Greater Middle East
ANHRI

Egypt: rights group closes under regime pressure

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), one of Egypt’s last independent human rights organizations, officially closed, citing government pressure. In its statement, ANHRI described political repression and expansion of arrests against human rights defenders, journalists and political activists as reasons for the organization’s closure. The statement was accompanied by a list of attacks that ANHRI members have suffered over recent years, including violent physical assaults and illegal summonses. The group charged that in today’s Egypt there is an “absence of the bare minimum of the rule of law and respect for human rights.” (Image: Facebook via AlBawaba)

Watching the Shadows
Gitmo

UN experts condemn Gitmo on grim anniversary

A group of United Nations experts have condemned the US Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, calling it a site of “unparalleled notoriety.” The statement came on the twentieth anniversary of the arrival of the first terrorism suspects at Guantánamo. The independent experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said: “Twenty years of practicing arbitrary detention without trial [and] accompanied by torture or ill treatment is simply unacceptable for any government, particularly a government which has a stated claim to protecting human rights.” In the 20 years the detention center has been operating, a total of 780 prisoners have been held there, with 39 detainees remaining today. Of those, only nine have been charged or convicted. (Photo via Jurist)

Central Asia
Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan president asks Russia to help quash uprising

Kazakhstan’s President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev called participants in the protests that have swept the Central Asian nation “terrorists,” accusing them of attempting to undermine his government at the behest of foreign powers. After concessions such as a cabinet purge and instating fuel-price controls failed to quell the uprising, Tokayev quickly unleashed harsh repression. Declaring a state of emergency, he flooded the streets with riot police and pledged to “conduct counter-terrorist operations.” He also called on Russia and the other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to come to the defense of his regime. The CSTO has agreed to send “peacekeepers” to Kazakhstan. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Europe
Pussy_Riot

Russia designates Pussy Riot members ‘foreign agents’

In the latest escalation of its crackdown on opposition, Russia designated a disparate group of activists, satirists, and others as “foreign agents.” A statement released by the Ministry of Justice listed the high-profile figures as designated “foreign agents,” a controversial term with Cold War-era implications of espionage that carries burdensome reporting responsibilities and exposes designees to hefty fines. Among those named were Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Veronika Nikulshina of the activist group Pussy Riot. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Europe
Memorial

European rights court intervenes against Russia

Exercising a form of injunction reserved for exceptionally serious cases, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) instructed Russia to halt judicial orders to shutter Memorial International and its subsidiary organization, the Memorial Human Rights Center. The move follows two high-profile decisions by the Russian courts to dissolve the respected non-governmental organizations that were created to shed light on the victims of historical and contemporary political repression in the country. (Photo via Critical Mass)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: political crisis deepens

Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison, convicted of “undermining the external security of the State.” The charge is evidently a reference to his calls on social media for protest against current President Kaïs Saied, and for an end to French support of Saied’s regime. Marzouki calls Saied a “dictator,” and accuses him of having conducted a coup when he suspended parliament and fired the prime minister amid a wave of national unrest in July. (Image: Pixabay)

Greater Middle East
Alaa Abd El Fattah

Egypt: prison term for activist Alaa Abdel Fattah —again

An Egyptian court sentenced prominent activist Alaa Abd El Fattah to five years in prison after he was convicted on charges of “spreading false news” and “undermining national security.” Alongside Abd El Fattah, the Emergency State Security Court also sentenced human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer and blogger Mohammed “Oxygen” Ibrahim to four years each. All three defendants faced charges concerning their social media posts on human rights violations. Both Abd El Fattah and El-Baqer had been held in pretrial detention for more than the legal limit of two years. Verdicts issued by the emergency court cannot be appealed. Human rights groups have criticized the use of “emergency trials,” due process violations, and general repression of freedom of expression in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Watching the Shadows
killer robot

UN chief calls for action against autonomous weapons

UN Secretary General António Guterres called upon member states to devise “an ambitious plan…to establish restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons” ahead of the Sixth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). A coalition of over 65 CCW states has endorsed a proposed ban on lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS). But some member states, including the US and Russia, oppose the ban. States such as the US, Israel, India and France are believed to oppose the ban owing to their heavy investments into the development of AI for military use. (Photo: Future of Life Institute)

Europe
syria-refugee-denmark

Denmark: ex-minister gets prison for family separation

The Danish Court of Impeachment, or Rigsretten, sentenced former immigration minister Inger Støjberg to 60 days in prison following a rare impeachment trial in which she was found to have ordered the illegal separation of married asylum-seeking partners while in office. The court determined that Støjberg’s actions were in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as general principles of Danish administrative law. (Photo: Joe Johansen/The New Humanitarian. Current immigration minister Matt Tesfaye is facing protest over his policy of detention and refoulement of asylum-seekers, and establishment of third-country “offshore asylum centers.”)

Southeast Asia
burma

Burma junta leader accused of crimes against humanity

Burma’s military junta leader Gen. Min Aung Hliang was accused of crimes against humanity in a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP). Article 15 of the Rome Statute empowers the ICC prosecutor to initiate an investigation upon receiving information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. MAP, a human rights advocacy group, has requested that the ICC under Article 15 launch a criminal investigation into “the use of torture as part of the violent crackdown against the protest movement in Myanmar.” MAP’s submission is accompanied by evidence of the widespread and systematic use of torture in Burma (Myanmar) since the military seized control from the democratically elected government in February. (Photo: Myanmar Now)

Oceania
Free West Papua

Indonesia: ‘treason’ charges over West Papua flag

Indonesian police arrested eight Papuan university students on charges of treason for raising the banned “Morning Star” flag at a demonstration for the independence of the West Papua region. The demonstration took place in Jayapura, capital of Papua province. The region, comprising the contemporary provinces of Papua and West Papua, was liberated from Dutch colonial rule on Dec, 1, 1963 now considered by Papuans to be their “independence day.” Following a UN-sanctioned referendum, the region fell under Indonesian rule in 1969. But an independence movement rejects the referendum as illegitimate, and has adopted the flag as a symbol of West Papuan sovereignty. Independence activist Felip Karma served an 11-year sentence for raising the outlawed flag. (Photo of Melbourne protest via Wikipedia)

Iraq
Iraq mass grave

UN team delivers report on ISIS atrocities in Iraq

The United Nations team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq delivered its report to the Security Council, accusing Islamic State (ISIS) actors of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (UNITAD), uncovered evidence of massacres including the deaths of at least 1,000 Shi’ite prisoners at a prison in Mosul in June 2014. The executions had been planned in detail by senior ISIS members. The team also carried out an analysis of battlefield evidence that showed ISIS developed and deployed chemical weapons as part of a long-term strategic plan. The team identified more than 3,000 victims of ISIS chemical attacks to date. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)