Posts Tagged ‘campaign’

Environmental defenders face growing danger – what funders are doing

March 21, 2018

Will the world’s environmental defenders survive another year of violence? In 2017, a staggering 197 people—around four a week—were killed worldwide while defending the environment from “mines, plantations, poachers, and infrastructure projects,” according to the watchdog group, Global Witness. Even international recognition is no guarantee of safety. Two past winners of the Goldman Prize, often called the Nobel of environmentalism, were murdered in a span of months not long ago. [for more on the Goldman prize see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/goldman-environmental-prize]

Some funders are taking steps to stop the carnage. But can their giving keep up with the death toll, which has risen fourfold since 2012? To begin with, funders supporting the front line of environmental leaders are facing a hostile climate. Beatings and bullets aimed at their grantees are only one aspect of this.

The political environment has gotten a lot more toxic for a number of reasons,” said Alejandro Queral, who’s been following these issues for years and has firsthand knowledge of many environmental defenders’ cases…….”influence of the media, which is used to be a powerful tool for shining a light on the issue and shaming governments for their impunity, has been weakened on a global level.” More broadly, Queral said, “it has become increasingly difficult to hold abusive governments and individuals accountable for their actions.”

Similar concerns are reported by those in the funding world. “Not only have recent years seen a dramatic increase in the number of incidents involving environmental human rights defenders, but efforts to silence defenders are increasing,” said Alex Grossman, deputy director of communications at the Global Greengrants Fund.

Greengrants provides funding to strengthen grassroots environmental advocates around the world. Helping grantees deal with security threats is a fast growing part of its work, with grants going “toward bolstering physical security, securing legal assistance, developing safety protocols, purchasing equipment and supplies, relocation, and any other pressing need that may arise,” says Grossman. In the past year, Global Greengrants has given 21 grants totaling over $110,000 toward safety and security issues.

In recent years, though, it’s become harder to channel financial support to groups that need it around the world. 

“Governments are using the fear of terrorism and influence from abroad to put forward legislation that limits funding available and creates burdensome administrative procedures. Over 100 such laws have been enacted in the last five years,” Grossman told Inside Philanthropy. “These restrictions increase the difficulty for human rights defenders to continue their work. As the space for civil society continues to close, more funding is needed to help defenders on the front lines.”

The Global Greengrants Fund gets its funding mainly from individual donors. But it’s also pulled in support from some corporations like Aveda, which makes natural beauty products, and from several foundations, including the Arcus Foundation, which works to protect great apes. Arcus has funded a number of front-line efforts in Africa and Asia to combat poaching, which can be dangerous work. 

……..Protecting environmental defenders is often entwined with support for human rights activists writ large. The Open Society Foundations is a key player in this space, with offices in 37 countries, including areas with ongoing environmental conflicts. Another major outfit that has been entrenched in this space for a while now is the U.K.-based Sigrid Rausing Trust (SRT). Its Human Rights Defenders program supports organizations around the world that are providing security and increased media training to rights activists who are at risk of harassment, detention, torture and death.

Alex Grossman said that the Global Greengrants Fund often works to put environmental defenders in touch with human rights outfits like Urgent Action Fund and Frontline Defenders, which offer rapid response grantmaking and protection services.

But more work is needed to connect environmental and human rights efforts, and funders can play a role, here. 

“I believe the most important thing that grantmakers can do is be a catalyst for deep collaboration,” Queral said. “The Goldman Environmental Foundation funded the Sierra Club and Amnesty International to speak with one voice on behalf of activists. The knowledge, credibility and ability to move volunteers to action of these organizations raised the profile of many cases around the world.”

Queral said that such campaigns had, in some cases, led to successes, like the release from prison of environmental leader Aleksandr Nikitin, and the similar liberation of Rodolfo Montiel, who fought against widespread illegal deforestation in Mexico.

Against the backdrop of 2017’s death toll, it’s hard to imagine 2018 will be a year of safety for environmental defenders. But it could be a year in which their security becomes better supported. 

https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2018/3/20/environmental-defenders-grants-security

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/15/documenting-the-killings-of-environmental-defenders-guardian-and-global-witness/

Amnesty UK’s Suffragette Spirit campaign deserve replicating in other countries

February 7, 2018

In then clip above Juliet Stevenson (one of many) makes her nomination for A’ UK’s Suffragette Spirit campaign. People who know women human rights defenders today in the UK. can nominate. Visit https://www.amnesty.org.uk/suffragett…

 

Black Lives Matter awarded 2017 Sydney Peace Prize and spotlights Australia’s racial issues

October 31, 2017

This seems to be the year that human rights awards go broad groups of people. After the Ebert Prize to the  South Korean people [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/18/korean-people-win-friedrich-ebert-human-rights-award-for-candlelight-rallies/] and the EP’s Sakharov award to the Venezuelan opposition [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/10/27/european-parliaments-sakharov-prize-awarded-to-venezuela-opposition/], the Sydney Peace Prize 2017 has gone to the Black Lives Matter Global Network. This is the first time that a movement and not a person has been awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Three of the founders will receive the award on 2 November. For more on the award: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/sydney-peace-prize

On 30 October, Trevor Marshallsea of AP reported from Sydney that this award has put also the spotlights Australia’s racial issues:

The Associated Press – in this 26 January, 2017 file photo Aboriginal activists carry a banner during an Australia Day protest in Adelaide, Australia. The awarding of the Sydney Peace Prize to Black Lives Matter for its work on American race issues is being hailed but Australian activists say such issues need to be addressed at home as well. (Tim Dornin/AAP Image via AP)

Patrisse Cullors, one of the group’s co-founders, welcomed the award “in solidarity with the organizations and organizers of Australia who had and still have faced oppression.” The social media hashtag with which it shares its name began after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2013. It gained traction when a police officer fatally shot another unarmed black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri the following year, sparking protests.

http://sydneypeacefoundation.org.au/peace-prize-recipients/black-lives-matter/

Black Lives Matter award spotlights Australia racial issues – ABC News

Many birthday parties for jailed human rights defender in Turkey

October 12, 2017

human rights defenders in Turkey, still in jail after 100 days

Ten activists, including İdil Eser, the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, were arrested on 5 July. İdil’s 54th birthday is on 14 October, which she will spend imprisoned on baseless and trumped-up charges. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/12/turkey-detention-of-human-rights-defenders-further-extended/] (Amnesty International Turkey’s Chair, Taner Kılıç, was also arrested a month earlier. On 4 October a prosecutor filed an indictment calling for jail terms of up to 15 years for all 11 human rights defenders on absurd terrorism charges.)

After three months the investigation has unsurprisingly failed to provide any incriminating evidence to substantiate the prosecutor’s fantastical charges. .. The activists are accused of assisting a variety of “armed terrorist organisations” with diametrically opposing ideologies. They face maximum sentences of 15 years. The charges against them include outlandish claims that standard human rights activities – such as appealing to stop the sale of tear gas, making a grant application or campaigning for the release of hunger striking teachers – were carried out on behalf of terrorist organizations. Some of the claims against İdil are based on Amnesty International documents and public communications that predate her appointment at the organisation.

To mark İdil’s 54th birthday, Amnesty International will hold more than 200 parties and actions globally, starting with a public, pop-up, Turkish-themed birthday party on 13 October in Auckland. Elsewhere around the world there will be a birthday party in the European Parliament and a press conference in a makeshift prison in Madrid. The parties will feature full-size paper cutouts of Idil to highlight her absence, along with Turkish food, music, decorations and more.

I am ready to pay the price for my choice to work on human rights and I am not scared. My time in jail has made me even more committed to standing up for my values. I will not compromise them.” Idil Eser (8/19/17).

 

Human Rights Watch urges Turkey to release Amnesty’s country head

June 9, 2017

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday 8 June 2017 called on Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kılıç, chair of the board of Amnesty International’s Turkey section, who has been under detention since June 6. It is heartening to see the two biggest NGOs coming to each other’ rescue from time to time. In February this year AI Israel co-signed a statement deploring the decision not to allow Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch to take on his post [“We stand in solidarity with him and our colleagues at HRW.”  – see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/26/israel-denies-work-permit-to-human-rights-watch-and-continues-harassment-of-hrds/]

The anti-terror unit of the Izmir police on Tuesday detained lawyer and human rights defender Kılıç together with 22 other attorneys as part of a witch-hunt targeting people linked to the Gülen movement. “Turkey should release Taner Kılıç, who is a tireless defender of human rights, known for his support for Amnesty International over many years,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Detaining Kılıç on suspicion of terrorist offenses looks like a tactic aimed at discrediting his legitimate human rights work.”

Kılıç is a founding member of AI Turkey and has been chairman of its board of directors since 2014. He has also played a strong role in advocating for refugee rights as a lawyer and with domestic nongovernmental groups and others working on these issues. The European Union on Thursday expressed concern about the recent detention of Taner Kılıç.

(According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

Source: Human Rights Watch urges Turkey to release Amnesty’s country head | Turkey Purge

Justice and Peace NL increasingly active for human rights defenders

June 8, 2017

The Hague Training Course on Security
https://en.justiceandpeace.nl/agenda/the-hague-training-course-on-security-3
From 21 June to 30 June 2017, Justice and Peace Netherlands organises the 7th edition of the ‘The Hague Training Course on Human Rights Defenders and Security’ (THTC).[see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/03/30/2nd-the-hague-training-course-for-human-rights-defenders-security-now-open-for-application/ and also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/02/the-hague-defenders-days-from-5-to-10-december-2016/]

Shelter City, Call for applications
https://sheltercity.nl/new-call-for-shelter-city/
Justice and Peace is launching a new call for Human Rights Defenders to participate in the Shelter City Initiative. <http://en.justiceandpeace.nl/human-rights-defenders-and-security/shelter-city-initiative> The Shelter City Initiative offers human rights defenders a possibility for rest and respite by letting them escape temporarily from a threatening situation. Shelter City offer a safe space to human rights defenders at a moment where they are particularly vulnerable and their security can no longer be guaranteed at home.  Meant for human rights defenders who might be helped with a short relocation programme, because they are threatened or under intense pressure due to their work.

Applicants must fulfil the following conditions:

  1. The applicant must be a human rights defender (HRD) in the broad sense of the word (lawyers, members of NGOs, poets or artists can all apply, as long as their work promotes Human Rights or he/she fights against human rights violations)
  2. The HRD is threatened or otherwise under intense pressure and can be helped by a short period of time abroad
  3. The HRD should be able and willing to return to the country of origin after 3 months
  4. The HRD should be willing to speak out in public and speak basic English (limited spots are available for French or Spanish speaking HRDs)
  5. The HRD should be willing/able to come alone
  6. The HRD has to be willing to come to the Netherlands around September 2017

Note that additional factors will be taken into consideration in the final round of selection, such as the added value of a stay in The Netherlands (giving priority to those working at grass-roots level), the possibility for the HRD to make use of the new contacts and knowledge after they return, and gender and geographical balance. HRDs who are already relocated in a third country will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances.

To apply or submit the application of a human rights defender, please e-mail sheltercity@justiceandpeace.nl. You will then receive an application form. Application forms must be returned before 25 June 2017. An independent commission will select the participants. Note that the selected human rights defenders will not be automatically allowed into the shelter programme as Justice and Peace is not in control of issuing the required visas to enter The Netherlands. For more information, please contact us at sheltercity@justiceandpeace.nl.

Campaign: Are we all human rights defenders? Join us
https://en.justiceandpeace.nl/news/are-we-all-human-rights-defenders
Every individual can make a change. No matter your age, gender, beliefs, education, profession, social situation or background. It doesn’t matter at what scale. You are a potential change maker, willing to help others. We are all human rights defenders.


Scholars campaign for Merera Gudina in Ethiopia who goes on trial Friday

March 3, 2017

Campaigns for individual human rights defenders are plenty especially from the well known human rights NGOs such as AI, HRW, Front Line and the Observatory. But here are specialized inter-professional groups such as Scholars at Risk (SAR) which regularly appeal for assistance for one of their members. Here the case of Dr. Merera Gudina in Ethiopia. A former professor of political science at Addis Ababa University, Dr. Gudina is expected to stand trial this Friday on charges stemming from his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association.

On 1 December 2016, Ethiopian security officers arrested Dr. Gudina following his return from Belgium, where he addressed members of the European Union Parliament on alleged human rights violations and the current political crisis in Ethiopia. Ethiopian authorities placed Dr. Gudina in solitary confinement, and over two months later brought multiple charges against him, which apparently relate to his peaceful activism.

SAR calls for emails, letters, and faxes respectfully urging the authorities to release and drop all charges against Dr. Gudina; or, pending this, to ensure his well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family, his removal from solitary confinement, and to ensure that his case proceeds in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression.

See also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/02/12/scholars-at-risk-stellar-example-of-specialized-protection-tool-for-human-rights-defenders/

Take action by lending your voice to Dr. Gudina!

Tweeting is not a crime: the RETWEET FOR FREEDOM campaign for Nabeel Rajab

December 15, 2016

TWEETING IS NOT A CRIME – RETWEET FOR FREEDOM

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and many other countries have no respect for freedom of speech: they imprison activists who tweet their support for human rights. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is being tried for tweeting in March 2015 ‘Save the Children, Women & civilian from the war in Yemen – war brings hatred, miseries & blood but not solutions’. For this tweet, and another one denouncing torture in the Jaw prison of Bahrain, he faces up to 15 years in jail. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hague Defenders Days from 5 to 10 December 2016

December 2, 2016

Justice and Peace NL with support from the City of the Hague and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is organizing “The Hague Defenders Days” from 5 to 10 December 2016. A wide range of activities (debates, films and even a ball) are planned culminating in the ceremony of the Tulip Award on Human Rights Day 10 December. Most activities are open to the public (but not the Tulip ceremony):

Let’s celebrate the International Human Rights – and Human Rights Defenders Days in the city of peace and justice! Take the opportunity to learn from their experiences and share your own. Meet human rights defenders, debate about your rights, think out of the box and dance at the Human Rights Ball. Discover the defender or rebel in you! Download the flyer.

PROGRAMME


Portraits of Dutch and international human rights defenders by photographers Anette Brolenius and Daniella van Bergen.

5-10 December / Het Nutshuis
11.00 – 16.00 – Admission: free
Click here for more information
 

Watch this documentary and be part of a global one year campaign for respect and equality.

6 December / Het Nutshuis
20.00 – Admission: free
Click here for more information
 

With: Nighat Dad, the Pakistani winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip Award 2016. 

7 December / The Hague University
19.30 – Admission: free
Click here for more information
 

What makes a human rights defender? With: Nighat Dad, Hans Jaap Melissen, Saskia Stolz en Hassnae Bouazza.

9 December / B-Unlimited (Library Spui)
20.30 – Tickets €10 / €7: www.b-unlimited.nl

Come and celebrate universal rights with 20 worldwide human rights defenders! With: Dj Socrates, Meet & Greet, Photobooth, live music…

10 December / Nutshuis
20.30 – Tickets €10 / €6: www.justiceandpeace.nl/humanrightsball

 

Source: The Hague Defenders Days

Azerbaijan releases human rights defenders bit by bit: Khadijah Ismayilova now free

May 27, 2016

Khadija IsmayilovaOn Wednesday 25 May 2016 Azerbaijan finally released investigative journalist Khadijah Ismayilova [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/] after a number of other human rights defenders were released bit by bit over the last months. Ismayilova was serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence on charges which included embezzlement, illegal business activities and tax evasion. The Supreme Court has now amended her imprisonment to 3 1/2 years of suspended sentence and released her from prison. She vowed to continue to fight to clear her name. “I will continue to fight until complete acquittal,” Ismayilova told reporters after her release. “I will also continue to work as a journalist.” The British-Lebanese lawyer Amal Clooney is representing Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights.

As an independent reporter and journalist of the Azerbaijani radio Azadliq (“Radio Freedom”) she has shown great courage (see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/khadija-ismayilova-azerbaijan-is-not-deterred/), and received several international prizes, such as the 2015 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism (HRW), the 2015 Freedom to Write Award, the 2012 Fritt Ord/Zeit Press Prize, and the 2012 Courage of Journalism Award by the Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation.

Although there are still human rights defenders and journalists in prison, Azerbaijan provides a fine example of how awards and the combined international pressure from a variety of sources (States, NGOs and international organizations) can have an impact:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/azerbaijan-pardon-jafarov-ismayilova-aliyev/

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/released-intigam-aliyev-azerbaijan-civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award/

Source:

Reuters – Azerbaijan frees journalist whose case raised outcry in West

https://www.cpj.org/2016/05/-azerbaijani-reporter-khadija-ismayilova-ordered-r.php