Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Defend the Rights of Saudi Arabian Women

Target: Prince Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud, Saudi Arabian Minister of Interior

Goal: Stop the electronic tracking of women

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. They are not allowed to travel alone unless they have the express permission of a male guardian. The oppression of Saudi Arabian women has now gone a step further—they are being electronically monitored, tracked so they cannot move across borders without a man knowing. Under the new program, men receive alerts on their phones if a woman under their official custody leaves the country.
For decades the Saudi government has systematically been revoking and violating the human and civil rights of the nation’s women. Men have had to sign off when a woman leaves the nation for some time now, but it is only recently that the repressive monarchy has begun actually tracking the movements of women. This move has been condemned on social networking websites but that has not deterred the Saudi government.
Hopes were high when a moderate was named as the head of the country’s religious police, but progress has been slow and the electronic tracking of women is a step backwards. Already barred from moving freely, forced to wear all black in public, and held back from jobs, this tracking measure represents a new low.
These are human beings, not property; they should not be managed, traded, and tracked. Let the Saudi government know that it is time to move forward. This is a disgusting violation of human rights and it must be stopped.

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 02:11

Defend the Rights of Saudi Arabian Women

Sign the Petition here

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fight against Female Genital Mutilation wins UN backing

Fight against Female Genital Mutilation wins UN backing

The adoption today of a resolution against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee is a major boost to civil society organizations fighting for an end to the abusive practice, Amnesty International said.
This is the first time the Assembly’s Third Committee, which addresses social, humanitarian and human rights issues, has adopted a resolution on FGM – the cutting of a girl’s genitalia clitoris often without anaesthetic in conditions that risk potentially fatal infection.
“FGM is an indictment of us all – that a girl or young woman can be held down and mutilated is a violation of her human rights and – shockingly – an estimated three million girls are at risk each year,” said José Luis Díaz, Amnesty International’s UN representative in New York.
“Vitally, this UN resolution places FGM in a human rights framework and calls for a holistic approach, stressing as it does the importance of empowerment of women, promotion and protection of sexual and reproductive health and breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence.”
FGM is commonplace in 28 countries in Africa as well as in Yemen, Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia and in certain ethnic groups in South America.
However it is an issue of worldwide concern. Women and girls in diaspora communities can be at risk of being subjected to FGM.
Amnesty International sees the UN resolution as a reminder to governments that they need to develop national action plans, beyond laws, and ensure that they are well-resourced and monitored, in order to raise awareness.
The resolution makes clear too that this is something that must involve all those affected – including men and boys – if we are to finally end this practice.

“It is important to highlight that FGM is a gender-based and child-specific persecution and the UNHCR – the UN refugee agency - has established that a girl or woman seeking asylum because she has been compelled to undergo, or is likely to be subjected to FGM, can qualify for refugee status,” said Díaz. Protection of refugee women at risk of having undergone FGM must be integrated into the overall strategy for protection.
The resolution makes concrete recommendations for prevention of FGM, for protecting girls at risk, ending impunity and provision of support services to those suffering from the lifelong consequences. Amnesty International urges governments to implement these recommendations urgently.
The resolution on FGM adopted by the Assembly’s Third Committee is expected to be endorsed by the General Assembly Plenary in December. Although not legally binding, UN General Assembly resolutions carry considerable moral and political weight.
Notes for Editors:

AI calls for the protection of women’s rights and in particular the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women across the world.
The END FGM European Campaign has developed a strategy providing recommendations to the European Union on concrete steps to end FGM. Read the strategy here:
For more information follow this link here
26 November 2012

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Friday, November 23, 2012

We express our disappointment in the decision of the ASEAN leaders


21 November 2012
ASEAN Heads of State and Government
c/o ASEAN Secretariat
International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)[1] wishes to express its disappointment in the decision of the ASEAN leaders to proceed with the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration on 18 November 2012 despite the numerous calls to postpone the adoption by civil society groups and other stakeholders.
The current version of the Declaration falls short of its vision and mission as the overarching instrument to “establish a framework for human rights cooperation in the region and contribute to the ASEAN community building process”, due to its restrictive content and the process by which it was created.
o the expediency in adoption, lack of transparency, and meaningful civil society participation has substantively limited the vision and scope of the Declaration as an overarching standard setting instrument for all stakeholders in the region.
o the overall approach adopted by the Declaration, provides ASEAN member states an expedient to continue the denial and violations of rights under the protective shroud of culture and traditions of the region which are patriarchal and anachronistic standards that will continue to negatively impact women’s human rights in ASEAN. This is clearly embodied in the numerous articles of the general principles which places limitations rather than to promote and protect the full recognition and enjoyment of human rights by all in ASEAN;
o the Declaration, despite affirming its commitment to uphold international human rights principles and standards has allowed for limitations such as “balancing rights” with regional and national contexts and laws. This in the current political context of ASEAN, as well as the weak institutional climate for promotion and protection of human rights nationally, allows the member states to interpret the provisions in ways which may undermine their international commitments;
o continuing to limit the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms to meet the principle of “just requirements”, including on the basis of “public morality”[2], further demonstrates the lack of true commitment by the ASEAN member states to the duty to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of the peoples of ASEAN. The Declaration fails to provide the measures and mechanisms to ensure appropriate checks and balances to interpret “just requirements” at the national level. Further, historically the notion of public morality has been used to deny and violate women’s human rights to sexual autonomy and bodily integrity.
As an organisation committed to the realisation of human rights of women, we are extremely concerned by the absence of these key elements, as well as inclusion of provisions which negate the full recognition of human rights, both in the process of drafting and adopting the Declaration itself and in the substance of its content.
In line with the mission to promote and protect human rights, democracy, fundamental freedom, rule of law and good governance, we urge the “People-oriented” ASEAN to ensure progressive interpretation and implementation of the Declaration in accordance to the spirit and commitments of internationally agreed principles and standard on human rights. The women of ASEAN demand the recognition and enjoyment of allhuman rights and fundamental freedoms unfettered and unrestricted by unnecessary justifications premised on traditional, patriarchal and anachronistic standards and interpretations which are embodied in the adopted Declaration.
It should be noted that all Member States of ASEAN are parties to the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and is thereby obligated to ensure the recognition and promotion of women’s and children’s human rights and continue to uphold the principles of universality, non-discrimination and substantive equality of all peoples of ASEAN.
We, as a women’s human rights group, together with other stakeholders, will continue to monitor and demand for the full accountability of the ASEAN member states in fulfilling its obligations to the peoples of ASEAN without in any way undermining its obligations under international human rights laws. We want the guarantee of a regional Declaration which will withstand national, regional and international scrutiny in upholding universal principles of human rights.
Yours sincerely,
Audrey Lee
Officer in Charge
International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific
10-2, Jalan Bangsar Utama 9
59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (603) 2282 2255
Fax: (603) 2283 2552
Email: / /

[1] IWRAW Asia Pacific is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic Social Council of the United Nations and has national partners in all 11 Southeast Asia countries. It facilitates and monitors the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty ratified by all member states of ASEAN. In collaboration with APWLD, it initiated the formation of the Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN, with a membership of over 50 women’s groups in the region.
[2] The statement of the Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN on the issue of public morality is fully supported by IWRAW Asia Pacific.
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Please take action to Nasrin Sotoudeh, and distribute this appeal widely to your networks

What a relief ...
Nasrin after 49 days broke her hungerstrike ..
let's hope she'll recover soonest and regain her strength; she'll need it

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been on a hunger strike since the morning of 17 October. She was transferred to solitary confinement in Section 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence, on 4 November 2012. However, since yesterday her whereabouts are unknown. Amnesty International is seriously concerned about her safety.

On 15 November, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, reported that when he tried to visit her he was told by the authorities that she was not in Section 209. That is while the Evin Prison authorities had previously informed him that she had been transferred from the general ward to Section 209. According to Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, the authorities at both the general ward and Section 209 of Evin Prison deny that she is being detained there.

On 12 November Nasrin Sotoudeh was allowed to have a face-to-fase visitation with her children. The meeting which lasted only a few minutes was in the presence of the prison guards. Reza Khandan was not allowed to meet her.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is serving a six-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison, started a hunger strike on the morning of 17 October 2012 in protest at the authorities’ denial of her repeated requests to have face-to-face visitations with her 13-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s health, which has already weakened as a result of her previous hunger strikes, has deteriorated further. She was transferred to Evin Prison’s clinic on 22 October.

Nasrin Sotoudeh has told her family that she will continue her hunger strike until the authorities’ pressure on her family is lifted, in particular the travel ban imposed on her 13-year-old daughter. In July 2012, Reza Khandan and their daughter received an order informing them that they were banned from travelling; this appears to have resulted from a case that had been opened against them. Reza Khandan has been subjected to harassment, including an overnight detention in Evin Prison in January 2011 for his advocacy on his wife’s behalf.


-Call on Iranian authorities to immediately disclose the whereabouts of Nasrin Sotoudeh and ensure that she is granted immediate and regular access to a doctor, her family and her lawyer, including regular visits by her children, allowing them physical contact with her;
-Call for the immediate and unconditional release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned solely for her peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association, including her work as a lawyer;
-Remind them that the harassment and arrest of family members of prisoners, solely in order to stop their public campaigning, amounts to reprisals that violate Iran’s obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to uphold freedom of expression.

1. Please send an SMS text message to the Tehran Prison Authority’s SMS service, on +98 3000 5061

2. Please send an SMS text message to the Head of Investigation and Complaint Response Administration (R’ais-e Edareh Bazresi va Pasokhgouy’ie be Shekayat) service, on +98 093 7289 2013; you may need to ‘drop’ the zero following the country code of +98

3. Please send an email to the Head of Investigation and Complaint Response Administration at

4. Please send emails to:

Leader of the IslamicRepublic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
Email: (Subject line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani) or
Salutation: Your Excellency

Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
Mohammad Javad Larijani
High Council for Human Rights
(subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
Salutation: Your Excellency

5. Please tweet appeals to @ALarijani, Ardeshir Larijani, Head of Iran’s parliament; and the President of Iran, on @Iran_President and @President_Iran, and the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei on @khamenei_ir

6. Fax to the General Prosecutor’s office: fax: +98 213391 9920

Please also send appeals to the diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

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