The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update December 20-27

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012) a great friend and human rights defender.


Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.


A resident searches for items among the ruins of a villa after the area was hit by a tsunami, at Carita beach in Padeglang, Banten province, Indonesia, Decemnber 23, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Asep Fathulrahman/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT.


This week we turn our attention to the disaster of the Indonesian tsunami.   The situation there is terrible. Global Giving accepts donations on behalf of local support organizations.


Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity for indigenous people is enforced contact which can be deadly. Please act for people on the Peruvian contact border.


We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

You can download this book

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Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to free Gaspar Matalaev.


Your words have power

Sometimes a letter can change someone’s life. That’s the premise of Write for Rights, Amnesty’s global letter-writing campaign and the world’s biggest human rights event.

Every December, Amnesty supporters across the globe will write millions of letters for those whose basic human rights are being attacked. They are people like you, continuing a long tradition of writing letters to right some of the world’s biggest wrongs. And it’s not just letters – it could be petitions, emails, Tweets, Facebook posts, photos, postcards. Please join the campaign.


Urgent Action Victory! Court Lifts Ban on Anti-War Protestors

A Turkish court has lifted travel bans on 30 students facing terrorism-related charges for taking part in a peaceful protest on 19 March. The court rejected the students’ allegations of torture and other ill-treatment while they were in custody on the basis that ‘the incident did not take place in the presence of the court’. The students are still facing charges of ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’ and could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

On 3 October, the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 32 lifted travel bans on 30 students from Boğaziçi University facing terrorism-related charges for their participation in a peaceful protest against Turkey’s military involvement in Afrin, Syria. The court however refused to accept the students’ complaints of torture and other ill-treatment in custody and did not order an investigation, instead instructing the students’ lawyers to ‘submit any complaints of torture to the public prosecutor’. One of the lawyers representing the students spoke to Amnesty International about the case: ‘An incident that should not even warrant an investigation under Turkish law has become this strange thing that has opened the door to many rights violations, from the [violation of the] right to education to the [violation of the] physical integrity of the human body.’ The lawyer also confirmed that the students’ legal representatives are in the process of preparing an official complaint to be submitted to the public prosecutor’s office in connection with the students’ treatment during police custody.

Twenty-two of the students had previously been taken into police custody in April and May 2018 on the basis of ‘camera images [which] showed their mouths as open in a manner indicating that they were shouting slogans, showing that they were taking [an] active and continuing part in the protest which included hanging banners with the slogans: ‘Kurdistan will be a graveyard for fascism’; ‘We do not want supporters of the Free Syrian Army in our school’; ‘[Standing] shoulder to shoulder against fascism’; and ‘The palace wants war, the people want peace.’ Eight of the 22 students were released on bail soon after their arrests, on the grounds that the protest footage did not clearly show them shouting slogans or taking an active role during the demonstration. The remaining 14 students were only released on bail after the first hearing on 6 June 2018, during which they also complained of torture and other ill-treatment in detention. The remaining eight students could not initially be located by police and their cases were added to the trial after they came forward to the authorities.

In participating in the protest, the students exercised their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, guaranteed under both Turkey’s Constitution and international human rights law. The authorities must ensure the students’ allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention are promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated and all those found responsible brought to justice in a fair trial.

As all 30 students are free on bail, this case no longer requires urgent action. Amnesty International will however continue to closely follow developments and reopen the action if and when necessary.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.


Urgent Action: Queer Artist at Risk of Going to Prison

Bruno Almada Comas, a young queer artist, is being accused of “acts of exhibitionism” based on a performance denouncing violence and discrimination faced by LGBTI people in Paraguay. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for 19 December. If he is found guilty he could face one year in prison.



Urgent Action: Bill Could Further Pretrial Detention

The Mexican Congress could pass a constitutional amendment in the following weeks that would force judges to order pretrial detention in cases involving a broad series of crimes. Contrary to international law, the reform does not provide that judges can waive it or assess any evidence before determining if such deprivation of liberty is appropriate.



Urgent Action: Christian House Church Members Criminally Detained

Li Yingqiang is among about 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, Sichuan province, who have been detained after a raid by the police on 9 December 2018. Without access to his family or a lawyer of his choice, he is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.



Canadian Postal Workers Forced Back to Work, Supporters Jailed

On November 27, over 50,000 postal workers in Canada were legislated back to work by the Liberal government after five weeks of rotating strikes, effectively removing their right to free and fair collective bargaining and their right to strike as per the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Please join the protest.

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