Read WIRE Sept/Oct: ‘What if it was me?’

“What if it was me in that photo?” asks one young Amnesty activist looking at Vesselina Nikolaeva’s images of Syrian refugees in Bulgaria (pages 4-7).

Her photos might inspire you to ask more questions: If you had to leave your country, what belongings would you try to take? What risks would you face on your journey? And what kind of life would you try to build until you could return home?

Also in WIRE, find out why women in El Salvador can be accused of murder after losing a pregnancy. Discover how Amnesty’s researchers work to stop torture in the Philippines, Uzbekistan and Mexico. And read the moving story of Hakamada Iwao, who spent 46 years on death row in Japan. Thanks to his sister, Hideko, and the pure power of activism, he is finally free again.

You can support Hakamada and many others like him – find out how in the new issue of WIRE, Amnesty’s global campaigning magazine.

Posted in Bulgaria, Death Penalty, El Salvador, Gambia, Japan, Maternal Health and Reproductive Rights, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Uzbekistan | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Secret detention in Syria: “We could hear the screams of torture victims”

Shappal Ibrahim was held in a secret detention centre in Syria for nearly two years ©APGraphicsBank.

Shappal Ibrahim was held in a secret detention centre in Syria for nearly two years ©APGraphicsBank.

By Shappal Ibrahim, a Syrian Kurdish rights activist.

When Shappal Ibrahim, a peaceful activist with the Union of Young Kurds, was approached by a Syrian government official claiming to be a fellow supporter of the country’s “revolution”, he did not realize it was part of a ploy to detain him for his human rights activities. After agreeing to meet the official on 22 September 2011, he was driven away and detained in the city of Qamishli, his hometown.

He was held in secret for nearly two years, one of Syria’s many “disappeared” before he was released as part of a presidential amnesty on 29 May 2013. It was only then he learned that on 5 September 2012 a court had sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Here, he tells his story of how he was treated in some of Syria’s many detention centres. Continue reading

Posted in Disappearances, Syria, Unlawful Detention | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Three steps to achieve a lasting truce in Israel and Gaza

In 50 days of conflict, more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis have been killed ©EPA.

In 50 days of conflict, more than 2,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis have been killed ©EPA.

By Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

We have seen, over and over again ceasefires dissipate in the dust of renewed bombings. Here are three basic human rights which must not be neglected if there is to be any hope for a just and sustainable peace.

The newly brokered truce between Israel and the Palestinians will be meaningless if it is not built solidly upon human rights, which must be at the heart of any attempt to stop the cycle of war crimes and other gross violations recurring incessantly. Without such a foundation, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to suffer. Continue reading

Posted in Armed Conflict, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

#HowFreeAreYou Twitter chat

By Edward Herbert, Global Communities Officer at Amnesty International,

We will be attending The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which will be running from 2-5 September in Istanbul.

The purpose of the IGF is to get people talking about all things Internet governance (IG) related and to get the opportunity to get these thoughts across to the people in power. The forum is attended by governments, Intergovernmental organization (IGO) Tech companies and of course, the public.

With this in mind we want you to put your thinking caps on. We are holding an online privacy Twitter chat on 2 September at 5pm UTC. You will be given the chance to ask our panel of experts whatever you like regarding your digital rights. Either post your question now or save it for then, but remember to use the hashtag #HowFreeAreYou to make sure we see it! Continue reading

Posted in Censorship and Free Speech, Internet and Social Media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Rescuing a thousand refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean

Finally safe: People rescued at sea on board the Italian Navy frigate, the Virginio Fasan, 14 August 2014. © Amnesty International

This is the second blog from a search and rescue operation with the Italian Navy by Amnesty’s Europe campaigner, Matteo de Bellis.

We are patrolling the central Mediterranean between the Italian island of Lampedusa, Tunisia and Libya. The Virginio Fasan is the biggest vessel in this area and will take on board people rescued by smaller boats and disembark everyone together.

The ship’s helicopter needs routine mechanical tests, so the pilots invite me along to Lampedusa. The island remains an outpost along Europe’s frontier, but has been much quieter since Italy’s Mare Nostrum (“Our Sea”) operation began in October 2013. People rescued at sea are now transferred directly either to Sicily or mainland Italy.

Then an urgent message arrives: other boats are rescuing people in distress and the Fasan is heading towards them at full speed. The helicopter must get back on board before it moves too far away.

Continue reading

Posted in Asylum, Italy, Libya, Migrants, Refugees | Tagged , | 1 Comment