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Silent nights as sport bumps real news down the agenda

Its Monday and we here at Amnesty have a new world record the quietest weekend of calls in history.


Of course its all down to a small weekend of sport. There was the disappointment of Lewis Hamilton in Formula One and the repercussions of last weeks international football. Then there was Mark Cuetosdisallowed try, which helped gift South Africa rugbys biggest prize and led to their president Thabo Mbeki riding on the shoulders of the victors. Which made me wonder how Gordon Brown, a Scot with a slightly more portly frame than his South African counterpart, would have taken to be carried aloft by a load of Englishmen if the men from Twickenham had overturned the odds in Paris.


But I digress.


In the real world, it was not as though, news was not happening. Possible terrorism attacks in Pakistan and Bahrain. Gaddaffi defending the use of landmines. Turkey on the brink of invading Iraq. A hardliner named as Irans new nuclear envoy. The first Asian governor elected in the US. And then of course Burma and China, not to mention the elections in Switzerland, Poland and Australia.


In China, the new elite Politburo was announced today. In come the likes of  Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang both staunch allies of the Communist Party leader, Hu Jintao. Further down the food chain, The Independent reports that the party even lets in capitalists these days.


However, before we start to think this is the start of a new beginning in the Far East, somethings never change. This week there was further evidence of human rights violations. The ever dependable Reporters Without Borders has revealed that both Google and YouTube have been inaccessible in China since 17 October, with the former automatically redirecting you to, Chinas own and highly-censored search engine. So much for freedom of expression.


In Poland, there could be a shift in policy on LGBT rights after the Law and Justice Party were comprehensively beaten by Civic Platform. The outgoing Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin-brother Lech, the countrys president, have been behind some of the most homophobic language amongst European leaders. Perhaps, the 70,000 registered Polish voters here in the UK helped make the difference.


However, further west in Switzerland the Peoples Party were on course to increase their share of the vote. Boosted by their highly controversial Black Sheep advertising campaign, which pledged to kick out any non-Swiss residents convicted of a criminal offence, Christoph Blochers party took nearly 29 per cent of the vote. What happens next will be of keen interest to all here at Amnesty International.


And finally back to Africa. The inaugural African Leader award reached its climax today.


The prize honours the individual deemed to have run the best Government on the continent in recent times and is judged by an international panel including the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the former Irish President Mary Robinson and the respected ex-finance minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.


And the first winner? The Ex-Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano.


All sounds very prestigious. Quite why it needs a £2.5m first prize is beyond me.


About Amnesty UK Blogs
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.
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