Israel protests score a win —for now
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 27 announced that he will delay his proposed reforms of the judicial system in the face of ongoing mass protests. Calling it a move to "avoid civil war," Netanyahu declared in a nationally televised address that his administration is "taking a timeout for dialogue." However, he added: "We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system."
Belarus: tens of thousands arbitrarily detained
Tens of thousands of people—many of them peaceful protesters—have been arbitrarily detained in Belarus over the past two and a half years, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif said March 21. The charge came as Al-Nashif presented a report outlining rights violations in Belarus to the UN Human Rights Council, focusing on events leading up to and following the contested 2020 Belarusian presidential election and the ensuing protests. The report presents evidence of the unlawful deaths of at least five people, 100 or more cases of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as widespread unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, attacks on independent media, and unfair sentences that the report calls "politically motivated."
Iran: resistance grows as death toll tops 500
The independent Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) on Jan. 16 released statistics finding that 522 protestors, including 70 children and youths, have been killed in Iran since the start of the national uprising in September. Authorities have arrested 19,400 people, including 168 children and youths. Of those detained, 110 are "under impending threat" of a death sentence. Four protestors have already been executed. Human Rights Watch additionally reported that authorities have fired assault rifles on protestors, and have subjected those in detention to torture, mistreatment and sexual abuse. (Jurist)
Algeria: mass death sentence targets Kabylia activists
Amnesty International on Jan. 9 condemned the death sentences of 54 individuals linked by Algerian prosecutors to the lynching of activist Djamel Ben Ismail amid wildfires in the Kabylie region in August 2021. Amnesty alleged that numerous fair trial violations occurred during the mass proceedings in November 2022. Amnesty also raised alarm about claims of torture, and prosecution of individuals due to their political affiliations.
Iran: oppose death penalty for detained protesters
Sixteen UN-appointed human rights experts called on Iranian authorities Nov. 11 not to indict people on charges punishable by death for participating in peaceful demonstrations. "We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression," the experts said in a statement. (UN News) Since then at least five people have been sentenced to death on the charge of moharebeh ("enmity against God") in connection with the anti-government protests that have been raging for two months. A popular Kurdish rap artist, Saman Yasin, is among those facing execution. Days before the UN statement, 227 members of Iran's 290-member parliament approved a resolution demanding that the judiciary "deal decisively" with "rioters"—taken to mean imposing the death penalty. (BBC News, Iran International, Reuters, Arab News)
Burma: prison protests after execution of activists
Inmates at Burma's Insein Prison launched a protest on July 25 in response to the announcement by the ruling junta that four political prisoners who had been held in the Yangon facility were executed. Several people who took part in the uprising were physically assaulted by prison authorities, and some 15 were removed to isolation cells separate from the general population, according to a source within the facility. Among the executed were two of Burma's leading dissidents—Ko Jimmy, 52, a veteran of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, and Phyo Zayar Thaw, 41, a hip-hop star and former MP with the National League for Democracy (NLD). The two longtime activists were sentenced to death in January for allegedly plotting to carry out attacks on regime targets. Amnesty International said it believes the charges against them were politically motivated.
UN officials concerned by Iran executions
At the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif expressed concern June 21 over the increase in human rights violations occurring in Islamic Republic of Iran. In accordance with Resolution 76/178 of the UN General Assembly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations was required to prepare an interim report on the human rights situation in Iran and submit it to the 50th session of the Human Rights Council.
War crimes, displacement in Burma's east
Amnesty International released a report May 31 documenting numerous atrocities and potential war crimes committed by Burma's armed forces this year in the eastern states of Kayin and Kayah, where an insurgency has mounted against the military regime that came to power in the coup of February 2021. The report charges that the military has subjected civilians to "collective punishment," including "arbitrary detentions that often result in torture or extrajudicial executions, and the systematic looting and burning of villages." Amnesty finds that military attacks have killed hundreds of civilians, and displaced more than 150,000.
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