Posts Tagged ‘arrests’

Saudi Arabia – countering terrorism with repression

September 11, 2009

Amnesty International, September 11, 2009

A Saudi special forces soldier stands guard at a check point, 5 February 2005, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi special forces soldier stands guard at a check point, 5 February 2005, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

© AP/PA Photo/Amr Nabil

Since the September 11 attacks in the USA eight years ago, the Saudi Arabian authorities have launched a sustained assault on human rights in the name of countering terrorism. The attacks were carried out by a group that included Saudi Arabian nationals.

“The anti-terrorism measures introduced since 2001 have set back the process of limited human rights reform in Saudi Arabia,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Combined with severe repression of all forms of dissent and a weak human rights framework, there is now an almost complete lack of protection of freedoms and rights.”

An Amnesty International briefing paper, launched on Friday, describes the shocking scale of abuses. Thousands of people have had their lives devastated by violations of their basic rights. Some have been arrested and detained in virtual secrecy, while others have been killed in uncertain circumstances.

Hundreds more people face secret and summary trials and possible execution. Many are reported to have been tortured in order to extract confessions or as punishment after conviction.

Since Amnesty International’s July 2009 report, Saudi Arabia: Assaulting Human Rights in the Name of Counter-Terrorism, the government has announced that 330 people have been tried on terrorism charges in recent months, virtually all of whom were convicted in closed trials, with sentences ranging from fines to the death penalty. However, they have not disclosed their names or details of the charges, maintaining the extreme secrecy of the trial process.

Of the thousands detained by the authorities, some are prisoners of conscience, targeted for their peaceful criticism of government policies. The majority are suspected supporters of Islamist groups or factions opposed to the Saudi Arabian government’s close links to the USA and other Western countries.

Such groups have carried out a number of attacks targeting Westerners and others, and are officially dubbed as “misguided”. The detainees also include people forcibly returned from Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries.

“The abuses take place behind a wall of secrecy. Detainees are held with no idea of what is going to happen to them,” said Malcolm Smart.

“Most are held incommunicado for years without trial, and are denied access to lawyers and the courts to challenge the legality of their detention. This has a devastating effect on both the individuals who are detained and on their families.”

Case studies

Abdul Rahim al-Mirbati, a 48-year-old Bahraini businessman, was arrested in 2003 or 2004 in Madina. His family say he had travelled to Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment for his 13-year-old son.

During three months of detention in al-Ruwais Prison in Jeddah, he was denied visits and is reported to have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Following a series of transfers, he is currently held in al-Dammam Central Prison.

Although he is said to have been accused of planning to carry out bombings in Bahrain, his relatives are not aware of any charges brought against him. They have contacted various authorities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to seek clarification of his legal status but to no avail.

Jordanian national Muzhir Mustafa Abdul Rahim Shkour, 44, was arrested in August 2007 on the border between Saudi Arabia and Jordan. He was held in incommunicado detention for four months before he was allowed a telephone call to his family and was subsequently allowed visits. He continues to be held without charge or trial, like many others in al-Dammam Central Prison.

China carries out mass arrests in Xinjiang

August 11, 2009
By John Chan,, August 11, 2009

The Chinese government is tightening its grip in the northwestern Uighur region of Xinjiang. On July 29, 253 people were arrested over their alleged involvement in the July 5 riot in Urumqi, the provincial capital. On August 2, an additional 319 were arrested.

The police had previously reported that over 1,400 had been detained shortly after the protest. Authorities claim that 197 people, mainly Han Chinese civilians, died at the hands of Uighur rioters, and 1,700 people were injured.

Continues >>

Riot police battle protesters as China’s Uighur crisis escalates

July 7, 2009

Times Online/UK, July 7, 2009

Uigher woman confronts police in Xinjiang

(AP) A Uigher woman confronts armed police in Urumqi

Jane Macartney, Urumqi

The challenge China faces as it attempts to regain control of its western-most Muslim region was underlined this morning when hundreds of angry Uighurs clashed yet again with riot police.

Following news that 1,434 people had been arrested for Sunday’s riots, some 300 Muslim ethnic Uighurs confronted heavily-armed riot police in the city of Urumqi demanding the release of family members they said had been arbitrarily arrested in the crackdown following the weekend bloodshed, which left 156 dead and more than 800 wounded.

Continued >>

Pakistan protesters begin march

March 12, 2009
Al Jazeera, March 12, 2009

Riot police were deployed as anti-government protesters prepared to begin their march [AFP]

Hundreds of Pakistani lawyers and activists have started a anti-government march from the city of Karachi, the main city of Sindh province.

Riot police on Thursday arrested dozens of protesters and stopped cars and buses from collecting hundreds of lawyers assembled at the high court ready for the journey to Islamabad.

The lawyers, who are calling on Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, to reinstate judges sacked in 2007 by previous president Pervez Musharraf, instead left the high court on foot and started their march with other anti-government protesters.

“We’ve started the march to achieve our goal,” Munir A Malik, a former president of the supreme court bar association and a protest organiser, said.

The demonstrators are scheduled to arrive in Islamabad, the federal capital, on Monday, where they hope they will join thousands of other anti-government protesters for a rally outside the parliament.

“It is a test for the new government, as to whether it will be in a position to give people their democratic rights,” Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Islamabad, said.

“Across the country there has been a heavy clampdown by the security agencies in spite of the fact that the Pakistani prime minister said that there would no problem with the march as long as it is peaceful.”

Arrests made

The 1,500km-long march comes in spite of a ban on demonstrations in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh, where thousands of troops have been deployed.

Police across the country on Wednesday rounded up about 300 people, including members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan’s main opposition party.

Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the PML-N and a former prime minister, had called on Wednesday for people to “change the destiny of Pakistan” by attending the march.

The PML-N quit the cabinet last year to protest against the new civilians government’s failure to honour a deadline to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the former supreme court justice, and other judges sacked by Musharraf.

Sharif disqualified

In February, Pakistan’s supreme court disqualified Sharif from contesting elections, fuelling the bitter power struggle between the PML-N leader and Zardari, who briefly allied in the campaign to force Musharraf from the presidency.

Sharif, left, has criticised Zardari for not reinstating the sacked judges [AFP]

The ruling forced Sharif’s party out of power in Punjab, placing the province under central government control. But in an apparent concession to Sharif, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister, said on Wednesday that the government wanted central rule over the province to end.

Whichever party has the sufficient mandate to form the provincial government should take over, he said.

The PML-N has the most support in Punjab, although it does not have a clear majority to run the provincial government alone.

Raja Assad Hameed, the Nation newspaper, said that many of the protesters are looking for the central government to relinquish its control over the province.

“They are coming to Islamabad to tell Zardari that the mandate in Punjab, the powerhouse of Pakistani politics, should be given back to the legitimate representatives of the people and that the governor’s rule should be lifted from Punjab,” he said.

“The situation could go anywhere from here; the government has lost its credibility and popularity very prematurely.”

The growing divide between the government and the opposition has increased concerns over the long-term stability of nuclear-armed Pakistan, a major US ally in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Myanmar activist at risk of torture

September 20, 2008

Amnesty International, 16 September 2008

An anti-government activist leader in Myanmar remains at risk of torture following her arrest last Wednesday.Nilar Thein went into hiding more than a year ago after leading some of the initial anti-government protests in August 2007.  She was taken to Aung Tha Pyay Detention Centre in Yangon (Rangoon, Myanmar’s largest city) for interrogation after her arrest and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Nilar Thein was arrested on her way to visit the mother of Ant Bwe Kyaw, another detained activist, in a suburb of north eastern Yangon. Ant Bwe Kyaw and Kyaw Min Yu, Nilar Thein’s husband (also known as Ko Jimmy), were among 13 anti-government activist leaders from the “88 Generation Students Group” who were arrested on 22 August 2007.

A total of 35 activists from the “88 Generation Students Group” appeared before a court inside Yangon’s Insein prison on 9 September to face a range of politically-motivated charges. Several of the charges they are facing are made under vaguely-worded security laws routinely used to criminalise peaceful political dissent.

The “88 Generation Students Group” is made up of anti-government activists who took part in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising against the then 26 years of military rule.

The day after the 13 anti-government activist leaders of the group were arrested on 22 August 2007, Nilar Thein led around 500 people in a demonstration in Yangon. The demonstration demanded the release of fellow activists and continued the protest against the sudden increase in fuel prices that had been imposed by the state on 15 August 2007.

When authorities began a hunt for the leaders of the protests, Nilar Thein went into hiding. After considering the unhealthy and dangerous conditions of living in hiding, she decided to leave her baby daughter behind in the care of her family.

Rumours began to circulate three weeks after her husband’s arrest on 22 August 2007 that he had died in police custody. The rumours turned out to be false and are believed to have been planted by the government to bring Nilar Thein out of hiding.

Whilst in hiding, Nilar Thein continued to appeal to the international community to take action in resolving the grave human rights situation and the abuses that women suffer under the military regime in Myanmar.

A year after the violent crackdown on anti-government protests of September 2007, the military leaders in Myanmar are showing no signs that they will relent in their efforts to silence all political dissent. Nearly 300 individuals have been arrested for their peaceful political activities so far in 2008.

Nilar Thein has been imprisoned twice before for her pro-democracy activities. She was detained for two months in 1991. She was arrested in December 1996 for participating in the student demonstrations in Yangon that of that year. She was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and was released in 2005.

Amnesty International is urgently calling on the government of Myanmar to stop making further arrests and to release all those detained or imprisoned merely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including both long-term and recent prisoners of conscience.

Read More

No moving backwards for Myanmar (Feature, 8 August 2008)
Imprisoned for giving water to monks (News, 31 March 2008)

Antiwar March Ends In Tense Standoff, 396 Arrests

September 6, 2008

The final night of the convention led to confrontations between police and protesters. At least 396 people were arrested, an official said this morning.

by Curt Brown, Terry Collins, Randy Furst and Heron Marquez Estrada | St Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune,  Sep 5, 2008

Police arrested scores more people Thursday night after another series of tense showdowns with protesters on the final night of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

[Police push people back after a person was arrested during a protest at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)]Police push people back after a person was arrested during a protest at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Sweeping into the State Capitol grounds in riot gear, police used snowplows, horses and dump trucks to seal off downtown from antiwar demonstrators attempting a march to the Xcel Energy Center.

“They chose not to leave when told to do so and now everyone’s paying the price,” said one officer on the scene.

This morning, the Joint Information Center said 396 people were arrested during Thursday’s demonstrations, and a total of 818 people were arrested during the four-day convention. The numbers are preliminary; an official count will be released later today, said a spokeswoman for the center, which has been providing information about arrests and security during the convention.

Most of those arrested were ticketed and released, the spokeswoman said.

Thursday night, as police blocked off bridges to stop demonstrators from getting downtown, a rolling series of sit-down protests started on the John Ireland Boulevard bridge over Interstate 94. The arrests ended with more than 200 demonstrators, squatting with their hands on their heads, taken into custody on the Marion Street bridge.

Police used tear gas and pepper spray to quell some of the unrest.

A group of more than 700 demonstrators had a permit to rally and march. But they were angry the permit expired at 5 p.m., before delegates began arriving at the Xcel Energy Center for GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s acceptance speech.

Among those arrested were two Associated Press reporters covering the event. They were issued a citation and detained, along with a KARE-11 TV photographer and more than a dozen other members of the media. All were released later in the evening.

“They’re trying to steal our protest — we have to ignore the police intimidation,” Katrina Plotz, an organizer with the Anti-War Committee, hollered from a stage in front of the Capitol steps.

But ignoring the police wasn’t easy during one of the largest shows of force on the fifth straight day of confrontations in St. Paul.

Top Kashmir separatist leaders under house arrest

September 5, 2008

Hidustan Times, Sep 5, 2008

Agence France-Presse

Srinagar, September 05, 2008

The three top separatist leaders in Kashmir were put under house arrest on Friday ahead of planned protests against Indian-rule during weekly prayers, police said.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik were locked in their homes with “strict instructions by police not to try to move out,” a police official told AFP on condition he not be named.

Police and federal paramilitaries were also deployed in thousands in Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar ahead of the first Friday prayers of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Separatists had told residents of Srinagar and the surrounding Kashmir valley, which have witnessed an upsurge in anti-India protests in recent months, to stage fresh demonstrations on Friday.

“We call upon the people of Kashmir valley to hold peaceful sit-in protests outside the mosques after Friday congregational prayers,” said a statement by a separatist committee.

“The protests should remain peaceful. People have been asked to raise slogans seeking freedom and the right to self-determination,” it said.

Indian Kashmir has been wracked by a Muslim insurgency since 1989.

The recent wave of protests was triggered by a state government plan made public in June to donate land to a Hindu shrine trust in the valley. The decision was later reversed after massive Muslim protests, angering Hindus.

On Sunday, the government agreed to temporarily provide land to the trust during the period of pilgrimage, a move rejected by separatists.

Since June, at least 39 Muslims and three Hindus have died in police shootings in the Kashmir valley and the mainly Hindu area of Jammu, further to the south.

India has detained protest leaders under tough laws and also held scores of separatist activists.

On Thursday, Geelani threatened to launch a “major agitation” against the government if the separatists were not released by the end of Ramadan.

Iran: End pressure on women’s rights defenders

September 2, 2008

Amnesty International, August 27, 2008

Women police beat peaceful demonstrators in Tehran, June 2006

Women police beat peaceful demonstrators in Tehran, June 2006

© Arash Ashoorinia

On the second anniversary of the launch of the Campaign for Equality on 27 August, Amnesty International is renewing its demand that the Iranian authorities cease harassing and imprisoning women’s rights defenders and to restrict their campaigning activities for the repeal of laws and policies which discriminate against women in Iran.

The Campaign for Equality is a network of individuals working to end legal discrimination against women. The campaign informs women of their rights, and is aiming to collect one million signatures from the Iranian public to a petition against discriminatory laws.

Two years into the campaign, women’s rights defenders are facing increasing repression as they try to take their demands for equal treatment to the broader population while the authorities continue to impose restrictions on their use of public space to carry out their peaceful and legal activities.

There are also worrying developments that seem to be further entrenching discrimination against women in Iran. In particular, a new Family Protection Bill passed in July by the Law and Legal Affairs Committee of Iran’s parliament not only fails to address discrimination against women in relation to marriage, divorce and child custody but, if passed into law, would also lift the condition requiring a man to get the permission of his first wife before taking a second wife. The bill still needs further parliamentary approval and to be agreed by the Council of Guardians, but it represents a very worrying trend.

Amnesty International is urging the Iranian government and parliament not to entrench discrimination but to move ahead with a package of reforms in order to end those laws and practices which continue to discriminate against women, who make up half of the population of Iran, and to deny them access to their human rights. Amnesty International is also urging the Iranian government to ratify, without reservation, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and to bring Iran’s laws and practices into conformity with this Convention.

Since the launch of the Campaign, Amnesty International has collected information on the harassment of the Campaign for Equality activists. They face threatening phone calls by persons identifying themselves as Ministry of Intelligence officers warning them not to hold planned meetings; they are prevented from organizing peaceful meetings or demonstrations and to date, the website of Campaign for Equality has been blocked on at least 11 occasions and filtering has extended to local sites of the campaign in several Iranian provinces.

Some campaigners have been sentenced or are facing charges for their peaceful campaigning for women’s rights and Amnesty International calls for such charges to be dropped and for their immediate and unconditional release of those serving prison sentences.

Amir Yaghoub-Ali was sentenced in May 2008 to one year’s imprisonment for collecting signatures in Daneshjou Park, Tehran in July 2007. He is currently free pending the outcome of an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

In June 2008 Hana Abdi, a member of Iran’s Kurdish minority, and member of the Campaign in Kordestan province and of the Azad Mehr NGO was sentenced to the maximum five years’ imprisonment, to be spent in internal exile after conviction of “gathering and colluding to commit a crime against national security.” Hana Abdi was summoned to the Prosecutors Office in August 2008 and was cautioned about passing news outside prison, if she does so she would be further charged with “propaganda against the state”.

Zeynab Bayzeydi, another Kurdish women’s rights activist was sentenced in August 2008 to four years’ imprisonment, and internal exile on account of her activities in support of women’s rights, which she has denied, except the one arising from her work on the Campaign for Equality.

Women’s rights defenders in Iran describe a climate of increasing repression and restrictions on public space for them to carry out their peaceful, legal activities.

In an interview with Amnesty international, Sussan Tahmasebi a founding member of the Campaign for Equality explained:

“We are forced to hold our meetings, trainings and seminars in our homes, but the security forces have worked hard to prevent us from even holding meetings in our own homes, meetings have been broken up and members have been arrested.”

“Nearly 50 were arrested and charged with vague security charges, such as endangering national security, or spreading of propaganda against the state.”

In the year of the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which affirms the protection of human rights defenders from violence or threats as a result of their work, Amnesty International is urging the Iranian authorities both to protect human rights defenders and value the work they do. The organization is also calling for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, including activists in the Campaign for Equality who are currently detained.

Read More

Iran: End pressure on women’s rights defenders campaigning for an end to discrimination (Public Statment, 27 August 2008)

Iran: Women’s rights defenders defy repression (News, 28 February 2008)

Killing of Kashmiris continues: 3 more die in troops firing

August 28, 2008

Greater Kashmir, August 28, 2008

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Srinagar, Aug 27:  Three civilians were killed and at least 50 others injured when Police and paramilitary CRPF troopers fired upon the protesters in different parts of the Valley on Wednesday, witnesses and reports said.
2 killed in Budgam
Tension gripped Soibugh area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, Wednesday afternoon when troopers and policemen arrested a youth Rafiq Ahmed, locals said.
They said that as the news about Rafiq’s arrest spread in the area people defied curfew and took to the roads demanding release of Rafiq. Policemen and paramilitary CRPF troopers opened fire to disperse the protesters killing Hilal Ahmed Mir son of Abdul Khaliq Mir on the spot and injuring 15 others. Injured were rushed to a hospital where Ghulam Nabi Wani succumbed.
Protester killed in Handwara
A civilian was killed and six others injured when troopers opened fire to disperse the protesters at Banday mohalla in Handwara on Wednesday, witnesses said.
They said troopers beat up the namazis near Banday mohalla who came out of the Masjid after offering Zuhar prayers this afternoon. As word about Namazis being beaten spread in the area people came out on the roads and staged a massive protest.
Policemen and troopers who reached the spot opened fire injuring one Muhammad Yousuf Banday critically. He was rushed to Sub District Hospital Handwara where he died.
Meanwhile residents of Chopan mohalla Handwara staged massive protests against troopers barging into their houses during night. “Troopers barged into our houses last night and resorted to arson,” residents of Chopan mohalla Handwara alleged.
Witnesses said that as the word about the incident spread in the area hundreds of people defied the curfew and took to the roads. Policemen reached the spot and resorted to baton charge to disperse the protesters. Policemen fired tear smoke canisters and resorted to aerial firing. In police action at least six protesters sustained injuries.
10 injured in Rainawari
Reports said that as the curfew was relaxed in the Rainawari area in Shehar-e-Khaas here,
Paramilitary CRPF troopers allegedly beat up a woman and another person without any provocation during relaxation period.  Later CRPF men gate crashed into the house of 75-year-old priest Haji Noor Muhammad Mugloo and beat up the inmates, including men and women. The house hold goods were also ransacked by the CRPF men, locals alleged.
As the word about the incident spread in the area people came out on the roads and tried staging a demonstration. CRPF troopers opened fire on the demonstrators injuring at least 10 persons.
2 injured in Naidkhai
At least two persons were injured when police and troopers opened fire to disperse a procession at Naidkhai  in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district Wednesday evening, witnesses said.
They said that troopers without any provocation hurled choicest of invectives on the residents who had come out to buy essential commodities. People responded by raising pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and tried staging a protest. CRPF troopers opened fire to disperse the protesters injuring at least two persons.
Bakers ‘beaten’ for preparing bread
Residents of many Shehar-e-Khaas localities on Wednesday accused paramilitary CRPF  troopers of going berserk and beating up the bakers to pulp who tried to prepare the bread.
“ Bakers who tried to open their shops this morning were beaten to pulp by the troopers. They (troopers) told the bakers that they will kill them if they prepare any bread for the people,” a caller from Nawa Kadal told Greater Kashmir over phone.
The indefinite curfew imposed by the authorities on Sunday entered into fourth day, today. “We’ve nothing to eat, children and kids are starving,” said another caller from Bohri Kadal.

US election: Anti-war veterans begin protest in Denver

August 28, 2008

The protest, organised by Iraq Veterans Against the War, was not approved by the city of Denver

Backed by hundreds of demonstrators, an anti-war veterans group began marching toward the Democratic convention hall today to press Barack Obama into supporting a quicker US withdrawal from Iraq.

The protest, organised by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), was not approved by the city of Denver. Trucks of armed police in riot gear were dispatched to watch closely for any eruptions of violence.

Garett Reppenhagen, a US army sniper who served in Kosovo and Iraq, said the march aimed to prod Obama and the Democrats into making good on their campaign-trail promises to end the war.

“He goes to Iraq to do PR stunts to build his credibility on the war, but he’s afraid to come home and face anti-war veterans,” Reppenhagen said. “I’m not voting for hope. I want practical solutions.”

The IVAW march is slated to culminate at the Pepsi centre, the heavily guarded convention arena, but law enforcement is likely to halt the trek before it reaches downtown Denver. Reppenhagen said the police were “working with us” but could not say how far protesters would get.

In a further complication for the marchers, many in the boisterous, sign-waving crowd came out more for Rage Against the Machine than rage against Obama’s war policy.

The popular rock band played a free concert that was timed to end just as the anti-war protest began, encouraging music fans to join in and confront the Democrats. Asked what inspired him to march, one 26-year-old demonstrator shrugged, “I’ve got nothing to do today.”

Demonstrations at this week’s convention have proven more low-key than early forecasts predicted, although police fired pepper spray into a crowd on Monday night before arresting 100 people for blocking the streets.

“Many [in the crowd] were observed carrying rocks and other items that could be used to threaten public safety,” the city police said in a release on the arrests.

Yesterday saw 18 more arrests, bringing the total for convention week to 135. The biggest controversy arose over videotape showing a Denver police officer pushing a young female anti-war protester, Alicia Forrest, to the ground with no apparent provocation.

The officer later arrested Forrest when she began telling reporters about the confrontation. She was released from jail this morning.

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