Human Rights Watch

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Darfur: Humanitarian relief agencies are now under threat in Darfur from the Sudanese government. Twenty aid workers have been arrested or detained and the rebel movements have also detained or attacked aid workers. The aid workers fear reprisals against themselves and also those they are trying to help, which is why they have not publicised their treatment at the hands of the government. The government's main reasons for arresting them are due to 'suspect activities' which can be used to mean almost anything.

Jordan: A law is being drafted in Jordan's parliament which would stop free expression and meetings. One of the requirements in the law would mean that professional organizations would have to obtain written approval to hold a public meeting. The law would also limit what they could discuss at the meeting.

By limiting what professions can discuss, it stops them from being a forum where subjects important to the public can be discussed. The professions include doctors, lawyers, artists and many others. The government believes that professions are discussing subjects beyond their mandate such as politics but, as politics permeates everything in life, it would be difficult to avoid such subjects, rendering public discussions silent.

Members of a profession could also be punished or suspended for 'directing an association out of its professional mandate' or 'harming the honour of a profession'. This would restrict all public discussion to that of the profession and no other subjects would be allowed - that's even if the government approved the meeting in the first place.

US: The Pentagon is proposing to formalise the US military's policy of holding enemy combatants illegally. The directive will contain the right to hold enemy combatants as 'ghost detainees' and denying access to them by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The directive will also specify that humane treatment can be limited 'military necessity', which violates the Geneva Convention and opens the door to officially allowing torture.

The term 'enemy combatants' is being formalised to include all those who are members of the list of groups which is detailed in Executive Order 13224. This order stretches to 92 pages and includes names such 'Mohammad Zia' and 'Abdullah Ahmed' which are the names of thousands of people world-wide. The groups includes those who have no dealings with the US. These guidelines are to be reviewed on April 16th and then may become law, perhaps meaning that anyone with the above names could be detained with no-one else having any knowledge of where they have gone. Truly terrifying.

Saudi Arabia: In Saudi, 100 men have been imprisoned and flogged for reputed homosexual conduct. The men were arrested at a private party and the government-affiliated newspaper Al-Wifaq reported that the men at the party were dancing and 'behaving like women'.

The men were put on trial in closed sessions where defense attorneys were excluded, 31 were sentenced to six months to one year and 200 lashes. Four men received two years and 2,000 lashes. Seventy of the men were released and then called back later and imprisoned for one year.

Tibet To keep up-to-date with the human rights issues in Tibet
please refer to Tibet News by John–the-gardener.

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