Ethiopia’s most notorious prison lurks within the capital’s atmospheric Piazza, the city’s old quarter popular for its party scene at the weekend when the neon signs, loud discos and merry abandon at night continue into the early hours of the morning.
Children in strollers held placards. Those unable to make it into the streets leaned out of high-rise apartment building windows, shouting support to the river of protestors below. For hours, several city blocks became a mass of red and blue, as scores of people waved the national flag of Puerto Rico. One name was on everyone’s lips, but the cause was broader than a single man.
When Azerbaijan served as chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, it scoffed at the spirit and purpose of the organisation and moved vigorously to squash all forms of free speech at home.
Gaunt, haggard Syrian children begging and selling gum have become a fixture in streets of the Lebanese capital; having fled the ongoing conflict, they continue to be stalked by its effects.
While enjoying unprecedented successes in international relations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seems to be suffering a stalemate when it comes to building trust and cooperation between different factions in the Iranian state. As a result, he seems plagued by continuous human rights disasters at home, while issuing no public condemnations.
At a cabinet meeting in mid-July, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev lashed out at the European Parliament for supposedly conducting a “dirty campaign” against Baku. The shrill tone of Aliyev’s comments indicates that European pressure on Azerbaijan to respect basic rights is stinging the Aliyev administration.
In a historic letter
to President Barack Obama, 52 Iranian political prisoners describe the effect of the crippling sanctions regime on the Iranian people and plead for a new approach to the nuclear issue. They write:
With the June 2013 presidential election drawing closer, Iran’s reformists are debating what they should do in the face of the severe restrictions to which their leaders and political parties have been subject since the popular protests that roiled the country after the last election four years ago.
If the caste system existed in Indonesia the 10 elderly people who live in Jakarta's Kramat Street would surely be untouchables: for decades they and their families have been banned from jobs and access to education and, until 2005, their identity cards marked them as former political prisoners.