Category Archives: News

25Jan/16

AIUSA Reaction to Supreme Court Decision on Juvenile Life Without Parole


Evidence gathered by Amnesty International appears to confirm reports that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces dropped US-manufactured cluster munitions on the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on 6 January 2016. The attack killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded at least six other civilians, and scattered submunitions in at least four different residential neighborhoods. Amnesty International is calling on the coalition to immediately stop using cluster munitions, which are inherently indiscriminate weapons and are internationally banned.

January 22, 2016
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
AIUSA

Evidence gathered by Amnesty International appears to confirm reports that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces dropped US-manufactured cluster munitions on the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on 6 January 2016. The attack killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded at least six other civilians, and scattered submunitions in at least four different residential neighborhoods.

Amnesty International is calling on the coalition to immediately stop using cluster munitions, which are inherently indiscriminate weapons and are internationally banned.

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22Jan/16

Yemen: New Evidence Challenges Coalition's Denial It Used Cluster Munitions


Evidence gathered by Amnesty International appears to confirm reports that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces dropped US-manufactured cluster munitions on the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on 6 January 2016. The attack killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded at least six other civilians, and scattered submunitions in at least four different residential neighborhoods. Amnesty International is calling on the coalition to immediately stop using cluster munitions, which are inherently indiscriminate weapons and are internationally banned.

January 22, 2016
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
AIUSA

Evidence gathered by Amnesty International appears to confirm reports that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces dropped US-manufactured cluster munitions on the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on 6 January 2016. The attack killed a 16-year-old boy and wounded at least six other civilians, and scattered submunitions in at least four different residential neighborhoods.

Amnesty International is calling on the coalition to immediately stop using cluster munitions, which are inherently indiscriminate weapons and are internationally banned.

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22Jan/16

Thailand: Investigate Army Abduction of Student Activist

Drop Charges Against Peaceful Critics, End Military Trial of Civilians

(New York) – The Thai government should urgently investigate the abduction and alleged beating and mistreatment of prominent student activist Sirawith Seritiwat by army soldiers, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrest, which Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha said was for violating the ban on public assembly and political activity, is itself unjustified under the right of all persons to peacefully assemble and protest.

Sirawith has been released after the Bangkok Military Court dismissed the police request for his pre-trial detention. According to Sirawith and eyewitness accounts, around 10:30 pm on January 20, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the army’s 2nd Infantry Regiment snatched Sirawith as he was walking with his friends outside the Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus. Sirawith was then pushed into a pickup truck with no license plate and driven away to an unknown destination. The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta denied knowledge of Sirawith’s arrest and his whereabouts until soldiers handed him over to police custody around 2:30 am on January 21. Sirawith said he was blindfolded and beaten while being interrogated by soldiers.

Student activist Sirawith Seritiwat faces a military court trial for peacefully criticizing the Thai military junta. 


© 2015 Private


“The abduction and apparent mistreatment of a prominent student activist is further glaring evidence that wanton violations of human rights are the norm under the NCPO’s military dictatorship in Thailand,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “What’s even worse is Gen. Prayut brushed off international concerns and condemnation, and appeared to tolerate the abusive treatment Sirawith received by emphasizing the military could ‘use any measure’ to carry out an arrest.”

Sirawith said soldiers pushed him into a pickup truck and drove him to an unknown destination:

 

They blindfolded me and put a cloth bag over my head. I could not see anything. Those soldiers did not tell me where they were taking me to. The pickup truck took many turns, making me confused [about] which direction I was heading to.

Sirawith said soldiers beat him after they dragged him out of the pickup truck to interrogate him:

When the pickup truck stopped, I was dragged outside. I was dragged along [the] tall grass. I did not know what would happen to me. Then I was ordered to kneel down on the ground. They kicked me. They asked me “Do you want to be famous?” Why did you talk to journalists?” “Don’t you know your duties to serve the nation?” Then they slapped me in my head. They jabbed my head with something hard – I thought it was a rifle barrel.

Similar to the NCPO’s reaction to previous reports of abuses in military custody, the junta quickly and flatly dismissed Sirawith’s story. The NCPO spokesman Col. Winthai Suwaree gave a media interview on January 21 stating that no violence was used during the arrest and Sirawith was treated gently and respectfully.

Instead of ordering an investigation of this incident and holding soldiers responsible for abuses accountable, Gen. Prayut said at a January 21 press conference at Government House that officials could use any measures to arrest Sirawith:

Officials acted on an arrest warrant. He [Sirawith] violated the Public Assembly Bill and the NCPO’s order [Order Number 3/2558, which bans public assembly and political activity] … Officials could use any measures to arrest him. The arrest doesn’t have to happen in front of camera, which could then trigger a protest … Why don’t people respect the laws instead of asking for democracy and human rights all the time? … No one is allowed to oppose [the NCPO]. I dare you to try to oppose [the NCPO] … I don’t care what the international community would think about this. I will send officials to explain to foreign embassies. I am not afraid of them. I will tell them to understand that this is Thailand and we are enforcing Thai laws.

Also referring to Sirawith and other dissenting student activists, Gen. Prayut mentioned in an earlier televised speech on January 15 that, “Some university lecturers encourage students to oppose the government by teaching them about freedom, democracy, and human rights. These students will end up in jail or dead. They will have no future.”

The junta uses arbitrary arrests and draconian laws against dissenters and critics to maintain its hold on power. There is no apparent light at the end of this dark tunnel since the military shows no signs of easing its oppressive rule, or restricting officials with unchecked powers from committing abuses with impunity.

Brad Adams

Asia director

Since the coup in May 2014, Human Rights Watch has repeatedly expressed concerns about abuses of persons arrested by soldiers and interrogated in military custody. Under provisions of martial law and, later, section 44 of the interim constitution, the military authorities have the authority to arrest and secretly detain people for up to seven days and interrogate them without access to lawyers or safeguards against mistreatment. The NCPO has consistently dismissed allegations that soldiers have tortured and ill-treated detainees but has provided no evidence to rebut those allegations.

Human Rights Watch questioned the compatibility of the arrest with Thailand’s obligation to respect the international right of peaceful protest and assembly, and also stressed that police, not the military, should have been responsible for the arrest as they are lawfully responsible for the execution of arrest warrants and have the appropriate training on the rights and safeguards guaranteed to detained persons under Thai and international human rights laws.

Thailand is descending deeper into rights abuses under military rule with increasing arrests of critics and peaceful dissenters. Sirawith and five other activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) will be put on trial in the Bangkok Military Court for organizing a train trip to Rajabhakti Park – a park newly built by the army to honor the kings of Thailand – as a part of their campaign to criticize military corruption. The junta considers this activity a violation of Order 3/2558, which bans public assembly and political activity. If found guilty by the court, the activists could face up to six-months in prison.

International human rights law prohibits governments from using military courts to try civilians when civilian courts are functioning. The use of military courts in Thailand also fails to meet international fair trial standards under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a party. The Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors state compliance with the ICCPR, has stated in its General Comment on the right to a fair trial that “the trial of civilians in military or special courts may raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial, and independent administration of justice is concerned.” This is particularly problematic in Thailand, where every element of military courts functions within the Defense Ministry’s chain of command.

“The junta uses arbitrary arrests and draconian laws against dissenters and critics to maintain its hold on power,” Adams said. “There is no apparent light at the end of this dark tunnel since the military shows no signs of easing its oppressive rule, or restricting officials with unchecked powers from committing abuses with impunity.”
 

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22Jan/16

Malawi Red Cross bails out starving households

Source: Malawi Red Cross Society
Country: Malawi

As hunger bites harder across the country, about 2,000 families from Nsanje and Phalombe districts will be provided with cash, primarily to buy maize, legumes, salt and cooking oil.

JANUARY 21, 2016 FELIX WASHON

As hunger bites harder across the country, about 2,000 hungry households that were severely affected by last year’s floods now have a reason to smile after Malawi Red Cross started supporting them with money for food.

The targeted beneficiaries are from parts of traditional authorities (T/A) Tengani and Ngabu in Nsanje and Kaduya and Mkumba in Phalombe.

Malawi Red Cross assistant disaster manager Roster Kufandiko said 1000 needy people in each of the two districts will benefit from the money which is paid to them through Airtel Money service.

The beneficiaries were given mobile phone handsets to ease the process and the Malawi Red Cross made special arrangements with Airtel Malawi to ease access to the cash.

Each needy family is being assisted with about K20,000 per month, primarily to buy maize, legumes, salt and cooking oil.

Kufandiko added that the program was supposed to start in November is for five months, but due to some technical problems it started a month later. He assured the people that they will get one month areas due to the delay.

But while bemoaning the delay to start disbursing the cash, Group Village Headman (GVH) Kanyama also commended Red Cross for coming to the rescue of his subjects.

One of the beneficiaries Sofia Pitala from Chamveka Village, T/A Ngabu expressed gratitude to Red Cross for rescuing them from the jaws of starvation.

“We are in distressed need of not just food but other basic social requirements and although this money will not settle all our problems at least it is a relief,” she said.

The MRCS decided to pay the people through Airtel Money after discovering that donated relief food were being sold, but if they are given money they will decide how best to use it.

This year’s food shortage is the worst the country has experienced in eight years with about three million Malawians in dire need of food aid.

MRCS is helping the needy with financial assistance from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC).

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