Derechos Human Rights

Derechos: Human Rights Briefs Sept. 2 to Sept. 8, 1996

Sept. 2

(AI) - Russian Federation - Amnesty International issued a press release calling for the immediate and unconditional release of environmental activist Aleksandr Nikitin, who wrote a portion of a report for a Norwegian environmental group about the dangers of radioactive contamination from th Russian North Fleet. He was charged with disclosing state secrets under Article 64 of the Russian Criminal Code and has been detained since February 1996.

(Reuter) - Sri Lanka - The University Teachers for Human Rights Jaffna accused the Sri Lankan government of covering up extra-judicial executions and abductions by the army in northern Jaffna. The human rights group also accused the Tamil Rigers of assassinating those who promote peace and rehabilitation. The report by the human rights groups comes on the heels of a recent government approval to allow Sri Lankans to appeal human rights cases to the United Nations Human Rights committee under the terms of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(NYTimes) - Burma - The New York Times reported that the ruling junta of Burma and democracy and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters seem headed for a showdown as both sides harden their positions. The article suggested that the Burmese government may have been emboldened by its recent inductions as an observer member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

(Reuters) - Argentina - Capt. Alfredo Astiz, one of the most notorious members of the Navy during Argentina's "Dirty War" retired from service on Monday. Known as the Blond Angel, Astiz was forced to be put on leave under pressure from human rights activists and foreign governments. Astiz was convicted in absentia by the French government of the killing of French nuns Leonie Duquet and Alice Domon, who were kidnapped from a Buenos Aires church after Astiz infiltrated the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and identified its leaders. Astiz is also wanted in Sweden for the "disappearance" of Dagmar Hagelin, a Swedish student. Last year, Navy chief Adm. Enrique Molina Pico caused outrage by saying Astiz had "all the moral conditions to be a Navy officer."

Sept. 3

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) , the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) , the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) , Voters Telecommunications Watch (VTW) , and Wired Ventures Ltd. are working together for better privacy and encryption. They have asked U.S. citizens to contact their legislators and urge them to support S.1726, Pro-CODE "Promotion of Commerce Online in the Digital Era" and HR 3011, SAFE "Security and Freedom Through Encryption" Both of these bills would reduce government regulation of encryption, allowing US citizens, and people all around the world with greater privacy and freedom of speech. For more information, check out

(AP) - Burma - The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law filed lawsuit on behalf of Burmese exiles and trade unions against Unocal claiming that construction of a natural gas pipeline caused human rights violations and destruction of villages. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks to stop construction of the pipeline.

(AI) - Iraq - Amnesty International issued a press release expressing concern about Iraq's recent military actions against Kurds in the northern part of the country. AI stated that there have been reports of unlawful killings and arbritrary arrests of members of the political opposition. AI urged Iraq to treat detainees humanely and for both sides to ensure the safety of civilians by respecting international human rights standards.

(DPA) - Nigeria - The Nigerian human rights group Constitutional Rights Project reported that 30 people have died in police custody in the last 18 months and at least 52 have been tortured. The figure is likely much higher since the police reported that they shot 80 robbers in just one month. The report also detailed prison conditions, the arbritary arrest and detention of government opponents, and the treatment of journalists.

(IPS) - Turkey - Turkish Human Rights Association chairman Akin Birdal and Ihsan Arslan, the deputy leader of the Islamist human rights organization Mazlum-Der were detained over the weekend on the orders of Ankara State Security Court Prosecutor Nuh Mete Yuksel. The two were among a group that travelled to Northern Iraq to negotiate with the PKK for a release of eight Turkish soldiers held since 1995. Other officials may also face charges for their role in organizing and participating in the expedition.

(NY Times) - USA - The Argentina government was reported ready to reach a settlement in order to avoid being tried in US courts for human rights abuses in its own country during the "Dirty War." The plaintiff, Jewish business Jose Siderman, sued the Argentine goverment for $26.4 million for the loss of businesses and properties and for the suffering of his family. The case entered Federal District court for trial after a 14-year legal battle in which Argentina claimed that the US did not have jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. However, the Court ruled that Argentina implicitly gave up its immunity from Mr. Siderman's assertions of torture when the Argentine military government asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1981 to forward notice of a suit it had filed against him alleging that he had falsified a land title. The Court also ruled the Siderman could pursure property claims against the Argentine government because his businesses conducted transactions with American credit card companies. Rodolfo A. Diaz, President Menem's chief legal adviser, refused to discuss the amount of the settlement, but sources close to the case reported that Argentine officials who flew to Los Angeles were prepare to settle for an amount in the millions of dollars.

Sept. 5

(Reuter) - Spain - The Spanish Supreme Court may still question premier Felipe Gonzalez about a 1980s "dirty war" on ETA separatists. Before deciding whether Gonzalez should be summoned as a suspect or witness, Supreme Court justice Eduardo Moner first must hear an appeals by families of the victims of the government "dirty war." The appeals process was expected to take up to a month. Sept. 6

(NYT) - USA - Angel Diaz, who was charged with killing New York police officer Kevin Gilliespie, hanged himself with a belt according to authorities. His case became notorious because of Governor George Pataki's insistence on seeking the death penalty while Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson was elected to his office overwhelmingly after declaring his opposition to the death penalty. This is the first case where the death penalty has been sought since the re-introduction of the death penalty in March 1995. Pataki and Johnson have clashed over whether the governor had the right to dismiss the district attorney and the two plan to continue their legal battle.

(NYT) - Calif., USA - The California State Senate ended its current legislative session without voting on a bill that would have prohibited same-sex marriages. Similar legislation has failed in 19 other states, while 15 states have approved such legislation.

(NYT) - USA - President Clinton's administration said on Sept. 5 that it would postpone the sale of at least nine F-16 jet fighters to Indonesia for 4 months because of objections by the US Congress to recent crackdowns on political dissent. The US government had originally agreed to the sale in July. While Congressional opponents of the sale did not have the votes to block the sale, it could have been highly embarassing for Clinton just before the November presidential election.

(AFP) - Ivory Coast - The Ivory Coast Human Rights League (LIDHO) expressed concern about the detention without trial of several army officers over a plot to stage an armed insurrection. The open letter to the defense minister noted that the officers have been detained in undisclosed locations since November 1995. The officers' families have claimed that the officers have been held incommunicado and denied visits by doctors.

(IPS) - Venezuela - High Court Judge Arnoldo Echegaray suprised human rights proponents when he revoked a lower court ruling and freed seven police officers accused of killing two bakery shop robbers in cold blood. Justice Minister Henrique Meier and Vladimir Villegas, president of the parliamentary human rights commission, both expressed concern over the Echegaray's decision. After a shootout with police in which another robber and a police officer were killed, Radio Caracas Television showed the two surviving robbers handcuffed and climbing into a police car. Shortly afterwards, the bullet-riddled bodies of the robbers were put on display in the hospital morgue after what the Metrolpolitan Police said was "a confrontation."

(US Newswire) - USA - President Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor to 11 people. Recipients included James Brady, gun-control advocate, Cardinal Bernardin, Rosa Parks, Millard Fuller, Morris Udall, and human rights activist Ginetta Sagan. After escaping death at the hands of Nazis and fascists in Italy during World War II, Ginetta has fought for human rights around the world ever since. She founded the first West Coast chapter of Amnesty International USA and organized 75 other chapters around the U.S.

(Reuters) - Peru/USA - Lori Berenson's lawyers welcomed political moves that may bring Berenson back to the US. Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori is reportedly considering a proposal by US representative Bill Richardson that would move Berenson out of Peru. Berenson was convicted of treason in January by a faceless military tribunal after being charged with plotting to overthrow the Peruvian Congress with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). The faceless tribunals have been accused by numerous human rights groups of severe violations of due process, including denying cross-examinations of witnesses.

Sept. 7

(BBC) - Pakistan - Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Pakistan met in Islamabad to discuss taking actions to protect and promote human rights. The federal minister for human rights, Syed Iqbal Haider, chaired the meeting. At the meeting, four working groups on women, children's rights, prison and minorities were formed. It was also reported that the International Programme on Elimination of Child Labour was conducting a survey on child labor.

Sept. 8

(LA Times) - Russia - Human rights activist Sergei A. Kovalev will reported travel to the U.S. for heart surgery. 66-year-old Kovalev suffered a heart attack in July and was hospitalized for a month afterward.

(Reuters) - Brazil - President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a speech marking Brazil's independence day, vowed to end human rights abuses and child labor.

AFP - Agence France Presse
AI - Amnesty International
AP - Associated Press
BBC - British Broadcasting Company
DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
HRW - Human Rights Watch
IPS - Inter Press Service
LA Times- Los Angeles Times
NYT - New York Times

Index of HR Briefs - Human Rights Mailing Lists - Derechos

daisy This page is maintained by Margarita Lacabe. Last updated Sept. 9, 1996.