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The latest from Freedom House:

Freedom House condemns the Sri Lankan government’s smear campaign, which accused journalists and human rights advocates of being “traitors” for supporting a recent UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an investigation into the country’s past human rights abuses.

Political pressure from Azerbaijani authorities against the Hajiyev family, including the recent firing of university professor Fikret Hajiyev and the conviction of his relative Bakhtiyar Hajiyev on politically motivated charges, underscores the growing use of financial and psychological pressure to silence dissidents.

Freedom House mourns the passing of Dianne Cullinane, a former Freedom House project director, who oversaw a highly successful women’s rights program in Jordan.

The decision by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to waive the conditions mandated by Congress for releasing $1.3 billion of military aid to Egypt undermines efforts to support democracy in the country, according to Freedom House. Legislation signed by President Obama in December 2011 required the Secretary of State to certify that the Egyptian government is “supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law” before military aid could be released. At this time, these conditions have not been met, and a waiver should not have been granted.

By: Husain Abdula, Guest Blogger

On February 14, 2011, large numbers of peaceful protesters turned out across Bahrain to demand fundamental changes to the island kingdom’s political system. Exasperated with the autocratic rule of the al-Khalifa family, they called for free and fair parliamentary elections, an end to the gerrymandering and other tactics that politically marginalize certain groups (particularly Shia Muslims, who form a majority of the electorate), and the immediate release of all political prisoners. However, security forces overseen by Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa—an uncle of the king who has served as prime minister since 1971—brutally crushed the protest movement, arresting, injuring, and killing many innocent citizens. As a result, more than 13 months after the protests began, the existing obstacles to Bahraini democracy remain largely intact.

Freedom House condemns the overthrow of Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure in an army-led coup that has dissolved the country’s democratically elected government and seized control of state media, and joins the African Union and others in calling for a restoration of civilian government under constitutional rule, so that elections, scheduled for next month, may proceed as planned.