Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’
The Ukrainian authorities must launch a fresh investigation into the death in custody of a student, Amnesty International said after two police officers suspected of responsibility for his death yesterday walked free following a court hearing in Kiev.
A 20th birthday celebration becomes sour.
Ihor Indilo was arrested on 16 May 2010 after a disagreement with a security guard at the dormitory where he lived about a missing ID card. He had been out celebrating on the eve of his 20th birthday.
Police said he was drunk and aggressive when detained, although the security guard has since testified that he was neither.
Off-duty officer Sergei Prihodko detained Ihor Indilo at about 8.15pm and drove him and a friend to Shevchenkivsky police station, where he was interrogated by Prihodko and another officer, Sergei Kovalenko, in the presence of the friend.
Minutes later, an ambulance was called to the interview room because Ihor Indilo was unconscious, although he was not thoroughly examined.
CCTV footage at 9.49pm shows Sergei Prihodko dragging Ihor Indilo into a cell and leaving him on the floor, the ambulance crew having left.
The footage shows the student’s condition deteriorating through the night; he staggers and falls in the prison cell, until he ceases moving at around 3am.
Autopsy points to alleged police brutality.
Police left him unattended in the cell until they discovered his body at 4.51am. Officers claim they checked his pulse and breathing and that he was still alive, but the CCTV footage shows an officer simply discovering his body, dragging him and then rolling him over.
The following morning Ihor Indilo’s parents were told that he had choked to death but when they saw his body they noticed numerous bruises. The autopsy also found blood in his stomach, which may have been caused by a blow to the abdomen.
Officers tried on ‘minor’ negligence charges over the death of a 19-year-old.
Police then claimed Ihor Indilo died as a result of falling from a 50 cm bench in the cell because he was drunk. Indilo does not appear drunk in CCTV footage of him entering the police station.
Sergei Prihodko was charged with “abuse of power that results in pain or denigrates a person’s dignity,” in relation to having dragged Indilo across the floor.
Sergei Kovalenko was charged with “neglect of official duty without grave consequences”, in relation to allowing Sergei Prihodko to carry out these actions.
Both officers were only tried on minor negligence charges over the death of 19-year-old Ihor Indilo. One of them, Sergei Prihodko, was given a five-year suspended sentence, while the other, Sergei Kovalenko, was granted amnesty by the court.
Ihor Indilo died from a fractured skull and internal bleeding in May 2010 after being arrested and interrogated by the two officers in Kyiv. His family suspect Sergei Prihodko inflicted the fatal injury.
Amnesty UK: this is a litmus test for the Ukrainian justice system.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:
“Charging the two police officers with minor negligence when there is strong evidence to suggest that their behaviour resulted in Ihor Indilo’s death shows a shocking disregard for human life.
The Ukrainian authorities must conduct a thorough investigation and bring charges against the two men that would allow the court to consider whether the officers were, through their actions or failure to act, responsible for Indilo’s death.
If so, they must be sentenced appropriately.
This case has become a litmus test for the Ukrainian justice system’s ability to seriously deal with allegations of police abuse. Its failure to do so highlights the need for systemic reform.”
Students took to the streets after yesterday’s verdict to protest against police abuse and the Ukrainian authorities’ continued reluctance to deal with it.
In October, President Viktor Yanukovych called on the Prosecutor General to personally review the case after extensive media coverage of the case.
The Prosecutor General publicly criticised the Kiev prosecutor’s office’s handling of the case but did not intervene to ensure the officers were tried under the appropriate charges.
Source: Amnesty International UK.
The Kite. An unfettered explorer teasing the air with her buoyancy and the irrepressible symbol of vibrancy. However, the kite also represents the discrimination and oppression that continues to confront women living in the Taliban occupied regions of Afghanistan. It is therefore the spearhead of Amnesty International’s September campaign – ‘Kites for Women’s Rights’.
Under the dictatorial regime of the Taliban, many recreational activities were forbidden including the traditional Afghan pastime of Kite Flying, known as ‘Gudiparan Bazi’ in Dari. Prior to the rise of the Taliban regime, women in Afghanistan had the right to vote and constitutional equality. They also flourished in employment, with approximately 70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers and 40% of doctors in the capital of Kabul being female.
Despite Islam teaching the protection of the rights of women, including specific provisions defining women’s marriage and divorce rights and our right to own property, the Taliban enforced an extremely strict interpretation of Sharia law which stripped women of their identity and the rights to which they were entitled.
On the seizing of Kabul in 1996 the wearing of the burqa become compulsory, and women were subjected to threats, fines or immediate beatings for not complying. The world of work and education became inaccessible to women over the age of eight. Furthermore, their movement was incredibly restricted: women required their male relatives – ‘mahram’ – to chaperone them everywhere.
In effect, Women became imprisoned in their own homes. The Taliban would order men to black out the windows of their houses, to ensure that nobody could catch a glimpse of a female from the outside. Subject to rape, violence, public execution and abduction women would sink further into poverty and deprivation. Women would become devoid of the skills and confidence to function independently in the modern world.
The 7th of October will mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S-led international intervention to expel the Taliban, and since 2001 many advances have made to improve the rights of women in Afghanistan. There have even been a notable increase in women’s access to education and representation in Parliament.
Throughout September, Amnesty will be encouraging individuals to make their own kites and send them to the U.K government, urging them not to compromise on women’s rights while in peace negotiations with the Taliban at the Bonn Conference on the 5th December 2011. Be sure to join Amnesty at the Fresher’s Fayre and get involved in Kites for Women’s Rights!
They delivered a special briefing on the situation in Camp Ashraf – a home to approximately 3,400 Iranian dissidents situated just northeast of the Iraqi town of Khalis, about 120 km west of the Iranian border.
What gripped me weren’t the stories of how my new friends were tortured in their time in Iran or how they felt when their wives were taken away from them or what went through their minds watching the execution of their brothers and sisters – it was something FAR more harrowing to them and eventually, me. Everything that these political prisoners have sacrificed, every moment of anguish and injustice endured would have all amounted to nothing if the attack by Iraqi forces on camp Ashraf was successful.
Camp Ashraf is home to over three and a half thousand members and supporters of the exiled Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojaheddin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The group have been living there for more than 20 years and the camp has developed from a community into a small town.
Shock and awe.
On 8th April 2011 at 4:45am (local time) eight battalions of Iraqi Army’s Ninth and Fifth Divisions began the attack. The massive fir by armoured vehicles’ heavy machine guns and snipers continued for six hours in various parts of Camp Ashraf. By the end of the onslaught, 34 unarmed and defenceless residents were massacred and just over 350 people wounded. Most of the victims were shot, a number were crushed to death by improvised Humvees mounted with spikes. 2500 armed Iraqi forces with 140 armoured vehicles continue to remain in Ashraf – sparking a fear of a second assault.
Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme commented “Iraqi troops moved into the camp this morning and used excessive force against residents who tried to resist them, according to the information we have received,” he added “This is the latest of a series of violent actions that the Iraqi government has taken against the Camp Ashraf residents, whose continuing presence in Iraq they oppose.”
In a short time, many were killed.
An Iraqi government spokesman said Camp Ashraf residents threw rocks at security forces in what he termed a “riot.” The spokesman went on to say that “Troops did not open fire” he said, but “force was used to push residents back inside the camp.”
Evidence has emerged in the form of video clips of the clashes that the PMOI has uploaded to YouTube. These appear to show Iraqi soldiers firing indiscriminately into crowds and using modified vehicles to try and impale and run others down.
The US ceded control of Camp Ashraf to Iraqi security forces in mid-2009, the PMOI has made repeated claims that the constant military presence has made it difficult to not only triage patients but also access essential medical treatment inside and outside the camp.
An Amnesty International report describe a vague ‘Iraqi security committee’ which controls the influx of medical supplies into the camp as well as deciding who can travel outside the camp for treatment.
Stand up, speak up.
These shocking scenes of human rights violations come against a history of oppression. In November 2009 amongst heightened tensions, Deputy Director of Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International warned “Whatever measures the Iraqi authorities decide to take with regard to the future of Camp Ashraf, the rights of all its residents must be protected and guaranteed at all times,” said Hassiba, he added “Further, no Iranian national in Iraq who is at risk of serious human rights violations in Iran should be forcibly returned there.”
I’m asking you to join me and many around the country on a meeting in Paris organised by the Solidarity Committee With Ashraf For A Free Iran to send a message to the world that these human rights violations will not go unnoticed. Coaches will depart from all over the UK on Friday 17 June. We will arrive in Paris in the evening and rest in the hotel. The event will be on the afternoon of Saturday 18 June. After the event, coaches will leave the same night, arriving in back on Sunday morning
Like most bearded students, somewhere on some bag or winter coat I too have a bright yellow Amnesty International candle badge pinned. The logo represents Human Rights that affect us all and the role Amnesty plays in fighting injustice, it’s also a lovely colour. But I am more than some mere stylish badge wearer; I am an activist and Amnesty is the reason why I am sat here writing this as a sabb-elect of University of Leicester Student Union.
Activism is such an important part of my life, getting up in the morning for a 9am lecture is one thing, but staying up all night making card shackles for a Burma protest is certainly another. Passing the sign in sheet for a mandatory seminar is dull but asking someone to sign a petition for gay rights in Uganda is rousing. Performing an oral presentation in front of a lecture room full of students is nerve racking, delivering a presentation on forced evictions in Kenya is gripping. Being an Amnesty activist doesn’t end at attending that meeting on a Tuesday evening but for many like me; it actually defines one of the best parts of being a student – collective action.
It was a cold November morning at Amnesty Student Conference 09 – I was eagerly sat at a session on Amnesty’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign where Olivia Bailey (NUS Women’s Officer) mentioned a survey on sexual harassment for female students on college and university campus’. I was naturally intrigued about this survey, as a feminist it doesn’t take much for me to talk about inequality; I spoke to Olivia after the session, got added to the NUS Women’s mailing list and enjoyed the rest of the conference (there was a cheap bar and an underground nightclub where I busted out some shapes. It was excellent.)
Many moons later, a report came out based on the survey. It was called hidden marks; the repor
t uncovered various shocking statics. I was so taken back at results that I felt something needed to be done about this. However, my time as a student was coming to a close – I was at the end of my 3rd year. I worried if anyone would do anything serious about violence against female students on campus.
The Incumbent in my position was also leaving at the end of the year and I thought to myself about how this work would get carried out. I thought I’d pass some motions, and even go to the election debates making sexual harassment the issue – but what if I walked away from the debate not satisfied with the answers? It was that moment where I actually looked at seriously running. Putting an end to violence against female students on campus was what I was passionate about and I was going to do something about it.
So there I was, a bearded student, proudly wearing an amnesty badge talking to other students about issues which affected them and what I thought we should do about it. Hopefully now, after winning, I can get up at 9am every morning and make a bigger difference with students, still proudly wearing that amnesty badge that I started with.
Thomas French, Campaigns & Involvement Officer-elect.
Let’s be clear, UN resolution 1973 was passed to protect Libyan Civilians against state aggression. The resolution passed by 10 votes to none against with 5 Abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russia) – the council authorised interventionists to ‘take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory — requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures.’
As this conflict takes place on the eighth anniversary of Iraq, Amnesty International Senior Director Claudio Cordone said:
“While we welcome the strong emphasis on the protection of civilians in Libya reflected in UN Security Council resolution 1973, we call on all parties to the conflict, including any external forces acting under the authority of the UN Security Council, to put the protection of civilians above any other considerations.”
She added “It is critical that all Libyan and any other forces that may become involved in the conflict fully respects the laws of war.”
Lebanon’s speaker to the UN stressed that ‘the text would not result in the occupation of “one inch” of Libyan territory by foreign forces.’ It is also interesting to note that China did not use a negative vote with its representatives stressing that it was in consideration of the wishes of the Arab League and the African Union.
The news that just over 110 cruise missiles have hit Libyan soil reminds us of the grizzly reality of what exactly a ‘no-fly’ zone involves. Amnesty International continues to call on all parties to ensure that any civilians who want to flee the country be allowed safe passage to the borders in safety, and to ensure that anyone fleeing Libya is allowed immediate access to whichever country they are able to reach, without discrimination. It is slightly disconcerting that no element of protecting civilians in this capacity has been highlighted by any of the interventionist partners.
Earlier this year, I wrote an article on the importance of Citizenship education and why the Government (within its own political context) would be wrong to get rid of it.
I also outlined how people can take action by getting their local MP to sign up to Early Day Motion 1142 which calls on the Government to affirm its commitment to citizenship education as an entitlement for all students in English secondary schools.
So how exactly are Student Unions best placed to help, and more importantly – why should they?
Student Unions and Student Activists have recently moved into the limelight; we have proven to be an effective force in bringing our issue to the fore. Citizenship education for students bridges the knowledge gap between the student and the structures through which we can best affect change. In short, Citizenship education helps increase healthy debate by equipping more people to debate.
As the Governments language becomes increasingly vague on Citizenship education as a priority we must prepare to voice the debate for its inclusion in the national curriculum.
I have therefore created a model motion using information from Democratic Life (a coalition of organisations committed to protecting Citizenship education):
Citizenship Education Motion
This Union notes:
1. Citizenship is the only subject in the national curriculum that teaches about the way democracy, politics, the economy and the law work.
2. Half a million young people have achieved a GCSE or A level qualification in citizenship to date since 2002.
3. Young people have initiated over 100,000 active citizenship projects in their communities since the GCSE was introduced.
4. Citizenship is not about indoctrination: teachers and local authorities are required by the Education Act 1996 to make sure that students are presented with different points of views so that they can make up their own minds.
5. It’s been in the national curriculum in secondary schools in England since 2002.
6. It was a long time coming – politicians and educators alike had been lobbying for citizenship to be a fundamental part of education for 100 years.
7. Democratic Life is a coalition of organisations and committed individuals that champions the teaching of democracy in schools through citizenship education. These organisations include: Amnesty International, Association for Citizenship Teaching, British Youth Council, Institute for Global Ethics UK Trust, The Co-operative, United Nations Association, English Secondary Students’ Association, Anne Frank Trust, National Association for Teaching of English, UNICEF, Oxfam, ActionAid.
8. David Blunkett MP has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the Government ‘to affirm its commitment to citizenship education as an entitlement for all students in English secondary schools.’
This Union believes:
1. Citizenship education should remain in the national curriculum.
2. Citizenship education prepares students to engage Student Union democratic structures and increases active participants within Students Unions.
3. The concerns that led both Conservative and Labour governments to bring Citizenship education formally into schools in the 1990s are still relevant today.
This Union resolves:
1. To mandate the President/Education Officer of [insert student union name] to write to local MP’s urging them to sign EDM 1142
2. Support the work of Democratic Life in protecting Citizenship education.
Proposed by: NAME
Seconded by: NAME
As a member of the national Student Action Network Committee (STAN) at Amnesty UK I believe that Amnesty Student groups have a large role to play in leading the campaign to protect Citizenship Education through Student Unions. I hope to see groups across the country take this to their SGM and voice the debate for Citizenship Education.
Amnesty International UK and Student Action for Refugees (STAR) have joined forces this year to plan and deliver a series of national week-long sleep outs (facebook page here.)
The 21st of February to the 27th will see thousands of students across the country come out to show their support for the Still Human Still Here campaign through a local sleep out action.
The campaign organisers rightly describe how not many people know about the scandal of thousands of people being forced into extreme poverty after an unsuccessful asylum claim. The human suffering caused by this process is genuinely horrific. People often exclaim; ‘well, why can’t they just go back?!’ citing an Amnesty International report, here are just a few reasons:
- People fleeing persecution in most cases cannot safely obtain travel documents or valid visas from the authorities that are persecuting them. They have to resort to the services of smugglers and traffickers and are often instructed to return or destroy the travel documents. Many countries of origin do not cooperate with the re-documentation and readmission of their nationals.
- A country may not be safe for people to be returned there, indeed the circumstances may be life-threatening, even though asylum seekers from that country are not granted protection.
- Difficulties with transporting people where the airport in the country of origin is not operational.
- Individuals are not well enough to travel or may not be able to access adequate health care on return.
- Children separated from their parents, who cannot be traced.
Amnesty International believe that rejected asylum seekers should not be penalised for the fact that they cannot return home for reasons beyond them. Amnesty also believe that the UK Government has a duty to not subject these people to ‘abject poverty’ because of a failed system. Amnesty rightly point out that ‘such people are living on the margins of society and are susceptible to exploitation in the black economy.’
Having a sleep out is fantastic idea – all you need to do is convince a some housemates/course mates/team mates/society people to join you outside over night in a public space then use the occasion to attract as much attention as possible! By organising a sleep out in your local area you can help raise awareness about the issue amongst fellow students, members of the local community, and even your local MP.
As a member of the Amnesty UK STAN committee, I can confirm that University student groups will be taking part across the country! If you want to get involved contact your local Amnesty student group. This issue is affecting people right now who literarily go day by day without knowing how they will survive. I know I will be taking part – I certainly hope you will too.
Fifteen people ran for six positions, in no particular order, here are your new Amnesty UK STAN committee with their regional responsibilities.
Every day, millions of men, women and children are living in fear, and every minute, one person is killed by armed violence. There are around 639 million small arms and light weapons in the world today. Eight million more are produced every year. By 2020, the number of deaths and injuries from war and violence will overtake the number of deaths caused by killer diseases such as malaria and measles.
Without strict control, such weapons will continue to fuel violent conflict, state repression, crime, and domestic abuse. Unless governments act to stop the spread of arms, more lives will be lost, more human rights violations will take place, and more people will be denied the chance to escape poverty. Readily available weapons will intensify and prolong wars. More people will be terrorised and forced from their homes.
The vicious circle of arms transfers, conflict and abuse can and must be stopped. It is a global problem that needs a global solution. We need an international Arms Trade Treaty to cut off the supply of weapons to known human rights abusers. We need to support grass roots initiatives to make people safe from armed violence, either at the hands of the military, security forces, armed groups or criminal gangs. When it comes to the export and use of weapons, everyone should adhere to the same rules, with human rights at the centre.
See the video by Oxfam:
Where do you fit in?
Swansea University Students passed this motion at their Student General Meeting (SGM):
Ethical Investment Motion
This Union notes:
- Students pay fees directly to the University.
- The Students’ Union supports student groups such as OTC, URNU and UWAS.
- People and Planet rated Swansea University’s ethical investment policy as an “awful performance” in their 2010 Green League. Overall the University were ‘failed’ and came 116 from 133.
Swansea University currently holds £34,650 worth of shares in Cobham and £20,460 worth of shares in BAE Systems.
- The FTSE Index Company have launched FTSE4Good which provides a “basis for responsible investment, financial instruments and fund products” which makes it easier to invest ethically. In 2007 research by Deutsche Bank found that “when the FTSE 350 companies are ranked according to sustainable and responsible investments criteria, the top 10 percent outperform the bottom 10 percent in financial returns by more than 7.5 per cent a year.”
This Union believes:
- Arms can have a legitimate use under international law for national self-defence and law enforcement. However, this use must be strictly controlled in order to protect human rights and respect international agreements.
- BAE Systems arms are sold indiscriminately around the world. According to CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) In 2008, the companies sales exceeded £18.5 billion with 95% being from military sales.
- Cobham produces parts for fighter aircraft, which have been used in many conflict zones around the world. According to CAAT military sales make up 60% of Cobham’s total sales.
- Academic freedom is important and this motion does not seek to limit research or limit where academic’s can receive research funding from.
- Students pay fees directly to Swansea University, therefore, students of Swansea University have every right to stop the unethical investment of University money. This motion sends a clear message to the University that if you seek to make students consumers then we will make you accountable for our money.
- Swansea University should drop its investment in arms companies and adopted a comprehensive ethical investment policy.
- Swansea University should make a donation to War Child, the charity that protects children living in the World’s most dangerous war zones.
This Union resolves:
- To campaign for Swansea University to adopt a comprehensive ethical investment policy and end Swansea University’s investment in the arms trade.
- To mandate the President and Education Officer of the Students’ Union to write to Swansea University making our position on ethical investment and arms shares clear.
Proposed by: Luke James, Education Officer Seconded by: Stephen Marshall, Environment and Ethics Officer
I am happy to confirm that Swansea University Amnesty Society support this and will be playing a leading role in this campaign. This motion is an important step in taking an active approach in tackling this issue – we will be lobbying student union officers in making sure that this campaign is prioritised.