Posts Tagged ‘campaign’

New website: Keep the Volume up for Rights Defenders in Turkey

July 11, 2019

Three human rights organizations, Association Monitoring Equal Rights, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Truth Justice Memory Center, have created the website “Keep the Volume up for Rights Defenders in Turkey.” Sharing up-to-date information on the trials of rights defenders in Turkey, the website will also share the recent development under the title of “News”.

In the “About Us” part of the sessizkalma.org website, the objective and content of the website are explained in following words:

Human rights defenders from different corners of society – lawyers, teachers, journalists, scientists, union activists – face serious pressures in doing their work in Turkey. Their aim is to protect fellow citizens from unjust and inhumane policies; they speak up and act when people’s human rights are being infringed upon. Yet in Turkey rights defenders are increasingly being intimidated, detained and imprisoned.

“Their struggle deserves more visibility and national and international solidarity. …

“We created this online resource to bring together updates and information on the situation in Turkey. It is meant for all those interested to support or understand human rights defence in Turkey better: civil society, journalists, international organisations and citizens who care about the Rule of Law and democracy in Turkey.

“We are monitoring court cases where Defenders are prosecuted. You will find a calendar for important trial dates, overview and news on individual cases, our statements well as information on possibilities for actions. We also provide other Defenders with important resources as well as a list emergency support options for when you, as a human rights advocate, need assistance.”

http://bianet.org/english/human-rights/210315-keep-the-volume-up-for-rights-defenders-in-turkey-website-opens

International Civil Society Week 2019: Keita speaks for the youth

May 3, 2019

This article bwas written in the context of International Civil Society Week (ICSW). It portrays Liberian youth activist Keita.

Youth activist Abraham M. Keita is the founder of the Liberia-based Giving Hope to Children Foundation. Credit: A D McKenzie/IPS

Abraham M. Keita says he was nine years old when a girl of thirteen was sexually assaulted and strangled in his home community in Liberia. The anger, outrage and sadness he felt would lead him to start advocating for children’s rights – participating in marches, organising protests and going up against the powerful, in a country where sexual abuse of children is among the worst in the world, according to United Nations figures. Keita will turn 20 years old later this month, and he says he has already spent half of his life as an activist for change. “I’ve been marching since I was 10,” he told IPS with a quiet smile. Keita, the 2015 winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize, is also the founder of the Liberia-based Giving Hope to Children Foundation.

Keita is among a growing movement of youth activists who are fighting for the defence of civil liberties and demanding that government act on important issues such as protecting children from violence, ensuring sustainable development, and reducing global warming, according to ICSW organisers.

The youth engagement in ICSW in general is always extremely important to achieve the creation of partnerships among diverse groups and to continue raising awareness of the contributions young people offer to civil society spaces,” said Elisa Novoa, CIVICUS’ youth engagement coordinator. During the event, youth activists sent out a message calling for civil society to “open up the space” to diverse groups. “Civil society should understand the importance of sharing power and enabling inclusion in a meaningful and uplifting manner,” their statement said. “We as young people of diversity acknowledge and recognise the importance of having voices of vulnerability at the forefront of change. We need to redefine how we provide solutions and build togetherness.”

Activists also requested trust from donors, encouraging sponsors to be bold in funding organisations that are truly youth led. For many such groups, a central theme is protecting the vulnerable, a position that Keita has taken. He told IPS that he grew up among vulnerable children, living in poverty in a slum in the Liberian capital Monrovia with his mother and siblings – his father was killed before he was five years old, during Liberia’s brutal and long-lasting civil war. Different sides in the conflict used children as child soldiers and sexually abused many of them, as reports by the UN and other organisations have shown. That legacy continues, with a high number of girls and women being assaulted, while most of the rapists go unpunished. According to Liberian government figures, from January to September 2018, nearly 900 sexual and gender-based cases of violence were reported, including 500 rape cases of which 475 involved children. The statistics provide “alarming evidence that we are still not dealing with this problem in an effective manner”, said Liberia’s President George Weah last October, as quoted in local media.

Keita points out that since many incidents of sexual violence go unreported, the number of children affected is much higher than in official data. Furthermore, cases of sexual violence are not prosecuted quickly enough.

“Hundreds of cases are still in the courts, and the perpetrators are roaming freely,” he said. The problem is rooted in all levels of society and includes civil society as well as government representatives, with individuals responsible for protecting children being charged with sexual abuses.

In 2017, a Liberian lawmaker allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl, making her pregnant. Keita organised protests against the powerful individual and was himself arrested and charged with “criminal coercion”, he said. These charges were eventually dropped. The lawmaker meanwhile appeared in court, spent two days in jail, and since 2017, activists have not been able to locate the girl or her family, Keita told IPS. He and other advocates are still pushing for prosecution of the case, even if that may lead to their own detention, he added.

Arrests and smears are among the official tactics used to suppress youth advocates, similar to those used against human rights defenders in general, said ICSW delegates. Members of the public, too, sometimes think that youth activists are misguided and can tend to dismiss their work.

But as youth around the world join forces, their campaigns for rights and environmental action are becoming a growing force….

Along with their idealism, youth activists are aware of the risks they run. Keita told IPS that he sometimes felt a “little afraid”, and that his mother and family members worry too. “But whatever happens to me, I want to act so things will change, [and] not continue being the same,” he said.

Brunei back to the middle ages – will hotel boycott work?

April 4, 2019

Cruel and inhuman punishments such as death by stoning for same-sex sexual acts and amputation for robbery came into effect in Brunei Darussalam as Amnesty International feared. The proposed changes to Brunei’s penal code to incorporate punishments under a strict interpretation of Islamic law – including death by stoning – should be halted, the UN’s top human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, said on Monday 1 April 2019. Now some interesting new celebrity action is on the way:

A boycott of Brunei-owned luxury hotels  was sparked last week in an opinion piece by actor George Clooney, who said a boycott of the high-end hotels — where rooms can start at $600 a night or more — is necessary to keep money from flowing “directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.” It is gaining support from celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John as the country on Wednesday implemented what it called Islamic criminal laws including death by stoning for gay sex.

The nine hotels owned by Brunei are:

  • The Dorchester, London
  • 45 Park Lane, London
  • Coworth Park, UK
  • The Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills
  • Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
  • Le Meurice, Paris
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris
  • Hotel Eden, Rome
  • Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan

..In his opinion piece last week, Clooney noted that he’s stayed at many of the hotels owned by Brunei, a small nation located on the island of Borneo, but said he was unaware of their ownership “because I hadn’t done my homework.” He acknowledged that a boycott is unlikely to change Brunei’s laws, but said consumers must decide whether they want their money to support laws that violate human rights. “Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?” he wrote. “I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.”

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/03/brunei-darussalam-heinous-punishments-to-become-law-next-week/
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-47813751/will-george-clooney-s-brunei-boycott-really-work
https://www.20min.ch/ro/news/monde/story/Clooney-appelle-au-boycott-des-h-tels-de-Brunei-25250215
https://www.economist.com/asia/2019/04/04/bruneis-ultra-rich-monarch-adopts-harsh-sharia-punishments?
https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/04/1035831

Emirates (Mansoor) and UK (Hedges): finally someone made the point

December 6, 2018

On 4 December 2018 Jonathan Emmett wrote in a post about something that I had been wondering for weeks: “Are UK authors only prepared to defend the rights of people like themselves?”. Totally correct:

Read the rest of this entry »

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.