Safe World for Women
Started 5 petitions
Free Reeyot Alemu - Imprisoned Award-winning Ethiopian Journalist with Breast Tumour
Award-winning journalist Reeyot Alemu has been in prison for over 1,000 days... "Since there are a lot of injustices and oppressions in Ethiopia, I must reveal and oppose them in my articles." - Reeyot Alemu Petition by Safe World for Women. - - - - - - - - - - Reeyot Alemu is a 34-year-old Ethiopian woman journalist - winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Alemu taught English classes at an Addis high school. She gave part of her salary to her students from poor families. On June 21, 2011, Alemu was seized from the high-school English class she taught, and placed under arrest, with reportedly no information about why she was being detained. Refusing offers of clemency in exchange for providing information on other journalists, was punished with nearly two weeks in solitary confinement. Four days before her arrest, Alemu had written a scathing critique of the ruling political party’s fundraising methods for a national dam project, and had apparently drawn parallels between late Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi and Ethiopia’s then-Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi. Charges of Terrorism A government spokesman announced at a press conference that Alemu was one of nine people suspected of organising terrorism. The terrorist group they were accused of abetting was unnamed and specific crimes were not cited. According to the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), Alemu is one in a number of journalists who have been prosecuted under the vaguely worded and broad-reaching anti-terrorism laws passed by the Ethiopian legislature in 2009. The laws allow for the arrest of anyone thought to “encourage” parties labeled as terrorists. Under this law, Alemu was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined 33,000 birrs (about $1,850). Prior to her arrest, she made less than $100 per month at her teaching job and little more as a reporter. During her trial, government prosecutors presented articles Alemu had written criticizing the prime minister, as well as telephone conversations she had regarding peaceful protests, as evidence against her. In August 2012, an appeals court subsequently reduced the 14-year prison sentence to 5 years and dropped most of the terrorism charges against her. Oppression of Journalists in Ethiopia The Ethiopian government has effectively limited media coverage to topics friendly to the ruling EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front). It has done this through charges of treason and terrorism levied against reporters and free media, public criticism of journalists and passage of laws that punish sources of information about opposition political parties and questions of human rights. In 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists named Ethiopia as one of the ten countries where press freedom suffered most - with the second-highest number of imprisoned journalists in Africa, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, after notoriously oppressive Eritrea. Family's Concerns While attending the African Media Leaders Forum in Addis Ababa recently, a delegation from the Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) met with the family of Reeyot Alemu to inquire about her health. “The last time I saw her was two months ago, on the September 8. Now, only her father and her mother are allowed to see her... They are trying to terrorise her but she is strong... They cannot imagine how strong she is, she will never give in... She refuses to ask for a pardon, that is why they try to break her... She will not ask for pardon because that would mean recognising she committed a crime. But she did not commit any crime. She was just trying to be a voice for the voiceless." Sileshi Hagos, Reeyot's fiance. Her Breast is Bleeding Reeyot's father, Alemu Gobebo, is also her lawyer. Alemu Gobebo is not allowed access to her as a lawyer, only as her father. Alemu is deeply concerned about his daughter. She has a tumour in one of her breasts. Her breast is bleeding but her condition is not being monitored. Consequently, it is not known whether Reeyot's tumour is benign or malignant. Her health condition is of serious concern: Women with malignant breast lumps who do not receive prompt treatment can lose a whole breast or significant amounts of breast tissue, or die. Unfair Trial Reeyot was held in pre-trial detention for three months, with no access to legal council. Some of the time she was held in solitary confinement. The charges were vague and unspecific. Witnesses were anonymous. Many of the journalistic articles quoted as 'evidence' were not actually written by Reeyot. Moreover, rather than being considered innocent until proven guilty, Reeyot was required to prove her innocence - the court was not required to prove her guilt. She was not informed of the charges before the trial and lawyers were not informed of the date of the hearing. A documentary was shown on Ethiopian television, before the trial, profiling Reeyot as a terrorist. International Women's Media Foundation - Courage in Journalism Award In 2012, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) bestowed a Courage in Journalism Award on Alemu in absentia for her “refusal to self-censor in a place where that practice in standard, and her unwillingness to apologize for truth-telling, even though contrition could win her freedom.” At the ceremony, the presenters read a note from Alemu that had been smuggled out of prison. “For EPRDF [Ethiopia’s ruling party], journalists must be propaganda machines.” “I believe that I must contribute something to bring a better future... Since there are a lot of injustices and oppressions in Ethiopia, I must reveal and oppose them in my articles.” - Alemu had said in an earlier interview with the IWMF. "While organizations such as the IWMF may not have the political clout to provide direct protection or effect instant change in situations like Alemu’s, the value of international attention should not be underestimated." - International Women's Media Foundation. The Importance of Support “The support from the outside is what keeps you going, it’s more important than food and medicine," Martin Schibbye told the IWMF. Martin Schibbye is a Swedish journalist. Martin was picked up together with colleague Johan Persson, after crossing the Somali-Ethiopian border illegally while reporting on ONLF rebels and the humanitarian situation in the closed Ogaden region. The 14-month-long diplomatic tug of war under the watchful eye of the international media ended when Schibbye and Persson were pardoned and released in September 2012 after they admitted guilt and were sentenced to eleven years in prison. "International recognition such as the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award does in fact provide a certain level of protection. Prison guards and administrators will think twice because they know the world is watching.” - Martin Schibbye. Even though their interactions were very limited due to a strict communication ban in Kaliti prison, Schibbye was deeply impressed with Alemu’s strong moral beliefs. The last time Schibbye saw Alemu was in August 2012, not long before he and Persson were released from prison. “During the interrogation in Makelawi, Reeyot never broke down. She kept explaining to the police interrogators, some of them younger than her, why she was fighting for freedom of speech and democracy”, Schibbye remembers. Amnesty International "This is an affront to freedom of expression." - Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher. Committee to Protect Journalists "Ethiopia has refused to comply with a decision by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture in the case of Reeyot." - Comittee to Protect Journalists. PEN American Center "PEN American Center believes that Woubshet Taye, Reeyot Alemu, and Elias Kifle have been sentenced solely in relation to their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to which Ethiopia is a signatory. We therefore protest the harsh sentences handed down to them and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Taye and Alemu." - PEN American Center The detention of Ms Reeyot Alemu is clearly unjust and contravenes international law on several accounts. Further information [Photo credit: IWMF]
Find and Free Dorothy Parvaz, missing journalist.
"Dorothy is a courageous person and a dear friend. If it were not for her introducing my wife and I, our beautiful 3 1/2 month old daughter would never have graced this world with her presence. We need her returned to us immediately safe and unharmed." Dylan Wilmsen "Dorothy Parvaz is a kind woman, a dedicated journalist and my friend." Kristen Young "I went to high school with Dorothy, wrote with her there, and through her met my current group of closest friends. I admire her greatly, and want nothing more than for her to be released back to the love of her family and friends." Sheelagh Brothers "I've known Dorothy for over 10 years. She has always been one of my greatest supporters, one of the most honest and truest of friends. She has integrity, she is an honorable and beautiful soul. I love her and I want to know that she is safe and that she is coming home to us. I thank everyone all over the world for fighting to bring her back. She would do the same for us." Jackie Schultz "Dorothy is a very close friend. We have a very close group of friends, my husband has been friends with her for about 20 years. We love her very much and want her home safe." Bindy Elder "Dorothy is one of the smartest, most courageous people I've ever known. She is a journalist of the highest caliber, has done nothing wrong & should be released." Joseph Butler "Dorothy is an amazing person and Dedicated Journalist. She is a great friend for over 20 years." Murray Elder "I went to highschool with Dorothy - she was always a very kind and compassionate person & would do anything to help you out in your time of need. I will continue to pray that she is released back to her family and friends." Kathryn Calub "Dorothy is a dedicated journalist, a wonderful person, and a loyal and true friend. She has been one of my good friends for over 20 years and I want to know that she is safe and see her returned home to her family." Sue Garcia. Dorothy Parvaz -- U.S./Canadian/Iranian citizen, Al Jazeera English reporter and former editorial writer for the Seattle P-I -- has been detained since Friday, April 29, when she landed in Damascus, Syria. She was held incommunicado by an inidentified security service. It is believed that the Syrian authorities detained her. According to Al Jazeera, Dorothy had planned to help cover events in Syria and arrived in Damascus on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha in the afternoon. There has been no contact with the 39-year-old since she disembarked in Damascus. An Al Jazeera spokesperson said: "We are worried about Dorothy's welfare, security and safety. Syria should release her immediately." On the 11th May, Al Jazeera received information that Dorothy has been deported from Syria to Iran. This information came from Syrian officials, who had previously told Al Jazeera they were holding Dorothy in Damascus and that she would be released. Al Jazeera spokesman: "We have now received information that she is being held in Tehran. We are calling for information from the Iranian authorities, access to Dorothy, and for her immediate release. We have had no contact with Dorothy since she left Doha on 29 April and we are deeply concerned for her welfare." A statement from Dorothy’s family said: "Dorothy is a dearly loved daughter, sister and fiancée, and a committed journalist. It is now nearly two weeks since she was detained. We appeal once again for Dorothy to be released immediately and returned to us." Dorothy is an experienced journalist who joined Al Jazeera in 2010. She graduated from the University of British Columbia, obtained a masters from Arizona University, and held journalism fellowships at both Harvard and Cambridge. She previously worked as a columnist and feature writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Dorothy joined Al Jazeera in 2010 and recently reported on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. On May 11th, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement for Dorothy's release: "Syria's apparent deportation of Dorothy Parvaz to Iran when she is also a citizen of the U.S. and Canada, is an irresponsible choice," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "Given Iran's abysmal press freedom record, we are concerned about Parvaz's well-being. Iranian authorities must immediately release Parvaz, who has committed no crime." Iran, together with China, is the world's top jailer of journalists in 2010, according to CPJ research. Please sign and share the petition to the UN Special Rapporteurs to demand immediate action to determine Dorothy's safety and welfare - and to ensure she is able to make contact with her family and fiance who are growing increasingly alarmed.
Free Nasrin Sotoudeh, Human Rights Lawyer in prison in Iran
UPDATE 18th September 2013 NASRIN SOTOUDEH RELEASED UNCONDITIONALLY! - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "If any government can block the power of a human rights attorney, its hands are free to treat its critics and opponents in any manner it desires. Unfortunately the international community allowed the government to break this barrier." Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh. Nasrin Sotoudeh is a leading human rights lawyer widely respected for her efforts on behalf of juveniles facing the death penalty and for her defense of prisoners of conscience. In 2008, Nasrin won the International Human Rights Award. On 4th September, 2010, she was arrested by the Iranian authorities, alledgedly on charges of spreading propaganda and threatening state security. Her husband, Reza Khandan: "The world should know that all she has done is to earn this punishment is support her clients. Even when she was threatened with arrest, she continued to support her clients with bravery and determination. The world must support her now. Nasrin has many faces. When she is with the children, she leaves her professional world to be a real mother, and as a professional she gives a new meaning to what professionalism means. She is also a wonderful spouse. Whenever there is a contact, whether in presence or by phone, we miss her even more..." Please sign and share this petition to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders who, between them, are mandated to 'protect human rights defenders who are lawyers acting in the discharge of their professional duties,' and to inquire into any substantial allegations sent to them. Read more: Updates and news about Nasrin Safeworld Interview with Reza Khandan - Nasrin's husband Safeworld Interview with Mehrangiz Kar - Iranian attorney & friend of Nasrin UPDATE - 16th APRIL 2013 Nasrin's husband expresses serious concerns about her rapidly deteriorating eyesight and lack of access to an Opthalmologist. UPDATE - 2nd DECEMBER 2012 Nasrin still on hunger strike. Her husband reports, on his facebook status, that her body has now been rejecting fluid for two days and her health condition is critical. UPDATE - WEDNESDAY 17th OCTOBER 2012 Nasrin began hunger strike UPDATE - SATURDAY, 14th MAY 2012 Nasrin to appear in court again, Sunday May 20th, for suspension of her licence to practise law. UPDATE - FRIDAY, 23rd SEPTEMBER 2011 In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, said that the second court session reviewing her disbarment (removal from the Bar Association) was cancelled. Nasrin's husband and kids were able to see her for 15 minutes - for the first time in six weeks. UPDATE - SUNDAY, 7th AUGUST 2011 According to Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh's husband, he and his family were detained for a several hours on Sunday, when they arrived to visit Sotoudeh at Evin prison today. Khandan described the events that occurred when his family arrived at Evin as follows on his Facebook page: "Today August 7th, 2011 the Evin prison authorities not only prevented us from having a face to face visitation with Nasrin, but also detained the entire family including Nasrin's sister, keeping us there until the afternoon." UPDATE - SUNDAY, 29th MAY 2011 At the request of the judicial authorities, Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned from Evin prison to attend a court hearing at the Iranian Bar Association concerning the revocation of her license to practice the law. According to reports received by the Feminist School, however, her court hearing was rescheduled. UPDATE - WEDNESDAY, 24th MAY 2011 On the occasion of Mother's Day in Iran, 12 female political prisoners were allowed face to face visitation with their families. Nasrin Sotoudeh, Bahareh Hedayat and Mahdiyeh Golroo were three of the prisoners finally afforded this right. UPDATE - SUNDAY, 21st MAY 2011 Nasrin Sotoudeh, who wrote on crumpled prison tissue paper, told her three-year-old son to pray that the country’s judges and prosecutors rediscover the meaning of justice so that “we too can someday be allowed to live in peace like so many other countries in the world”. UPDATE - SUNDAY, 1st MAY 2011 Nasrin has been transferred from ward 209 at Evin to the Methadone Quarantine Ward reserved for addicts and dangerous criminals. According to Daneshjoo News, this transfer took place at a time when Sotoudeh's husband had announced that she has lost considerable weight while in prison, her weight decreasing from 58 kilos ( 128 lbs) to 44 kilos (97 lbs). Reza Khandan also reported that despite his wife having vision problems, prison officials had refused to allow her to visit an eye doctor. UPDATE - SUNDAY, 9TH JANUARY, 2011 Nasrin has been sentenced to 11 years in prison: This includes 5 years for 'violating the Islamic dress code (Hejab)' in a filmed acceptance speech, in which she was accepting a Human Rights Prize by the International Committee on Human Rights, in 2008. She was not permitted to leave the country, at the time to travel to Italy to accept the award. A further 5 years of the sentence is for 'acting against the national security of the country' and 1 year is for 'propaganda against the regime'. She has also been banned from practising law and leaving the country for 20 years. Reportedly, an appeal against the sentence can be requested within 20 days. Nasrin's husband, Reza, has been summoned to the Revolutionary Court. In a statement, he said: "I have been asked to appear at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court. In the written summons, the word 'defendant' was used when referring to me. Of course I was also summoned once about ten to twelve days before my wife was arrested and at the time I was warned about the interviews I had given." The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says the 'UN Human Rights Council Should Act to Address the Crisis.' The ICHRI says that Nasrin has 'reportedly been tortured in prison in order to force her to confess to crimes'. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ "If any government can block the power of a human rights attorney, its hands are free to treat its critics and opponents in any manner it desires. Unfortunately the international community allowed the government to break this barrier." Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Free Navid Mohebbi, 18-year-old women's rights defender & blogger
Navid Mohebbi, at age 18, is the youngest blogger in the world to be incarcerated. Navid was first arrested in 2008 after attempting to organize events for International Women's Day, in Iran. After two years of pressure and repeated summons, he was arrested again on September 18, 2010. Reports say that eight security officials raided his father's home and beat Navid during the arrest. On November 14, Navid Mohebbi was charged with membership of the One Million Signatures Campaign, and support for the One Million Signatures Campaign, which advocates for freedom and equality for women. He was also charged with acting against national security, propaganda against the state through connection with foreign media, insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini), insulting the current leader (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). Prior to the trial, Navid was held in solitary confinement for over a month. Prison officials told his family that he would not be released from solitary until he "showed remorse" for his actions. He was held without charge for nearly two months until November 14, when he was brought before a revolutionary tribunal. The likelihood of Navid receiving a fair trial in such a setting is miniscule. He was not permitted the counsel of his lawyer, Mina Jafari, although legal representation is guaranteed under international laws to which Iran is a signatory. In addition to being denied legal representation, Navid is being held incommunicado in prison with ordinary prisoners, some of whom may be physically violent or otherwise dangerous. He currently shares his small cell with a convicted murderer. The prison is over capacity, sanitation and health services are lacking and the food's quality is terrible. It is common for prisoners held in these conditions to fall ill and just as common for prison officials to deny them the necessary medical treatment. Navid has not been permitted to have visits from his family or Ms. Jafari. His family is under pressure not to contact media or publicize his case. Navid's youth and activism for women make him a target and someone to be made example of by the Iranian regime, which fears both. A bright and hard-working student, Navid was accepted into Tehran's Azad University to study Political Science. Humanities and social science programs have come under attack by Iranian authorities, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Many political prisoners, human and women's rights activists, human rights lawyers and activist students, in Iran, are charged with variations of charges of propaganda and threatening national security. These charges are the foundation for lengthy prison sentences. The underlying cause for Navid's charges is that he has been an ardent supporter of the One Million Signatures Campaign. Started in 2006, the campaign advocates freedom and equality for women. Although the organizers adhere to Iranian and Islamic laws, they have been targets of further oppression by the authorities. Navid is the youngest known member or supporter of the One Million Signatures Campaign to be arrested. Navid's dream, written for International Women's Day, 2010: "On this day, I am hoping for a world without violence and humiliation, and joy for the thousands of women in Darfur, Sudan who are suffering from homelessness and gang rapes, thousands of young girls in North Africa and other developing region who have to run away from home because their families won't accept them if they fall in love with someone and will stone them to death, for the thousands of young girls who are forcefully circumcised and their organs are mutilated, for the millions of women all around the world who face domestic violence, women whose lives and whose children's lives are endangered because of the lack of basic health care, for the millions of women who are forced into prostitution by poverty, for the suffering women who don't even have access to the most basic right of education and women who are lashed for wearing pants in Somalia. I also want for them to live without violence, discrimination, inequality and for them to have a better financial life as well as to have access to health care and education. And for the women of my own country who are being brutally suppressed in the most vicious manner, I wish a society without violence, oppression and without gender-specific violence." Read more English language translation of Navid's blogs
Free Da Torpedo, imprisoned in Thailand for speaking out
Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul is known in Thailand as Da Torpedo, for being outspoken. She was arrested on 22nd July, 2008, age 46, for speaking out against royalty - a serious crime in Thailand, called Lese Majeste. Da Torpedo was held for a year without charge and then, in August 2008, she was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. "The lese majeste law, as is currently applied in the last three years, has been used for the suppression of free speech for largely political purposes and not for the protection of the monarchy, for which the law was drafted," Benjamin Zawacki, South-east Asia researcher for Amnesty International is quoted as saying. The AHRC is not aware of another case in recent times in which a defendant has been treated as such an extraordinary threat over a question of free expression. We believe that she was treated in this manner because she chose to fight the charges, rather than plead guilty and seek a royal pardon... The Asian Human Right Committee wrote in an open letter on September 4th 2009: The situation in Thailand is of sufficient importance not only because it has worsened considerably in recent years but also because the country has a strong influence on developments in the wider Southeast Asian region, being among the larger and more developed of its peers and a key member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. If nothing is done to arrest its continued decline on a range of human rights indicators then the effects will be damaging not only for Thailand but for the region as a whole. Over the last 2 years, the Press Freedom Index rating of Thailand has declined from 124 to 153, fast approaching that of Burma, at 174. This should be of concern to us all. Da Torpedo is a symbol of an ever-growing suppression of human rights in parts of Asia. We need to send a strong message to the government of Thailand that the world will not stand by while another 'Burma situation' develops. Please sign this petition to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Independence of Judges and Lawyers to request their urgent intervention on behalf of Darunee Chanchoengsilapakul and also to raise concerns about the steadily declining freedom of expression and increasing politicization of the judiciary in Thailand. Read more