Posts Tagged ‘political prisoners’

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.


Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: non-cooperation should not pay!

April 22, 2013

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s highly repressive policies are coming up for rare international scrutiny as from today (22 and 24 April 2013), Human Rights Watch said today. United Nations member countries gathering at the Human Rights Council in Geneva under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure should seize the opportunity to expose and denounce the ongoing repression in both countries and press for concrete steps to end abuses.HRW_logo

The governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan stand out as among the most repressive in the world, Human Rights Watch said. Both also stand out for their failure to heed recommendations made during their previous Human Rights Council reviews, in December 2008. “The extraordinarily high levels of repression in both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, coupled with their governments’ refusal to acknowledge problems, let alone to address them, underscores the need for a strong, unified message,” said Veronika Szente Goldston, Europe and Central Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

In submissions on Turkmenistan and on Uzbekistan Human Rights Watch highlighted key concerns with respect to both countries, and the steps needed to address them. One immediate step – and crucial if crime should not pay ! – is that both governments should be urged to end their longstanding denial of access for the UN’s own rights monitors. Ten UN rapporteurs have requested such access to Turkmenistan, while the number of UN rapporteurs barred from Uzbekistan has reached 11!  Cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC is another pressing issue [On April 12, the ICRC took the unusual step of announcing publicly its decision to end prison visits to detainees in Uzbekistan].

Other key concerns in Turkmenistan include: The government’s longstanding use of imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation and draconian restrictions on freedom of expression and association, which authorities enforce by threatening, harassing, or imprisoning those who dare to question its policies, however modestly. The severe repression of civil society activism makes it impossible for independent human rights defenders and journalists to work openly.

via Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan: Abuses in International Spotlight | Human Rights Watch.


Two prominent Saudi Human Rights Defenders heavily sentenced

March 12, 2013


Last Saturday, two distinguished human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to jail in Riyadh for establishing an unlicensed human rights organization. Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamad (or Hamid) established the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) in 2009. The organization’s mission is to promote human rights awareness within the Kingdom. ACPRA called for political representation of Saudi citizens and creation of laws to protect minorities. The organization also worked on documenting human rights abuses within the Kingdom. Despite multiple efforts to license ACPRA, the organization’s petitions were rejected and the group was eventually banned by Saudi authorities. The two men were sentenced to 10 and 11 years in prison on accusations including the rather illiberal sounding “breaking allegiance to the King”, “disseminating false information through foreign entities” and “forming an unlicensed organization“. This trial and the ensuing heavy sentence are clearly linked to them exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and association.

Web application on detained human rights Defenders in Uzbekistan

October 16, 2012

An “Insignificant State” called “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” or a highly repressive regime torturing human rights defenders?

Last October(2011), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) launched a new web application to bring attention to human rights defenders still incarcerated in horrific conditions in Uzbek prisons.

US Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain stated on 8 October 2011 “When they ask me who’s the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say, ’You know, I don’t know. Do you know?” Cain added that it was not a priority to know “the head of one of those small, insignificant states around the world”.

FIDH does want people to know. And to care.

At least 10 Uzbek human rights defenders remain in detention under appalling conditions ; several of them are members of FIDH member organisation, the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU).
Nevertheless, Uzbekistan has long been a key US partner, hosting US military bases servicing the Afghan military campaign. Moreover, in 2009 the EU dropped all 2005 sanctions imposed following the Andijan tragedy, despite there being no serious change in Uzbekistan’s human rights record.

On the rare occasions that the international community has sent strong messages on human rights issues these calls have been heard: on the eve of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s last visit to Uzbekistan in December 2010, one human rights defender, Farhad Mukhtarov was released. Again, on 14 October 2011, the member of the HRSU Norboy Kholjigitov was released on parole, after 6 years and 4 months in detention, in advance of Hillary Clinton’s visit to Tashkent on 23 October 2011. I should add that in 2008 the MEA laureate Mutabar Tadjibaeva was released after concerted pressure by EU, US and a large number of NGOs!

Must we wait another 10 years to release all the imprisoned human rights defenders?

Therefore I am repeating the FIDH’s application (in English and Russian) and spread the word about this situation by linking it to my blog. Do the same and go to

The application details the history of human rights defenders, their wrongful detention, and the general political background influencing their situation.


Uzbekistan : New web application on detained human rights … – FIDH.


Solitary confinement like a torture chamber for black revolutionaries in the USA

August 13, 2012

Bret Grote (an investigator with the Human Rights Coalition, a Pennsylvania-based prison abolitionist and prisoner rights organisation) and

Kanya D’Almeida (an editor for the Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, currently based in Colombo, Sri Lanka)

wrote an excellent article for Al-Jazeera on prison conditions in the USA and even more on the political and racial aspects.

It is not directly related to HRDs but touches on the important question of the severe treatment handed out to ‘jailhouse’ lawyers or those prisoners who take on the risky job of defending fellow inmates.

for the full piece see: Solitary confinement: Torture chambers for black revolutionaries – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.


Call for release of political prisoners in Iran for Norooz

March 18, 2012

Iranian activists have issued a statement urging the government to release political prisoners for Norooz, the Iranian New Year. Radio Zamaneh reports that 440 Iranian civic and political activists of various stripes have signed a statement demanding that the government at least allow political prisoners to spend the New Year with their families, on the first day of spring in March.

The statement condemns the harsh sentences handed recently to Nasrin Sotoudeh, Nargess Mohammadi and Abdolfattah Soltani, members of the Human Rights Defenders Centre, and it denounces the arrest of journalists, political activists and all prisoners of conscience.

via Iranian activists call for release of political prisoners for Norooz.