Human rights

1 December 2012News

Kurds struggling for peace talks & language rights.

On 18 November, hundreds of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey ended a 68-day hunger strike at the request of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The hunger strike had spread from the prisoners to wider society, threatening a mass upheaval.

The fast began on 12 September as 670 Kurdish prisoners demanded changes in the law to allow education and court hearings in the Kurdish language, and for the start of peace talks between the PKK and the government,…

2 July 2012News in Brief

The 169 men held in the US Guantánamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, including 87 cleared for release, can no longer challenge their indefinite detention without trial.

That is the effect of a US supreme court ruling handed down on 21 June, refusing to uphold a previous ruling in 2008, while giving no reasons.

In 2008, the supreme court gave Guantánamo prisoners the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention under habeas corpus. Subsequently, lower courts whittled away…

14 May 2012Blog entry

Review of Human Rights Watch's report 'Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya', published May 14, 2012.

Human Rights Watch published its findings today on civilian casualties resulting from NATO's air strikes against Libya in 2011 in a report entitled 'Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya', concluding that at least seventy-two civilians were killed as a result of the strikes, of which a third were children.

The seventy-six page report is based on extensive field investigations…

30 March 2012News

A festival of events is to be held in Wales from 11-28 April to highlight the case of Bradley Manning and the issues it raises.

The festival will involve music, comedy, poetry, performance, benefit gigs, presentations, visual arts, talks, discussions, debates, workshops, vigils and social events throughout Wales.

The festival takes place alongside the National Theatre of Wales production The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning by Tim Price which will be performed in three locations: Pembrokeshire, 12-14 April; Cardiff, 17-21 April; Flintshire, 25-28 April.

All performances will take place in…

24 January 2012News in Brief

Many of the 171 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay held a three-day hunger strike from 10-12 January to mark the detention centre’s tenth anniversary. Detainees also held a demonstration and sit-ins in the prison’s common area.

On 7 January, the London Guantanamo Campaign and others held a protest in Trafalgar Square to demand the release of the remaining British resident, Shaker Aamer, who marks his 10th year in Guantánamo on 14 February.

1 October 2011News in Brief

On 1 September, Thomas Hammarberg, the council of Europe’s rights commissioner, said that since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Britain and other European governments had been “deeply complicit” in “countless” crimes by colluding with torture and illegal rendition operation by the US. Hammarberg argued: “In attempting to combat crimes attributed to terrorists, countless further crimes have been committed… Many of those crimes have been carefully and…

13 August 2011Feature

The scenario is depressingly familiar, the outcome tragically the same. The feared Indonesian armed forces, TNI, are engaged in a massive military offensive in a territory strongly opposed to rule from Jakarta. Aceh, a province of 4 million people on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, is being subjected to the TNI's largest operation since the invasion of East Timor in 1975.

There are many parallels with East Timor, not least the key support being provided by Britain.…

13 August 2011Feature

The torture and ill-treatment of children in the home, at work, and in conflict is commonplace. Amnesty International expose this "hidden scandal" and report on the work they are doing to combat it.

“He had a pair of pliers in his hand. He kept asking where the mobile [phone] was. I told him I had not seen it... He got hold of my thumb and placed it between the pliers. He pressed it hard and crushed my thumb. I do not remember what happened next.” This description would be horrifying no matter who the victim was. What makes it particularly shocking is that these are the words of a nine-year-old boy tortured by police in Bangladesh. It is not an unusual case— in more than half…

13 August 2011Feature

Not many people would today defend the use of torture. And yet, every day, people are tortured in almost every country of the world. Human beings, of different cultures, ages, or sexes, are raped, beaten or electrocuted by their fellow human beings.

By launching its third Campaign Against Torture, Amnesty International aimed to place the issue of torture in the spotlight, and to give a message of hope that torture is a disease that can be defeated. A key part of that will be the…

13 August 2011Feature

How can a small organisation committed to nonviolence affect the outcome of their encounters with government forces? Abbie Fielding-Smith reports on the tactics used by Peace Brigades International in their dealings with military and police authorities on the ground.

Peace Brigades International (PBI)'s work in conflicts around the world involves intensive interaction with the local police and military. On one notorious route in Colombia there are 60 military checkpoints. How can a small organisation committed to nonviolence affect the outcome of their encounters with government forces?

PBI's objective is to create the political space for local human rights defenders to do their work in countries where disappearances are commonplace. PBI does…

13 August 2011Feature

The extraordinary artwork that you see here was created in the most difficult of circumstances: inside Belmarsh high security prison in south-east London between 2001 and 2005 by one of several individuals who were at the time interned without trial on secret evidence.

All the men are innocent of any involvement in “terrorism” yet have been subjected repeatedly to proceedings based on secret, closed “evidence” that denies them any real opportunity to defend themselves. This brings…

13 August 2011Feature

Continuing our recent focus on Colombia, Peace News met with Soraya Gutierrez Arguello, president of CAJAR (the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective, based in Bogota) for a chat about the struggle of human rights defenders operating in one of the most violent countries in the world, and the pros and cons of using the legal framework to challenge the culture of impunity.

Soraya began her human rights work when she became a lawyer in 1986 -- a period which she describes as “a very hard time in Colombian history; it was a time when political assassinations and massacres of a great part of the people's social movement of Colombia were on the rise”.

The collective has been protected by Peace Brigades International (PBI) volunteers, as Soraya and her colleagues suffer threats and intimidation on a daily basis from Colombia's security and paramilitary…

26 June 2011Blog entry

<p>Maya Evans reviews the latest play from the Tricycle Theatre</p>

"The morning after seeing Tactical Questioning – scenes from the Baha Mousa Inquiry, I woke up in a cold sweat. Harrowing images of people being tortured were still in my head. Tactical Questioning is a brilliantly-constructed play about the infamous Baha Mousa inquiry, covering the perspectives of those detainees who were horrifically tortured, the soldiers who took part in the savage free-for-all and the people at the top who carry a great deal of responsibility for what…

1 May 2011News in Brief

Given the West’s insistence that Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi face exile and war crimes prosecutions, here’s a quick look at some other toppled dictators (list compiled by Mark Bowery):

Augusto Pinochet, Chile. In power 1973-1990: after a military coup, backed by US president Richard Nixon, Pinochet oversaw the deaths of over 3,000 people, and the torture of 30,000. After losing power: Pinochet remained commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Arrested in the UK in 1998, Pinochet was never…

19 April 2011Blog entry

<p>Maya Evans reflects on courts, money and human rights</p>

The Judge Lord Justice Laws looked over his glasses, he was a no messing kind of guy with a habit of cutting to the chase immediately. “So this £50- £100 k figure, where did it come from? Is it the governments?”

The defence Lawyer for the Secretary of State Mr Grodzinski flicked through his papers to find the source. Indeed it was the government’s calculated annual expense for judicial reviews- cost was the main justification which the Ministry of Justice had used to cut legal aid for…