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Friday, October 29, 1999

Current Events
Focus on Human Rights

Civil War in Sierra Leone (October 27) 

Crisis in Kosovo  (October 25)

The Pinochet Decision  (October 21)

Violence in East Timor  (October 20)

Central Asia Crossroads  (October 20)

China: 10 Years After Tiananmen (October 1)

India: Human Rights Abuses Fuel Conflict  (September 30)


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Latest Reports from Human Rights Watch

Jordan's Banned Journalists
(New York, October 29, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today criticized the provision in Jordan's press law that requires all journalists to join one press association. In a letter to Prime Minister Abdel Raouf Rawabdeh made public today, the international human rights organization called for an amendment to the press and publications law that would revoke mandatory membership in the Jordan Press Association (JPA).
Israel Responsible for Abuses in Khiam Prison
(New York, October 28, 1999)  Israel is responsible for Khiam prison in occupied south Lebanon and should take action to end abuses there, Human Rights Watch said today. Since the facility opened in 1985, hundreds of Lebanese have been arbitrarily detained in Khiam without charge for indefinite periods of time.
Presidential Elections in Tajikistan a Farce
(New York, October 28, 1999)—Presidential elections to be held on November 6, 1999 in Tajikistan will be a farce, Human Rights Watch charged today.
Sierra Leone Rebels Violating Peace Accord
(New York, October 27, l999)—Human Rights Watch today called on Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma, the two Sierra Leonean rebel leaders, to initiate criminal investigations against rebel soldiers who have perpetrated crimes against the civilian population.
Naming Names: Serbian Militia Members Identified
(New York -- October 26, 1999) Five individuals from the Serbian security forces have been named and identified in photographs by witnesses to their actions, Human Rights Watch announced today. One man is implicated in the killing of six family members and two men were seen as part of an armed unit in the village of Cuska on May 14, 1999, when forty-one ethnic Albanians were summarily executed.
Syria: Release Imprisoned Rights Defenders
(New York, October 25) Human Rights Watch today called on President Hafez al-Assad of Syria to release on humanitarian grounds a 37- year-old human rights activist serving a ten year sentence in solitary confinement in Damascus. In a letter released today, the international monitoring group asked for the release of Nizar Nayouf and four others, who were imprisoned in 1992 for membership in an independent human rights network in Syria.
U.S. should Stand Firm on International Standards in Khmer Rouge Trials
(New York, October 22, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch called today for close coordination between the United States and the United Nations in creating a credible and effective tribunal to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders. U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes David Scheffer was slated to meet with Cambodian officials this weekend.
Egypt: Release Prominent Opposition Members
(New York, October 22) -- In a letter to President Hosni Mubarak made public today, Human Rights Watch protested the pattern of harassment and arrest of well-known members of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the largest opposition political forces in Egypt. Twenty members, including lawyers, doctors, engineers, and university professors, were arrested last week and the higher state security prosecutor ordered them detained for questioning for fifteen days.
Indonesia: A Human Rights Agenda For President Wahid
(New York, October 20)—Human Rights Watch today welcomed the election of Abdurrahman Wahid, known as Gus Dur, and urged him to make pressing human rights issues a priority from the outset of his administration.
Uzbeks Purge Muslims from Academia
In a new report about Uzbekistan, (text of the report) Human Rights Watch documents a pernicious form of religious discrimination practiced by the government against Muslims. The report, Class Dismissed: Discriminatory Expulsions of Muslim Students describes the government's zero-tolerance policy toward Muslim students who wear headscarves and beards. Government officials have unceremoniously expelled the students from schools and universities. Most of those expelled were girls and young women.

PAKISTAN: Women Face Their Own Crisis
(New York, October 19, 1999) -- In the wake of the military takeover in Pakistan, Human Rights Watch today released a major report on the state of women's rights in the country. The 100-page report, Crime or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan, documents a virtual epidemic of crimes of violence against women, including domestic violence rates as high as 90 percent, at least eight reported rapes every 24 hours nationwide, and an alarming rise in so-called honor killings.
U.S. Must Act on Torture Report's Findings
(Washington, October 15)—The United States today acknowledged the practice of torture and ill-treatment in the U.S., but stated that it was not government policy. Although these abuses are widespread and rarely prosecuted, the report claims that they are "aberrational" and typically lead to prosecutions when they do occur.
Protect Civil Liberties In Pakistan
(New York, October 15)—Human Rights Watch today expressed alarm at the decision by General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to declare a state of emergency in the wake of the coup on October 12, 1999. The group called for a return to civilian democratic rule as soon as possible, and for the Pakistani army in the meantime to guarantee full protection of civil liberties.
UK-China Summit
(October 15, 1999 )-- Human Rights Watch today called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to use the summit with China's president on October 19-22 to urge President Jiang Zemin to take practical, concrete steps to improve human rights in China and Tibet.
Russia Returning Chechens to War Zones
(October 14, 1999)--Human Rights Watch today condemned the Russian government for closing one of its borders with Chechnya to ethnic Chechen civilians. For at least a week, police posts at the administrative border between Chechnya and the republic of North Ossetia have turned back ethnic Chechen civilians fleeing air strikes and fighting, but allowed ethnic Russians to cross the border.
U.S. Failing to Support Justice in Sierra Leone
(New York, October 14, 1999)—Secretary of State Madeleine Albright should show the same commitment to justice in Sierra Leone that she has shown for victims of crimes against humanity in Kosovo and East Timor, Human Rights Watch said today.
Pinochet Arrest Advances Justice in Chile and Abroad
(Santiago, October 14, 1999) — The arrest in London one year ago [October 16] of Chile's former military ruler has rekindled hopes for justice for his victims.
Imprisoned Kuwaiti Scholar
(New York, October 13, 1999) -- In an open letter today to the emir of Kuwait, Human Rights Watch's Academic Freedom Committee called for the immediate release of imprisoned Kuwaiti academic Dr. Ahmad al-Baghdadi.
Iran Must Give Legal Protection to Press Freedom
(New York, October 12, 1999) -- Independent newspaper editors, publishers, and journalists in Iran are suffering arbitrary detention, assault and prosecution, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today. These attacks have become more frequent during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, as conservatives within the government have sought to suppress what has emerged as the major mobilizing tool of reformists.
Uganda Silences Political Parties With Harassment and Oppressive Laws
(Kampala, October 12, 1999) -- Government harassment and discriminatory legislation are suppressing independent political activity in Uganda, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today. President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) are likely to entrench this restrictive system even further in a referendum scheduled for June 2000.
Drop Legal Proceedings Against Lebanese Singer
(New York, October 8, 1999) --Human Rights Watch today condemned efforts in Lebanon to prosecute the internationally known singer and composer Marcel Khalifa because one of his songs includes a verse from the Koran.
Jordan University President Should Reinstate Ousted Director
(New York, October 8, 1999) -- In a joint letter released today, the Committee on Academic Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa and the Academic Freedom Committee of Human Rights Watch called on Jordan University president Dr. Walid Ma'ani to reinstate Dr. Mustafa Hamarneh as director of the university's Centre for Strategic Studies. According to the groups, Hamarneh was ousted in July as a direct result of political pressure from Jordan's prime minister, Abdur-Ra'uf Rawabdeh, and the chief of the General Intelligence Directorate, Samih al-Battikhi.
Pinochet Decision Hailed
(London, October 8, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today hailed the decision of a British magistrate to commit Gen. Augusto Pinochet for extradition. The group specifically pointed to the judge's broad rulings on the conspiracy charge and Pinochet's use of "disappearances."
Cambodian Parliamentarian Abducted
(New York, October 7, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today expressed grave concern for the safety of Cambodian opposition member of parliament Lon Phon, after he was abducted from his house on the night of October 6. Lon Phon is a member of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) representing the province of Battambang. His abduction follows two recent arrests of SRP members and the harassment of others.
Halt El Sayegh Deportation to Saudi Arabia
(New York, October 5, 1999)--In a letter sent to Attorney General Janet Reno today, Human Rights Watch called on the U.S. to stay the deportation order against Hani El Sayegh under the Convention against Torture. El Sayegh is scheduled to be deported to Saudi Arabia on October 6.
Political Prisoner Beaten and Denied Medical Care in Serbia
(October 5, 1999, New York) —- A political prisoner in Serbia faces serious health problems following a beating by Serbian police, Human Rights Watch reported today. The prisoner, Bogoljub Arsenijevic, 44, has been denied proper medical care despite internal bleeding, an injured ear and right arm due to excessive force used by the police.
Palestinian Authority Security Force Abuses
(New York, October 5, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today urged President Yasir Arafat to publicly denounce security forces' attacks on journalists and to prosecute all officials who violate the right to free expression. In its letter to the Palestinian president, the New York-based organization said that in the past six months alone there have been two television stations closed and at least eight individuals detained because of reporting and commentary critical of Palestinian Authority actions.
Kazakh Elections Tainted
(New York, October 5, 1999) In a new report released ahead of this week's parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan, Human Rights Watch charged that the government was repeating the manipulation used in the January election of President Nazarbaev.
Rights Organization: Don't Reward Russia Again
(New York, October 1, 1999) The West should not repeat past mistakes in its policy toward Russia's ongoing conflict in Chechnya, Human Rights Watch asserted today. Russian air strikes in Chechnya, now a week old, have raised fears of a ground invasion and a repeat of the catastrophic 1994-1996 war, which cost thousands of civilian lives.
Abuse Continues as Turkish Premier Visits U.S.
(New York, October 1, 1999)--Turkish human rights activists face intense persecution as their prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, visits the U.S. this week.
China: Human Rights at Fifty Years
(New York, October 1, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today urged the People's Republic of China to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its founding by releasing all prisoners and detainees held for the peaceful expression of their views. More...
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