Travelers to USA, be careful, Amnesty says


This 8 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Death by Police is Now the 6th Leading Cause of Death Among Young Men

It was once believed that police killings were the 14th leading cause of death among young people. However, a new Rutgers University study by Frank Edwards, which used federal statistics and journalistic investigation found that the death rate is far higher now. We discuss the research with Frank Edwards.

From Amnesty International in the USA today:

Travel Advisory: United States of America

The Amnesty International travel advisory for the country of the United States of America calls on people worldwide to exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the USA. This Travel Advisory is being issued in light of ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country.

Amnesty on the USA

Racist words and acts, like the El Paso shooting, harm children’s health. U.S. pediatricians are tackling racism as a public health issue that can take a lifelong toll. By Aimee Cunningham, 3:37pm, August 6, 2019.

Turkish government, free Amnesty International leader


The Istanbul Ten

This picture shows ten Amnesty International employees, detained by the Turkish state last year – eight spent over four months in prison.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Release Amnesty’s Turkish leader

THE DECISION to renew the detention of Amnesty International’s Turkey Chair just hours after a court ordered his release must be immediately reversed and Taner Kiliç set free, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s Secretary General, said: ‘Over the last 24 hours, we have borne witness to a travesty of justice of spectacular proportions. To have been granted release only to have the door to freedom so callously slammed in his face is devastating for Taner, his family and all who stand for justice in Turkey.

‘This latest episode of his malicious detention has dashed the hopes of Taner and those of his wife and daughters who were waiting by the prison gates all day to welcome him into their arms. This is the latest example of the crisis in Turkey’s justice system that is ruining lives and hollowing out the right to a fair trial.

‘By riding roughshod over justice and ignoring the overwhelming evidence of his innocence his re-detention only deepens our resolve to continue to fight on Taner’s case. One million voices have already called for his release. He should never have been arrested, and we will not rest until he is free.’

Taner’s renewed detention followed a decision on Wednesday by the Istanbul trial court to conditionally release him from pre-trial detention. The prosecutor appealed the court’s decision.

A second court in Istanbul accepted the prosecutor’s appeal and instead of being released, Taner was taken from Izmir prison where he had been held since June, and into custody.

It is now up to the trial court to either renew its decision to release Taner or accept the other court’s decision to continue his detention. The next court hearing has been set for 21 June 2018.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty UK, said on Thursday: ‘The decision to rearrest my colleague Taner is a complete disgrace.

‘The court yesterday released him on bail because there was no evidence produced against him.

‘Yet his rearrest raises more questions for the Turkish authorities to answer. It is not Taner that is on trial, it is the Turkish justice system. We will stand alongside Taner and his family, and we will continue our work until this travesty is brought to an end.’

Kiliç was detained on 6 June last year and sent to jail three days later, where he has since languished. Ten other activists ‘the Istanbul 10’, including Idil Eser, the Director of Amnesty Turkey, were detained a month later. Eight of them were held for almost four months before being released on bail at their first hearing in October.

The Istanbul 10 were accused of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’, a baseless allegation for which the prosecution has yet to provide any concrete evidence. More than a million people from scores of countries have signed Amnesty appeals demanding the release of the 11 human rights activists since their arrest last summer.

Kiliç is alleged to have downloaded and used the ByLock messaging application, which the prosecution has claimed was used by the Gülen movement to communicate with each other. However, two independent forensic analyses of Taner’s phone commissioned by Amnesty found that there is no trace of ByLock ever having been on it.

So far, the prosecution have not provided any evidence to prove their claim and demonstrate any criminal wrongdoing. Last month, the Turkish authorities admitted that thousands of people have been wrongly accused of downloading ByLock.

They published lists containing the numbers of 11,480 mobile phone users, leading to mass releases. Taner Kiliç is not yet among those listed for release on this basis. Amnesty noted: ‘Since the attempted coup of July 2016, criminal investigations have been opened against 150,000 people accused of being part of the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”, which the Turkish government claims masterminded the coup.

‘Some 50,000 people are currently jailed, including at least 100 journalists, the highest number of any country in the world. More than 100,000 public sector workers, including a quarter of the judiciary and hundreds of academics, have been arbitrarily dismissed.’

• Despite their strike being banned by the government, Turkish metalworkers have won a wage increase of almost 25 per cent as part of a new collective agreement. The strike was scheduled to begin on 2 February 2018.

Unions refused to recognise the strike ban and vowed to continue the struggle, resulting in a remarkable achievement, advancing their wages and working conditions through a new sectoral level collective bargaining agreement covering 130,000 workers in 179 enterprises. The two-year agreement, backdated to 31 August 2017, was signed by the three unions representing metal workers, including IndustriALL affiliates Birlesik Metal-is and Çelik-is, with the Metal Industry Employers’ Association, MESS.

The employers’ association MESS withdrew from its previous concessions due to the determined stance of metalworkers, and made a substantial increase in their final offer to the unions. The first offer from MESS was a 3.2 per cent increase, at the level of realised inflation.

Afterwards they increased it to 6.4 per cent in the second and to 13.2 per cent in the third rounds of negotiation. However, in the end the employers accepted a 24.6 per cent increase in wages, and 23 per cent on social benefits.

Turkish metalworkers also gained complementary health insurance in line with their demands. As their demands were largely accepted by employers, Turkish metalworkers expressed their happiness and satisfaction with the victory. Workers repeated their motto, saying ‘we said that this fight would never end until we say that it ends.’

In its statement, IndustriALL affiliate Birlesik Metal-is said: ‘Signing this collective agreement is an achievement of metalworkers who did not recognise the strike ban. We thank everyone for their effort in this process.’

The general secretaries of IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll Europe, Valter Sanches and Luc Triangle, wrote to the Turkish metal affiliates. They said:

‘We congratulate all the Turkish metalworkers on their determined stance in these hard negotiations. Your unity, struggle and determination made it possible for such a great victory. You have made a great example to the whole world that when you stick together, anything can be achieved. We trust that this unity will be maintained.’

‘Pro-human rights’ governments violating human rights


Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters. A woman’s peaceful act of resistance during a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has become the symbol of a powerful moment in the Black Lives Matter movement

This June 2016 photo from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA is on the front page of the new Amnesty International annual report. It shows a Black Lives Matter demonstrator against police violence; who would be arrested.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, on Amnesty International‘s 2016/2017 report:

According to Amnesty director Shetty the French state of emergency is “deeply discriminatory” and more than 600 people, mostly Muslims, have been placed under house arrest. Also more than 140 demonstrations have been prohibited.

France in that is not unique, the organization says. Amnesty sees that more and more countries fiddle with the existing laws that protect human rights and fears a domino effect. “Countries that once had reputations as champions to defend human rights abroad, are now too busy curtailing the rights in their own countries, let alone to control others still.”

THERESA MAY’S “callous brutality” towards child refugees and the passing of “draconian legislation” has made Britain a “golden standard for human rights abuses,” Amnesty International warns in its annual report released today: here.

British government spying on Amnesty International


This video from Amnesty International UK says about itself:

Live Q&A: Edward Snowden

2 June 2015

Two years since Edward Snowden revealed the scale of illegal and unnecessary surveillance by our governments, Amnesty hosted a live Q&A, with questions from both our experts and from Twitter.

Find out more about Amnesty’s work on mass surveillance here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

GCHQ spied on Amnesty International, tribunal tells group in email

Human rights group denounces revelation as outrageous as after Investigatory Powers Tribunal says its communications have been illegally retained

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

Wednesday 1 July 2015 23.54 BST

The government’s electronic eavesdropping agency GCHQ spied illegally on Amnesty International, according to the tribunal responsible for handling complaints against the intelligence services.

Confirmation that surveillance took place emerged late on Wednesday, when the human rights group revealed that the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) sent it an email correcting an earlier judgment.

The extraordinary revision of a key detail in the ruling given on 22 June may alarm many supporters of Amnesty, who will want to know why it has been targeted.

In the original judgment, the IPT said that communications by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the South African non-profit Legal Resources Centre had been illegally retained and examined.

In the email sent on Wednesday, the tribunal made it clear that it was Amnesty and not the Egyptian organisation that had been spied on – as well as the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

The breach of surveillance powers, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, related to retaining databases for longer than was permitted. Amnesty had been one of the claimants in the case, but in the original judgment the IPT made “no determination” on the organisation’s complaint – implying that either their emails and phone calls were not intercepted or that they were intercepted but by legal means.

Responding to the revelation, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said: “It’s outrageous that what has been often presented as being the domain of despotic rulers has been done on British soil, by the British government.

“How can we be expected to carry out our crucial work around the world if human rights defenders and victims of abuse can now credibly believe their confidential correspondence with us is likely to end up in the hands of governments?

“After 18 months of litigation and all the denials and subterfuge that entailed, we now have confirmation that we were in fact subjected to UK government mass surveillance. The revelation that the UK government has been spying on Amnesty International highlights the gross inadequacies in the UK’s surveillance legislation.

“If they hadn’t stored our communications for longer than they were allowed to, we would never even have known. What’s worse, this would have been considered perfectly lawful.”

The IPT email made no mention of when or why Amnesty International was spied on, or what was done with the information obtained. The organisation is calling for an independent inquiry into how and why a UK intelligence agency has been spying on human rights organisations.

Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, which also took a similar case to the IPT, said: “Our system of oversight and remedy has fundamentally failed. The communications of one of the world’s leading human rights organisations – Amnesty International – were targeted by British spies, unlawfully, and our commissioners and courts failed to admit it, depriving individuals around the world of the validation and condemnation of, and redress for, unlawful government practices that is so desperately needed.

“Without Edward Snowden, without an 18-month legal battle, without an honest reckoning by whichever upstanding individual spotted and admitted this grave error, the unlawful conduct of the British intelligence agencies would never have been exposed by the very court charged with exposing it.

“Today’s farcical developments places into sharp relief the obvious problems with secret tribunals where only one side gets to see, and challenge, the evidence. Five experienced judges inspected the secret evidence, seemingly didn’t understand it, and wrote a judgement that turned out to be untrue. We need to know why and how this happened.

“Any confidence that our current oversight could keep GCHQ in check has evaporated. Only radical reforms will ensure this never happens again.”

See also here.

News from eg, Russia or China about similar government spying on human rights organisations would be spinned by politicians like David Cameron as proof that these countries are evil totalitarian dictatorships, and that more British taxpayers’ billions of pounds should be spent on Trident nuclear weapons. Let us hope that no one in Russia, China or elsewhere will spin this British news this way …

Human rights groups call for inquiry into why GCHQ spied on Amnesty: here.

AMNESTY International demanded yesterday that David Cameron launch a full inquiry into allegations that the security services spied on the correspondence of human rights organisations: here.

Michael Brown killed, Amnesty inquiry in USA for first time


This video from the USA is called Police Shooting of Mike Brown, An Unarmed Black Teenager, Sparks Protests in Missouri.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon sends reserve military force to help quell violence in Ferguson after fresh clashes erupted last night

Natasha Culzac

Monday 18 August 2014

As anger erupted again on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a human rights team from Amnesty International worked on the ground in the US for the first time ever.

Confrontation flared up after an autopsy found that Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by an officer on 9 August, had suffered at six bullet wounds including one in the top of his head.

Eye-witnesses report seeing police, with no visible ID badges, hurling tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and threatening members of the press in another night of demonstrations.

Amnesty International, said it would be observing police and protester activity and gathering testimonies as well as training local activists “on methods of non-violent protest” in an “unprecedented” move by the campaigners.

Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director, Steven W Hawkins said that the “people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting”.

Jasmine Heiss, one of the 13-strong team sent by Amnesty, told Buzzfeed that the limits placed on the organisation’s access to post-curfew areas was indicative of “the overall lack of transparency in this investigation”.

“The US cannot continue to allow those obligated and duty-bound to protect to become those who their community fears most,” said Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W. Hawkins.”

“Law enforcement, from the FBI to state and local police, are obligated to respect and uphold the human rights of our communities,” Mr Hawkins said in a statement on 14 August.

The fresh dissidence has led to Jay Nixon, the Governor of the state of Missouri, ordering the deployment of National Guard troops to “protect life and property”, he said in a statement this morning.

The military will, he says, will “maintain peace and order” by closing streets and thoroughfares, if it must, after the events that have unfolded have “continued to create conditions of distress and hazard to the safety, welfare and property of the citizens of the community beyond the capacities of local jurisdiction”. …

A number of journalists present at the clash in the early hours of this morning reported being threatened with tear gas if they didn’t move, as they were shepherded away from the media enclosure.

Complex Magazine said that police had opened fire into the crowds without warning three hours before the midnight curfew began, causing some children and members of the media to be hit with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Two black journalists from Complex also said that they had been racially profiled, being refused re-entry into the press area whereas white members of the press had been [admitted].

While tensions ran high in Missouri, another demonstration in Los Angeles, 1,800 miles away, saw 500 people congregate outside police headquarters to protest the fatal shooting of another unarmed black man, who was killed 11 August.

Ezell Ford, 25, died in hospital after being shot by an LAPD officer – Ford’s family say he had been cooperating with police and was lying on the ground when hit, however police say that Ford was trying to grab one of their guns, according to Reuters.

US Audio Analysis: The Protests in Ferguson & the National Guard — Scott Lucas with the BBC: here.

Michael Brown family attorney: autopsy proves ‘witness accounts were true’ – live: here.

Michael Brown family attorney: autopsy proves teenager was surrendering. Doctor says no signs of a struggle on Brown’s body. Governor abandons Ferguson curfew as national guard arrives: here.

Ferguson: The Trayvonning of Michael Brown: here.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News panelist says Ferguson response needed because “these extremist Muslims are coming back”: here.

USA: For blacks, the “war on terror” hasn’t come home. It’s always been here: here.

6 Good Reasons a Black Person Might Resist Arrest: here.

Free Bahrain political prisoners, Amnesty says


This video is called Torturing detainees in Bahrain.

Bahrain Prisoners of Conscience demo in Denmark © AI

From Amnesty International:

4 September 2012

Bahrain must free prisoners of conscience after outrageous verdict

The decision by Bahrain’s appeal court to uphold sentences against 13 opposition activists and prisoners of conscience is outrageous and the authorities must ensure it is overturned and the activists immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said.

The High Criminal Court of Appeal in Bahrain on Tuesday upheld the convictions and sentences of the 13 men, who were convicted last year before military courts on charges related to anti-government protests.

Amnesty International sent a trial observer to Bahrain who was present in court.

“Today’s court decision is another blow to justice and it shows once more that the Bahraini authorities are not on the path of reform, but seem rather driven by vindictiveness,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Today’s verdict further engulfs Bahrain in injustice. Instead of upholding the sentences, ranging from five years to life in prison, the Bahraini authorities must quash the convictions for the 13 men who are imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights and release them immediately and unconditionally.”

The 13, who include prominent activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and opposition political activist Ebrahim Sharif, were originally sentenced by a military court in June 2011 to between two years and life in prison on charges including “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution”.

All maintain their innocence.

Farida Ismail, Ebrahim Sharif’s wife, said: “I was expecting this outcome as it is clear to us the government is not ready to be held accountable – its procedures continue as before.

“There is not enough pressure from abroad. What happens next will depend on which steps are taken by the international community and what states do in the next Universal Periodic Review session. As for our government, it is clear it is not ready for justice.”

The convictions and sentences of the 13 were originally upheld before a military court of appeal in September 2011.

But on 30 April 2012, the Court of Cassation ordered their appeal be held before a civilian court – a process which began on 22 May 2012 and ended with today’s verdict, which was announced in a session that lasted only three minutes.

Bahrain’s human rights record will be under scrutiny during the next Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the Human Rights Council in mid September, when the Gulf state will have to confirm which recommendations made by its peers it accepts.

During the previous UPR session in June, 176 recommendations were presented to Bahrain, including key proposals that, if accepted, would signal commitment towards ensuring accountability.

“Bahrain cannot get a free pass at the UN Human Rights Council and we urge states to tell the Bahraini authorities that today’s verdict crosses a red line and that they can no longer be considered credible partners,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Despite the Bahraini’s government attempt to portray themselves as on the path to reform, little has been done on the ground to ensure accountability and true justice for victims of human rights abuses.

Violations are ongoing and prisoners of conscience remain behind bars.

Amnesty International also repeated its call to the authorities to order an immediate and independent investigation into some of the allegations made by defendants during previous court hearings, that they have been tortured and suffered other ill-treatment while in detention, including sexual assault, in order to coerce “confessions” from them.

Fourteen opposition activists were originally arrested between 17 March and 9 April 2011 after taking part in pro-reform protests in Manama. One of the men was later released.

Many have alleged they were tortured during their first few days of detention when they were being interrogated by officers from the National Security Agency (NSA).

None of the 13 was allowed to see their lawyers during the NSA interrogations. Some saw their lawyers during questioning by the military prosecutor ahead of the trial in 2011.

Others were only allowed to see their lawyers during the first court hearing in May 2011, which was the first time any of the activists had seen their families since their arrest.

Shell Nigeria pollution 60 times worse than said


This May 2010 video says about itself:

Shell Oil: Human rights go up in flames

Gas flaring happens when oil is pumped out of the ground, producing gas. The gas is separated out and, in Nigeria, is usually burnt as waste. This practice, combined with numerous oil spills, has left communities in the Niger Delta with little option but to drink polluted water, eat contaminated fish, farm on spoiled land and breathe in air that smells of oil and gas. It also makes a mockery of Shells much-flaunted business principles.

See also here.

From Reuters new agency:

Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:57pm EDT

* Nigerians taking Shell to UK court over Bodo spill

* Amnesty says more than 103,000 barrels spilt

* Shell says legal action is delaying clean up

By Tim Cocks

LAGOS, April 23 – An oil spill in Nigeria for which Royal Dutch Shell is being sued for tens of millions of dollars in a London court was at least 60 times worse than it announced, a report by Amnesty International said on Monday, citing research it commissioned.

A Shell spokeswoman said it was not appropriate to comment on the estimate while the spill was still the subject of litigation, adding that efforts to clean up had been hampered by insecurity in the Bodo area of the Niger Delta and by oil theft that had caused even more oil to be spilt since.

A group of 11,000 Nigerians launched a suit against Royal Dutch Shell at the London High Court last month for two oil spills in 2008/9 that they say destroyed their livelihoods.

SPDC, a Shell-run joint venture between the state oil firm, which holds 55 percent, Shell, with 30 percent, EPNL, with 10 percent and Agip, with 5 percent, admits responsibility for two spills that devastated the Bodo fishing communities in the Niger Delta, a labyrinth of creeks and swaps.

The Amnesty accusation is based on footage of one of the oil leaks sent to Washington State-based research company Accufacts, which examined the flow rate from the film and found it to be between one and three barrels a minute.

Amnesty extrapolated that the total oil spilled “over the 72 day period is between 103,000 barrels and 311,000 barrels.”

The high end of Amnesty’s estimate is still only half the 600,000 barrels that lawyer Martyn Day, who represents the affected Bodo communities, says may have been spilt. But it is much greater than the 1,640 barrels Shell says flowed out.

“The difference is staggering: even using the lower end of the Accufacts estimate, the volume of oil spilt at Bodo was more than 60 times the volume Shell has repeatedly claimed leaked,” Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

LEGAL BATTLE

Success in Day’s case would create a precedent that other communities affected by oil spills around the world might follow. It is being nervously watched by the oil industry.

Shell spokeswoman Sarah Bradley told Reuters around 4,000 barrels of oil were spilt in total in the two spills — about 1,640 barrels in the one Amnesty investigated that was stopped in Nov. 2008, and another 2,500 barrels from a corroded pipe that was fixed in Feb. 2009.

Accufacts officials were not immediately available for comment, and Amnesty was not able say how long the footage was.

A letter from them to Amnesty obtained by Reuters said “the oil release rate in the video is … 1 to 3 barrels a minute, largely driven by … girth weld leak failures.”

“It is also worth noting that once the leak started, the leak rate would not decrease for some time, until the operator discovered the release and … evacuated the pipeline.”

Shell agreed in August that a Nigerian community affected by the spill can claim compensation in a British court, setting a precedent for such claims.

Amnesty admitted sabotage was a major problem but said the basis for the claim it is the main cause of spills was “an oil spill investigation process (by Shell) which is deeply flawed.”

“The cause of spills, the volume of oil spilt, and other important parameters like the start date are not recorded in any credible way,” the watchdog said.

LITTLE has been done to clean up oil pollution in the Niger delta, either by Nigeria’s government or oil giant Shell, rights and environment groups said today: here.

BRITISH lawyers representing a Nigerian community allegedly blighted by oil pipeline leaks said yesterday that they would meet industry giant Shell in a bid to reach agreement. A legal action has been brought against Shell in relation to claims by 15,000 residents of the Bodo community in Nigeria’s Niger delta after two major pipeline leaks in 2008: here.

Nigeria’s Bodo community claims win over Shell after latest UK court ruling: here.

TODAY’S ruling that oil giant Shell cannot be pursued in British courts for activities that took place in Nigeria is bad news for poor communities the world over — and for the planet: here.

OIL giant Shell is guilty of “fundamental rights violations” by paying its Nigerian workers poverty wages and stringing them out on temporary contracts despite working for the company for up to 20 years, IndustriALL Global Union charged today. The international trade union organisation released a report from a fact-finding mission that spoke to workers at the Umuebulu-Etche Flow Station, Port Harcourt: here.

Amnesty International says conditions worsen at Guantánamo camp


Guantanamo Bay torture, cartoon

By Tom Carter:

Amnesty International report: conditions for Guantánamo prisoners worsening

7 April 2007

A report released Thursday by Amnesty International (AI) describes “deteriorating” conditions at the infamous Guantánamo Bay, Cuba prison camp, citing an increase in the use of physical isolation to break prisoners, and an accompanying rise in mental health problems.

The human rights group’s report calls for the immediate closure of the camp and affirms the right of victims to pursue reparations in US courts.

The report, “Cruel and Inhuman: Conditions of isolation for detainees at Guantánamo Bay,” dismisses assurances from US authorities that Guantánamo detainees are being treated “humanely” and afforded “high quality” medical care.

The report draws a parallel between the inhuman conditions at Guantánamo and the conditions at “super-maximum” prisons operated inside the United States.

According to AI, the Guantánamo prison currently houses 385 men from around 30 countries. These prisoners, many of whom have been incarcerated for more than five years, are being denied all rights associated with US and international law.

None have had their cases reviewed by any legitimate court, and are being held in violation of fundamental democratic principles.

In December 2006, according to the report, a facility dubbed “Camp 6” was opened in Guantánamo.

Camp 6, which now houses about 165 individuals, “created even harsher and apparently more permanent conditions of extreme isolation and sensory deprivation in which detainees are confined to almost completely sealed, individual cells, with minimal contact with any other human being.”

And Guantánamo is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hunger strike in Guantánamo: here.