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Assaulted peaceful protester denied justice

Margarita Yudina - © YouTube/Fontanka.Ru
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Following the arbitrary arrest at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport and detention of an opposition activist and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny, hundreds of thousands of people took part in peaceful protests across Russia on 23 and 31 January 2021. The authorities responded with violence. International and Russian media showed footage of peaceful protesters being brutally beaten and arrested by police. According to Russian monitoring organization OVD-Info, more than 4,000 protesters were arrested on 23 January alone (with almost 600 of them in St Petersburg) and over 5,700 protesters were arrested on 31 January. Following the court hearing against Aleksei Navalny on 2 February which resulted in his imprisonment, protests took place again, and a further 1,400 people were detained. Thousands of people have been issued with large fines or sentenced to several days in detention under administrative law, and at least 40 criminal cases have been initiated against participants and organisers of the protests across the country. However, not a single investigation has been initiated so far into the unlawful use of force by the police.

Margarita Yudina is one of the peaceful protesters seeking justice for a brutal, unprovoked attack against her by a police officer during a peaceful rally. On 23 January, Margarita Yudina travelled some 147 km to St Petersburg from the town of Luga, in Leningrad Region, where she lives with her two sons (25 and 20-years-old) and her 15-year-old daughter, to take part in the demonstration.

On 26 January 2021, shortly after Margarita Yudina announced that she was planning to file an official complaint demanding an investigation into the policeman’s attack against her, she was visited by officials from the Prosecutor’s Office and child protection services at her home – something which happens when the authorities consider taking underage children into state care child welfare considerations. According to Margarita Yudina's lawyer, the officials insisted that they “only wanted to talk to her and her daughter” but she did not let them in. Two days later, the head of the local administration publicly stated that the child protection services had “questions” regarding the teenager’s living conditions and studies. He also questioned why Margarita Yudina’s sons had neither served in the army nor registered for military conscription.

Under Russian law, all men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obliged to register for military conscription and serve in the Armed Forces if conscribed, unless they are exempt, including on the grounds of health conditions or studying at a university. Over the last few years, the Russian authorities have apparently resorted to selective conscription to enlist politically active men under 27 years of age in to the army as a form of reprisal for dissent. Among those selectively conscripted are active associates of Aleksei Navalny, including the anchor of his YouTube channel, Ruslan Shaveddinov, Navalny’s aide Artem Ionov, and the press secretary of the independent trade union Doctors’ Alliance, Ivan Konovalov.

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Charges against union activists will not proceed

Pudu Prison in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1985
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Myanmar: Two journalists face up to 14 years in prison for their work on the Rohingya crisis

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two journalists working for international news agency Reuters. They have formally been charged with breaching Myanmar’s Officials Secrets Act, and are now facing 14 years in prison.

They were investigating the brutal military crackdown in Rakhine State against the Rohingya minority, and their arrest is a blatant attack on freedom of expression in Myanmar. 

Urgent: Woman in North Korea faces being sent to prison camp with her four-year-old son

Koo Jeong-hwa and family
Koo Jeong-hwa and family © Private

Koo Jeong-hwa (previously identified as Lee Su-jung in China) has been detained since 3 December 2017 in Hoeryeong, North Korea, and a decision on her sentence is expected from the Ministry of State Security in March.

There is a high chance that she will be convicted without a fair trial, and given a life sentence at a political prison camp, where she is at risk of being subjected to forced labour, torture, and other ill-treatment. Horrifically, her 4-year-old son is also at risk of being sent to the prison camp with her.

Meriam Ibrahim freed from death row in Sudan

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag in her prison cell the day after she gave birth
Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag in her prison cell the day after she gave birth in chains on 28 May 2014 © AFP/Getty Images

Six weeks after she was sentenced to hang, Meriam Ibrahim, a 27-year-old mother of two young children who was facing execution for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, has been freed from Sudan's death row.

'I would like to thank all those who stood beside me.'
Meriam, interviewed by the BBC on her release

Iran: Save Zeynab's sight

Zeynab Jalalian, Iran, undated photo. © Copyright: Private

Zeynab Jalalian is in her early thirties and is set to spend the rest of her life in Iran’s Kermanshah prison. She was convicted in 2010 of membership of an armed Kurdish opposition group, following alleged torture during her interrogation and a trial lasting a few minutes with no lawyer present.

She lost her freedom, now she may lose her sight too. 

Zeynab has had eye problems for a number of years, probably as a result of being beaten around the head during interrogation. Recently her condition has deteriorated further and she may now be losing her sight.

Mozambique takes positive step towards outlawing rape in marriage

13-year old girl raped by Mozambique's National Resistance (RENAMO),now a mother
13-year old girl raped by Mozambique's National Resistance (RENAMO), now a mother © Bruce Paton/Panos Pictures

In March this year, the parliament of Mozambique was close to ratifying a Criminal Code that would permit rape within marriage. Not only would the proposed law allow impunity in existing abusive marriages, but if a rapist were to later wed an unmarried victim (including girls as young as 12 years old), the abuser would escape prosecution altogether.

Thankfully, authorities in Mozambique have publicly stated they will not follow through with these proposals.

Russian journalist accused of anti-gay 'propaganda' defeats charges

Elena Klimova

In January this year, Elena Klimova was charged under Russia’s new anti-'gay propaganda' law for running Children 404, a website offering support to LGBTI teenagers.

On 21 February 2014, Elena's case was heard in court. The court ruled in her favour. Elena has been told that she can continue Children 404, her project that offers a lifeline to Russian teens.

Ukraine protestor Dmitrii Bulatov was abducted and tortured
Ukraine activist Dmitrii Bulatov was abducted and tortured for his part in the anti-government protests © Olha Koshelenko

Prominent anti-government protestor Dmitrii Bulatov went missing in Kiev on the evening of 22 January. We had already received reports of other protestors being detained by police, tortured and even killed and we were very worried for Dmitrii's safety.

We asked you to join our call and demand an investigation into his disappearence. But now he has been found. On the evening of 30 January he was thrown from a car and left to die in freezing temperatures in a forest on the outskirts of Kiev.

Sep 18 2013 3:16PM
Sudan: Woman at risk of flogging for not wearing headscarf

Update: The judge of Jabal Awliya court postponed Amira Osman Hamed’s trial until 4 November. This is to give Sudan’s Attorney General time to consider a written request from her lawyers asking for the charges to be dropped. As of May...

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