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GEORGIA VS RUSSIA: THE CRISIS UNVEILED

Thousands of demonstrators have been taking to the streets of Georgia’s capital starting from 20th of June, protesting against the Russian influence in the State. These have been the largest demonstrations experienced by Georgians in 7 years. People rushed out on the streets and in front of the Parliament, shouting “Russia is an occupier” and burning photos of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets and arresting 300 people. More than 240 people were injured. As predictable, the violence has made relations between the two countries worse.  In particular, three are the reasons why the protests sparked
1) To demand that Russia removes its forces from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 
2) To call for the Georgian Interior Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, to resign, since he allowed the Russian lawmaker Sergey Gavrilov, a member of the Russian Communist Party, to take part in the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). Gavrilov add…

BRUNEI AGAINST THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY

The new law against the LGBTQ community: The small and oil-rich kingdom of Brunei, a British colony until 1984 with a population of just 450,000 people, is rarely discussed in the news. Unfortunately, the country located on the island of Borneo is now at the center of a human rights crisis. The first week of April 2019, a law that will punish homosexual relations, adultery, sodomy and rape with death by stoning will be implemented and the punishment is said to be ''witnessed by a group of Muslims". The new penal code was announced in May 2014 by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who also acts as the country's prime minister. In announcing the change, government's website quoted the Sultan saying that his kingdom ''does not expect other people to accept and agree with it, but that it would suffice if they just respect the nation in the same way that it also respects them''. The Sultan, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal…

WHEN PROTESTING BECOMES A CRIME AGAINST THE STATE: THE STORY OF NASRIN SOTOUNDEH

The news that the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoundeh was convicted on 12th March to 33 years in prison (38 if we count a previous sentence) and to 148 lashes shocked the entire world. Nasrin was accused of representing several women who took their hijabs off during a protest against the obligation of wearing it. By doing that, she also took a stand against the application of an additional note to Article 48 of the Criminal Code, which denies the right to appoint a trusted lawyer to defendants of certain crimes, including those against national security. Therefore, the judge accused her of "collusion against national security", "propaganda against the state", "incitement to corruption and prostitution" and "appearing in public without hijab". The news of her sentence was first released on Facebook by her husband Reza Khandan, after receiving a phone call from jail.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is one of the most well-know lawyer in Iran. She has foc…

THE POLITICAL AND HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN VENEZUELA: A CLOSER LOOK

What is currently happening in Venezuela is far from only being a political crisis. The widespread human rights violations are forcing 3 million people to flee and seek asylum in other countries, in what it is referred to be the biggest refugee crisis in the history of Latin America. 
How did the country reach this point? In 2013, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won the elections amid reports of corruption and unfair counting of votes. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in protests calling for the removal of the President at first, and then accusing him of being responsible for the economic crisis. As a matter of fact, shortly after Maduro came to power, the price of oil dropped, and because 98% of Venezuela's export earnings come from oil, the state of the country declined rapidly. The government also started printing more money, regularly increasing the minimum wage, and implementing price controls on several products. Maduro did not take responsibility for the damag…

PROMINENT CHINESE HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER SENTENCED FOR STATE SUBVERSION

What happened: On Monday 28 January 2019, China’s second Intermediate People's Court in the city of Tianjin sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, 42, to four and a half years in prison for state subversion. It also deprived him of political rights for five years and of his legal license. Wang had defended opposition’s political campaigners, victims of land seizures and police torture, and followers of the banned spiritual Falun Gong movement (a group following traditional medical and self-cultivation practices developed in the early 1950s by members of the Chinese medical establishment). He worked for the now-shuttered Fengrui law firm in Beijing that was well known for its advocacy work.

Wang’s legal journey: Wang was charged with subverting state power in January 2016. He then spent nearly three years in detention without access to his family or lawyers. The trial was conducted in late 2018 behind closed doors with journalists and foreign diplomats barred from e…

LGBT RIGHTS VIOLATED IN CHECHNYA, REPORT ACTIVISTS

The reports of the activists: On 14 January, the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental LGBT rights organization working for the social acceptance and protection of the LGBT people in Russia, stated that there has been a new crackdown against gay people in Chechnya. Their statement has been reported by several major news broadcasters and newspapers, including the CNN,BBC and The Guardian. The Russian LGBT Network believes that about 40 people have been imprisoned since December 2018 – and that two of them died under torture. Activists affirmed that the people arrested are currently detained in a semi-legal facility near Argun - a town 20km from the city of Grozny. The government spokesman has dismissed their latest report as "complete lies". 



A history of discrimination started in 2013: If confirmed, these events will follow another report about brutal attacks on gay men and women in Chechnya in 2017, when hundreds of men were allegedly held and tortured in detention. The s…

Looking for freedom in Asia

The story: Saudi Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18 years old, was on vacation in Kuwait with her family. Without her parents knowing, she took a plane and tried to flee to Australia. She had renounced Islam, and she was afraid of her family, of her country, and for her life. As soon as she arrived to the airport in Bangkok, Thailand, to take a connection flight, she was held by Saudi embassy officials and had her passport confiscated. She asked for the protection of Thai immigration officials, which escorted her to a transit hotel. She then barricaded herself inside and posted several pictures saying she was seeking refugee status from any country that would protect her from getting harmed or killed due to leaving her religion. Her Twitter account attracted more than 50,000 followers in less than 48 hours and her story grabbed the attention of foreign governments as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which eventually granted her the refugee status. Al-Qunun&#…