Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good news including AI's impact

Sri Lanka

The team liaised with the Relief team to get a resettlement grant (supported by sections) for a Sri Lankan journalist now in exile in the US for safety reasons. The journalist who was abducted and badly beaten in 2009 sent a note of thanks "to Amnesty activists who supported me and my family".


Prisoner of Conscience, Yusak Pakage, was released on Wed 7 July. AI has campaigned on his behalf since his arrest in December 2004. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for his involvement in a peaceful demonstration during which the Papuan flag was raised. he was freed as a result of a presidential pardon granted in June 2010 - to our knowledge, it is the first pardon granted for charges of rebellion. Scores of peaceful political activists in Indonesia have been arrested, detained and sentenced to long-term imprisonment under these charges.

This is Yusak Pakage's message to AI:
For me Amnesty is everything… Amnesty is god’s angel… Jesus who works on earth and dries the tears of those [in pain]. [It] becomes the strength for those drowning… cheering up those who are sad… being the friend of the excluded… the protector of those in need… the parents of those who are fatherless and motherless… and the hope which keeps our hope alive… Thank you to everyone at Amnesty International… members across the world… May Jesus God protect you all. [This message is ] from someone who has suffered and who now smiles again thanks to Amnesty."

Timor Leste

Timor-Leste report "Justice in the Shadow" was launched in June in collaboration with the International Justice Team. The report received good media coverage, especially in Australia. The researcher gave interviews to Australian media and BBC World Radio (Indonesian news). The former Australian consulate in Timor-Leste also commented publicly on our report, supporting our calls for the setting up of an international criminal tribunal to deal with past crimes and address the issue of amnesties for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste.


China’s civil society is raising its voice:
- A group of lawyers formed a team to provide legal aid to petitioners from remote areas going to Beijing to seek justice.
- Chinese activists including Fan Yafeng, Tang Jingling and supporters in Hong Kong and overseas formed a Prisoners Of Conscience (POC) support group to support POC.
- Beijing and Sichuan lawyers formed Liu Xianbin’s legal support group. They issued a statement and generated actions across the country.
- Hunan Citizen forum was established at end of June and held it’s first formal meeting on 1 July. The group was formed to debate democracy and human rights issues and gather activists in Hunan to support each other. The group is hoping to launch its on-line space soon.
- China has put on trial a torture perpetrator for miscarriage of justice. Victim Zhao Zhuohai is receiving compensation. This case may encourage to bring more torture cases to be addressed by courts.
- China, in drafting the amendment to compensation law, considered psychological harm to be listed among compensation areas as well as arbitrary detention inasmuch as it causes economic and other losses to the detainee.


The team worked with AI Mongolia before they met the visiting the Spanish Ambassador Rafael Valle on the Death Penalty on 3 June. AI Mongolia briefed the Ambassador on the situation of the death penalty in Mongolia, arguments of both sides of the death penalty debate. Speakers at the 4 June Press Conference in Ulanbataar on the issue of the death penalty included the Ambassador and chairperson from AI Mongolia; the conference was widely reported by Mongolian media. During the Press Conference, it was announced that Mongolia will be part of the International Commission against the Death Penalty which is expected to be established later this year. It was also announced that the office of the president was working on the amendments to the Criminal Code that includes complete abolishment of the death penalty and that the draft to ratify the Second OP to the ICCPR was going to be submitted to the Parliament for discussion.

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