Archive for the 'MEA' Category

Breaking news: Laureates of the MEA for 2023 announced

January 19, 2023

Today the three Martin Ennals Award Laureates 2023 were announced !

The 2023 Laureates — Delphine Djiraibé (Chad), Feliciano Reyna (Venezuela), and Khurram Parvez (Jammu and Kashmir) — have each dedicated over 30 years of their lives to building movements which brought justice for victims, accountability from leaders, or medicines to the marginalized. They have made human rights real for thousands of people in their communities, despite the ongoing, sometimes life-threatening, challenges they endure.  For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

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Delphine Kemneloum Djiraibé was one of the first female lawyers in Chad and a pioneer of the human rights movement in one of the poorest countries in the world, fraught with corruption and human rights abuses. Convinced that her role is to “challenge the power”, Delphine has advocated on behalf of victims and the democratic process for over 30 years. She was a key figure in bringing the former dictator Hissène Habré to justice. Djiraibé heads the non-governmental organisation Public Interest Law Center (PILC), which trains volunteers and accompanies citizens seeking justice for violations of their rights. In recent years she has been particularly active in combating gender-based violence and is in the process of establishing the first women’s counselling center in Chad, which will include an emergency shelter for women affected by domestic violence. See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/5B701F71-12FD-B713-9F99-5E09B9AFD6DA

After the death of his partner Rafael from AIDS in 1995, Feliciano Reyna, then an architect, founded Acción Solidaria to provide much needed medication and treatment to Venezuelans living with HIV & AIDS. Feliciano and Acción Solidaria began advocating for access to health for the marginalised LGBTQI population in a country where healthcare was on the decline and corruption on the rise. They created the first national AIDS Help Line in Venezuela and ran a national awareness campaign on HIV & AIDS, which aired on TV and in movie theaters, and received radio and magazine coverage. Feliciano Reyna went on to found CODEVIDA, a coalition of Venezuelan organisations promoting the rights of Venezuelan citizens to health and life. As he put it: “We walked directly into the complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela”. Despite ongoing threats, since 2006, he has worked closely with UN mechanisms to defend human rights in his country. In 2019 his advocacy was instrumental in establishing the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela. 

At the age of 13, when Khurram Parvez witnessed the shooting of his grandfather during a protest demonstration against the molestation of women outside his house in Kashmir, he chose to “not incite violence and become part of some revenge” , but rather to become a “nonviolent activist“. He founded the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and is the Chair of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances. For 15 years he has travelled to the most remote parts of the region to sit with victims of abuse, collect documentation and report on their stories. Under his leadership, the JKCCS has been highly effective in translating the protections guaranteed in international human rights law into local realities. Despite continued attacks on his right to freedom of expression by the Indian government, being jailed in 2016 and losing a leg to landmines, Khurram relentlessly spoke the truth and was an inspiration to civil society and the local population. In November 2021, he was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on politically motivated charges. He remains detained without trial in India.  See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/81468931-79AA-24FF-58F7-10351638AFE3

You can watch them take questions from the press at the Club Suisse de la Presse, livestreamed on February 14th, 2023 from 12h CET.

A celebration of the Laureates 2023 will take place on 16 February at the Salle communale de Plainpalais in Geneva, at 6:30pm. The event is open to the public and livestreamed from the Martin Ennals Foundation’s website and Facebook page. Sign-up to the Ceremony

Save the date: Martin Ennals Award Ceremony 2023

December 19, 2022

The Martin Ennals Award Ceremony in 2023 will take place on 16 February, 2023 at 18:30 CET. 
The Ceremony will be organized together with the City of Geneva, in a hybrid format.
Please note that entry to the usual venue, the salle communale de Plainpalais in Geneva, is on a
first-come, first-served basis.  

The Ceremony will also be livestreamed from Geneva to worldwide locations on our website and Facebook page.
Detailed information on the Ceremony will follow shortly. See more on this award: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

On January 19th, 2023 at 12:00 CET the MEA will announce the Laureates 2023.

MEA laureate AbdulHadi Al-Khawaja facing new charges for protesting injustice in Jau Prison

November 29, 2022

There seems to b no end to the persecution of AbdulHadi AlKhawaja, the 2022 laureate of the Martin Ennals Award [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/4d45e316-c636-4d02-852d-7bfc2b08b78d]

On Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain strongly denounced new charges brought against this dual Bahraini-Danish citizen, who is serving a life sentence at Jau Prison for his participation in the 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/09/12/bahrain-travails-of-a-family-of-human-rights-defenders/

In November 2022, AlKhawaja informed his family that authorities are bringing four new charges against him for his protests against the harsh conditions which he and other political prisoners have been subjected to in Jau prison.

On 16 November, the Second Lower Criminal Court scheduled a hearing on the first of these new charges for an incident in November 2021 when authorities denied his right to call his daughters. However, the court postponed this hearing until 28 November on the grounds that Al-Khawaja needed to perform a power of attorney, something which he was going to do in-person during the hearing. A lieutenant attempted to pressure and threatened Al-Khawaja into recording a video stating that he was refusing to attend the hearing. Nevertheless, Al-Khawaja  refused and repeatedly stated on camera his desire to attend the hearing. He was then transferred back to his cell.

The second charge against him is for insulting a public servant and criticizing a foreign state (Israel) in March 2022 when Al-Khawaja led a peaceful protest inside the prison. He was chanting his opposition to the normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel, as well as insulting a public servant, who allegedly tortured one of his cellmates. The hearing for this charge was set for 21 November. Prior to the hearing, authorities denied him the every-other-day calls with his lawyer. This hearing was also postponed and while the judge stated that AlKhawaja refused to attend, has not presented any evidence to AlKhawaja’s attorney to support this claim. AlKhawaja has informed his daughter that he wanted to attend.

The third charge, by far the most serious, is a charge of incitement to overthrow or change the regime, and relates to an incident in July 2022 when AlKhawaja was scheduled to attend a medical appointment for treatment on his back. During this appointment, authorities insisted on shackling his feet and hands during transfer and putting him in a small bus with no ventilation, creating conditions like an oven. In response, AbdulHadi started protesting and chanting “Down with the Interior Minister ” holding him accountable for his mistreatment and torture.

The fourth and final charge relates to the protest against the ill-treatment of a fellow inmate and is expected in the coming days.

In addition to these charges and violations, AlKhawaja was already suffering the unceasing legal and bodily violations of prison authorities since his arrest 12 years ago. In addition to inhumane restrictions and property confiscation, authorities have systematically used medical negligence as a form of reprisal against AlKhawaja’s activism. He has been denied proper medical treatment which has significantly contributed to the deterioration of his health. He suffers from back pain and vision impairment which were exacerbated by the extreme torture he endured during interrogations by security officers, as well as magnesium deficiency and leg spasms. In response to this treatment, AlKhawaja has gone on multiple hunger strikes and protests with his fellow inmates against the dehumanizing and unjust treatment by authorities.

These charges clearly demonstrate how prison authorities are trying to silence all dissent against their systematic repression of pro-democracy Bahrainis. Many organizations and individuals have condemned these charges because they set a dangerous precedent.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/27/over-100-ngos-write-to-prime-minister-of-denmark-to-pressure-bahrain-to-release-abdul-hadi-al-khawaja/

Mona Seif’s letter: a cry for help for Alaa

July 7, 2022

On 7 July 2022, Egyptian Human Rights Defender Mona Seif [https://www.martinennalsaward.org/hrd/mona-seif/] wrote the following letter asking for your help:

Dear Friends, colleagues and human rights defenders 

As I write this, I am on day 25 of my hunger strike, and Alaa, my brother, is on day 96 of his.

Alaa is a British-Egyptian prisoner of conscience and pro-democracy activist imprisoned in Egypt for most of the past decade.I decided to go on this hunger strike right after I last saw my brother in prison, on June 12th. He has lost a lot of weight, there was a very frail air about him, his hands looked thin and so pale that I could see the blue veins, and he was livid with anger. He kept on telling me to get over the notion that he can be rescued, he will never make it out of prison. “Focus on making the political price of my death the highest possible”, he said. It was an incredibly intense visit. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/12/21/alaa-abdel-fattah-and-two-others-receive-heavy-prison-sentences-in-egypt/]

I stepped out of prison and decided I will join his hunger strike. I was frustrated with how all officials seemed to take his strike lightly. The Egyptian government was blatantly denying his hunger strike on national TV  and all official meetings, while making sure no one sees Alaa but his family, so they blocked his lawyer from visiting, the national council for human rights from seeing him, and they have been blocking his British consular visit for months. On the other hand the British officials while sharing their genuine concern with us as a family in meetings, in their public official communication seemed to tip toe around Alaa’s hunger strike and how critical his situation is. 

Things have changed over the course of the past weeks. 

On June 21st the British Foreign Secretary confirmed to parliament that she is “working very hard to secure his release.” On July 4th a letter written by MP David Lammy, my MP and shadow foreign minister to the foreign secretary Liz Truss stressing on the importance of her intervention for Alaa’s release and highlighting his hunger strike. Another letter signed by 35 MPs and Lords was sent to the Egyptian minister for foreign affairs, Sameh Shoukry, on the same day.

And finally Sameh Shoukry arrived in London this week and my brother’s case was brought up during the bilateral meetings he attended, we are still waiting for an update about these meetings and if any agreement has been reached between both governments with regards to Alaa.

Accordingly I have decided to put an end to my strike, mostly because I feel I am growing too weak and tired to carry out my most important role right now: advocating for my brother’s life and freedom. But Alaa, being a prisoner, has no way of voicing out his frustration and anger at the continued injustice he is trapped in, except through his body, and depriving himself of the comfort of food. So he continues with his hunger strike, and next Sunday will be his 100th day!

Things seem to be moving but it worries us that the pace is very slow given how critical and life-threatening Alaa’s situation is.

So I am writing asking for your help, and asking you to believe that no help is too little. Every small action at this point really helps in building more awareness, sympathy and pressure to help us save my brother and with him the possibility of any happy future for my family. I will share some suggestions but please feel free to reach out, or organize any kind of action you think might help.

– Write to the Egyptian ambassador in your respective countries, address the urgency of Alaa’s case and situation.

– Write to your parliament representatives asking them to write to their counterparts in the UK and Egypt discussing Alaa’s case. If they could also issue any solidarity public statements it’d help immensely. Only today the German MP Tobias B. Bacherle published this statement in solidarity

– With the coming UN Climate conference #COP27 taking place in Egypt this year, all participating governments can influence and help in improving the human rights situation in Egypt prior to their attendance. So accordingly you have a chance to write to your government’s representatives who might be taking part in it and urge them to raise Alaa’s case with their Egyptian counterparts, and stress on how devastating it’d be if they allowed a British/Egyptian activist to die in prison after years of unjust detention. – Statements of solidarity by Human Rights defenders and organizations, and any solidarity vigils are always welcome

Feel free to share this email with anyone you think could help. For more resources and info regarding Alaa : check https://freealaa.net/, and on twitter @FreedomForAlaa

I urge you to carry my brother’s case as yours and help me in every possible way. I am exhausted and scared we’d lose him, but I also think this is the first time in years his release seems like an actual possibility not just a dream.

Much love Mona Seif #FreeAlaa,

Save the date and come to the MEA ceremony 2022 or watch online

April 20, 2022

The Martin Ennals Award Laureates 2022 are leading architects of the human rights movement. Get inspired by their courage and unique contributions at the Award Ceremony on 2 June 2022

After a postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, registration for the Award Ceremony in person is now open. June 2nd, 18h00 at the Salle Communale de Plainpalais, Rue de Carouge 52, 1205 Geneva.

The Award Ceremony will also be live streamed on the MEA website and social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. sign up

MEET THE LAUREATES of 2022

Dr. Daouda Diallo. Burkina Faso

A fearless activist, Dr. Daouda Diallo documents human rights abuses committed in the cross- fires of Burkina Faso’s violent conflict.

Pham Doan Trang. Vietnam

A leading journalist and champion of freedom of expression, Pham Doan Trang inspires others to speak up.

Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja, Bahrain

A champion of human rights and justice, Abdul-Hadi Al-Khawaja galvanized a new generation of activists in the Gulf region.

THE SPEAKERS include:

Catherine Sommer, Master of Ceremony, Journalist and Producer

Alfonso Gomez. Member of the executive – City of Geneva

Nada-Al Nashif

Haute-Commissaire adjointe des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme

Fr. Xavier Soreng SJ

Watch the press conference below to get to know the three 2022 Laureates selected by the Jury.

Breaking news: MEA laureate Yu Wensheng released

March 3, 2022

On 1 March 2022, EFE reported that Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, sentenced to 4 years in 2020 for “inciting subversion of state power,” was released Tuesday from prison in the eastern city of Nanjing, according to a Twitter post by his wife Xu Yan. Yu Wensheng was on a train bound for Beijing according to his wife, who awaits him at a hotel in the capital.

Could it be that campaigns help? See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/17/campaign-to-free-chinese-human-rights-lawyer-yu-wensheng/ and https://mailchi.mp/3165601cacf1/749qlxejj6-33417?e=d1945ebb90

Yu, winner of the Martin Ennals Award in 2021 for championing human rights, had been in prison since his arrest in January 2018 while taking his son to school. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/11/breaking-news-yu-wensheng-chinese-human-rights-lawyer-is-martin-ennals-laureate-2021/

During the few meetings with his lawyer, Yu has claimed to have suffered torture and mistreatment during his confinement that may have caused him to lose part of the mobility of his right hand.

Campaign to free Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng

February 17, 2022

ISHR, the Martin Ennals Foundation and eight other major human rights groups urge in a joint statement the Chinese government to ensure lawyer Yu Wensheng is able to leave Nanjing Prison on March 1st, and freely reunite with his family in Beijing.

The signatory organisations also called in the joint statement for sustained attention on the growing risks and threats his wife, Xu Yan, faces for advocating for his rights and release. 

A Laureate of the 2021 Martin Ennals Award, Yu Wensheng is a leading figure among human rights lawyers in China. He has fearlessly taken on a number of sensitive cases and issues, joining litigations on air pollution advocating for a constitutional government. See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/69fc7057-b583-40c3-b6fa-b8603531248e

For this, the authorities revoked his legal license on 16 January, 2018. Three days later, he was forcibly disappeared, a day after publishing an open letter calling for constitutional reform. He was put on trial in secret on 9 May 2019, but his wife, Xu Yan, was only informed of his four-years jail sentence in June 2020.

Yu Wensheng is expected to leave prison in Nanjing on 1 March 2022, after being detained for 50 months, which should mark the end of his sentence for ‘inciting subversion of State power’. As early as May 2019, UN experts concluded his detention was arbitrary and called on the government to release him. Ever since, a number of government and UN experts have called for his release.

The signatories of the joint statement express grave concern that Yu Wensheng may be put under a de facto home arrest, severely restricted in his movements and communication, and unable to reunite with his family in Beijing.

Human rights lawyers have endured such restrictions upon leaving prison on grounds of a supplemental sentence of ‘deprivation of political rights’, in a phenomenon known as ‘non-release release’. In September 2019, UN experts condemned the use of this practice against lawyer Jiang Tianyong as ‘gratuitously punitive and legally unjustified’.

IThe signatory organisations urge the Chinese authorities to: 

  • Ensure that Yu Wensheng is able to reunite with his family in Beijing on 1 March, to exercise his rights to move and communicate freely, and that he is not subjected to surveillance and harassment. He must also be able to resume his legal work without restrictions;
  • Put an end to the surveillance and harassment of Yu Wensheng’s family; 
  • Guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in China, including human rights lawyers, are able to carry out their legitimate professional duties without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions.

You can add your own voice by filling out the form in: https://ishr.ch/latest-updates/on-march-1st-chinese-lawyer-yu-wensheng-must-be-fully-free/

Read the full statement https://ishr.ch/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Joint-NGO-statement-on-YWS_English-1.pdf

https://mailchi.mp/ishr/749qlxejj6-33409?e=d1945ebb90

FIFDH dedicates its 20th edition to Pham Doan Trang and Ida Leblanc

February 15, 2022

The Geneva Human Rights Film Festival of 2020 (FIFDH – The Festival) dedicates its 20th edition to human rights defenders Pham Doan Trang and Ida Leblanc

Journalist and blogger Pham Doan Trang has been in detention since October 2020 and was recently sentenced to 9 years in prison for “propaganda against the state”. The 43-year-old was accused by the Hanoi regime of “defaming the Vietnamese government and inventing fake news“. In one of the world’s most repressive countries towards civil society, where freedom of the press is non-existent, Pham Doan Trang – RSF 2019 Prize – has founded numerous independent media and publishing houses – including Nha Xuat Ban Tu Do or Law Magazine – and the NGO Green Trees, making her the target of a government that does not tolerate dissent. Despite intimidation, torture and repeated arrests, Pham Doan Trang is fighting to end systematic abuse of both human rights and freedom of the press in Vietnam. She won several awards including recently the Martin Ennals Award 2022. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/fe8bf320-1d78-11e8-aacf-35c4dd34b7ba

Trinidad and Tobago is home to more than 10,000 domestic workers, most of them without any social protection. Ida Leblanc fights daily for them to obtain rights similar to those of all workers, notably as General Secretary of the National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE), which she founded. In 2011, the International Labour Organisation adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers thanks to Ida Leblanc’s active campaigning. Though the government of Trinidad and Tobago has never implemented the Convention, tireless Ida Leblanc remains undeterred.

She successfully campaigned for the decriminalisation of the Minimum Wage Act, giving unions the right to hear cases of non-compliance with the Act in the Labour Court. She has spearheaded many victories on behalf of low-income workers in cases of unfair dismissal, lay-offs and breaches of the Maternity Protection and Minimum Wage Acts.

She is the winner of this year’s Martine Anstett 2022 Prize, [see https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/696be661-30ac-4c6a-84d1-989aab323b65]

https://fifdh.org/en/the-festival/news/article/the-fifdh-dedicates-its-20th-edition-to-pham-doan-trang-and-ida-leblanc

For this year’s programme see: https://genevasolutions.news/peace-humanitarian/geneva-s-human-rights-film-festival-poised-for-emotional-return-to-the-big-screen
 

Martin Ennals Foundation seeking a part-time Communications Officer

February 14, 2022

On 8 February 2022, the Martin Ennals Foundation published an opening for a communication officer.

The Martin Ennals Foundation is a small organization run by a highly motivated staff, Board and Jury. At different points in the year, its work will be fast-paced, intense and challenging. The Communications Officer and Programme Officer work closely together. An entry-level position to support both communications and programmatic activities will be opened in 2022. Several interns complete the team. The Communications Officer reports to the Director of the Foundation. The Communications Officer will also have frequent contact with members of the Board, with colleagues of the Jury organisations, and with MEA winners themselves. The Communications Officer will oversee service providers to the Foundation.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The Communications Officer is responsible for formulating and leading the MEF communications strategy in support of the organisation’s mission, which includes corporate communication elements and the delivery of a high-quality outreach campaign for the annual MEA ceremony. The Communications Officer provide supervision to the Programs and Communications Associate and interns. The Communications Officer’s tasks include:

  • Designing and delivering MEA’s corporate communications, regularly adapting social media activity, our website and newsletter to Foundation activities and current events.
  • Designing and delivering an outreach strategy for the annual MEA ceremony:
    • Overseeing the production of bespoke films about MEA winners
    • Collaborating with the City of Geneva in the production of marketing material for the MEA campaign (posters, flags, banners, etc.
    • Overseeing the production and dissemination of digital social media assets (both visual and editorial content)
    • Organizing a press conference to announce the winners of the Award
    • Producing and disseminating press material and other written and audio-visual products on our website and social media channels
  • Enhancing the impact of MEF’s advocacy activities with targeted communications strategies.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the performance of the Foundation’s communication strategy and its contributions to our annual objectives.

Requirements:

  • 7-10 years of relevant work experience in a communication function;
  • Familiarity with traditional media, media monitoring and media relations;
  • Strong background in digital communications (professional knowledge with WordPress, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Canva, Tweedeck and Google analytics an asset);
  • Fluency or professional proficiency in both English and French;
  • A degree or work experience in journalism, communications, political science, international relations, law, or relevant subject;
  • Ability to work across organizations and collaborate easily with colleagues;
  • Ability to multi-task and coordinate the delivery of tasks by junior colleagues, service providers, or peers;
  • Ability to cope with pressure and challenging work periods. Self-starters, entrepreneurs, determined and creative types are welcome to apply.

Conditions of the position

  • Indefinite term contract at 40%
  • A competitive salary
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • 25 days’ vacation pro-rata
  • Preferred start date: mid-March

To apply, please send your CV, a cover letter, and an example of your work to info@martinennalsaward.org by end of day, Sunday March 6th 2022.

Aktham Naisse no more

February 7, 2022

Aktham Naisse was a Syrian lawyer and human rights activist. He was president of the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights (CDDL-HR), which he helped found in 1989.

He was first arrested in February 1982, when he was held for four months and tortured. In 1989 the CDDL-HR formed an underground publication, Sawt al-Dimuqratiyya (The voice of democracy). In 1991 the group called for free elections, leading to Naisse’s arrest in December 1991. In 1992 he was tried and sentenced to 9 years imprisonment in Sednaya prison. Released in July 1998, Naisse was not subsequently permitted to practice law.

In August 2003 Naisse was questioned and threatened by military security. The committee posted a public letter on the Internet, calling for the lifting of the state of emergency. On 8 March 2004 they led around 700 demonstrators in a peaceful sit-in in front of the Syrian parliament building in Damascus. Naisse and one hundred others presented the parliament with a petition against the state of emergency, signed by over 7,000 people.

On 13 April 2004 Naisse was arrested and returned to Sednaya prison. There he suffered a stroke, leaving him partially paralysed. He began a hunger strike, and was released on bail pending trial on 16 August 2004. After international appeals on his behalf, the court acquitted him on 26 June 2005.

Naisse won the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Award in October 2004and the 2005 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/96EB3030-144D-204E-3C6C-31CD4CA4501C]