Posts Tagged ‘assassination’

And in the Philippines the killing of human rights defenders also continues with Benjamin Ramos

November 8, 2018

FOR THE PEOPLE. Benjamin Ramos is hailed for his work as a lawyer for marginalized sectors. Photo from the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers' Facebook page

Benjamin Ramos is hailed for his work as a lawyer for marginalized sectors. Photo from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers’ Facebook page

On Wednesday, 7 November many NGOs condemned the murder of human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos, which comes amid continuous violence against human rights defenders in the Philippines.  Ramos, the secretary-general of the Negros Occidental arm of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants on Tuesday night, 6 November in Kabankalan City. A known human rights defender, Ramos represented political prisoners, farmers, and other members of marginalized sectors in his career as a pro-bono lawyer. Among those he worked with were the Mabinay 6, including youth leader and University of the Philippines Cebu alumna Myles Albasin. They were arrested in March 2017 in Mabinay, Negros Oriental, following an alleged clash with government troops.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed concern that Ramos’ death is the latest in the “growing incidents of injustices reported.’ We call on the government to act with urgency in pinning down the perpetrators of this violence and proceed with active measures that would protect the safety of human rights defenders who continue to serve this country’s most vulnerable and marginalized,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

NUPL, in a statement, said “beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on.” Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” NUPL said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), meanwhile, tagged the incident as “a blow to the human rights movement in the country” which has suffered from threats, including from President Rodrigo Duterte himself. We demand an impartial investigation into Ramos’ murder and the many other attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and that the authorities bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Carlos Conde of HRW Asia Division.

I condemn the murder of a fellow member of the Bar. I am outraged at the thought that his advocacy could have caused his own murder or might justify it. His murder is inexcusable and must be investigated, and the perpetrators, brought to justice,” Chel Diokno national chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)said in a statement.

In 2017 alone, Ireland-based Front Line Defenders recorded 60 deaths in the Philippines. Since 2001, there have been at least 613 documented killings. To see some of my earlier posts on the Philippines, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/philippines/

Facing death threats, human rights groups have repeatedly called on the government to recognize their role in society by passing the human rights defenders’ protection bill

https://www.rappler.com/nation/216116-groups-condemn-lawyer-benjamin-ramos-murder-attack-against-human-rights-movement

“Reprehensible” says UN about Mexican killing of human rights defender

November 7, 2018

On 6 November 2018, four UN Special  Rapporteurs have strongly condemned the killing of Julián Carrillo, an indigenous rights defender from the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, who had worked tirelessly for over two decades to defend his community against the exploitation of Rarámuri ancestral lands.

On 23 October 23 2018, Julián Carrillo told a friend by phone that he believed he was being watched and said he would go into the forest in an attempt to hide. On the evening of 25 October, his body was found. He had multiple bullet wounds. “We urge the Mexican authorities to identify the perpetrators of this reprehensible crime and to bring them to justice in accordance with the law,” the experts said.

The experts also urged the Government to address the underlying causes of such violence. “The killing of Julián Carrillo highlights the serious situation in the Sierra Tarahumara where the lack of recognition of indigenous land rights is a root cause of the recurring violence against and displacements of indigenous communities.”… [The UN experts are: Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples;  Ms. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.]

Julián Carrillo’s murder is one of a spate of killings of human rights defenders in the country. According to official OHCHR figures, 21 human rights defenders have been killed so far this year, nine of them from indigenous communities. Four members of Julián Carrillo’s family – his son, son-in-law and two nephews – have been killed since February 2016.

This follows soon after the assassination on Wednesday 23 October of journalist Gabriel Soriano Kuri.  Soriano had been covering Governor Héctor Astudillo Flores’ third annual report for the Radio y Televisión de Guerrero (RTG) broadcaster that evening. After the event, held in Acapulco, he was driving a company vehicle when he was attacked and killed by armed civilians. Following the murder, Astudillo offered his condolences to Soriano’s family via Twitter. But it didn’t go down very well. Soriano’s daughter replied with a blunt message: “My dad was assassinated doing his job. Covering your report to the state! Do your job and fix the situation the state is in. It’s not right,” she wrote. Her discontent was echoed in at least three demonstrations where journalists demanded that authorities solve the assassination of their colleague. A state journalists’ association reported that three members of the profession have been slain during Astudillo’s three years in office.

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/profile/noel-castillo-aguilar

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/mexico-asesinato-de-lider-raramuri-demuestra-falta-de-proteccion-estatal/

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/demonstrations-follow-journalists-assassination/

Marielle Franco, 38-year-old human rights defender and city councilor of Rio, assassinated

March 16, 2018

The targeted assassination of Marielle Franco, a 38-year-old human rights defender and Rio de Janeiro city councilor known for denouncing police abuses and extrajudicial executions, is a sickening development that must be fully investigated, said Amnesty International 0n 15 March. Marielle was shot dead in Rio de Janeiro’s Estacio neighborhood on Wednesday 14 March 2018. Her driver was also killed and a press officer was injured in the attack.

This a chilling development and is yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil. As a member of Rio de Janeiro’s State Human Rights Commission, Marielle worked tirelessly to defend the rights of black women and young people in the favelas and other marginalized communities,” said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International’s Brazil director.

In 2016, Marielle was elected to the Rio de Janeiro city council. Two weeks ago, she was appointed rapporteur for a special commission that the city council created to monitor the ongoing federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro and the militarization of public security.

Gunmen riding in another vehicle carried out the attack, shooting indiscriminately before fleeing the scene without stealing anything, the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro State said. The attack came a day after the 38-year-old city councilor had posted a message on social media criticizing the deployment of army soldiers to Rio’s sprawling “favelas”.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/05/front-lines-2017-report-confirms-worst-expectation-over-300-hrds-killed/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/brazil-authorities-must-investigate-the-killing-of-human-rights-defender-marielle-franco/

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2452754&CategoryId=14090

Killing of another human rights defender: FMO suspends all activities in Honduras

March 16, 2016

Bertha Cáceres, daughter of murdered Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres.

 Bertha Cáceres, daughter of murdered Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres. Photograph: Liz Ford for the Guardian

This week, Bertha, who is studying for a masters degree in Latin American studies in Mexico, was in New York to speak at side events during the annual Commission on the Status of Women. Here she said “… I will talk about the situation in Honduras. This is not the first assassination, but one of a series of assassinations of human rights defenders … I don’t want another human rights defender to be assassinated”. Even while she spoke with the Guardian journalist a call came through from COPINH’s lawyer (the NGO her mother worked for) to say another member of the organisation had been shot dead ….

According to a statement by Front Line Defenders today, this human rights defender, Nelson Garcia, was returning home following a violent eviction conducted by the Public Order Military Police and the Cobras Special Force in the municipality of Río Lindo when he was intercepted by unidentified men who shot him in the face four times. Read the rest of this entry »

Exceptional response from NGO world on killing of Berta Cáceres

March 7, 2016

A group of over 50 international organizations has written to the President of Honduras to express their shock over the recent killing of Berta Cáceres [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/berta-caceres-human-rights-defender-assassinated-today-in-honduras/], to demand an international investigation and the immediate protection of Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist, who witnessed her assassination. Here is the letter and signatories in full: Read the rest of this entry »

Berta Caceres, human rights defender, assassinated today in Honduras

March 3, 2016

A sad day for Honduras and all human rights defenders: today, 3 March 2016, Berta Cáceres was murdered by as yet unknown assailants who broke into her home in the city of La Esperanza in the early hours of the morning. One week prior to her assassination, the defender had denounced the killing of 4 leaders of her community as well as threats against her and other human rights defenders, at a press conference.

BertaCaceres_Credit_GoldmanPrize

Berta Cáceres was one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Honduras and a Lenca indigenous woman who, for the past 20 years, had been defending the territory and rights of the Lenca people. In 1993, she co-founded the Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – COPINH (http://www.copinh.org/)  (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras), which led fierce campaigns against illegal logging and mega-projects for their detrimental effects on the rights of indigenous peoples in the country. She faced off – and often won – against illegal loggers, plantation owners, multinational corporations, and dam projects that would cut off food and water supplies to indigenous communities. (e.g. https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/berta-caceres-in-honduras-continues-to-be-harassed-in-spite-of-court-order).

The human rights defender was a finalist for the 2014 Front Line Defenders Award [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/es/programme/fld-award] and in 2015 she received the Goldman Environmental Prize. She had been a beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) since 2009. Her harassment was followed closely by Front Line and others.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

 

Other human rights defenders (including members of COPINH) have been targeted in the past. The killing of human rights defenders and impunity for the perpetrators have been documented by many organizations. In this blog alone:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/assassination-of-human-rights-defenders-proceed-in-honduras-venezuela-peru-colombia-and-the-philippines/

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/alarming-criminalisation-of-human-rights-defenders-in-latin-america/

“the most dangerous place to be an environmental activist was actually Honduras, according to Global Witness” [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/killings-of-environmental-human-rights-defenders-up-again-compared-to-last-year/]

Honduras: Berta Caceres, human rights defender & indigenous leader who opposed Agua Zarca dam, assassinated | Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Assassination of human rights defenders proceed in Honduras, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia and the Philippines

January 29, 2016

On 30 November I referred to the systematic killing of human rights defenders in 2015 [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/closing-civil-society-space-a-euphemism-for-killing-human-rights-defenders/] and mentioned the annual report by Front Line for 2015 listing Latin America and the Philippines as the most dangerous places [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/latin-america-philippines-most-dangerous-places-for-human-rights-defenders/]. If further illustration is needed, here some short summaries of cases of killing human rights defenders as reported by Front Line over the last few months:Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Honduras: Killing of LGTBI rights defender Paola Barraza. On 24 January 2016, human rights defender Ms Paola Barraza was assassinated by unknown attackers in front of her house in the neighbourhood of Lempira, in Comayaguela. Paola Barraza, a trans woman, was a member of the board of directors of Asociación LGTB Arcoíris (LGTB Rainbow Association). The human rights defender was at home when  unknown persons knocked at her door and called her outside. When Paola Barraza answered the door she was fired upon five times. She died at the scene as a result of her wounds.  Paola Barraza was previously attacked in connection with her LGTBI rights work on 15 August 2015  [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29495] Between 23 June 2015 and 31 August 2015, three other LGTBI rights defenders working in country were killed https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29495.
Read the rest of this entry »

Bishop Oscar Romero from El Salvador: now a saintly human right defender

May 23, 2015

Whether one believes in sainthood or not, it is not difficult to rejoice with Pax Christi International about the 23 May beatification of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero who became known for his persistent search for truth, justice and reconciliation in the late seventies in conflict-torn El Salvador. He was shot dead while celebrating mass on 24 March 1980. The assassin has never been identified, but it is widely believed that the assassins were members of a death squad led by former Major Roberto D’Aubuisson.  Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Defender Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani Assassinated in Yemen

March 19, 2015

Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani

Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani speaking at the Oslo Forum in 2010

Prominent Yemeni journalist, press freedom advocate, and whistleblower Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani was assassinated on 18 March by unknown gunmen outside of his home in Sanaa. Al-Khaiwani was one of Yemen’s most effective journalists.  He endured years of harassment, kidnappings, and death threats in retaliation for his outspoken criticism of Yemen’s 30-year dictatorship and his exposés on government corruption. His son, the writer Mohammed al-Khaiwani, witnessed the attack, in which several men on motorcycles opened fire on his father and then fled the scene.

The murder of Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani is a cowardly and abhorrent display of the evil that so much of the world faces on a daily basis,” said Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen. “Al-Khaiwani bravely put his life on the line year after year to expose the reality of tyranny and corruption. He will always be remembered for his heroic devotion to use truth and justice.”

Al-Khaiwani is the former editor-in-chief of the pro-democracy online newspaper Al-Shoura. After years of threats and harassment, he was arrested, subjected to a mock trial, and sentenced in 2008 to six years in prison on fabricated charges of conspiring with the leader of an anti-government terrorism cell. and of being a coup-plotter After being tortured during his incarceration, al-Khaiwani received a presidential pardon and was released in 2009.

In June 2008, a week after being sentenced to six years in jail, Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani received the Special Award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat from AI UK.

Oslo Freedom Forum Speaker Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani Assassinated in Yemen | News | The Human Rights Foundation.

Human rights defender and indigenous leader Justo Sorto killed in Honduras

January 24, 2014

On 21 January 2014, the indigenous Lenca leader and human rights defender, Mr Justo Sorto, was found dead in Jesús de Otoro, Western Honduras. Justo Sorto was an active member for twenty years of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations). The human rights defender was killed by several gunshots from a high-calibre weapon. [ COPINH is an organisation that works for the defence of the land and the environment, and for improving the living conditions of communities and indigenous peoples in Honduras.] The indigenous Lenca community works for the defence of its forests and against the execution of mining projects in the region.  Read the rest of this entry »