Human Rights

Thursday, 20 January 2011 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Human Rights

Haiti should arrest and prosecute former dictator Jean‑Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier for grave violations of human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Duvalier returned to Haiti yesterday from France where he has lived in exile since 1986.

"Duvalier's return to Haiti should be for one purpose only: to face justice," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director of Human Rights Watch. "Under the presidency of Duvalier and his Tonton Macoutes, thousands were killed and tortured, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians fled into exile. His time to be held accountable is long overdue."

Jean‑Claude Duvalier was Haiti's "president for life" from 1971 to 1986, succeeding his father François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. The Duvaliers are estimated to have ordered the deaths of between twenty and thirty thousand Haitian civilians. The brutality of their government created the modern Haitian diaspora, driving hundreds of thousands of Haitians into exile in Canada, France, the United States, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere.

Official torture and murder were commonplace under both father and son, Human Rights Watch said. The Duvaliers stunted civil society with harsh repression of any signs of independence among political parties, trade unions, and the press.

Thursday, 13 January 2011 00:00 Rasha Moumneh Editorial Dept - Human Rights

On Dec. 17, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university Tunisian graduate who took to selling vegetables when he was unable to find work, set himself on fire after police confiscated his unlicensed vegetable cart.

His desperate act has caused a spontaneous outpouring of public anger in Tunisia over economic conditions and the ruling family's endemic corruption.
The riots started in Bouazizi's hometown, Sidi Bouzid, deep in Tunisia's interior, and spread across the country to Tunis, Sousse, Sfax, Meknassi, and other cities.

Thousands marched in solidarity with the residents of Sidi Bouzid, demanding jobs, better living conditions, and an end to uneven economic development and the corruption that drives it. 

In the days that followed Bouazizi's tragic act, violence erupted, and police killed an 18-year-old youth as they shot into a crowd of protesters around a police station. Then, on Dec. 22, Neji Felhi, 24, climbed an electrical pole in the same town and shouted, "No to misery! No to unemployment!" then touched the 30,000-megawatt pole, killing himself. Two more of Tunisia's young, disenfranchised and unemployed attempted to end their own lives in similar ways in the days that followed.

Thursday, 16 December 2010 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Human Rights

Liu Xiaobo and Wife Should Be Allowed to Attend Nobel Ceremony - The Chinese Government should immediately release Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate, and allow him to travel to Oslo to attend the Nobel ceremony held in his honor on December 10, 2010, Human Rights Watch said today.

Liu has served one year of an eleven-year prison term for co-authoring Charter 08, a document calling for gradual political reforms in China. His wife Liu Xia was placed under effective house arrest since the announcement of the prize on October 8, and ordered by the police to stop issuing public statements on penalty of being permanently denied permission to visit her husband in prison.

"Liu Xiaobo's arrest was illegitimate, his trial unfair, and his sentencing unjust," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "He should be freed and allowed to travel to receive this historic award along with his wife."

The Chinese government has tried to justify Liu's imprisonment by saying that he is a "criminal," and that his conviction was the fair result of Chinese judicial proceedings. Chinese officials have insisted that other governments should respect the integrity of China's legal system. Yet the lack of integrity and numerous violations of due process have characterized both Liu's persecution and that of China's small but vibrant human rights defender community since the announcement of the prize.

Saturday, 11 December 2010 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Human Rights

Indian Government Should Investigate and End Impunity for Security Force Personnel - India and Bangladesh should take immediate steps to end the killing of hundreds of their citizens at the West Bengal-Bangladesh border by India's Border Security Force (BSF), Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Indian government should prosecute BSF soldiers responsible for serious human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said.

The 81-page report, "‘Trigger Happy': Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border," documents the situation on the border region, where both Bangladesh and India have deployed border guards to prevent infiltration, trafficking, and smuggling.

Human Rights Watch found numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture, and killings by the security force, without adequate investigation or punishment. The report is based on over 100 interviews with victims, witnesses, human rights defenders, journalists, law- enforcement officials, and Border Security Force and Bangladesh Rifles' (BDR) members.

"The border force seems to be out of control, with orders to shoot any suspect," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The border operations ignore the most basic rule of law, the presumption of innocence."

Sunday, 28 November 2010 00:00 Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan Editorial Dept - Human Rights

Iran’s Islamic Supreme Court has ordered the 6th District Court of Orumieh to carry out the execution of Hossein Khezri, a Kurdish political activist who was condemned to death after having been accused of being a “mohareb.”

Mr. Hossein Khezri, aged 28, was detained in the city of Orumieh.

On July 31, 2008 Mr. Khezri was arrested in the city of Kermanshah. On July 11, 2009 he was convicted of being a mohareb (”enemy of God”) and “endangering state security.” While in prison, he has been subjected to torture and injured so badly that his eyesight has been affected severely.

There are currently dozens of Kurdish political prisoners on death row, and 5 political prisoners, four of them Kurds were exected in Evin prison in Tehran in May 9th 2010.

Image Courtesy of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan

Sunday, 07 November 2010 00:00 Human Rights Watch Editorial Dept - Human Rights

Sussan Tahmasebi Highlights Mounting Pressure Against Women Activists, Journalists - Sussan Tahmasebi, recipient of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism for 2010, dedicated her award to the imprisoned lawyer and human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh and other detained women activists on November 10, 2010. Human Rights Watch is presenting the award to Tahmasebi for her courageous work to promote civil society and women's rights in Iran.

Tahmasebi expressed her concern about Sotoudeh's deteriorating health. Sotoudeh has been on a "dry" hunger strike since October 31, 2010, refusing to eat or drink anything to protest being held in solitary confinement since her arrest on September 4.

Prosecutors charged Sotoudeh with various national security crimes, but have not made public any information regarding the basis for these charges.

"Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending the rights of the accused, often at great risk to herself and her family," Tahmasebi said. "Now she is behind bars, for no other reason than being unwilling to compromise with authorities when it comes to safeguarding her clients' due process rights."


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