Freedom House mourns the loss of Mexican Interior Minister Jose Francisco Blake Mora and Vice Minister Felipe de Jesus Zamora Castro--two of the eight people aboard a helicopter that crashed near Mexico City on November 11. Freedom House sends its condolences to the victims' families, President Felipe Calderon and the Mexican government.
Freedom House calls for the immediate release of Vu Duc Trung and Le Van Thanh, sentenced to 2-3 years in prison for broadcasting a radio program publicizing human rights abuses in China, including the persecution of Falun Gong, across the China-Vietnam border. The sentences come as a Vietnamese delegation is in Washington, DC for the U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, during which issues of deteriorating religious freedom, press freedom, and other human rights issues in Vietnam are to be discussed.
Freedom House continues to condemn the detention of prominent Belarusian human rights defender, Ales Bialatski, and calls for Belarusian authorities to drop all charges against him and release him immediately.
Turkish professor Busra Ersanli and publisher and human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu were arrested on October 28 as part of a government operation against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an organization banned by the Turkish government for its alleged connections to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Egyptian prisoner Essam Atta was reportedly tortured in Cairo’s Tora Prison and died in a Cairo hospital on October 27. Though security officials deny that he was tortured, Atta had called his family and described his torture in detail before his death.
Turkmenistan released Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev under “presidential amnesty” after previously sentencing him to five years in jail for “encouraging a relative to commit suicide.” The charges were widely thought to be a sham and in reality brought because of his journalistic activities.
Freedom House applauds the Brazilian Senate’s passage of the Freedom of Information Law on October 25, a landmark step towards improving press freedom in Brazil. The bill would secure citizens the right to information on public agencies, including budgets, salaries, staffing, and internal reports, as well as protections to whistleblowers.