December 5, 2016: Ethiopian Authorities Arrest Ethiopian Opposition Leader Dr. Merera Gudina
On November 30, 2016, Ethiopian authorities detained Dr. Merera Gudina, a prominent Ethiopian scholar and chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). He was arrested at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, upon his return from Belgium, where he testified before the European Parliament about human rights abuses in Ethiopia.
Join us in calling upon the Ethiopian government to immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Merera Gudina by sharing this tweet.
At the November 9, 2016 hearing, Dr. Gudina testified alongside Dr. Berhanu Nega, an exiled opposition party leader, and athlete Feyisa Lilesa, whose solidarity gesture at the 2016 Rio Olympics raised the profile of the protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region. Dr. Nega is a leader of the Patriotic Ginbot 7 (G7), an opposition group that is considered to be a “terrorist organization” by Ethiopia’s ruling party.
Dr. Gudina is accused of violating Ethiopia’s six-month state of emergency by associating with Dr. Nega. The state of emergency, which suspends constitutionally guaranteed rights and gives sweeping powers to the security sector, was declared on October 9, 2016 in response to ongoing anti-government protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Lily Mengesha, an Ethiopian journalist described the state of emergency as a continuation of the government’s escalating attacks on media freedom and human rights in the country that “will not deliver needed stability.”
Dr. Gudina’s arrest means that almost all of OFC’s senior leaders are in detention. Currently, six of his colleagues are on trial for terrorism charges, another is under house arrest, and many members of the party have been jailed. Since protests began in November 2015, more than 400 people have been killed in Ethiopia and at least 11,000 have been detained.
Dr. Gudina is a former member of the Ethiopian parliament, and leads the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK). He is also an internationally respected scholar and published author. In 2014, Dr. Gudina was chosen for the Reagan-Fascell fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy where he explored “opposition politics, political polarization, and the role of the Ethiopian diaspora in facilitating democratization in Ethiopia.”
The World Movement for Democracy is alarmed by the Ethiopian government’s escalating crackdown on dissent, and urges the state to respect the human rights of its people.
Join us in calling upon the Ethiopian government to immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Merera Gudina by sharing this tweet.
September 23, 2016: Cuban Authorities’ Escalate Violent Assaults on Civil Society
On September 23, 2016, police authorities raided the headquarters of Cuban Legal Information Center (CUBALEX) and confiscated computers, hard drives, USB drives and cell phones. Cuban activist Kirenia Yalit stated: “when it seemed that everything was going to end and they had concluded their interrogations’ of the activists, they forced them to strip naked ‘and squat to verify that there was nothing hidden in their bodies.” The authorities also told Laritza Diversent, Director of CUBALEX, that members of the organization could be accused of “illicit economic activity” and “illicit association.”
CUBALEX is an independent Cuban organization based in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, and provides free legal advice to Cuban citizens and civil society activists. Unfortunately, the raid of the CUBALEX offices was part of a larger wave of harassment against Cuban civil society that has been taking place since last week.A day earlier, 23 activists belonging to the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) were arrested, one of whom was indefinitely detained. This arrest marks the 43rd UNPACU member who has been imprisoned by the authorities.
On September 18, 27 members of the Ladies in White movement, and several #TodosMarchamos (We All March) demonstrators, were arrested during peaceful protests. In a separate incident, Ladies in White activist Leticia Ramos, is facing baseless charges of “public disorder” after a police raid on her home. As of now, Ramos is under a government-imposed house arrest. On September 20, Cuban political police raided and disbanded a “meeting of several trade unionists,” according to Iván Hernández Carrillo, spokesman for Cuba’s Independent Trade Union Coalition. On September 27, Cuban authorities detained Arturo Rojas and Ada López, members of the Otro18 (Another 18) initiative, which seeks to promote independent candidates trying to run in Cuba’s 2018 elections. The two activists were prevented from traveling to Colombia to observe the upcoming plebiscite on the country’s Peace Accords. The World Movement for Democracy is deeply concerned about the Cuban government’s ongoing crackdown on civil society, and urges them to seize the harassment immediately. Cuban activists should be able to practice their right to freedom of assembly and association without encountering state-sponsored violence. Ladies in White leader, Berta Soler, has urged the world to stand up for Cuba’s human rights activists in her recent interview. Join us in solidarity of Cuban activists by tweeting this message to the government of Cuba:
August 23, 2016: Detained Sudanese Human Rights Defenders Scheduled to Appear in Court on Wednesday
The World Movement of Democracy is concerned about new developments following the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services’ (NISS) arrest of six Sudanese activists on May 22, 2016. The activists are affiliated with a Khartoum-based organization, Center for Training and Human Development (TRACKS). Three of the arrestees, Arwa Al-Rabie, Imany-Leila Ray, and Al-Hassan Kheiry, were released on bail after 10 days of detention. However, Midhat Hamadan and Mustafa Adam (who face additional charges under the Information Crimes Law), and Khalaf-Allah A. Mukhtar, remain detained in Al-Huda Prison in Omdurman North, Sudan. After 86 days in detention without being charged, they are now facing four charges including espionage and terrorism.
NISS has harassed the TRACKS Center for the past two years. On March 26, 2015 and February 29, 2016, NISS officers raided the TRACKS premises, confiscating electronic equipment and documents. Those raids also resulted in separate espionage and terrorism charges against Mukhtar and Hamadan, among others. During the last few months, TRACKS staff have been subjected to repeated summons, inhumane jail conditions, unexplained long-term detention, and delayed court sessions. Some of the TRACKS activists’ family members have also been targeted by NISS. After many delays, the accused are finally scheduled to appear in Central Khartoum Criminal Court on Wednesday, August 24.
The World Movement for Democracy condemns NISS’s unacceptable treatment of civil society and urges the government of Sudan to unconditionally release the activists and drop all charges against them. If the Sudanese government moves forward with the trial, the activists must be given a transparent, fair, and speedy trial. We stand in solidarity with other civil society organizations gathering at the Khartoum Criminal Court on August 24, 2016, at 11 A.M. in support of TRACKS staff.
Join us in tweeting the following statement: #ATTN Gov’t of #Sudan: End harassment of #TRACKS activists & #SetThemFree!
Sudanese activists facing charges below:
Alkhozainee Ahmed Alhadi, Temporary Accountant of the TRACKS Center
Mustafa Adam, Director of the Zarga organization for Rural Development, who was visiting the TRACKS Center when the raid took place
Adil Bakheit, Sudanese Human Rights Monitor
Midhat Afif Eldin Hamdan, Trainer of the TRACKS Center
Al-Hassan Kheiry, IT technician of the TRACKS Center
Khalaf-Allah A. Mukhtar, Director of the TRACKS Center
Arwa Al-Rabie, Administrative Director of the TRACKS Center
Imany-Leila Ray, volunteer from Cameroon
August 12, 2016: Bahrain Government Escalates Threat Against Civil Society Activist Sheikh Maytham Al Salman
DEMOCRACY ALERT UPDATE
As reported in our August 12 alert, Bahraini authorities detained and interrogated Sheikh Maytham Al-Salman on Sunday, August 14. After a grueling, twelve-hour interrogation, Bahraini authorities held Al-Salman at their facilities overnight. Violating the activist’s right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, authorities charged him with participation in an “illegal assembly.” On Monday, August 15, Al-Salman appeared before the Public Prosecution, and was released on bail. Although Al-Salman was released, the charges were not dropped.
Al Salman is just one of several prominent Bahraini civil society activists who have recently faced increasing intimidation by authorities. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), is currently imprisoned and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of “spreading false news.” The World Movement will continue to follow and update you on the status of Al Salman and Rajab’s cases.
DemAlert: Bahrain Government Escalates Threat Against Civil Society Activist Sheikh Maytham Al Salman
The World Movement for Democracy is alarmed to report that Sheikh Maytham Al Salman, civil society activist and leader of the Bahrain Interfaith Center, has been summoned for interrogations on Sunday, August 14. Al Salman believes that the summon from the Ministry of Interior will likely result in his arrest and indefinite detainment. Al Salman is an internationally renowned inter-faith leader, he spoke out against the re-arrest of civil society activist Nabeel Rajab. The video message is believed to be the cause for his summons. Rajab, a prominent Bahraini activist, and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been a target of state harassment for his Twitter posts. He is currently suffering critical health complications in jail. Bahraini activist Zainab Al-Khawaja has left Bahrain because of the government’s threat to imprison her again. Recently, Al Salman has experienced a continued escalation of harassment by the Bahraini authorities. On August 8, Al Salman was arrested after returning from a UN conference and charged with “inciting hatred against the system of government” and “disseminating false news.” Although he was released 12 hours later, the charges have not been dismissed. He is also among 20 civil society leaders who recently received a travel ban as retribution for participating in a State Department briefing earlier this summer. Bahrain is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and has committed to upholding the freedom of movement and freedom of expression rights. Despite this, the government of Bahrain has continued to violate international human rights with frightful repression. The World Movement for Democracy joins the international community in honoring its international obligations. We stand in solidarity with all civil society activists in Bahrain and we call on the government of Bahrain to cease their harassment and to respect its international commitment. Please share & tweet the following message:
#ATTN @bahdiplomatic: Cease the harassment of #Bahrain’s #civilsociety & activist @MaythamAlsalman
July 13, 2016: Over a Dozen Cuban Activists on Hunger Strike for Human Rights **Spanish translation below**
On July 13, 2016, Carlos Amel Oliva, leader of the youth wing of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba UNPACU) one of the largest civil society groups in #Cuba, declared himself on hunger strike after Cuban government officials confiscated his laptop, cell phone, and other personal items upon his return to Cuba from a trip to the United States. Soon thereafter, over a dozen more members of UNPACU joined Oliva in solidarity and declared themselves on hunger strike, calling on the government to cease its repression against human rights defenders.
Further, on July 20, 2016, leading Cuban dissident and Sakharov prize winner, Guillermo Farinas, began a hunger strike after being physically assaulted by state security officials. Farinas has vowed to continue his strike until the government publicly announces an end to its violent tactics. A number of the hunger striking activists are already suffering health consequences, but have remained firm in their resolve. According to the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), there have been over 7,000 short-term political detentions since the start of 2016, marking a sharp increase in the number of detentions and violence against peaceful activists in comparison with 2015. As such, the human rights landscape in Cuba continues to rapidly deteriorate.
On August 3, 2016, the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Democracia) issued a statement of concern about the grave conditions Olivia, Farinas and numerous other human rights defenders face in Cuba. The World Movement for Democracy joins REDLAD and the international community in its unequivocal solidarity with Oliva, Farinas, and all other activists on hunger strike in Cuba, and calls upon the Cuban government to immediately end its systematic violence, harassment, and intimidation of human rights defenders and opposition activists.
Spanish translation below
Más de Una Docena de Activistas Cubanos en Huelga de Hambre por los Derechos Humanos Más de Una Docena de Activistas Cubanos en Huelga de Hambre por los Derechos Humanos El 13 de julio de 2016, Carlos Amel Oliva, líder del ala juvenil de la Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), uno de los grupos más grandes de la sociedad civil en Cuba, se declaró en huelga de hambre después de que funcionarios del gobierno cubano le confiscaron su laptop, teléfono celular y otros artículos de uso personal a su regreso a Cuba de un viaje a los Estados Unidos. Poco después, más de una docena de miembros de UNPACU se unieron a Carlos Amel en solidaridad y se declararon en huelga de hambre, pidiendo al gobierno que cese la represión contra los defensores de derechos humanos.
Además, el 20 de julio de 2016, líder disidente cubano y ganador del premio Sajarov Guillermo Fariñas inició una huelga de hambre tras ser golpeado por funcionarios de la seguridad del estado, y ha prometido continuar con su huelga hasta que el gobierno anuncia públicamente un fin a sus tácticas violentas. Varios de los activistas en huelga de hambre ya están sufriendo consecuencias de salud, pero se han mantenido firmes en su resolución. De acuerdo con el Observatorio Cubano por los Derechos Humanos (OCDH), han habido más de 7.000 detenciones políticas a corto plazo desde el inicio de 2016, marcando un fuerte incremento en el número de detenciones y la violencia contra activistas pacíficos en comparación con el 2015. Por lo tanto, el panorama de los derechos humanos en Cuba sigue deteriorándose rápidamente.
Red de América Latina y el Caribe para la Democracia (REDLAD) han emitido declaracionmes de preocupación y han reiterado sus llamados a un mayor respeto de los derechos humanos en la isla. El Movimiento Mundial para la Democracia (WMD) se une a la comunidad internacional en su solidaridad inequívoca con Carlos, Guillermo, y todos los demás activistas en huelga de hambre en Cuba, y exhorta al gobierno cubano a poner fin inmediatamente a su violencia sistemática, el acoso y la intimidación de los defensores de derechos humanos y activistas de la oposición.
Únete a nosotros para demostrar apoyo a estos activistas por Twitter usando el siguiente mensaje:
ATTN Cuban Gov’t: End repression against Cuban activists! #juntoacoco #Cuba
ATTN gobierno cubano: poner fin a la represión contra activistas de DDHH YA! #juntoacoco #Cuba
July 28, 2016: South Sudan Authorities Arrest Prominent Journalist Alfred Taban
*Update: As of August 1, 2016, Alfred Taban was released on bail so he could recieve medical treatment for a previously existing condition. Read more about Taban’s release here.
On July 16, 2016, South Sudan’s National Security Services (NSS) arrested Alfred Taban, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Juba Monitor, the leading independent newspaper in South Sudan. He is currently being held without charges. The arrest is believed to be in connection to Mr.Taban’s article about the recent communiqué by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), as reported in the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project’s recent statement.
On July 11, 2016, the IGAD Council of Ministers convened its 56th session in response to the recent surge of violence in Juba, South Sudan. Mr. Taban’s arrest came one day after he published the editorial article, which criticized South Sudan’s leaders for their roles in the country’s recent violent clashes. In the article, he called for the removal of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, citing their unsuccessful implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement. The country has experienced renewed violence between forces loyal to Kiir and Machar, with close to 300 people already killed in the recent fighting. South Sudanese journalists have experienced increased intimidation in recent years with several newspapers being shuttered by government forces. Since 2015, at least seven journalists have been killed as a result of their reporting.
David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has called for the releaseof Mr. Taban, saying: “The arrest and detention of Mr. Taban are unlawful as they are directly linked to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”
The World Movement for Democracy joins the international community in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Taban. We join organizations such as the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in calling upon the government of South Sudan to launch a swift, transparent investigation into the targeting of journalists by agents of the country’s security branch.
Join us in calling for the release of Alfred Taban by tweeting this message:
June 13, 2016: Bahrain government arrests Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab without explanation
On June 13, 2016, Bahrain authorities arrested and detained Nabeel Rajab, a prominent human rights activist and the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. During the raid, authorities also seized the activist’s electronic devices without explanation, according to his family.Rajab’s arrest comes one week after the recently released, Bahraini activist, Zainab Al-Khawaja, left Bahrain for Denmark because of the government’s threats to imprison her again. Al-Khawaja’s exile and Rajab’s arrest are likely timed to prevent them from traveling to Geneva for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), taking place June 13-July 1, 2016. Travel bans were also imposed – without explanation – on several other human rights defenders attempting to leave Bahrain for the UNHRC meeting. Rajab’s travel ban has been in effect for nearly one year, and he has been a target of government harassment since establishing the Bahrain Center for Human Rights in 2002.
In May 2014, Rajab was freed after serving two years in prison for organizing and participating in illegal protests. In January 2015, Rajab was sentenced to six additional months in jail over remarks considered insulting to the kingdom’s security establishment. He appealed against the verdict, but an appeals court confirmed the ruling in May 2015. After serving four months in jail, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa ordered Rajab’s release by special pardon due to his poor health.
Bahrain is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and has committed to upholding the freedom of movement and freedom of expression rights. Despite this, the government of Bahrain has continued to violate international human rights with frightful repression. The World Movement for Democracy joins the international community in honoring its international obligations on human rights and urges the government of Bahrain to #SetThemFree. We stand in solidarity with all human rights defenders in Bahrain and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Rajab along with other human rights detainees.
May 27, 2016: Sudanese Security Agency Arrests Eight Civil Society Activists
The World Movement for Democracy condemns the detainment and harassment by Sudanese authorities of the Center for Training and Human Development (TRACKS) Staff. TRACKS provides training on a range of themes including IT, capacity building and human rights training for the private sector and national organizations. On May 22, 2016, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested eight civil society activists. These arrests came after the NISS raided TRACKS on February 29, 2016, as well as in March 2015, and confiscated staff members’ belongings. The detainees are under custody without the right to visitations, experiencing unsanitary conditions in the prison, as well as lacking water and electricity. Some of the detainees are suffering from serious health conditions.
December 3, 2015: Egypt: Global Outcry for Release of Journalist Ismail Alexandrani
- Solidarity, Condemnations Follow Researcher’s Arrest – Daily News Egypt
- Journalist, Researcher Ismail Al-Iskandarani Interrogated by State Security Prosecutors – Egyptian Streets
- Egypt: Journalist Arrested for His Work – Amnesty International
- Egypt: journalist’s arrest prompts solidarity – Democracy Digest
July 18, 2015: Chinese Human Rights Lawyers Face Systematic Government Crackdown
The World Movement for Democracy strongly condemns the mass arrests and harassment of human rights lawyers and activists in China, and joins the international community in demanding that the Chinese government immediately stop the systematic crackdown on civil society in the country.
From July 10 to 17, more than 222 human rights lawyers, law firm staff, and activists in China were detained, arrested, or summoned by the local police across the country. To date, nine lawyers and two activists have been criminally detained or put under residential surveillance, and it is feared that these lawyers and activists will face police brutality. In addition, four lawyers and eleven other activists are still incommunicado, and more than 179 persons have been temporarily detained or forcibly summoned by police.
The list of those targeted includes Wang Yu, a prominent human rights lawyer who works for Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, her husband and their 16-year old son, as well as her co-workers. Other renowned lawyers, such as Li Heping and Sui Muqing, were also taken by the police in Tianjin and Guangzhou, respectively. As of today, Li is still detained, Sui is under residential surveillance, and both have been threatened with the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.”
In other areas of China, lawyers who have previously participated in human rights cases, or openly criticized officials for violating human rights, were also summoned and questioned by local police. Xie Yang, a lawyer based in Hunan, was taken away on July 11, soon after he signed a public statement with 101 other lawyers to show solidarity with Wang Yu on July 9.
On July 1, a new national security law was passed by the National People’s Congress, which allows the authorities to take official actions against potential threats to national security. Legal experts fear that the passage of this new law, with its vague provisions, will be used to justify more restrictions and control of civil society.
The World Movement for Democracy is very concerned that repressive measures will continue against human rights defenders in China. Please show your solidarity with the repressed lawyers, activists, and their families by sending a message to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the global community is watching and condemns the crackdown against human rights lawyers. And please share those words on Twitter and Facebook:
Other statements in support for human rights lawyers and activists in China:
- Amnesty International
- Freedom House
- U.S. Department of State
- European Union
- The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group
- International Services for Human Rights
- Christoph Strässer (Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid)
- Front Line Defenders
- Congressional-Executive Commission on China
- Taiwan Association for Human Rights
- Initiatives for China
- Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers
- China Human Rights Defenders
- Progressive Lawyers Group
- The Federation for a Democratic China (FDC) (in Chinese)
- Chinese Human Rights Defenders
- Human Rights Now (in Chinese)
- The Legal ECs
- The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong
- Law Council of Australia
- The Law Society
*Photo credited to @badiucao.
April 2, 2015: Bahraini Authorities Arrest Activist Nabeel Rajab over Tweet
On April 2nd, prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was arrested in his house under the accusation that he “posted information that could incite others and disrupt civil peace,” and that he “illegally defamed a statutory body,” according to the statement published by the Bahraini Ministry of Interior.
As indicated in PEN International’s report, the arrest came after his tweets regarding the torture of prisoners in notorious Jaw prison. Mr. Rajab is the Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and has faced an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment for his human rights work.
The World Movement for Democracy strongly condemns the arrest and joins the international community in demanding that the Bahraini government release Mr. Rajab and investigate the allegations of torture in Jaw prison.
In the past year, Mr. Rajab was detained several times for speaking out about human rights violations in his country. Over the past few weeks, Mr. Rajab has tweeted about the March 10th violent clash between prisoners in Jaw prison and Bahraini security forces and the violence inflicted on the prisoners in the aftermath. Reports surfaced of prisoners being subjected to indiscriminate beatings after the clash and several prisoners of conscience were separated from other inmates and banned from communicating with the outside world.
The World Movement for Democracy is very concerned that the Bahraini authorities will use this charge to impose a new harsh sentences on Mr. Rajab. Before the April 2nd arrest, Mr. Rajab was already facing a possible six months of prison time for another tweet. In May 2014, he completed a two-year prison sentence after taking part in peaceful assemblies and protests criminalized by the government.