The arrests this week of Naw Ohn Hla and Rohingya activist Than Shwe are a continuation of a disturbing trend of the government using the peaceful assembly law to stymie the work of human rights defenders. Freedom House condemns the arrests and calls for the activists’ immediate release.
Freedom House is deeply concerned by reports of mistreatment of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank for allegedly throwing rocks at Israelis. Many of these children reportedly have been harshly interrogated and denied access to a lawyer. Such incidents have been on the upswing in recent months, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.
Radio host Luis de Jesús Lima was shot outside his office in the eastern part of Guatemala, becoming the third journalist murdered this year alone in the country. Freedom House calls on authorities to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding Lima’s death, and urges the Guatemalan government to take measures to better protect journalists in an effort to end violence against the media.
On July 31st, the Guatemala City offices of Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and the Central Institute for the Study of Social Democracy (DEMOS) were both broken into. While the motivation and identity of the individuals responsible remain unclear, these break-ins follow a series of public threats made against human rights defenders in recent weeks. Freedom House welcomes the announcement that Guatemalan authorities are opening an investigation into the incident and urges them to bring those responsible to justice.
Freedom House condemns the fatwa issued by Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei terming the Baha’i faith "deviant and misleading,” and urging Iranians to have nothing to do with the Baha’i community. Iranian Baha’is currently face severe economic, educational and other forms of discrimination in Iran, and Freedom House is deeply concerned that this edict may be a precursor to a new crackdown.