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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Amnesty Says Repression, Economic Woes A Potent Mix

May 30, 2009

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE-RL)
May 28, 2009

Amnesty International's new report on the global
state of human rights says the economic crisis
has also hit hard at human rights, by subjecting
more people to insecurity, injustice, and indignity.

The 400-page report by the London-based rights
organization finds many shortcomings in Central
Asian, Caucasian, and other countries including Chinese policies in Tibet.

Amnesty International Director General Irene Khan
introduced the report by saying that many
governments have failed abysmally to protect
human rights, human lives, and livelihoods
threatened by the economic downturn. She referred
to the "profligacy" of recent years, in which she
said governments had abandoned oversight of
economic and financial regulation to market forces.

"We would like to see stronger commitment and
accountability of governments, business leaders,
international financial institutions, to human
rights," Khan said. "Their strategies, their
financial strategies, their economic strategies,
their development strategies, have to acknowledge
human rights, economic and social rights, the
right to food, the right to health, as rights in
which they have an obligation to invest."

Khan said the global crisis was about shortages
of food, jobs, clean water, land and housing, and
also about growing inequality, xenophobia, and
repression. She said the term "security" had been
used to undermine human rights under the name of fighting terrorism.

She also called for more attention to be given to the poor.

"We believe at Amnesty International the way in
which human rights can pull us out of the
economic crisis is by paying attention to those
who are marginalized," Khan said. "We would like
to see an acknowledgment of the human rights of
poor people, we would like to see governments
actively allow participation of poor people in
decisions that effect their lives."

Iran, Afghanistan, And Tibet

The Amnesty International report concludes that
in Iran, authorities kept a tight hold on freedom
of expression, association, and assembly. They
cracked down on human rights activists, including
women's and minority rights advocates.

The report found that torture and other ill
treatment of detainees remains common and is
committed with impunity in Iran. Sentences of
flogging and amputation were reported, and almost
350 people are known to have been executed,
although the group says the real figure is probably higher.

Amnesty International says that in Afghanistan,
millions of people in the south and east of the
country have been terrorized by Taliban
militants. The government in Kabul in turn has
failed to uphold the rule of law or to provide
basic services even in the areas under its control.

The Taliban has significantly expanded its areas
of attack, adding to people's insecurity and
further limiting their access to food, health
care and schooling. Freedom of expression has
come under pressure from both sides, while woman
suffered from traditional prejudices and violence.

As to China, Amnesty finds that in
Tibetan-populated areas and in the mainly Muslim
Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, people
continued to suffer systematic repression. Both
those areas in 2008 witnessed some of the worst unrest in recent years.

Popular protests by Tibetans inside Tibet and in
Tibetan-populated provinces were suppressed with a heavy loss of life.

In Xinjiang, authorities announced a sweeping
crackdown on Uyghur separatists, and continued
their tight control over religious practice,
banning all state employees and children from attending services at mosques.

Postcommunist Woes

On Georgia, Amnesty says the summer conflict with
Russia resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths,
thousands of injured, and at its peak the
displacement of some 200,000 people. It says the
Georgian military did not appear to take
necessary measures to protect civilians in its
operations in the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

In the war's aftermath, South Ossetian militia
groups engaged in the pillage and arson of
several Georgian-majority settlements in South Ossetia.

In many countries across the Caucasian and
Euro-Asian regions, religious practice was
subject to restrictions, according to the report.
Representatives of religious groups or
confessions outside officially endorsed
structures, or from non-traditional groups,
continued to be harassed in Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

As to media freedoms, authorities in Turkmenistan
launched a new wave of repression against civil
society activists and journalists. Also in
Armenia and Azerbaijan, independent media outlets
that covered opposition activities were harassed.
Uzbekistan saw little improvement in freedom of
expression and assembly, despite claims to the contrary by the authorities.

In Russia, legislation combating extremism was
used to stifle dissent and silence journalists
and human rights activists. Amnesty also says
media which reported rights violations in
Russia's volatile North Caucasus region were targeted by authorities.

Across the region, government failed to
adequately protect women. Abuse of women remains
pervasive in all age and social groups, in verbal
and psychological attacks, in physical and sexual
violence, in economic control and even murder.

The report lists at least one bright spot in its
catalogue of problems, namely that Uzbekistan
joined its neighbors in abolishing the death
penalty -- leaving Belarus as the lone, last
executioner in the European-Central Asia regions.
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