Monthly Archives: December 2017

Egypt/AI: Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Vivienne Westwood write open letters to demand end to human rights abuses

December 29, 2017

Celebrities and artists have written letters to support individuals around the world suffering human rights violations as part of Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign

Anish Kapoor, Vanessa Redgrave and Kaiser Chiefs join the thousands who are calling on the UK government to end the inhumane overuse of immigration detention

UK celebrities have joined more than one million people from around the world who have written letters calling on governments and authorities to end the detention or persecution of individuals, as part of Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign.

Amnesty’s annual campaign runs throughout November and December and encourages people to write messages in solidarity with a number of individuals whose basic human rights are being attacked. People being supported include those held unfairly in UK immigration detention, an Egyptian lawyer who is being persecuted by the authorities for defending survivors of rape and domestic abuse, and the family of a Bangladeshi blogger who was hacked to death for starting the country’s first LGBTIQ magazine.

Emma Thompson and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood have written messages to ask the Egyptian authorities to drop their unfair charges against Azza Soliman, an Egyptian woman working to defend victims of rape and abuse in her country.

Egypt: Stop Persecution Against Egyptian Lawyers!

December 30, 2017

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(Ludovic Trarieux Facebook)

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Cuba: Entre detenciones arbitrarias y desaparición forzada en Cuba


Lic. Laritza Diversent, Directora Ejecutiva Cubalex

Lía Villares fue detenida el 20 de diciembre de 2017 aproximadamente a las 5:00 pm y liberada a en la madrugada del 22. Efectivos de la Seguridad del Estado la llevaron a la estación policial ubicada entre las calles Zapata y C, en el Vedado y según las autoridades, fue trasladada a la estación policial del municipio Cotorro. Sin embargo, en este último centro de detención confirmaron a familiares y amigos, que la artista nunca llegó a ese lugarDurante 33 horas las autoridades policiales se negaron a dar información sobre su paradero.

Maria Cristina Labrada Varona fue detenida el 21 de diciembre de 2017 aproximadamente a las 11:00 am en el municipio Diez de Octubre, en la capital. Berta Soler, llamó al número de urgencias de la PNR y le informaron que estaba detenida en la Estación policial ubicada en Aguilera en el mismo municipio. Se comunicó vía telefónica con varias estaciones y en todas le negaron su presencia. Fue liberada el 22 de diciembre en horas del medio día.

El artista Luis Trápaga denunció la desaparición de Lia Villares en la estación policial del Cotorro. En la copia del documento de la denuncia, la policía consignó que Lia Villares se encontraba “ausente de su domicilio desde las 17:00 horas del 20/12/17 desconociéndose hasta ese momento su paradero”, a sabiendas de que había sido detenida por agentes del estado. La artista estuvo detenida todo el tiempo es esa estación policial. (ENGLISH)

(Lawyer Laritza Diversent, Executive Director of Cubalex Leah Villares, was arrested on December 20, 2017 at approximately 5:00 pm and released in the early hours of December 22. Security forces of the state took her to the police station between Zapata and C streets, and according to the authorities she was transferred to the police station of  the municipality.)

Egypt: Insist on justice for Alaa and Mahienour

December 26, 2017

The last time I saw Alaa Abd El Fattah was two years ago in court. The last time I saw Mahienour al-Massry was six weeks ago in court.

I do not know when I will see them again.

They are both in prison awaiting separate verdicts, scheduled for December 30. I struggle to remain hopeful, to steady the bile that churns in my stomach when I think of what might happen on that day, how their fates once again rest on the whim of some judge, how more time might be stolen from them, more days, months, years spent locked up in a cage, how we on the outside feel powerless to help them.

The last time I saw Mahienour al-Massry was much more recent, on November 8 inside the Supreme Court building, when Egypt’s highest appeals court ruled to uphold Alaa’s sentence in the Shura Council case. Mahienour had come with Alaa’s family and friends in support, as she always does.

I didn’t know at the time that she was on trial on charges related to a June 2017 protest in Alexandria against the government’s transfer of the Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia.

Mahienour rarely speaks about herself. Her boundless energy, her deep well of compassion, her unyielding courage, have always been channeled toward seeking justice for others, not herself. For that she has become a prime target of the police in Alexandria.

She has been arrested a dozen times and spent over 20 months in prison in two separate cases, most recently a year and three month stint in Damanhour Prison for staging a sit-in inside Raml Police Station with a group of her fellow lawyers after one of their colleagues was assaulted by the police. The conditions were miserable, with overcrowded cells that had no water for 20 hours a day.

Turkey: Report: The Persecution On Turkish Lawyers (18-26 December)

December 26, 2017


Lawyer Hakim Peker and Gurkan Istekli who were taken into custody on November 14, 2017, have not been either referred to court or been released yet. Under state of emergency rule, custody term can be extended up to 14 days.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter


Lawyer Yaprak Türkmen and intern lawyer Buket Yılmaz who are members of People’s Law Office and Progressive Lawyers Association that was shut down with an emergency decree, were arrested on 20 and 22 December. Thus the number of lawyers who have been raised since 15th July raised to 570. Presently, 19 lawyers of the People’s Law Office have been under arrest.

Report: The Persecution On Turkish Lawyers (18-26 December)

Egypt: Khaled Ali: Egypt’s unlikeliest challenger to strongman president

December 26, 2017

Ali is one of four candidates to declare intention to run against Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the figurehead for Egypt’s left

 Egyptian lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali.

Khaled Ali is an unassuming sort of revolutionary. Dressed in a tweed jacket, his formidable eyebrows arching over thick-rimmed glasses, he could be mistaken for a substitute teacher rather than a firebrand lawyer and hopeful presidential candidate in Egypt’s forthcoming election.

“I’m seen as a traitor funded from abroad,” he said, shrugging off the criticisms levelled at him by Egyptian media and pro-government figures.

Ali’s platform, a mix of welfare proposals including expanded health insurance and a minimum wage, is reminiscent of socialists who’ve broken into mainstream politics elsewhere, such as Bernie Sanders or even Jeremy Corbyn. Does he see himself in the same tradition? Ali gives his only interview response in English: “I am Khaled Ali.” Then he laughs.

Yet Ali might be the closest thing that Egypt has to David confronting Goliath. He is currently one of four potential candidates to declare their intention to run against Egypt’s strongman president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in the country’s presidential election due in spring 2018, but perhaps the only one with a chance of competing. (ARABIC) (DEUTSCH)


(حملة خالد علي لانتخابات الرئاسة 2018 Facebook)

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December 26, 2017: Egyptian presidential candidate Khaled Ali speaks during a press conference about the next Presidential elections in Egypt
( Mohamed El Raai – Anadolu Agency )

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China: Chinese Activist Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison for Shaming Officials

December 25, 2017

A Chinese human rights activist who went by the online name “Super Vulgar Butcher” and made public shaming of officials a raucous art form was sent to prison for eight years after a court declared him guilty of subversion on Tuesday after an earlier, secretive trial.

The activist, whose real name is Wu Gan, became renowned among rights advocates for helping organize boisterous protests outside courthouses and government offices to support plaintiffs and defendants who accused officials of abusing their power. Mr. Wu, easily recognized by his shaven head and goatee, relied on social media, a wide and fluid network of online supporters and abrasive mockery to spread his message.

The verdict underlined how under President Xi Jinping, determined activists like Mr. Wu, who once survived at the edges of official tolerance, have come under concerted attack from the police, prosecutors and courts, with the state news media often acting as a cheerleader.…/det…/2017/12/id/3139456.shtml‬ (CHINESE) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (ITALIANO) (ITALIANO) (ESPANOL) (DEUTSCH) (PORTUGUES) (PORTUGUES) (POLISH)

709 案迄今最重判刑
By far the heaviest sentence in the 709 Crackdown

2017年12月26日上午,吴淦颠覆國家政權案一審公開宣判,天津市第二中級人民法院 判犯颠覆國家政權罪成,判處有期徒刑八年,剝奪政治權利五年。

Wu Gan, activist and staff member of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, has been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for 5 years by the 2nd Tianjin Intermediate Court this morning, by far the heaviest sentence in the 709 Crackdown. We was detained in 2015 and was trialed in August this year for subversion of state power.

(ChinaHumanRightsLawyersConcernGroup/中國維權律師關注組 Facebook)

Our positions on the trials of #WuGan (#SuperVulgarButcher) and #XieYang. And the heavy sentence imposed on Wu Gan is deplorable.

China: Stop contemptible trials of human rights activists timed for Christmas holiday

Reacting to the news that human rights activist Wu Gan had his verdict and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on 26 December in Tianjin while human rights lawyer Xie Yang had his trial reconvened and was exempt from punishment in Changsha on the same day, Amnesty International’s China Researcher Patrick Poon said:

“It is disgraceful that the Chinese authorities have chosen the day after Christmas to deal with two of the remaining people left in legal limbo from the unprecedented July 2015 crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists. Carrying out unfair trials and politicized sentencing of human rights defenders at the very time when diplomats, journalists, international observers and the general public are less likely to be able to respond reeks of a cynical political calculation”.

“By trying to avoid scrutiny from the press and the international community, the Chinese government betrays the fact it knows well these sham trials cannot withstand scrutiny”.

“Both Wu Gan and Xie Yang should never have been detained for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

China has a history of engaging in politically-motivated actions against well-known activists during the Christmas holidays. Prominent Chinese dissident Hu Jia was detained on 27 December 2007. Liu Xiaobo, who would later win the Nobel Peace Prize but deceased in detention in 2017, was sentenced to 11 years on Christmas Day 2009 on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power”. Both the cases of Xie Yang and Wu Gan received considerable attention in China and abroad.


On 9 July 2015 the Chinese government launched an unprecedented crackdown on human rights lawyers and other activists. Over the following weeks, almost 250 lawyers and activists were questioned or detained by state security agents, and many of their offices and homes were raided. In addition, family members of those detained were also subjected to police surveillance, harassment and restriction of their freedom of movement.

Wu Gan has been detained since May 2015 while Xie Yang was detained in July 2015 and was released on bail after he admitted to the offences at a trial in May 2017.

Lawyer Xie Yang was exempt from punishment as his behaviours didn’t cause serious social harm and he admitted to the offences earlier


(Amnesty International researcher Patrick Kar-Wai Poon  Facebook)

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Ghana: Lawyer Sosu’s ban; read the full transcript of a meeting between him and GLC

December 24, 2017

Celebrated human rights lawyer, Francis-Xavier Sosu was baned June this year by the General Legal Council for finding the lawyer guilty of overcharging a client, touting and personal advertising.

At one of the meetings at the GLC, this is what transpired.


AY: Mr. Sosu, you were invited here by this committee because, I think early this year on Facebook, you appeared to have advertised yourself in such a way that we do not think as a lawyer it has to be done. Yes. How say you?

FX: Well, I would say that I never had the intention of doing so.

AY: You never had the intention of….

FX: …of doing so

SA: But by accident….it was by accident? Well, if it is not intentional, then it was accidental.

FX: My Lady, I thought I was only giving back information and didn’t know….

SA: For what purpose? Who? Who are you informing? Your client knows you had issued the writ or you had taken the step that he was hoping you would take on his behalf. After that, at that stage of matters, whose business is the rest, apart from you trying to do..working assiduously for your client?

AY: And also this is not a public sort of…

SO: ..interest..

AY: ..yes public interest …yes, it’s private. Somebody goes to court and says his fundamental human rights are…his privacy is being abused..then you go wayward.

USA: Prominent Philly Attorney Claims Court Officers Fractured His Shoulder After Slamming Him To Floor

December 19, 2017

“If it could happen to him, a white man in a suit and tie, in front of cameras, who among us is safe?”

Attorney Patricia Pierce asks that question while speaking about her client, 72-year-old Clifford Haines.

Back in August, she says that Haines, who is a prominent Philadelphia attorney, was meeting one of his clients inside of the Criminal Justice Center and had forgotten his bar card. That meant that he had to enter though the general security door and forfeit his phone into a locked pouch.

Earlier this year a new rule went into effect at the CJC that allows visitors to keep their phones with them but only after they have been locked into pouches by security so that they cannot be used.

“He realized that he left the phone on,” said Pierce.

When Haines approached a sheriff’s deputy to unlock the phone, Pierce says that her client felt that he was spoken to rudely and expressed his disappointment to a deputy.

That is where things took a strange turn. Surveillance video that caught the confrontation shows the deputy push Haines several times, as another shove approaches.

“Mr. Haines pushes his hand away and then everything breaks loose,” said Pierce. “Five guards jump on him. One of them gets him in a chokehold around his neck, pulls him onto the belt. They then throw him down to the ground.”

When Haines was taken to the ground, Pierce says that her client’s shoulder was both dislocated and broken.

Prominent Philly Attorney Claims Court Officers Fractured His Shoulder After Slamming Him To Floor (FRANCAIS)

Turkey: Lawyer Yaprak Türkmen Arrested

December 21, 2017


On 20 December 2017, lawyer Yaprak Türkmen from the People’s Law Office was arrested after being detained during a raid on the office by Turkish Anti-Terror police on 18 December 2017.

On 18 December 2017, Yaprak Türkmen was taken into custody in connection with a pre-existing case against a number of lawyers from the People’s Law Office who stand accused of “membership of a terrorist organisation”, namely the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party (DHKP-C), a recognised terrorist organisation in Turkey. On 20 December 2017, she was brought to the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office to give her testimony, but instead of being made to do so, she was sent to the Istanbul 12nd Criminal Judgeship of Peace. After an interrogation by the Judge, she was falsely accused of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” (the DHKP-C) and was arrested.

This is not the first time that human rights lawyers have been targeted for the legitimate exercise of their profession under the State of Emergency currently imposed in Turkey. Recently, a number of human rights lawyers have been detained and accused of ties with terrorist groups, in what is believed to be an attempt to stifle the peaceful exercise of their profession.

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the arrest of Yaprak Türkmen along with the charges against her as it is believed that they are solely due to her peaceful and legitimate work as a human rights lawyer. (TURKCE)