New NGO law severely curtails capabilities of rights organizations and charities in Egypt
- President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a law limiting NGO work to developmental and social work activities and subjecting them to government regulation, with violators facing to up to five years of jail time.
- NGOs will have one year to come into compliance with the law or be dissolved.
- Human rights organizations accused the government of attempting to quell dissent, with officials long having accused NGOs of taking foreign money to destabilize national security.
“Egypt issues controversial NGO law, cracking down on dissent” (Reuters | May 2017)
“The Latest: Egypt’s president ratifies law restricting NGOs” (The Associated Press via ABC News | May 2017)
“Egypt’s NGO law aims to ‘erase civil society’” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via Reuters)
Jakarta’s Christian governor of Chinese descent sentenced to prison for blasphemy
- Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in prison after having accused political opponents of using a verse from the Qur’an to mobilize opposition to his re-election.
- His remarks drew massive protests in the Muslim-majority country and a religiously charged vote for the Jakarta governorship in April, where he lost to Muslim rival Anies Baswedan.
- Judges cited fundamentalist religious groups in the ruling, shocking observers with a prison sentence for Ahok because he “did not feel guilt.”
“Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Jakarta’s Christian Governor Ahok jailed for two years for blasphemy” (The Sydney Morning Herald | May 2017)
“Jakarta’s former governor Ahok dropping appeal against jail sentence for blasphemy” (ABC | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Antara/Pool/Sigid Kurniawan, via The Jakarta Post)
India passes nondiscrimination law securing rights for people with HIV
- The first of its kind in South Asia, the law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education, healthcare, and public accommodations such as restaurants and calls for the establishment of an ombudsman to monitor violations.
- An estimated 2.1 million people live with HIV in India, with some 1 million currently receiving treatment.
- Some advocates for the positive community argued that the law does not go far enough to guarantee free treatment for the afflicted.
“Parliament clears landmark HIV Bill” (The Hindu | April 2017)
“What is HIV/AIDS Bill? All your questions answered” (The Indian Express | April 2017)
“India takes flawed first step towards ending HIV and Aids prejudice” (The Guardian | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Jayanta Dey/Reuters, via The Guardian)
Hundreds arrested across Russia after thousands take to streets in protest
- Police reported detaining some 500 protesters in the largest anti-Kremlin demonstrations since 2012, including a Guardian journalist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
- Numbering as high as in the tens of thousands, protesters rallied against government corruption and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
- Polls indicate Putin, who enjoys high approval ratings in Russia, is unlikely to be unseated as many expect a bid for a fourth term.
“Russian police detain opposition leader, hundreds of protesters” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Russia just had its biggest unsanctioned protests in years and hundreds are now in jail” (The Washington Post | March 2017)
“Hundreds detained as opposition activists hold protests in several Russian cities” (RT | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Maxim Shemetov/RT)
Chinese feminist group’s social media accounts suspended
- The Weibo account for prominent feminist group Feminist Voices was recently suspended, with the group’s social media editor suspecting posts about anti-Trump demonstrations in the U.S. having spurred the gag.
- Weibo administrators indicated the group will be unable to post through the account for 30 days for “violating national laws.”
- Beyond the suspension, activists reported broadening crackdowns on feminist activity, including social media attacks by commentators paid by the government to support the Chinese Communist Party on social media.
“Chinese Feminist Group’s Social Media Account Suspended” (The New York Times | February 2017)
“Chinese Feminists Protest Gag Order on Social Media Account” (Radio Free Asia | February 2017)
“Women In China Are Protesting After A Feminist Account Was Shut Down For Posting About The Women’s March” (BuzzFeed News | February 2017)
(Image Credit: Feminist Voices, via The New York Times)
Seeking Justice for Prisoners with Disabilities in the U.S.
Source: Disability Rights Washington YouTube
The failure of prisons to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ruled applicable to prisons in 1998, has created a quagmire within the criminal justice system: although people with disabilities are incarcerated at rates far higher than their demographic proportion and comprise nearly a third of the total prison population, they are funneled into systems that refuse to follow the law when it comes to adapting their protocols and facilities to those disabilities. Beyond the mass incarceration of people with disabilities, once incarcerated, disabled people face longer sentencing, solitary confinement, inaccessible vocational training, poor education administration, and limited medical access, exacerbating the negative effects of physical and mental illnesses and creating cycles of re-marginalization and inadequate preparation for release.
VICE News examines the impact of incarceration on people with disabilities and attempts to advocate on their behalf given the numerous conflicts of interest present in the reporting and petitioning process.
“Punished Twice” (VICE News)
“Making Hard Time Harder” (The AVID Prison Project, June 2016)
“Disabled Behind Bars: The Mass Incarceration of People With Disabilities in America’s Jails and Prisons” (The Center for American Progress)
Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Disabled Prisoners (The American Civil Liberties Union)
Christians see restrictions on Christmas celebrations as crackdown by Chinese government continues
- A hotel in Zhejiang province canceled plans to host two services by local churches after a warning from the government.
- Zhejiang authorities have also moved to prevent informal “house churches” from operating and have banned all forms of religious activity in hospitals.
- Officials have condemned many forms of religious expression in the name of national security, considering Christianity an example of the “infiltration of hostile Western forces.”
“China Cracks Down on Christmas Celebrations, Bans Protestant Services” (Radio Free Asia)
“China’s Zhejiang Bans Religious Activities in Hospitals as Crackdown Widens” (Radio Free Asia, August 2016)
“Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland” (The New York Times, May 2016)
(Image Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press, via The New York Times)