UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – UAE Must Implement UN Recommendations on Rights to Freedom of Expression, Association, and Assembly
The UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights practices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took place in January, during which many concerns were raised and over 230 recommendations given. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights has called on the government of the UAE to heed those recommendations and work to: respect freedom of expression, association, and assembly; end arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and unfair trials; protect human rights defenders; and establish a free and independent national human rights institution.
https://www.ifex.org/united_arab_emirates/2018/02/07/un-recommendations/ (IFEX, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, February 7, 2018)
Ahmadreza Djalali (Iran) – Statement by Margot Wallström on the Death Sentence Against Ahmadreza Djalali
Margot Wallström, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, issued the following statement on the death sentence imposed by the government of Iran against medical doctor and scholar Ahmadreza Djalali.
http://www.government.se/statements/2018/02/statement-by-margot-wallstrom-on-the-death-sentence-against-ahmadreza-djalali/ (Government of Sweden, Margot Wallström, February 5, 2018)
TURKEY – Science Behind Bars: How a Turkish Physicist Wrote Research Papers in Prison
Turkish theoretical physicist , Ali Kaya , was arrested three months after that country’s failed coup in July 2016. He spent over a year in jail before being sentenced in December 2017 to six years imprisonment on the vague charge of belonging to a terrorist organization. Due to the time he had already served he was released early, and is fighting his conviction. While locked up he continued his scholarly pursuits, writing three research papers on fundamental topics in cosmology.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01370-1 (Nature, Alison Abbott, January 30, 2018)
TURKEY – Turkey’s Politically Motivated Trials: Targeting Academics for Peace
Academics for Peace began in January 2016 with a petition in which Turkish scholars spoke out against human rights violations against Turkey’s Kurdish population. Hundreds of academics lost their jobs or scholarships in the wave of repression that followed. Now, criminal charges loom for the petition signers, who face the prospect of over 7 years in prison if convicted of violating the vague “terrorist propaganda” portion of Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism law.
https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2018/01/turkeys-politically-motivated-trials-targeting-academics-peace/ (Index on Censorship, Noemi Levy-Aksu, January 23, 2018)
Serkan Golge (Turkey) – NASA Scientist Still Awaiting Verdict
Serkan Golge who was arrested in July 2016 and accused of being a spy for the CIA and working on the coup to depose the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is to receive his verdict on February 8th. If he is convicted he could receive up to 15 years in prison.
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/nasa-scientist-accused-terrorism-awaits-verdict-turkish-trial prison. (Science, Kristen McTighe, January 24, 2018)
Wang Yu AND Bao Longjun (China) – Son of Detained Rights Lawyers Arrives in Australia After Battle to Leave China
Bao Zhuoxuan, the son of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu and her activist husband Bao Longjun, has finally been allowed to leave China after two and half years under house arrest with his parents. Just 16 at the time his parents were arrested in July 2015, Bao Zhuoxuan will now be able to complete his High School studies in Australia. His release comes in the wake of a Wang Yu’s “confession” to charges of subversion. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyer-son-01182018140246.html (Radio Free Asia, Ng Yik-tung and Lam Kwok-lap, January 18, 2018)
Junaid Hafeez (Pakistan) – Let Judge Adjudicating Junaid Hafeez’s Trial Continue Proceedings, Court Asked
A lawyer for former university professor Junaid Hafeez has asked that the judge considering blasphemy charges against him be allowed to conclude the proceedings, which have been going on since March 2013. The case has been moved from one judge to another seven times in almost five years, and there is just one witness left to cross-examine. https://dailytimes.com.pk/184068/let-judge-adjudicating-junaid-hafeezs-trial-continue-proceedings-court-asked/ (Daily Times, Staff Report, January 19, 2018)
Ilham Tohti (China) – Rights Groups Call for Ilham Tohti’s Release on Fourth Anniversary of His Arrest The Ilham Tohti Initiative and the World Uyghur Congress, human rights organizations based in Germany, marked the fourth anniversary of Mr. Tohti’s arrest by reiterating their call that he be immediately and unconditionally released. Ilham Tohti is a professor of economics who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Chinese government’s actions in the Uyghur region, but human rights groups reject claims that he has advocated for outright separatism, the charge for which he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/release-01172018142356.html (Radio Free Asia, Richard Finney, January 17, 2018)
Turkish Academics (Turkey) – 9200 Higher Education Personnel and Students Targeted Since January 2016, According to SAR
The academic community has been a large target of dismissals, detainees and those arrested since the crackdown in Turkey following the publishing of the Academics for Peace petition.
http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20180116083248710 (University World News, Brendan O’Malley, January 16, 2018)
Ahmadreza Djalali (Iran) – Belgium Speaks Out Against Death Penalty and In Support of Ahmadreza Djalali
The Belgian Foreign Minister spoke with the Iranian Foreign Minister and requested that the death penalty imposed on Djalali be lifted and that Djalali be released. http://www.brusselstimes.com/brussels/10034/belgium-tries-to-save-the-life-of-researcher-sentenced-to-death-in-iran (The Brussels Times, January 12, 2018)
Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia) – Wife of Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi Told He Could Be Pardoned
Ensaf Haider, the wife of imprisoned Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, told by European lawmakers who visited Riyadh at the end of last year, that her husband might be pardoned. Raif Badawi has been jailed since 2012 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for his writings. But Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is seen by some as a reformer who might take a new look at the case. http://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/wife-of-saudi-blogger-raif-badawi-told-he-could-be-pardoned (Straits Times, AFP, January 11, 2018)
Iranian Student Protestors (Iran) – The University of Tehran Working to Track Protesting Students Who Were Detained
A Committee has been established in an attempt to track the students who were detained following their participation in the recent anti-government protests in Iran. To date it is not clear how many students are involved. http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/06/middleeast/iran-protests-intl/index.html (CNN, Laura Smith-Spark, January 6, 2018)
Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia) – Will a New Saudi Arabia Free Raif Badawi And Other Prisoners of Conscience
Ensaf Hidar wrote an Opinion piece for the New York Times discussing improvements in Saudi Arabia under the new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. She explains how many of them came about and the hope that it brings to the Saudi people. She, then, addresses prisoners of conscience, including her husband Raif Badawi, and a plea to review their cases and release them from prison and exonerate them for the charges that are now part of the new direction of Saudi Arabia.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/opinion/saudi-arabia- liberal-prince.html (New York Times, Ensaf Haidar, January 5, 2018)
Nuriye Gulmen/Semih Ozakca (Turkey) – Turkish Teachers Still On Hunger Strike To Get Their Jobs Back
Academic Nuriye Gulmen and teacher Semih Özakca, husband and wife, are on the 300th day of their hunger strike protesting removal from their jobs. They were dismissed and charged with “being a member of a terrorist organization,” and “opposing the Law on Assembly and Demonstration,” and “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.” Both have been since released from jail, but the charges were not dismissed nor were they reinstated to their previous positions.
http://bianet.org/english/human-rights/192937-gulmen-ozakca-on- 300th-day-of-hunger-strike (Bianet, January 2, 2018)
INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE COUNCIL – World’s Leading Bodies of Social and Natural Sciences to Merge in 2018, Becoming “International Science Council”
At an October 26, 2017, meeting in Taipei, over 90% of members of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC) voted to create a new cross-disciplinary organization, called the International Science Council, that will facilitate the collaboration of 40 international scientific organizations, and over 140 national and regional science bodies. The mission of the new Council will be “to serve as the global voice of science, providing leadership in catalyzing, incubating and coordinating international action on issues of major public concern.
https://www.icsu.org/current/press/worlds-leading-bodies-of-social-and-natural-sciences-to-merge-in-2018-becoming-international-science-council (International Council for Science, October 26, 2017)