Tag Archives: Human Rights Watch

China: Human Rights Watch WORLD REPORT 2019

January 17, 2019

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President Xi Jinping, born in 1953, has indicated his intent to rule indefinitely after China’s legislature amended the constitution in March 2018 to scrap term limits for the presidency. This move was also emblematic of the increasing repression under Xi’s rule.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also strengthened its power over the government bureaucracy in a major overhaul of central government structure in March. The party oversees a powerful new government body, the National Supervisory Commission, which is empowered to detain incommunicado anyone exercising public authority for up to six months without fair trial procedures in a system called “liuzhi.”

Human rights defenders continue to endure arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and enforced disappearance. The government maintains tight control over the internet, mass media, and academia. Authorities stepped up their persecution of religious communities, including prohibitions on Islam in Xinjiang, suppression of Christians in Henan province, and increasing scrutiny of Hui Muslims in Ningxia.

Human Rights Defenders

The case of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is emblematic of authorities’ ruthlessness toward human rights defenders and those activists’ fortitude. Beijing police detained Wang amid a national crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists in August 2015; while detained he was reportedly tortured with electric shocks and forced to take medications. In July, Wang was finally allowed to meet his lawyer for the first time. Charged with “subversion of state power,” he could face life imprisonment if convicted. During Wang’s detention, Li Wenzu, his wife, along with families of other lawyers and activists detained during the crackdown, have campaigned relentlessly for his release despite having to endure incessant intimidation and harassment.

Authorities continued politically motivated prosecutions and disbarments of human rights lawyers. In January, police detained lawyer Yu Wensheng, charging him with “inciting subversion of state power” and “obstructing public duties.” Judicial authorities revoked or suspended the licenses of over a dozen human rights lawyers, and even some who retain licenses have been unable to find work due to police pressure on employers.

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/china-and-tibet

https://www.hrw.org/zh-hans/world-report/2019/country-chapters/326274 (CHINESE)

https://www.hrw.org/fr/world-report/2019/country-chapters/326297 (FRANCAIS)

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Turkey: Human Rights Watch WORLD REPORT 2019

January 17, 2019

World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance

Parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey in June 2018 saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan re-elected president and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) retain control of parliament through a coalition.

The June 2018 election campaign took place under a state of emergency imposed after the July 2016 attempted military coup and in a climate of media censorship and repression of perceived government enemies and critics that persisted throughout the year, with many journalists as well as parliamentarians and the presidential candidate from the pro-Kurdish opposition in jail.

The election brought into force the presidential system of governance agreed in a 2017 referendum. The system lacks sufficient checks and balances against abuse of executive power, greatly diminishes the powers of parliament and consolidates presidential control over most judicial appointments.

In January 2018, Turkey launched a military offensive on the northwest Syrian Kurdish-populated district of Afrin and at time of writing continued to control the territory (see Syria chapter for further information).

State of Emergency and After

The two-year state of emergency formally lapsed in July but was replaced with new counterterrorism legislation, approved by parliament in August. The legislation contains many measures similar to the extraordinary powers the authorities enjoyed under emergency rule. They include widening already broad powers of appointed provincial governors to restrict assemblies and movement; executive authority for three years to dismiss public officials, including judges, by administrative decision; and increased police powers including custody periods extendable for up to 12 days.

Human Rights Defenders

After more than 13 months behind bars, in August an Izmir court released Amnesty International Turkey’s honorary chair Taner Kılıç from prison. He remains on trial on bogus terrorism membership charges, together with eight other prominent defenders from Turkey and two foreign nationals working on human rights arrested in July 2017 and later bailed.

Human rights lawyers are among over 1,500 lawyers on trial on terrorism charges at time of writing. Their cases underscore the dramatic erosion of defendants’ rights and due process in Turkey. In September, an Istanbul court released on bail 17 lawyers who had spent up to a year in pretrial detention for membership of an armed leftist group, but reversed its own decision a day later, ordering the rearrest of 12 of them. At time of writing their case was ongoing.

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/turkey

http://www.aeud.org/2019/01/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-turkey/?fbclid=IwAR0iTcyfi9XmRP1sZBnuKUaV1lOpKAeQq6FUjBg9-3w2GS06t-_vdTF2Hk0#.XECbzh7laPo.facebook

basic-report_turkey2019

https://eldh.eu/en/2018/11/22/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-2019/

Updated Report: Incarceration of Turkish Lawyers | Unjust Arrests and Convictions (2016-2018)

https://www.hrw.org/tr/world-report/2019/country-chapters/325436 (TURKCE)

#DayoftheEndangeredLawyer

Iran: Unrelenting Repression

January 17, 2019

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017.

Iranian authorities carried out arbitrary mass arrests and serious due process violations during 2018 in response to protests across the country over deteriorating economic conditions, perceptions of corruption, and the lack of political and social freedoms, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2019. Authorities tightened their grip on peaceful activism, detaining lawyers, human rights defenders, and women’s rights activists.

Since January 24, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Organization has detained eight environment activists – Taher Ghadirian, Niloufar Bayani, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Houman Jokar, Sam Rajabi, Sepideh Kashani, Morad Tahbaz, and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh – accusing them – but providing no evidence – of using environmental projects as a cover to collect classified strategic information. Four are reportedly facing a capital charge. On February 10, the family of Kavous Seyed Emami, a well-known Iranian-Canadian environmentalist and professor reported that he had died in detention. Authorities claimed he committed suicide, but they have not conducted an impartial investigation.

“Iranian leaders blame the world for their problems, but don’t look in the mirror to reflect on how their own systematic repression contributes to Iranians’ frustration,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Iran’s security apparatus and its repressive, unaccountable judiciary are serious obstacles to respect for and protection of human rights.”

In the 674-page World Report 2019, its 29th edition, Human Rights Watch reviewed human rights practices in more than 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the populists spreading hatred and intolerance in many countries are spawning a resistance. New alliances of rights-respecting governments, often prompted and joined by civic groups and the public, are raising the cost of autocratic excess. Their successes illustrate the possibility of defending human rights – indeed, the responsibility to do so – even in darker times.

The authorities arrested thousands of people in protests, and in unfair trials marred by due process violations handed down harsh sentences, including for the legitimate exercise of people’s freedoms. To further restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel, particularly during the investigation period, the judiciary has limited the list of lawyers who could represent people charged with national security crimes.

In December 2017 and January 2018, several women took their headscarves off while standing on electric utility boxes across the country to protest Iran’s compulsory hijab law. Courts have sentenced several of them to prison. Intelligence agents have also cracked down on peaceful protests against the abusive hijab laws. They arrested Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, her husband, Reza Khandan, and Farhard Meysami, another human rights defender.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/17/iran-unrelenting-repression

https://iran-hrm.com/index.php/2019/01/17/jailed-human-rights-lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-held-incommunicado/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/16/iranian-prisoners-hunger-strike-plea-basic-rights

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasrin_Sotoudeh

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/01/17/iran-une-repression-implacable (FRANCAIS)

https://www.hrw.org/ar/news/2019/01/17/325879 (ARABIC)

https://www.hrw.org/es/news/2019/01/17/iran-la-implacable-represion (ESPANOL)

#FreeNasrin

Image may contain: Reza Khandan, text

The Philippines: Crackdown Against Critics Intensifies

January 17, 2019

Activists hold a candle light vigil for victims of the extra judicial killings in the drug war of the government in front of a church in Manila on September 16, 2016

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration heightened its repression in 2018, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2019.

The government’s murderous “war on drugs” expanded to cities outside Manila. Attacks escalated against activists, journalists, and critics of the government. Donor governments should intensify pressure on Duterte to end targeted killings and to drop politically motivated criminal cases.

“President Duterte has used the killing of thousands of largely poor drug suspects as a tool to bolster his popularity,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “He’s also targeting anyone who might undermine that popularity, from outspoken senators to journalists documenting his abuses.”

In the 674-page World Report 2019, its 29thedition, Human Rights Watch reviewed human rights practices in more than 100 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth says that the populists spreading hatred and intolerance in many countries are spawning a resistance. New alliances of rights-respecting governments, often prompted and joined by civic groups and the public, are raising the cost of autocratic excess. Their successes illustrate the possibility of defending human rights – indeed, the responsibility to do so – even in darker times.

The government vilified activist groups, calling them communists, and terrorists. In March, the foreign affairs secretary accused human rights groups of being “unwitting tools” of drug syndicates. In November, gunmen killed a rights lawyer, Benjamin Ramos, in Negros Occidental. Ramos represented the families of victims of a recent massacre of peasants in the province. There were violent attacks against human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, environmentalists, indigenous group members, peasants, and farmers.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/17/philippines-crackdown-against-critics-intensifies

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/philippines-killing-of-human-rights-lawyer-benjamin-ramos

http://bulatlat.com/main/2018/12/30/resistance-unity-and-hope-a-look-back-at-the-year-2018/

https://www.hrw.org/fr/news/2019/01/17/rapport-mondial-2019-resistance-aux-attaques-des-autocrates-contre-les-droits (FRANCAIS)

Crimea/Russia/Ukraine: Russian Authorities Increase Pressure on Crimean Human Rights Lawyer

January 14, 2019

Justice Ministry Calls for Emil Kurbedinov’s Expulsion from Bar Association

 

Few human rights lawyers are brave enough to work in Crimea these days. A recent letter from Russia’s Ministry of Justice to Crimean defense lawyer Emil Kurbedinov threatening his profession is yet another stark reminder that Russian authorities intend to keep it that way.

Last month, Kurbedinov was arrested on charges of “public distribution of extremist materials” and sentenced to five days in jail for a 2013 social media post about a meeting in Crimea of supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist political movement opposed to violence. Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Russia as a terrorist organization but operates legally in Ukraine. Kurbedinov had previously spent ten days in jail in 2017 after the court sentenced him on the same charges and for the very same post, but made on a different social media site.

Shortly after his release on December 25, Russia’s Justice Ministry sent Kurbedinov and the Crimean Bar Association letters requesting that Kurbedinov be expelled from the bar association by March 1 because of alleged involvement in “extremist activities.”

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/14/russian-authorities-increase-pressure-crimean-human-rights-lawyer

https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinion/op-ed/halya-coynash-russia-launches-dangerous-attack-on-lawyers-in-crimea.html

https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/112-ua-russia-search-houses-of-crimean-tatars-on-occupied-peninsula.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-justice-ministry-calls-for-brave-crimean-lawyer-s-expulsion-from-bar-association/29708692.html

https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/rfe-rl-russian-justice-ministry-calls-for-brave-crimean-lawyers-expulsion-from-bar-association.html

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/russia/2019/01/d25201/

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/russia-imminent-disbarment-of-emil-kurbedinov?fbclid=IwAR0GtoVbcF0bzXljxjv5u3GLFPSAuicOsUTVZEmYC7AKNNNRixgf6wklCYs

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/17/russia-bleak-year-human-rights

http://old.qha.com.ua/tr/toplum/hak-savunuculardan-uluslararasi-topluma-kurbedinov-cagrisi/176069/ (TURKCE)

Sudan: Lawyers picket South Darfur court complex

January 10, 2019

Lawyers protest in Nyala yesterday

More than 100 lawyers held a protest in front of the headquarters of the Courts Complex in Nyala, capital of South Darfur on Wednesday, in solidarity with the Sudanese revolt demanding the immediate step-down of Al Bashir and his regime.

The protesters raised slogans saying: “no to killing protesters, the killers must be held accountable”, and “peaceful, peaceful”.

Security officers arrested a number of lawyers after the protest, including Adam Sharif and Abbas Bashir.

Before his arrest, Sharif told Radio Dabanga from the sit-in in Nyala that the demonstration organised by the Alliance of Democratic Lawyers in South Darfur is “in solidarity with the Sudanese people, as lawyers are the vanguard of their duty to uphold their rights and freedoms”.

The Alliance of Democratic Lawyers in South Darfur appealed to the Sudanese people to uphold their democratic right to peaceful demonstrations and come out to demand a better life in the framework of a democratic alternative that achieves justice, freedom and equality for all Sudanese.

https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/lawyers-picket-south-darfur-court-complex

https://www.africa-news.info/news/sudan-countries/2019/01/11/sudan-lawyers-picket-south-darfur-court-complex/

https://www.southsudan.biz/lawyers-picket-south-darfur-court-complex/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/10/bloody-day-protest-sudan

http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article66891

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2019/01/12/sudans-genocidal-regime-is-under-siege

https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2019/01/one-dead-after-sudan-protest-as-crowds-cheer-bashir-at-rival-rally/

https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-opposition-call-for-more-protests-to-shake-the-tyrant-s-throne

https://www.france24.com/en/20190111-sudan-protests-week-demonstrations-tear-gas-tax-food-bashir?fbclid=IwAR1WeA1gIiMF6IYy1eqAbY0O2AL4yIigrARfiT3H2Eb2depU9Eb5jdAIpdc&ref=fb_i&utm_utm_medium=facebook

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/appel-%C3%A0-de-nouveaux-rassemblements-au-soudan/4737738.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2019/01/11/soudan-omar-al-bachir-s-accroche-au-pouvoir-car-c-est-son-assurance-vie_5407667_3212.html (FRANCAIS)

 

 

 

Tajikistan: ‘Even by leaving us she gave us a lesson’: Fearless rights defender’s death shocks Tajikistan

January 7, 2019

Fayzinisso Vohidova, a prominent Tajik lawyer who was renowned for her preparedness to defend political arrestees and constant criticism of Tajikistan’s authoritarian system, passed away on January 4.

On Facebook, where open criticism of authorities in the Central Asian country is growing rarer and rarer, the outpouring of grief told its own story.

A mother of three, Vohidova was often referred to by her admirers as a “Gurdofarid”, referencing the fearless ancient Persian heroine from the Shahnameh epic Persian poem.

She lost a short battle to pneumonia only a week after celebrating her 55th birthday.

In recent years, Vohidova suffered regular harassment at the hands of Tajik authorities, verbal attacks from regime supporters and a curtailment of her professional activities.

Although she avoided arrest, Vohidova had her license to practise law suspended andcould not leave the country at the time of her death.

https://globalvoices.org/2019/01/07/even-by-leaving-us-she-gave-us-a-lesson-fearless-rights-defenders-death-shocks-tajikistan/

https://www.rferl.org/a/faiziniso-vohidova-tajik-lawyer-who-defended-dissidents-for-decades-dies-at-55/29691242.html?fbclid=IwAR1YtdbURiKj1eXIB8Dyzp_Yi8SwAna6HHSA0cn1Sc4I-pGegxQyvm5UxPE

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/16/tajikistan-travel-ban-rights-lawyer

https://www.ccbe.eu/fileadmin/speciality_distribution/public/documents/HUMAN_RIGHTS_LETTERS/Tajikistan_-_Tadjikistan/2017/EN_HRL_20170809_Tajikistan_Concerns-regarding-the-travel-ban-against-lawyer-Fayzinisso-Vohidova.pdf

https://rus.ozodi.org/a/29695917.html (RUSSIAN)