Human Rights Watch

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Torture: Bans on torture mean nothing when the countries signed up to the bans routinely send prisoners to other countries who have not signed up to the bans, expressly to be tortured.

Eight Human Rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and five other partner organizations have put out a joint statement about this issue. Countries which they believe are attempting to organize the transfer of prisoners for torture include the United States, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Sweden. The countries which are ready to receive such prisoners include Syria, Egypt and Uzbekistan.

The countries sending prisoners make the receiving countries promise not to torture them. So why make such an effort to send prisoners to countries which are well-known for using torture. Reports from previous prisoners indicate this transportation of people is for one reason only. It shows that 'civilised' countries who sign up to to human rights agreements, do so fully intending in some circumstances to flout them. It makes you wonder just how many important promises are made with no intention to keep them.

China: In China the authorities have often made life difficult for the Muslim Uighur community in the Xinjiang province. Rebiya Kadeer campaigns for their rights and now her family is suffering from a crackdown from the authorities.

Kadeer was arrested in 1999 and served five and a half years of her sentence before being released on medical parole, she now lives in the US. Her five children run the Kadeer Trading Centre and have since suffered beatings and detention from the authorities, which has increased since May 11th this year.

She was warned before being released that her 'business and children would be finished' if she got into contact with Uighurs abroad. She has highlighted the problems for the Uighurs and subsequently her children are being punished.

The Uighurs are classed as a minority but there are 8 million living in Xinjiang. The Chinese have resettled 1.2 million ethnic Chinese in their region in the past decade and the Uighurs are being squeezed out, losing their rights and fearful of their future.

Uzbekistan: It is believed that 169 died in the demonstrations at the weekend, however that figure is expected to rise. The demonstrations started peacefully but the government used excessive force against the demonstrators, firing on unarmed civilians.

Even the UK and US governments have spoken against the governments actions, which is surprising when you remember how they treated Craig Murray the UK ambassador who tried to raise human rights issues there and was labelled as mentally ill and sacked.

The protest was started over the trial of 23 local businessmen, who have been charged with 'religious extremism'. They belong to Akramia an Islamic group which lives by Muslim principles and donates to help needy Muslim families. The businessman are popular as they employ hundreds of families in that region. So the local community needs them to be freed so they can get on with life and work.

A larger demonstration grew around thi and protestors called for freedom, justice and an end to economic hardship. The government is reported to have blockaded the region from journalists and local reporting was prohibited.

Vietnam: The Montagnards in Vietnam are still being mistreated. They are an indigenous hill people and the authorities want them to recant their Christian faith. Many follow Dega Christianity, an evangelical form which has been banned by the authorities and labelled by them as a separatist political movement.

Churches are allowed if they have been practising since 1975, most Montagnard churches were built in the late 1980s and so are not allowed to register. Followers have been treated with violence and threatened to stop their faith.

Mexico: Felipe Arreaga Sánchez, is a local environmental activist who was arrested on 3rd November 2004 and charged with a murder committed in 1998. There is overwhelming evidence that the case was fabricated due to his campaigning against logging in the area. His lawyers have produced evidence that he was elsewhere at the time of the crime and an alleged eyewitness to the crime has since fled to the US so that they cannot testify.

The local Governor has pledged to look into his case, but nothing has happened, so Amnesty International has adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. You can take action and help his case as well, at this website.

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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