Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Digest of Laureates ready – this blog changes orientation

February 2, 2021

With the launching of the new Digest of human rights laureates by True Heroes Films (THF) today, 2 February 2021, I have decided to centre my blog more on human rights awards and laureates. It will give the blog more focus and this will also help the Digest to stay up to date. After many years of work, True Heroes Films (THF) has made public its gateway to human rights awards and their laureates at www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest. The Digest is a new free online tool that gives everybody access to information on human rights awards, including the list of people who received such awards. Over the last 20 years, the human rights movement has discovered the value of awards. The Digest tells that story and makes human rights defenders more visible as an encouragement and role model for others.

Here some specialised user comments:
The Digest “will help us demonstrate to the world how many human rights defenders there are in the world and the different human rights they defend and fight for” stated Guadalupe Marengo, Head of Global Human Rights Defenders Programme at Amnesty International.


It is a useful resource that places individuals, the laureates, at the heart of the search process,” commented Eleanor Davies of the Centre of Applied Human Rights at York University.


With a simple and straightforward way to find what you are looking for, it helps initiate partnerships,” says Friedhelm Weinberg, Executive Director of HURIDOCS, an organisation specialised in information technology.

For human rights defenders, the Digest allows finding awards and people concerned with similar causes worldwide. Award givers can quickly check their candidates. For media, the Digest means instant access to information on human rights defenders or an award announcement to complete their story.


The Digest was created during 8 years with support from the City of Geneva, Brot für die Welt and the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the United Nations Office.

http://www.trueheroesfilms.com/

We start 2021 with a long-read about Non-violence and PBI

January 4, 2021


A new year for this blog should start with a bit of transparency: in 2020 there were 35.147 views by 19.777 visitors, which is an increase of approximately 15 % on 2019. Not too bad for a niche blog I think. A theme that does not get enough attention is in my view the principled non-violence of many human rights defenders as illustrated in “Non-violence is always the best choice” by Carl Kline in Brookinsgregister of 29 December 2020:

The year 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of Peace Brigades International. Founded in 1981 at Grindstone Island in Ontario, Canada, PBI has practiced nonviolent accompaniment in numerous countries around the world.

The idea of peace brigades originated with Mahatma Gandhi, concerned about violence in India between various religious factions. Teams of unarmed volunteers would go into conflict situations as nonviolent, non-partisan actors, making contact with all groups to the dispute and helping mediate and resolve the conflict. If necessary, the volunteers were prepared to put their bodies in harm’s way to mitigate or stop the violence.

As the idea of PBI spread in the early ’80s, volunteers stepped forward, the depth of experience increased, more rigorous training developed for those in the field, and an international organization emerged with working groups in 12 countries. In 2020, projects were ongoing in Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Indonesia, Mexico and Nepal.

PBI does not enter any conflict situation unless invited by a human rights organization in the host country. Volunteers spend their initial time in the country identifying their presence to all sides of the conflict and to government officials. They wear identifying clothing. They have an international network of others willing to respond at a moment’s notice with telegrams, email or letters to appropriate persons, letting them know the whole world is watching.

Their primary purpose is accompanying those human rights workers who are under threat of death. A volunteer is with them 24 hours a day. Oftentimes family members are accompanied as well, to school, to market, wherever they happen to go.

Having done this work for 40 years, PBI has compiled solid experiential evidence that nonviolent, non-partisan accompaniment works and violent conflicts can be lessened and sometimes resolved by the intervention of international nonviolent agents. In 40 years of accompaniment, none of the accompanied, or those who accompanied them, have been lost to violence. Many of the human rights defenders in the various countries have attributed their survival to PBI.

The Nonviolent Peaceforce had its beginnings in 2002 with a founding conference in India with representatives from 49 countries present. They began their first project in Sri Lanka in 2003. Today they are active in Iraq, the Phillipines, Myanmar and South Sudan.

Their mission statement reads: “Nonviolent Peaceforce is a global civilian protection agency based in humanitarian and international human rights law. Our mission is to protect civilians in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies, build peace side by side with local communities, and advocate for the wider adoption of these approaches to safeguard human lives and dignity. We are guided by principles of nonviolence, nonpartisanship, primacy of local actors, and civilian-to-civilian action.”

Both organizations, similar at their core, have matured to the point where they have reputations worldwide, especially among those served. They have enough history and experience they are here to stay.

On a more local level, there is a long history of conflict resolution programs in the public schools. Creative Conflict Resolution  began in New York state in 1972, started by a group of Quakers. At the time, it was called Children’s Creative Response to Conflict. As it grew and expanded its programs across the country, it came to Brookings in the early ‘90s and local volunteers established programs in schools across the state. After a training and installment of a peer mediation program in one South Dakota school, the principal lamented with a grin that he never saw problem cases in his office anymore. They all chose to go to mediation.

The spinoffs from these programs of conflict resolution, started early in the schools and homes, are many and long-lasting. It is clear that we can educate our way to a less violent culture, if only we make it as critical an educational mission as the three r’s.

As we begin a new year, it is clear we have choices. We don’t have to add to the war budget every year. It would be far more productive and encouraging to shift some of those funds to nonviolent alternatives, like PBI or the Nonviolent Peaceforce. Or why can’t we have conflict resolution programs in every school in the country.

This year, in 2021, we have a special opportunity to choose between violence and nonviolence. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is 50 years old. The new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect on Jan. 22, 2021. 50 countries have now signed it. This treaty prohibits the use, development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, threatening to use, stationing, installation or deployment of nuclear weapons. The U.S., along with other nuclear nations, will have a choice: sign on or be a rogue nation.

Can we see the mounting evidence? From our homes and schools to the international community, there is a better way!

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/26/pbis-right-to-defend-a-new-multi-media-awareness-campaign/

https://brookingsregister.com/article/non-violence-is-always-the-best-choice

Human Rights Films: call for action or entertainment?

March 20, 2018

The 1972 photo of a young girl running naked in Trang Bang screaming in pain from the effects of napalm had a profound influence on the public’s perception of the horrors of the Vietnam War. The 2015 photo of a three-year-old refugee boy drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey also had a profound influence of the public’s perception, this time on the desperate plight of millions of refugees. The images of Phan Thi Kim Phuc and Aylan Kurdi are iconic representations. Both capture larger stories; both images express powerful narratives. 

Visualization is story telling in another form. ……Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s introduced the notion that the medium of communication – movies for instance – change how a message is perceived. Directors can alter time sequences; background music can play directly to our emotions. We have entered new forms of communication that are just beginning to be understood.
The recent Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights was a significant event; 61 films shown in 57 venues in the Swiss Romand and Grand Genève, 28 debates and discussions with important figures such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Catalonian leader Carles Puidgemont as well as a human rights film tour organized by Swiss embassies in 45 countries.
…The images were shocking, almost numbing. We in the theatre became more than viewers, we became indirect witnesses through the lens of the film.
Several directors participated in debates following the presentations. They all expressed hope that the revelations shown on the screen would encourage reaction from the audience beyond the theatre. The purpose of the film, many argued, was to move the attendees and future viewers from watchers – i.e., indirect witnesses – to activists. The films, according to their creators, were calls to action.
McLuhan is most pertinent here. Watching a movie, any movie, is passive/emotional. The director leads us through what he or she wants us to see and feel. We are being literally directed. At a human rights film festival, we are directed, made aware, and called to action. The message of the medium is more than just perception; it is a motivation to do something. But the screen is just a screen, and a silver screen at that. The films were expertly produced. Most were technologically impressive. The cruelty and crudeness of human suffering were presented with all that modernity could offer.
It is the contrast between the rawness of grave breaches of human dignity and the sophistication of the current cinema that somehow reduced the power of the message. If, according to McLuhan, the medium is the message, then the films themselves – with all their slick professionalism – somehow played against a call to action. The excellence of the films was in contradiction to the cruelty and chaos of what they were showing.
.. Human rights activists are turning to visualization to appeal to larger and larger audiences. Visualization is today’s most powerful means of communication and it is becoming more and more sophisticated. The object of human rights’ film makers is to get the message out to the largest audience in an appealing way. The written era of Gutenberg is no longer hot. It is easier to teach students World War II by viewing Saving Private Ryan than to have them read weighty tomes of historical documentation.
If the message of human rights’ films is to witness human rights violations and call to action, professional presentations may be counter-productive. Movies are fundamentally entertainment; however instructive they may be. But when it comes to human rights and their violations, there should be as little entertainment as possible.

 

Why did so many assume B’Tselem fire was arson?

January 13, 2016

Further to my post about the pressure under which human rights defenders in Israel have to work [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/michael-sfardjan-israels-human…] this post by Chelsey Berlin (B’Tselem USA) “The blaze at B’Tselem’s Jerusalem office was an accident, but many of us assumed it was arson”  is telling:

In “Why Did We Assume B’Tselem Fire Was Arson?” she explains the context:  …..”For months, the message that human rights defenders are the problem in Israel has been repeatedly delivered with sledgehammer strength: In Tirtzu’s video labeling four human rights activists, including B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, “moles”; the government’s ongoing legislative crusade against organizations receiving foreign government funding, and last Thursday’s sensationalized report on an Israeli TV news program that aired false accusations against a B’Tselem field researcher. All this is done to hide the dire situation they expose, the real evil, which is the occupation, the human rights violations it produces in the occupied Palestinian territories and the fascism increasingly required of Israel to maintain it.“….

(When news broke on 10 January 2015 of a fire at B’Tselem’s Jerusalem office most feared the worst: arson. Since then, the smoke has cleared — literally — and a preliminary investigation has been concluded. The Jerusalem fire brigade has announced that the cause of the fire was likely an electrical fault.)

Source: Why Did We Assume B’Tselem Fire Was Arson? – Opinion – Forward.com

Over 1000 muslims formed ring of peace around a synagogue in Oslo

February 23, 2015

From the blog “News You May Have Missed” I picked up this interesting news item showing how each person can be a human rights defender when they want to:

Photo from Muslim Public Affairs Council's Facebook pagePhoto from Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Facebook page

More than 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway on February 21  in response to the attack on a synagogue in Denmark last weekend.  Chanting “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” an estimated 1200-1400 Norwegian Muslims formed a “ring of peace” around the synagogue, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community.  See video coverage on the NRK website here.  One of the speakers in the video is 17-year-old Hajrah Asrhad, one of the event’s organizers.

News You May Have Missed (15-21 February 2015) – The Human Rights Warrior.

My Blog on HRDs: 2014 overview

December 30, 2014

At the end of this year I want to wish my readers a very Happy New Year and to share – in the good tradition of transparency – the main statistics of my blog on human rights defenders in 2014. It clearly is a ‘niche blog’ and that is what it will remain. I am quite happy with the relatively large number of archives visitors, i.e. some 40 persons per day find something worthwhile in my older posts. Also the geographical spread is pleasing. Of course, a larger number of visitors would be even better and I would be grateful for any promotion you could undertake. All the best Hans

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Video clip from 2010 by the UN focuses on Human Rights Defenders

February 20, 2014

As I had only just started my blog “Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders” in 2010, I must have missed a number of interesting things, such as this video uploaded to You Tube by the UN on 1 December 2010. Against the background music of Stand Up for Your Rights by Bob Marley, this video give the floor to some ‘ordinary human rights defenders’ from various parts of the world. Human Rights Day of 10 December 2010 was dedicated to human rights defenders who battle against discrimination. For the record.

My blog on Human Rights Defenders in 2013: a review

January 3, 2014

A bit of transparency to start the New Year: My blog on Human Rights Defenders was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013.  In 2013, I created 644 new posts, bringing the total archive of this blog to 1,056 posts. The busiest day of the year was December 20th with 929 views [most popular post: Mariah Carey needs better-informed staff and donate her 1 million fee to Human Rights Defenders in Angola].

For those interested in more details: Click here to see the complete report.

My post number 1000: Human Rights Awards finally made accessible for and by True Heroes

November 27, 2013

To mark my post number 1000, I have chosen the subject of human rights awards, timely as today, 27 November, is also the LAUNCH OF THE TRUE HEROES AWARDS DIGEST on www.trueheroesfilms.org.  The number of human rights awards has exploded with over 50 new awards created in just the last decade, bringing the total number to well over 100. Most of the research was done when I was writing an article on Human Rights Awards for the Special Issue of the OUP Journal of Human Rights Practice on ‘The Protection of Human Rights Defenders” which comes out on 29 November (for more info go to: http://jhrp.oxfordjournals.org/). Doing the research I found that the information on awards is scattered all over the internet and that human rights defenders would greatly benefit if the dat were put all together in a searchable way in a single Digest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iran — Can Human Rights Defenders start thinking about a safe return?

November 19, 2013

#Iran-can-activists-return

Things are clearly changing in Iran. It is too early to think that human rights defenders can all safely go back, but the fact that Arseh Sevom – a moderate and informative blog voice on Iran –  devotes a part of today’s post by Peyman Majidzadeh to this question is telling. Here are some excerpts: Read the rest of this entry »