Archive for the 'Human Rights Defenders' Category

9 December, Human Rights Defenders Day, ‘celebrated’ in Uganda

December 13, 2017

In an article in the Ugandan paper The Independent entitled “Activists mark Human Rights Defenders day” (13 December 2017), Robert Kirenga, the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda spoke to Flavia Nassaka about his perspective on international human rights defenders day and the general human rights situation in the country. He made some interesting points such as (excerpts):  Read the rest of this entry »

Malta’s Aditus foundation urges Government to improve relationship with human rights defenders

December 11, 2017

In commemoration of International Human Rights Day, the Aditus foundation (a non-governmental organisation established in 2011 by a group of young lawyers who monitor, report and act on access to human rights by individuals and groups; the focus is primarily Malta, but also covers the regional & international dimensions of human rights in Malta) noted the precarious situation of Malta’s human rights defenders and called for a broader respect for their central role in promoting and contributing towards Malta’s overall well-being. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/04/the-new-normal-rising-attacks-on-human-rights-defenders/]

In a statement released to the media, the foundation said that Malta’s human rights defenders are …are present where State interventions are either absent or insufficient, where the risk of human rights violations is high. It continued to say that without human rights defenders, Malta would probably not be able to boast today’s’ levels of social wellbeing. As activists dedicated to ensuring human rights enjoyment for all persons, most of us push for stronger legal and policy standards, support the training of public officials, provide public information, support victims of violations and strive to hold the State accountable and responsible for its failures. “In return, many of us are bullied, harassed, insulted, threatened and stigmatised. Many of us are denied access to important dialogue with State entities, or exploited by the State as we provide those public services the State refuses or is unable to provide. As the community of Malta’s human rights defenders is still mourning the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, we are uncertain of the security of our working environment and are concerned for the physical and psychological safety of our staff and volunteers.”

“We are not satisfied that our concerns are being taken seriously by the competent authorities, especially in view of the fact that we are often victims of hatred perpetuated by those entities responsible for our protection.”

“Understanding the importance of human rights defenders is fundamental for the fostering of a society that is geared towards respecting, protecting and fulfilling everyone’s human rights.”

“By tolerating this on-going abuse of its human rights defenders, Malta is not only offending the principles human rights embody – equality, non-discrimination, individual and social empowerment – but it is also further marginalising those communities and themes human rights defenders so vehemently stand up for.”

“On International Human Rights Day, we therefore urge Malta to rethink its relationship with human rights defenders. This means to not merely refrain from activities that instil fear and insecurity, but to take steps towards actively supporting human rights defenders.”

http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2017-12-09/local-news/Adutis-foundation-urges-Malta-to-rethink-relationship-with-human-rights-defenders-6736182455

http://aditus.org.mt

Good introduction to the Anniversary of the UN Declaration on HRDs in 2018

December 11, 2017


COMMENTARY 05 December 2017

In “Defending Rights, Fighting Fatalism Janika Spannagel makes the point that we should take a long-term view in assessing human rights progress.  I plead guilty by having started 2017 with a series of ten posts on the indeed gloomy outlook for human rights (e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/24/2017-10-need-to-reset-for-human-rights-movement/). Perhaps it is fitting to end the year with a bit more ‘optimistic’ long term view:

In 2017, both activists and political pundits embraced a rhetoric of doom and gloom about the global state of human rights. But faced with a world painted in ever darker colors, we risk losing sight of the bigger picture. This month marks 19 years since the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was adopted. Its troubled story can teach us something about the long arc of history when it comes to the advancement of human rights worldwide.

There is no doubt that human rights defenders are under attack today. But that is not new. Defending human rights is and always has been a highly political and often dangerous undertaking. People who have raised their voices against injustice, from totalitarianism and colonial oppression to capitalist exploitation, have been persecuted and silenced throughout human history. Repressive regimes and groups in power seem just as quick and clever in adapting methods of control as their opponents are in carving out new spaces.

However, rather than giving in to fatalism we should learn from history that counter-discourse and pushback is an inevitable part of the human rights success story. On December 9, 1998, the United Nations (UN) member states unanimously declared that everyone has a right to defend human rights. This consensus in the UN General Assembly, however, did not mean that states were in wide agreement. Born out of a context of intense persecution of dissidents in the late 1970s, the lengthy negotiation process for what eventually became the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was at the verge of collapsing time and again over surprisingly topical issues like foreign funding, supremacy of domestic law, or national security.

Stories like that of the Declaration illustrate how writing human rights history requires both perseverance and the prompt use of political windows of opportunity. These stories teach us not to submit to pessimistic rhetoric that can easily cloud our judgment, but to remain committed to multilateral cooperation on rights issues, particularly during challenging times. 

To learn more about how the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was adopted against all odds, what difference it has made and why the term “human rights defenders” was omitted from the document, see my recent analysis of the 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. (http://www.geschichte-menschenrechte.de/en/schluesseltexte/erklaerung-zu-menschenrechtsverteidigern-1998/ in english, in spite of title)

With the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders coming up on 9 December 2018 [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/01/20th-anniversary-of-un-declaration-on-human-rights-defenders-starts-with-crucial-draft-resolution-in-the-ga/], the article above makes good reading.

———-

http://www.gppi.net/publications/human-rights/article/defending-rights-fighting-fatalism/

Human Rights Day 2017 in Asia: MIND THE GAP

December 11, 2017

International Human Rights Day 2017 was celebrated all over the world by governmental and non-governmental entities alike. Here some cases of MIND THE GAP as reported in the media in Asia:

Cambodia:

The government celebrated Human Rights Day under the theme of ‘peace’, but 103 civil society groups spoke out against state ‘attacks’. KT/Mai Vireak

The government yesterday celebrated the 69th anniversary of International Human Rights Day under the theme of peace, while 103 civil society groups called for more protection for human rights defenders. Prime Minister Hun Sen posted on his Facebook page to say how the rights and freedoms of Cambodian people have been restored since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979: “December 10 is International Human Rights Day, which people all over the world celebrate. On January 7, 1979, the rights and freedoms of the Cambodian people were restored and have been until this day.”

Civil society meanwhile marked the day at different locations around Phnom Penh and in other provinces. A group of 103 civil society organisations issued a joint statement calling for justice and respect for human rights from the government. “On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we, the undersigned members of Cambodian civil society, call for an end to government attacks on human rights defenders and civil society groups and the lifting of unjustifiable restrictions on fundamental freedoms,” the statement said.

Philippines:

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the observance of the International Human Rights Day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to uplift the lives of Filipinos, especially the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Noting that the Philippines is an active member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and that respect for human rights is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, Roque assured that the Duterte administration “works hard with the best interest of every Filipino.” ..“That direction is what inspires the government’s compliance with its human rights obligations. As a Nobel Peace Prize winner once said, ‘poverty is the absence of human rights” .

The Philippines has experienced a precipitous drop in basic human rights standards since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power last year, resulting in large, mass mobilizations across the country for the occasion of December 10, Human Rights Day. At least 12 rallies were held across the archipelago on Sunday, with human rights group KARAPATAN and progressive alliance BAYAN taking the lead alongside a range of like-minded groups calling for an end to what they describe as the U.S.-Duterte regime. In addition to over 13,000 small-time drug dealers and addicts killed during Duterte’s “war on drugs,” Karapatan has documented 113 victims of political killings, 81 victims of torture, 54,573 victims of threat, harassment, and intimidation, 364,617 who have suffered due to indiscriminate firing and aerial bombing, and 426,170 internally displaced who were subject to forced evacuation.  

Turkey:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AA
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AA

Respect for human rights based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination of individuals before the law is the irreplaceable nature of the Republic of Turkey,” said Erdogan, according to state-run Anadolu Agency, on the occasion of Human Rights Day on Sunday. Erdogan specifically referenced Turkey’s commitment to “all oppressed people and victims from Palestine to Syria and Asia to Africa.”

Turkey has been cited by several international organizations for human rights violations, namely in its justice system, freedom of speech and Internet communications, treatment of minorities, and political censorship. See inter alia: https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/turkey/report-turkey/and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/22/celebrities-come-out-to-support-taner-kilic-amnesty-turkeys-chair-on-trial-today/.

Thailand:

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commissioner and human rights defender Angkhana Neelaphaijit said that despite the government’s claim that it cherished human rights and had made them a priority, in reality it had done nothing to do so.
Angkhana Neelaphaijit
Angkhana Neelaphaijit
Thailand is still far from its goal of valuing human rights since the junta’s policies and actions have eroded rights, while many people do not even understand the principle. Prominent Thai campaigners marked Human Rights Day yesterday to lament that the country was still far from its professed goal of ensuring everyone was accorded the freedoms they deserve. The nation’s most severe human rights violation was the lack of freedom of expression, they said in an appeal to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to restore democracy to truly guarantee human rights for every citizen. They also said Thailand faced many serious human rights crises. For instance, social movements across the country continued to be suppressed by authorities, the justice system was being used against human rights defenders, and many people in society still did not understand human rights and harmed others. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commissioner and human rights defender Angkhana Neelaphaijit said that despite the government’s claim that it cherished human rights and had made them a priority, in reality it had done nothing to do so. On the contrary, Angkhana said the government was doing the very opposite, enforcing many laws and regulations that violated human rights and curbing the activities of campaigners, both through law enforcement and by force. In effect, the regime was deepening Thailand’s human rights crisis, she said.

Pakistan:

Message by Foreign Minister of Pakistan : ”On behalf of the people and Government of Pakistan, I wish to reiterate our strong commitment to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as needs. Pakistan has demonstrated its resolve by enacting wide ranging legislation, establishing strong institutional machinery and putting in place robust policy measures in the field of human rights. Pakistan’s Constitution serves as an anchor and guarantor of fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Pakistanis.  The Government of Pakistan accords high priority to advancing mutually reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy…This year is also significant for Pakistan in the field of human rights. Pakistan actively engaged with the UN human rights institutions and partners through regular submission of national reports, participation in review processes and implementation of recommendations arising from such mechanisms. Pakistan filed reports and participated in the review mechanism of three international treaty bodies, namely CAT, ICESCR and ICCPR. Pakistan also successfully presented its third national report on Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 13 November 2017. This level of engagement, participation and contribution demonstrates Pakistan’s commitment as well as actions to advance the cause of human rights.  Pakistan’s success as the newly elected member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) this year is a testimony to the confidence reposed in Pakistan by the international community as a consensus builder within the international human rights policy framework.

The struggle against enforced disappearance was seen in Sindh alone while though there have been cases of missing persons in other provinces but Sindh has dared to raise voice against such violations of human rights.  These views were expressed at a seminar on occasion of Human Rights Day organized here by SAFWCO and Social Change. Noted Human Rights activist and lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said only voice against forced disappearances was being heard from Sindh while voice of Balochistan has been crushed with force. Though many persons were missing in KPK and Punjab but from there no voice is heard.  He said our judiciary has come out of colonization era and was giving right decisions. He said it was he who had filed petition in SHC for IG Sindh A.D.Khwaja. He said he was harassed for being advocate against Baldia Factory burning of 258 persons, Shahzeb Jatoi case and other cases for which he was harassed and could not open his office for many months. He said now powerful forces were active human rights.  The gathering paid tributes to Pubhal Saryo, convener of missing persons forum who was whisked away by agencies and released after more than 2 months. Punhal Saryo said it has become very difficult to work for human rights in situation where human rights defenders were also not safe.
—————–

http://www.khmertimeskh.com/5095119/civil-society-decries-attacks-nation-marks-human-rights-day/

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/multimedia/Human-Rights-Day-Marked-In-Philippines-Amid–All-Out-Repression-Drug-War-Martial-Law-20171210-0021.html & https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/951114/human-rights-day-roque-duterte-palace-poor-marginalized-un-rights-council

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/turkey/101220171

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30333640

http://www.mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=NTY5Mw,, and http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/detail.php?hnewsid=6705

Films on and for human rights defenders

December 9, 2017

true heroes films (THF) published on 3 December 2017, an updated version of its trailer.

University of New South Wales adds to its human rights institute

December 8, 2017

UNSW’s new centre of innovation on human rights is taking shape as the world marks Human Rights Day on 10 December.

eleanor_roosevelt.jpg

Former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Announced by UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs earlier this year, the Australian Human Rights Institute will further the interdisciplinary aims of the University’s 2025 Strategy  UNSW’s investment in the institute of $13 million to 2025 will allow research to be applied to real-world human rights violations, making an impact on communities in Australia and around the world when they are most in need of innovative responses.

Research will be focused on three areas: human rights and business, human rights and health, and gender justice. Australian Human Rights Institute Director Professor Louise Chappell says the new work will build on the strong foundations of the Australian Human Rights Centre, established in the Faculty of Law in 1986 and led for the past 13 years by Professor Andrea Durbach.

A cross-cutting theme emerging for the institute is the rapid advancement in technology, which has some negative human rights implications but also offers interesting new solutions. “It’s really clear that AI could create further frightening aspects of violence such as remotely controlling what’s happening in someone’s house,” Professor Chappell says. “But that same technology could also be turned around by victims of domestic violence, in this case, so that they’re able to protect themselves and link to support networks faster than ever before.”

Another aim of the Institute is to mentor the next cohort of rights defenders, linking emerging scholars with senior experts and UNSW’s deep networks in the human rights field.

The Institute will launch in early 2018 and is planning a program of lectures and other events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If you like to get updates about the Australian Human Rights Institute, sign up for emails here.

https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/business-law/new-unsw-institute-takes-shape-world-marks-human-rights-day

Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2017: an anthology

December 7, 2017

When the UN adopted a landmark Resolution on the Protection of the Women Human Rights Defenders in 2013, the international community committed itself to supporting them and recognising the indispensable role they play in society. But instead of being applauded and recognised for their achievements, human rights defenders are increasingly being threatened and attacked, and portrayed as ‘criminals’, ‘terrorists’ or a ‘threat to traditional values’. In the worst cases, they’re imprisoned and killed. Women human rights defenders are attacked because they challenge injustice and break traditional gender norms and stereotypes in their societies.

To mark international Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day on Wednesday 29 November, I already posted AWID’s list of women who have been killed this year [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/04/remembering-women-killed-fighting-for-human-rights-in-2017/].

However there is a plethora of other sources on the issue of women human rights defenders issued around this international day and here follows ‘unfortunately’ just a (big) selection:

——-

Kate AllenDirector of Amnesty International UK, wrote in the Huffington Post (5 December 2017) under the title “Women Human Rights Defenders: Time To Speak Up For The Those On The Frontline Of Human Rights“.

Amnesty International has released a new report that lays bare the shocking threats that activists face around the world. It shines a light on the plight of women who’ve been killed or forcibly disappeared as a result of their campaigning work over the past 20 years….Berta Cáceres, for example, an indigenous and environmental rights defender in Honduras, was murdered in March last year after being threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project. Her daughter, Bertha Zuñiga, survived an armed attack in July this year, just weeks after being named the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras, the organisation her mother previously led. Justice is yet to be served……And what is so utterly frustrating is that most of these attacks could have been prevented if countries had taken their human rights obligations seriously. When crimes are not investigated and punished, a chilling message is sent out, leaving many women human rights defenders fearing for their lives or too scared to stand up for what is right. This is why we need governments to take heed of our report. They must publicly acknowledge the enormous contribution of women activists in the advancement of human rights, and take steps to prevent any further attacks on them by ensuring they’re adequately supported….In the face of rising populism, fundamentalism, inequality, and a backlash against women’s human rights, voices of women human rights defenders and the communities and movements they represent are now more important than ever.

Rohit David, in the Time son India (5 December 2017) wrote “Women who have been tortured for the environment

The year 2017 has been a tough year for women environment activists and environmental defenders, protecting their indigenous land and resources as they face increased crackdowns, violence, threats, intimidation and murder by state and non-state actors. At the UN environment assembly in Nairobi the women’s rights organisations held a tribute ceremony on Monday. They highlighted the important role of women human rights defenders for a pollution-fr ..  Read more at: //economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/61926819.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Pratch Rujivanarom wrote in The Nation of 4 December 2017 about women in Thailand: “Hardships for female rights activists highlighted”

8b1dee1fdfc9479adc4f929e5e898bda.jpeg

FEMALE ACTIVISTS from every corner of Thailand have been victims of discrimination, lawsuits and threats to their families, Protection International has revealed.

Being a human rights activist was harder for women, as many of them had to look after their families and make a living while maintaining an active role campaigning for justice and basic human rights, the organisation’s coordinator, Pranom Somwong, said to mark International Day for Women Human Rights Defenders last Wednesday. “From the stories of women human rights activists across the country, we found that they are living in great distress,” Pranom said. “Not only do they have to face danger from their activism, they have to take care of their family. In the meantime they have a duty to go to court, gather evidence for their cases and earn money for litigation. ..“Moreover, we have found that since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) came to power in 2014, 179 women have been sued for their activities to defend their rights. They were discriminated against and branded as criminals, and it is common for many of them to be a defendant in more than five cases at the same time.”

c059086e8d6085ffe3be86002e8ff522.jpg

At an event titled “Side by Side WHRD (Women Human Rights Defenders) 2018” last Wednesday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Protection International disclosed the latest statistics on lawsuits against female human rights activists. They showed that most female activists were sued over the forest-encroachment issue and that the Northeastern Region had the highest number of cases against women activists. A land-rights activist from Chaiyaphum in the northeastern region, Oranuch Phonpinyo, said that poor people of every gender and age were most likely to be victims of unfair government policies, so many women also took on the considerable role of campaigning for their basic rights and justice. Oranuch said the statistics showed that the land-rights issue was the most prominent problem. Since the NCPO proclaimed its forest reclamation policy and enforced orders to take back forestland from encroachers, poor people across the country had been affected severely – especially in the Northeast.

Vishal Gulati (in Nairobi at the invitation of United Nations Environment to cover its third annual session) wrote about: “200 environmental women defenders killed in 2017: Activists”.

This year has been the deadliest for environmental women defenders, with 200 assignations reported across the globe, and most of them were killed over land and forest conflicts, rights activists said on Monday. Paying a tribute on the inaugural day of the three-day third UN Environment Assembly here, they highlighted the important role of women human rights defenders for a pollution-free future. “Two hundred environmental and women human rights defenders have been assassinated this year, mostly killed over land and forest conflicts. Only last week, we lost Elisa Badayos from the Philippines. But these conflicts are greatly aggravated by pollution,” Priscilla Achakpa of the Women’s Major Group (WMG) said.

US NEWS on 30 November 2017 carried the Reuters story “Killing of Mexican Prosecutor of Crimes Against Women Sparks Outcry”

Wee on 29 November wrote in The MarySue: “5 Women To Remember on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day”

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day was created by the UN as a way of giving thanks and paying tribute to the women who have worked to increase women’s access to education, safety, and general independence around the world. So today at TMS we are going to talk about 5 women (2 historical and 3 modern women) who worked to ensure equality for women.

(1) Tawakkol Karman: the Yemeni journalist who became the face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising. In 2005 she, along with seven other female journalists, formed the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC).

(2) Sophia Duleep Singh: Goddaughter to Queen Victoria and exiled Indian royalty, Sophia Duleep Singh could have lived a life filled with royalty and opulence, but instead found herself called to the Suffragette movement in the United Kingdom.

(3) Peris Tobiko: Peris Tobiko was the first female Maasai member of Parliament to be elected in Kenya and was re-elected in 2017.

(4) Aida Kasymalieva: The youngest ever female member of the Kyrgyzstan parliament has made child marriage, domestic violence, and bride kidnapping an issue in her country, even when it causes other male members of parliament to walk out.

(5) Matilda Joslyn Gage: Considered too radical by many other suffragettes at the time, Gage was an unapologetic free thinker who supported not only just women’s right to vote but also provided her home as a stop on the Underground Railroad, supporting Civil Rights for African-Americans and Native peoples.

Indigenous Voices of Asia (IVA) published on 29 November “Philippines: CPA Statement on the Occasion of International Women Human Rights Defenders Day”

Today, in commemoration of the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) pays its highest tribute to all women activists who valiantly fight for women’s human rights against all forms of discrimination, inequality, and economic and political oppression. We especially honor women human rights defenders who work tirelessly and selflessly to promote indigenous peoples’ collective rights to our lands, territories and resources against land grabbing and plunder by the state and private corporations……There is a growing peoples’ resistance on state fascism and tyranny, which was seen in the series of protest caravans during the past three months, including the protest caravan led by indigenous peoples and Moro people in September. In response, President Duterte plans on a crackdown against left-leaning organizations on the basis of their alleged conspiracy with communists, and arresting not only communist rebels but also “all legal fronts aiding the left”. Duterte also issued Proclamation 360 on November 23, which terminated the peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Peace has become obscured and human rights have lost meaning and force under the current regime…..

Also in the Philippines the Women’s rights group Tanggol Bayi on Wednesday said women human rights defenders are facing “graver challenge” under the Duterte administration. In a press statement, Tanggol Bayi, in which name translates to Defend Women in English, convenor Gerifel Cerillo said Duterte’s words and actions are inciting state forces to commit further violence against human rights defenders, most of whom are women. “Duterte’s words and actions do not only smack of machismo and sexism. These are words and actions of an avowed fascist, one who flaunts state violence and terror on the poor majority to maintain a status quo that is inimical to the interests of the Filipino women and people,” Cerillo said as their group celebrated the International Women Human Rights Day on Wednesday.

On 29 November, 2017, to mark International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2017, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre made public a short video about women human rights defenders working on business and human rights – includes statistics from their database

On International Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) Day, marked every year on 29 November, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls upon governments and armed groups in the MENA region to free all detained WHRDs.

In Saudi Arabia,  GCHR welcomed this news [re women being allowed to drive] with great enthusiasm, however unfortunately the precedent of arrest is stronger than the precedent of freedom when it comes to issues related to women in Saudi Arabia….It’s not possible for human rights defenders to work freely in Saudi Arabia right now, with almost all of them in jail or ceasing work. Most recently, on 10 November 2017, the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh sentenced woman human rights defender and Internet activist Naima Al-Matrood to six years in jail followed by six years of a travel ban. Al-Matrood was arrested on 13 April 2016 at the Directorate of Public Investigation in Al-Dammam. She was charged with allegedly participating in a number of anti-state demonstrations and rallies, being linked to a media cell, and violating public order by creating two social networking accounts on Twitter and Facebook to demand the release of some detainees. Al-Matrood has actively contributed to the peaceful human rights movement in the Eastern Province. Her health is deteriorating because of anemia, which has caused her vision to weaken.

In Iran, many people who campaign for women’s rights have been jailed and the country treats WHRDs more harshly than others, jailing them for lengthy sentences despite illness and separating them from their families.
Atena Daemi, who has campaigned for women’s rights and against the death penalty, has been imprisoned since November 2016 after being convicted of charges that were based solely on her peaceful human rights activities……..Narges Mohammadi, former Vice-President of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) and President of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran, remains in prison….
Even after their release, WHRDs remain imprisoned in their country, unable to leave due to travel bans. Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh ..continues to be banned from travelling. She was released in September 2013 after having spent over three years in prison. She was given a 20-year travel ban.

In Syria, Razan Zaitouneh and Samira Al-Khalil were kidnapped from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) offices with two male colleagues by armed, masked gunmen in Douma on 9 December 2013 and have been held ever since. There has been no word of their health or circumstances since they were abducted almost four years ago. …

(see also GCHR’s 2016 report Before It’s Too Late: Tangible Protection Mechanisms for Women Human Rights Defenders in the MENA Region and Beyond).

On 29 November the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on States to Recognize and Protect the Work of Women Human Rights Defenders

The IACHR observes with great concern that in recent years defending human rights in the Americas has become an extremely dangerous activity. Human rights defenders are regularly victims of criminalization, arbitrary detentions, killings, attacks, and threats, among other acts of violence. The information received by the IACHR demonstrates the seriousness of the situation in the region: in 2016 three quarters of all killings of human rights defenders in the world occurred in the Americas. Women human rights defenders face specific challenges in carrying out their defense of human rights, including the discrimination they are subject to because of gender stereotypes ascribed to their sex.

The IACHR notes that a context of structural violence and discrimination against women continues to exist in the region. In this context and while defying macho stereotypes that disapprove their participation in public life, women human rights defenders face a situation of particular vulnerability. They are exposed to misogynistic attitudes, threats of sexual aggression, gender-based defamation and questioning their “femininity” or sexuality. In this respect, the stigmatization and delegitimization have a different impact on women human rights defenders, given that many of these acts cause harm and violence to their gender condition. Additionally, in several occasions there is an intersection with racial discrimination when women defenders are indigenous or Afrodescendent.

Open Democracy of 29 November carries AWID’s “This is why we fight: Interview with Isabel Flota Ayala

AWID spoke with Isabel Flota Ayala, an indigenous activist from the International Indigenous Women’s Fund (IIWF) about people who fought bravely for her communities.

Isabel Flota Ayala, indigenous activist from the International Indigenous Women’s Fund (IIWF). Photo: AWID.

AWID spoke with Isabel Flota Ayala, an indigenous activist from the International Indigenous Women’s Fund (IIWF). She spoke lovingly about people who fought bravely for her communities, including Griselda Tirado Evangelio, a human rights lawyer and part of Oganización Independiente Totonaca (OIT) a group that was defending the land rights of indigenous people in Mexico, and Alberta “Bety” Cariño Trujillo, who was a human rights defender and director of CACTUS (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos), a community organization in Oaxaca, Mexico, through which she fought for the right to resources and autonomy of indigenous people in her community. Griselda was assassinated just outside her family home in 2003. Bety was killed by gunfire during a peaceful solidarity caravan, in a case that still remains “unsolved.”

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) focused on Bahrain: “Interrogation, travel bans, arrest, and torture are but some of the challenges routinely faced by women humanrights defenders in Bahrain. On the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day we reiterate the call fortheir protection.

Just days ago, Nedal al-Salman was advised that a travel ban prevented her leaving Bahrain. Al-Salman is the Head of International Relations and Women & Children’s Rights Advocacy at Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, and is active in the promotion of women’s rights in Bahrain…This is the second travel ban al-Salman has received in two years; a restriction imposed simply due to her legitimate work in defence of human rights….Zainab Al-Khamees – a woman human rights defender and member of the Bahrain Human Rights Society – was prevented from traveling and summoned to Court in October this year …Jalila al-Salman – a teacher and the former vice president of the (now dissolved) Bahraini teachers’ association– also faces a travel ban. She was previously arrested and detained and tortured for her alleged role in coordinating a teachers’ strike following protests calling for government reform. Jalila al-Salman and her colleagues faced charges of ‘calling for and inciting the overthrow and hatred of the ruling system, possessing anti-political system pamphlets, spreading malicious and fabricated news and taking part in illegal gatherings.’ Nazeeha Saeed – correspondent for Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya and France24 – has been charged with ‘unlawfully working for international media.’ Saeed has previously been detained, and subjected to torture, ill-treatment, and humiliation by police. She as well is banned from travel. These women human rights defenders are subject to reprehensible treatment in response to their activism and commitment to human rights issues.

IPS has a special series of articles that cover the 16 days activism that start on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.   “Women Activists are Targets of Gender-Biased Violence”

Fanny Kaekat, indigenous leader of the Shuar Arutam people, has spent her life defending the territories of indigenous communities in southeastern Ecuador from the threat of mining. She poses at the 14th Latin American Feminist Meeting, in Montevideo, in front of a poster that reads: "my body, my territory", a slogan of women human rights defenders. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Fanny Kaekat, indigenous leader of the Shuar Arutam people, poses at the 14th Latin American Feminist Meeting, in Montevideo, in front of a poster that reads: “my body, my territory”, a slogan of women human rights defenders. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPS

Veiled and direct threats, defamation, criminalisation of activism, attacks on their private lives, destruction of property and assets needed to support their families, and even murder are some forms of gender violence that extend throughout Latin America against women defenders of rights. They want to throw us off our land, they do not leave us alone. The helicopters fly at midnight, there are rumours that they are going to attack us,” Fanny Kaekat, an indigenous leader of the Shuar Arutam people in Ecuador, who for decades have been resisting the harassment of mining companies interested in the gold in their territories in the southeast of the country.

The violence against women rights activists was one of the main topics discussed at Eflac, which brought together some 2,000 feminists between Nov. 23 and 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which marks the start of 16 days of activism to eradicate a problem that is growing rather than declining in the region. This is shown by the report “Commitment to Action: Public Policies to Eradicate Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean”, launched on Nov. 22 by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which stresses that the region has the highest rates of gender violence not perpetrated by a partner and the second highest committed by an intimate partner……

The local newspaper of Krugersdorp in South Africa (24 November 2017) must be representative of a host of articles on this topic: “#Count me in: together moving a non-violent SA forward”

The white ribbon is the symbol of support for the 16 Days of Activism campaign. It symbolises peace, and the commitment to never commit or condone violence against women and children. Photo: bigissue.org.

…In 1998, South Africa nominated the 16 Days of Activism campaign as the blue-print for curbing violence in the country, and uses it as a time to educate communities about abuse, which includes rape, murder, assault, financial abuse, starvation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, abduction, sexual harassment, human trafficking, incest, child labour and any act of doing something against the other person’s will. The 16 Days of Activism campaign also tells people how to get help when you or someone you know has been abused. The campaign has seen various governmental departments involved in acting against abuse, as well as initiatives, themes, talks, organisations and activities helping to eradicate abuse by providing information. As one of the strategic ways of fighting abuse and inequality, the government went so far as to establish a ministerial portfolio, the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities in May 2009, to put emphasis on not only equality but also the access to development opportunities for vulnerable groups in South African society. The Department aimed to steer the equity, equality and empowerment agenda of the government with regard to groups of people who are treated as insignificant, and previously disadvantaged communities in each of the three sectors.

Finally, although technically not issued in the context of the Women Human Rights Defenders Day, I refer to the piece by Aynslee Darmon in ET Canada of 6 December 2017 entitled  Angelina Jolie Is Fighting For Female Empowerment Through Art: ‘Help Them Tell Their Stories’

At The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast on Wednesday, Angelina Jolie delivered a powerful speech calling for female empowerment. Calling it an international battle, Jolie is encouraging female empowerment through art…“We don’t have to keep our heads down, we don’t have to think that the film we make or our comment on politics, or a joke we tell on stage could land us in prison where we might be tortured or punished,” Jolie, 42, added. “We don’t have the censorship. We don’t have to worry what acting in a play or singing on television will bring violence or dishonour to our families. We don’t have to tailor our clothes or our opinions to when it’s acceptable to religious authorities or violent extremist groups. We are not shunned and considered immoral because we dare to speak our mind about why we consider to be wrong as a society. We have the right to think thoroughly and to speak freely and to put forward our ideas on equal terms. There are women across the world who face serious danger and get hurt just trying to have a voice and an opinion.”


sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/women-human-rights-defenders_uk_5a2692dce4b087120d865f21

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/environment/developmental-issues/women-who-have-been-tortured-for-the-environment/articleshow/61926819.cms

http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/200-environmental-women-defenders-killed-in-2017-activists-117120401285_1.html

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30333107

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-30/killing-of-mexican-prosecutor-of-crimes-against-women-sparks-outcry

https://www.themarysue.com/5-women-to-remember/

https://iva.aippnet.org/philippines-cpa-statement-on-the-occasion-of-international-women-human-rights-defenders-day/

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/29/1763688/women-human-rights-defenders-say-they-face-graver-challenge-under

https://ifex.org/middle_east_north_africa/2017/11/29/women-rights-defenders/

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/iachr-calls-states-recognize-and-protect-work-women-human-rights-defenders

https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/isabel-flota-ayala-awid/this-is-why-we-fight-interview-with-isabel-flota-ayala

http://www.ishr.ch/news/bahrain-women-human-rights-defenders-must-be-protected

https://www.awid.org/whrd-tribute

http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/women-activists-targets-gender-biased-violence/

https://krugersdorpnews.co.za/340928/count-me-in-together-moving-a-non-violent-sa-forward/

Angelina Jolie Is Fighting For Female Empowerment Through Art: ‘Help Them Tell Their Stories’

 

Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law awarded for second time

December 7, 2017

On 4 December 2017 the winners of the 2017 Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law were announced. At the Franco-German Council of Ministers in April 2016, Germany and France announced the launch of an annual international Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/05/surprise-announcement-of-a-franco-german-human-rights-prize/].

All prize winners will receive a diploma and a medal designed by artist Anna Martha Napp that was chosen by a Franco-German jury. The medal symbolises their active commitment to the defence of human rights.

For more on this and other awards, see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/franco-german-prize-for-human-rights-and-the-rule-of-law

Here is a list of the 15 prize winners:


Know more:

Commercial spyware out of control and becoming threat to human rights defenders

December 6, 2017

Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty just published major report on human rights defenders

December 6, 2017

This report – published on 5 December – is part of Brave, Amnesty International’s campaign launched in May 2017 calling on states to recognize the work of human rights defenders, and to ensure they are able to carry out their work in a safe and enabling environment. States around the world are failing in their duty to effectively protect people who defend human rights, leading to an escalation in preventable killings and enforced disappearances, Amnesty International said.

The organization’s new report, Deadly but Preventable Attacks: Killings and Enforced Disappearances of Those who Defend Human Rights, highlights the growing risks faced by human rights defenders.
The report includes testimonies from friends, relatives and colleagues of human rights defenders, including environmentalists, LGBTIQ and women’s rights activists, journalists and lawyers, who have been killed or disappeared. Many described how victims’ pleas for protection had been repeatedly ignored by the authorities and how the attackers had evaded justice, fuelling a deadly cycle of impunity. “We spoke to families of killed and forcibly disappeared human rights defenders all over the world, and kept hearing the same thing: these people knew their lives were at risk,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Head of Amnesty International’s Global Human Rights Defenders Programme. “Their deaths or disappearances had been preceded by a string of previous attacks, which authorities turned a blind eye to or even encouraged. If states had taken their human rights obligations seriously and acted diligently on reports of threats and other abuses, lives could have been saved.”

Cases include:
Berta Cáceres, a Honduran environmental and Indigenous activist who was shot dead in 2016 after years of threats and attacks. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta-caceres/]
Xulhaz Mannan, an LGBTIQ activist who was hacked to death in Bangladesh, along with his colleague, in 2016. Over 18 months later, justice is yet to take place.
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, founder of a human rights organization in Burundi, who was shot in the face and neck in 2015. Months later, while he was recovering abroad, his son and son-in-law were killed. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/17/mbonimpa-wins-also-the-2017-civil-courage-prize/]
The “Douma 4”, four Syrian activists who were abducted from their office by armed men in December 2013 and have not been seen since.

When the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998, the international community committed to protecting them and recognizing their crucial work. But Amnesty International’s report shows that championing human rights continues to be highly dangerous work, with thousands of human rights defenders killed or forcibly disappeared by state and non-state actors in the two decades since. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/21/breaking-news-un-adopts-key-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/]
Amnesty International’s report reveals the motives behind these attacks are multiple and layered. Some people are attacked because of their occupations (for example, journalists, law professionals, trade unionists), for standing up to powerful actors violating human rights, for sharing information or raising awareness. Others are at heightened risk of attack both for what they do and who they are, facing discrimination and violence. These people include those defending the rights of women; sex workers; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people; Indigenous peoples and other minority groups. Others are attacked in context-specific situations, for example during conflict or where communities are in the grip of organized crime and violent crackdown.

  • Amnesty International is urging all states to prioritize the recognition and protection of human rights defenders.
  • Authorities must publicly support their work, and acknowledge their contribution to the advancement of human rights.
  • They must take all necessary measures to prevent further attacks on them, and bring to justice those responsible for attacks by effectively investigating and prosecuting killings and enforced disappearances.

 

View Original