Archive for the 'awards' Category

Angela Davis and Birmingham human rights award: reversal reversed…

February 22, 2019

Angela Davis speaks at press conference during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 10, 2012. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports on 25 January 2019 that Angela Davis will in the end be honored by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award), after first rescinding its award to Davis allegedly due in part to complaints from Jewish leaders. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/08/birmingham-civil-rights-institute-in-alabama-rescinds-honor-for-political-activist-angela-davis/]

“This update follows a BCRI Board of Directors January 14 public apology for its missteps in conferring, then rescinding, its nomination of Dr. Angela Y. Davis in early January,” the institute said Friday in a statement.

(Davis wrote that her pro-Palestinian activism was the reason for the original withdrawal, as did Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. But local Jewish leaders declined to comment, and no concrete evidence emerged that Jewish complaints were the deciding factor. Three BCRI board members resigned over the controversy. On Friday, Richard Friedman, the executive director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, told JTA he was “digesting the implications” of the reversal. His federation had previously praised the decision to rescind the award.)

Davis also is controversial for declining to speak out on behalf of dissidents in communist-era Europe.

https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/angela-davis-will-get-award-as-birmingham-civil-rights-body-reverses-course-again

Call for nominations MEA 2020 (deadline 26 March 2019)

February 22, 2019

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

 CALL FOR NOMINATIONS – 2020 

 

The award aims to recognize individuals, or exceptionally an organisation, who are working in conditions hostile to fundamental human rights, are at risk, and in need of protection. 

For more information on this and other awards for human rights defenders, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders

 

 

 Nominees must be currently active in the promotion and protection of human rights. 

 Nominations are welcome from all regions, genders, and human rights related themes. We take a broad view of what a human rights defender is. Nominations of women are particularly encouraged. 

 Special account is taken of those who combat human rights violations by courageous and innovative means. 

Three finalists are selected and will be announced in October 2019. The laureate is selected from among them, and all three are invited to participate in the ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva, in February 2020. 

Submit a nomination at:  http://www.martinennalsaward.org/nominate-candidate-2020-martin-ennals-award/ 

Deadline: 26 March 2019

Aziz: thank you for the attention but now I have go back to detention…

February 18, 2019

Last Wednesday, 13 February 2019, Abdul Aziz Muhamat was awarded the 2019 Martin Ennals Award for human rights defender in Geneva. Some time earlier Behrouz Boochani was awarded the Australian Victorian Prize for Literature. What they have in common is that they are detained – for almost 6 years – on Manus Island under Australia’s off-shore refugee policy.  Their stories testify to the cruelty of this regime and the humanitarian deficiency of a country that claims a strong liberal tradition and is itself a nation based on immigration. Successive governments have defended this policy as necessary to stop trafficking although it is hard to see how forced stays of such length would attract anybody except the most desperate refugees. And anyway even those recognized as refugees would not be allowed to settle in Australia!

Aziz’ impassioned acceptance speech in Geneva, spoke of the solidarity he feels for his fellow detainees in the face of daily humiliating and degrading treatment. Therefore he vowed to return to his detention centre in the Pacific, return to be a number (“On the island, officials refer to me as QNK002. I have no identity other than that number“). See:

Read the rest of this entry »

One million $ for Waris Dirie and her fight against FGM

February 17, 2019

Some prizes come with serious money such as the 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize. On 9 February, 2019 PRNewswire reported that Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, co-founder of the Korean Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) awarded one million dollars (USD) to this year’s Sunhak Peace Prize laureates, Waris Dirie and Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, as part of her philanthropic work. The biennial award honors individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the peace and welfare of future generations. The award ceremony took place on 9 February 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.

Waris Dirie, model and human rights activist, brought the violence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on the world stage by raising FGM as an international human rights issue and assisting in passing a UN resolution banning its practice. The Sunhak Committee acknowledged Waris Dirie’s achievements in advocating for the rights of millions of women and girls in Africa.

Thank you for your recognition. Thank you for everything that comes with it, this beautiful peace prize. It’s all I dreamed [of] as a child. All I wanted was peace and to receive this, this is a great gift to me…You giving me a peace prize, it’s because I believe in peace,” stated Ms. Dirie during the press conference.

As a victim of FGM herself, having been circumcised at the tender age of five in Somalia, she quit a successful career as a supermodel and dedicated the past 25 years to making FGM a recognized worldwide human rights crisis. She served as UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation from 1997 to 2003.

Her advocacy focuses on education as the fundamental key to eradicating FGM and empowering women and girls to have the knowledge they need to protect themselves. She emphasizes the fact that until women have equal respect, there cannot be lasting peace. In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation, an organization aimed at raising awareness of the dangers surrounding FGM. The Foundation raises money for schools and clinics in her native Somalia and supports the Zeitz Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable development and conservation. She also runs FGM reconstruction surgery centers in Europe. In January 2009, she started the PPR Foundation for Women’s Dignity and Rights, an organization founded along with French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek.

http://www.familyfed.org/

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2019-sunhak-peace-prize-awarded-to-waris-dirie-300792771.html

Breaking news: MEA 2019 goes to Sudanese refugee activist caught up in Australia’s off-shore detention policy

February 13, 2019

The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders just announced that the 2019 Laureate is Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee activist being effectively detained on Manus island in Papua New Guinea as part of Australia‘s controversial policy of deterring arrivals. Read the rest of this entry »

Dan David Prize for Defending Democracy to Reporters Without Borders and Michael Ignatieff

February 8, 2019

The internationally Dan David Prize annually awards three prizes of US $1 million each to outstanding figures and organizations whose efforts have made outstanding humanistic, scientific and technological contributions and represent remarkable achievement in selected fields within the three dimensions of time – Past, Present and Future. This year’s fields were: Macro History, Defending Democracy, and Combatting Climate Change.

On 6 February 2019 WEBWIRE reported that the  Laureates in the “Present” dimension, in the field of Defending Democracy, are: Reporters Without Borders, an international organization helping to sustain the freedom of the press across national boundaries; and Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest.

Reporters Without Borders, also known under its French name Reporters sans frontières (RSF), defends freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism. It monitors government policies regarding the press and other media, and provides material, financial and psychological support for journalists and newspapers discriminated against and persecuted by the authorities. ..RSF has launched in 2018 a key initiative about Information and democracy. by creating an international commission composed by 25 prominent figures from 18 nationalities, including Nobel laureates, famous journalists facing authoritarian strongmen and specialists of new technologies. This commission adopted the “International Declaration on Information and Democracy”, which aims at establishing basic principles for the global information and communication space. 12 heads of Governments and States committed to sign a pledge on Information and Democracy based on this declaration.

RSF also launched the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), with the aim of promoting journalistic methods, editorial independence, media transparency, and respect for journalistic ethics by giving concrete advantages (especially technological and economic ones) to news media that adhere to standards defined collaboratively in a process of self-regulation. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/30/world-press-freedom-index-2018-is-out-colorful-but-disheartening/]

Michael Ignatieff has advocated for democracy around the world as a reporter, a champion of human rights, and as one of the first to warn against the rise of ethnic nationalism. In particular, he is acknowledged for his leadership as the President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest, standing in the front lines against the campaign to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.

The liberal democratic order faces a rising tide of new authoritarianism and populism; the very values that have sustained freedom and democracy are called into question,” observed Ariel David, a member of the Dan David Prize’s board and son of the Prize founder. “Reporters Without Borders and Michael Ignatieff are being recognized for their leadership in the daily struggle to protect freedom of the press and freedom of academia. These basic liberties are pillars of democracy and it is no coincidence that the media and universities are often the primary targets of the populist and authoritarian regimes that have risen to power.” The Dan David Prize is named after the late Mr. Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist whose vision is the driving force behind the international Dan David Prize.  His aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future.

https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=235457

Turkey, not a good place to be a lawyer or a judge

February 7, 2019

On 6 February 2019 is became known that a public prosecutor has sought the maximum prison sentence of 15 years for each of 33 lawyers on charges of membership in a terrorist organization due to their alleged links to the faith-based civic Gülen movement, the T24 news website reported on Tuesday. On Tuesday the trial of 53 defendants, 52 of whom are lawyers, continued at the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court.

[Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.]

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 555 lawyers have been arrested since July 15, 2016 and 1,546 were under prosecution as of January 24, 2019. Two hundred sixteen lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 1,361 years in prison. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected to torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

A report titled “Incarceration of Turkish Lawyers: En Masse Arrests and Convictions (2016-2018)” previously revealed that lawyers have particularly been targeted simply due to the identity or affiliations of their clients, all this spite of the basic principles of the independence of lawyers. [see e.g. https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/basic-principles/ and also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/09/independence-of-the-legal-profession-subject-of-side-event-on-16-march-2017/]

Judiciary

And it is not limited to lawyers. A Turkish court sentenced a judge who previously won an award for human rights to 10 years in prison over links to the network Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup in 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday. Murat Arslan, who has been detained for 22 months, was convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organisation, after prosecutors charged him with use of the encrypted messaging app ByLock, Anadolu said. Arslan has denied the charges and said any evidence that he had used the app was “fabricated”, Anadolu said.

The government says the outlawed app was widely used by followers of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it blames for the attempted coup that saw rogue soldiers commandeer tanks and aircraft, attacking parliament and killing some 250 unarmed civilians. The Council of Europe human rights body in 2017 gave Arslan, who was detained at the time, the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, a decision that prompted Turkey to say it would cut back its funding to the body. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/18/turkey-angry-after-pace-havel-prize-is-awarded-to-jailed-judge/]

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/18/european-commission-states-that-turkey-is-taking-major-steps-away-from-the-eu/

Torture

In the meantime Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the 2018 winner of the Hessian Peace Prize for her work documenting human rights abuses in Turkey, said torture had become systematic. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/11/05/turkish-human-rights-defender-and-forensic-doctor-sebnem-korur-fincanci-honoured/]

Korur Fincancı was one of more than 1,000 Turkish academics who signed a 2016 petition calling for peace after a two-year ceasefire between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down and security forces used tanks and artillery to crush attempts by the militants to seize towns and cities across the mainly Kurdish southeast. Now the head of Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for signing the petition and for her contribution to a report prepared by her foundation on the Turkish military’s activities in the southeastern town of Cizre. 

……The figures show an alarming trend that Korur Fincancı said pointed to systematic rights violations. “In the year 2017, more than 5,000 people across Turkey applied for legal aid from the Human Rights Association on the basis that they’d been tortured. More than 500 applied to representatives of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey to be diagnosed … for torture,” she said.  The number of applicants remained high in 2018, with more than 2,600 people who said they had been tortured applying for legal aid and 558 applying for treatment in the first 11 months of the year.

Fincancı

….Korur Fincancı she said the fight against torture must extend beyong medical treatment to preventative measures, and that means educating the public.

…Meanwhile, security forces have opened 26,000 cases against suspects they say resisted arrest. “After police launch cases against them, people become hesitant to open (torture) cases … or the withdraw them. Thus the judiciary protects the police, the use of torture with legal repercussions becomes more entrenched, and the police believe they are doing their duty under this protection,” said the doctor.

With the introduction of emergency rule after the coup, the purge and arrest of public officials has come to be counted as part of a struggle against terrorism, providing another layer of protection for security officers who commit torture and other infractions. “And this arrangement applies to civilians – it’s the same as telling security officers we are in a state of civil war and their actions will be ignored,” Korur Fincancı said. “And that’s a very dangerous situation.

State of emergency

Anyway, ending the state of emergency in Turkey has not ended repressive rule under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Human Rights Watch observed on 17 January 2019 in its World Report 2019. Prolonged and arbitrary jailing of critics on bogus terrorism charges has become the norm in Turkey. Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections in June 2018 took place in a climate of media censorship and with some members of parliament and one presidential candidate jailed. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) retained control of a weakened parliament through a coalition. And with the election, in which Erdoğan was reelected, Turkey’s presidential system of governance, approved in a 2017 constitutional referendum, entered fully into force. “Any hope that the end of the state of emergency six month ago would mark a return to respect for human rights has been dashed,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Erdoğan government’s hounding of its critics and opponents has dismantled Turkey’s rule of law framework and turned justice on its head.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/turkey-sentences-detained-judge-who-won-human-rights-award-to-10-years–anadolu-says-11141758
https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/17/turkey-state-emergency-ends-not-repression
https://ahvalnews.com/torture/award-winning-rights-activist-says-torture-systematic-turkey

Reminder: the 2019 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders ceremony Wednesday 13 February

February 6, 2019

 

A reminder about the ceremony for the 2019 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders which will be held on Wednesday 13 February, 2019 – 18h00 – Salle communale de Plainpalais (Rue de Carouge 52), Geneva, also known as Pitoëff. Please note that this location is different from previous years!

 

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

Eren Keskin <https://171895.g4.mp-stats.com/url-955662790-4564377-05122018.html> (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. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/29/eren-keskin-mea-nominee-2019-speaks-out-fearlessly-turkey-more-oppressive-today-than-ever/]

Abdul Aziz Muhamat<https://171895.g4.mp-stats.com/url-955662790-4564378-05122018.html> (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 <https://171895.g4.mp-stats.com/url-955662790-4564379-05122018.html> (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 is 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. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/24/breaking-news-ennals-award-announces-its-3-finalists-for-2019/]

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 receptionhosted 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 <https://171895.g4.mp-stats.com/url-955662790-4564385-05122018.html>.

The City of Geneva has been supporting this award since 2005.

To attend in person please register now on the Martin Ennals Award’s website https://171895.g4.mp-stats.com/url-955662790-4564381-05122018.html, otherwise follow the live stream.

 

Liberian environmental human rights defender Silas Siakor wins another award

February 6, 2019

Silas Siakor smiles as his received the Black World Prize to the Fraternity from the Spanish magazine Mundo Negro and Comboni Missionaries on February 2, 2019 in Madrid Spain 

James Harding Giahyue reports that Liberian Silas Siakor, founder of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) and winner of the Goldman Environment Award, has added another recognition for his work in Liberia’s natural resource sector.

Siakor on Saturday received the Black World Prize from the Mundo Negro magazine and the Comboni Missionaries at an elaborate ceremony in the Madrid, Spain.  The groups said they gave Siakor the award (€10,000) for defending rural communities and nature against concession companies and politicians.

Silas Siakor stars in a fight against illegal logging and political corruption in his country, Liberia,” said the Mundo Negro in a statement on its website.  “His work highlights the desire and power of people who want to change the world, even if they sometimes face the interests of groups that accumulate money and power” .

Siakor in 2006 landed the Goldman Environmental Award, the world’s most prestigious environmental prize, for exposing the Charles Taylor-led government’s use of illegal logging to fund Liberia’s brutal civil war that left 250,000 dead and more than a million displaced.   He also won the Whitley Award for Environment and Human Rights; as well as the Alexander Soros Award for Extraordinary Achievements in Environmental and Human Rights Activism.

Siakor also stars in the 2017 80-minute film, “Silas” about his work, which has been screened at a number of film festivals across the world. The film Silas by Hawa Essuman and Anjali Nayar, chronicles the life of its eponymous main character in his fight over the years against convicted war-criminal Charles Taylor and the illegal deforestation and corruption in his native Liberia.

https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberian-environmentalist-wins-top-international-award/

Nicaraguan journalist Wilfredo Miranda in exile wins journalism award

February 4, 2019

Nicaraguan journalist Wilfredo Miranda interviewing a witness to police repression in Masaya, Nicaragua, last summer. CREDIT COURTESY

Nicaragua’s human rights crisis  see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/18/exceptional-response-by-international-ngos-to-human-rights-crisis-in-nicaragua/] has sent many journalists into exile. Among them is Wilfredo Ernesto Miranda, a young reporter for the respected Nicaraguan weekly newspaper ConfidencialMiranda came to Miami after being threatened with imprisonment for exposing the murders of protesters by pro-government forces in a May 2018 article titled “!Disparaban con Precisión – a Matar!” (“They Were Shooting Precisely – to Kill!”) “I was able to document close-range bullet wounds to the heads and throats of protesters that could only be execution-style shots,” Miranda told WLRN.

The Rey de España prize is one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Spain and Latin America. Miranda said he wanted to dedicate his Rey de España prize – awarded by a jury in Spain – to imprisoned Nicaraguan journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda, who face terrorism charges that human rights groups call absurd.

http://www.wlrn.org/post/nicaraguan-journalist-exiled-miami-wins-prestigious-prize-and-vindication

https://www.efe.com/efe/espana/agencia-efe/periodistas-de-ocho-paises-iberoamericanos-ganan-los-premios-rey-espana/50000071-3883708