After a bit of uncertainty, the Chinese government renewed Google’s license to operate last week. Unfortunately, China is still censoring Internet search results, restricting freedom of expression and privacy, and repressing political dissent.
Human Rights First is working with Google and other information technology companies to develop guidelines and practices to protect the right to free expression and privacy. In a meeting last week, we brought the voices of “netizens”—journalists, activists, and leaders using new technology to promote human rights and democratic values—from around the world to executives of these companies. As the activists in our video make clear, Internet freedom is essential to those fighting for human rights in repressive societies. It can sometimes be a question of life or death. Click here to watch the video.
Many companies understand what’s at stake, and are doing what they can. But we need our elected leaders to help make Internet freedom a priority. The Obama Administration recently announced that the White House will soon host a state dinner for China. Let’s make sure that censorship is on the main menu and not just washed over with the dishes.
Sign our petition to President Obama asking that he raise the question of Internet freedom when he hosts President Hu Jintao at the White House.
President and CEO
Human Rights First
Khaled Saeed was in an Internet café when the police conducted a raid. When Saeed refused to hand over his ID, they dragged him out onto the street and beat him to death—in front of witnesses. The incident sparked outrage throughout Egypt.
HRF responded right away, organizing a web chat with Egyptian activist Nora Younis to get the word out on what was happening on the ground and creating a petition to the Egyptian ambassador to the United States to let him know that people here were paying attention. Sign the petition and watch a segment of the webchat with Nora.
Two policemen have since been arrested on charges related to the beating—an important step toward accountability for this murder. We’ll be keeping close watch on developments in the case and the repressive tactics the Egyptian government is using to intimidate those who use the Internet to promote freedom and democracy—particularly in the lead-up to the Egyptian elections this fall and early next year.
When General Petraeus was named commander of the war in Afghanistan, we noted that in 2007 when he was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, he took a firm stand against torture “and other expedient methods� that violate our standards and international law. His consistent statements urging our elected leaders to trust in our values and institutions have brought a needed reality check to the debate surrounding how to treat and try terrorism suspects. We hope he continues to exercise this leadership in dealing with the issues surrounding detainees held at Bagram prison, where current policies fail to guarantee due process.
Human Rights First’s own David Levine—an Iraq war veteran who served under General Petraeus—tweeted his analysis live from the Petraeus confirmation hearing. Read his blog recap.
Human Rights First’s President and CEO, Elisa Massimino, recently received the Eclipse Award from the Center for Victims of Torture for HRF’s work with retired military leaders opposing torture. Past winners include Senator Richard Durbin and Alberto Mora, former General Counsel for the U.S. Navy.
We’re now working with these retired admirals and generals to keep up the pressure to close Guantanamo and try terrorism suspects in federal courts.
Great news! Last week, the Pentagon reversed its ban on the onsite coverage of the military commission proceedings at Guantánamo Bay by Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg. Human Rights First has been pushing for this reversal since the ban was announced. Barring veteran reporters from covering the proceedings because they named a witness whose identity was already publicly known was a set back to transparency at the hearings. Thank you to everyone who joined us in calling for the reversal. �
Read our press release for more about the ban and HRF’s response.
Countries across Europe, North America, and the former Soviet Union have committed to combat hate crime and discrimination – but they’re not following through with their promises.
In a report released by Human Rights First and the Anti-Defamation League we found that the large majority of the 56 states members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are failing to fully comply with their commitments to report on and respond to hate crimes.
HRF staff used the report and our recommendations to urge further action to combat hate when we traveled to Kazakhstan recently for an OSCE conference where high-level government officials gathered to discuss states’ strategies to combat intolerance and discrimination.
Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, the 50 year-old man who is alleged to have been a cook for Osama bin Laden, pleaded guilty to assisting al Qaeda in a recent military commission proceedings. HRF’s Daphne Eviatar was quoted in the press with her assessment: “Mr. al Qosi’s case is a textbook example of the inability of the military commission system…to achieve swift justice. The case has dragged on for more than six years without a trial.”
Read the Associated Press article.