In response to the increasingly grave human rights situation in Syria, Freedom House today joined other human rights groups in sending a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he take a number of concrete actions against the Syrian government, including calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s immediate ouster.
Freedom House strongly condemns the sentencing of labor lawyer Natalya Sokolova to six years in prison on spurious charges resulting from her support for striking trade union workers in Kazakhstan and calls for her immediate and unconditional release.
Freedom House today called for the repeal of a law on religions recently passed by the Hungarian parliament. At the same time, Freedom House supported concerns raised by15 prominent Hungarians in an open letter to Human Rights Commissioners of the European Commission and the Council of Europe regarding the new law.
With nearly two months to go before constituent assembly elections, Tunisia confronts a long list of challenges to the creation of a democratic system. Expectations for swift and wide-ranging reforms are very high among a population hungry for change after decades of harsh authoritarian rule. Ordinary citizens are eager to enjoy the benefits of meaningful political freedom and economic prosperity, having endured unrelenting repression, mismanagement, and the plundering of resources by a small circle around the family of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The political uncertainty in the wake of the dictator’s departure has taken a toll on the Tunisian economy and its tourism sector in particular, on which some 500,000 people in this country of 10 million depend for employment. The ongoing conflict in neighboring Libya is another encumbrance, as it deprives Tunisia of much-needed trade revenue and generates regional instability.
Recent rhetoric by members of government and religious groups in Ghana has created a perilous environment for the Ghanaian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.Government minister and parliament member, Paul Evan Aidoo, has repeatedly and publicly condemned homosexuality, including a call for landlords to report any person suspected to be a homosexual to police. Another parliament member, David Tetteh, called for the “public lynching of homosexuals.”
Radio station staffer Farah Hassan Sahal was killed August 4 in Mogadishu, Somalia by sniper gunfire. Sahal was attempting to transport radio equipment with two of his colleagues when caught in between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) forces exchanging gunfire with Al Shabaab forces. Sahal had worked for Radio Simba since its formation in 2006. Since fighting restarted in the Bakaraa area of Mogadishu, Radio Simba had been off the air and its staff unable to do their reporting within the last few days.
The Cultural Centre of the Philippines has been forced to close an exhibit displaying the artwork of Mideo Cruz after the center faced public criticism, including hate mail, threats, vandalism and legal action. Cruz’ artwork was deemed blasphemous by many of the country's Christians because it featured religious and phallic images together. The exhibit opened in June 2011 and was not scheduled to close until August 21.