Front Line News Archive

Brussels: Front Line's Mary Lawlor highlights protection of HRDs in speech to Public Hearing on Human Rights Defenders of European Parliament.posted on: 2011/01/10

Speaking at a public hearing on human rights defenders of the Human Rights Sub Committee of the European Parliament, Front Line Executive Director Mary Lawlor highlighted the need for "support to human rights defenders, as the silver thread of EU human rights policy". During her speech she highlighted the cases of imprisoned HRDs, Nasrin Soutoudeh in Iran and Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam in Sudan.

Further Information

Ms Lawlor highlighted the cases of Nasrin Soutoudeh and Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam as recent examples of human rights defenders who had been subjected to extreme penalties because of their legitimate human rights work.

Mauritania: UPDATE - Biram Dah Ould Abeid and five other anti-slavery activists sentencedposted on: 2011/01/07

Human rights defender Mr Biram Dah Ould Abeid and two other activists were sentenced to 12 months detention with 6 months suspended by the District court in Nouakchott on 6 January 2011. The judge found them guilty of assaulting police officers during a demonstration related to an alleged case of slavery. Three more human rights defenders were also standing trial and were condemned to a suspended sentence of six months.

The prosecutor asked three years detention for Biram Dah Ould Abeid and one year for the others, on the basis of assaulting police officers, illegal demonstration as well as running an unregistered association.

The six human rights defenders were arrested on 13 December 2010 and held in police custody following a demonstration in front of the police station related to an alleged case of slavery Biram Dah Ould Abeid was working on. Biram Dah Ould Abeid is the president of the Initiative de résurgence du mouvement abolitionniste en Mauritanie (Initiative for the resurgence of the abolitionist movement in Mauritania, IRA).

For further information see the original Front Line appeal of 15 December 2010.

Zimbabwe: 83 Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise removed from remandposted on: 2011/01/06

83 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who had been arrested while protesting peacefully on 20 September 2010, have been removed from remand out of custody in a routine hearing in Harare Magistrate's Court.

Further Information

Magistrate Macdonald Ndirowej granted an application for refusal of further remand which had been lodged by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in a Court hearing on 1 December 2010.

The application had initially been refused on condition that the prosecution had their case properly prepared on 29 December.

China: UPDATE-Human rights defender Mr Zhao Lianhai released on medical paroleposted on: 2011/01/05

Human rights defender Zhao Lianhai has reportedly been released from prison on medical parole and is currently receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.

Further Information

It is reported that in a statement posted on his personal blog, Zhao Lianhai agreed with the punishment handed down to him and did not want the issue to be discussed further. He also reportedly expressed his gratitude to and support for the government, and apologised for his earlier statements about the government.

Zhao Lianhai, whose son was one of at least 300,000 babies in China who became ill as a result of drinking deliberately contaminated milk from over 20 Chinese dairy producers, founded the website 'Home for the Kidney Stone Babies', an online space set up to collect and provide information for the parents of children who became ill after drinking contaminated milk.

China: Human rights defender and journalist Sun Hongjie dies following attack possibly linked to his exposure of corruptionposted on: 2011/01/05

Further to the news reported on 22 December 2010 regarding an attack on human rights defender and journalist Sun Hongjie in Xinjiang province,Front Line is deeply saddened to learn of Sun Hongjie's death on 28 December 2010 due to injuries sustained in the brutal assault.

Further Information

Sun Hongjie was a senior journalist with the Northern Xinjiang Morning Post who frequently reported on sensitive issues. He had recently written a story concerning the forced demolition of a dairy company's building to make space for houses for government officials. Police have denied that the assault was related to his work, although Sun's colleagues have expressed doubt about this explanation.

Previous Update on case of Sun Hongie

Western Sahara: UPDATE-Imprisoned human rights defender Mr Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza was transferred to the hospitalposted on: 2011/01/04

On 28 December 2010, human rights defender Mr Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza was transferred from his cell in Ayat-Melol prison in Agadir to the city hospital, following a serious deterioration in his health.

Further Information

Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza, aged 44 and father of three children,is a member of the Tan-Tan Branch of the Association Marocaine des Droits de l'Homme -- AMDH (Moroccan Association of Human Rights), and a member of the constitutive assembly of the Collectif des Défenseurs Sahraouis des Droits de l'Homme - CODESA (Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights defenders).He suffers from various illnesses including rheumatism, asthma, and anemia for which he has spent three months in hospital while in Enzkan prison

On 4 March 2008, Front Line issued an Urgent Appeal concerning the arrest of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Aaza on 29 February 2008 while working in his shop in Tan-Tan, South Morocco. It was believed that the arrest was related to peaceful pro-independence demonstrations that took place two days earlier in Tan-Tan.

Iran: Human rights defenders Ms Fatemeh Masjedi and Ms Maryam Bidgoli are in danger of being imprisoned in two daysposted on: 2010/12/30

In the morning of Wednesday, 29 December 2010, the Revolutionary Prosecution office called human rights defenders Ms Fatemeh Masjedi and Ms Maryam Bidgoli and informed them that they have only three days to introduce themselves to the prison administration in the city of Qom to serve a six months imprisonment sentence.

Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli, were arrested by security forces in the city of Qom on 7 May 2009 for gathering signatures to change discriminatory laws against women. They were released on bail after two weeks.

Following a court hearing on 4 August 2010, the two women were found guilty of “propagating against the [political] system” and were both subsequently sentenced to a year in prison. Their prison sentences were both reduced to six months following a ruling by a court of appeal in Qom province on 7 December 2010.

Fatemeh Masjedi and Maryam Bidgoli are members of the One Million Signature Campaign, a movement which aims to end discriminatory laws against women in Iran.

Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D. re Arrest of Sudanese human rights defender, Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam posted on: 2010/12/23

I am concerned to learn of the arrest yesterday of the Sudanese human rights defender, Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Chairperson of the Sudan Social Development Organisation and recipient in 2005 of the inaugural Front Line award for Human Rights Defenders.

Further Information

"I call on the Sudanese authorities to immediately release Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, whose detention appears to be in relation to charges on which he was previously acquitted. While Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is in detention I call on the Sudanese authorities to ensure that he is treated in accordance with international minimum standards on the treatment of prisoners. I also urge the Sudanese authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure that human rights defenders in Sudan, carrying out their legitimate work in the defence of human rights, are able to operate free from restriction".

The Gambia: UPDATE-Conviction of human rights defender Mr Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme upheldposted on: 2010/12/23

On 17 December 2010, human rights defender Mr Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme had his appeal dismissed by Justice Emmanuel E A Amadi of the Banjul High Court and his conviction upheld. On 6 September 2010, Mr Nebolisa Nwakaeme was tried and sentenced to six months in prison at the Banjul Magistrates' Court on charges of providing false information to a public officer in March 2010.

Further Information

The sentence imposed in September also required that Mr Nwakaema pay a fine of D10,000, however, during the appeal hearing, Justice Amadi reduced a fine to D500. The D500 fine was paid to the registrar of the High Court after the judgment was read by the appeal judge. Justice Anadi also informed the court that in order to renew the licence for the African Democracy for Good Governance, which had been revoked, a formal application would have to be presented before the court.

Edwin Nebolisa Nwakaeme is a Nigerian national living in the Gambia. He is a founding member of the human rights organisation Africa in Democracy and Good Governance (ADG), registered as a charitable organisation at the Attorney General's Chamber in 2006.

Kuwait: UPDATE-Sentence of human rights defender Mr Mohammed Abdulgader Al-Jassem reducedposted on: 2010/12/23

On 15 December 2010, human rights defender Mr Mohammed Abdulgader al-Jassem had his prison sentence reduced by a Kuwaiti appeal court from one-year to three months. Mr Al-Jassem was arrested on 22 November 2010, and is currently in prison serving his sentence, but plans to appeal the sentence at the Supreme Court in Kuwait.

Further Information

Mohammed Al-Jassem was charged with defaming the Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Shaikh Nasser Mohammed El-Ahmad Al-Sabah, in an article written one year ago on his blog Al Meezan: http://www.aljasem.org <http://www.aljasem.org/>. MohammedAl-Jassem is a Kuwaiti lawyer who has observed trials on behalf of human rights organisations. He is also a prominent writer and has authored books and articles on issues including political reforms, corruption and independence of the judiciary.

For further information on this appeal please refer to http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/13888

Sudan – Human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam imprisoned in latest clampdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists. posted on: 2010/12/22

Sudan – leading human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Chairperson of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) and winner of the 2005 Front Line Award imprisoned in latest clampdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists.

Further Information

Dr Mudawi had been summoned to the court in Khartoum on the morning of 22nd December 2010.

Dr Mudawi had previously been charged by the authorities with financial mismanagement but the prosecution was unable to bring any evidence against him and the judge acquitted him.

The Sudanese authorities ordered the same judge to make a new judgment on 22nd December. There was no new evidence presented and no judicial process but the judge announced that Dr Mudawi was now convicted and sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 3,000 Sudanese Pounds.

“Front Line considers that Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is being imprisoned arbitrarily, with not even the pretence of a fair legal process, because of his peaceful activities in defence of human rights in Sudan.

Sudan – Human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam imprisoned in latest clampdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists. posted on: 2010/12/22

Sudan – leading human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Chairperson of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) and winner of the 2005 Front Line Award imprisoned in latest clampdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists.

Further Information

Dr Mudawi had been summoned to the court in Khartoum on the morning of 22nd December 2010.

Dr Mudawi had previously been charged by the authorities with financial mismanagement but the prosecution was unable to bring any evidence against him and the judge acquitted him.

The Sudanese authorities ordered the same judge to make a new judgment on 22nd December. There was no new evidence presented and no judicial process but the judge announced that Dr Mudawi was now convicted and sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 3,000 Sudanese Pounds.

“Front Line considers that Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is being imprisoned arbitrarily, with not even the pretence of a fair legal process, because of his peaceful activities in defence of human rights in Sudan.

China: Human rights defender Sun Hongjie left brain-dead after assaultposted on: 2010/12/22

Front Line is saddened by a brutal assault on human rights defender and anti-corruption journalist Mr Sun Hongjie on 18 December in Kuitun, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Sun Hongjie is an investigative journalist with Northern Xinjiang Morning Post.

Further Information

At approximately 1 am on 18 December Sun Hongjie was returning home after meeting an acquaintance for a drink.

As the two walked home, the acquaintance turned on Sun Hongjie as five other men appeared and proceeded to attack him. They dragged him into a construction site where he was severely beaten and reportedly hit over the head with clumps of earth.

His mobile phone was also smashed. His wallet and other belongings remained untouched. A colleague brought Sun to a hospital, where he was later pronounced brain dead. Six men have been arrested.

Sun Hongjie has become well known in Kuitun for exposing corruption and abuse of power in his writing.

Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh's ends hunger strike due to deteriorating health - interrogators tell lawyer they control her trial outcomeposted on: 2010/12/21

According to reports received Nasrin Soutoudeh has ended her hunger strike due to her deteriorating health. During questioning she was told by her interrogators that they controlled the outcome of her trial and she would receive a sentence of at least 10 years even before the judge has made his decision.

Report from Iran

Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh's husband, discussed her latest situation during an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "She called me fifteen minutes ago and we talked. The news about her transfer to the prison infirmary was accurate. She told me today that her condition deteriorated on Wednesday and she had to be taken to the infirmary.

It seems her condition became very dangerous on Thursday, and she was forced to break her hunger strike".

"Ms. Sotoudeh told me the last time that her prison interrogators have told her 'we won't let the judge give you less than ten years in prison".

"I gave her the messages from all her friends, public figures, and activists, and this made her very happy and she thanked everyone. I also told her about the sit-in of women's rights activists in front of the UN.

Western Sahara – Human rights defenders Mr Ibrahim Beriaz and Mr Ali Salim Ablagh released while Mr Saeed Al-Wa’ban remains in detention, posted on: 2010/12/17

On 14 December 2010, human rights defenders Mr Ibrahim Beriaz, and Mr Ali Salim Ablagh were released from Bulmaharez prison, Marrakech, having served a two-year prison sentence. A third defender, Mr Saeed Al-Wa'ban remains in custody.

Further Information

The aforementioned defenders were reportedly arrested and brought to trial because of their role campaigning for the human rights of the Sahrawi people, including the right to self determination. In particular this included their participation in peaceful protests.

please see Front Line’s previous appeal on this case