Open Letter to Mr. Y.B Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia

OPEN LETTER – THE OBSERVATORY
Open Letter to Mr. Y.B Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Geneva-Paris, March 30, 2011
Re: Judicial harassment of 52 HINDRAF and HRP members and obstacles to freedom of peaceful assembly
Your Excellency,
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), strongly condemns the judicial harassment of 54 members of Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) and its sister organisation, the Human Rights Party (HRP), two organisations aiming at defending the rights of Hindu and other marginalised minorities in Malaysia, following their organisation of and participation in a peaceful march against racism on February 27, 2011.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the judicial harassment against HINDRAF and HRP members on the ground that they belong or participate to assemblies of unlawful societies, and further denounce the continuous refusal of the Malaysian authorities to register these two organisations.
The Observatory therefore calls on the Malaysian authorities to put an end to any act of judicial harassment against HINDRAF and HRP members as well as against all human rights defenders in Malaysia, and to comply in all circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 5 which states that “for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully; (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups”.
We express our sincere hope that you will take these considerations and requests into account.
Yours sincerely,
                 Eric Sottas                                                      Souhayr Belhassen
                 OMCT Secretary General                               FIDH President

HRCP demands lawful treatment of tenant marchers

Lahore, March 30: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern at registration of cases in the Khanewal district against hundreds of tenants under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The tenants had participated in a march to Lahore on Monday to press for their demand for ownership rights of the land that they had been cultivating for decades.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Commission said that while the administration had largely refrained from using force to prevent the tenants’ march elsewhere in Punjab, tenants in the Khanewal district were baton-charged by the police and faced tear gas shelling and detention during their efforts to march to Lahore and hundreds were booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act. HRCP said that it was not in a position to determine what cause, if any, the tenants had given for the use of force by a police contingent blocking a key highway in Khanewal. However, the commission acknowledged that at least some policemen were also injured in addition to the scores of tenants, including women and children, injured when police beat the marchers with batons and used tear-gas shells to disperse them.
HRCP said that such use of force against unarmed tenants was uncalled for when the police had already blocked the road by placing containers on it. HRCP expressed serious concern that since the police action in Khanewal on Monday scores of marchers remained unaccounted for until Wednesday. These included women and children. Scores of motorbikes and other vehicles used by the marchers travelling to Lahore were also damaged in the police action or were in police custody. HRCP expressed concern at the use of force to prevent the tenants from marching peacefully to press for their legitimate demands and said that registration of cases under the anti-terrorism law was utterly unwarranted. HRCP demanded that the authorities must immediately acknowledge detention of every tenant in custody, inform the family and the tenants’ organisations about the place of their detention and produce them in court at the earliest if there were any charges against them. All other tenants must be released forthwith, HRCP demanded. The commission also noted that the police had established checkpoints outside villages of tenants and emphasised that the authorities should listen to the tenants’ demands and must desist from harassing them.
 
Dr Mehdi Hasan
Chairperson

HRCP strongly condemns police violence on peaceful demonstrations of Lady Health Workers in Karachi and different towns of Sindh

Karachi, March, 29, 2011: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expresses concern at the brutal police action against lady health workers in Sindh and holds the Sindh Government and the provincial authorities responsible. According to reports, batons and tear-gas were indiscriminately uses against them and a number of men and women, who were peacefully protesting for the regularisation of their service, were arrested.
Karachi Police again baton charged the LHWs who tried to stage a demonstration at the Sindh Chief Minister’s House to protest over the arrest of their colleagues in Ghotki, Sukkur and Obaro, and arrested many of them. According to the police, six LHWs were arrested and lodged at the women police station.
 
According to an e-mail received by HRCP from LHW Association’s head, Bushra Arain, 36 LHWs and drivers were arrested  in Qamu Shareef Dharna by the Police and are still detained in Sukkur Jail.
 
HRCP condemns the police violence on peaceful demonstration of LHW and calls upon the government of Sindh to release all detained LHWs and other staff members and to ensure that cases registered against them are withdrawn. In recognition of the crucial nature of their work, the government should regularize their service and provide medical aid and treatment to those demonstrators who were injured at the hands of the police and local administration.
 
 
Ghazi Salahuddin
Vice-Chairperson
HRCP Sindh Chapter.

HRCP strongly condemns police violence on peaceful demonstrations of Lady Health Workers in Karachi and different towns of Sindh

Karachi, March, 29, 2011: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expresses concern at the brutal police action against lady health workers in Sindh and holds the Sindh Government and the provincial authorities responsible. According to reports, batons and tear-gas were indiscriminately uses against them and a number of men and women, who were peacefully protesting for the regularisation of their service, were arrested.
Karachi Police again baton charged the LHWs who tried to stage a demonstration at the Sindh Chief Minister’s House to protest over the arrest of their colleagues in Ghotki, Sukkur and Obaro, and arrested many of them. According to the police, six LHWs were arrested and lodged at the women police station.
 
According to an e-mail received by HRCP from LHW Association’s head, Bushra Arain, 36 LHWs and drivers were arrested  in Qamu Shareef Dharna by the Police and are still detained in Sukkur Jail.
 
HRCP condemns the police violence on peaceful demonstration of LHW and calls upon the government of Sindh to release all detained LHWs and other staff members and to ensure that cases registered against them are withdrawn. In recognition of the crucial nature of their work, the government should regularize their service and provide medical aid and treatment to those demonstrators who were injured at the hands of the police and local administration.
 
 
Ghazi Salahuddin
Vice-Chairperson
HRCP Sindh Chapter.

The crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and civil society must stop

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA)

Azerbaijan

The crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and civil society must stop
Paris – Baku, March 18, 2011.  The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Azerbaijan the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA) express their deep concern regarding the arrestation of demonstrators and the recent crackdown on civil society.

The Azerbaijanese police rounded up dozens of people who participated in the rallies organised on March 11, the « Great People’s day », and March 12 by opposition parties, calling for freedom and the resignation of President Ilham Aliyev.

At least 30 people were detained for disobeying police orders, deferring police or participating in an unauthorised rally, and sentenced to imprisonment for five to eight days. «  Several activists and protest organisers were even arrested prior to the demonstrations. The crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and civil society at large is intolerable and FIDH will closely follow the situation. », said FIDH president, Souhayr Belhassen.

These events are occurring in a context of increased pressure on civil society. Over the past few weeks, several attempts have been made by the authorities to undermine the activities of civil society. On March 10, the Justice Ministry ordered the Azerbaijan Human Rights House organisation (HRH), an officially registered organisation, to immediately close down on charges of breaching the June 2009 amendments to the Law on Nongovernmental Organisations.(1)   Previously, HRH reported on the  police’s investigation into their activities.

The users of social networks were also targeted by the Azerbaijanese authorities who arrested at least five of them, prior to the demonstrations, for fabricated charges of hooliganism, disobedience to police orders, drug possession and draft evasion. Indeed, they had either used Facebook and other social media outlets to call the youth to protest on March, 11, or used social media to relay calls for mass demonstration organised by political parties on March, 12.

Syria : underprecedent protests violently repressed

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Press release Syria : underprecedent protests violently repressed

http://www.fidh.org/Syria-underprecedent-protests-violently-repressed

 

Paris, Wednesday March 23rd – Peaceful protests which occurred during the past four days in several Syrian towns, and more particularly in Daraa, have been harshly repressed. Since the beginning of the ongoing protests, 28 people are reported to have been killed and hundreds arrested. On 21 March, at least 10000 protesters asking for freedom and democracy gathered in Daraa. These protests, the largest on such a scale, were initiated by the call launched on a Facebook page, « Syrian revolution against Bachar al-Assad », inspired by the recent arab revolutions. The response of the Syrian authorities to the recent protests was particularly violent. The security forces fired live ammunitions to disperse the crowd and, according to our sources, they also used ambulances and firemen vehicles to run over protesters. Calls for protests have previously been made in several Syrian towns on the 4 and 5 of February through social networks, but were prevented from occuring. Arrests of people suspected to be involved in these calls were reported in Hassakeh and Aleppo. FIDH strongly condemns the crackdown against peaceful demonstrators by the Syrian state, in particular since 18 March. FIDH calls the Syrian authorities to end these exactions, and ensure respect for the freedom of peaceful assembly and fundamental freedoms. Press contacts: Karine Appy: +33 1 43 55 14 12 / +33 6 48 05 91 57 Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 90 19 / +33 6 72 28 42 94

SYRIA: Human rights lawyer Haytham Al-Maleh pardoned and released

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN)

 SYRIA: Human rights lawyer Haytham Al-Maleh pardoned and released

Paris-Geneva-Copenhagen, March 9, 2011 – The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) welcome the presidential pardon in favour of Mr. Haytham Al-Maleh, an 80-year-old prominent Syrian human rights lawyer and former President of the Human Rights Association in Syria (HRAS). The latter was subsequently released on 8 March.Mr. Haytham Al-Maleh had been unlawfully arrested by officers of the General Intelligence Service on 14 October 2009. On 4 July 2010, the Second Military Court of Damascus sentenced him to three years of imprisonment for “transferring false and exaggerated news that weaken national sentiments”. His health status had deteriorated while in detention.
From February to July 2010, the Observatory and the EMHRN carried out in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) a series of missions to Damascus to monitor the hearings in the trial against Haytham Al-Maleh. On the basis of these findings, the above-mentioned organisations have undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the fairness of the trial, and issued a joint trial observation report which demonstrates that the entire procedure was marred by human rights violations from the time of arrest, through detention, trial and conviction.
“We welcome the release of this prominent human rights defender, who has been detained over the past months for having merely criticised the continued use of the emergency laws in Syria and the ongoing control of the Syrian authorities over the judicial system” FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen said today.
“We nonetheless deplore his conviction as well as the ongoing arbitrary detention of a number of Syrian human rights defenders, all the more as we are aware that their conditions of detention often do not respect their human dignity”, OMCT Secretary General Eric Sottas added.
“We can however not forget that thousands of people remain arbitrarily detained in Syria after having been sentenced during unfair trials. The release of Mr. Al Maleh has to pave the way to the liberation of all people arbitrarily detained”, stated EMHRN president Kamel Jendoubi.  
 
Haytham Al Maleh is among a group of around 12 prisoners detained in the Damascus central prison of Adra who went on a hunger strike on March 7, 2011 to demand the end of political trials and detentions, as well as democratic reforms in the country. This group notably includes human rights defenders Anwar Al Bunni, Habib Saleh, Ali Abdallah, Kamal Labwani and Kamal Cheikho who currently remain detained for their peaceful commitment in favour of human rights.
Our organisations now call on the Syrian authorities to release all human rights defenders in Syria, and to ensure that they are able to carry out their human rights activities without any hindrance or intimidation, in accordance with the 1998 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other international human rights standards and instruments.
The report can be accessed at:
          – FIDH : http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/OBS_Syria_TrialObservation_Report_eng.pdf           – OMCT: Report – Trial of Haytham Al-Maleh        
          – EMHRN: http://www.euromedrights.org/index.php?news=9283
For more information, please contact:
FIDH: Karine Appy / Arthur Manet, + 33 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: Seynabou Benga/ Delphine Reculeau, + 41 22 809 49 39
EMHRN: Henriette Irminger Sonne, +45 30828337