1 Syria: Humanitarian access urged in Homs 2 Urgent Action: CHAD Families evicted despite promises from mayor

Newsletter
Amnesty International USA Group 48
Syria: Humanitarian access urged in Homs

03.12
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4 Iran’s Crackdown on Dissent Escalates in Run Up to Elections, Says New Amnesty International Report, Internet and Social Media Seen as Major Threat as Authorities Cut Off Access 6 Urgent Action: CHINA North Koreans facing forcible return, risk of torture 7 End 40 Years of Solitary Confinement in Louisiana AIUSA-Group 48 http://aipdx.org 503-227-1878 Next Meeting: Friday March 9th First Unitarian Church 1011 SW 12th Ave 7:00pm informal gathering 7:30pm meeting starts
NewsLetter Designed By Michelle Whitlock MichelleWhitlock.com

Residents of Bab ‘Amr have told Amnesty International that the shelling allowed immediate and unhindered access to Homs and other affected areas, and exchanges of fire have destroyed the electricity and water networks, and Amnesty International said today. there is little prospect of them being reThe Bab ‘Amr district of the city has stored. Because of the lack of electricity, come under intensive shelling for residents are unable to refrigerate food, more than 17 days, during which time adding to already severe shortages of Amnesty International has received the food, including babies’ milk. The area is names of 465 people reported to have also facing a critical shortage of medical been killed in Homs. supplies and medical personnel. Some of those who spoke to Amnesty Inter“The accounts we are hearing from national said that there was now only Homs are increasingly dire, with people one doctor providing medical treatment lacking the most basic amenities,” said Ann Harrison, interim Deputy Director in the makeshift clinic in Bab ‘Amr. of Amnesty International’s Middle East Amnesty International called on the and North Africa Programme. “The states attending today’s “Friends of Syria” Syrian authorities must immediately meeting in Tunis to put human rights cease this relentless bombardment and at the centre of their discussions and to allow full, immediate and unhindered consider the full human rights implications of any proposals. The organization » humanitarian access to affected areas.”

Humanitarian aid agencies must be

February 24th, 2012

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also said that serious consideration should be given to the formation of a UN-led human rights monitoring mission to Syria, and called on UN member states to explore this possibility. Following the Arab League monitors’ withdrawal from Syria, violence has increased significantly. Amnesty International said that as the situation in the country continued to deteriorate, Syria’s neighbours had a responsibility to make it easier for Syrians to flee the violence, and remove any restrictions on their entry. Once there, they should ensure their protection, including that they are not in any way forced to return to Syria.

violence,” said Ann Harrison. “If it is needed, members of the international community should provide financial or material support to help these efforts.” Amnesty International further called on all countries not to force any Syrian nationals to return to the country, given the significant deterioration in the political and human rights situation in recent months, and the continuing unpredictable nature of events on the ground.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court as well as for the imposition of a comprehensive arms embargo and an assets freeze on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Many Syrians outside the country, including in neighbouring those close to to him. The UN Commission of Inquiry’s findcountries, have reported harassment from Syrian intelligence ings released on Wednesday, corroborates Amnesty Internaservices. tional’s findings that widespread and systematic attacks on civilians amount to crimes against humanity and other gross Refugees in Jordan have also told Amnesty International human rights violations had taken place. The findings showed researchers who visited the country last week that they gener- that these violations had been carried out with the apparent ally receive only very limited treatment from Jordanian state knowledge and consent of commanding officers and senior medical facilities or from international medical organizations, members of the Syrian government. Amnesty International despite often having serious injuries from bullets, shrapnel or said that the sealed list of names of those alleged to be retorture. sponsible for crimes against humanity – which accompanied the findings – was a step in the direction of accountability “We look to all of Syria’s neighbours to provide an adequate and was yet more reason why the situation in Syria should be standard of accommodation and medical care to the people referred to the ICC. who have been driven from their homes by the relentless

Urgent Action: CHAD - Families evicted despite promises from mayor

Over 670 people have been forcibly evicted and their homes
destroyed in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, to enable the construction of a hotel to take place. This is despite reassurances from the local Mayor that they would be allowed enough time to find alternative accommodation. The former residents of the site are now sleeping under nearby trees.

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well as a local community school frequented by 138 students. The homes and other structures were destroyed by municipal officials to pave the way for the construction of a modern hotel. Many of those evicted are now sleeping under trees near the site of their former homes as they have no alternative place to live. Neither compensation nor alternative housing has been offered to them by the government. The destruction of the community school compromises local children's right to education.

In November 2011, municipal officials accompanied by the police had painted white crosses on houses in the neighborhood and informed residents that they should leave their On 24 January Chadian authorities carried out forced evictions in Sabangali, N'Djamena, the capital of Chad. At least 62 homes. On 12 January, the Mayor of N'Djamena and the government Minister for Internal Security visited the site and » compounds, where over 670 people lived, were destroyed as

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asked residents to leave. On 23 January, municipal officials informed residents that they would be evicted the following day. That same day, residents gained assurance from the Mayor that they will be allocated enough time to remove their belongings and for discussions concerning alternative housing and access to education to take place. However the forced eviction took place in spite of these assurances and many residents did not have time to retrieve their belongings. During the demolition the neighborhood was cordoned off by soldiers and police who told residents to quickly remove their belongings before bulldozers began destroying their houses. Most of the residents were at work or absent. A group of young boys resisted the destruction of their houses and were seriously beaten. Another man was wounded and taken to hospital. Some residents who tried to photograph the demolition had their cameras destroyed. Some of the residents of Sabangali have been living there for over 30 years. Others have official documents for their homes having bought the land from local chiefs.

Mayor of Ndjamena Monsieur Issa Adjidey Maire de la Ville de N'Ddjamena BP 439 N'Djamena CHAD Ambassador Mahamoud Adam Bechir Embassy of the Republic of Chad 2401 Massachusetts, NW Washington DC 20008 Phone: 1 202 652 1312 Fax: 1 202 758 0431 Monsieur Issa Adjidey Maire de la Ville de N'Djamena BP 439 N'Djamena République du Tchad
Sample Letter

Copies To

Mayor Adjidey, I am concerned to learn that over 670 people in 62 home Please write immediately in French, Arabic or your own compounds have been evicted by force and their homes delanguage: stroyed in the Sabangali area of N’Djamena this past month ◌ Calling on authorities to immediately find alternative housin spite of your assurance the day before that they would ing for the victims of forced eviction in Sabangali; have time to find other places to live. Can it be true that this ◌ Asking them to ensure that students of the Sabangali Com- inhumane action was for the purpose of clearing ground for a munity school are transferred to other nearby schools; hotel? Some of the residents had been living in Sabangali for ◌ Urging them to identify and develop comprehensive reloca- over 30 years. Others have official documents for their homes having bought the land from local chiefs. Since they were tion and compensation plans for the residents; given no time to find other homes, many of them are now ◌ Urging the Chadian authorities to immediately end the ongoing forced evictions and adopt clear Guidelines for evic- sleeping under nearby trees and have lost everything. The demolition also destroyed Sabangali Community School and tions which comply with international standards. 138 children now have no place to receive an education.
Action Appeals To

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2012 TO: President of the Republic of Chad Monsieur Idriss Deby President de la Republique Presidence de la Republique BP 74 N'Djamena CHAD Email: http://www.presidencetchad.org/ Salutation: Dear President

Most of the residents were at work or absent when the bulldozers began to destroy the houses. Some young boys were beaten for resisting the destruction of their homes. A wounded man was taken to the hospital and residents who tried to photograph what was happening had their cameras destroyed. The homeless have received no offer of compensation by the government for the loss of their houses and possessions, and no offer of alternative housing. I understand that, on January 12, you and the Minister for Internal Security asked the »

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residents to leave or be evicted on January 24. On January 23, however, the residents received assurance from you as Mayor that they would be given enough time to remove their belongings and discuss alternative housing and education for their children. The evictions and demolitions took place by surprise, in spite of this promise. Please use your good offices as Mayor of the city of N’Djamena to do the following: (1) Immediately find alternative housing for the victims of forced eviction in Sabangali;

(2) Insure that the students of the Sabangali Community School are transferred to other nearby schools; (3) Develop fair and comprehensive relocation and compensation plans for the residents; and (4) End the ongoing forced evictions immediately and adopt clear guidelines for evictions that comply with international standards. Sincerely, Member, Amnesty International

Iran’s Crackdown on Dissent Escalates in Run Up to Elections, Says New Amnesty International Report, Internet and Social Media Seen as Major Threat as Authorities Cut Off Access
February 28, 2012
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The organization’s new 71-page report, We Are Ordered To Crush You: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran, says anything from setting up a social group on the internet, forming or joining an NGO, or expressing opposition to the status quo can land individuals in prison. The report documents a wave of arrests in recent months that it said lays bare the hollowness of Iran’s claim to support protests in the Middle East and North Africa. Iran’s security forces -- including a new » AIUSA Group 48 Contact Information

Iran has unleashed a wave of repression in the lead up to parliamentary elections this week, Amnesty International reports today, targeting everyone from students, lawyers, religious leaders and bloggers to political activists and their relatives. The authorities have launched a new “cyber army” and blocked internet and social media networks to cut off access to the outside world.

Group Coordinator Joanne Lau jlau@easystreet.net Treasurer Tena Hoke tena.hoke@gmail.com Newsletter Editor Dan Webb write_to_dan@yahoo.com Concert Tabling Will Ware ww_ware@yahoo.com Legislative Coordinator Dan Johnson daniel.p.johnson@gmail.com Indonesia Max White maxw33@comcast.net

Central Africa / OR State Death Penalty Abolition Terrie Rodello tarodello@igc.org Central America Marylou Noble marylou_noble@ yahoo.com Darfur (Sudan) Marty Fromer martyfromer@gmail.com Prisoners’ Cases Jane Kristof kristofj@pdx.edu Cornelia Cerf Ron Noble ronald0216@yahoo.com

“The Iranian authorities have unleashed their ‘cyber army’ in an effort to cut off their citizens’ access to information,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Meanwhile those who dare express any unapproved thoughts on the internet can expect to be slapped with a prison sentence of more than a decade. The Iranian government is going to extraordinary lengths to impose a total information blackout on the Iranian population.”

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cyber police force -- can now scrutinize activists as they use personal computers in their own homes. A new and shadowy “cyber army” reportedly linked to the Revolutionary Guards, has carried out attacks on websites at home and abroad, including Twitter and the Voice of America. “In Iran today you put yourself at risk if you do anything that might fall outside the increasingly narrow confines of what the authorities deem socially or politically acceptable,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s interim deputy director, Middle East and North Africa program. “This dreadful record really highlights the hypocrisy of the Iranian government’s attempts to show solidarity with protesters in Egypt, Bahrain and other countries in the region.”

prison. Having been originally charged in 2011 and released on bail, he was arrested again in January. He is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where he has been on hunger strike for more than 40 days in protest at his detention, raising fears for his health. Harassment, arrest and imprisonment of human rights defenders, including women’s rights groups, has also intensified and several NGOs have been shut down. Abdolfattah Soltani, a founder member of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, was arrested in September and is held in Evin Prison awaiting the outcome of his trial on charges which include his acceptance of an international human rights prize. He has been threatened with a 20-year sentence.

In the wake of protests called by opposition leaders Mir The pressure on independent voices has extended to those outside Iran. Earlier this month, the BBC said family memHossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in February 2011, the bers of its Persian language service had been subjected to Iranian authorities steadily cranked up repression of dissent harassment, including one who was arrested in January and and the situation has worsened over the last few months in held in solitary confinement and others whose passports were the lead up to the parliamentary elections Friday (March 2). The report finds that in recent months a wave of arrests confiscated. have targeted lawyers, students, journalists, political activists and their relatives, religious and ethnic minorities, filmmak- Amnesty International said the attacks on dissenting views ers, and people with international connections, particularly to come against a backdrop of a worsening overall human rights situation in Iran. There were around four times as many media. public executions in 2011 as in 2010, a practice that Amnesty Opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi -- defeated presiInternational said was used by the authorities to strike fear dential candidates in the 2009 election -- have been under de into society. Hundreds of people are believed to have been sentenced to death in the past year, mainly for alleged drugs » facto house arrest since February 2011. While Mehdi Karroubi’s wife was released in July 2011, Zahra Rahnavard, Mir Postage Rates Hossein Mousavi’s wife, remains under house arrest with her husband. Electronic media is seen as a major threat. In JanuWithin the United States ary a senior police officer said Google was an “espionage tool,” $0.31 - Postcards $0.45 - Letters and Cards up to 1 oz. not a search engine. The same month, the recently established Cyber Police required owners of internet cafés to install To Canada CCTV and to register the identity of users before allowing $0.80 - Postcards them to use computers. $0.80 - Airmail Letters and Cards up to 1 oz. Blogger Mehdi Khazali was this month sentenced to four and a half years in prison, followed by ten years in “internal exile,” and a fine for charges believed to include “spreading propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding against national security,” and “insulting officials.” It is not clear whether his “internal exile” will in fact be served in
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AIUSA group 48 Newsletter March 2012 Pg 6

offenses. Iran continues to execute juvenile offenders -- a practice strictly prohibited under international law. Amnesty International called on the international community not to allow tensions over Iran's nuclear program or events
At least 21 North Koreans (m and f)

in the wider region to distract it from pressing Iran to live up to its human rights obligations. "For Iranians facing this level of repression, it can be dispiriting that discussions about their country in diplomatic circles can seem to focus mainly on the nuclear," said Harrison.

Urgent Action: CHINA - North Koreans facing forcible return, risk of torture
ments. The announcement comes at a time when the country’s leadership is changing: Kim Jong-il died in December 2011, and has been succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un. Amnesty International is concerned that the denouncement of border-crossers could signal a crackdown against any potential dissent at this key time for North Korea Although China is a state party to the UN Refugee Convention, it has prevented the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, from gaining access to North Koreans in China. International law prohibits the forcible return either directly or indirectly of any individuals to a country where they are at risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or death. Amnesty International believes that all North Koreans in China are entitled to refugee status because of the threat of these human rights violations if they were to be returned.
Additional Information

The Chinese authorities are preparing to forcibly return at

least 21 people to North Korea, where they would be at serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment, forced labor and death. Any attempt to return them to North Korea, where they are at risk of grave human rights violations is against customary international law. The Chinese authorities are holding a group of at least 21 North Koreans in the north-eastern city of Changchun for being in the country illegally en route to South Korea. They were initially detained in separate locations in Shenyang on 8 February. They intend to return them forcibly to North Korea reportedly by 20 February. If returned to North Korea, illegal border-crossers typically face arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, and forced labor. They are also at risk of enforced disappearance in North Korea. While in China, some of the North Koreans captured are believed to have had contact with members of a South Koreanbased organization who were trying to help them travel to South Korea. Such contact puts the North Koreans at risk of even harsher punishment if returned to North Korea. Their plight is made even more precarious by a January announcement by the North Korean authorities condemning border-crossers and threatening them with severe punish-

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North Koreans are not allowed to travel abroad without state permission. However, thousands of North Koreans illegally cross the border into China every year despite significant risks. China considers all undocumented North Koreans to be economic migrants, rather than asylum-seekers, and returns them to North Korea if they are caught.

The North Korean government refuses to recognize or grant access to international human rights monitors, including Amnesty International and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea. Ongoing restrictions on access for independent monitors and intergovernmental and humanitarian organizations impede efforts to assess the human rights situation in the country. Please write immediately in English or your own language: ◌ Call on the authorities not to forcibly return the North Koreans held in Changchun to North Korea; »
Action

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◌ Urge them to allow the North Koreans to travel to South Korea, or seek asylum in China and other countries; ◌ Call on them to provide the North Koreans with access to the UNHCR. PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE MARCH 28 2012 TO: The State Council General Office HU Jintao Guojia Zhuxi 2 Fuyoujie Xichengqu Beijingshi 100017 PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA Email: gov@govonline.cn Salutation: Your Excellency Premier WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli The State Council General Office 2 Fuyoujie Xichengqu Beijingshi 100017 PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA Fax: 011 86 10 65961109
Appeals To

(c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Salutation: Your Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs YANG Jiechi Buzhang, Waijiaobu 2 Chaoyangmen Nandajie Chaoyang District Beijingshi 100701 PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA Fax: 011 86 10 65961109 or 011 86 10 65962660 Email: webmaster@mfa.gov.cn Salutation: Dear Minister Ambassador Zhang Yesui Embassy of the People’s Republic of China 3505 International Place NW Washington DC 20008 Tel: 202 495-2266 Fax: 1 202 495-2138 Email: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. the murder of a prison guard in 1972. Apart from very brief periods, the men (sometimes referred to as the “Angola 2”) have been held in isolation ever since. No physical evidence linking the men to the guard’s murder was ever found, DNA evidence that could have proved their innocence was lost, and the convictions were based on questionable inmate testimony. Case documents suggest that the main eyewitness was bribed by prison officials into giving statements against the men and that the state withheld evidence about the perjured testimony of another inmate witness; another witness later retracted his testimony. The prolonged solitary confinement of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace is a violation of the USA’s obligations under international law. The men are confined to their 6-by-9-foot cells for extended periods of time. »
Copies To

End 40 Years of Solitary Confinement in Louisiana
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This April marks 40 years that Albert Woodfox and Herman
Wallace have been imprisoned under solitary confinement in the state of Louisiana. This cruel and inhumane punishment must end! Call on Louisiana’s governor to remove them from solitary confinement!!

Albert Woodfox, 65, and Herman Wallace, 69, were placed in “Closed Cell Restriction (CCR)” in Louisiana State Penitentiary - known as Angola Prison - after they were convicted of

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1) Sign the online petition calling on Louisiana’s governor Louisiana authorities have failed to meaningfully review the men’s continued isolation, simply rubberstamping the original to take immediate steps to end the solitary confinement of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace: www.amnestyusa.org/ decision to angola2 confine the men in CCR. Decades of solitary confinement 2) Print the petition and circulate it among your networks have had a clear psychological effect on the men, and they and help build the list of signers. Amnesty International will both suffer from serious health problems caused or made join with partner organizations to deliver the collected petiworse by their years of close confinement. tions to the governor in April.

Action

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank pour Amnesty International

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AIUSA group 48 Newsletter March 2012

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