Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Pressure on Venezuela to stop intimidation of human right defenders

February 15, 2014

A good example of the interaction of the work of international [human rights] organisations and local media is this piece from El Universal in Venezuela under the title: “Front Line Defenders reject intimidation of human right advocates”. It mentions:

  • Front Line Defenders called for prompt and unbiased investigation into the arbitrary detention and assault of human rights activist Inti Rodríguez and defamation of Humberto Prado, a representative of non-governmental organization Venezuelan Prison Watch .
  • The UN requests inquiry into involvement of armed gangs in violent events.
  • The European Union calls for peaceful dialogue in Venezuela
  • USA asks Maduro’s government to respect freedom of expression.

via Front Line Defenders reject intimidation of human right advocates – Daily News.

Angola rights groups denounce rising police violence but it continues

September 29, 2013

On 4 September human rights groups in Angola denounced an escalation in police brutality against civilians since the start of the year in the oil-rich nation. “In recent months we have seen high levels of police violence in Angola against peaceful protests, street vendors, journalists, activists and human rights defenders,” a group of 20 organisations said in a statement. The groups criticised the “inhumane and cruel” treatment of prison inmates, after a video showing police and firemen beating prisoners in the capital Luanda was widely circulated on social networks. The broad coalition of human rights, environmental and development organisations across the country collaborate under an umbrella organisation, the Working Group for the Monitoring of Human Rights in Angola. The country’s interior ministry has condemned the violence and launched an inquiry to find the culprits. Since the end of a civil war a decade ago Angola’s economy has grown fast, and the country is now Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria. But most of its citizens live in poverty, and civil society groups as well as international organisations regularly complain of police abuse. “Our political governance system was built on violence and the exclusion of the poor or those who are different. That is what we should attack,” said Elias Isaac from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

“The arrests and assaults on peaceful protesters and journalists are a heavy-handed attempt to silence people who have every right to express their views. Angola’s government should swiftly reverse course, free those wrongly jailed, and investigate the police officers responsible.” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch on 23 SeptemberOn September 19, 2013, police arrested 22 protesters who sought to demonstrate near Independence Square in Luanda and hand out leaflets calling for social justice. Two released that day were quoted in local media alleging that they were beaten and otherwise mistreated in custody. On September 20, three journalists who sought to interview some newly freed protesters were themselves arrested, threatened, and beaten by the police….The three journalists told Human Rights Watch that they were conducting the interviews on the street about three hundred meters away from the court when approximately forty heavily armed rapid intervention police officers arrived in five cars with sirens, including two armored vehicles. They arrested the three journalists, seven of the just-released protesters, and a businessman who had being filming the incident from a nearby office building. All were taken to a rapid intervention police command center where they were ill-treated and threatened. The mistreatment of the journalists was a clear attempt to intimidate the media, Human Rights Watch said.

Since 2011, inspired by popular uprisings in the Middle East, a small, peaceful movement of Angolan activist groups has sought to protest corruption, restrictions on free speech and other rights, and rising inequality in the oil-rich country. Angolan police and security agents have repeatedly disrupted peaceful protests organized by different groups, including youths and war veterans. Police regularly use unnecessary or excessive force and arbitrarily detain protesters. The state media have staged a campaign calling any antigovernment protest an attempt to “wage war.” In a country at peace for the first time in the last decade, such campaigns have raised fear among the population. Journalists and other observers who seek to document the protests and the government’s response have been regularly harassed, detained, and sometimes mistreated.

via Angola rights groups denounce rising police violence | GlobalPost and

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/09/23/angola-new-crackdown-peaceful-dissent

 

Knife attack targets migrants in Crete, Greece

August 16, 2013

The knife attack is just the latest in a spate of violent xenophobic and racist attacks in Greece.

The Greek authorities must act immediately to curb the growing spate of xenophobic and racist attacks Amnesty International said on 14 August 2013. It follows a brutal knife attack by a mob of around 20 men on two Pakistani migrants in Heraklion on the island of Crete Read the rest of this entry »

Macedonia: Threats and violent attack against LGBTI rights defenders in Macedonia (FYROM)

April 24, 2013

On 20 April 2013, human rights defenders from the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People ‘LGBT United’ and the Coalition for Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities were attacked by seven unknown persons in the city of Bitola, while putting up posters advocating for the human rights of LGBTI people and marching peacefully carrying a rainbow flag.

 

Rainbow flag (LGBT movement) LGBT (lesbian, ga...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The attack took place in front of the Diamond Hostel, in Bitola, down which the human rights defenders had just walked. They were first set upon by four unknown persons, who were later joined by three more. The human rights defenders were insulted, spat on and hit in the face and head. Their posters were taken, and when one of the human rights defenders took his phone to call for help, the phone was also taken and he was told he would be killed. The attack was reported to the police.

 

Since the attack took place, insulting messages and threats, including death threats, have been posted on LGBT United’s Facebook page, specifically directed at the LGBT United’s members who were attacked in Bitola. The threatening messages included the following: “if you are stupid enough to come to Bitola again … be sure that you will end up in a hospital with your bones broken, and some might end up in a graveyard”, “Kill and slaughter a fag” and “you deserve to die”. On 22 April 2013, photos portraying members of the LGBT United were posted on the Facebook page of the Macedonian Sports Fans group, along with further threatening messages.

 

Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - croppedis deeply concerned for the safety of human rights defenders affiliated with these organisations.

 

Citizens with mobile phones intend to keep Kenya’s election clean and peaceful

February 24, 2013

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Bukeni Waruzi – just back from a field trip to Kenya – posted an excellent piece on “Witness‘ blog on 23 February  under the title “Can Cell Phones Save Kenya’s Elections?. Here some excerpts:

The December 2007 elections were marred by unprecedented violence: killings, rapes, lootings, attacks on civilians, and massive displacement. Historically peaceful, Kenya devolved into violence that caught many unprepared—including human rights activists who were unable to use video to document the magnitude of what was happening.

Zimbabwe: Death threats against human rights defenders Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa

February 4, 2013

The pressure on human rights defenders in Zimbabwe is building in the run up to the referendum. Here is in short what happened to the leaders of two civil society organisations:

On 31 January 2013, approximately one hundred persons attended the community meeting organised by ZOYP (Zimbabwe Organization For Youth In Politics)  and CCDZ (Centre for Conflict Development in Zimbabwe) in the Mbizo Youth Centre in Kwekwe to discuss developments in the drafting of the country’s new Constitution, including the bill of rights, before the draft is put to a referendum. During the meeting, which had been sanctioned by local police under the Public Order and Security Act, an armed group of hundreds of youths, reportedly affiliated to the ruling party ZANU PF and who identify themselves as “Al Shabab”, violently disrupted the meeting and threatened the participants. [ The youths were reportedly transported to the venue by bus by ZANU PF Chairman of Mbizo, and were dressed in overalls with President Mugabe’s face at the back. The youths carried heavy sticks and sang ZANU PF slogans and songs about President Mugabe, stating that whoever tries to question the President “will die like a dog”.] Human rights newsletters, cameras and other materials were stolen. Police did not intervene to ensure the safety of participants, who fled the meeting in fear of their lives. Organisers of the meeting, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were targeted and threatened with death by the youths, who told them that their human rights activism was an attempt to “change the regime” and that the ZANU PF-led government will eliminate them if they continued to organise similar meetings in Kwekwe.

Following threats from the youths to follow them home and fearing for their safety, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa (heads of ZOYP and CCDZ respectively) went into hiding and have not been able to return to their regular activities. They subsequently submitted a complaint to police. To date, no investigation has been initiated by police.

On 2 February 2013, Mr Nkosilathi Moyo and Mr Jasper Maposa, were subjected to threats to drop the charges. Around 11am, Nkosilathi Moyo received a phone call from an unidentified number threatening him and Jasper Maposa to drop the charges at the police. Later in the same day, around 3pm, Jasper Maposa received another call from an unidentified number, renewing earlier threats and saying he was “fighting a losing battle.”

By the way, Al Shabab in early January 2013 has already stated that no civil society organisation or human rights defender would be allowed to operate in Kwekwe as they were “agents of regime change”. ZOYP has been subjected to previous acts of intimidation and harassment. One such example is a human rights defenders’ youth meeting, which was organised by ZOYP and held in Kwekwe Theatre on 16 November 2011. Although the meeting had been permitted by police, police and ZANU PF youths reportedly disrupted the meeting and presented ZOYP Director Nkosilathi Moyo with a trumped-up charge of defaming the state. Nkosilathi Moyo was subsequently sentenced to six months in prison. Furthermore, the offices of the organisation were raided in July 2011 and computers stolen. During the incident, Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa were beaten and went into hiding. On 11 July 2011, a meeting organised with former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray, and young human rights defenders in Kwekwe was violently disrupted by Al Shabab, with the US envoy and ZOYP members fleeing for their lives.

Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the threatening phone calls against Nkosilathi Moyo and Jasper Maposa and expresses grave concern at the failure of police to intervene and fulfil its duties to provide protection to the meeting’s participants.