Tag Archives: Write for Rights Global Write-a-Thon

Freedom of expression and association for student leaders

Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon focused on two student leaders in Iran: Majid Tavakkoli and Behareh Hedayat. Amnesty reports that they have been imprisoned simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty notes:

Majid Tavakkoli was arrested and reportedly beaten, after speaking at a university rally in Tehran to mark National Student Day in December 2009.  Behareh Hedayat was arrested later that same month after a video recording of a speech she gave was widely circulated on the internet.

The letter asked for the immediate and unconditional release of Majid Tavakkoli and Behareh Hedayat. It further asked that they should receive access to adequate medical care, including assessment and treatment by an independent specialist outside of prison if necessary. Finally it reminded the Head of Iran’s judiciary of the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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Freedom of expression in Paupua province

English: Former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosev...

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Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon addressed the situation of Filep Karma, who was arrested in December 2004 for his participation in a peaceful flag-raising ceremony in Papua province of Indonesia. Karma is serving a 15-year sentence on charges of treason.  Amnesty International considers him to be prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

My letter asked Amir Syamsuddin, Indonesia’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights to release Filep Karma and to make a public commitment that there will be no further arrests of individuals purely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, assembly, or association.  It included a request that the Minister ensures that laws concerning “rebellion” (Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code) are not used against people who have engaged only in peaceful activities. The request was rooted in the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate referenda, independence, or other political solutions.

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On behalf of teachers

Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon  focused on teachers which comes close to my heart since my family contains a number of teachers over the generations.

Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, leaders of the Bahrain Teachers Association, appear to have been imprisoned because of the association’s calls for strikes during the protests earlier this year.

Amnesty International reports that authorities first arrested Jalila al-Salman on 29 March 2011, and reportedly ill-treated her in detention.   Mahdi Abu Dheeb was arrested on 6 April and reportedly suffered torture and solitary confinement.  Although civilians, the two teachers were tried before a military court, in breach of their right to a fair trial.  In September, Jalila al-Salman was sentenced to three years in prison, and Mahdi Abu Dheeb was sentenced to ten years.  Their appeal is to be heard by the High Criminal Court in December.

The request to the King asks for an investigation into the case and the allegations of torture and ill-treatment.  It asks that any who are found responsible for ill-treatment be held accountable. It further asks that if the investigation shows that Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi Abu Dheeb were arrested because of their leadership of the Bahrain Teachers Association and their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly,  should be immediately and unconditionally released, and all charges against them should be dropped.  The King is asked to ensure that their appeal hearing meets international standards and that any evidence obtained through torture or duress not be used against them.  The King is also asked to uarantee that they receive appropriate medical care and are protected from ill-treatment.

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For a Nobel Peace Prize recipient

Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon focused on Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who was given an 11-year prison sentence in December 2009 for calling for political and legal reform in China. The letter went to Premier Wen Jiabao of the People’s Republic of China.

Amnesty International notes that Liu Xiaobo’s imprisonment is a clear attempt to prevent him from carrying out his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities. Amnesty further notes that the detention, restriction, and harassment of peaceful human rights activists has increased in recent years, running counter to promises made by officials in China’s National Human Rights Action Plan 2009-2010.

My letter, guided by Amnesty, asked the Premier to release Liu Xiaobo immediately and unconditionally and to lift the surveillance and severe restrictions currently placed on his wife Liu Xia.  It called the Premier to see that Liu Xiaobo has access to his family and lawyers. It further addressed the systemic issue of the use of broad and vaguely defined charges to arbitrarily detain and prosecute activists, journalists and internet users.

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Charge and try – or release

Today’s letter in the Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon went to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. It included the broad request that detainees at Guantanamo and the detention facility at Bagram in Afghanistan should either be charged and tried in U.S. federal court or be released to countries where their human rights will be respected.

It specifically asked that the U.S. government either either charge and fairly try Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer in U.S. federal court, or release him to the United Kingdom (UK), as the UK government has requested.

Shaker Aamer, a former UK resident, has been held without charge at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 10 years.  The UK government has repeatedly requested that he be returned to the United Kingdom, where his wife and four children live.  February 2012 will mark the tenth anniversary of his detention without charge at Guantanamo.

Aamer may be guilty; he may be innocent. In either case, he has the right to be charged and tried. If the U.S. is not prepared to do that – after almost 10 years – he should be released.

Indefinite detention is a human rights violation.

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Sri Lanka – Ragihar Manoharan

Letter three in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon went last night to the President of Sri Lanka. It focused on  Ragihar Manoharan. Ragihar was one of five students killed by security forces in the city of Trincomalee on January 2, 2006. The letter asks the President to tell his family the truth about what happened to their son. Amnesty International reports that a commission of inquiry examined the killing of Ragihar Manoharan. My letter and the Amnesty International Campaign ask for the release of the commission’s report.

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Jean-Claude Roger Mbede – Cameroon

Letter two in Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon was written and sent today. Today’s letter went to the President of Cameroon on behalf of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede.

Amnesty International reports that Mr. Mbede is serving three years in prison on charges of homosexuality based on his perceived sexual orientation. My letter asks for his immediate and unconditional release. It further calls the President of Cameroon to ensure the safety of Mr. Mbede in prison. Finally it urges the President of Cameroon to work for the repeal of the section of the country’s Penal Code under which Mr. Mbede has been imprisoned.

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