Good News for February 2015

Saudi Arabia - Souad al-Shammari

This women's Human Rights activists was released on 29 Jan 2015 after 3 months detention without charge. The conditions of her release and current legal status are unclear. She founded the Saudi Liberal Network internet discussion group.

A royal pardon had been issued that day by the new King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, but it is unclear if she was released for that reason. Her daughter said she was made to sign a pledge to stop or 'reduce' her activism.

Souad had been detained since 28 Oct 2014 after 4 hours of interrogation at the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution at Jeddah. She was held at the women's section of the General Prison of Briman, Jeddah.

 

Myanmar - Dr Tun Aung

This peaceful Muslim activist had tried to calm a crowd during rioting between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Western Myanmar in 2012. However, he was convicted of inciting riots and other criminal offences. AI considered him a prisoner of conscience. He was sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment after an unfair trial but has now been released (3 Feb 2015) from prison in Myanmar and reunited with his family. Thousands of AI members campiagned for his freedom.

 

El Savador

El Salvador's Parliamentary Assembly has pardoned a young woman who has been imprisoned after suffering a miscarriage. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2007, aged 18, having been accused of having an abortion. This harrowing story is just one example of how the authorities go to ridiculous lengths to punish women.

The pardon is seen as a triumph of justice and gives hope to other women languishing in jail on similar charges. Amnesty supporters were instrumental in this situation.

 

Australia - indigenous Australians win land claim

Australia's indigenous Barngarla people have won a campaign, lasting nearly 20 years, for the law to recognise their right to traditional lands.

The native title claim over a huge tract of land in South Australia has been mostly upheld by a federal court. Native titles are pre-colonial rights held by Australia's indigenous people, derived from their laws and customs. The Baragarla people traditionally lived along the north-western shoer of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia.

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