A pro-Iranian Shiite religious movement in Nigeria claims that 600 of its members are missing and Nigerian authorities are asked to investigate the situation. In fact, the authorities are asked to investigate all the unexplained disappearances and to present all those who are suspected of criminal activity to trial. Additionally, 350 of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), who are led by the cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky, were killed by the military in the northern town of Zaria.
It all began on December 12 of 2015 when Zakzaky’s supporters did not allow the chief of army staff’s convoy to march through the town, which consequently sparked violence between the two parties. The military force shot Zakzaky who is now injured and blind in one eye in their protective custody. It is also worth mentioning that Zakzaky has repeatedly been imprisoned for alleged incitement and subversion.
Both IMN and the Nigerian government have conflicted for so many years as the IMN are seeking to apply an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in the country that is dominated by the Sunni Muslim-majority. Young men have also been accused of the cooperation with the armed group Boko Haram with no concrete evidence to their alliances.
Erkin Musaev was set free after 11 years of wrongful imprisonment. He was a former Uzbekistani government official and UN employee, who was tortured and sent away to spend his life away from his family. In 2007, the authorities sentenced him to 20 years in jail after many unfair trials. Erkin was accused of spying for an unnamed NATO member-state, in addition to misusing UN funds. The authorities based his conviction on a confession, which he signed by force and after severe torture. The security service also threatened to harm his family, and he had to confess to false accusations to protect his loved ones.
Thousands of Amnesty International supporters took action to support Erkin Musaev. Human rights activists demanded his release as part of Write for Rights 2014, as they were outraged at the unfairness of his detention, especially since he did not get the chance to a fair trial. Now, after Erkin was set free, he wrote a personal letter to Amnesty International to thank the entity for all their efforts to set him free as an expression of sincere gratitude. He also mentioned that the campaigns that were launched to free him have changed the way the international community viewed his case.
Russia arrested a 76-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease for holding up a placard. The victim was detained because of protesting against persecuted Crimean Tatars. Server Karametov, a Crimean Tatar, was sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention because of his support of the prisoner Akhtem Choygoz outside the Supreme Court of Crimea, which operates under the influence of the de-facto authorities in the occupied region’s capital Simferopol.
Throwing a senior citizen behind bars for merely holding a placard is the most recent atrocious example of the Russian authorities’ attack on peaceful activism by the Crimean Tatar community. The detained should be released immediately, under no conditions whatsoever. A judge from the Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Simferopol charged Karametov as guilty under the claim that he resisted lawful orders from police officers.
Not only was the elderly citizen detained, but also he was fined 10,000 rubles (US$165), which is considered an exceptionally high amount for a Crimean, where the average monthly retirement benefit is around 11.000 rubles (US$180). Unfortunately, an ambulance was called to the courtroom because Karametov felt ill due to his deprivation from medication in detention.
After five years of imprisonment, Omar, son of Mohammad al-Qahtani who is a human rights defender and founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), which is one of Saudi Arabia’s few independent human rights organizations, writes about the unfair imprisonment of his father. Omar writes to reveal the truth about the injustices that occurred to his father.
Mohammad al-Qahtani is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for simply calling for reforms in his country. In Omar’s letter, he talks about how proud he is of his father for standing up for his beliefs. He describes his father as a disciplined man who used to dedicate time to have fun with his wife and kids while paying great attention to their education.
The victim is now imprisoned for calling for reforms peacefully, with disregard to the freedom of speech. The 17 years old child describes what he experienced while attending his father’s trial when he was 12. He states that he was charged with 11 different things such as founding an unlicensed organization and disobeying the ruler, which did not make any sense to the child back then.
Kenya is fortunate with a mass of young activists who make use of their online presence to be active in civic engagement. Recently, online activists who address the Kenyan government have been met with aggression and vicious attacks. Edwin Kiama, a social activist with almost 50,000 followers of his Twitter handle, @WanjikuRevolt, is going through an experience of online aggression that shows the problem that the online voices face nowadays.
When scrolling through Edwin’s Twitter account, it is found that he provides an account of the contemporary conversations in Kenya. He tweets about the ruling Jubilee Party’s manifesto, in addition to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)’s failure to publish the voter register. Edwin is also active on his Facebook as his Facebook page has almost 40,000 followers. As an attempt from Edwin to provide his followers with diverse content, he adds people who are not necessarily from his ethnic group.
Edwin is constantly under attack online. He says that some people start by supporting his online views then they switch sides and start attacking him as well. He also says that he is attacked by the administrative in Kenya who have much more resources than he does, but he still believes in what he does and its outcome in the long run regardless of the attacks.
Boeung Kak Lake, or what used to be the largest body of water in the city at the center of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, is now gone. Over the past years, the lake has been filled completely with sand. Unfortunately, the lake is part of a development project to establish new condominiums and office buildings, which led to its ultimate destruction. The construction of the project started in 2007 and thousands of families have been illegally evicted, which turned the Boeung Kak area to a focal point for human rights defenders in Cambodia.
Tep Vanny who is a housing and land rights activist is one of those defenders. Vanny has spent the past decade defending her community around the lake peacefully. Her resistance to the construction work that is destroying the lives of the inhabitants around the lake has never been associated with violence. However, she has been a target of the authority showering her with political criminal charges as she has been arrested at least five times in the past four years. Moreover, she has been harassed and beaten. Vanny is one of 20 human rights defenders that are currently behind bars in this country, which we all should be calling for their release.
Sofar Sounds and Amnesty International have announced that Ed Sheeran has approved to play in the global concert series Give a Home. The concert is taking place in cities all over the world on the 20th of September, 2017. In Ed Sheeran’s comment on the announcement of him joining the lineup, he said, “We all deserve a home, not just the memory of one.’’ He also added that is quite honored to join Amnesty International, and Sofar’s Give a Home campaign to raise awareness for the global refugee crisis.
Give a Home concert gathers music fans from all over the world to unite people in an attempt to show solidarity with refugees. Sheeran will play in Washington D.C., USA. Jean-Jean Bashengezi (‘JAJA’) who is not only a guitarist and singer but also a refugee, will be playing beside him. Bashengezi now lives in Washington; however, his music is influenced by his roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo as he was forced to flee in 1994 when his country got into a deadly conflict following the Rwandan genocide.
Sadly, over 22 million people worldwide are affected by the refugee crisis. Wealthy nations need to help more in hosting people who have been stranded away from their homes.