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The Court’s historic movement from theory to practice came with a round of investigations targeting specific conflicts and identifying specific suspects, centered mainly in Africa. The powers and constraints of the ICC Prosecutor were closely monitored by judges as the Court issued its first arrest warrants. The first three suspects to arrive in The Hague were Congolese men from the peripheral Ituri district; and a fourth Congolese suspect was soon apprehended for alleged crimes in the Central African Republic. Lasting more than a decade, each trial faced a series of crises and reversals, indicating fault-lines in the original design. Mixed evidence made it surprisingly difficult for the Court to establish crimes involving child soldiers, as well as sex and gender crimes; and even more difficult to attribute criminal responsibility to the individuals accused. The interests of victims had to be balanced with the legal principle of fair trials. From an initial overview, the reader understands the many difficulties – both practical and institutional – facing the new Court and its ambitious mission.
Imprisoned under house arrest for fifteen years over a twenty-one-year period, from 1989 to 2010, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi became one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners and the face of the Myanmar opposition movement. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.”1 Over the course of her imprisonment, Aung San Suu Kyi was the subject of six WGAD opinions. The author was hired by her family to serve as her international counsel from mid-2006 until her release on November 13, 2010. He worked with Aung San Suu Kyi’s local counsel, U Nyan Win and U Kyi Win, along with countless others globally, to utilize the latter three opinions, in combination with political and public relations advocacy efforts, to advance efforts to secure her freedom and that of other political prisoners from the military junta. Under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was denied access to virtually everyone from the outside world other than her doctor, domestic lawyer, occasional diplomat friendly to the military junta, and Liaison Minister for the then-junta U Aung Kyi.
At the time of his arrest in April 2002, Yang Jianli was a thirty-nine- year-old scholar and democracy activist, who was well known for his efforts to promote democracy in China. Born a Chinese citizen, Yang had resided in the United States since 1986. He holds doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley and in political economy and government from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.1 Yang was the founder and president of the Foundation for China 21st Century, through which he promoted the cause of democracy in China.
Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan has been led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a Soviet-era politician who has remained in the position by concentrating all political power in his office.1 No election in the post-Soviet republic has ever met international standards; in March 2015, Nazarbayev won reelection with 95 percent of the vote in a snap election widely panned by the international community.2 Beyond the complete absence of free and fair elections, the current Government prohibits citizens from enjoying their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association, and religion. In the past few years, there have been major crackdowns on newspapers, which are the only source of independent news in the country, and many of the country’s prisons are filled with detainees serving sentences for peacefully assembling without a permit. Of particular concern to many states and international organizations is the pervasive use of torture in state-run detention centers.
Mohamed Nasheed is a Maldivian environmental activist, renowned journalist, and politician who served as the first democratically elected President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012. Nasheed made a name for himself as a dissident journalist, regularly reporting on human rights abuses in the Maldives and challenging the authoritarian administration of former President Maumoon Gayoom (1978–2008).1
Since the Republic of Turkey’s founding in 1923, its military has been the guarantor of the country’s secular values. In accordance with this perceived role, the military has organized several coups, the results of which have been a strained relationship with the country’s Islamist civilian governments. The first coup occurred in 1960 with the arrest and execution of then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes by Turkish generals. In 1980, the Turkish military rewrote the constitution to grant itself increased political power. And a coup in 1997, known as the “postmodern” coup, targeted Islamist influence in Turkish society, including the Fethullah Gülen Movement.1
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