fo r p e o p l e pA s sioN AT e Abo u T h u m A N r i g h T s JULY/AUGUST 2013 VOLUME 43 ISSUE 004
iNsiDe This Wire CoVer sTorY – ouTspokeN AND prouD George, 22, is a gay activist from Kenya. Meet him and two other people who are criminals in the eyes of the law.
WorlDWiDe AppeAls Write a letter, change a life – here’s all the information you need to take action. pAge 22
A WoNDerful plACe To liVe As Brazil prepares to host two sports mega events, Amnesty is joining forces with people in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas to stop them being forced out of their homes.
guATemAlA’s TriAl of The DeCADe A look at the highs and lows of General Efraín Ríos Montt’s trial on genocide charges, and why what happens next matters so much.
Also iN Wire AgeNDA and up froNT column from South Africa (pAges 2-3), CelebrATiNg 40 YeArs of urgeNT ACTioNs: ‘i kNeW TheY CoulD No loNger kill me’ (pAge 24)
groWiNg up WiThouT DAD When Nozanin was just a few days old, her dad went to prison after being tortured in Tajikistan. Read their story and send an appeal for him.
grAVesToNes AND suNglAsses
Wire is available online at livewire.amnesty.org You can subscribe to receive six printed copies of Wire for £15/us$24/€17 a year (or £35/us$54/€41 for institutions). Amnesty international sections and structures can buy discounted copies. email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)20 7413 5814/5507. To join Amnesty international visit www.amnesty.org/en/join
The story of our successful campaign for an Arms Trade Treaty, and how small acts of rebellion at the UN helped get Amnesty’s message through.
‘TheY TolD me i WoulD be free’
‘i WAgeD A sTruggle To eND The spilliNg of blooD AND TeArs iN mY CouNTrY.’ A Kurdish grandmother is facing six years in a Turkish prison for speaking out at peace rallies. Help us get her conviction quashed.
‘piNoCheT is A sTAiN oN The CouNTrY AND oN The WorlD’ Nearly 40 years after the coup in Chile shocked the world, human rights laywer José Zalaquett talks about events then, his work and being exiled by Pinochet. Sign our petition to set the country’s human rights record straight. pAge 20
first published in 2013 by Amnesty international publications www.amnesty.org © Amnesty international ltd index: NWs 21/004/2013, issN: 1472-443X printed by banbury litho, banbury, united kingdom, on 100gsm Cocoon preprint 100% recycled paper. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers. Wire, editorial and publishing programme, Amnesty international, international secretariat, peter benenson house, 1 easton street london WC1X 0DW, united kingdom Cover image: © pete muller
© Amnesty International
Migrants who risk everything to seek a new life in Europe don’t always get a warm welcome. Find out why many end up being detained, and how locals on the Greek island of Lesvos are doing what they can to support them.
Amnesty staff protest outside El Salvador’s embassy, London, UK, in support of Beatriz, a 22-year-old mother of one. She has serious health problems that put her at risk of dying if she continued her pregnancy. For many weeks, Beatriz was denied the life-saving abortion services she needed and wanted. After a local and international outcry, she was granted an early caesarean section in June. #Beatriz
WelCome To Wire JulY/AugusT Wire celebrates people who stand up for human rights. This time, we meet three gay and lesbian activists from kenya (page 4). They are supporting others and changing attitudes, despite being criminalized by their government. We also show how this kind of resistance and perseverance can change the world, by celebrating our monumental recent win of a strong uN Arms Trade Treaty after 20 years’ work (page 12). And we interview a Chilean lawyer whose activism began with pinochet’s coup nearly 40 years ago (page 21). To the kurdish grandmother facing prison in Turkey for shouting peace slogans (p. 19), the other people featured in our appeals (p. 22), and many more like them around the world we say: You are not alone. We are with you, and we will win. read their stories, be inspired, and help us take action for human rights. read Wire online and our liVeWire blogs at livewire.amnesty.org
© Amnesty International
News about Amnesty International’s work and campaigns
Bhupendra, a Nepalese man who migrated to Qatar for work. An injury he got two years ago while working left him permanently disabled and without pay. He is now fighting for compensation. A new Amnesty report, launched later this year, will show how he is one of many migrant workers being exploited and abused in Qatar.
No means no! Amnesty Norway has produced a short film, No means No!, as part of its campaign to include lack of consent as the defining principle in the rape provision of Norway’s Penal Code. The film helped garner almost 50,000 signatures for a petition to the authorities. In February 2013, the Ministry of Justice presented a proposal to change the law and include lack of consent in the provision. In April, the film won ‘Gold’ Clio Awards, which celebrate creative excellence in advertising, design, interactive and communications.
Watch the ﬁlm at bit.ly/norway-no 2 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
Ending disappearances in Mexico
Pumping up the Amnesty Slovenia music for Roma rights marches for Roma rights The Listen to Roma Rights CD is now
Following the launch of the report “Confronting a nightmare – Disappearances in Mexico” in June, Amnesty is marking International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August. Our action aims to increase awareness of the escalation of disappearances at a time when Mexico is also experiencing an explosion of violent crime. Read the report at bit.ly/mexico-disappearances and watch this space for future events.
available to download on iTunes, and there is something for everyone. Amnesty Netherlands worked with 23 Romani artists from across Europe and the USA, each of whom donated a song to the campaign. All proceeds will go to support Amnesty’s work. Our current action on Roma Rights is to stop forced evictions in Romania.
Take action now on our Mexico worldwide appeal on page 23.
Get the tracks at bit.ly/roma-rights-cd and sign our Roma petition at amnesty.org/roma
Amnesty Slovenia took part in Liberation Day celebrations in Ljubljana on 9 May to raise awareness about Roma communities’ lack of access to water. In addition to joining in an annual 30km walk around the city, attracting up to 30,000 people each year, campaigners prepared workshops for primary and secondary schools and distributed wristbands to about 12,000 pupils. During the city walk, signatures were gathered for a petition to the authorities. You can see photos of the event at bit.ly/slovenia-roma
The Amnesty International Report 2013 on the state of human rights was released in May 2013. Visit amnesty.org to read it online.
Learning to speak a universal language
“Those who live outside their countries, without wealth or status, are the world’s most vulnerable people.”
© Amnesty International
Salil Shetty, Amnesty's Secretary General
70% 112 COUNTRIES
TORTURED THEIR CITIZENS IN 2012
VOTED TO ADOPT THE ARMS TRADE TREATY AT THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN APRIL 2013
REPRESSED THEIR PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN 2012
ONLY 3 COUNTRIES VOTED AGAINST THE TREATY
10 steps for human rights in Uruguay
Young voices for human rights
Amnesty Uruguay and Loewe and Partners have created a new video to celebrate and encourage the power of people to defend human rights when they join together. The project, shot in Liberty Square, Montevideo, filmed individual participants walking in front of a ‘green screen’ before superimposing them together to create a virtual mass demonstration on the city’s main avenue.
Amnesty UK announced the winners of its Young Human Rights Reporter and Protest Song competitions in April, at an award ceremony in London. More than 3,000 young people from across the UK took part in the events, writing about human rights issues ranging from bullying to the death penalty, women’s rights in Afghanistan and North Korea’s ‘ghost prisoners’.
Watch the video at bit.ly/10-steps-uruguay
It’s a hot weekend in Diepsloot, a township north of Johannesburg. Liseko, 15, is at a youth activism meeting, talking with her friends about tackling their community’s lack of sanitation and proper rubbish disposal. When I and Amnesty South Africa colleagues hand out copies of WIRE, Liseko reads it intently. “I like it”, she says. “I never realized that other people in the world also have problems with human rights.” South Africa is a country rich with grassroots activism. As Karabo, another activist I met, put it: “Never ever underestimate the power that your voice can have in your community. That is the heart of activism – standing up for what you believe.” Meeting activists like them taught me that whatever struggles for justice people take on in their own communities, they need to feel they are not alone. Human rights give us a common language we can all share. But it will only empower people if it is relevant to our specific circumstances, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. How we take action for example, can be very different. “Europeans often send postcards,” one activist tells me. “But in Africa it’s not really part of our culture.” Not everyone can count on postal services, or pay to post a letter. And while online activism is growing, many people, mainly in rural areas, don’t have internet access. One activist I meet is concerned that social media excludes many refugees: “They don’t have online access − you need to engage with them directly”, he says. These are just some of the challenges we face right now: speaking the universal language of human rights in relevant ways, negotiating the fine balance between the big global issues and local challenges; and being cutting edge without leaving anyone behind in the process.
Adi (left) with Amnesty staff and volunteers, Diepsloot, South Africa, 2012.
Source: Amnesty International Report 2013
SECURITY FORCES WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR UNLAWFUL KILLINGS IN PEACETIME IN
Regional Content Manager Adi DroriAvraham recently spent time in southern Africa learning about communications and activism from people there.
To ﬁnd out who won each group, read the blog at bit.ly/protest-songs and listen to the songs at bit.ly/our-voices
leTTers Want your views and comments to appear in The Agenda? Write to us at thewire@ amnesty.org
Find out more at Amnesty South Africa’s Facebook page at bit.ly/amnesty-southafrica
3 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
ouTspokeN AND prouD porTrAiTs of Three ‘CrimiNAls’.
eet Denis, George and Mary − three criminals in the eye of Kenyan law. In fact, they are human rights activists who have been targeted for being open about their sexual orientation. Attacked by strangers on a bus for holding your partner’s hand. Expelled from school or beaten up for acting “too masculine”. Leaving a party to be told by the police: “We think you’re gay – pay up or we’ll charge you for being drunk and disorderly.” This is every day reality if, like Denis, George and Mary − featured in these photographs − you live in Kenya and happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). Or if someone thinks that you are. In Kenya, and in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, people are harassed, marginalized, discriminated against and attacked because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. People working to protect the rights of LGBTI people also put themselves at risk on a daily basis. Kenya is one of 38 African countries where same-sex conduct is a crime by law. This sends a message that discrimination is acceptable, that harassing or intimidating someone because of who they are is OK, and that human rights do not apply to LGBTI people. Amnesty International is campaigning to end this across Africa.
Read more in our new report, Making love a crime, at bit.ly/love-crime
mArY, 30, (right) is a volunteer for LGBTI rights group Minority Women in Action. One of the group’s aims is to build LGBTI women’s social and professional capacity. By learning new skills, they can become empowered to take control of their lives and livelihoods and support others in similar situations. “I am a lesbian woman and mother of one son. I have been living positively for the last eleven years. I love artwork. With the help of my partner, I have made a lot of handmade mats, which has been my source of livelihood.” minoritywomeninaction.co.ke 4 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
DeNis, 26, (seated right) is a gay activist based in
Nairobi. He is the editor of the Sexual and Gender Minorities News Service Identity Kenya and a former spokesperson for the LGBTI organization Gay Kenya. “I am in the media a lot. I have received countless death threats, by email, telephone and through Facebook. One said: ‘I have been sent to kill you’. I have also been evicted many times. First the neighbours sent a letter saying, ‘We, the residents of the apartment block, because we know you are homosexual, and you will target our kids, are giving you three days to leave, lest we get some of the ‘boys’ to come and evict you.’ “At the time I didn’t know where to move to. It was all very messy. I didn’t have the money to relocate, and I wasn’t talking to my family. “I’ve been attacked twice by strangers, once on a matatu (a bus), when I was holding my partner’s hand. The second time, I was walking down a street, and someone recognized me and threw stones at me. I got in touch with Protection Desk Kenya (protectioninternational.org), and they gave me a crash course in personal security. Personal security is a grey area. If you don’t speak out, how will you push for rights?” identitykenya.com
All photos © Pete Muller
ACT NoW Jean-Claude Roger Mbede is in hiding after being sentenced to prison for homosexuality in Cameroon. Help us get his conviction quashed. All the information you need is on page 22-23.
george, 22, (below) is an activist with the group Out
in Kenya “I am a gay man living positively with HIV in Nairobi. People describe me as a soft spoken young man, but I am very outspoken and very ‘out’ about my sexual preference. “I am a former gospel singer and a model. I had to quit my career in 2011 after I was outed by a local newspaper. My family could not deal with the scandal and disowned me. I left school and ran away to the city. “I lived from hand to mouth, and went to sleep with an empty stomach or slept outside. I felt like I was dead already. In 2012, I tested HIV positive. I felt like my world was over. “Denis from Out (pictured left) assisted me and got me a counsellor, and then I got a job at Out in Kenya. I manage the group shop and I am the group’s spokesperson. I have never looked back. “I always say that one does not need to have everything, but just to give something. I want to leave the world a better place, where there is treatment for AIDS and where I will not have to introduce myself as ‘’Hi, I am George and I am gay’.”
5 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
A WoNDerful plACe To liVe
As brAzil prepAres To hosT boTh The WorlD Cup AND The olYmpiCs, AmNesTY is JoiNiNg forCes WiTh people iN rio De JANeiro’s FAVELAS To sTop Them beiNg forCeD ouT of Their homes.
hey are removing it little by little. Later on they’ll take away the rest.” Alessandra Lins is talking about Providência, where she lives with her husband and two children. Established in the late 1800s on a hillside overlooking Rio de Janeiro, this neighbourhood is thought to be the Brazil’s oldest favela, or slum. Since then, small houses and winding streets have covered the hill, with views over the city’s port. But 800 families here – including Alessandra’s – are now worried that they will soon be forced to leave. Like thousands of other families across the city, they are being threatened with eviction. Why? Because Rio is busy preparing to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. And as part of the city’s big vision for these two sports mega events, large-scale projects, such as road-building and urban regeneration, are well underway.
A posiTiVe legACY? After the trophies have been won, the medals awarded and the sports fans have gone home, such projects could in principle leave a very positive legacy for Rio. But for people who face having their homes demolished in the process, they have become a threat. Many people in Providência feel that they are being pushed out because their community doesn’t fit with
6 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
the authorities’ image of an Olympic city. “Providência is seen as a negative point,” says Alessandra. She thinks her own and her neighbours’ homes are simply in the way, built close to the port and one of the main thoroughfares, Presidente Vargas Avenue. The port is now the target of a large urban regeneration project called “Wonderful Port”. The plan is to encourage massive regional investment, modernizing the port, building museums and galleries, business buildings and stimulating tourism. Alessandra says the authorities “see the slum as an obstacle, right there in the middle of the port area”. Evictions here, and in other parts of the city, have already started. The city authorities are also implementing an initiative called “Carioca Housing Project” in Providência. It includes plans for a cable-car and cliff-railway system, scheduled to be carried out from February 2011 to January 2014 as “part of the legacy of the City Government’s hosting of the Olympic Games”.
uNDer pressure But many people are skeptical about the way this and similar projects are being carried out. When evictions began in Providência in 2011, dozens of families left their homes in return for financial support to cover their rent costs. They were told new apartments
would be built for them to move into in 2012. So far, that hasn’t happened. They now worry that the financial support might be stopped without new housing being available. The families who stayed behind have been left to live among their evicted neighbours’ demolished houses. Piles of rubbish and pools of waste water left behind are attracting insects, making it an increasingly depressing place to live. When Amnesty recently researched the situation there, people also told us they felt threatened, intimidated and pressurized to leave their homes and accept the authorities’ offers of being resettled somewhere else. Things did improve after some residents sought legal assistance from the state’s public defenders. A court ordered the authorities to provide more detailed information about the planned urbanization project and the plan to resettle local residents. They were also told to carry out an impact assessment and to stop the Carioca Housing Project and all evictions in Providência until this study was completed.
To feel pArT of The big VisioN The community is now being supported by many people and organizations, including local NGOs and Amnesty. All have expressed concerns about a lack of
All photos © Luiz Baltar
The Providência community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where 800 families are being threatened with eviction.
information about the entire project being implemented in Providência and the Port area, its timeframe and deadlines. There has been little meaningful consultation with local residents about the plans, and as a result no one still knows how many families will be affected and where they are supposed to go. Amnesty is working alongside residents and local partners to make sure that the authorities guarantee people’s right to adequate housing in all areas affected by the preparations for the sports events. If evictions are necessary, we want legal safeguards put in place to protect people. Instead of being excited about Rio soon becoming the centre of the football universe and an Olympic city, people like Alessandra are feeling apprehensive and afraid. Like everyone else, they want their city to be a wonderful place to live and visit. But they want their rights to be respected in the process, and to feel part of the city’s big vision for the future.
Look out for our new report on Brazil and opportunities to take action on forced evictions – visit bit.ly/RRFENetwork
7 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
guATemAlA’s TriAl of The DeCADe
it was a moment many guatemalans had waited decades for. on 10 may 2013, former president general José efraín ríos montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity during the country’s bloody civil war. Amnesty called it a historic step in the nation’s long struggle for justice. And then, in a shocking move just 10 days later, his conviction was overturned.
in these few facts, find out why we need to keep up the pressure to get justice for the victims. 8 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
All photos © Jean-Marie Simon
Between 1960 and 1996, a bloody internal armed conflict pitted Guatemala’s army against guerrilla groups. More than 200,000 meN, WomeN AND ChilDreN were murdered or disappeared during the 36-year-long war. Most of them were indigenous.
General José Efraín Ríos Montt led the country’s military government between March 1982 and August 1983 – oNe of The blooDiesT perioDs of the conflict. In an aggressive campaign, anyone deemed to be supporting left-wing guerrillas was targeted.
The conflict ended in 1996 with the signing of a Peace Accord. The government pledged to tell the truth about what happened during the three decades of violence. In 1999, a report by the UN-sponsored Commission of Historical Clarification concluded that The guATemAlAN sTATe WAs respoNsible for 93% of All Abuses. The Commission also said that the state committed genocide in the Ixil, Zacualpa, northern Huehuetenango and Rabinal areas in 1981 and 1982. Between 70% and 90% of the people there were simply wiped out.
This is the first time a former Guatemalan head of state has been TrieD for geNoCiDe. The case against Ríos Montt started in 2001, but faced many obstacles since, including many constitutional appeals filed on his behalf.
Ríos Montt was charged with being the “iNTelleCTuAl AuThor” of the death of 1,771 people, the enforced displacement of 29,000 people, sexual abuse against eight women, and torture of at least 14 people.
Left: Dawn in Quiché, Guatemala, in the 1980s. Around half the country’s population is Indigenous. It is one of the most unequal societies in Latin America, with high illiteracy rates. Children here often die in infancy, and organized crime and violence are widespread. This page, from top: Brigadier General José Efraín Rios Montt at his first press conference after taking power in a coup, National Palace, Guatemala City, 23 March 1982; The army occupies San Mateo Ixtatán, Huehuetenango, 1983; A young girl captured by the army after being bombed, Quiché, 1980s. 9 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
In March 2012, Ríos Montt was also charged with the death of 201 people in Dos Erres, Peten, in December 1982. No date has yet been set for these latest charges to be heard. The TriAl of ríos moNTT and General Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez – his former head of intelligence – started on 19 March 2013.
On 18 April, after more than 100 witnesses and experts had appeared, a judge in a separate court orDereD The TriAl To be ANNulleD and returned to a pre-trial phase. Refusing to annul the trial, the trial court suspended proceedings until higher courts resolved the issue. The trial finally resumed on 30 April.
On 10 May 2013, Ríos Montt was found guilty of both genocide and crimes against humanity, and seNTeNCeD To 80 YeArs iN prisoN. Amnesty called it an important step forward in accountability for human rights violations committed during military dictatorships in the Americas. The full 718 page judgement detailed how Ríos Montt held command responsibility for the crimes committed in Ixil, while he was President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces in 1982 and 1983. Rodríguez Sánchez was found not guilty on both charges.
On 20 May 2013, in a DeVAsTATiNg bloW for the victims, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court overturned Rios Montt’s recent conviction. The legal basis for the ruling was unclear. Amnesty said the Court had thrown up “formidable obstacles to justice and accountability for a harrowing period in Guatemala’s recent history”. Ríos Montt was moved out of prison and back to house arrest, pending the continuation of the trial and further legal appeals.
The Guatemalan army sTill refuses To giVe ANY iNformATioN about killings, enforced disappearances, the use of rape as a weapon of war, and other crimes committed during the conflict. This places a huge burden on families and victims who want justice, or are simply seeking to find their disappeared loved ones. We will continue to support them by pushing for justice to be upheld.¶
Top: People being held at a detention center after being captured by the army, Quiché, Guatemala, 1984. Middle: A group supporting the families of disappeared people, Group for Mutual Support (Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo/GAM), hold a press conference, Guatemala City, 1985. Bottom: Police carry away protesters outside the University of San Carlos, Guatemala City, September 1985. 10 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
All photos © Jean-Marie Simon
Find out more about our work on Guatemala at amnesty.org/en/region/guatemala
© Amnesty International (Photo: Cesar Balan)
groWiNg up WiThouT DAD NOzANIN, A LITTLE GIRL FROM TAJIkISTAN, IS GROWING Up WITHOUT HER DAD. HE WAS ARRESTED JUST AFTER SHE WAS BORN, AND HAS BEEN IN pRISON EVER SINCE. HER FAMILY IS ONE OF THE FEW THAT DARE SpEAk OUT ABOUT TORTURE AND UNFAIR TRIALS IN THE COUNTRY.
iN shoCk Nasim’s father told Amnesty that when he saw his son “he was a complete stranger. I said, ‘Nasim, what happened?’ He didn’t respond at all and seemed to be in shock.” The first lawyer to see the defendants on 16 September 2011 had to turn away because their injuries were so horrible. He later told their parents that their sons’ bodies “looked like mincemeat”, and to contact human rights organizations. But a judge who was present ignored Nasim’s injuries. When Nozanin was six months old, on 7 March 2012, her dad and the other four men were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years in prison for committing “bodily harm leading to death”. The Supreme Court upheld
their sentences in May 2012, and the five men are still in prison. Nasim still suffers from the injuries he got during his “interrogation” in September 2011.
uNfAir TriAl Amnesty believes that the murder investigation and the evidence against the men were severely flawed. The police reportedly ill-treated two witnesses to force them to incriminate the five men. One witness also said a local government employee offered him bribes to retract his testimony against the people he believed were the real perpetrators. We also believe that the men received an unfair trial. Among other issues, the court ignored alibis and allegations that the evidence might have been obtained through torture or other ill-treatment.
ozanin was only four days old when her father, Nasim Salimzoda, was arrested. The police picked him up, seemingly at random, along with four other men in their village, Khojai Alo, in the remote Sughd region of Tajikistan, on 11 September 2011. They accused them of murdering a military employee. Two days later the five men, all in their twenties, “confessed” to murder, reportedly after being tortured by police. The father of one of the young men visited the police station and said he heard his son screaming. A police officer told him: “That’s not your son − those are other people’s screams.”
speAkiNg ouT Meanwhile, Nozanin is growing up without her dad. She will be two years old in September, and lives with her mother and grandparents. They are tending their garden, looking after each other, and getting on with ordinary life. Theirs is just one of many families in Tajikistan affected by torture. But they are among the few extraordinary ones that dare write petitions to the authorities and speak publicly about what happened to Nasim. They continue to seek justice for him, despite intimidation and
harassment from the police and sometimes also pressure from other family members to keep quiet.
Send a letter to help Nasim and his co-defendants get justice. All the information you need is on page 22-23.
Top: Nozanin lives with her mother and grandparents in a remote part of Tajikistan. She recently received children’s books from Amnesty members overseas, who sent parcels to show solidarity with families of torture victims across Central Asia. Below: Nasim Salimzoda, Nozanin’s dad.
11 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
© Amnesty International
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With Dr oscar Arias, the Dalai lama, other Nobel peace prize laureates and Ngos, we call for a legally binding international Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers. in response, The europeAN uNioN Agrees Amnesty and several small a Code of Conduct on Arms exports with uk Ngos get together to draft a human rights criterion in 1998, but it a legally binding Code to CoNTrol isn’t legally binding. our work goes on. iNTerNATioNAl Arms TrANsfers, in a way that respects human rights and international law. We get help from lawyers at the universities of Cambridge and essex.
© Amnesty International
Arms TrADe TreATY
4 99 -1 93 19
grAVesToNes AND suNglAsses: The After 20 years of hard work We hAVe AN Arms TrADe TreATY! Wire takes a look at how we got there, and what lies ahead.
mujahid Alum, a retired brigadier general from We erect hundreds of wooden gravestones on fake grass pakistan, and brian Wood from Amnesty, help worldwide, including in london’s Trafalgar square, uk eXpose Arms TrAffiCkiNg To The (below), to launch the CoNTrol Arms CAmpAigN for A perpeTrATors of The rWANDA geNoCiDe globAl Arms TrADe TreATY (ATT) alongside oxfam and and atrocities in Africa’s great lakes the international Network on small Arms (iANsA). region. These horrors help us bring home the message that support for our idea grows from a handful of governments the arms trade is out to more than 50. The uk is the ﬁrst permanent member of of control. the uN security Council to support it, along with all european union member states and many others.
12 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
© Amnesty International
© Amnesty International
© Benoit Murraciole
in December, 153 sTATes VoTe iN fAVour of a resolution calling for work to begin on a legally binding ATT. only the usA votes against it.
© Control Arms
The 1,000,000th person to send in his photo for our ‘million We push the process forward by telling faces’ petition, demanding governments that time is running out: an ATT, is Julius Arile The WorlD CAN’T WAiT for an ATT. lomerinyang – a kenyan survivor The obama administration declares of armed violence and activist. We us support for a treaty, and invite him to New York to hand the 153 uN member states vote signatures over to uN secretary-general in favour of starting koﬁ Annan. Amnesty Netherlands uses the formal negotiations photos to create collage cut-out silhouettes of in July 2012. people (left).
© Amnesty International
Activists take pictures of themselves wearing sunglasses (below) to remind governments to work transparently and that The WorlD is WATChiNg their progress on the arms trade.
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sTorY of A suCCessful CAmpAigN
We protest as “three wise monkeys” who see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil (left), after a surprise uN decision in 2011 bars civil society groups from crucial ATT discussions. our call for a bulleT proof TreATY is successful: a “golden rule” to protect human rights, drawn up by Amnesty and the international Committee of the red Cross, is included in the draft treaty.
13 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
13 20 ril Ap
© Control Arms
Arms TrADe TreATY TopiC
No Arms for ATroCiTies! We hAVe A TreATY! Thousands of activists in over The uN general 65 countries collect an amazing 620,000 signatures in just two months, Assembly votes calling for a golden rule ahead of the July overwhelmingly to uN ATT conference in New York. Julius Arile adopt a treaty which lomerinyang (below, centre) returns to help us includes to hand them over to uN secretary-general ban ki-moon.
a golden rule.
mA rC h2 01 3
The ﬁnal uN Conference on the ATT opens in New York in march. Activists worldwide write to us embassies and president obama, urging him to support the treaty. iNTeNse lobbYiNg AND publiC pressure results in a ﬁnal ATT with a golden rule. but iran, North korea and syria stop the text being adopted by consensus.
our message to governments is loud and clear: You CAN sTill sTArT usiNg The golDeN rule, by not allowing arms transfers if there is a real risk they will be used to violate human rights!
for activists, the next stage has already begun: We’re keepiNg up The pressure to get countries to sign up to the treaty and make it into law (ratify it). The ATT will enter into force after the 50th country ratiﬁes it.
in early June, in A hisToriC momeNT WoN AfTer 20 YeArs of hArD Work, lobbying and campaigning, 73 countries sign the Arms Trade Treaty at the uN.
© Amnesty International
© UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The conference ends with a draft treaty text, but several countries – including China, russia and the usA – ask for more time, and it isn’t adopted. We start gearing up for the next – and hopefully – ﬁnal stage.
Help push for your country to apply the golden rule and ratify the ATT. Start by contacting your local Amnesty ofﬁce, or visit bit.ly/controlarms
14 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
© Amnesty International
SMALL ACTS OF REBELLION AT THE UNITED NATIONS HOW DO YOU GET YOUR CAMPAIGN MESSAGE NOTICED AMONG THE GREY SUITS INSIDE THE UNITED NATIONS? THE RULES ARE PRETTY STRICT, SO AMNESTY’S DELEGATION NEEDED TO FIND CREATIVE LOOPHOLES WHILE CAMPAIGNING TO SECURE A NEW ARMS TRADE TREATY. CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR ARA MARCEN NAVAL EXPLAINS HOW.
Don’t campaign in a visible way.
Forget a public action or a photo exhibition, let alone an installation of giant sunglasses like we did in 2008. This was banned in 2009. So instead, we created a human corridor with placards and taped our mouths shut, in protest against a decision to block civil society from entering a debate in 2010. Many government officials came up to us to express their support.
Don’t single out any state directly for criticism, especially using their flags. We got around this rule too. Because it
fails to mention what can be said in the UN press room. So in March 2013 we invited the UN press corps to our report launch exposing irresponsible arms transfers – mainly from China and eastern Europe – to Côte d’Ivoire. Two days later, we were invited to be on a panel at an event with the Ivoirian Ambassador.
Don’t park your military helicopter on the UN’s doorstep. Who could have
imagined it? We only found out the day before we planned to use a model military helicopter as a backdrop for media interviews in March 2013. We’d decided to build one ourselves, since such weapons aren’t all clearly regulated under the new treaty. But it wasn’t allowed. So we quickly found a rooftop with views of the Manhattan skyline, invited journalists over and built it there instead, using plywood and plexiglass.
Don’t wear T-shirts with campaign messages. Our T-shirts were out of the
question, with messages like “No arms for atrocities”, “Stop the bullets”, and “Control Arms”. But nobody mentioned us wearing pins or the string used for carrying ID badges around your neck. So that’s what we wore – an Amnesty pin or a bright yellow string with the message “I protect human rights”.
document? What about a flower? With our friends from Control Arms, we produced a series of postcards suggesting concrete language to refer to human rights and genderbased violence in the ATT. To the great curiosity of many, we also gave a teeny, discreet, blue “forget me not” flower to around 40 delegates who publicly supported including a specific criteria to consider gender-based violence before licensing arms. By the end of the July 2012 conference, 73 states backed our proposal.
Don’t wear bulletproof vests. We called
And then we did it! Not long after, the treaty text was finalized during some very tense moments at the final ATT conference. And on 2 April, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to adopt a treaty with strong human rights protections. Our hard work over 20 years and many small acts of rebellion had paid off – we did it!
To find out more about our work on the Arms Trade Treaty, visit bit.ly/controlarms
for “a bulletproof treaty”, so it made sense to get some flak jackets produced in the hope we’d get some attention. Unfortunately, UN security guards started circling us suspiciously. They thought the vests were real and that we might be planning an attack. After lengthy negotiations, we agreed to only wear them for a short time while surrounded by a line of security officers. They, coincidentally wore vests identical to ours, so we were very pleased. 15 WIRE [ JUL/AUG 2013 ]
All images © Amnesty International except centre © Mark Seton CC
Don’t leave documents on the delegates’ desks. But is a postcard a
‘TheY TolD me i WoulD
people riskiNg The DANgerous JourNeY To europe’s borDers Are beiNg pusheD bACk AND loCkeD up. AN AmNesTY TeAm heArD The sTories of migrANTs oN The greek islAND of lesVos, AND meT The loCAls DoiNg Their besT To supporT Them. bY NAomi WesTlAND from AmNesTY uk 16 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
hmed has a haunted look about him as he sits on the end of a bed in the dark, damp police cell. He’s been held there for nearly a week. His eyes are red from crying, and dart around looking for something to fix on. But there is little in the cell except eight tightly packed beds with dirty mattresses and a pile of sleeping bags. The walls are bare, but for a few scrawled words above one bed −“Allah” written in Arabic, in fading ink. Above another, “Thank you, my Somali and Afghan friends”.
DuNgeoN-like Cells These words are testament to how these dungeon-like cells, designed to hold suspected criminals, are now also being used as detention centre for migrants. There’s no room to walk around, nothing to do, very little natural light and no outside space. It’s completely unfit for human habitation. I’m in the police station on the Greek island of Lesvos with Amnesty’s Greece and Cyprus campaigner, Giorgos Kosmopoulos, and migration researcher Irem Arf. We are hoping some of the refugees and migrants locked up here will tell us about their experiences of trying to get into the European Union (EU). We are trying to build a picture of the overall situation at the Greek border with Turkey. When the guards let Ahmed out of the cell to talk to us, we learn that he is a refugee fleeing Syria, aged only 21. He is clearly traumatized. His eyes fill with tears as he tells us his mother was killed in the civil war last December. With his father already dead and his sister studying abroad, he paid a smuggler thousands of dollars to take him from Turkey across the Aegean sea to Greece and, he hoped, to safety and a better life. “In Turkey they told me that in Greece I would be free, but when I got here I was put in jail,” he said.
© Giorgios Moutaﬁs
TAkiNg bigger risks Ahmed is one of tens of thousands of people trying to reach safety in Europe via Greece every year. Many of those arriving by boat on islands like Lesvos and Chios have fled conflict in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. Irem says no one knows exactly how many people are taking the dangerous route across the sea. But police figures show numbers have
increased since land crossings along the river Evros on the Greek border with Turkey were tightened last year. “People fleeing war and poverty are now taking even bigger risks to get to Europe. The routes are increasingly dangerous, so people are losing their lives on the way,” she says. We heard stories of terrifying, freezing cold night crossings. One woman told us how she fell into the sea. She couldn’t swim and kept drifting away from the boat. A fellow migrant risked his life to save her. Another woman told us her four-year old daughter fell into the sea during the chaos when their small inflatable boat was intercepted by the coastguard. Luckily, the girl survived. And they, unbelievably, are the lucky ones. In March, six Syrians drowned when their boat got into difficulties, among them a pregnant 17-year-old and a mother with her young children. And in December last year, a boat capsized and 27 refugees, mostly Afghans, drowned close to the shore at Mytilene, Lesvos’ capital. Only a 16-year-old boy survived. Those who do make it, like Ahmed, face shocking treatment. We heard stories of children, and people with disabilities being detained in squalid, overcrowded cells. Those who aren’t detained are often left to sleep in the streets. Amnesty staff hear many harrowing stories on visits like these. “It can be difficult to deal with what you are hearing and seeing,” Giorgos says, “but you need to stay calm to get the facts right, identify the problem and what needs to change.”
SOME FACTS ABOUT MIGRANTS IN EUROpE AND GREECE n Around 18,000 men, women and
children have reportedly died trying to enter Europe since 1988. n Migrants can be detained for up to 18 months under EU law, even though they have committed no crime. n Greece doesn’t have a fair and effective asylum system, the European Court of Human Rights said in 2011. n The Court ruled that detention conditions for asylum seekers in Greece amounted to degrading and inhuman treatment. n Children arriving in Greece alone can be detained for months until a more suitable place is found for them.
17 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
© Giorgos Moutaﬁs
Overleaf: Migrants try to board a Greek coastguard boat after being stopped during a night patrol. Above: An artificial leg washed up on the shores of Lesvos. It is testament to the many hundreds of people who have drowned in the Aegean Sea on their way to find a better future in Europe.
A CommuNiTY ComiNg TogeTher There is some light to this darker side of Greece. Through a community project, people of Lesvos have opened a disused children’s holiday camp to give refugees and migrants safe shelter in wooden chalets. Around a hundred families in Mytilene take turns to cook for people staying there. There is a football pitch, a children’s playground and plenty of space to wander among the silver birch trees. The project was originally set up to support locals made homeless by the financial crisis. But the organisers soon
18 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
realized others in their midst also needed help. “There were so many refugees in the streets in November last year and the weather was so bad that the authorities let us open this place,” says Efi latsoudi, a volunteer, as she shows me around. “But everything depends on the volunteers. We’ve asked for support from the municipality and the ministry responsible for immigration. That would be such a relief for local people, who want to help but who are also in a crisis. But we haven’t had anything,” she says.
A beTTer life? Many refugees and migrants we meet say how grateful they are to those providing them with food and shelter. But they all feel stuck on Lesvos, desperate to travel on to the Greek capital, Athens. They are frustrated about unexplained delays in processing the papers that would allow them to leave. They believe that things might get better in Athens. Sadly, the reality is very different. Migrants in the Greek capital are increasingly targeted in racist attacks.
Far-right parties like Golden Dawn have gained public support amid the crippling economic crisis. Migrants risk being stopped by police in sweep operations and hauled off to squalid detention centres. Many people we speak to later in Athens have spent months, up to a year, behind bars. Many people in Greece today are horrified at how the authorities are treating migrants, and the rise in racism and xenophobia. For people like the volunteers on Lesvos, and the thousands who protested against racist violence in Athens earlier this year, the flame of the ancient Greek concept of filoxenia − kindness to strangers − still burns bright. For others, like Ahmed, it is turning out to be a little more than a flicker.
Help us push for change and read our new report at whenyoudontexist.eu
Top: Afghan refugees play basketball at a former children's holiday camp in Lesvos. The local community is housing destitute refugees and migrants here, taking turns to cook for them, April 2013. Middle: Washing dries as migrants wait for the papers they need to continue their journey into Europe. Right: Migrants in the main square, Mytilene, Lesvos, Greece, April 2013.
© Amnesty International
© Amnesty International
‘i WAgeD A sTruggle To eND The spilliNg of blooD AND TeArs iN mY CouNTrY.’ A kURDISH GRANDMOTHER IS FACING SIx YEARS IN A TURkISH pRISON FOR SpEAkING OUT AT pEACE RALLIES. HELp US GET HER CONVICTION qUASHED.
have only been involved in a struggle for peace,” said 64-year-old Sultani Acıbuca (above left, with her daughter), a Kurdish grandmother of six. “My only wish is that no woman around the world should suffer, and that our children − our very heart and soul − should not be taken away from us and killed.” Sultani, originally from Mardin in south-eastern Turkey, is an active member of the Peace Mothers. This is a group of women whose children died or were imprisoned during the decades-long conflict between the Turkish army and the banned armed group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). More recently, peace negotiations have begun between the government and the PKK. PKK demands include greater recognition for Turkey’s Kurds and autonomy for majority Kurdish regions.
© Amnesty International (photo: Naomi Westland)
‘We WANT peACe’ Sultani took part in six peaceful demonstrations in Izmir between January 2006 and March 2008. At one event, she delivered an impassioned speech calling for an end to the conflict between the Turkish army and the PKK. “The pain of the Turkish and Kurdish mothers is the same,” she said. “We do not want these mothers to cry anymore. We want peace.” Her words raised the ire of the authorities, and in June 2010 she was convicted of being a member of a terrorist organization. She was also charged with making terrorist propaganda, including by shouting slogans such as: “long live peace, long live Öcalan” and “women want peace, not to fight”.
The court’s decision to convict Sultani was based on her activism on behalf of the Peace Mothers. It claimed this group was linked to the PKK, without any substantiating evidence. When the verdict came, she and her family were devastated. “I sat down with my daughter and we cried,” Sultani said. “I kissed each and every one of my children and grandchildren to gain some moral strength from them.”
promoTiNg propAgANDA Hers is just one of many examples of the state using anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissenting opinions about Kurdish rights and politics. The Turkish authorities are increasingly using political speeches, writings and participation in demonstrations as evidence against activists, journalists, lawyers and others. These prosecutions represent one of the most deeply entrenched human rights problems in Turkey today. Sultani’s case is still pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals. “I waged a struggle to end the spilling of blood and tears in my country,” said Sultani. I think if I go to prison, I will not come out alive.”
Help us keep Sultani out of prison by writing to the Turkish authorities. Her Worldwide Appeal on pages 22-23 contains all the information you need. 19 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
humAN righTs TAlk
© José Zalaquett
‘piNoCheT is A sTAiN oN The CouNTrY AND oN The WorlD’ The 1973 miliTArY Coup iN Chile TurNeD José zAlAqueTT iNTo A humAN righTs ACTiVisT. forTY YeArs oN, he TAlkeD To Wire AbouT Those TurbuleNT Times, beiNg DeTAiNeD AND eXileD, AND The loNg roAD To JusTiCe for The ThousANDs Who Were killeD, TorTureD AND DisAppeAreD DuriNg geNerAl AugusTo piNoCheT’s goVerNmeNT.
What was it like to be in Chile when the coup happened? We could see the coup coming even before it happened. It was like a Greek tragedy where everyone knows how it will end, but you still have to wait for the plot to unfold. But we never thought things would turn out as badly as they did. We didn’t foresee the killings and the disappearances: 3,200 people disappeared or killed. It’s hard to be as precise about how many were tortured, but we know it was tens of thousands. They started by calling in the papers and on the radio for certain people to hand themselves in. My boss was on the very first list of names. I thought I could well be on the second, and hid with my first wife and two daughters in a friend’s house in the suburbs. They imposed a curfew that lasted for 12 years. There were curfew parties that started at midnight and ended at 6am, because if you were out in the streets during that time you could be shot.
how did you get involved with defending human rights? I was teaching law at the Catholic University at the time of the coup, and many of my friends there were detained or disappeared. Their families
20 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
approached me as a lawyer, asking me to help. But what could I do, except go with them when they queued at the National Football Stadium with food or clothes, hoping it would reach the people detained there? But people need to know that a lawyer is involved. It helps give them some peace of mind, knowing that they’ve done everything they can for their loved ones. Then I was asked to intervene on behalf of someone facing a death sentence in Puerto Montt, a city in southern Chile. I thought I needed some protection travelling there, so even though I’m not religious myself I approached the bishops. I was given a letter for the Bishop in Puerto Montt and told about plans for what eventually became the Committee for Peace [the Comité Pro Paz, created by Christian churches and Jewish representatives, provided legal and other assistance to victims and families until December 1975].
how were you able to function as a lawyer and human right activist? Around 18,000 people were held in Santiago’s National Stadium, just to give you a sense of the scale of the initial round-up. We acted as we always had, in terms of seeking justice through
© Julio Etchart
Soldiers on parade during Chile’s Pinochet era.
the law, but we also used legal procedures to gather information [about the whereabouts of detainees]. At first there were five or six of us in the Committee for Peace. By January 1974, we were 150. We had unlimited funds via the International Council of Churches in Geneva, which received donations from all over the world. The government didn’t like what we were doing and we had to be very careful. However, we had the protection of the Church: a Cardinal was involved and that was very important.
What happened when you were arrested? In November 1975, at 1.30am there was a knock at the door – and you know that at that time of night it’s not a friend who’s come calling. I asked them if I should bring a blanket and they said “good idea”. I told my wife not to worry and took a valium from our first aid kit to calm my nerves in case they interrogated me. And then they took me away. That week, they arrested 22 of us because they had found out we had a network in the embassies to help people get asylum, and were helping people who had been tortured. There were three kinds of detention centres: the ones where people were tortured and possibly killed – I never went to those; the ones where people were held incommunicado – either immediately after arrest, as happened with me, or after torture to recover, which is how most people ended up there; and the third type were the camps where relatives could visit once a week. The first time I was held for two and a half months. They thought I would get the message and not return to work. The second time, I was held for 13 days in April 1976 because I had refused to leave the country voluntarily.
What happened after you were sent into exile? They sent me to France and after eight months I went to the USA. That’s where I joined Amnesty International. I was elected onto the Board of Amnesty’s US Section and then in 1979 I was elected onto the International Executive Committee. I’m still a member of Amnesty. We organized vigils, hunger strikes, lobbied members of the House of Representatives and Senators, published articles in the press... After 10 years, the military said I could return to Chile. Before that, they used to let me back into the country at Christmas for two or three weeks as a “humanitarian” gesture.
What do you feel has been achieved in terms of justice for the victims? What remains to be done? I think that Argentina and Chile have gone the furthest out of the 40 or so countries that have gone through transitional justice worldwide. In Chile, there have been two truth commissions. I was involved in the one in 1990-1991 that focused on those who died or were disappeared. Later there was one on political imprisonment and torture. There has also been significant progress on reparations. As for justice, there has been some progress. Around 160 people have served or are serving prison sentences and hundreds more are involved in judicial proceedings. Today, Pinochet is a memory. He was the public face of a junta that ruled for 17 years, but now he is a bad memory, a stain on the country and on the world.
Sign our petition asking the Chilean authorities to protect human rights, including by revoking the 1978 Amnesty Law, which granted an amnesty to people who have violated human rights. Visit bit.ly/chilepetition
21 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
CAmerooN JeAN-ClAuDe roger mbeDe
Amnesty issues Worldwide Appeals on behalf of people who are at risk or have suffered human rights abuses. Each appeal includes everything you need to demand change or express your support.
gooD NeWs & upDATes
TURkEY CoNsCieNTious obJeCTor’s CoNViCTioN oVerTurNeD Halil Savda, a human rights defender and conscientious objector, was featured in a Worldwide Appeal in Jan-Feb 2012. His conviction for “alienating the public from military service”, was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals on 11 February 2013. It related to a speech he made in 2010 in support of fellow conscientious objector Enver Aydemir. The Court also recommended that the case be suspended, provided he is not convicted of the same offence within three years. Halil Savda is due to attend the first hearing of a separate case against him in Istanbul on 18 July 2013, also related to his campaign against compulsory military service. Amnesty continues to campaign for Halil Savda
22 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
not to be prosecuted or imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
pApUA NEW GUINEA WomeN ACCuseD of sorCerY freeD A seriously injured woman accused of practising “sorcery” and held with her two daughters against their will by community members in Lopele, Bana District, Southern Bougainville, were freed in May after the authorities intervened. They had been trapped for several weeks. Responding to international attention and pressure, the local Bougainville police eventually engaged senior officers to negotiate the women’s safe release. Amnesty has been campaigning to expose violence committed against women in Papua New Guinea under the pretext of witchcraft (see ‘Toxic brew’, WIRE May/June 2013). In April, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister announced his intention to repeal the Sorcery Act, which allows people to use accusations of sorcery as a mitigating factor in acts of assault or murder. On 28 May 2013, parliament repealed the Sorcery Act. However, new laws were also passed to re-implement the death penalty for sorcery-related killings and other crimes.
Fearing rearrest and being forced to serve out the remainder of his sentence, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede has gone into hiding while he waits to appeal against the Yaoundé Court of Appeal decision. please write, calling on the Cameroonian authorities to quash Jean-Claude roger mbede’s sentence. urge them not to re-detain Jean-Claude roger mbede and to ensure that he is protected from physical or psychological attacks by government security officials or members of the public. send appeals to: his excellency paul biya president of the republic of Cameroon office of the president p.o. box 100, Yaoundé Cameroon fax: +237 222 0870 email: email@example.com salutation: Your excellency Watch a video at bit.ly/jean-claude-mbede
lAos ThoNgpAseuTh keuAkouN AND seNg-AlouN pheNgphANh
sTuDeNT proTesTers serViNg loNg seNTeNCes Two former student activists are serving 20-year prison sentences in Laos for attempting to display posters they had made which called for political, social and economic change in the country. Thongpaseuth keuakoun and Seng-Aloun phengphanh (pictured) were among 30 young people belonging to the Lao Students Movement for Democracy who were prevented from displaying the posters and then arrested in October 1999. The two men are detained in Samkhe prison, Vientiane, the main detention facility in Laos. Conditions there are harsh, with poor medical care and food. Torture and otherill-treatment are common; prisoners are reportedly given tasks that are almost impossible to complete and severely punished if unable to do so. According to official Lao media, a National Steering Committee on Human Rights has been set up to “stimulate the Lao government’s efforts to promote and protect human rights”, providing a good opportunity to raise awareness about these men’s cases. please write to the Chair of the Committee, calling on the authorities to release Thongpaseuth keuakoun and seng-Aloun phengphanh immediately and unconditionally. urge him to ensure that, pending their release,
TAkE ACTION FOR INDIVIDUALS AT RISk
Student Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on 28 April 2011 for “homosexuality and attempted homosexuality”, a criminal offence under the Cameroonian penal Code, punishable with imprisonment for six months to five years and fines of up to US$350. The security service officers who arrested him had been shown text messages sent by Jean-Claude Roger Mbede to a male acquaintance. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely because of his real or perceived sexual orientation. Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was arrested on 2 March 2011 by members of the Secretary of State for Defence security service and held at the Gendarmerie du Lac detention centre in Yaoundé for seven days before being formally charged. He was then transferred to kondengui central prison, which is overcrowded, has poor sanitation and inadequate food. Jean-Claude Roger Mbede’s lawyer appealed against the sentence on 3 May 2011, but the process was subject to delays. After being granted a provisional release on 16 July 2012, his appeal judgement, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was assaulted on 15 December 2012 by four unidentified men outside Yaoundé University campus. Two days later, the Yaoundé Court of Appeal upheld his sentence.
sTuDeNT sTill AT risk
the two remaining prisoners are treated humanely, and given regular access to their families and medical care in accordance with international human rights standards. send your appeal to: head of the president’s office and Chair of the National steering Committee on human rights phongsavath boupha presidential palace setthathirath, Vientiane lao people’s Democratic republic fax: + 856 21 214208 salutation: Dear minister
meXiCo TiTA AND roseNDo rADillA
please write, calling on the authorities to carry out a full investigation into the enforced disappearance of rosendo radilla and bring those responsible to justice. urge them to locate rosendo radilla’s remains, provide his family with adequate redress and reform the Code of military Justice so that all cases of human rights violations committed by military personnel are dealt with by the civilian courts, in compliance with the inter-American Court judgment. send appeals to: president of mexico enrique peña Nieto residencia oficial de “los pinos” Col. san miguel Chapultepec méxico D.f., C.p. 11850 méXiCo fax: +52 55 5093 4901 email: firstname.lastname@example.org salutation: Dear mr president
TurkeY sulTANi ACibuCA
please write, urging the authorities to undertake an impartial and effective investigation into the alleged torture and other ill-treatment of Nasim salimzoda and his four co-defendants while in detention in september 2011. urge them also to grant the five defendants a retrial in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards. Call for the perpetrators of torture to be brought to account in fair proceedings. send appeals to: president emomali rahmon presidentu respubliki Tajikistan 80 rudaki street 734023 Dushanbe Tajikistan salutation: Dear president
usA leoNArD pelTier
ACTiVisT’s freeDom of eXpressioN ViolATeD
serViNg TWo life seNTeNCes © Private
On 9 June 2010, 61-year-old grandmother Sultani Acıbuca was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for being a member of a terrorist organization. Her conviction was based on her attendance at six peaceful demonstrations in the city of Izmir, Turkey, between January 2006 and March 2008, and a speech she made at one of them. Sultani Acıbuca is an active member of peace Mothers, a group of women whose children have died or been imprisoned in the context of the conflict between the banned kurdistan Workers’ party (pkk) and the Turkish army. The speech she gave at the demonstration called for peace and an end to the conflict. The court convicted Sultani Acıbuca on the basis of her activities on behalf of peace Mothers, which it concluded was linked to the pkk and promotes terrorist propaganda. However, the prosecution failed to produce any evidence connecting the group with the pkk beyond the fact that the demonstrations took place and were publicized by Roj TV, a kurdish television channel based in Denmark, which has been alleged to be linked to the pkk. Although Sultani Acıbuca is not in pre-trial detention, her case remains pending at the Supreme Court of Appeals.
On 12 and 13 September 2011, Nasim Salimzoda and four other men from khojai Alo village in Sughd Region, Tajikistan, were detained by police on suspicion of murdering a military employee. Nasim Salimzoda and the murder victim had both attended a local wedding on 11 September. Local residents told police that they saw the victim being abducted by car and beaten by several men from another village. They wrote the car number plate down, but local police refused to investigate the lead and reportedly tortured witnesses, forcing them to change their testimonies. Nasim Salimzoda and the other four men were held and allegedly tortured by police in Isfara until they “confessed” to murder on 13 September. They retracted their statements on 15 September. Nasim Salimzoda reported being denied food and sleep for three days and being beaten while in detention. On 20 and 21 September 2011, all five were charged with murder. In February 2012, following complaints by the families concerning the torture allegations, their charge was changed to “bodily harm leading to death”. The men were sentenced on 7 March 2012 to between 10 and 12 years in prison.
please write, calling on the authorities to ensure that sultani Acıbuca’s conviction is overturned and her right to freedom of expression respected so that she may participate in events without fear of persecution. urge them to amend the penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism law to prevent further abusive prosecutions in violation of the right to freedom of expression. send appeals to: minister of Justice mr sadullah ergin ministry of Justice Adalet bakanlığı 06659 Ankara Turkey Tel: +90 312 419 46 69 (6 lines) fax: +90 312 417 71 13 email: email@example.com salutation: Dear minister
Leonard peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American, is serving two consecutive life sentences for the murders of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in 1975. Amnesty International remains seriously concerned about the fairness of the proceedings that led to his conviction. Leonard peltier was a leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), which promotes Native American rights. On 26 June 1975, during a confrontation with AIM members on the pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot dead. Leonard peltier was convicted of their murders in 1977 but has always denied killing the agents. A key eyewitness, Lakota Native American Myrtle poor Bear, retracted her original statement that she had seen Leonard peltier kill the men, eventually claiming that she had been threatened and harassed by the FBI. The testimony was used to extradite Leonard peltier from Canada to stand trial. Although not called as a prosecution witness at trial, Myrtle poor Bear was also not allowed to testify as a defence witness. Also, documents withheld during the trial but later released under the Freedom of Information Act contained evidence which might have assisted his case.
© Jeffry Scott
Tita Radilla has campaigned for over 30 years on behalf of Mexico’s victims of enforced disappearance. She is vice-president of the Association of Family Members of the Disappeared, (AFADEM), seeking justice for those disappeared during the “dirty war” (1960s-1980s), in which the police and military conducted counter-insurgency operations against suspected supporters of small armed opposition groups. Tita’s own father, Rosendo Radilla, was forcibly disappeared by the military in 1974 in Guerrero state. His detention was never officially acknowledged. When state institutions failed to move the investigation forward, Tita to her case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ruled in her favour in 2009. It ordered the state to bring those responsible for her father’s enforced disappearance to account and end military jurisdiction for human rights abuses, among other issues. Despite some attempts to locate Rosendo Radilla’s remains, both demands remain unfulfilled. Mexico has recently witnessed an explosion of violent crime and human rights violations committed by the security forces in policing operations. Disappearances, including those involving public officials, have increased substantially.
prisoN seNTeNCe folloWiNg uNfAir TrAil
© Amnesty International
DAughTer of DisAppeAreD mAN sTill fighTiNg for JusTiCe
TAJikisTAN NAsim sAlimzoDA
Leonard peltier is now aged 69 and in poor health, suffering from diabetes, among other things. He is not eligible for parole again until 2024. please write to president obama, expressing your concern about the fairness of the proceedings leading to leonard peltier’s trial and the evidence on which his conviction was based. Note that all legal remedies have been exhausted, that leonard peltier’s next parole date is scheduled for 2024, and that he has spent over 36 years in prison. state that the interests of justice would now best be served by releasing him from prison. send your appeals to: president barack obama The Whitehouse, 1600 pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC 20500, usA fax: +1 202 456 2461 email: firstname.lastname@example.org salutation: Dear mr president
23 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
hoW urgeNT ACTio
A SIMpLE IDEA
© Amnesty International
…who inundate the authorities with THE AUTH thousands of letters, faxes, emails and tweets
…and shared w their UA netwo members…
Activists in Venezuela run to “stop the bullets”, April, 2013. #BastaDeBalas
Activists threw a new lifeline to people in prison when Amnesty issued its first urgent Action appeal 40 years ago. And it is still going strong. It was a radical concept: asking thousands of people around the world to write a letter to a person in power,
24 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF URGENT ACTIONS: ’i kNeW TheY CoulD No loNger kill me’
worrying reports of people being tortured in prison in Brazil. She pioneered the idea of inundating the Brazilian authorities with letters, demanding information about Rossi and that they release him immediately. It proved a very effective approach.
‘WE GOT ALL THESE LETTERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD’
Ns Work UA = Urgent Action
A third of all UAs have a concrete, positive impact
PERSON IN DANGER
Amnesty’s researchers collect and check the information
A UA is published and translated into many languages
The UA is sent to every national Amnesty office…
© Amnesty International France
demanding that they release someone. In 1973, we tried it out for the first time, sending out an Urgent Action (UA) with key information about a person in danger from our London, UK offices. It worked. People worldwide who received the UA were inspired to put pen to paper to express their outrage. Together, they helped secure the release
of Luiz Basilio Rossi, a professor of economics at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and a trade union leader. Following worrying reports of a clampdown on political opponents of the military dictatorship in Brazil, Professor Rossi’s home was surrounded by military police armed with machineguns on 15 February 1973. He was
arrested without any explanation. His wife, María, was confined to the house, but eventually managed to smuggle out a note about her husband’s arrest to a neighbour. The information ultimately reached Amnesty’s offices in London. Tracy Ulltveit-Moe, an Amnesty researcher at the time, had heard
“Your husband must be more important than we thought,” the Director of the Department of Public Order and Security Headquarters told Professor Rossi’s wife, “because we got all these letters from all over the world”. Professor Rossi was freed on 24 October 1973. He later credited Amnesty’s activists with securing his release. “I knew that my case had become public, I knew they could no longer kill me. Then the pressure on me decreased and conditions improved.” Today, UAs are a tried and tested method that brings results. We have issued thousands to our global UA network of many thousand activists. They are on stand-by to write letters and send emails, faxes and tweets to prevent someone from being tortured or otherwise ill-treated, to secure someone’s release or even to save their life. UAs for people in the Middle East and North Africa have increased after the ‘Arab Spring’, and there has been a dramatic spike in actions for individuals at risk in Syria, as a result of the fighting there. “Whether it’s a journalist in Libya, a lawyer in China, someone on death row in India, or a doctor in Bahrain, our role is clear – to make a noise that can’t be ignored,” said Kate Allen from Amnesty UK, which has a vibrant UA network of activists. “Urgent Actions put individual people in the spotlight fast, so they can’t be tortured or illegally detained in the shadows,” said Bryna Subherwal from Amnesty’s Individuals at Risk team at the International Secretariat in London, UK.
Join the Urgent Action network by contacting your local Amnesty ofﬁce, or email email@example.com 25 Wire [ Jul/Aug 2013 ]
NeVer eVer uNDeresTimATe The poWer ThAT Your VoiCe CAN hAVe iN Your CommuNiTY. ThAT is The heArT of ACTiVism – sTANDiNg up for WhAT You belieVe.
kArAbo, sTuDeNT ACTiVisT, souTh AfriCA. see pAge 3.