Learn about threats to human rights around the globe and the watchdogs who are tasked with identifying and stopping the violations.
While a student at the University of Tehran in 1999, Ahmad Batebi joined the mass student protests against the government and was photographed holding another protester's bloodied T-shirt. After The Economist ran the photo on its front page, Batebi was tracked down by Iranian authorities and arrested. He was first sentenced to death and then to a term at the notorious Evin Prison, where he was held in a wing reserved for dissidents and supposed enemies of state. Here are profiles of those who have labored for the causes of freedom and democracy in their countries.
Crimes against humanity "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings," the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines. Part of a government policy or condoned by such powers, "murder; extermination; torture; rape; political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice." As the definition is debated when applied to various humanitarian tragedies, crimes against humanity continue. Here are some of the cases that have caught attention or ignited debate.
Some are still in power (and seek more), some have been toppled, some are no longer living. All have ruled with a heavy hand and suppressed the rights of their people to further the goal of what they think is the correct way to govern.
Inspired by other Arab Spring movements, protests began against the brutal rule of Bashar al-Assad on Jan. 26. 2011. The ongoing protests escalated to an uprising in March 2011, with thousands taking to the streets in numerous cities to demand the ouster of Assad. The protests have been met with brutal government force, including tanks and sniper fire, with thousands killed. Here is a primer behind the headlines in Syria.
The former prime minister of Ukraine and co-leader of the 2004-05 Orange Revolution that resulted in Viktor Yushchenko winning for president over Viktor Yanukovych after a corrupt election was thrown out. Tymoshenko lost the presidential election to Yanukovych in 2010, and claimed that the results were tainted. Now targeted by the current Ukrainian government, Tymoshenko is being held behind bars on politically motivated charges.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky is an entrepreneur who became the richest man in Russia as he led the oil giant Yukos after the fall of the Soviet Union. A vocal critic of then-President Vladimir Putin, he was imprisoned in 2005 on fraud charges. When he was eligible for parole, Russian prosecutors levied fresh embezzlement and money laundering charges against him that could net an additional 22 years behind bars.