Archive for May, 2020

Kris Maharaj

Posted: May 30, 2020 in Florida, USA
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Justice denied again for Kris Maharaj in Florida

We have some bad news from Reprieve. Kris Maharaj’s request for a conditional medical release was denied by the Florida Department for Corrections. The DOC didn’t even bother to send a doctor to evaluate him, or include a reason for denying Reprieve’s request. And that’s why they have filed a challenge to their decision.

At the end of the day, the question is a simple one: is Kris a danger to others? No.

Kris never has been.  But the prison is a danger to him.  He is 81 and particularly vulnerable as COVID-19 sweeps through the prison system. He should be at home with his wife Marita right now.

When we have further news we shall publish it here.

 

 

 

 


The group’s monthly death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  It contains link to the annual report produced by Amnesty International.  Note that China executes more of its citizens than any other country in the world but details and statistics are a state secret.

The group cannot meet or do any face to face campaigning at present for obvious reasons.  We hope to be back in action later in the year.

Report (Word)

Good News!

Posted: May 12, 2020 in "Human rights", Iran
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Good news from Iran

In these times of gloom and lockdown, it is good to have some good news.  Many Amnesty people have written on behalf of Kama Foroughi and it is possible that anyone reading this in the Salisbury area has signed a petition for us.  We have just received this letter via Amnesty which we think is worth publishing on this site.

I am writing to say a big thank you.

You may have heard that my 80 year old Dad Kamal Foroughi returned to London in March to see us his family for the first time in nine years – if not I am delighted to bring you the great news. Dad had been released from Evin prison in 2018, and had waited since then to receive his renewed Iranian passport to be allowed legally to leave Iran. The passport arrived this February, at a time when flights were very busy due to coronavirus and Iranian New Year so it took a few more weeks to get Dad home.

Nine years is an extraordinary time to be kept away from family. Dad was taken to Evin prison in early May 2011 – days after the marriage between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Since then Dad has missed the growth of smartphones, the London 2012 Olympics, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon twice, Brexit, England winning the cricket and (more importantly for us) the primary school years of his two granddaughters – both of whom make our family so proud.

Your support gave us comfort and helped Dad return to London. Over 29,000 Amnesty Supporters, wrote Urgent Action letters, signed Amnesty petitions and wrote lovely birthday messages for Dad which were delivered to the Iranian embassy as part of peaceful protests. We are so grateful to you.

More generally, your public advocacy and standing up for human rights is so essential to bring an end to the plight of arbitrarily detained and powerless prisoners from all over the world. Maybe the coronavirus challenges will focus our leaders’ minds and encourage them to release more prisoners around the world to the love and care of their families, particularly where there are significant legal, medical and humanitarian concerns with their detention.

Thank you so much,
Kamran Foroughi

 


Letter from Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty, to the Observer

We have featured on these pages the continuing scandal of arms sales to the Saudi regime.  Not only the destruction of large parts of Yemen these weapons are used for, but the fact that the Saudi regime’s repression of its own people and denial of human rights.  After China, they are the world’s second biggest executioner often following unfair trials and confessions extracted through torture.  But no matter, there’s money to be made.

Kate Allen discusses these factors in her letter to the Observer newspaper on Sunday 10 May 2020:

It is, as you say, long over overdue that the UK government put its relationship with Saudi Arabia on a healthier footing (Now is the time to distance ourselves from an odious regime, editorial 3 May, 2020).  For years, the UK has claimed behind-closed-doors diplomacy with Riyadh has been better than “lecturing” the kingdom over its appalling humans rights record.  Yet repression has only worsened including under the suppose reformer Mohammad bin Salmon.  Now virtually every human rights activist in the the country has either been locked up, intimidated in to silence or forced the flee the country.

We have sole Riyadh plenty of weaponry, but the UK hushed policy on Saudi human rights has sold the country’s embattled human rights community shamefully short.

The weapons are used in the war in Yemen the bombing of which has caused appalling damage to the nation’s infrastructure.

Attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have destroyed infrastructure across Yemen. Saudi forces have targeted hospitals, clinics and vaccinations centres.  Blockades have starved the population and made it hard for hospitals to get essential medical supplies.  Source; Campaign Against the Arms Trade

The UK is complicit: many of the Coalition’s attacks have been carried out with UK-made fighter jets, and UK-made bombs and missiles – and the UK government has supported them with billions of pounds of arms sales.

 


Four journalists in Yemen face the death penalty, simply for telling the world the truth about suffering in Yemen

The news is so dominated by Covid-19 that events around the world do not get reported.  The treatment of journalists in Yemen is worthy of our concern however and we hope you will spend a few moments clicking on the link below to the Amnesty site and take the necessary action.

Akram, Abdelkhaleq, Hareth and Tawfiq were just doing their job when they were detained and charged with “spying” and “creating several websites on the internet and social media.” They have now been detained, alongside six other journalists, for five years.  Abdelkhaleq’s family say that other detainees have heard him screaming as he was being tortured. Every day, journalists around the world face intimidation, imprisonment and violence, for reporting on human right violations.  No-one should be sentenced to death just for doing their job.

The Huthi de facto authorities recently pardoned Hamid Haydara, a prisoner of conscience also sentenced to death.

If we pressure the authorities, the same can happen for Akram, Abdelkhaleq, Hareth and Tawfiq.

Call on the Huthi de facto authorities to immediately quash their death sentences, and release all ten journalists.

This is an Amnesty post.  You can go to the Amnesty site and get to the petition here

 


Supreme Court victory enables pension funds to divest from companies involved in the illegal occupation by Israel

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign won an important victory in the Supreme Court last week when it was ruled that pension funds such as the Local Government Pension Scheme, can divest from companies which are complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine lands.  It is seen as a major victory for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement which is fiercely opposed by the prime minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative government.

The ruling will also enable divestment from the arms industry which is a major exporter to the region and whose products cause such mayhem in countries like Yemen.  In a previous post we discussed the activities of TripAdvisor and their role in the occupied lands.

Attendees at the Sarum Campaign for Israel Palestine SCIP, will have watched several films of what life is like in Palestine which is almost a prison.  We have seen footage of the hours spent at checkpoints, uprooting of olive groves and of course the enormous wall which carves the country in two.

Sources: CAAT; Middle East Eye

 

 


The report by Amnesty on the use of the death penalty around the world in 2019 is now available

Update: 10 May  A report from India commenting on Amnesty’s report can be read here

There was a small decrease in executions in 2019 Amnesty International reports amounting to 657 executions in 20 countries, a decrease of 5% compared to 2018 (at least 690). This is the lowest number of executions that Amnesty International has recorded in at least a decade. At the end of 2019, 106 countries (a majority of the world’s states) had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, and 142 countries (more than two-thirds) had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.  The following are some of the key points taken from the full Amnesty report.  Looking at the picture overall, there has been slight progress around the world if we exclude China.

Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt – in that order.

China remained the world’s leading executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is classified as a state secret.  The global figure of at least 657 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China.

Excluding China, 86% of all reported executions took place in just four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt.

Bangladesh and Bahrain resumed executions last year, after a hiatus in 2018.  Amnesty International did not report any executions in Afghanistan, Taiwan and Thailand, despite having done so in 2018.

Executions in Iran fell slightly from at least 253 in 2018 to at least 251 in 2019.  Executions in Iraq almost doubled from at least 52 in 2018 to at least 100 in 2019, while Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people from 149 in 2018 to 184 in 2019.

Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Zimbabwe either took positive steps or made pronouncements in 2019 which may lead to the abolition of the death penalty.

Barbados also removed the mandatory death penalty from its Constitution.   In the United States, the Governor of California established an official moratorium on executions in the US state with biggest death row population, and New Hampshire became the 21st US state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.

Gambia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan continued to observe official moratoriums on executions.

At least 26,604 people were known to be under sentence of death globally at the end of 2019.

The following methods of execution were used across the world in 2019: beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.

At least 13 public executions were recorded in Iran. At least six people – four in Iran, one in Saudi Arabia and one in South Sudan – were executed for crimes that occurred when they were below 18 years of age.  People with mental or intellectual disabilities were under sentence of death in several countries, including Japan, Maldives, Pakistan and USA.

Death sentences were known to have been imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards in countries including Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Viet Nam and Yemen.

Amnesty International 2019 Death Penalty report  (pdf)


The group cannot meet at present of course but if you would like to join then we hope to be back in action as soon as restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.  Keep and eye out on this page or on Twitter and Facebook for notice of our events.  Comments here are always welcome.