Ethiopia: As of mid-October, all Zone 9 Bloggers have been acquitted and released from detention. Though many may regard this as a victory for freedom of expression, let the experience of the Zone 9 Bloggers remind the world of how much more work needs to be done to support civil society in the country.
Azerbaijan: Human rights defender Leyla Yunus was freed from prison on December 9, on grounds of her deteriorating health. Both Leyla and her fellow activist husband still face treason charges, widely regarded as political retaliation for their work. Leyla remains on probation for the next five years under her guilty unjust verdict.
On December 10th, Human Rights Day, we invited activists from around the world to join in solidarity to demand the release of all Azerbaijani political prisoners remaining today. Sign this letter to support the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan for the new year!
Cuba: Danilo Maldonado, better known as the Cuban artist El Sexto, was imprisoned for 10 months without charges for his attempt to display his painting of 2 pigs labeled as Raul and Fidel Castro. “He’s just an artist who tried to do an art show, to use his legitimate right to freedom of expression,” Robin Guittard of Amnesty International expressed. “That should never lead people to be sent to prison.”
Venezuela: Historic elections in Venezuela have brought the opposition to a two-thirds majority in the Congress. This supermajority should empower democratic forces in Congress to pass reforms and an amnesty bill for political prisoners, as well as organize a referendum on recalling President Maduro, but opposition from the government and its efforts to entrench itself should put significant obstacles in the way.