peace Project National Director Jestina Mukoko said women activists were not enemies of the state. “I do not know why the state thinks that we will be fighting against them. We do not intend to fight against the state but to remind them that we are people whose rights are being violated….But by just reminding them to recognize and respect people’s rights you will find yourself in jail,” []

The event on Friday also saw the launching of a book titled “In Their Capacity as Human Rights Defenders: Women”.

ZLHR: 1 400 women arrested in 2 yrs.

Human rights defender Kalimuthu Kandhasamy in Tamil Nadu arrested for using the word human rights!

February 26, 2015

HRD Alert – India (a Forum of Human Rights Defenders) and Front Line Defenders have called for the release of Mr Kalimuthu Kandhasamy who was arrested in the morning of 26 February 2015.

[Kalimuthu Kandhasamy is the District Organizer of Citizens for Human Rights Movement (CHRM), which provides legal counsel and assistance to victims of human rights violations in Tamil Nadu, including by providing assistance in complaints before courts, human rights institutions, law enforcement officials and other relevant bodies. The organisation was founded by People’s Watch, an NGO that monitors human rights violations and provides legal assistance to victims in Tamil Nadu. The human rights defender also works as an assistant to a lawyer providing legal representation in People’s Watch’s cases.]

The accusations against Kalimuthu Kandhasamy include, ‘impersonating a public servant’, cheating, and improper use of emblems. And here comes the almost funny part: the charges against Kalimuthu Kandhasamy are reportedly in relation to the fact that CHRM contains the words “human rights” in its title. It is claimed that this is in violation of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, which reportedly states that no non-governmental institution should have the terms “human rights” in its name (this amendment was made on the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission [SIC] that no non-governmental institution should have the terms “human rights” in its name! Would seem a clear violation of the right to association). The accusations are being brought under sections 170 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 5 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950.

The human rights defender denies that either he or CHRM have posed as a public authority.

Nawaf Al Hendal: portrait of a human rights defender from Kuwait

February 9, 2015

“I recognise that I may never be granted these fundamental rights in my life time, but I want more for our children. We should promise them that.”

On 30 January 2015 the ISHR Bulletin did a good write-up on Nawaf Al Hendal, a Human rights defender from Kuwait.

The Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait took place at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 28 January 2015. Prominent human rights defender, Nawaf Al Hendal, who travelled to Geneva for the review of Kuwait’s human rights record, was advised that an arrest warrant awaits him on return to Kuwait in connection with allegations of damaging foreign relations and using Twitter to insult lateSaudi King Abdullah. Nawaf discussed the situation for human rights defenders in Kuwait and the on-going threat of reprisals with ISHR.

Nawaf Al Hendal, the founder of Kuwait Watch, has been an active human rights defender in Kuwait since 2004. Nawaf’s drive to become a human rights defender initially arose when he witnessed his colleagues being subject to unfair work standards imposed by his employer at the time. Nawaf could not allow his colleagues’ rights to be eroded without any resistance. For this reason, when his colleagues felt unable to do so, Nawaf decided to fight for the protection of their rights.

‘I love my country and its people. I believe that every person in Kuwait should have access to fundamental and equal rights.’

When Nawaf realised he was able to have an impact in the protection of his colleagues’ rights, his focus extended to the protection of people’s rights more generally in Kuwait.

Nawaf is well known for his work defending the rights of stateless persons, including the Bedouin community who are deprived of the right to employment, education and healthcare in Kuwait. Nawaf, now through Kuwait Watch, is active in engaging with the UN human rights system, including making submissions to the UPR, various treaty bodies and States active in the human rights system, as well as international NGOs. Kuwait Watch also actively engages in grass roots advocacy, including organising peaceful protests and consulting with employers and medical practitioners to gain employment and medical care for Bedouin people.

Nawaf is adamant about the importance of social media in the work of human rights defenders.

‘We use social media to demonstrate the restrictions on fundamental freedoms placed on people in Kuwait to the rest of the world. We also use social media to make it clear to the Kuwaiti authorities that we will continue to defend the rights of all people in Kuwait.’

Overall, Nawaf considers that his work thus far has not gone unnoticed by the Kuwaiti authorities. Despite the troubling implications for Nawaf as an individual, he considers that the fact that a warrant for his arrest was issued simultaneously with his travel to Geneva for the periodic review of Kuwait is indicative of the Kuwaiti Government’s concern in relation to the increasing influence of Kuwaiti human rights defenders.

Nawaf explains that his advocacy is not politically driven, it is rights driven. He emphasised that Kuwait Watch is not seeking a political transformation in government but simply the development of legal protections for people in Kuwait.

‘We [Kuwait Watch] commended the Kuwaiti Government’s decision to make primary and intermediate education free and compulsory for children and prohibit children under the age of 15 years from working.’

The prosecution of human rights defenders, opposition activists and bloggers for allegedly undermining the status of the emir of Kuwait is widespread in the country. Lese-majeste, national security and ‘national unity’ laws have recently been used to prosecute activists who are critical of the human rights records of heads of state with which Kuwait has diplomatic relations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to Nawaf, the Public Gatherings Law, the Penal Code, national security legislation, press regulations, and lese-majeste and blasphemy laws, are all used and abused to criminalise free speech in the country.

‘As a human rights defender in Kuwait you are always at risk. In an attempt to silence dissenting voices, human rights defenders are often imprisoned for unrelated, and often fabricated, offences.’

Nawaf tells the story of his arrest in 2013 on his return to Bahrain, where he had been studying at Delmon University for Science & Technology since 2008. Nawaf was advised that he could no longer enter Bahrain as the Kuwaiti authorities intended to arrest him in connection with terrorist activities.

‘Since my arrest in 2013, I have not been able to return to Bahrain and my five years of study in Bahrain have not been recognised.’

Nawaf explained that in an additional attempt to silence dissenting voices, national newspapers and television channels have been known to print articles in an attempt to invalidate the work of human rights defenders.

‘In addition to legislation restricting fundamental rights of people living in Kuwait and the independence of human rights institutions, the legislative framework limits the number of human rights organisations to one’

Given the restriction on the number of human rights organisations in Kuwait, Kuwait Watch is registered in the United Kingdom.

‘We engage with the UN human rights system in the hope that the UN will require the Kuwait Government to enact and reform legislation to protect human rights defenders as well of the rights of all people in Kuwait.’

Nawaf emphasises the importance he places on ensuring that the next generation will have the fundamental rights they are entitled to.

‘I recognise that I may never be granted these fundamental rights in my life time, but I want more for our children. We should promise them that.’


Nawaf Al Hendal: Human rights defender from Kuwait | ISHR.