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Resources updated between Monday, March 05, 2018 and Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 11, 2018

March 9, 2018

A rally in support of the Turkish newspaper Zaman in Istanbul in 2016. Turkey has more journalists in prisons than any other country.

LONDON - A Turkish court sentenced 24 journalists to prison on Friday for alleged links to a religious sect that the government calls a terrorist group and that s been blamed for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Most of the journalists worked for news organizations that are considered friendly to Fetullah Gulen, a cleric living in seclusion in a small town in Pennsylvania. T he Turkish government claims that he heads a shadowy, violent movement aiming to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian since the coup attempt. He has steadily tightened his control over the government, the military, the media, courts, schools and even the internet, fraying relations with Turkey's Western allies. He has purged tens of thousands of people suspected of disloyalty from the government and military, and thousands more have been arrested and charged with supporting terrorism.

In the July 2016, elements of the military appeared to seize power, and aircraft bombed the Parliament building and presidential palace in Ankara. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were injured before Mr. Erdogan reasserted control.

His government contends that the Gulen movement, also known as Hizmet, tried to overthrow the government after infiltrating public and private institutions, in effect creating its own parallel system. Turkey has demanded Mr. Gulen's extradition, but the United States has refused.

Twenty-two of the journalists sentenced on Friday were convicted of being members of an armed terrorist group - Mr. Gulen's organization - and sentenced to 6¼ to 7½ years in prison. Several of them had worked for Zaman, a major newspaper that was one of several news organizations the government shut down in 2016, and had gone on to other outlets.

Two others were convicted on a lesser charge of helping a terrorist group, but were freed based on time they have already served. One of them, Atilla Tas, is a well-known pop singer and columnist who was sentenced to more than three years. Mr. Tas is famed for his satirical wit on Twitter, which he has used to criticize and poke fun at the government.

"To those friends who are curious, the judicial process is not over," he wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "Eventually I will be acquitted from this case, I believe. You believe in me, too. I did nothing but criticize."

In December, Turkey held 73 journalists in prison, more than any other country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Since then, it has sentenced two journalists, three other media company employees, and a political commentator to life in prison, after the government charged that they had helped start the coup with subliminal messages on a broadcast. And 17 journalists and executives of the last prominent newspaper that is independent of the government are on trial.

Turkey Sentences 24 Journalists to Prison, Claiming Terrorism Ties Document

Iranian women at a Womens Day Gathering

Several women who had attempted to gather in Tehran to mark International Women's Day have been detained, reports said.

Women's rights activists had announced that they would stage a peaceful protest outside the Labor Ministry in the Iranian capital on March 8 to call for more rights.

"On this one day, out of an entire year, we as women of this country should be able to make these cities our own, stay in the streets, and return to our homes at days' end, without having our bones crushed," they said in a statement issued earlier this week.

Women and men who attempted to gather for the demonstration were confronted by security forces who dispersed them, according to social-media accounts.

More than a dozen people were reportedly detained.

Iran Reportedly Blocks Women's Day Gathering, Detains Participants Document

Luiz Loures, deputy executive director of UNAIDS

U.N. Sexual Assault Investigations Die in Darkness Article

March 8, 2018

The hijab is obligatory in public in Iran

An Iranian woman who publicly removed her veil in protest against Iran's compulsory headscarf law has been sentenced to two years in prison, the judiciary said on Wednesday.

Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, who announced the sentence, did not give the woman's identity but said she intended to appeal against the verdict, the judiciary's Mizan Online news agency reported.

Dolatabadi said the unidentified woman took off her headscarf in Tehran's Enghelab Street to "encourage corruption through the removal of the hijab in public".

The woman will be eligible for parole after three months, but Dolatabadi criticised what he said was a "light" sentence and said he would push for the full two-year penalty.

More than 30 Iranian women have been arrested since the end of December for publically removing their veils in defiance of the law.

Most have been released, but many are being prosecuted.

Women showing their hair in public in Iran are usually sentenced to far shorter terms of two months or less, and fined $25.

Iranian law, in place since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, stipulates that all women, Iranian or foreign, Muslim or non-Muslim, must be fully veiled in public at all times.

But the zeal of the country's morality police has declined in the past two decades, and a growing number of Iranian women in Tehran and other large cities often wear loose veils that reveal their hair.

In some areas of the capital, women are regularly seen driving cars with veils draped over their shoulders.

Dolatabadi said he would no longer accept such behaviour, and had ordered the impound of vehicles driven by socially rebellious women.

The prosecutor said some "tolerance" was possible when it came to women who wear the veil loosely, "but we must act with force against people who deliberately question the rules on the Islamic veil", according to Mizan Online.

Iranian woman who removed headscarf jailed for two years Document

A happier photo of Maryman Mombeini with her husband

The Iranian government should immediately allow the wife of Iranian-Canadian academic and environmentalist Kavous Seyed-Emami to leave Iran as she wishes and stop intimidating and harassing the Seyed-Emami family, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

In the early hours of March 8, 2018, the Seyed-Emami family-mother and two sons-were en route to Vancouver, Canada, from Tehran when the mother, Maryman Mombeini, was prevented from boarding the plane at the Imam Khomeini International Airport. Her passport was also briefly confiscated.

"Instead of harassing and intimidating the families of people who have died in state custody, Iranian officials should allow an independent, UN-led investigation into the cause of death of Seyed-Emami, an Iranian-Canadian citizen," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI.

"As a country with leverage on Iran, Canada should lead that call," added Ghaemi.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, said she was "outraged to learn" that Mombeini had been "barred" from leaving Iran with her sons.

"We demand that, as a Canadian, she be given the freedom to return home," tweeted Freeland on March 7.

To date, the Canadian government has not called on Iran to allow an independent investigation into Seyed-Emami's death.

"Before Mombeini was told her husband had died in Evin Prison, she was interrogated for hours and forced to sign a statement saying she would not speak to the press," said Ghaemi. "This level of cruelty against a grieving widow is hard to fathom."

In a statement sent to CHRI on March 7, Ramin Seyed-Emami said his family's lives had been "thrown into chaos and terror" since they were informed on February 9 that Kavous Seyed-Emami had died in his cell in Tehran's Evin Prison.

"After being constantly harassed and threatened our family has decided, for the sake of our own safety, to leave Iran and head to Vancouver where we can start a new peaceful life," he said.

Ramin Seyed-Emami added that his mother had been repeatedly hospitalized due to panic attacks and that he and his brother were under constant "surveillance."

"The authorities told our lawyers to tell the brothers 'to shut up or we'll shut them up,' the government agents "bumped" into me and said they're watching me," he said.

"I truly believe that the only reason the rest of us haven't been taken away is because we spoke out and refused to stay silent," added Ramin Seyed-Emami.

Kavous Seyed-Emami, a US-educated sociologist and managing director of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation, was arrested on January 24, 2018, along with several current and former staff members of the NGO.

Iranian officials have accused him of espionage and said he committed suicide in the bathroom of his cell two weeks after his arrest, but no evidence has been provided for the charges and the family was pressured to immediately bury him before an independent autopsy could be carried out.

Ramin Seyed-Emami said that he was given a video of his father's last hours alive in his cell but the moment of his death was not recorded.

The Seyed-Emami family and UN human rights experts have called for an independent investigation.

At least four detainees have died in state custody in Iran between January and March of this year. All of the cases except one were described as suicides by officials. In none of the cases have independent investigations or autopsies been carried out.

"Just this year, Iran's former intelligence minister admitted that the authorities were at fault for the death of another Iranian-Canadian, Zahra Kazemi, in Evin Prison in 2003," said Ghaemi.

"If countries with leverage on Iran are silent now, we may see another 15 years pass by before the facts around Seyed-Emami's tragic death are finally revealed," said Ghaemi.

Ongoing Harassment: Wife of Iranian-Canadian Who Died in Iran's Evin Prison "Banned" From Leaving Country Document

March 7, 2018

March 6, 2018

Ambassador Nikki Haley, March 5, 2018

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March 5, 2018

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie (File photo)

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The flag of the United Nations

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