Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Trial Of RFE/RL Reporter Due To Start In Belarus

Mikhal Karnevich

RFE/RL's Belarus Service

HRODNA, Belarus -- The trial of an RFE/RL correspondent and three co-defendants is expected to open in Belarus on November 25.  

Mikhal Karnevich, rights activist Uladzimer Khilmanovich, and two activists of the opposition United Civic Party, Ezhy Hryhencha and Vital Lopasau, are suspected of taking part in an unsanctioned public gathering on October 26.

The judge in the western Belarusian city of Hrodna on November 24 postposed the start of the trial by one day because of what she said was her busy agenda.

Karnevich says that on October 26 he was doing his job as a journalist, covering the public gathering in the southwestern town of Svislach -- a commemoration of Kastus Kalinovski, a 19th-century Belarusian journalist and political activist.

Karnevich has been charged with violating legislation on public gatherings in the past. 

Kyrgyz Woman Arrested Following Sex-Slavery Allegation

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Police in southern Kyrgyzstan have arrested a woman accused of selling an acquaintance into sexual slavery.

Osh city police department officials told RFE/RL on November 25 that the 41-year-old woman had been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking after a 33-year-old acquaintance told police that the older woman had sold her into sexual slavery in Turkey.

The alleged victim said the suspect had promised her a house-cleaning job and sold her for $5,000 to a Turkish citizen who forced her to work as a prostitute for three months.

Police released only the first names of the suspect, Ainura, and the alleged victim, Gulnara.

They said Gulnara told them a client helped her escape and return to Kyrgyzstan.

Local human rights activists say that 58 women from Osh have been rescued from sexual slavery since January 2014.

Oxfam Says Women Excluded From Peace Talks With Taliban

Afghan women's role and participation in the negotiations with the Taliban has been largely "invisible," says Sima Samar, Afghanistan's former minister of women's affairs.


The aid agency Oxfam says Afghan women are being excluded from efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban and warned that hard-won rights could be bargained away unless more is done to include women in the peace process.

In a report released on November 24, Oxfam said it has tracked 23 rounds of peace talks since 2005 and not one Afghan woman participated in discussions between the Taliban and international negotiators.

Oxfam also said that just nine of the 70 members of the Afghan High Peace Council are women, and that their role is largely symbolic.

It said many gains made for protecting women’s rights during more than a decade of foreign intervention already have been rolled back, making it "clear that women’s rights have been a low priority."

The former minister of women's affairs of Afghanistan, Sima Samar, voiced similar concerns about women's limited role in the Peace Council.

Afghan women's role and participation in the negotiations with the Taliban has been largely "invisible," Samar told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan.

Samar, who currently heads Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, said the Afghan people should take responsibility to promote women's rights and human rights in general.

She added that they also "should not depend 100 percent on the international community." 

Samar said she hoped Afghanistan's new leadership "will implement their election promise" and boost women's role in society.

President Ashraf Ghani, who took office in September, has said he wants talks with the Taliban and stressed that he will work to bolster the status of women. 

On November 23, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters that the Taliban was in favor of including woman in peace talks as well as any future government, but only once all foreign troops have left Afghanistan.

Since the collapse of the Taliban administration in 2001, Afghan women gained access to education and work. Women hold almost one-third of parliament seats under an official quota. 

However, in recent years attacks against women have intensified. Women working as police, soldiers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, politicians, and rights activists have been attacked or killed as a warning to others to stay in their homes and remain dependent on their fathers, husbands, and sons.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

Jailed Azerbaijani Activist's Health Deteriorating, Lawyer Says

Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus was arrested with her husband in August, and they are being held in pretrial detention on charges of high treason and other crimes.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

BAKU -- A lawyer for jailed Azerbaijani human rights activist Leyla Yunus says her health has deteriorated drastically.

Lawyer Elcin Qambarov told RFE/RL on November 24 that a detention center doctor who examined Yunus recently gave her a diagnosis of advanced liver disease and a high blood-sugar level.

Qambarov said that Yunus's blood pressure fluctuates dramatically and that she has lost 10 kilograms since her arrest in July.

He said the detention center had refused to process her lawyers' request for access to official documents related to her medical examination.

Yunus, 58, is a fierce critic of Azerbaijan's poor rights record.

Her husband, Arif Yunus, 59, was arrested in August, and they are being held in pretrial detention on charges of high treason and other crimes.

Yunus and her husband say the charges are politically motivated.

Western governments and human rights groups have called for their immediate release.

RFE/RL Reporter Fined For Covering Event In Belarus

Mikhal Karnevich

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 25.11.2014 13:21

RFE/RL's Belarus Service

HRODNA, Belarus -- An RFE/RL correspondent has been fined after a court ruled that he had violated legislation on public gatherings in Belarus.

The Lenin District Court in the western city of Hrodna ruled on November 25 that Mikhal Karnevich must pay the equivalent of $205 as a fine for taking part in an unsanctioned mass gathering on October 26.

Karnevich contends that he was doing his job as a journalist that day, covering the public gathering in the southwestern town of Svislach -- a commemoration of Kastus Kalinovski, a 19th-century Belarusian journalist and political activist who led a popular movement against Russian rule. 

Karnevich has been charged with violating legislation on public gatherings in the past. 

In 2011, he was found guilty of taking part in an unsanctioned public protest in Hrodna and fined $100 after he covered the event as a journalist.

Belarusian Activist Detained After Distributing Leaflets

RFE/RL's Belarus Service

Belarusian opposition activist Andrey Haydukou has been detained in his native town of Navapolatsak in the country's north.

The organization committee of the unregistered Belarusian Christian Democratic Party said Haydukou, one of its founders, was detained on November 21 after distributing leaflets with information about political prisoners in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic.

Haydukou was released from jail in May after serving an 18-month term after for attempting to contact a foreign intelligence service.

Haydukou denied guilt and said his imprisonment was politically motivated.

In 2010-11, Haydukou served as an aide to opposition presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, who received political asylum in Europe in 2012 after spending 16 months in jail following a crackdown on protests over the disputed reelection of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Lukashenka has tolerated little dissent in nearly 20 years as president.

Independent Magazine Shut Down In Kazakhstan

RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

 A court in Kazakhstan has ordered the closure of an independent magazine that has scrutinized the authorities over human rights issues and corruption.

The editors of "Adam bol" (Be a Human) say the Almaty court's decision to shut the periodical's print and online platforms was delivered to them on November 20.

The Almaty mayor's office told RFE/RL that the periodical was closed due to the magazine's violation of laws "banning the propagation of forceful change in the country's constitutional structure, threating its territorial integrity and security, as well as inciting ethnic, religious and social hatred."

Last year, publishing houses in Almaty, Kazakhstan's biggest city, refused to print the periodical -- which then was called "Adam Reader's," after it reported on the deadly clashes between police and protesting oil workers in the western town of Zhanaozen.

The periodical is led by Gulzhan Erghalieva (eds: a woman), a prominent journalist who has faced numerous intimidations by police in many years.

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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