Archive for the 'awards' Category

NEW: Rule of law and human rights in Cuba and Venezuela and EU engagement

December 15, 2018

On 11 December 2018 the European Parliament published “Rule of law and human rights in Cuba and Venezuela and EU engagement”, done by external authors Par ENGSTROM and Giulia BONACQUISTI. 

The European Parliament (EP) has consistently followed the situation in Cuba and Venezuela. It has expressed its support for human rights defenders and democracy with the award of the Sakharov prize to Cuban activists on three occasions (2002, 2005, 2010), and to Venezuela’s Democratic Opposition in 2017 [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/27/european-parliaments-sakharov-prize-awarded-to-venezuela-opposition/]. In line with this engagement, a workshop on human rights and rule of law in both countries was held on 6 September 2018, in Brussels, at the request of the EP’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI). Dr. Par Engstrom (University College London) presented the first draft of an independent study analysing the main human rights developments in Cuba and Venezuela since 2014 and the EU’s response. The paper, which focused specifically on the Sakharov laureates, was discussed with Members and other experts, including from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European External Action Service and the European Commission. During the lively discussion, there was broad agreement with the description of major trends in the human rights situation in the two countries. Critical comments and controversial issues related to the impact of the government’s repression of the Venezuelan opposition, the need to consider not only civil and political but also economic and social rights, the effectiveness of sanctions against Venezuela and the potential role of the Sakharov Prize. Observations and comments made during the workshop fed into the final version of the study, which is also included in this report.

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/search.html?word=Venezuela

Call for Nominations Front Line Defenders Award 2019 – priority for LGBTI

December 13, 2018

Front Line Defenders Award.jpg
“We live in dark times. It seems we are assailed daily with fresh atrocities. Welcome to a celebration of the courage of those who bring light and love to our world.” Andrew Anderson, Executive Director

Front Line Defenders is currently accepting nominations for the 2019 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. As 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the seminal Stonewall uprising which led to the global movement of LGBT+ Pride marches the 2019 Front Line Defenders Award will prioritise honouring the work of human rights defenders at risk working to defend and advance the rights of the LGBT+ community. [for more on this and other awards for human rights defenders, see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/front-line-defenders-award-for-human-rights-defenders-at-risk %5D

If you would like to nominate a HRD working on LGBT+ rights for the 2019 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, please follow this link to the secure online nomination form: 2019 Front Line Defenders Award Nomination Form

Please note that the nomination process will remain open until 11:59pm GMT on Friday, 5th January 2019.

For last year’s award: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/2018-front-line-defenders-award-human-rights-defenders-risk

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https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/front-line-defenders-award

Call for Nominations: Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2019 and the Special Prize

December 7, 2018

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is pleased to announce the call for 2019 nominations for the following Prizes:

1. The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 50,000 USD.
2. The Special Prize of the GPHR (SPGPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 10,000 USD.

Since 2000, the Foundation has been bestowing the ‘Gwangju Prize for Human Rights’ to individuals, groups and institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work. Last year’s: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/18/award-winning-bersih-2-0-saw-speech-censored-by-taiwan-award-giver/

See also: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/gwangju-prize-for-human-rights

SPGPHR is for an individual or an organization that has contributed to the promotion of democracy and human rights through cultural activities, journalism, and in academic fields.  These prizes are awarded by the citizens of Gwangju in the spirit of solidarity and gratitude to those who have helped them in their struggle for democratization and their search for truth. It is hoped that through this award, the spirit and message of May 18 will be immortalized in the hearts and minds of humankind.

Selection of the GPHR and SPGPHR

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates and the choice of the GPHR and the SPGPHR laureates. The selection committee is composed of seven members who are designated by the May 18 Memorial Foundation’s Articles of Association. The rest of the procedure will abide by the Articles of Association.

Deadline: December 31, 2018 (by 24:00 Korea time)

Required Submission Documents
i) Nomination Form (Download the attachment)
ii) Two ID Pictures (paste them on the designated spots)
iii) Other materials that can substantiate your activities and eligibility for the award
iv) How & to Whom: Via E-mail to gwangjuprize@gmail.com

Submission Confirmation
E-mail confirming the receipt and validity of the submitted nomination will be sent out to the nominator once the submission is complete.


For more information, please visit http://eng.518.org/ or email to gwangjuprize@gmail.com.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/01/asian-peoples-charter-for-human-rights-needs-updating/

Emirates (Mansoor) and UK (Hedges): finally someone made the point

December 6, 2018

On 4 December 2018 Jonathan Emmett wrote in a post about something that I had been wondering for weeks: “Are UK authors only prepared to defend the rights of people like themselves?”. Totally correct:

Read the rest of this entry »

SAVE THE DATE: Martin Ennals Award 2019 – Wednesday 13 February

December 5, 2018

On Wednesday 13 February 2019, at 18:00 the Ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders will take place at the Salle communale de Plainpalais, Geneva. The City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation invite you to attend and register now on the Martin Ennals Award’s website. The ceremony is organized with the support of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

The 2019 finalists [for more information see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/24/breaking-news-ennals-award-announces-its-3-finalists-for-2019/]

Eren Keskin (Turkey) is a lawyer who has been fighting for the rights of women, Kurds and the LGBTI community for over thirty years. She has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in March 2018, but is free while her case is under appeal.

Abdul Aziz Muhamat (Sudan) has been detained by Australia for 5 years in a detention centre for asylum seekers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. He is a strong advocate for the rights of asylum seekers. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/04/mea-nominee-aziz-abdul-muhamat-suffers-under-australias-endless-detention-policy/]

Marino Cordoba (Colombia) is an activist fighting for the political recognition and rights of the Afro-Colombian community, many of whom have been dispossessed of their land for the benefit of mining and forestry companies.

The laureate will be selected from among these three 2019 finalists:

The jury: The finalists and laureate are selected by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, made up of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, FIDH, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Front Line Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists, Brot für die Welt, the International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.

Screening of documentaries on the finalists and reception

Short documentaries on the life of these finalists will be screened for the first time, giving a glimpse of their fight and the particularly difficult conditions in which they work. The evening will conclude with a reception hosted by the City of Geneva, allowing the 2019 finalists, the Geneva community of human rights and the public to exchange in an informal setting. Last year’s film portrait of the laureate can be seen here.

The 2019 Martin Ennals Award on social media:

– its Facebook event

– on Twitter: @martinennals #Ennals2019

Li Wenzu – wife of Wang Quanzhang – wins 2018 Edelstam award

December 5, 2018

On 27 November, 2018 Li Wenzu, Chinese ‘709’ campaigner won the Edelstam human rights award [see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/edelstam-prize]

Li is barred from leaving the country, so at Tuesday night’s ceremony, the organisers could only air a recorded video message from Li and present the award on Li’s behalf to Yuan Weijing, wife of the exiled and blind Chinese legal campaigner Chen Guangcheng. It was the first time the Edelstam Prize, named after Swedish diplomat Harald Edelstam, was awarded to a Chinese person.
Li Wenzu is the wife of detained human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang. She was barred from  leaving China after her high-profile 170km march from Beijing to Tianjin in April, when she petitioned to visit the husband she has not seen since his arrest in the summer of 2015. Wang, now 42, was among the 300 lawyers and legal activists taken by the Chinese government during a crackdown that began on July 9, 2015. Critics said the campaign was an effort to silence China’s human rights defenders. In the aftermath of what became known as the “709” crackdown, Li and other spouses of detainees formed a support group and began campaigning for their release. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/]

When I heard the news of the award, I was nervous because I felt that in China there were so many people who worked hard for the 709 case, and their achievements were far greater than mine. Everything that I’ve done is just what I should do. I don’t deserve this award. So thanks to everyone for the encouragement and recognition,” Li said on Wednesday. “Every 709 family is now facing problems,” she said. “For example, the lawyers who have been released are still strictly controlled by the authorities. They are almost unable to work normally. Without income, family life is a big problem.

Second, the released lawyers need a long time to recover because of the torture, the physical and mental damage [they have suffered]. In the process, I think it was very important for lawyers to be reunited with their family members. Therefore, the 709 families and wives did not return to an easy life when their husbands came home,” she said.

Most of the 709 detainees were released, but several were jailed. Only Wang, who was charged with subverting state power in February 2017, remains behind bars in Tianjin awaiting trial. In her video message for the Edelstam ceremony, Li voiced her fears for her husband: “Only Wang Quanzhang remains in extended detention. I am really worried and afraid that he might never leave jail in his lifetime”. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/30/rsdl-chinas-legalization-of-disappearances/]

Caroline Edelstam, the founder and president of the Edelstam Foundation, said Li “has continued advocating, beyond her personal interest, for the principles of rule of law and democracy in China, and campaigned not only for her husband’s release but also for the freedom of all the victims of violations of human rights in China”.

MEA nominee Aziz Abdul Muhamat suffers under Australia’s endless detention policy

December 4, 2018

 wrote for Al-Jazeera about “Manus and the deepening despair of Australia’s endless detention policy”, saying that fellow refugees are the only lifeline for men who wonder whether they will ever escape the remote Pacific island where they have been held for more than five years under Australia’s harsh off-shore detention policies. His focus is on MEA nominee Aziz Abdul Muhamat [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/finalists-mea-2019/]. As interviews with this man are difficult to come by, here the full story:

Aziz Abdul Muhamat has been supporting his fellow refugees on remote Manus Island. He's now been nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award [Bill Code/Al Jazeera]
Aziz Abdul Muhamat has been supporting his fellow refugees on remote Manus Island. He’s now been nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award [Bill Code/Al Jazeera]

Manus Island, Papua New Guinea – Aziz Abdul Muhamat had agreed to meet me for an interview near the East Lorengau refugee transit centre at eight in the morning. The 25-year-old Sudanese man is a nominee for a global human rights prize – the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award – for his advocacy work on behalf of his fellow refugees on Manus Island. He has been a refugee on this remote Pacific island, part of Papua New Guinea, for more than five-and-a-half years.

But Muhamat wasn’t answering messages. Later, I would learn that it was because he’d been up until the early hours, giving words of hope to desperate men – men who have been self-harming. Men have been dousing themselves in petrol. Men suffering from depression, grief and anxiety, marooned on an island and withdrawn deep inside themselves.

‘Transition centres’

As of October, there were around 500 male refugees remaining on Manus. Perhaps another 100 were asylum seekers whose bid to be recognised as refugees had failed. Getting precise data on them – and whether they have moved to the capital, Port Moresby – from Australia’s government has been consistently hard for years. Luck was not on the side of these men when they tried to get to Australia from Indonesia, coming face-to-face with a new Australian policy to halt boat arrivals once and for all – and, according to the government, stop deaths at sea. From 2013, authorities began intercepting boats and taking those on board to Australia’s Christmas Island. Eventually, the refugees were flown to Manus or the tiny republic of Nauru. With the agreement of the government in Port Moresby, it was decided that the men on Manus would be housed in an Australian navy base. The detention centre was shut in late 2017 – its last remaining men violently ejected and moved on to “transition centres” – after a large cohort spent several weeks resisting the power, water, food and medicine cuts, gaining a sizeable amount of media coverage. For many, though, the only transition was to a deeper state of despair.

Muhamat was at the forefront of the refusal to leave the centre, borne from a glimpse of freedom when the men were suddenly reminded of the power that came from being able to make their own decisions on when to shower or sleep. “I never felt that I’m free in five-and-a-half years, except those 24 days,” he said. “I felt that people are calling my name, ‘Aziz’, instead of Q and K and zero, zero two.

Suicide attempts

Australia closed its main detention camp on Manus Island a year ago and the men now live in ‘transition centres’ with only rudimentary support; those at the East Lorengau centre protested against the conditions last month [Al Jazeera]

Having been moved from the prison-like detention centre, the refugees are now in poorly-serviced camps which they are free to leave. But most stay put. A much-vaunted “US deal” to allow these refugees to settle in the United States is their remaining hope, but for many, it is fading fast. More than 400 people formerly held in Nauru – where Australia detained families and children – and Manus Island have already been resettled in the US  The ones I’ve spoken to have jobs, rented apartments, cars – in short, new lives. Of course, they’re still scarred from their time in detention, but they’re off the islands. 

But many Iranians, Sudanese, Somalis and others are simply not being accepted by the administration of President Donald Trump under the deal struck by the government of his predecessor, Barack Obama. They have either been outright rejected, or have applied for resettlement and spent the year in vain waiting for replies.

A mental health crisis grips the remaining men. Suicide attempts and self-harm are rife. As the stress and anxiety increase, men like Muhamat and the Kurdish-Iranian writer Behrouz Bouchani continue to work round-the-clock providing impromptu counselling to their grief-stricken friends and counterparts. Australia’s government has repeatedly promised that these men will “never” settle in Australia, lest “people smugglers” begin selling their product once more. The hope that came with news of the so-called US deal has for some become an unbearable disappointment. 

In the face of that, I’m struck at the incredible strength of character on display by many of the young men I met. “We tell these men, we give them false hope for them to go and sleep,” Muhamat said one afternoon as we sat in my hotel room. “We do it because we want to keep them positive, we want to keep them alive.” When asked if he needed to head back at any time to deal with the desperate messages coming up on his phone, he replied: “It’s OK, Behrouz is there.” 

The despair is as great as at any time in the past five-and-a-half years. For Muhamat, the day-to-day ritual of helping others over the years – liaising with journalists and lawyers, teaching English to other refugees, talking friends out of self-harm and suicide – has been part and parcel of survival. “As long as what I’m doing, people are getting a benefit out of it, I don’t actually feel that pressure,” Muhamat said. At the time of writing, a newly-elected independent member of parliament from Sydney is attempting to get a bill through the parliament which would see the evacuation of psychologically or physically ill men from Manus.

But glimmers of hope come and go on Manus. Later, I see a message from a refugee reporting a man’s attempted suicide, his second in two days. After he fails to hang himself, he tries another desperate act – overdosing on tablets and drinking shampoo.

https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2018/12/manus-deepening-despair-australia-endless-detention-policy-181203070732724.html

Women Human Rights Defenders in Georgia honored with national award

December 4, 2018

On the 30 November, the Kato Mikeladze Awards were held in Georgia to celebrate women’s rights activists in Georgia.

It is not just in Kenya that national human rights award play a role [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/03/human-rights-defenders-in-kenya-honored-with-national-awards/]. In Georgia the Kato Mikeladze Awards recognize women human rights defenders. The Kato Mikeladze award celebrates a young generation of human rights defenders who work to advance gender equality. Nominees included 14 young civic leaders, journalists, researchers and entrepreneurs who advocate for sexual and reproductive rights, gender equality in education, the elimination of gender-based violence and the rights of migrants and minority groups.

Ida Bakhturidze, civic activist and one of the founders of the platform Women from Georgia, received the award in recognition of her achievements in supporting women’s rights and gender equality.

We salute our award winners and nominees for their courage in standing up for equal rights,” stated Louisa Vinton, head of the UN system in Georgia. Stressing the importance for young champions for women’s rights, Nana Pantsulaia, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund in Georgia stated “Georgian women are becoming more vocal across all spheres of life. They make their voice heard in politics, economic activities, education and human rights protection.” Nonetheless, there is still a large deficit of female representation in parliament and many areas of public life in Georgia.

http://georgiatoday.ge/news/13533/Kato-Mikeladze-Awards-Recognizes-Women’s-Rights-Activists-

Human Rights Defenders in Kenya honored with national awards

December 3, 2018

Kenya is one of the few countries with a fully developed system of national awards for human rights defenders. They are organized by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya and the Working Group on Human Defenders. A ceremony was held on 1 December 2018 at the residence of the Belgium ambassador.

A panel of eminent Kenyans chaired by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has honoured rights activist Okiya Omtatah with a Lifetime Achivement award. Omtatah also scooped the Popular Vote award in the annual ceremony.

Anastacia Nambo and Is’shaq Abubakar were awarded the 2018 Human Rights Defender of the year award:

Ms Nambo from Mombasa is a mother, a preacher and an avid advocate of environmental rights. She started her human rights work in 2009 when the Metal Refinery was established in the Uhuru Owino slums. The adverse effects of the metal refinery led to active advocacy and lobbying by Nambo and her community. Threats and attacks. Their struggle bore fruit in 2014 when the refinery was closed. She has endured verbal attacks, threats through texts and attempts to break into her home and had to seek refuge in Uganda.

Is’shaq, a public relations manager working with indigenous communities in Lamu, is a human rights defender on environmental rights issues. He co-founded Save Lamu, an umbrella of CBOs established in Lamu in the onset of the Lapsset project. Save Lamu teaches the community on the environmental impact of the Lapset project and seeks legal redress for the locals. His work has earned him threats and police harassment which he has overcome through strategic partnerships with mainstream organisations like the NCHRD, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). Receiving his award, he said it will legitimise his work and encourage other human rights advocates in Lamu.

Christine Kandie won the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year award. Kandie fights for the land rights of Endorois women and is the programme’s officer for the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC). She represented her community at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) session in 2011.

The objective of the awards is to honour extraordinary work of human rights defenders who face a myriad of challenges in their calling.  “The award ceremony is a special occasion for these courageous individuals who do excellent work within our community,” said National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Executive Director Kanau Ngugi.

Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001304811/human-rights-guardians-feted-ahead-of-day-of-human-rights-celebrations

Call for Nominations for the Robert F. Kennedy Award 2019

November 22, 2018

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award honors an individual or group of individuals who stand up to oppression at grave personal risk in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights. Since inception, the Human Rights Award has honored activists from 30 countries [ or more on this and other awards, see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/robert-f-kennedy-human-rights-award]. All submissions must be received by January 31, 2019.