Taking torture personally

How do you support someone who has been tortured? That’s what this issue of WIRE explores, to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June.

We speak to Farida Aarrass about why she will never give up fighting for her brother, Ali. We discover how the psychotherapeutic legacy of Amnesty legend Helen Bamber lives on in a quiet London garden. We meet two very different women who regularly protest on behalf of people they’ve never met. And we learn how our new Panic Button app could help protect people.

Meeting these inspiring people answered our question. We can support torture survivors by taking what happened to them personally. By never giving up on them, and giving them room to rebuild their lives. By sticking with people until they get justice. And by making sure torture doesn’t happen to somebody else.

Join us: Together, we can stop torture.

Posted in Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Censorship and Free Speech, Germany, Greece, Human Rights Defenders and Activists, Individuals at Risk, Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Rights, Migrants, Morocco, Prisoners of Conscience, Refugees, South Africa, Torture and Ill-treatment, UAE, UK | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Escape from Sinjar Mountain, but what next?

Suleiman Shaibo Sido with his wife and children © Amnesty International

Suleiman Shaibo Sido with his wife and children © Amnesty International

By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, in northern Iraq

After a harrowing escape, first from their hometown of Qahtanya and then from Sinjar Mountain – where they were stuck for eight days with very little food or water – Suleiman Shaibo Sido, his wife and their eight children, all members of the Yezidi minority, are now sheltering under a bridge in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, along with more than 20 other families.

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On patrol with the Italian Navy, searching for refugees in danger at sea

The Italian Navy frigate, the Virginio Fasan, docked in the port of Augusta, Sicily, before heading back to sea to search for people in danger, 10 August 2014. © Amnesty International

This is the first of two blogs by Amnesty’s Italy campaigner, Matteo de Bellis, who spent the last week on a search and rescue operation aboard an Italian Navy frigate, the Virginio Fasan.

At the peak of the tourist season, the island of Sicily offers sunny beaches, glorious seafood and pleasantly breezy evenings to many. But thousands of those heading to Sicily these days aren’t looking for those things. They are fleeing for their lives, leaving behind them conflict, persecution and poverty.

They are the men, women and children – mainly Syrians and Sub-Saharan Africans – who board unseaworthy and overcrowded boats for a chance to seek asylum and build a better life in Europe. Hundreds travel every week, mostly leaving from the coast of Libya.

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Testimonies from Kocho: The village ISIS tried to wipe off the map

Khider, a 17-year-old student, was among those bundled into vehicles and taken to the village’s outskirts to be shot. © Amnesty International

By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, in northern Iraq 

Just as the dire humanitarian situation on north-western Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain was beginning to improve, news broke on Friday about one of the worst reported attacks in the weeks since fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or IS) had started their assault on the towns and villages in the surrounding areas. Scores of people were killed and hundreds abducted by ISIS fighters in Kocho, a small village about 15 km south of the town of Sinjar.

This fresh atrocity was a bitter reminder of the ferocity of ISIS’s advance. Since 3 August, when the armed group began its march to take control of the territory surrounding Sinjar, they have forced tens of thousands of Yezidis from their homes, killed hundreds and abducted thousands.

After two days of searching, I finally found some of the survivors of the Kocho attack, who had managed to escape from ISIS-controlled territory. They are injured, weary and terrified about the fate of their families. They told me that scores of their relatives and neighbours were killed and they have no news about their families and other villagers. They don’t know if their parents, children and siblings are dead or alive.  Continue reading

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‘We still have no justice, just tears’

An event organized by women residents of Marikana, South Africa, to mark the 2nd anniversary of the police killings of 34 miners on 16 August 2012. © Amnesty International

This week in Marikana, South Africa, women residents gathered to mark the second anniversary of police killings of 34 miners during a strike. Clare Fermont, Amnesty’s Southern Africa Regional Content Manager, attended the gathering and describes the lingering injustice they face. 

Here I was again at Marikana, the place where two years ago South African police shot dead 34 platinum miners who worked for Lonmin. The killings, so reminiscent of the apartheid era, sent political shockwaves across South Africa and the world.

I was attending one of a series of events being held in South Africa to mark the grim anniversary. The event was organized last Tuesday (12 August) by Sikhala Sonke, a women’s organization formed in Nkaneng informal settlement near the mine in order to promote peace and improve living conditions for miners and their families. Continue reading

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Egypt’s darkest day

On 14 August 2013 the Egyptian security forces dispersed sit-ins by supporters of Egypt’s deposed President, Mohamed Morsi. © Amnesty International

One year on from the slaughter of more than 600 protesters in one day by Egyptian security forces, not a single officer has been prosecuted. Meanwhile Egypt’s criminal justice system has been swift to arrest, try and sentence alleged Morsi supporters after grossly unfair mass trials. Two hundred and thirty two have already been condemned to death and courts have recommended death sentences for over a thousand.

Amnesty International’s Egypt Researcher Mohamed Elmessiry witnessed the massacre at Rabaa al-Adaweya square and has been campaigning for justice since.

I woke to a 7am phonecall. “It’s started.”  Continue reading

Posted in Censorship and Free Speech, Demonstrations, Egypt, Unlawful Killings and Extrajudicial Execution | Tagged , | 5 Comments