Today the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, a landmark move for the council in upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The resolution was presented by South Africa, Brazil and 39 additional cosponsors—23 voted in favor, 19 voted against and three abstained. The resolution will call on the High Commissioner to prepare a study on violence and discrimination and then host a follow-up panel to discuss the findings.
On June 11, 2011, three employees from German television station ZDF were briefly detained and had their video footage destroyed in Equatorial Guinea. The crew was filming a concert at a French cultural center in Malabo as part of a larger effort to capture via film the general state of affairs in Equatorial Guinea. They were taken to TVGE studios where security agents led by the director of the state-controlled TV station, Teobaldo Nchaso Matomba, ordered them to hand over all video footage.
On June 18, reporter Waqar Kiani was beaten in Islamabad, Pakistan after publishing a piece in The Guardian about the abduction and torture of intelligence agents. Men dressed in police garb ordered Kiani out of his car and then beat him.
Protests erupted on June 22, 2011 in Bahrain after eight activists were sentenced to life in prison. Security forces fired tear gas at protesters marching in the capital of Manama. Among those sentenced to life in prison were political figures Hassan Mushaima, blogger Abdul-Jalil al-Singace and activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Fourteen others are in custody, and thirteen sentenced to long-term jail sentences for attempting to “overthrow” the monarchy and “links to terrorist organizations abroad.”
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was released on bail on June 22 after being held since April 3, but is on probation and not allowed to speak publicly. Police released Weiwei, who is suffering from a chronic disease, after he confessed to tax evasion. It is widely believed that Weiwei’s outspoken criticism of Chinese leadership and political views were the real reason behind his arrest, not the “economic crimes” with which he was charged.
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.