Central African Republic: Fear and Loathing in Bangui

The father of Constant Yaonomo, 24, showing a photo of his dead son and of a younger son who was injured by a grenade in the same attack.

The father of Constant Yaonomo, 24, showing a photo of his dead son and of a younger son who was injured by a grenade in the same attack.

By Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

In Bangui’s Nguingo neighbourhood, up the Oubangui river from the city center, people are scared.

“There are rumors that the anti-balaka are going to attack again this afternoon,” a local resident told me when I visited there on Wednesday.

“They want to teach us a lesson.”

Over the past year, the Central African Republic has become notorious for the intensity of its sectarian violence. After the majority-Muslim Seleka government left power in January 2014, a wave of ethnic cleansing swept the country, leaving much of the territory entirely empty of Muslims. Thousands were killed. The seleka have also been responsible for serious abuses in various parts of the country including in the capital Bangui. Continue reading

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Looking for a Leader in the Caribbean

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar ©AFP/Getty Images.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar ©AFP/Getty Images.

By Robin Guittard, Caribbean campaigner at Amnesty International.

Every year, Trinidad and Tobago becomes a paradise holiday retreat for thousands of people around the world. But in the twin island state, many women and men are living in hell as they continue to be discriminated against for who they are, and who they love.

The island’s laws prohibit entry of “homosexuals” into the country and consensual same-sex relationships can be punished with prison sentences of up to 25 years.

A few months ago, the country’s commission in charge of the reform of the constitution pointed out “a high level of violence and abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex (LGBTI) people.”

But over the last couple of weeks something has changed, there is excitement in the air. People are increasingly coming together to question these homophobic laws and are calling for change. Continue reading

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Hong Kong protests: How young activists led the way

Yvonne Leung Lai Kwong: “These three weeks spent on the streets with my fellow demonstrators have been an intense experience.”

Last month Yvonne Leung Lai Kwong, a 21-year-old undergraduate and student union president, found herself at the forefront of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. She gives her insight into the largely youthful protests, which at their peak saw up to 100,000 people take to the streets.

I wouldn’t say I am an organizer of the demonstrations – there is no one organizer here. But young people and students have definitely been the primary initiators.

I fell into this role quite unexpectedly. I first ran for students’ union president eight months ago with the intention of bringing students together and contributing where I was needed. I never expected events to unfold as they have.
Continue reading

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Torture and death in custody in Tunisia

Ahlem holds a photo of her husband Mohamed Ali Snoussi

Ahlem holds a photo of her husband Mohamed Ali Snoussi

By Benedicte Goderiaux, North Africa Researcher at Amnesty International in Tunis

Mohamed Ali Snoussi was at home on 24 September when the police arrived.

“A group of police officers stormed into our home with their faces covered,” his wife Ahlem told Amnesty International.

“They beat him with sticks and stripped him of his underwear. They handcuffed him and brought him outside on the street naked. The policemen were saying: ‘We are from Brigade 17; look at what we are capable of doing.’”

Continue reading

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Solitary confinement is cruel and all too usual. Why is it only getting worse?

Isolation cell in California's Pelican Bay prison ©Rina Palta/KALW.

Isolation cell in California’s Pelican Bay prison ©Rina Palta/KALW.

By Tessa Murphy, Campaigner on the USA at Amnesty International.

The breathlessness was overwhelming. Standing in that small, dark cell, surrounded by nothing but three concrete walls, a dank toilet, a small sink, a thin mattress, a concrete slab and a perforated metal door that barely let any air in, the oppressive claustrophobia was hard to control.

This was not the first time I had set foot in a US prison, but it was the first time I had experienced what an isolation cell can do to you. Continue reading

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