Archive for the 'awards' Category

In memoriam Thich Quang Do, dissident monk in Vietnam

February 25, 2020

AFP reported on 23 February 2020 that Thich Quang Do, a dissident Buddhist monk who has effectively been under house arrest since 2003 has died at the age of 93. Head of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the vocal patriarch was born in 1928 in Thai Binh province and spent most of his life advocating for religious freedom and human rights in communist-run Vietnam. His staunch activism landed him under what was effectively house arrest in 2003 in Ho Chi Minh City, where he was under constant surveillance. Do died on Saturday night 22 February at Tu Hieu pagoda, UBCV announced on Sunday morning. According to his will signed on April 2019, Do requested a “simple funeral, not more than three days.” “After the cremation, my ashes will be scattered at sea,” said the statement quoting his will.

Do has long been a thorn on the side for communist-run Vietnam, and he has been nominated multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his vocal advocacy for democracy. In 2001, he wrote an “Appeal for Democracy” and also called on northern and southern dissidents to drop their cultural differences and unite in 2005. He received Norway’s Rafto human rights award the following year for “his personal courage and perseverance through three decades of peaceful opposition against the communist regime in Vietnam.” He also won a Hellmann/Hammett grant in 2001 and the Homo Homini award in 2002.

The UBVC has been banned since the early 1980s, when it refused to join the state-sanctioned Vietnam Buddhist Church.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/23/asia-pacific/vietnamese-dissident-monk-nobel-dies/#.XlUxREPgpTY

“luventa10”, sea rescue group, gets AI Germany’s human rights award

February 12, 2020

Hilfsorganisation Iuventa Jugend Rettet (picture alliance/dpa/Iuventa Jugend Rettet)

Amnesty International Germany has awarded its human rights prize to the “luventa10“, the crew members of a sea rescue ship that saved refugees stranded at sea. The activists currently face human trafficking charges in Italy. For more on this and similar awards: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/a-i-germanys-human-rights-award. This was announced on Tuesday.

In 16 operations between July 2016 and August 2017, the Iuventa crew allegedly helped rescue more than 14,000 people at sea, Amnesty said. Run by the German non-governmental organization Jugend Rettet (“Youth Rescues”), the Iuventa was confiscated by Italian authorities in Lampedusa in August 2017 under the suspicion that the organization was aiding illegal immigration and working with Libyan smugglers. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/15/european-governments-should-stop-treating-solidarity-and-compassion-as-a-crime/

Criminal investigations have been brought against ten ocean rescue activists from Germany, the UK, Spain, and Portugal, “even though all they’ve done is save humans from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea,” Amnesty said, explaining its reasoning behind the choice.

An Italian court has charged the activists with “aiding and abetting illegal immigration.” Markus Beeko, secretary-general for Amnesty International Germany, calls the charges “more than shaky.” Iuventa10 stands as an example of how those that help “are criminalized for not forsaking people fleeing their home countries in their moment of need,” the organization said. An awards ceremony will take place in Berlin on April 22.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/18/international-migrants-day-the-story-of-the-ocean-viking/

https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/22717/migrant-rescue-crew-of-iuventa-awarded-human-rights-prize

https://www.dw.com/en/amnesty-international-germany-awards-human-rights-prize-to-ocean-rescue-activists/a-52335304

Asma Jahangir memorial lecture at second anniversary of her death

February 12, 2020

At the second anniversary of her death, an ‘Asma Jahangir memorial lecture’ was held in Islamabad [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/11/asma-jahangir-one-of-the-worlds-most-outstanding-human-rights-defenders-dies-at-age-66/].

Human rights defender Rehman presented an overview of the human rights situation in Pakistan at the first ‘Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture’ held on Tuesday 12 February 2020. On this occasion he warmly recalled HRCP’s co-founder, remembering her as the ‘voice of sanity and compassion’. Rehman spoke about people’s fundamental right to ‘economic justice’. Citing examples ranging from bonded labourers and small farmers to lady health workers and journalists, he said that people’s economic rights – the ‘right to employment, and just and equitable conditions of work’ should not be subject to the “availability of resources.” He also reminded the government of their international commitments for political and civil rights.While the Constitution protected people’s social and economic wellbeing, said Rehman, it was critical to secure the substance of these rights, their availability to all citizens and their incremental expansion. “Economic justice must not, therefore, be sacrificed at the altar of national security,” he said. He reminded the audience that ‘all citizens of Pakistan’ had the right to economic justice, and that Asma Jahangir would not have stood quietly by in such a situation.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary-General Harris Khalique announced that the Commission was instituting the Asma Jahangir Award for Human Rights Defenders, and resuming the Nisar Osmani Award for Courage in Journalism and the I. A. Rehman Research Grant in Human Rights.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/612817-asma-jahangir-memorial-lecture-held

Ultranationalists attack human rights defenders, including Natasa Kandic, in Belgrade

February 7, 2020

Nataša Kandić, the founder of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), an NGO documenting human rights violations across the former Yugoslavia, along with five other human rights defenders, organized a protest against Vojislav Šešelj’s book launch. Although the International Criminal Tribunal of the UN found Vojislav Šešelj guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to ten years in prison in 2018, today he is the leader of the Serb Radical Party (SRS), and a member of Serbian parliament. At the book launch on 5 February 2020, he was promoting his latest book, in which he denies the Srebrenica genocide. The protesters were physically attacked and removed from the event by force.

The human rights defenders (members of the HLC, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, and Forum ZFD) intended to hand out copies of an HLC report detailing Serbian war crimes committed against Croats, documents that had a crucial role in Šešelj’s Hague trial as well. Speaking to the Belgrade office of Radio Free Europe, Nataša Kandić said that they were pushed to the ground and kicked by SRS members following an order coming from Šešelj, the party’s leader. Ivana Žanić, executive director of HLC, shared a video showing this on her Twitter channel.

The founder of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC), along with five other activists of HLC, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YiHR) and Forum ZFD, was physically assaulted by members of the far-right Serbian Radical Party at an event promoting books which deny genocide and crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia.

The human rights activists attempted to distribute a HLC report detailing war crimes committed against Croats in the Vojvodina province when they were confronted by supporters of the Radical party . On orders of the party’s president, convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj, they proceeded to push, hit and verbally abuse the activists; violently forcing them out of the public hall.

The attack took place at the premises of the municipality Stari Grad in Belgrade, which is a public space, yet no staff or security personnel attempted to intervene to prevent the confrontation.

Natasa Kandic is the recipient of many (eight) human rights awards including the Martin Ennals Award in 1999 the first award by Civil Rights Defenders 2013. Its Director for Europe, Goran Miletic, commented “it is very concerning that time and again, every discussion on Serbia’s involvement in war crimes during the nineties is met with violent abuse and harassment. Events promoting genocide-denial are completely unacceptable in any democratic society, let alone an aspiring EU member state. Not only should public authorities not provide public spaces for such manifestations, but they should take an active position against the promotion of war criminals.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/natasa-kandic/

http://www.osaarchivum.org/press-room/announcements/ultranationalists-attacked-natasa-kandic

Attack Against Civil Rights Defender of the Year Recipient Natasa Kandic in Belgrade

 

Tajikistan’s jailed human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov awarded Homo Homini award 2020

February 7, 2020

Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov (file photo)
Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov (file photo)

The Prague-based NGO People in Need has awarded its annual Homo Homini prize to Tajikistan’s jailed human rights defender Buzurgmehr Yorov for his “commitment to defending basic human rights and to assure a fair trial to all citizens” of his country.  For more on this and similar awards, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/homo-homini-award.

Yorov has been promoting human rights in Tajikistan for many years despite facing severe persecution as a result of his work. He did not hesitate to defend clients who were targeted by politically motivated charges, whose cases other lawyers were not willing to take,” the NGO said on 5 February 2020. “As a result of doing his job, this prominent lawyer lost both his property and his freedom,”.

Yorov was sentenced in October 2016 on charges of issuing public calls for the overthrow of the government and inciting social unrest. His 23-year prison term was later extended by five years after he was found guilty of contempt of court and insulting a government official. Last year, his prison term was cut by six years as part of a mass amnesty. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/29/in-tajikistan-lawyers-have-to-be-human-rights-defenders/]

The Homo Homini Award will be presented on March 5 to his brother, Jamshed Yorov, at the opening of the One World Film Festival, a human rights film festival held annually in the Czech Republic.

https://www.rferl.org/a/jailed-tajik-lawyer-yorov-awarded-homo-homini-human-rights-prize/30418801.html

German opera comes to its senses and rescinds award ceremony for General Sisi

February 5, 2020

The Semper Opera House in Dresden, Germany (AFP
The Middle East Eye correspondent reported on 4 February 2020 that an annual awards ceremony at the Semper Opera House in Germany’s Dresden has been cancelled after the decision to grant Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi a presitigious prize created a public relations crisis.

Sisi, the general-turned-president who is a chief architect of serious human rights violations [for just a few examples, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/], was set to receive the Order of St George at the Semper Opera Ball on Friday. It is awarded to “those who have, like St. George, been a force for good in the world, despite all opposition – those who swim against the current.

Though the Semper Opera Ball will go ahead, hosting 2,500 guests, its PR agency Zastrow + Zastrow told Middle East Eye that the award ceremony traditionally accompanying it has been scrapped. Sisi, however, has already been handed the prize. A delegation from the Opera Ball Association, led by its director Hans-Joachim Frey, visited Cairo on 26 January and presented the award to Sisi at the presidential palace. News about the award quickly sparked a backlash against the event and its organisers.

At the time, Frey defended the award as a token of appreciation for what he described as Sisi’s role in restoring stability and peace to Egypt and Africa. But that characterisation has been denounced by human rights defenders. On Tuesday, Vanessa Ullrich, an expert at Amnesty International Germany, told MEE that those granting Sisi an award have a “responsibility to carefully consider who is the right person to honour in public and who is being called an outstanding bridge-builder and peacemaker”.

MDR, the main broadcaster of the event, condemned the award as “wrong”, saying the media organisation had no influence on the decision. The network’s entertainment chief, Peter Dreckmann, promised his team would not broadcast any part of the event that features Sisi’s award.

Multiple celebrities who had been invited to the ball have also distanced themselves from the event, in the aftermath of what German media described as a “scandal”. The latest were German billionaire Dietmar Hopp and former Bayern FC president Uli Hoeness.

Hopp, who was due to be awarded the same medal as Sisi, said on Tuesday he has turned down the award. Hoeness, who had been chosen to present the award to Hopp, has also followed suit, according to the German press agency DPA. The gala’s main host, prominent TV anchor Judith Rakers, announced on Wednesday she was pulling out altogether, complaining the Semper Opera Ball had been turned into a political event. Following Rakers’ withdrawal, her nominated replacement Mareile Hoppner also announced her rejection of the role. She cited the “very justified criticism of the selection of a prize winner”.

In response to the outcry, Frey apologised for the award. “We are aware of the irritation that has arisen and we sincerely regret it,” he said in a statement. “We would like to apologise for the award ceremony and distance ourselves from it. The award ceremony was a mistake.” Frey also said the award will not be part of the Semper Opera Ball programme, “in word or picture”.

Despite Frey’s apology, public figures have continued to pull out of the event. Dresden’s mayor was among those who denounced the honour.  “It is inconceivable for me how this honour has come about and which criteria were followed,” Mayor Dirk Hilbert said. “I am reserving the right to decide whether I will appear officially in the programme as I have done before, and whether I will take part in the ball with my guests.

Still, It was not immediately clear whether the award will be reversed. Sisi is not attending the gala.

[ The Award Committee seems to have problems in slecting winners anyway: In 2009, the Order of St George was controversially awarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Three years ago it was handed to Saudi Arabia’s Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman].

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/german-opera-crisis-over-sisi-award

Manusher Jonno Foundation honours 10 unsung rights defenders in Bangladesh

January 19, 2020

The Bangladesh Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) honoured 10 individuals who worked silently for protecting human rights, such as preventing child marriage and violence against women and marginalised communities, at different parts of the country. The organisation handed over the awards titled “Manusher Jonno Human Rights Awards 2020” at a ceremony in Dhaka.

The awardees are: Beli Begum of Gaibandha; Rehana Begum and Maloti Rani of Dinajpur; Saleha Begum, Halima Khatun and Nurjahan Begum of Kushtia; Khairuzzaman Monnu of Sirajganj; Anowara Begum of Kishoreganj; Hedayetul Aziz of Brahmanbaria and Chanchal Kanti Chakma of Khagrachhari. Rights activists urged the government to give more emphasis on protecting rights and ensuring justice for poor and marginalised communities. They also demanded more budget allocation in this sector, according to a press release.

About the awardees, MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said these 10 individuals stood up for what is right. “They are working selflessly without any concern for recognition or rewards to build a just and humane society,” she and announced tshe will continue efforts to honour such unsung heroes. [for a previous event: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/01/28/young-human-rights-defenders-honored-by-awards-in-bangladesh/]

Judith Herbertson, country representative of DFID Bangladesh, said the struggle to protect, promote and strengthen human rights is real and constant. “Where human rights are not adequately protected, there follows a cycle of insecurity, instability, suffering, and poverty. Human rights are more than just principles enshrined in international law. They are the bedrock of successful and progressive societies,” she said.

After the award-giving ceremony,  several discussions on various topics — including global context of human rights and inclusion of marginalised people in national politics — were held. Distinguished personalities, researchers, NGO officials, politicians and several hundred rights activists from across the country took part in the discussions, added the press release.

https://www.thedailystar.net/city/news/mjf-honours-10-unsung-rights-defenders-1854313

Amani Ballour, Syrian paediatrician, awarded the Council of Europe’s Raoul Wallenberg Prize

January 16, 2020

© Stine Heilmann

Amani Ballour © Stine Heilmann

Dr. Amani Ballour, a paediatrician from Syria who ran an underground hospital in Eastern Ghouta in 2012-2018 and is now a refugee in Turkey, has been awarded the Council of Europe’s Raoul Wallenberg Prize for her personal courage, bravery and commitment in saving hundreds of lives during the Syrian war. For more on this and two other awards with Wallenberg in their name, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/raoul-wallenberg-prize-council-of-europe]

Human rights and personal dignity are not a peacetime luxury. Dr. Amani Ballour is a shining example of the empathy, virtue and honour that can flourish even in the worst circumstances: in the midst of war and suffering,” said Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe On 15 January 2020

A young paediatrician just out of university, Dr Ballour started as a volunteer helping the wounded and ended up, several years later, managing a team of some 100 staff members at the subterranean hospital, the ‘Cave’, in her hometown near the Syrian capital. “The Cave became a beacon of hope and safety for many besieged civilians. There, Dr Ballour risked her own safety and security to help those in the greatest need. She and others acted day after day to save the lives of so many people, including children suffering the effects of chemical weapons,” the Secretary General added.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/syrian-doctor-who-ran-underground-children-s-hospital-receives-wallenberg-prize

Call for nominations for the 2020 Rafto Prize

January 15, 2020

Rafto

The Bergen-based Rafto Foundation encourages everyone with an interest in or knowledge of human rights to make a nomination for the 2020 Rafto Prize. Read more about the formal criteria and how to nominate online at Rafto.no. (see link below).  Deadline for nominations is 1st February.  For more on this and similar awards go to: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/rafto-prize .

The dates for the 2020 Rafto Prize events are:

  • Announcement of the Rafto Prize: 24 September
  • The Rafto Conference: 7 November
  • The Award Ceremony: 8 November.

For last year, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/26/the-rafto-prize-2019-to-refugee-rights-defender-rouba-mhaissen-from-syria/

https://www.rafto.no/the-rafto-prize-1/nominasjoner

Malala Yousafzai, a lot more awards than the UN thinks

January 13, 2020

On 27 Pakistani human rights defender Malala Yousafzai has been declared as “the most famous teenager in the world” by the United Nations in the ‘Decade in Review‘ report of the UN. In recognition of her efforts for children’s rights which started before she was shot in the head by Taliban militants, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. According to the UN review reportThe attack made waves around the world and was widely condemned. On Human Rights Day that year, a special tribute to Malala was held at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, pushing for action to ensure every girl’s right to go to school, and to advance girls’ education as an urgent priority,”.

Malala’s activism and profile have only grown since the assassination attempt. She won several high-profile awards, including the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (alongside Indian social reformer Kailash Satyarthi), and became a UN Messenger of Peace in 2017, with a special focus on girls’ education,” the report added. Recently the 22-year-old was also chosen by Teen Vogue as its cover person for its last issue of the decade.

Just to make sure the record is correct, Malala has in fact received at least the following 10 awards:

2013   Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards

2013   Index on Censorship Awards

2013   Simone de Beauvoir Prize

2013   Tipperary Peace Prize

2013   Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

2013   Ambassador of Conscience Award

2013   Anna Politkovskaya Award

2014   Franklin Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award

2014   Nobel Peace Prize

2014   Liberty Medal

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/12/1053481

 

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai declared as “the most famous teenager in the world”: UN