Posts Tagged ‘death’

Cao Shunli died five years ago – how many more before there is a change?

March 14, 2019

On 14 March 

Veteran Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli, who died in 2014 in a Beijing hospital.

Veteran Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli, who died in 2014 in a Beijing hospital. Photograph: Front Line Defenders

Five years ago today, Chinese activist Cao Shunli died in a Beijing hospital surrounded by police. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/02/12/cao-shunli-a-profile-and-new-award-in-her-name/]

...This week is an opportunity to pay tribute to Cao Shunli, but also importantly, for the international community to speak up and remind the Chinese government of its obligations to safeguard human rights. On March 15, the UNHRC will be meeting to adopt a final report on recommendations made in November during China’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR). ……States can use Friday’s meeting to speak out and pay tribute to Cao Shunli and all those who have died under Chinese police custody, reject China’s denials made during the UPR over its rights abuses in Xinjiang, and build momentum towards passing a resolution on the human rights situation in China……..Since the council’s creation in 2006, there has not been a single country-specific resolution directed at China despite a worsening rights situation. It’s time for the UNHRC to end its double standards and mandate an international fact-finding mission to look into the credible reports of internment camps in Xinjiang.

Many human rights defenders, like Cao, and ethnic and religious minorities have died in Chinese custody due to torture or deprivation of medical treatment. China’s only Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, Uighur scholar Muhammad Salih Hajim, and Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche all died in police custody in recent years.

Others, like detained citizen journalist Huang Qi, await such a fate without urgent intervention. Police have denied Huang, who has kidney and heart diseases, medical treatment and have repeatedly beaten him in custody. His condition has deteriorated to the point where supporters fear he may become “another Cao Shunli” and UN independent experts recently expressed concern he might die in detention.

Ten other Chinese activists, journalists, scholars, and lawyers are on a medical watchlist of political prisoners, launched after Cao’s death to draw attention to China’s practice of torture by withholding medical treatment…………..

It’s no coincidence that following a weak response internationally to the deaths of prominent human rights defenders and a widespread crackdown on civil society that the Xi government felt confident enough to establish a system of mass internment camps for ethnic Uighurs and Muslims and turn the Xinjiang region into a “no-rights zone”.

Human rights defenders and ethnic and religious minorities in China face real risks for standing up to the Chinese government. They don’t pay with lost trade deals but with their lives. The risks of speaking out in defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms in China include losing your job, your home, your family, or being disappeared, arbitrarily detained, tortured, or even killed.

Cao Shunli said before her death: “Our impact may be large, may be small, and may be nothing. But we must try. It is our duty to the dispossessed and it is the right of civil society.” States should remember her spirit and not be afraid to speak truth to power.

Note that on 14 March a group of UN experts have renewed their call for a comprehensive and independent investigation into her death by Chinese authorities (https://www.protecting-defenders.org/en/news/china-un-experts-renew-calls-probe-death-cao-shunli).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/14/cao-shunli-died-five-years-ago-she-stood-up-to-china-on-human-rights-and-so-must-we

Leading Tajik human rights defender Faiziniso Vohidova died

January 7, 2019

Radio Free Europe (RFE) announced on 4 January 2019 that Faiziniso Vohidova, a Tajik lawyer who defended dissidents for decades, died at the age of 55.

Faiziniso Vohidova in 2016
Faiziniso Vohidova in 2016

Faiziniso Vohidova was a graduate of Moscow State University and started her career as a lawyer in 1995. She was one of the last lawyers in Tajikistan who provided legal assistance to opposition figures, journalists, and victims of torture. Steve Swerdlow, researcher with Human Rights Watch, called Vohidova’s death “a huge loss for Tajikistan” and described her as a brave “lawyers’ lawyer.

[Vohidova] was an amazing combination of fierce intellect, sharp wit [and] principle. [For] duration of Tajikistan’s independence she has been part of that small group of activists and lawyers who have sought to make it live up to the democratic pronouncements written in its Constitution,” Swerdlow wrote on Twitter, adding that she was “unafraid to take on the toughest battles, fight for justice till the end, no matter what the odds.”

Rajabi Mirz, an independent journalist and rights defender in Tajikistan, told RFE/RL that Vohidova was “the last pillar” of those challenging the authorities in Tajikistan. “She was one of the few who cared about Tajikistan’s future,” Mirzo said.

https://www.rferl.org/a/faiziniso-vohidova-tajik-lawyer-who-defended-dissidents-for-decades-dies-at-55/29691242.html

Human rights lawyer Felicia Langer died on 21 June 2018

June 24, 2018

Felicia Langer (born 9 December 1930 ) died on 21 June 2018. She was a German-Israeli attorney and human rights defender known for her defence of Palestinian political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She authored several books alleging human rights violations on the part of Israeli authorities. She lived in Germany from 1990 and acquired German citizenship in 2008.In her writings, lectures and interviews she criticized the Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, which she considered equivalent to an annexation. Langer furthermore considered the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as undermining the possibility of a two-state solution and demands the complete and unconditional retreat of Israel from the territories conquered in 1967 and a right to return for any descendant of the Palestinian refugees. In 1990, Langer received the Right Livelihood Award ” for the exemplary courage of her struggle for the basic rights of the Palestinian people.” In 1991, she was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Award. In July 2009, President of Germany awarded her the Federal Cross of Merit. The bestowal triggered a public controversy because of her attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more on human rights awards see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/

 on 23 June wrote in an Op ED in EurAsia Review Felicia Langer is highly respected and revered by the Palestinians like no other Israeli-German citizen. Only Yasser Arafat is more adored. Both the Palestinian Authority and the city of Tübingen, where she lived in exile, should set up a memorial place for this great German-Israeli woman…Felicia Langer is one of the few outstanding Israeli-German personalities who have sacrificed themselves to the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people to the last breath, and whose memory should remember by all three peoples. Their tireless commitment to Palestinian justice and human rights should always be considered an inspiration and a societal obligation to their political actions.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicia_Langer

https://www.eurasiareview.com/23062018-german-israeli-human-rights-lawyer-felicia-langer-passes-away-oped/

Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, Iranian environmentalist, dies in prison under suspicious circumstances

March 7, 2018

On 6 March, 2018 Scholars at Risk (SAR) reported the death in custody of Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, a scholar of sociology and an environmentalist in Iran who was arrested in January 2018 on charges of espionage.

Professor Seyed-Emami was a professor of sociology at Imam Sadiq University and a co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. A dual Canadian-Iranian national, he was an environmentalist who led camping trips for Iranian youth in his spare time. SAR understands that, on January 24, 2018, Iranian authorities arrested Professor Seyed-Emami, along with at least seven others, who Iranian authorities claimed were “collecting classified information about the country’s strategic areas under the guise of carrying out scientific and environmental projects.” The information released by authorities does not make clear what classified information Professor Seyed-Emami and others were alleged to have collected, who they were allegedly working for, or what evidence supports these allegations.

On February 9, authorities reportedly notified Professor Seyed-Emami’s wife of her husband’s death. The following day, authorities announced the arrests and Professor Seyed-Emami’s death, claiming it was a suicide. SAR understands that Professor Seyed-Emami’s family was pressured to bury him quickly. Human rights groups have called for an autopsy and investigation, pointing to the suspicious circumstances of his death. Professor Seyed-Emami’s death follows two other recent incidents in Evin Prison in which activists died and authorities later ruled their deaths suicides.

SAR demands an investigation of Professor Seyed-Emami’s deeply troubling death and generally that the ability of intellectuals in Iran to exercise their right to academic freedom be guaranteed. To join the action, follow the link below:

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50943/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=24470

See also my post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/08/23/rouhanis-iran-disappoints-massively-on-human-rights/

Liu Xiaobo: a giant human rights defender leaves a lasting legacy for China and the rest of the world

July 13, 2017

USA AI then mentions some of the many other HRDs who under the leadership of President Xi Jinping have suffered persecution:

Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, was sentenced to life imprisonment for “separatism”. Amnesty International believes that he is in prison for writings posted on the Internet.[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/11/hot-news-ilham-tohti-chinas-mandela-wins-2016-martin-ennals-award/]

Women’s rights activist Su Changlan was sentenced in March 2017 to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.”[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/08/amnesty-international-campaigns-with-7-women-who-refuse-to-wait-for-their-rights/]

Human rights lawyers like Jiang Tianyong have been detained, arrested and harassed by government authorities in the last several years. He was formally arrested for “subverting state power” after being detained in an unofficial detention facility for over six months. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/01/human-rights-defenders-issues-on-the-agenda-of-the-next-35th-human-rights-council/]

The reaction of the Chinese government to criticism from abroad over Liu Xiaobo’s treatment is by the way typical. See e.g. in the Strait Times of 14 July: “Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also said China had lodged protests with “certain countries” for interfering in its “judicial sovereignty”…….”Conferring the prize to such a person goes against the purposes of this award. It’s a blasphemy of the peace prize”. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2012/12/06/china-and-its-amazing-sensitivity-on-human-rights-defenders/]

Source: Liu Xiaobo: A giant of human rights who leaves a lasting legacy for China and the world – Amnesty International USA

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/china-says-awarding-nobel-peace-prize-to-liu-xiaobo-was-blasphemy

In memoriam Gladys Lanza: one of Honduras finest human rights defenders

September 21, 2016

On 20 September 2016 Gladys Lanza (), one of Honduras most outstanding human rights defenders, passed away. With this video Front Line wants to help her struggle to continue. Honduras remains in the top list of places where human rights defenders are persecuted and attacked. See: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/honduras-one-of-the-worst-places-to-be-a-human-rights-defender/

www.frontlinedefenders.org

 

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate 1986, dies at the age of 87

July 3, 2016

ASSOCIATED PRESS Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel died on Saturday aged 87.

Activist and writer Elie Wiesel, the World War Two death camp survivor who won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize for becoming the life-long voice of millions of Holocaust victims, has died, Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem said on Saturday 2 July 2016.  Wiesel, a philosopher, speaker, playwright and professor who also campaigned for the tyrannized and forgotten around the world, was 87.

The Romanian-born Wiesel lived by the credo expressed in “Night,” his landmark story of the Holocaust – “to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

In awarding the Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee praised Wiesel as a “messenger to mankind” and “one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world.” Elie Wiesel went on to receive another 6 human rights awards, including one named after himself.

Source: Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor And Nobel Laureate, Dead At 87

First MEA Laureate, Harry Wu from China, dies at age of 79

April 27, 2016

While waiting for the breaking news of who will be the Final Nominees of the 2016 Martin Ennals Award (in 2 hours) I received the sad news that the first winner of the MEA in 1994, Chinese human rights defender Harry Wu has died at the age of 79.

1994 march Harry Wu first MEA Laureate

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wu at the official award dinner in March 1994

His short bio and a film on his work can be viewed at: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87&Itemid=120&lang=en

Horn of Africa specialist Martin Hill passes away: great loss to human rights community

January 13, 2015

Martin Hill, for 32 years a senior researcher at AI on the Horn of Africa, has died. He wrote “No redress: Somalia’s forgotten minorities” for the Minority Rights Group and was a founding member of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in 2005 in Uganda. Hassan Shire Sheikh, who knew him well personally, published the In Memoriam below:
dr-Hill(Martin Hill on the left, his wife Dawn and the author Hassan Shire Sheikh)

We have lost a figure-father, mentor, a dear friend, and an admired advocate who consistently shed light on human wrongs in the Horn of Africa and sided with those whose rights were violated. Dr. Martin Hill passed away on Friday 9 January 2015. Dr. Hill worked at the Amnesty Secretariat office in London, as a researcher and a campaigner on the Horn of Africa in the human rights field for over 32 years. I first met Dr. Hill in 1989 when he led the first Amnesty International delegation to Somalia during the period of military dictatorship. At sub-regional level where many human rights violations and suffering for the past three decades and lack of attention globally, Dr. Hill brought human rights issues and concerns in the limelight and earned the admiration and love of many people particularly Ethiopians, Eritreans and Somalis. Dr. Hill was a friend to me and to my late uncle, Dr. Ismail Jumale Ossoble, (the only human rights lawyer who consistently defended prisoners of conscience in the dreaded national security court). Dr. Ossoble was a prisoner of conscience himself and was Amnesty International’s principle research contact in Somalia during the 80s and 90s. We subsequently established Dr. Ismail Jumale Human Rights Centre in 1996 and I co-directed the centre for 6 years starting in 1996 before I went into exile. During this period, I was the principle Somali contact for Amnesty International and I worked very closely with Dr. Hill. Dr. Hill worked with us on the protection and promotion of human rights for Somalis including a sign up campaign during the 50th UDHR anniversary celebrations where Dr. Ismail Jumale Centre was able to garner over 1.5 million signatures including first signature by the founding first President, the late Aden Abdulle Osman at his farm in Shalambood District of lower Shabale region, former Prime Ministers, faction leaders, and civil society groups among others. I particularly remember the first human rights defenders training for Somalis that Dr. Hill organized in 1997 in Kenya and I was part of that training. He was instrumental in organizing sub-regional networks consultation meetings to the run up of the All Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference I 1998 and subsequently the global human rights summit in Paris in December 1998. He also supported our research initiative during our initial mission, Africa Human Rights Defenders Project in the East and Horn of Africa while I was at York University. Dr. Hill was present as founding member of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in 2005 in Entebbe, Uganda. Dr. Hill will be remembered for his ardent support to human rights in the Horn of Africa. He inspired and mentored so many human rights activists who are now working with prominent human rights organizations around the world. He contributed to the fight against human rights violations and ending the culture of impunity in the sub-region. Our thoughts, and those of the wider human rights community, are with his family and many friends around the world. The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project staff, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network and the Pan Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, extend our sincerest condolences to his wife, Dawn Hill and children.”

Great Loss to the Human Rights Community as Legendary Dr. Martin Hill Passes On | Mareeg Media.

In Memoriam Chan Soveth, Cambodian human rights defender

December 11, 2014

On Human Rights Day, FIDH reports that Chan Soveth, a prominent Cambodian human rights defender, has died at the early age of 51. He was a senior investigator at the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC, a member organization of FIDH). “Chan Soveth was a voice for the voiceless. For decades, he selflessly worked for victims of human rights violations and abuses, in particular the poor and those living in remote areas, which ADHOC managed to reach out to”, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. “Soveth’s death is a great loss for his family, his colleagues and Cambodia’s human rights community, but the heritage of courage and commitment he left will last for generations”.

On many occasions, Soveth’s human rights work and personal commitment had caused him to be subjected to threats, intimidation and reprisals in the form of judicial harassment. In 2012, he had been forced to stay outside his country for several months. Upon his return, despite receiving another summon to appear before Cambodia’s flawed judicial system, and thus, despite the risk of being arbitrarily detained, he had decided to stay in Cambodia, amongst his fellow countrymen. Soveth relentlessly fought against human rights violations – from land grabbing and violations of people’s and communities’ rights to food, water or housing, to extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, and violations of the rights to free expression and free assembly. He was not only a great investigator, trainer and human rights advocate, but also an inspiration to many. He was always eager to improve his impressive human rights and professional skills and to celebrate successes.logo FIDH_seul

Cambodia and the community of human rights defenders lose a (…).

more details in: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/rights-warrior-passes-age-51