Archive for the 'films' Category

UN WEB TV: panel on human rights defenders and business

May 14, 2019

Panel on Safeguarding human rights defenders – Forum on Business and Human Rights 2018

On 27 November 2018 there was panel on “Safeguarding human rights defenders: new efforts and tackling growing threats” during the  Forum on Business and Human Rights. It is a bit old hat, but I wanted to show it as a good example of what is nowadays to be found on the internet as ‘on demand video’.

Brief description of the session :
The need for enhancing protection of human rights defenders who speak up against business-related human rights impacts is a standing item on the Forum’s agenda. This session led by the UN Working Group in collaboration with NGOs consists of two parts:
1. The first part of the session will be dedicated to showcasing new efforts to strengthen corporate respect and support for human rights defenders. Presentations will be brief, but meant to highlight encouraging initiatives and action.
2. The second part of the session will focus on the growing trend of criminalization and legal harassment of defenders who speak up against business-related impacts and identify concrete action to be taken by governments, business and others to address it. The panel aims to identify what “human rights due diligence” is needed and what are some of the practical considerations for preventing that companies become involved in criminalization and legal harassment of defenders who engage in legitimate efforts to address potential and actual adverse impacts. This will include identifying steps to be taken by:
•home States
•host States
•companies that cause negative impacts and who are the main targets of criticism
•companies that have business relationships to those causing the abuse (typically transnational corporations and their responsibility to address impacts in their supply chain)
•investors
•companies that invest in contexts where criminalization of human rights defenders is a salient issue

Moderator/ Introductory Remark…
•Michael Ineichen, Programme Director, International services for Human Rights
•Anita Ramasastry, Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

Speakers
•Brittany Benowitz, Chief Counsel, ABA Center for Human Rights
•Vaewrin Buangern, Community member from Lampang Province, Northern Thailand, Community member from Lampang Province, Northern Thailand
•Bennett Freeman, author of “Shared Space Under Pressure: Business Support for Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders”, author of “Shared Space Under Pressure: Business Support for Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders”
•Andreas Graf, Human Rights Manager, Sustainability & Diversity Department, FIFA
•Johanna Molina Miranda, Researcher on Human Rights and Business, CREER Lawyer, Specialist in International Law of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law with studies in Politics and International Security and currently studying for a Masters in Public International Law.
•Mohammad Nayyeri, Legal Advisor and Program Manager, Justice for Iran
•Ana Sandoval, Peaceful Resistance “La Puya”, Guatemala, Peaceful Resistance “La Puya”, Guatemala
•Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association

(Forum on Business and Human Rights)

Former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid warns about the moral collapse of global leadership.

May 9, 2019

In a video Op-Ed in the NYT of 6 May 2019, former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, argues that world leaders are weak, shortsighted and mediocre, and no longer willing or able to defend human rights. Abuses used to be called out and stopped, and human rights offenders had something to fear. Today, they are met with silence instead. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018.

[see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/22/bound-to-happen-but-still-high-commissioner-zeid-announces-he-will-not-seek-second-term/] 

Previously he spent 18 years as a diplomat helping to establish the International Criminal Court and serving on the Security Council. He is now the Distinguished Global Leader in Residence at the Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania.

YouTube human rights news channel ‘Just Asia’ deserves more viewers

May 8, 2019

As founding video producer of Just Asia, Amila Sampath, 30, gathers film clips and news snippets from around the region. His sources include activists, lawyers and NGOs, and the show, uploaded on Fridays, is anchored by university student volunteers. Sampath has produced more than 250 episodes of Just Asia, but getting audiences to take an interest in the protection and well-being of fellow human beings has not been easy. He is disappointed the show is not more widely viewed. “It is difficult to get people to watch human rights stories,” Sampath says. “They’re not music videos, but I just have to keep trying.”

Sampath’s aim is to broadcast regional human rights abuses to a global audience. Photo: Dickson Lee
Sampath’s aim is to broadcast regional human rights abuses to a global audience. Photo: Dickson Lee 

Just Asia he puts together with a skeletal crew comprising himself as producer, cameraman and director, and colleague Meryam Dabhoiwala, who writes the scripts and edits. Their studio is a simple office in Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, with a green screen background. Each week he compiles five regional stories and enlists the help of university students to shoot the episodes and edit the videos.

Hong Kong student volunteer Alexandra Leung presents an episode of Just Asia, a weekly human rights news programme on YouTube produced by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.

Hong Kong student volunteer Alexandra Leung presents an episode of Just Asia, a weekly human rights news programme on YouTube produced by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.

One volunteer is Alexandra Leung Chui-yan, 22, who will be graduating from the School of Communication at Hong Kong Baptist University this month. On August 17, 2017, Leung was in Barcelona, walking along La Rambla boulevard, when a car ploughed into a crowd. The terrorist attack killed 13 people and injured more than 130, including Leung. In the ensuing chaos she was trampled, resulting in a broken toe and fractured knees. Leung has since undergone surgery, but is still not completely healed. A few months after the incident she began volunteering for Just Asia as a trainee, learning how to read the news in front of a camera and how to pronounce Southeast Asian names.

Find out more about Just Asia at www.alrc.asia/justasia or www.humanrights.asia

The FRAME exhibition: Filmmakers Making Women’s Lives Visible

April 27, 2019

Making women’s lives visible is a political act,” says The Asia Foundation’s Jane Sloane.There are many women human-rights defenders who are akin to modern day Joans of Arc. I wish more of their stories could be the inspiration for feature films.” Sloane was recently awarded an Atlantic Fellowship from the London School of Economics’ Inequalities Institute. She used the opportunity to launch an exhibition called FRAME: How Asia-Pacific Feminist Filmmakers and Artists Are Confronting Inequalities.

A collaboration with photographers and art directors Ariel and Sam Soto-Suver, and Maxine Williamson, artistic advisor and exhibition manager, FRAME showcases eight Asia-Pacific screen artists who are exploring and confronting inequality through their work both in front of and behind the camera: Anida Yoeu Ali, Jan Chapman, Mattie Do, Rubaiyat Hossain, Erica Glynn, Leena Yadav, Van Ha, and Anocha Suwichakornpong.

With FRAME now touring internationally, in this interview Sloane talks about her film series with InAsia

….I’ve also felt some frustration that so many women filmmakers in Asia and the Pacific aren’t being recognized for their work. I believe focusing on feminist filmmakers is a way to address the broader inequalities that women face as filmmakers.

Is this an important moment for women filmmakers in Asia?

Well, I think it’s a tipping point because of movements such as #MeToo, the Sustainable Development Goals, and 50/50 by 2020. With Asia now producing over half of the world’s films, it has real potential as the ground from which a lot of women filmmakers can spring. One of the biggest issues in Asia and the Pacific is violence against women, and film is a powerful way to engage people in that conversation. I lead the work to empower women at The Asia Foundation, and something really interesting from the Foundation’s latest survey in Bangladesh is that boys around the age of nine and 10 are at a key moment in formulating their lifelong attitudes towards girls and women. Film is one of the most accessible mediums for young people in many Asian countries, and it has huge potential to influence the attitudes and behavior of the next generation.

Jan Chapman. Photo: Ariel and Sam Soto-Suver

Tell me about the films that are featured in FRAME. Are they very different from one another?

They are. There’s Mattie Do—her filmmaking captures the phenomenal wealth disparities that exist in Laos. Van Ha’s documentaries in Vietnam have focused on the dislocation of people living in poverty because of the effects of urbanization and corporatization. Erica Glynn, an indigenous Australian filmmaker, is really focused on issues such as the entrenched illiteracy that’s a reality for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples. Anida Ali’s work spectacularly challenges assumptions around gender, race, class, and religious identity, including Islamophobia, which is particularly important given the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand. Anocha Suwichakornpong has used film to make visible the roles that women have played as leaders and change-makers in history. And Jan Chapman, producer of The Piano, has played an instrumental role in lifting up strong female figures in filmmaking. I think that is the power of film, that it can challenge the audience at so many different levels.

With civil society under pressure in many places in Asia right now, how have these women been able to navigate the political landscape to maintain some freedom of expression in their films?

I think that the space for women to organize is closing down at the moment. It makes it harder for women to speak—in public spaces and in film. Often, it’s been a combination of tactics—diplomacy, organizing, networking. These filmmakers are so committed to their filmmaking that they have become very skilled at finding money, finding talent, and negotiating where they can film and under what conditions. When I was in the Philippines recently, a group of feminist filmmakers specifically asked whether I could capture the story of their work in Mindanao tracking the role of women organizing and speaking out to end conflict and save lives. So, I feel like FRAME has really struck a chord, and that it’s something whose time has come.

Jane Soane is director of The Asia Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Program. She can be reached at jane.sloane@asiafoundation.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the interviewee, not those of The Asia Foundation.

https://asiafoundation.org/2019/04/24/frame-filmmakers-making-womens-lives-visible/

How ‘China fear’ affects companies: Leica tries to disclaim an ad that features the Tank Man

April 21, 2019

A promotional video that presents several vignettes of photojournalists documenting violence and conflict around the world became a controversy not just between the company Leica and China but also between two companies.  A recurring scene features a photographer who captured the famous image of a civilian blocking a column of tanks the day after the Chinese military’s deadly crackdown of protesters in June 1989. As the photographer’s shutter closes to capture the historic shot of the “Tank Man”, as the still-unidentified person is known, the screen transitions to a dedication to “those who lend their eyes to make us see”, before Leica’s distinctive red logo appears.

Following a public uproar in China and censorship of the brand on social media, Leica Cameras AG said on Thursday it had neither commissioned nor authorised the five-minute video – entitled The Hunt – that depicted photojournalists covering Beijing’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy activists in 1989. Yet despite Leica’s efforts to disavow the video, F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad company that represents the German firm in Brazil and which produced the film, said on Friday that it was “developed together” with its client’s representatives in Brazil. F/Nazca “would never [harm] its huge reputation by creating, producing and airing a work without the proper approval of its client”, spokeswoman Carolina Aranha said in an interview on Friday. The agency was “immensely proud” of the video, which was released earlier this week, and was confident it had “delivered a remarkable piece”, she said. Leica did not immediately respond to requests for comment on F/Nazca’s statement when contacted outside business hours…

Airing just weeks before the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, the video came at a highly sensitive time for Beijing, which routinely quells any mention in China of the events of June 4. But Zhou Fengsuo, who was a student leader at the time of the protests and now lives in the US, said Beijing was unlikely to make any explicit response to the video for fear of drawing attention to the matter. But that did not prevent a stern response from some members of the Chinese public. Soon after the commercial was shown online, social media users rushed to pour scorn over the German camera maker, which works with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop lenses for the company’s smartphones…

Following the outcry, the company said that it regretted any “misunderstandings or false conclusions that may have been drawn”. China is one of Leica’s fastest growing markets, with the company planning dozens of new stores on top of its current nine.

Profile of Nayaali Ramirez Espinosa, indigenous rights defender of the Maya

March 31, 2019

Last year ISHR interviewed Nayaali Ramirez Espinosa, a lawyer providing legal assistance to Mayan communities in the region of Holpelchén, in the State of Campeche in Mexico. She expresses her satisfaction with some legal achievements such as the indigenous consultation in the region. It was published on 13 December, 2018.

News from the human rights film front (2019)

March 20, 2019

The HRW festival in London is still running (https://ff.hrw.org/london) but others have finished and here is a selection of the wining films:

ONE WORLD FESTIVAL

The film Heart of Stone has taken the Best Film prize at this year’s edition of the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague. The winning documentary is about an Afghan refugee in France. The Best Director award went to Denmark’s Mads Brugger, maker of Cold Case Hammarskjold.

——-

The 2019 FIFDH [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/20/17th-edition-of-the-geneva-international-film-festival-and-forum-on-human-rights-from-8-to-17-march-2019/]. The awards list is as follows (extract):

Grand Prize of Geneva

Endowed with CHF 10,000 – Offered by the City and State of Geneva: Delphine et Carole, Insoumuses, by Callisto McNulty Learn more

Gilda Vieira de Mello Prize in tribute to her son Sergio Vieira de Mello

Endowed with CHF 5,000 – Offered by the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation: On her Shoulders, by Alexandria Bombach Learn more

Youth Jury Prize

Endowed with CHF 500 – Offered by Peace Brigades International (PBI): Still Recording, by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal Learn more

Endowed with CHF 500 – Offered by the Eduki Foundation: Carmen y Lola  by Arantxa Echevarría Learn more

Grand Prize for Fiction

Endowed with CHF 10,000 – Offered by the Hélène and Victor Barbour Foundation: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by Chiwetel Ejiofor Learn more

Prize of OMCT

Endowed with CHF 5,000 – Offered by the World Organization Against Torture: Congo Lucha, by Marlène Rabaud Learn more

——-

And there is an award-winning Bahamian film “Cargo” which is being shown in cinemas: At the age of 9, Bahamian writer/director Kareem Mortimer saw haunting images of the bloated bodies of Haitian would-be migrants washed up on a beach. Apparently they were trapped and locked in the hold of a ship by a smuggler who did not have the decency to set them free. It was this experience that inspired him to make the drama/thriller feature film Cargo. The film previously debuted in Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada, Suriname and St Lucia and will be released in the Trinidad, US and Canada in the summer. It has won five awards: Best Feature, Silicon Valley African Film Festival; Bahamian Icon Award; Best Film, Haiti International Film Festival, Los Angeles; Trident Award, Barbados Independent Film Festival; and Amnesty International Human Rights Prize for Film, TT Film Festival in 2017.
The poster for the film Cargo.

——-

https://www.radio.cz/en/section/news/french-doc-heart-of-stone-takes-top-prize-at-one-world-festival

https://fifdh.org/en/edition-2019/news/article/le-palmares-integral-du-fifdh-2019-349874

https://newsday.co.tt/2019/03/18/award-winning-bahamian-film-cargo-for-tt/

 

Pioneering ‘human rights television’ programme JUST ASIA reaches 250 milestone

March 15, 2019

On 15 March 2019 the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) – a regional NGO – published its  250th weekly episode of the programmeAHRC TV: JUST ASIA. Congratulations.
Since October 2013, AHRC TV’s news programme has been providing a weekly broadcast of human rights news. Just Asia is the first online news report of its kind in Asia, bringing together stories and cases from victims, activists, journalists and all those concerned with human rights. Just Asia is a platform not only for the voiceless to share their narratives, but also an alternate source of information for those wanting to learn and act on human rights in Asia.  The special edition is devoted to this occasion with interviews of staff, former staff and contributors.
See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/16/amila-sampath-the-man-behind-the-video-service-of-just-asia/
AHRC TV: JUST ASIA

Film on Human Rights Defender Lea Tsemel wins Thessaloniki International Festival

March 13, 2019

 reports on 11 March, 2019 that a documentary about an Israeli human rights lawyer has won the top prize in its category at the Thessaloniki International Festival. “The Advocate,” a 108-minute film directed and produced by Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche, focuses on Lea Tsemel, who has defended Palestinians of every stripe, from protesters to known extremists, for more than 50 years. The Canadian-Israeli-Swiss production was given the “Golden Alexander Award” Sunday night.

A special jury award was given to Afghan director Hassan Fazili for the autobiographical “Midnight Traveler” which was actually filmed by his whole family. He, his wife and two daughters were forced to flee the country when the Taliban put a bounty on Fazili’s head. They first went to Tajikistan and, threatened with deportation, journeyed all the way to Europe.

https://www.thenationalherald.com/234482/winning-documentary-in-thessaloniki-portrays-israeli-human-rights-lawyer/

Iran cracks down on Nasrin Sotoudeh and other human rights defenders

March 12, 2019

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Sotoudeh was charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Only yesterday I hoped that Nasrin Sotoudeh‘s invitation to the G7 would set a good precedent [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/11/does-g7-set-a-precedent-with-sotoudeh-for-inviting-human-rights-defenders/], now Reuters reports that she has been handed a new sentence that her husband said was 38 years in prison and 148 lashes! The news comes days after Iran appointed a hardline new head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, who is a protege of Ali Khamenei. The appointment is seen as weakening the political influence of the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. (NOTE: Her husband clarified later that she will be serving 10 years of the 33 he had announced on his Facebook page and in an interview with Radio Farda)

In the meantime AI reports that a series of videos shared on social media in recent weeks have shed light on the daily harassment and violent attacks women in Iran face at the hands of morality police and pro-government vigilantes seeking to enforce the country’s forced hijab (veiling) laws. The videos show members of the public or plain-clothes morality police aggressively confronting or attacking women for defying Iran’s degrading forced hijab laws, in the name of defending “public decency”. Perpetrators of such attacks appear to be getting bolder in their assaults in response to efforts by women to film the violence they face and share the videos on social media. “The video footage that has emerged in recent weeks demonstrates the shocking levels of abuse women in Iran face on a daily basis from morality police or pro-government thugs simply for daring to defy the country’s abusive forced hijab laws,” said Philip Luther of Amnesty International.  Iranian women’s rights defenders have courageously filmed these incidents as part of the My Camera My Weapon campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the constant harassment and assault that women and girls face in Iran’s streets as a result of forced hijab laws.

Amnesty added:…..The charges on which Nasrin Sotoudeh was convicted include “inciting corruption and prostitution” and “openly committing a sinful act… by appearing in public without a hijab”. Some of the activities that the authorities have cited as “evidence” against her include: opposing forced hijab; removing her headscarf during prison visits; defending women who peacefully protested against forced hijab; giving media interviews about the violent arrest and detention of women protesting against forced hijab; and placing flowers at the scene where a woman protester was violently arrested.

The UN Human Rights Council also was dealing with Iran this week: Worrying patterns of intimidation, arrest, prosecution, and ill-treatment of human rights defenders, lawyers, and labour rights activists in Iran signal an increasingly severe State response to protests and strikes in the country, Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said on 12 March 2019. “Today, the people of Iran face a myriad of challenges,” he told the Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Many have voiced their concern through protests, demonstrations, and strikes. People from diverse sections of society – from truck drivers to teachers to factory workers – across the country have protested.” “It is in this context of increased challenges that concerns are mounting about human rights, including the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and to association in Iran,” he said, calling on the Government to release all those detained for exercising such rights. Presenting his first report to the Council, Rehman said the re-imposition of secondary sanctions by the United States of America had further increased concerns for the welfare of ordinary Iranians.

The Special Rapporteur also highlighted the alarming health situations of numerous imprisoned individuals such as human rights defender Arash Sadeghi [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/30/iran-shameful-sentences-for-narges-mohammadi-issa-saharkhiz-arash-sadeghi-no-detente-in-human-rights/]. Rehman also highlighted the situation of prominent woman human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who was reportedly convicted last week of charges related to her work and could face a lengthy prison sentence. Other issues raised in his report include concerns regarding the right to life and to fair trial, the situation of detained foreign and dual nationals, and the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities.

Human Rights Watch commented that the Iranian judiciary’s draconian sentence for a prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was an “appalling travesty of justice“.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/11/human-rights-lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-jailed-for-38-years-in-iran

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/03/iran-pro-government-vigilantes-attack-women-for-standing-up-against-forced-hijab-laws/

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1903/S00091/iran-un-expert-concerned-by-crackdown-on-protests.htm

https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/12/iran-decades-long-sentence-womens-rights-defender

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/jail-term-ambiguity-clarified-for-iran-rights-defender—eu-protests/29817359.html