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We refuse to stand by while guns enter the wrong hands resulting in heartbreaking losses in our communities. Even if we can’t stop all gun violence, this is a common-sense step we can take to make our country safer.
Gun violence in the U.S. is a human rights crisis, resulting in the death of 38,658 in 2016 alone. Our government has clear international human rights obligations to protect people from gun violence. The first step in preventing guns from getting in dangerous hands is requiring common sense gun violence prevention measures like comprehensive background checks for the purchase of every gun.
Hundreds of children — even babies — have been reportedly held in U.S. Border Patrol facilities without a chance to bathe, brush their teeth or change their clothes for weeks. There are reports of extreme cold and inadequate food, sanitation and medical care.
Enough is enough: it is an outrage that children are being detained, especially in these appalling conditions.
The U.S. government is defying international law while heartlessly putting infants and children in harm’s way. We cannot stand by idly and ignore this crisis.
Women’s human rights defender Marfa Rabkova was detained as a criminal suspect under false pretext on the evening of 17 September, by officers of the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBAZIK). Her husband, Vadzim Zharomski, was also detained but released shortly thereafter. Marfa Rabkova may face criminal charges. She is a prisoner of conscience, targeted solely for her peaceful human rights work and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Huang Qi, founder and director of Sichuan-based human rights website “64 Tianwang”, was finally able to talk to his mother on 17 September 2020, the first time since he was detained more than four years ago. It is reported that his health had deteriorated and that he appears to show symptoms of malnutrition. Known to suffer from serious health concerns, there are grave fears for his wellbeing. Sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment following a secret trial in January 2019, Huang Qi is a prisoner of conscience who has been detained solely for exercising his human right to freedom of expression.
Belarusian authorities abducted opposition leader Maryia Kalesnikava on 7 September. After she resisted expulsion from Belarus she was detained and – on 16 September – charged with “undermining national security”. The authorities are rushing her prosecution to serve as a warning to all peaceful protesters, for whom she has become a symbol of resistance, dignity and courage. Maryia Kalesnikava is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Anti-discrimination NGO workers Cheng Yuan, Liu Yongze and Wu Gejianxiong were tried in secret between 31 August and 4 September 2020 on charges of “subversion of state power”. They face lengthy prison sentences if found guilty. Their families only found out about the trial on 10 September, almost one week after it had ended. No further details about the case have been made public, and all family members have since been barred from entering the Changsha Municipality Intermediate People’s Court. The three men must be immediately and unconditionally released as they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for carrying out their professional work and peacefully defending human rights.
Iranian Kurdish prisoner Heidar Ghorbani, 47, is at risk of execution for “armed rebellion against the state” (baghi), despite serious fair trial violations and the trial court confirming that he was never armed. His conviction is based on torture-tainted “confessions”, obtained while he was forcibly disappeared. The authorities must quash his sentence and grant him a fair retrial.
On 30 August 2020, unlawfully detained journalist and human rights defender, Esraa Abdelfattah, was brought in front of the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) for questioning on accusations of "joining a terrorist organization" as part of the recently opened case (No. 855/2020).
After a hiatus of 17 years, the Trump administration resumed executions of people convicted under US federal law on 14 July 2020. Five men have already been put to death over a seven-week period, and two other executions are currently set for 22 and 24 September. As global progress towards ending the use of the death penalty continues, we urge the US Attorney General to call off the death warrants and abandon any plans to pursue further executions.
At least 23 individuals have reportedly been arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for participating in, or sharing information about, peaceful protests against a recent “bilingual education policy” in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. On 2 September 2020, police in the Horqin District of Tongliao City published the names of 129 individuals suspected of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The authorities have yet to release information about the whereabouts of the arrested individuals. No person should be arrested solely for exercising rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
On 11 September 2020, human rights defender Roberto Carlos Pacheco was shot dead by unknown attackers. Pacheco had received death threats since 2012 linked to his activism against illegal mining in the Tambopata Reserve, Madre de Dios region, in the Amazon. Having received insufficient protection measures from authorities, his family believe they are in danger, particularly Demetrio Pacheco, his father, and Vice President of the Tambopata Reserve Management Committee. We call on the Public Prosecutor to investigate this murder, bring suspects to justice and protect the Pacheco family.
Human rights defender Chen Mei remains out of contact with family months after being first detained on 19 April 2020. Despite his family arranging their own lawyer to represent Chen, the authorities continue to insist on the services of a legal aid lawyer. On 6 August, it was confirmed that Chen’s case had been transferred to Chaoyang District Procuratorate and that he was facing criminal charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. If found guilty, he could receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Without access to his family or a lawyer of his choice, there are grave concerns that Chen is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.