Posts Tagged ‘political prisoner’

Uzbekistan: Murod Juraev free after two decades in jail – what about the others?

December 29, 2015
 For more than two decades, Murod Juraev languished behind bars in Uzbekistan and was subjected to torture and ill-treatment so bad that all his teeth fell out. After 21 years in detention — one of the world’s longest imprisoned political activists — Juraev was released in November 2015.  [Juraev was a member of the Erk opposition party and a former local mayor in southern Uzbekistan when he was jailed, in 1994.]  Juraev had his jail term extended four times to keep him in jail — in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012 — after authorities found he had broken prison rules, including “peeling carrots incorrectly”, “failure to lift a heavy object” andwearing a white shirt.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Former prisoner of conscience from Bangladesh now President of Inter-Parliamentaty Union

October 20, 2014

On 16 October 2014 the Inter-Parliamentary Union [IPU] announced that a former “prisoner of conscience”, the Bangladeshi Saber Hossain Chowdhury, was  elected as new IPU president.

A former businessman with an education in law, politics and economics in the UK, President Chowdhury first became an MP in 1996 at the age of 35. He was also the youngest member of the government when he held two deputy ministerial posts in succession between 1999 and 2001. A political prisoner in the early 2000’s, he is described as a firm believer in the rule of law and human rights. He was involved in ground-breaking legislation to criminalize custodial torture in Bangladesh and to address domestic violence.

via Press Release 16 October 2014.

Human rights defenders participate in MP4Freedom campaign

April 2, 2014

US-based NGO Freedom House, in cooperation with the Lithuanian Parliament and Belarusian human rights defenders, launched on 26 March 2014 the MP4Freedom initiative inviting Lithuanian MPs to become “godparents” of political prisoners in Belarus.As neighbors, Lithuanians should care about the future of the Belarusian nation,” said Petras Austrevicius, deputy speaker of the Seimas, who championed the initiative on behalf of the Lithuanian Parliament.  “The idea behind this initiative is to encourage Lithuanian MPs to engage on the issue personally by becoming ‘godparents’ of political prisoners in Belarus.”

To make this initiative effective, Lithuanian MPs should address the Belarusian authorities and demand the release of political prisoners,” said Marina Lobava, the mother of a political prisoner Eduard Lobau. “MPs can write to the heads of detention facilities requesting information about the health of a particular political prisoner. They can also help by contacting the International Red Cross and facilitating its visits to prisons. International advocacy in the EU to keep the political prisoners issue on the foreign policy agenda towards Belarus is also necessary.”

Under this campaign, the participating Lithuanian parliamentarians, who represent the governing and opposition political parties alike, take the responsibility to follow the cases of particular political prisoners in Belarus, meet with their relatives, and speak publicly both at Lithuanian and international venues on human rights violations in Belarus. There are currently 10 political prisoners in Belarus, according to the Human Rights Center Viasna.

Freedom House, the Lithuanian Parliament and human rights defenders launch initiative to support Belarusian political prisoners | Belarus: civil society under attack |

Mourning “Ndinga Man” – Cameroon’s famous musical dissident

March 24, 2014

In Foreign Policy magazine of 19 March, Alex Gladstein has written a very complete and moving story about the great Cameroonian musician, political prisoner and human rights defender,  Lapiro de Mbanga. He died of cancer this past Sunday, 16 March 2014, in Buffalo, New York. Known as “Ndinga Man” to millions of Cameroonians, Lapiro escaped President Paul Biya’s regime in 2012, after three years of political imprisonment. He received asylum in the United States.

Mourning a Musical Dissident.

Burma: 56 political prisoners freed, but Section 18 law stays in place and new arrests continue

October 17, 2013

In a move praised by local and international rights groups, Burma’s government, led by ex-general Thein Sein, has released 56 political prisoners. However, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners [AAPP] noted in a statement to the media that 133 political prisoners were still languishing in the country’s prisons. Read the rest of this entry »

Good Breaking News: Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh among freed political prisoners

September 18, 2013

Today, 18 September 2013, the BBC and other news media brought the good news that Iran lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is among the freed political prisoners which Iran is reported to have freed (at least eight). Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested in 2010 and jailed for six years on charges of acting against national security. She was one of the three Final Nominees of the MEA in 2012 and winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov award.NASRIN_SOTOUDEH_PORTRAIT

The release of the political prisoners comes just days before Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani visits New York for the UN General Assembly. In his election campaign, he promised to free political prisoners.

via BBC News – Iran lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh among freed political prisoners.


Arrest and secret detention of Abdi Osman in Djibouti

February 25, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, has been informed of the arrest and detention of human rights defender Abdi Osman, vice-president of the Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains (LDDH). On 21 February 2013 it seems that Osman has been arrested and brought to the police station. At the time of writing he seems not to be at this station anymore but his place of detention is worryingly unkown. Osman had on 20 February addressed publicly in the framework of an opposition meeting the torture and bad detention conditions of political prisoners. Action suggestions are in:OMCT-LOGO

via Djibouti: Arrestation et détention au secret de M. Abdi Osman / 22 février 2013 / Interventions urgentes / Défenseurs des droits… / OMCT.

Burma frees 450 prisoners before Obama’s visit but what about the real HRDs?

November 15, 2012
Official photographic portrait of US President...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human rights campaigners say no dissidents are among prisoners to be released in ‘goodwill gesture’ reports Jason Burke in Delhi (, Thursday 15 November 2012)

The Guardian and many other newspapers have announced that the Burmese authorities have freed more than 450 detainees in a goodwill gesture before a historic visit by the US president Obama but local and international human rights campaigners said the list of released prisoners did not include any political dissidents.

Announcing the amnesty – the latest in a series that have coincided with high-profile visits of foreign dignitaries or trips by senior Burmese leaders overseas – state media said late on Wednesday that its aim was “to help promote goodwill and the bilateral relationship”. A home ministry official told Reuters that a certain number of the remaining 300 political prisoners would be released. However Bo Kyi, of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), said no prisoners of conscience had been freed so far. “All are common criminals or foreign nationals …… We know of no political prisoners among the 452 freed today,” he said.

However the Wall Street Journal (15 Nov)  just reported that U Myint Aye, a 61-year-old human rights activists and one of the most high-profile dissidents currently detained, held at Loikaw, was included.

No word on Aung Naing either (see my post of 24 September this year).

Let’s wait and see whether President Obama is willing to press for a more substantive release.

UN Secretary General says the right thing in Tehran

September 4, 2012
Ban Ki-moon

Ban Ki-moon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Thursday 30 August, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who was in Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement called on Iran to release its political prisoners and human rights defenders. This rather exceptional appeal to release “opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and social activists,” was made in a speech to an Iranian diplomatic college last Thursday.  Ban stressed that allowing the Iranian people’s voice to be heard was especially important ahead of the country’s 2013 presidential election, when a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to be chosen. “Restricting freedom of expression and suppressing social activism will only set back development and plant the seeds of instability,” he added.  His comments went without official response from Tehran.

Syria: will al-Hassani finally be freed?

March 26, 2011

As you will know, on Wednesday 16 March a group of about 150 protestors – including relatives of the 21 political prisoners whose release the protest was designed to secure – gathered outside the Interior Ministry in Damascus to present a petition calling for the prisoners’ release. The 21 include MEA 2010 Laureate Muhannad al-Hassani, the president of the Syrian Human Rights Organization.

Forty of the protestors were seized and interrogated by the security services; several were detained on the usual charges of bringing the State is disrepute. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a news release, “Like many of the political prisoners whose release they were calling for, protestors appear to have been arrested simply for the peaceful expression of their views. The Syrian authorities must immediately release all those arrested in the last two days for merely attending peaceful protests, and stop these attacks on freedom of expression and assembly.”

Today- Saturday 26 March – it was reported that under pressure from the various on-going demonstrations, the Government would have decided to release 200 political prisoners. Is this true? Will al-Hassani finally be allowed to return to his family and his human rights work?