Breaking News: Alejandra Ancheita is the 2014 MEA Laureate

October 7, 2014

AlejandraTM4M1713The Martin Ennals Foundation just announced in Geneva – during a ceremony broadcast live on the internet – that the MEA Laureate of 2014 is  Alejandra Ancheita from Mexico. She was selected by a Jury representing the broad international Human Rights movement (see below).

Alejandra Ancheita is the founding Director of ProDESC. For over 15 years she has worked with migrants, workers, and indigenous communities to protect their land and labour rights vis-a-vis transnational mining and energy companies. These disputes have included violent attacks on those she is trying to protect. She is also one of the pioneers in seeking accountability for transnational companies in Mexican courts when local communities’ rights are not taken into account. In Mexico, there is a clear pattern of attacks, threats, criminalization, and murders of human rights defenders. Ms Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, a defamation campaign in the national media, and a break in at their offices.

Martin Ennals Foundation Chair Micheline Calmy-Rey stated “ Alejandra Ancheita’s selection by the jury highlights the array of forces facing human rights defenders. Local governments and courts in working with powerful economic interests have led to public defamation and physical attacks.”

Sandrine Salerno, City Councilor, responsible for international coöperation added, “Through the Martin Ennals Award, and through these three Nominees, the City of Geneva wants to recognize Human Rights Defenders everywhere. Today we think of all those who put their lives and freedom at risk.

The two other finalists received Martin Ennals Prizes:

Cao Shunli (China): She died in Chinese custody on 14 March 2014 after being denied medical attention for known health conditions until too late. Since 2008, she advocated for access to information, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. This is a tragic example of reprisals suffered by human rights defenders who work with international human rights mechanisms. The Jury expressed in a special message their sorrow and anger about her death and hope that she will be remembered. The Chair of the Jury  asked for one-minute applause to celebrate her life and contribution. The money that comes with her award will go to a special foundation in her name.

Adilur Rahman Khan (Bangladesh), Since the 1990’s, he and his organization Odhikar have worked on human rights issues such as illegal detention, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial killings. They face closure since Donor funds destined for Odhikar are being blocked by the Prime Minister’s Office. Personally he is facing prosecution for documenting the extrajudicial deaths of 61 people during demonstrations.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide. The Jury is composed of the following NGOs:

  • Amnesty International,
  • Human Rights Watch,
  • Human Rights First,
  • FIDH – Int’l Federation for Human Rights,
  • OMCT – World Organisation Against Torture
  • Front Line Defenders
  • International Commission of Jurists,
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung
  • HURIDOCS

Electronic version with Video portrait: http://bit.ly/QoZniC

For further innew MEA_logo with textformation, please contact: Michael Khambatta, Martin Ennals Foundation, Tel .     +41 79 474 8208,Email   khambatta[at]martinennalsaward.org

Web:  www.martinennalsaward.org for press releases in other languages.

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