Front Line News Archive

Western Sahara: UPDATE - Human rights defenders Ali Salem Tamek, Brahim Dahane and Ahmad Anasiri released posted on: 2011/04/15

Front Line welcomes the release (albeit on bail) of three human rights defenders from Western Sahara on 14 April 2011. They are Ali Salem Tamek, first Vice-President of the Sahrawi Collective of Human Rights Defenders (CODESA); Brahim Dahane, President of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights (ASVDH); Ahmad Anasiri, General Secretary of the Sahrawi Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Smara.

Further Information

The three defenders were arrested along with four others on 8 October 2009 and have been detained since that date. The defenders have undertaken eight hunger strikes in protest against their detention and alleged deprivation of their right to a fair trial. Three of the defenders had intended to start a ninth hunger strike on 14 April.

India: UPDATE - Dr Binayak Sen has been released on bail.posted on: 2011/04/15

On Friday 15 April 2011 Dr Binayak Sen was granted bail by the Indian Supreme Court who found that the evidence on record proves that there is no sedition case against the human rights defender. Dr Binayak Sen is the General Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) regional office in the state of Chhattisgarh, as well as the Vice-President of the PUCL at a national level. On 24 December 2010, Dr Binayak Sen had been sentenced to life imprisonment by Raipur Additional District and Sessions Court.

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The PUCL, which was founded in 1976, is a non-governmental, non-political organisation dedicated to the defence of civil liberties and human rights. In recent decades, Dr Binayak Sen has been involved in training people living in rural villages with regard to community health and disease prevention.

In 2004, he was awarded the Paul Harrison Award by the Christian Medical College in Vellore. Dr Binayak Sen has also campaigned to raise awareness with regard to human rights violations committed by allegedly state-sponsored Salwa Judum militias.

Burundi: Joint statement by non-governmental organisations on the second anniversary of the assassination of Ernest Manirumvaposted on: 2011/04/12

When will the truth be revealed about the assassination of Ernest MANIRUMVA? Two years after the assassination of Ernest Manirumva, former Vice-President of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory (OLUCOME), the Burundian justice system is struggling to shed light on this crime and investigations remain incomplete.

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To mark this occasion a coalition of NGOs have issued a joint statement to highlight their concern at the lack of progress on this and:

1. Express concern at the slowness of the Burundian justice system in handling the case of the assassination of Ernest Manirumva. After the trial opened at the Bujumbura Appeals Court on 14 July 2010 and the first hearing was adjourned one month later, it has taken a further four months to issue summonses for all the accused persons. Similarly, more than two months after the Bujumbura Appeals Court ruled that the case should be transferred to the Intermediate Court of Bujumbura, some of the accused, notably those with no fixed address, have still not been issued with a summons and the date for the next hearing has not been set.

2.

Bahrain: UPDATE - Latest information on the situation of human rights defenders in Bahrainposted on: 2011/04/08

Further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 6 April 2011, Front Line has received the following new information concerning human rights defenders in Bahrain:

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On 7 April 2011, human rights defender and blogger Mr Mohammed Al-Maskati was released, having spent one week in detention. It is not yet known whether any charges have been brought against him.

However, the authorities' crackdown on teachers and medical workers associations has continued. On 5 April 2011, Mr Mahdi Abu Deeb, President of the Bahraini Teacher's Association was arrested. He is reportedly being investigated for "incitement of hatred of the political regime" and "advocating regime change through the use of force".

China: Disabled housing rights activist and human rights defender Ni Yulan and husband Dong Jiqin disappear into police custodyposted on: 2011/04/08

Veteran human rights defender Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin are the latest victims of the Chinese government's severe crackdown on human rights defenders.

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Ms Ni and Mr Dong were taken into police custody in the early hours of Thursday morning (7 April) from their small room in the Yu Xin Gong Hotel, Beijing, where they have been forced to stay for most of the last year since police demolished their home in 2008. The couple's daughter, Dong Beibei, was questioned by the police for two hours before being released. Despite numerous requests, Ms Dong was given no information regarding the whereabouts of her parents or why they are being held.

This is the latest step in a sustained and increasingly spiteful campaign by police in Beijing's Xicheng District against Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin. Previous to this disappearance, police had forced the management of the Yu Xin Gong Hotel to cut off the electricity and water supply to their room.

Cambodia: Joint statement calls for withdrawal flawed Draft NGO and Association Lawposted on: 2011/04/07

(Bangkok, April 7, 2011) – Cambodia’s draft law regulating associations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) should be abandoned because it will undermine rather than promote civil society in the country, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Forum-Asia, Global Witness, Southeast Asia Press Alliance, Front Line Defenders,FIDH and OMCT within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said today.

Cambodia: Withdraw Flawed Draft NGO and Association Law Revised Draft Does Not Address Rights Concerns

For Immediate Release

(Bangkok, April 7, 2011) – Cambodia’s draft law regulating associations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) should be abandoned because it will undermine rather than promote civil society in the country, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Forum-Asia, Global Witness, Southeast Asia Press Alliance, Frontline Defenders, and FIDH and OMCT within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said today.

Vietnam: UPDATE - Human rights defender Professor Pham Minh Hoang remains in detention without having been brought to trialposted on: 2011/04/06

Almost eight months since his initial arrest, human rights defender Professor Pham Minh Hoang remains in detention without having been brought to trial. Furthermore, Phan Minh Hoang's lawyer has yet to be granted access to his file.

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Pham Minh Hoang is a lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City Polytechnic Institute and an anti-mining activist. He faces charges of “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration” under Article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, an offence which carries the death penalty as a maximum sentence.He was arrested in Saigon on 13 August 2010 on suspicion of belonging to an outlawed organisation. The authorities did not acknowledge his arrest until 9 September, after almost one month of incommunicado detention in an unknown location.

Front Line believes that the ongoing detention of Phan Minh Hoang is directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.

Kyrgyzstan: UPDATE - Upcoming final hearing in the Supreme Court Appeal of human rights defender Mr Azimjan Askarovposted on: 2011/04/06

Further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 24 January 2011 and subsequent updates, Front Line has received the following new information concerning the ongoing Supreme Court appeal of human rights defender Mr Azimjan Askarov:

The final hearing in Azimjan Askarov's Supreme Court Appeal against his sentence of life imprisonment is due to be held on 12 April 2011. It is believed that this hearing may be the last chance to have Azimjan Askarov's innocence vindicated.

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Azimjan Askarov was accused of complicity in the murder of a Kyrgyz policeman during the ethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010. He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on 15 September 2010, following a trial which lacked almost any semblance of fair trial guarantees in accordance with Kyrgyz or international standards. His sentence was later confirmed on initial appeal.

Syria: UPDATE - Latest information on the situation of human rights defenders in Syriaposted on: 2011/04/05

Front Line has received new information on the release of human rights defenders and other ongoing detentions.

Further Information

Further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 18 March 2011 and subsequent updates, Front Line has received information that on 3 April 2011, human rights defender Ms Suhair Al-Atassi was released from detention on bail by the Damascus Alternate Investigating Judge. All other detained human rights defenders, with the exception of Suhair Al-Atassi and Mr Kamal Sheikho, had previously been released on bail by the First Investigating Judge of Damascus on 31 March 2011. However, human rights defender Kamal Sheikho remains in detention.

Previous Front Line item on this case and Further update on this case

Secondly, further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 22 March 2010, Front Line has received information that on 23 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Anwar Al-Bunni reportedly ended his hunger strike in detention, having been urged to do so due to a severe deterioration in his health. Previous Front Line Appeal on behalf of Anwar Al-Bunni

Dublin: Front Line launches second Annual Report which analyses the global situation for human rights defendersposted on: 2011/04/04

On 25 March 2011, Front Line launched its second Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders which highlights global trends and developments in the situation of human rights defenders in 2010 and analyses the situation in each region of the world.

The Report highlights the fact that despite some positive developments and the wave of uprising sweeping across the Middle East at year end, overall 2010 was not a good year for human rights defenders who continued to face harassment and repression in many countries.

Kyrgyzstan: Civic activists seek EU support for parliamentary democracyposted on: 2011/04/04

Civil society representatives visiting Brussels from Kyrgyzstan have called for the European Union to support Kyrgyzstan in its bid to become Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy.

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The group highlighted continuing challenges which the Government needs to address with the assistance of the international community, namely access to justice and fair trial, for all Kyrgyz citizens, including ethnic Uzbeks accused of participation in June’s inter-ethnic violence in Southern Kyrgyzstan.

The representatives called on the Kyrgyz authorities to pursue a policy of inter ethnic reconciliation at a time when nationalist sentiments are rising and an international report into the June violence by the Kiljunen Commission is set to be released.

Bahrain: UPDATE - Human rights defender Mr Mahmood Al-Yousif releasedposted on: 2011/04/01

On the night of 31 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Mahmood Al-Yousif was released from detention following a brief investigation. No charges were brought against him.

Further Information

Further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 31 March 2011, Front Line has received the following new information concerning human rights defender Mr Mahmood Al-Yousif

On the night of 31 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Mahmood Al-Yousif was released from detention following a brief investigation.

Syria: Front Line joins call by international civil society organisations for immediate implementation of reforms posted on: 2011/03/29

March 28, 2011

Over the past 12 days, peaceful protests in Syria have been faced with violence. The blood of too many people was spilled and others were arrested and beaten by security forces. As long as this violence goes on, the Syrian government’s legitimacy will diminish by the day both in the eyes of the Syrian people as in the eyes of the international community.

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The commitments to reform made by the Syrian Government are welcome and necessary. Until now, although some call for regime change, a majority of Syrians apparently wants to give president Bashar al-Assad a chance to reform. Hence it prefers a calm but meaningful transition from within over a sudden and radical revolution with the risk of violent escalation. However, the opportunity to reform will soon evaporate when the Syrian government continues to shed the blood of peaceful protesters. The president will lose his legitimacy and his chance to initiate reforms.

Syria: Update - Human rights defenders Ms Sereen Khoury and Mr Mazen Darwich releasedposted on: 2011/03/28

On 24 March 2011, human rights defender Mr Mazen Darwich, head of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, was released from detention. He had been summoned for questioning at the Political Police Headquarters in Almaysat, Damascus at approximately 11.00 on 23 March 2011. Mazen Darwich had also been subjected to questioning on the evening of 22 March 2011 and was among the peaceful protesters arrested and detained for several hours on 16 March 2011.

Further Information

Furthermore, human rights defender Ms Sereen Khouri, who had also been arrested during the breakup of protests on 16 March 2011, was released on bail on 23 March 2011 following issuance of a release order by the First Investigating Judge in Damascus. However, human rights defenders Ms Suhair al Atassi and Mr Kamal Sheiko remain in detention. The three human rights defenders face charges of, inter alia, "fomenting racial and sectarian strife", and "harming the integrity of the state".

Front Line reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Suhair al Atassi and Kamal Sheikho, and for all charges against them, as well as Sereen Khouri, to be dropped.

Syria: UPDATE - New information re arrests of human rights defenders taking part in peaceful demonstration on 16 Marchposted on: 2011/03/21

Further to the Front Line Urgent Appeal dated 18 March 2011, Front Line has received the following new information in relation to the various human rights defenders arrested while protesting peacefully on 16 March 2011.

Further Information

Of the numerous activists and human rights defenders arrested on 16 March 2011 while attending a peaceful protest demanding the release of prisoners of conscience, five were released later the same day.