Front Line News Archive

UAE security agency engages in dirty tricks on Facebook posted on: 2011/08/20

Front Line would like to clarify that it has no any connection with the Facebook page that is called Lena Khalid which has the following URL:

facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002421722880

Front Line stresses the fact that the owner of this page is not authorized to represent or speak on behalf of our organization.

Front Line condemns the attempt by a male individual to impersonate the identity of a Front Line member of staff, by creating a false Facebook page with a female name "Lena Khalid" . This man has been trying to lure human rights defenders to talk with him, in order to publish fabricated statements that are against the government of UAE on his Web Site (www.emarati001.com).

Belarus: UPDATE - Human rights defender Ales Bialiatski accused of tax evasion and pre-trial detention extended posted on: 2011/08/18

On 12 August 2011, human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was officially accused of "tax evasion on a particularly large scale" under Article 243 (2) of the Belarusian Criminal Code, a crime which carries a prison sentence of up to seven years, and confiscation of all property. Following the official accusation, Ales Bialiatski's pre-trial detention period was extended by a further two months.

Further Information

On 11 August 2011, the Polish Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed that Ales Bialiatski's Polish bank account details had been disclosed to the Belarusian authorities by the Polish General Prosecutor's Office.

Human Rights Centre 'Viasna' along with other human rights organisations in Belarus launched a petition campaign calling for the release of Ales Bialiatski. A demonstration in support of Ales Bialiatski is scheduled to take place on 22 August 2011 in seventeen towns across Belarus.

Ales Bialitski was arrested on 4 August 2011, following the disclosure of his Lithuanian bank account details by the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice to the Belarusian authorities.

Vietnam: UPDATE – Human rights defender Pham Minh Hoang sentenced to three years imprisonmentposted on: 2011/08/17

On 10 August 2011, human rights defender Professor Pham Minh Hoang was sentenced to three years imprisonment by the Ho Chi Minh People's Court for violating Article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration”.

Further Information

Prof. Pham Minh Hoang was arrested on 13 August 2010 and was denied bail until his trial on 10 August 2011. It is believed that he was arrested and subsequently sentenced for belonging to Viet Tan, a pro-democracy group. Viet Tan is currently banned by the Vietnamese authorities. According to the information received, only Prof. Pham Minh Hoang's wife and his attorney were allowed in the court while his mother, siblings, and supporters were stopped at the gate and sent away. The trial started at 8.00am and concluded at 11.30am. Security officers in both uniform, and civilian clothing, were positioned on the streets outside the courthouse preventing people from gathering or passing by.

Prof. Pham Minh Hoang, a human right defender and environmentalist, has actively campaigned against bauxite mining in the Central Highlands region.

Azerbaijan: Update - Illegal demolition of the offices of three NGOs and destruction of their documents and equipmentposted on: 2011/08/16

On 10 August 2011, the building at 38, Shamsi Badalbeyli Street in Baku was demolished. The building houses the Institute of Peace and Democracy (IPD), the Azerbaijan Campaign for the Ban of Landmines, and the Women Crisis Center (WCC). The house was owned by Azerbaijan human rights defender Ms Leyla Yunus and her husband Mr Arif Yunus.

Further Information

On 10 August 2011 at approximately 8.30 pm, heavy machinery started the demolition of the building. Two activists were inside the building and they were reportedly only given five minutes to vacate the premises. In approximately 30 minutes, the builduing was demolished and all the documentation of the three human rights organisations as well as personal belongings of Leyla Yunus and her personal archives were destroyed.

It is reported that the demolition took place in the presence of a Mr Ismailov, representative of Baku municipality, and a Mr Gamborov, representatve of State committee dealing with property questions.

Colombia: UPDATE – Human rights defender Ariela Gelvis Quintero presents herself at the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia. posted on: 2011/08/12

On 29 July 2011 community leader and human rights defender Ms Ariela Gelvis Quintero presented herself before the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia in response to the publication of an Interpol list naming persons under investigation for alleged crimes including delinquency, rebellion, and terrorism.

Further Information

In a statement made prior to 'handing herself in' Ariela Gelvis Quintero declared “As you all know I have a warrant out against me, not only in Colombia, but in 187 other countries [Interpol's member countries]... This notice, for me, for my family, for my friends, for my colleagues and for everyone who knows me, is a vile lie, yet another injustice denigrating us by putting our names side by side with those of guerrilla groups, tainting our names, questioning our honour and furthermore putting at risk our physical integrity”. She is currently in detention in Arauca.

Read the original appeal

Belarus: A coalition of International NGOs concerned at the arrest of Ales Belyatskyposted on: 2011/08/11

Front Line Defenders and a coalition of international nongovernmental human rights organisations published an open letter to the Belarussian prosecutor Mr Kulik, expressing their concern about the arrest of Ales Belyatsky.

Dear Mr. Kulik,

We are a coalition of international nongovernmental human rights organizations that are deeply concerned about the August 4 arrest of Ales Belyatsky on allegations of largescale tax evasion, under article 243, part 2 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. We are writing to urge that Belyatsky be released from custody on his own recognizance pending the investigation against him.

Belyatsky is head of the human rights group Viasna and vice-president of the International Federation of Human Rights. His arrest appears to stem from the use of his personal bank account in Lithuania to support human rights work in Belarus. We note, though, that Belarusian authorities have refused to register on a national level all but one of the independent human rights organizations in the country.

China: Update - Human rights defender Ran Yunfei released, but placed under "residential surveillance"posted on: 2011/08/10

On 10 August 2011, human rights defender Mr Ran Yunfei was released from police custody following six months in detention. He has been placed under “residential surveillance”at his home in Chengdu, Sichuan Province for a further six-month period, during which time he will not be allowed leave the house or meet people without obtaining police permission.

Further Information

Ran Yunfei was detained in February 2011, along with a number of other human rights defenders in a widespread Government crackdown, in response to anonymous online calls for a “Jasmine Revolution” in China. On 25 March 2011, Ran Yunfei was charged with “inciting subversion of state power” however his case was later returned to the police by the prosecutors.

Ran Yunfei is a magazine editor and an active blogger, social critic and freedom of speech advocate, who has a large online following. For over a decade he has written about various social issues facing China and has promoted the application of the rule of law and democratic reform.

Bahrain: Update - Human rights defender Mohammed Al-Tajir releasedposted on: 2011/08/09

On 7 August 2011, human rights defender Mohammed Al-Tajir was released from prison, along with dozens of other political prisoners including two former members of Parliament.

Further Information

It is reported that prior to his release, Mohammed Al-Tajir was forced to sign an undertaking not to engage in any activities against the "country" and to make himself available when required for interrogation at any time in the future.

The charges brought against Mohammed Al Tajir have not been dropped and it not clear whether a travel ban has been imposed on him

Mohammed Al-Tajir is a prominent defence lawyer who has worked with more than 25 lawyers to defend human rights defenders and political activists held in incommunicado detention during the ongoing crackdown. He has been in prison since 15 April 2011.

Further information on case of Mohammed Al-Tajir

Vietnam: Update - Trial of human rights defender Pham Minh Hoang commencesposted on: 2011/08/09

On 10 August 2011, the trial of human rights defender Professor Pham Minh Hoang is due to commence before the Ho Chi Minh People's Court.

Further Information

Pham Min Hoang is being brought before the court under Section 79 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code which states that " [those] who carry out activities, establish or join organisations with intent to overthrow the people's administration shall be [...] sentenced to between twelve and twenty years of imprisonment or capital punishment".

Pham Minh Hoang has actively campaigned against bauxite mining in the Central Highlands region. He used the pseudonym, Phan Kien Quoc to blog extensively on the root causes of problems facing Vietnam. He was also involved in organising workshops on leadership skills for his students and sought to empower and encourage future leaders to make a difference in society.

For further information on this case, please refer to Previous Front Line Urgent Appeal

Washington: Human rights defender Floribert Chebeya Bahizire honoured posthumously with Democracy Service Medal by National Endowment for Democracyposted on: 2011/08/08

The National Endowment for Democracy honoured Floribert Chebeya Bahizire with its Democracy Service Medal in a ceremony Tuesday at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The medal presentation was an emotional end to a half-day conference, “Voices from the Congo: the Road Ahead,” co-organized by NED, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Eastern Congo Initiative.

Statement from National Endownment for Democracy

Floribert Chebeya, a longtime grantee of NED and a pillar of Congo’s civil society, was awarded the medal posthumously for his work as founder and president of Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), a leading Congolese human rights organization that works to defend and empower citizens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“To countless people in the D.R.C., as well as in other African countries, Floribert was a savior,” NED President Carl Gershman said at the ceremony.

Bahrain/Dublin: Professor Damian McCormack rebuts misrepresentation and inaccuracies in official statements and commentary in the Bahrain media re Irish delegation. posted on: 2011/08/04

Professor Damian McCormack, head of the recent Irish humanitarian delegation to Bahrain rebuts the misrepresentation and inaccuracies contained in recent official statements and commentary in the Bahrain media re the visit of the delegation. He also reiterates the delegation's concern at ongoing risk of torture and ill treatment of medics in custody.

Full Text of Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On 13 July 2011 an Irish humanitarian delegation travelled to Bahrain to offer solidarity to doctors, nurses and other health professionals currently held in prison or facing charges in Bahrain. The delegation consisted of myself Professor Damian Mc Cormack, Professor Eoin O'Brien, Ms Marion Hakin MEP, Ms Averil Power TD (member of the Irish Parliament) and Front Line representatives Deputy Director Andrew Anderson and Khalid Ibrahim.

In the course of the mission we heard repeated testimonies of torture and ill treatment, including the threat of sexual assault. One testimony stated:

“I was taken to a room blindfolded and handcuffed with my hands behind my back.

Guatemala: Prison sentence handed down by Guatemalan court for issuing threats against human rights defendersposted on: 2011/08/04

Front Line welcomes the news that a Guatemalan court has handed down a three-year prison sentence, commuted to a fine of 10 Quetzales per day over a three-year period, for the crime of issuing death threats against human rights defenders Ms Norma Angélica Cruz Cordova and Ms Gloria Ayala Pinto

Further Information

A court in Guatemala City has convicted Mr Marco Tulio Ayala Casasola for issuing death threats against Norma Angélica Cruz Cordova and Gloria Ayala Pinto on repeated occasions between 2009 and 2010. The Court was provided evidence, presented by the Unit for Crimes Committed against Human Rights Defenders, of the Guatemalan Attorney General's Office for Human Rights, which identified Marco Tulio Ayala Casasola as the author of the threatening calls.

Front Line believes that the aforementioned judicial sentence highlights the possibility of conducting successful investigations into crimes committed against human rights defenders, including those concerning threatening phone-calls and messages.

Bahrain: Jalila Salman and Rula Al-Saffar go on hunger strike in protest at ongoing torture and ill treatment in custodyposted on: 2011/08/03

Front Line is deeply concerned for the safety and well being of Mrs Jalila Salman, vice president of the Bahrain Teachers's Society and Mrs. Rula Al-Saffar Assistant Professor at the College of Health Sciences and the Head of Bahrain Nursing Society, following reports received to day that they have gone on hunger strike in protest at their continuing torture and ill treatment while in custody.

Further Information

There had been hopes that they would at least be released on trial pending the transfer of their trial to civilian courts to mark the start of Ramadan but so far there has been no improvement in their situation.

Jalila Salman Vice President of the Bahrain Teachers Association (BTA) is among several board members of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) arrested in Manama after the group called for a teachers’ strike amid wide-scale pro-reform protests in March.

Prisoners who had been held in custody with her and then released have spoken of how she was particularly targeted for torture and ill treatment.

China: Appeal of human rights defender Mr Qi Chonghuai rejected, eight-year prison sentence upheldposted on: 2011/08/03

On 26 July 2011, a court in Shandong Province rejected the appeal of human rights defender Mr Qi Chonghuai against an eight-year prison sentence on charges of extortion, blackmail, and embezzlement.Qi Chonghuai was convicted of these charges on 9 June 2011, and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Further Information

Qi Chonghuai has already served a four-year prison term on charges of extortion and blackmail, and was due to be released on 25 June 2011, however, shortly before this date, Qi Chonghuai was visited in prison by police officers who indicated that he would not be released.

Vietnam: Judicial harassment, police surveillance, and intimidation of human rights defender Mr Huynh Van Dongposted on: 2011/08/02

In a letter received by human rights defender Mr Huynh Van Dong on 22 July 2011, the Daklak Bar Association accuses him of violating the Vietnamese Lawyers' Code of Conduct because he provided legal representation to clients persecuted for being critical of the government.

Further Information

Huynh Van Dong is a human rights lawyer and a member of the Daklak Bar Association. He has been a practicing lawyer since 2003 and works primarily on cases concerning the protection of land rights and the right to freedom of expression.

On 22 July 2011, Huynh Van Dong received a letter from the Daklak Bar Association requesting that he present himself before the Association on 31 July 2011 in order to discuss his work, in particular for his representation of clients who are critical of the Government. The letter claims that through his work as a lawyer, Huynh Van Dong has violated the code of conduct applicable to lawyers, as well as damaged the interests of the Vietnamese Government.

Huynh Van Dong was informally told by an official at the Daklak Bar Association that the Association wanted to terminate his membership and advised him to find another job.