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Thursday, September 06, 2007

When our fighting men and women are sent off to war there seems to be a logical progression of event that will usually happen.

Families are separated.

Innocents are harmed or killed.

Comrades are lost and mourned.

Our military men and women return to the open arms of their families.

Or...our military men and women return to the open arms of their personal God.


Letter to Indonesian Officials re: Harassment and Abuse of LGBT Persons

Inspector General Om Bikram Rama,

I am writing you regarding the case of Sanjiv Kumar Karna, a 24-year-old student at Ram Sagar Ram Swarup Multiple College in Janakpur, who was picnicking with a group of friends on 8 October 2003 when he and ten others were arrested by a group of joint security force personnel in Janakpur. While being transported to police detention, Sanjiv Kumar Karna and his friends were brutally beaten before being interrogated.

Six of those detained were subsequently released, but Sanjiv Kumar Karna and four friends – Durgesh Kumar Labh, Pramod Narayan Mandal, Shailendra Yadav, and Jitendra Jha – have not been heard from since.

Sanjiv Kumar Karna's arrest is believed linked to his interest in student politics and his former membership in the All Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary) (ANNISU-R), which is aligned with the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist). However, he resigned from the ANNISU-R in 1998 and his family says that he had no involvement with the CPN (Maoist).

After registering complaints with relevant authorities, Sanjiv Kumar Karna's relatives have been repeatedly assured that investigations are underway and that they will be informed when they are completed. However, according to investigations by the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal, Amnesty International understands that the police and the Home Ministry deny any police involvement in the arrest of Sanjiv Kumar Karna and his friends, while the Nepal Army has said that all five young people were killed in a "police action" on the day that they were arrested.

Amnesty International is therefore seeking clarification of these different accounts. I urge you to please establish the whereabouts of Sanjiv Kumar Karna and his four friends and make public your findings. If they are found to be alive, they should be released immediately and unconditionally, unless they are charged with recognizable criminal offenses. If they have been killed, please establish what happened to them to ensure that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.


With a Copy to:
Ambassador Kali Prasad Pokhrel


Letter to Ukrainian Pres. Viktor Yushchenko re: Woman's Rights in Ukraine

President Viktor Yushchenko,

Violence against women is an abuse of women's basic human rights including their right to physical and mental integrity, their right to life and their right to equality with men. Ukraine is a party to all major relevant international conventions, under which it is required to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of those persons in its territory and subject to its jurisdiction without discrimination, including on the grounds of sex.

Ukraine must comply with its obligations under international law with regard to domestic violence. Specifically, Amnesty International is calling on the government of Ukraine to act now to commit to improving protection for women exposed to domestic violence and to raise awareness in society about the issue of domestic violence. With this in mind, I urge you and your government to commit to the following steps:

• The government of Ukraine should immediately pass the new draft Law on the Prevention of Violence in the Family which already incorporates some of the recommendations made in Amnesty International's briefing paper.
• The government of Ukraine must promptly allocate secure, long-term government funding or actively seek donor funding, to ensure that shelters, specifically for women exposed to domestic violence, are set up in every region of the county in collaboration with NGOs experienced in working to protect women from violence, with subsequent running costs assigned to local government. The shelters must be available to all women without regard to their place of residence, or citizenship.
• The government of Ukraine must fund and implement a national public awareness campaign to address the underlying social and cultural attitudes that discriminate against women. The campaign should: promote zero tolerance of violence against women, remove the stigma from women victims of violence, and encourage victims to seek redress.

Ensuring that Ukraine complies with its international obligations relating to domestic violence should be a priority in the area of human rights


With a Copy to:

Minister Vasyl Petrovych Tsushko
Minister Viktor Petrovych Korzh


Letter to Malay Officials re: Transsexual Safety Issues in Malaysia

Chief Minister Seri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam
Director Alias bin Md. Saad
Chief of Police Johari bin Yahaya

I am writing to express my deep concern for the safety of Ayu, a male-to-female transsexual, who was seriously beaten by three enforcement officers from the Melaka Islamic Religious Affairs Department (Jabatan Agama Islam Melaka, JAIM) who detained her while she was talking to friends at the Old Melaka bus station in Kota Melaka, Melaka state, at around 11.30pm on July 30, 2007. After Ayu was admitted to the hospital, JAIM ordered the hospital authorities to report the names of other transsexual people who came to visit Ayu during her stay in the hospital. Ayu may be at risk of further abuse and other transsexual people may also be in danger.

I am also concerned because abuses against transsexual people appear to be rising in Malaysia at the hands of both the ordinary police and so-called "religious police" like JAIM. I fear that such actions may be creating a climate of vigilantism among community groups and society at
large against those whose sexual or gender identity is perceived to deviate from the "norm."

I strongly urge you to order a full, immediate, and independent investigation into allegations that Ayu was attacked by JAIM religious affairs officers and to ensure that those found responsible for the violence against Ayu are brought to justice.

In addition, I would like your immediate guarantee that Ayu and other transsexual people in Melaka will not be subjected to further abuse from JAIM officers, and that charges will not be pressed against Ayu which are based on her gender identity and violate her fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination.

Furthermore, I am very concerned that JAIM ordered the hospital to report other transsexuals visiting Ayu. It is your duty to ensure that transsexual patients in hospitals are able to receive visitors without harassment or discrimination and in line with regular hospital visiting procedures for all patients.

Finally, regulations and policies which discriminate against transsexual people in violation of their human rights must be reformed or repealed. Thank you for your prompt and sincere action on these matters.


With a Copy to:

Prime Minister Sri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Ambassador Rajmah Hussain



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