human rights

As the tropical sun set over Manus Island detention centre on November 23, Walid Zazai wrote on Twitter for the final time that night. He reflected on the day as:

“A day of horror. A day of fear. A day I will never forget.

“I thought I’m back in Afghanistan in a war zone. There was no way to hide, just the sky.

“Friends have been beaten, have been taken by force to town centres.

“Don't know what will happen tomorrow. Remember us in your prayers.”

More than 1000 students marched through the streets of Jaffna demanding freedom for Tamil political prisoners on November 14.

An appeal issued by the Jaffna Universty Students Union read: "At least 132 Tamil political prisoners are languishing in the prisons of Sri Lankan state across the island. Many of them have been detained for years without trial".

The waving of the rainbow pride flag at a concert on the outskirts of Cairo has triggered a backlash of state repression against the LGBTI community.

Several flags were raised at a performance to 35,000 people by the Lebanese indie-rock band Mashrou’ Leila on 22 September. Mashrou’ Leila is fronted by lead singer Hamed Sinno, one of few openly gay musicians in the Middle East. Sinno paid tribute at the concert to the late gay icon Freddie Mercury.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar (also known as Burma) to Bangladesh since August 25. With about 300,000 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh, tens of thousands in hiding in northern parts of Rakhine State and about 100,000 detained in Internal Displacement Camps, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described this mass exodus as “the world fastest-developing refugee emergency and a humanitarian and human rights nightmare.”

Colombian indigenous leader Aulio Isamara Forastero was assassinated on October 24, close to the Catru Dubaza Ancoso shelter, shortly after armed assassins reportedly forced him out of his home.

Forastero, from the Pacific province of Choco, is among more than 150 activists killed in Colombia since the beginning of the year.

Veronica Heredia, the lawyer representing missing activist Santiago Maldonado's family, has said they will wait for the autopsy results of the body found on October 17 in the Chubut River, in Argentina.

Sergio Maldonado, the brother of the missing activist, also questioned how the body was found upstream, in a previously checked area, where a corpse could easily have been previously found.

A leader of the community that lost seven members in an alleged police massacre has been assassinated in southwest Colombia, the regional government said on October 17.

Jose Jair Cortes was the spokesperson of the Alta Mira y Frontera community in Tumaco, Narino state, where anti-narcotics officials allegedly murdered seven people on October 5.

Students and staff of Jaffna University rallied on October 4 in support of three Tamil prisoners who are on hunger strike.

The prisoners are accused of having been members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka, until defeated in May 2009. The Sri Lankan government’s victory was accompanied by a genocidal massacre of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians.

The Colombian National Police massacred between 8 and 16 people, and wounded more than 50, in the municipality of Tumaco, Narino on October 5. The attack was directed against protesting coca growing families demanding the government fulfil its commitments to voluntary eradication programs.

Then, on October 8, the National Police attacked an international team sent to investigate the massacre. The police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse representatives from the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and a journalist from the Colombian weekly, Semana.

Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.  

It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

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