Days before the Afghan presidential elections, journalists from thirteen provinces in Afghanistan have told Amnesty International that they had recently been threatened by Afghan government officials because of their critical reporting.
At the same time, the Taleban and other anti-government groups have also stepped up attacks against journalists and blocked nearly all reporting from areas under their control.
“Afghans have made government corruption and failure to implement the rule of law as key aspects of the current election campaign, but some government officials want to respond to criticism by silencing the journalists who monitor government conduct and provide vital information to the voting public,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.
Today’s guilty verdict against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by a court in Myanmar has been described by Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan as "shameful". “Her arrest and trial and now this guilty verdict are nothing more than legal and political theatre,” added Irene Khan.
On the eve of the scheduled trial of Tan Zuoren on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”, Amnesty International urges the Chinese authorities to drop the politically-motivated prosecution against him and fellow earthquake activist Huang Qi, whose “state secrets” trial was conducted last week, and to release them both immediately and unconditionally.
Tan Zuoren is accused of defaming the Chinese Communist Party and the government with his online coverage of the authorities' handling of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989.
“Whether commenting on the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown or seeking answers for the deaths during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Tan Zuoren was doing nothing more than exercising his right to freedom of expression guaranteed in China’s Constitution,” said Roseann Rife, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International. “To equate this with subversion denies not only his rights and those of the victims he is assisting and commemorating but also makes a mockery of criminal law and procedure.”
With more than 100 people now on trial before Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for fomenting protests against the disputed official result of Iran’s 12 June presidential election, Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan challenged the Iranian authorities to open up the court to international observers.
Amnesty International congratulates Mary Robinson on being named as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to be awarded by President Obama next week, after her long career championing the rights of marginalized peoples around the world.
Amnesty International today expressed dismay at yesterday’s sentencing of six Gambian journalists, including three executive members of the Gambian Press Union, to terms in prison. They were sentenced to a mandatory sentence of two years’ imprisonment and fined 250,000 Dalasis (US$10,000) on two of the six counts. Failure to pay will result in having to serve two extra years for each count.
The eight weeks between the presidential election on 12 June and the inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term as president on 5 August saw an alarming spike in the number of executions by the Iranian authorities, Amnesty International said today.