And now for some good news
The news headlines seem pretty gloomy at the moment: cost of food is on the increase, the price of petrol set to double, more and more homeowners likely to go into negative equity, and the vote for 42-day detention without charge is looking set to be ‘tight’ this evening according to political pundits.
So I thought that I’d blog about some more positive news that Amnesty’s received over the past day or two.
Late yesterday, we heard that a Christian Pastor from Equatorial Guinea, who Amnesty International had been campaigning for, had been released from prison after being detained for five years without charge or trial.
Reverend Bienvenido Samba Momesori was arrested in October 2003 and for the first part of his imprisonment he was held incommunicado. Although no charges were ever brought against Rev Samba, Amnesty believed that he was held purely because of his peaceful political opinions and his ethnic origin.
In February last year the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke out about Rev Samba’s imprisonment in the New Statesman column ‘It could have been me’. This article generated a flood of interest across the waters, and it’s clear that international publicity contributed to Pastor Samba’s release.
Here at Amnesty we’ve been campaigning on behalf of Rev Samba for several years. And we’re just as grateful to the dedicated activists who’ve been petitioning the authorities in Equatorial Guinea for Rev Samba’s release as we are by Dr Williams’ contribution. Thanks one and all who did campaign. It’s so encouraging to see how campaigning can make a difference.
Another bit of good news is the stay of execution granted for a man in Virginia who suffers from serious mental illness as well as borderline retardation. 29-year-old Percy Levar Walton was scheduled to be executed last night. But thankfully the Governor of Virginia granted Percy Walton a stay of execution. This is the first time the Governor has ever done this. Perhaps the winds of change are blowing in the southern US state of Virginia?
In another country notorious for its regular use of the death penalty a reprieve was granted for people facing death. In Iran two child offenders were granted a month’s reprieve. However Amnesty is concerned that a third child offender, named Saeed Jazee who’s now aged 21, still faces execution on 25 June.
In a release we published today, Amnesty’s calling on the authorities in Iran to put an end to child executions. We had hoped that the reprieve of these two young men, Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Feda’i was perhaps a sign of a change of attitude by the Iraninan authorities. However shortly after publishing that we received news that another child offender in Iran had been executed today…
Mohammad Hassanzadeh is said to have been sentenced to death for a crime he committed when only 15. His exact age has not been firmly established, but he is believed to have been only 17 at the time of his execution.
Well most of the blog was positive. Let’s hope we can bring more good news tomorrow with MPs rejecting the increased detention limit proposals.
Til the next time
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.