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Entries in Amnesty International (38)


UAE (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 94 Activists Go on Trial

January protest on behalf of 94 detained activists in the UAE (Photo: AP)

See also Syria Live Coverage: The Regime's Shelling of Homs
Sunday's Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Minister of Finance Tries to Resign Amid Financial Crisis

1635 GMT: Yemen A suicide bomber today killed "at least 10 members of a pro-government militia".

A local commander told Reuters that 15 others were wounded, some seriously, in the attack which struck a local office of the Popular Committees in Lawdar, a town in the southern province of Abyan.

According to Reuters, the targeted militia had "helped the Yemeni army to drive al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants out of southern strongholds in a U.S.-backed campaign last year".

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Bahrain Feature: The Story of Taqi Abdulla, a US Citizen Detained by the Regime


Taqi Abdulla

The "difference" in Abdulla's case is a US citizen. This is not to say that Abdulla warrants more attention because he has a US passport, but his case illustrates Washington's reluctance to engage with the specific, day-to-day, realities for others in Bahrain. Opting for quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, the US is seen by many as fundamentally complicit in the path of repression --- not reform --- which the regime has pursued throughout 2012.

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Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt (Arseh Sevom)

Iranian workers protest over unpaid wage in front of the Ministry of Industry, 14 August 2012

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

According to Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) [fa], the Saipa car factory in Kashan has dismissed more than 10,000 employees. Saipa in Tehran has also reduced the shifts from three to just one. Asr-e Iran reports that the automobile production rate has been reduced by 66.2%.

More than 600 steel workers demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Labor, demanding five months of unpaid wages. The protest was a follow-up

to the workers' claim of eight months of unpaid salaries --- despite a settlement, only three months were paid.

About 200 members of Tehran’s Metropolitan Vahed Bus Company gathered Wednesday in front of the Tehran Municipal Building to protest discrimination in pay. They also called for the dismissal of the managing director of the company and an investigation into their unpaid salaries.

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Saudi Arabia Feature: The Trial of the Political Dissidents (Hill)

Mohammad al-Qahtani interviewed after his trial this month

It was the first day of September, and inside the courtroom it was stiflingly hot.

On the tiled floor sat 65-year-old civil rights activist Abdullah al-Hamid. Waiting for his turn to defend himself, he fanned

himself with the document detailing his alleged crimes against the state.

In front of the judge sat 46-year-old Mohammad al-Qahtani, an American-educated economics professor who, together with al-Hamid, co-founded the Saudi Political and Civil Rights Association (ACPRA) in 2009.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: An Opposition Meeting in Damascus Brings Questions and No Answers

1812 GMT: Syria. The Syrian Information Ministry has denied firing its ambassador to Lebanon, a story which it claims was the result of hackers:

"The email account of the ministry was hacked in order to publish inaccurate information" about the reported dismissal of the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali, the ministry said in a statement carried by state television.

According to the Ministry of Information, Ambassador Ali is still working at his post.

1805 GMT: Syria. According to the Local Coordination Committees, 72 people have been killed today nationwide:

25 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its Suburbs, 19 in Aleppo, 14 in Daraa, 9 in Homs, 2 in Lattakia, 1 in Hama, 1 in Deir Ezzor, and 1 in Idlib.

See our note about the casualty figures posted by the LCC.

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Nationwide Battle

1944 GMT: Syria. Some of our readers and Twitter followers have been asking us about Austin Tice, an American journalist who was covering the conflict in Syria. Tice's Twitter account went dark last week, and while initially the lack of Tweets was unnoticed, in recent days it has caused concern.

EA has contacted Tice's editor, and she has just shared with us an article explaining that Tice is missing.

His subsequent silence didn’t raise immediate alarm because he’d planned to leave that week, on a journey to the Lebanese border that often takes days because of the fighting en route. The Damascus suburb where he was last known to have been has faced heavy bombardment in recent days that has made communications difficult. Tice’s family and colleagues are concerned for his safety and are asking anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to come forward.

"We understand Austin’s passion to report on the struggle in Syria, and are proud of the work he is doing there. We trust that he is safe, appreciate every effort being made to locate him, and look forward to hearing from him very soon,” Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra, said in a statement from Houston, his hometown.

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Bahrain Special: 9 Reasons Why The Regime Gave Human Rights Activist Nabeel Rajab a 3-Year Sentence

Nabeel Rajab leading a march in April 2012

Whilst much of the Bahrain regime's ongoing repression is relatively free from international scrutiny, Thursday's sentencing of leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab to three years --- on three separate charges of instigating and participating in "illegal gatherings" --- will not go unnoticed. In recent weeks, many international NGOs and even 19 members of the US Congress have called for the immediate release from detention of Rajab, who is also serving a three-month sentence for his messages on Twitter.

So why would the Bahraini regime, which has been desperately seeking to convince the international community that it is committed to reform, hand down the lengthy sentence, an act bound to create questions about its commitment?

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Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Aleppo --- This Does Not Look Like Regime "Victory"

See also Syria Feature: The Death of An Activist in a Damascus Suburb
Syria Opinion: Turkey's Leaders Face The Conundrum of History
Tuesday's Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Gathering Fight In and Around Aleppo

2020 GMT: Bahrain. Speaking before a Congressional committee enquiring into human rights in the kingdom, US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner has called on the regime to take three steps to implement the "reform" sought by last November's report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry:

First, there are several hundred pending criminal cases related to the events of February and March 2011. Many individuals have been in detention for over a year. The government continues to prosecute 20 political activists and appeals cases are ongoing in the prosecution of respected medical professionals. In addition to the ongoing cases against doctors and nurses, we are discouraged by the Court of Appeals’ decision to issue a gag-order banning the media from reporting on trials for the 20 high-profile activists. We urge the Government of Bahrain to ensure fair and expeditious trials in appeals cases and to drop charges against all persons accused of offenses involving political expression and freedom of assembly....

Second, we call on the Government of Bahrain to hold accountable those officials responsible for the violations described in the BICI report....

Third,...further efforts need to be made to enhance the professionalization of the police. Ongoing violence in the streets between police and protesters points to the need for professional, integrated police and security forces that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and that adopt a community policing approach.

However, activists have noticed the limits in Posner's call for change --- for example, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain has noted this exchange between Representative James McGovern and the Assistant Secretary of State:

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Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Questions of Human Rights

1953 GMT: Egypt. More political fallout tonight. 4 liberal members of the Constituent Assembly have announced their resignations:

The NAC members who left the assembly are Abdul Jalil Mostafa, the coordinator of the association; Jaber Gad Nasser, a constitutional law professor at Cairo University; and Samir Morqos, a political researcher. Nasser was one of the plaintiffs in the case which resulted in the first Constituent Assembly being disbanded by an administrative court.

The NAC members released a statement saying, “The newly-declared Constituent Assembly is not significantly different from the first formation, which an administrative court ruled invalid because it was based on party representation and not national representation as a whole.”

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood Twitter account has sent a message that "Parliament is staying," whatever that means. The Guardian is cataloging the responses, which range from the assessment that the statement shows pure delusion to strong defiance.

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The Latest from Iran (12 June): Three Years Ago Today

See also Remember Iran: An EA Special
Remember Iran: A Day That Changed the Country, the Region, and the Media
Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- From Political Prisoners in Danger to Pepsi's Logo on the Moon
Remember Iran: A Preview of the Presidential Election (11 June 2009)
Remember Iran Flashback: "How Not to Cover Iran's Elections --- The Awards Ceremony" (12 June 2009)
The Latest from Iran (11 June): A Fraud Case Reaches the Government

Photo: AFP/Getty1940 GMT: Economy Watch. The World Bank has projected that Iran’s economy will shrink 1% this year.

“Product boycotts and financial sanctions are expected to exact a toll on growth over 2012 and 2013,” the Bank said in a report published Tuesday. It predicted a further contraction of 0.7% next year.

1900 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. In a further sign of a strategy moving Turkey away from imports of Iranian oil, Ankara has begun discussions with Saudi Arabia on long-term crude purchases.

Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz said today, "Talks with Saudi Arabia on long-term crude oil purchases have started. This doesn't concern only [Turkish refiner] Tupras but also concerns Saudi Arabia's Aramco. Talks are still going on; they will discuss the quantities between them."

On Monday, the US said it would exempt Turkey from financial sanctions because it has cut purchases of Tehran's oil. A report this week indicated that Turkish imports fell 45% between March and May.

A US diplomat indicated that Washington granted the waiver with the expectation of further cuts, "So Turkey now has 180 days, Tupras has 180 days to take a look at its oil situation to decide - can it reduce further, can it get to zero? - what it needs to do."

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