Freedom House condemns the ever-deepening cycle of repression directed by the Syrian government against peaceful protesters throughout the country. Today, security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Hama, killing at least 40, according to Syrian human rights observers. Attacks on protesters were also reported in the southern town of Jassim and the northeastern city of Deir al-Zour, as well as other locations. The demonstrations on “Children’s Friday,” which appeared to be the largest of the 10-week uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, were mainly provoked by the circulation of graphic videos documenting the murder and mutilation of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza al-Khatib, by Syrian security forces.
Freedom House today released Worst of the Worst 2011: The World’s Most Repressive Societies, its annual report identifying the world’s most flagrant human rights abusers, at a press conference during the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The brutal death of Pakistani journalist, Saleem Shahzad, is a shocking illustration of the deteriorating environment for journalists in Pakistan. Freedom House calls upon Pakistani authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into his death and to take decisive measures to ensure the protection of journalists.
Freedom House today expresses solidarity and support for Iranian political prisoners Nasrin Sotoudeh and Abdollah Momeni, who are celebrating their birthdays on Monday and Tuesday respectively, in squalid and inhumane conditions in Iran’s notorious Evin prison.
Yesterday's detention of former Ukrainian prime minister and leader of the oppositionist Fatherland party, Yulia Tymoshenko, confirms Freedom House’s concerns regarding increased selective prosecution of political opponents in Ukraine, highlighted in its recent report, “Sounding the Alarm: Protecting Democracy in Ukraine.”
The recent murders of two journalists amid ongoing violence against the media in Honduras, as well as the failure of Honduran authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice, are further indications of the country’s alarming decline in press freedom, according to Freedom House.