Posts Tagged ‘Chile’

Change of High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN: optimism warranted

August 22, 2018

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, following approval by the General Assembly, has appointed Michelle Bachelet of Chile the next United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  [Ms. Bachelet ended her second four-year term as President of Chile in March 2018, having already held the position between 2006 and 2010.  The first woman elected to Chile’s highest office, after her first term, she joined the United Nations as the first Executive Director of the newly established United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). A long-time human rights champion and ground-breaking leader, Ms. Bachelet is a paediatrician who began her Government career as an adviser in the Ministry of Health, rising quickly to become the first woman to lead Chile’s Health Ministry in 2000 and its Defence Ministry in 2002. Ms. Bachelet became involved in Chilean human rights activism in the early 1970s.  She and her parents were political prisoners, and her father, a general in the air force, died in prison.  After their release, Ms. Bachelet and her mother spent several years in exile.  She returned to Chile in 1979.] Her human rights background as well as her political cloud and experience give reason to hope that the Office of the High Commissioner will continue to be at the forefront in spite of the countervailing currents at the moment.  

 

 

 

 

 

Recognition of the fearless outgoing High Commissioner has continued to pour in:

The 2018 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. Dutch Foreign minister Stef Blok will present him with the prize on 3 September in The Hague. For more information on the Human Rights Tulip see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/tulip-award. ‘The Netherlands greatly values the way in which he has fulfilled his mandate as High Commissioner,’ Mr Blok said. ‘He addressed human rights violations wherever they occurred. This critical and independent attitude is what is needed in a world where human rights are in jeopardy in many places.

On Monday 20 August the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a wide-ranging interview days before his four-year term ends that U.S. President Donald Trump bears “a heavy responsibility” for how the media is portrayed and that his remarks could have a knock-on effect that could hurt journalists in other countries.” [U.S. newspapers across the country ran editorials last Thursday defending freedom of the press in response to President Donald Trump calling some media organizations enemies of the American people.] “The President should be aware that a heavy responsibility lies on his shoulders when it comes to the way in which the media is being portrayed,” Zeid said.

In his last major interview with UN News on 15 August, the UN human rights chief says that the “real pressure on this job comes from the victims and those who suffer and expect a great deal from us.” “Governments are more than capable of defending themselves. It’s not my job to defend them. I have to defend civil society, vulnerable groups, the marginalized, the oppressed. Those are the people that we, in our office, need to represent,” he adds, noting that “oppression is making a comeback”.

When asked about whether his view of the UN and what it can achieve has diminished during his time spent speaking out loudly in defence of the abused and defenceless over the past four years, he says: “It’s very difficult to tolerate abuse of the UN when I keep thinking of the heroic things that people do in the field, whether the humanitarian actors or humanitarian personnel, my human rights people, the people who are monitoring or observing. And I take my hat off to them. I mean, they are the UN that I will cherish and remember.”

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https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-08-20/trump-has-responsibility-towards-media-un-rights-boss-says

https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/08/1017052

https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2018/08/14/high-commissioner-for-human-rights-zeid-raad-al-hussein-to-receive-2018-human-rights-tulip

https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sga1824.doc.htm

Lessons from the Pinochet regime by Andrés Velasco

June 2, 2015

At the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum on 26 May Chilean economist, Andrés Velasco, in highly personal account describes how political, economic, and social unrest led to the collapse of Chilean democracy in the 1970s. Growing up under Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship, Velasco is familiar with stories of political prisoners, torture, intimidation, and exile. Velasco argues that the extreme brutality of the military dictatorship became too difficult for most Chileans to face, allowing the violence to continue unhindered. As Velasco reminds us, however, Chilean civil society eventually united behind an incredibly creative political campaign, and succeeded in voting Pinochet out of power. Velasco ends his speech on an optimistic note, arguing that the common sense of Chileans will prevent another democratic collapse.

Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards 2014 to Juan Mendez, Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders and Colibri

October 17, 2014

Pamela Constable describes with passion in the Washington Post of 14 October 14 the work of the Colibri Center for Human Rights in Tucson as recipient of one of the three Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards of 2014. The other awards go to veteran international human rights lawyer Juan Mendez and Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders, a nonprofit based in Mexico City that assists women in Mexico and Central America who are involved in defending social and human rights. Juan E. Mendez, 69, is a well-known human rights defender and now U.N. special rapporteur on torture human rights official. He was born in Argentina, jailed for defending political prisoners and then exiled after an international campaign. He worked for many years for human rights NGOs, especially Human Rights Watch.

The regional awards, given by the Institute for Policy Studies, are named for the two victims of a 1976 car bombing in which former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his American assistant Ronni Moffitt were assassinated by agents of Chile’s military regime.

via Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards go to border activists, lawyer, Latina organizers – The Washington Post.

Rolando Jiménez Perez, Chilean human rights defender, has the floor

March 6, 2014

Rolando Jiménez Perez, Chilean human rights defender, is given the floor in the newsletter of the International Service for Human Rights [ISHR] of February 2014. Here are some of the most quotable statements but the whole interview with Camille Marquis is worth reading:

‘I wanted to fight for human rights in order to help lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals and to put an end to any brutality for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity. During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Rolando Jiménez Pérez was a member of the Communist Party driven, along with his fellow party workers, by the goal of restoring democracy. His sexuality was used by the party as a means to belittle him. This brought home to Rolando just how strong a role a person’s sexual orientation could play and he made up his mind that once the dictatorship was over he would turn his attention entirely to human rights and in particular towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

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