Voices

Everyone knows that the Assad regime – from father Hafez onwards – has employed torture and executions to preserve the doubtful purity of the Baath party

Syria continues rebel bombardment

Syrian troops have clashed with army defectors and shelled rebel districts in Homs, killing at least 11 civilians a day after the government claimed it had begun a withdrawal ahead of the deadline for an international truce plan.

Erzsebet Fodor and her partner Zoltan Koza were evicted from the centre of Miercurea Ciuc/Czikszereda in 2004, they and their ten children now live in a metallic barrack placed by the municipal authorities on the outskirts of town in Romania (2009)

Roma shown to be Europe's poorest and most reviled people

Amnesty report exposes shocking treatment of the transient population and appeals for new approach

Azerbaijan warms up for Eurovision by torturing musicians

Fresh doubts have been raised about the suitability of Azerbaijan to host May's Eurovision Song Contest, as it emerged that two local musicians who insulted the country's president during a concert may have been tortured by police over recent days.

Amnesty accuses Nato of ignoring Libya air-strike deaths

Nato has failed to properly investigate or provide compensation for civilian deaths caused by its air strikes during the seven-month operation in Libya that helped bring about the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Amnesty International says.

Assad's military has 304,000 active military personnel and 4,700 tanks

Prisoners in Syria face ordeal by torture chamber

Amnesty compiles new evidence of treatment inflicted by brutal regime

Pointing the way: Russell Brand at the Secret Policeman’s Ball at Radio City in New York

Secret Policeman's Ball: Stand-up and be counted

Russell Brand stole the show as American and British comics vied for laughs in New York

Gallery: In the face of discrimination

A photography exhibition opposing discrimination across Europe opens in Croatia this weekend. We showcase the inspirational pictures

One Libyan in three wants return to authoritarian rule

Almost a year after the start of the Libyan uprising that led to the ousting and killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, new research suggests more than a third of its citizens would rather return to being ruled by a strongman than embrace democracy.

Kate Allen: It's time for America to put an end to this shameful scandal

It is staggering to contemplate that the US government has perpetuated this injustice

Hundreds in London join day of action to support Arab Spring protesters

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in London yesterday to show solidarity with protesters in the Middle East and North Africa.

Album: Various artists, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan (Universal/Amnesty)

The temptation to cover the work of Bob Dylan has proven irresistible to successive generations of artists, so it's no surprise that this album – compiled to honour 50 years of Amnesty International – runs to 72 tracks and four discs.

2012 wrap stays despite Olympics resignation

The controversial fabric wrap around London's showpiece Olympic Stadium will stay despite the resignation of an ethics watchdog over the link between the Bhopal disaster and Dow Chemical Company, which is backing the hi-tech design, London 2012 said today.

Justus Nyang'aya: An important milestone, but the quest for justice should not stop here

Kenyans will only be able to close this regrettable chapter if all of the perpetrators are held to account

Leading article: Britain's reputation is in the dock over rendition

Questions have been raised about the UK's line between decency and realpolitik

China sentences rights activist Chen Wei to nine years in jail 

A Chinese court sentenced a veteran activist today to nine years in prison for inciting subversion, in what appears to be the most severe punishment handed down in a crackdown to prevent the spread of Arab Spring-style democratic uprisings.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there