minority groups

Systematic persecution of CSO activists; attacks on freedom of expression and assembly continue

The first three months of 2020 saw ongoing and systematic persecution of civil society activists, journalists, bloggers and other citizens exercising their right to freely express themselves. The situation is currently deteriorating, particularly in connection with the state of emergency, which was declared in the country on 16th March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Citizens who spoke up about the status of the pandemic in Kazakhstan and the authorities’ handling of it have on numerous occasions been criminally prosecuted. Political activists associated with two unregistered political parties – the new Democratic Party and the new movement “Street Party” - have faced persecution, administrative prosecution and significant harassment, both from the authorities and from unidentified persons. Read more

Systematic persecution of CSO activists; attacks on freedom of expression and assembly continue

China silences reporting on COVID-19, expands surveillance and arrests Hong Kong protest leaders

The Chinese Communist Party has continued to censor reporting about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and targeted journalists, doctors, activists, academics and critics in order to control the narrative. The coronavirus is also being used as a pretext for accelerating mass surveillance across the country. In Hong Kong, the authorities arrested 15 pro-democracy politicians and activists in April 2020, were accused of torture or ill-treatment of protesters and expelled US journalists. Human rights groups also reported on the use of an app to conduct mass surveillance by the Chinese government on Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang province. Read more

China silences reporting on COVID-19, expands surveillance and arrests Hong Kong protest leaders

Pashtun activists targeted amid pandemic while press increasingly muzzled in Pakistan

In recent months, Pashtun activists continue to be targeted while women’s rights activists continue to face risk and attacks. There has been a lack of accountability over the enforced disappearance of Idris Khattak, activist Muhammad Ismail continues to face judicial harassment, while the state has continued to silence critical media and block online content. Healthcare workers were also arrested for protesting against the lack of protective equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

Pashtun activists targeted amid pandemic while press increasingly muzzled in Pakistan

HRDs, journalists face a sustained campaign of interrogation and detention

Fourth Circuit Criminal Court issued rulings against 16 Bedoon human rights defenders; Online activists and journalists have been subjected to a sustained campaign of interrogation and detention for exercising their right to freedom of expression online, and those who campaign for the rights of the Bedoon community have been imprisoned and deported; Read more

HRDs, journalists face a sustained campaign of interrogation and detention

Myanmar authorities prosecuting activists and critics despite the COVID-19 pandemic

In recent months the assault on civic freedoms has persisted. A Karen environmental activist has been charged for raising concerns about a cement factory, while students and activists have been charged under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting. Further, three activists are facing prison terms for calling for constitutional reforms, two journalists were detained and ill-treated at the Myawady border and street artists have been arrested for a mural on the coronavirus (COVID-19). There has also been a fourth conviction against satirical performance group the Peacock Generation while there continues to be low COVID-19 awareness in Rakhine due to an internet blackout. Read more

Myanmar authorities prosecuting activists and critics despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Online debate on Dong Tam incident followed by pandemic silenced by Vietnam authorities

Since January 2020, the Vietnam government has attempted to silence any online debate or criticism of the government’s handling of a land dispute in Dong Tam that left four people dead. The authorities have also convicted well-known journalist and blogger Truong Duy Nhat to ten years in prison and have been seeking to block the dissemination of information online around the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is also modelling China and forcing activists and political prisoners to undergo public confessions on television. Read more

Online debate on Dong Tam incident followed by pandemic silenced by Vietnam authorities

Police violence towards minorities sparks protests; gender identity handbook faces criticism

Hate speech on social media towards a newly elected black MP, the death of a young Cape Verdean student and police violence against minorities sparked outrage and protest in Portugal. A joint handbook on gender equality and identity developed by an LGBTI NGO was implemented in schools, but faced some criticism. Read more

Police violence towards minorities sparks protests; gender identity handbook faces criticism

Civil society calls on authorities to address police inaction and hate speech around Delhi violence

Civil society groups have called on both the Central and Delhi governments to take all necessary measures to prevent further violence, address police inaction and denounce hate speech by political leaders after violence broke out on 23rd February 2020 in New Delhi. Read more

Civil society calls on authorities to address police inaction and hate speech around Delhi violence

Measures to combat "fake news" used to silence journalists

At the end of 2019 and start of 2020, several journalists were accused of spreading fake news. In early January 2020 police arrested and detained the chief-editor of FOS Media, Angela Djikanovic, on suspicion of causing panic and disorder for allegedly distributing fake news. The incident started after she published an article stating that the government may use security forces in neighbouring Kosovo to help quell Serbian Orthodox Church supporters’ protests. Read more

Measures to combat "fake news" used to silence journalists

CSOs react to sustained vilification of civil society in Bulgaria

Civil society organisations send joint letter to the institutions of the European Union to inform them about the ongoing campaign to denigrate civil society in the country, new regulations for qualifying for a driver's license in Bulgaria spark protests; residents from the city of Pernik, protest severe water shortage that has continued for months; Commissioner of the Council of Europe for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, urges authorities to firm up efforts in promoting and protecting the rights of minorities, also expresses concern at the state of media freedom in the country Read more

CSOs react to sustained vilification of civil society in Bulgaria