Posts Tagged ‘DefendDefenders’

Congo’s Hip-Hop artist Moses Kabaseke Defender of the Month for DefendDefenders

October 23, 2019

Human Rights Defender of the Month (September 2019): Moses Kabaseke 

Moses Kabaseke, a talented hip-hop artist and activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was forced to flee to Uganda in 2013 only 16 years old. Kabaseke, known by his stage name Belidor, has produced music since he was a child. “I use music as a weapon – music has power. I use music to promote human rights.

Moses Kabaseke refers to DRC as the rich country with the poor people. “Back home a life means nothing. In Congo, life is something that can be taken from human beings easily – there’s no justice,” he states. “It’s difficult for people that have not experienced atrocities to understand how that feels like. With my music, I try to capture the trauma and injustices experienced by so many.” When he was only seven years old, his father was killed. “Every night when my mother was crying, I felt so bad. Since that age, I decided to fight for what was right.” In 2012, history repeated itself when his stepfather was killed before his eyes. At that point his mother had to make the difficult decision to leave home. In a quest to find safety, she brought her four children to Uganda.

“We don’t want to be here, but we are forced to be here,” he stresses, pointing out that life in exile is difficult. Being away from home, without external support and regular income, they face many challenges. “We need to look for ways to pay our bills. However, my siblings and I all have the blood of our father, so the thing we know how to do is music; so, we perform.”

In Uganda, Kabaseke continued his human rights promotion by composing music. After five years of hard work, often performing in Kampala’s bars, restaurants, and churches to finance his music, he recently finished his first autobiographical album. The album, ‘Les Mille Cris’ (Thousands of Cries), which contains ten songs written and produced by himself, conveys messages about human rights violations and injustices in DRC, and life as a refugee, among others. “Les Mille Cris is about breaking down the truth, sensitising Africans and victims of violations, and giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Through his music, he encourages people to tell their story, and moreover, urges the world to listen. Speaking the truth can come at a high cost. “As the number of my followers increase, my personal insecurity increase. Personal safety is essential as an artist talking about human rights,” he says. When asked what inspires him to continue despite the many challenges he is faced with, he states that “I promote human rights because I have been a victim of the system […] we are the main actors in the process of change. We have to stand for our rights.” Moses Kabaseke has partaken in several trainings organised by DefendDefenders, and performed at DefendDefenders’ events.

Check out Moses Kabaseke’s music:

Human Rights Defender of the Month (September 2019): Moses Kabaseke

Gladys Mmari is African Human Rights Defender of the Month (July)

August 8, 2019

On 7 August 2019 DefendDefenders’ blog annouinced that Gladys Mmari, Tanzania, was chosen as Human Rights Defender of the Month July 2019:

Gladys Mmari is a driven Tanzanian human rights defender (HRD), and the founder of MAFGE (Male Advocacy For Gender Equality) – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) focused on women empowerment through educating both women and men. “So much of the work that I do is cultural conversation. We have grown up talking about these issues among women, but now, I have to work with men as well – making it more challenging,” Mmari stresses. She fosters the idea that male voices should be heard, and educated, in women’s rights, and that it is important to establish an equitable understanding between the genders, while breaking down gender stereotypes. “We need to stop romanticising the idea of women empowerment, and co-empower one another to achieve the goals of an equal world,” Mmari affirms.

After obtaining a law degree, she worked as a human rights researcher in Tanzania, with a focus on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and indigenous rights. Then, she worked for AfricAid, an NGO specialised in cultivating leadership in young women and girls. She recalls a young boy who, following one of her sessions, asked her why he could not participate in the dialogues. He also wanted to boost women and girls’ rights. “It was a turning point for me,” Mmari says. “The time has come to work together and empower each other to revisit the many socio-cultural constraints that have stopped us from equality.” Her organisation MAFGE was hereby born.

She pinpoints numerous challenges faced in her work. “It is challenging to mobilise men to join, to ensure impact to women empowerment.” Furthermore, “most organisations that deal with women empowerment want to fund women organisations. And they do not want to see men in women organisations.”

She also points out the political situation in Tanzania as a great hurdle. Political rallies in the state deviate and misconceive the importance of HRDs, putting them at risk. As she expresses a sincere concern for Tanzanian HRDs, she mentions that the government is currently registering all NGOs under a single entity. “Here there is potential importance of this initiative, as this could be used for something productive such as acting as a more centralised human rights platform allowing more structured approaches, information passage, and funding opportunities. It is a step forward, unless it is a political interest”.

Gladys will continue to fight for women’s rights. “Women are born into unequal societies, and their achievements are unacknowledged and their potential left untapped [..] I can imagine my children and grandchildren living in a world with equal rights, and that they’ll get the opportunities and securities that I missed as a woman. That’s what keeps me going.”

Through MAFGE, she is also running a crowdfunding campaign, to strengthen gender equality in Tanzania.

Human Rights Defender of the Month (July 2019): Gladys Mmari

DefendDefenders seeks Program and Administration Manager based in Kampala

July 16, 2019

DefendDefenders (www.defenddefenders.org/) is recruiting a Program and Administration Manager for its work in supporting HRDs. Under the overall supervision of the Director of Programs and Administration, and in direct partnership with other staff members, the PROGRAM AND ADMINISTRATION MANAGER shall be responsible, but not limited to, duties in the areas:
  • Managing programs:
  • Fundraising:
  • Administration:
  • Support the strategic development of the organisation

Competencies (see the full announcement)

Education and Professional Experience

  • A master’s degree in human rights, law, social sciences, political science, or a related field from an accredited academic institution with a minimum of five years of relevant professional experience in program/project management;
  • A solid understanding of human rights and protection mechanisms;
  • Familiarity with the East and Horn of Africa sub-region and previous experience working in the sub-region;
  • Good conceptual and analytical capacity;
  • Very good budgeting, project management, and report writing skills; and
  • Ability and willingness to travel.

Languages

Fluency in English is a must (spoken and written). Fluency in French is a strong asset, and Arabic is an asset.

Location

The position will be based in Kampala, Uganda with frequent travels within and out of the country. Applicants should be eligible to work in Uganda without restriction.

How to Apply

Applicants should send a letter of motivation, CV, and contacts of three references to: jobs@defenddefenders.org by 4 August 2019. Do not send scanned copies of certificates. Interviews will be held in person (in Kampala, Uganda), or via Skype late in August. The subject line of the email should read “Application for Program & Admin Manager position.”

Questions about the position can be directed to jobs@defenddefenders.org.

Call for Applications: Program and Administration Manager

 

Ethiopia: a progress report by DefendDefenders made public on 7 May

May 7, 2019

In a new report launched 7 May 2019, Turning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia, the regional NGO DefendDefenders examines the challenges faced by Ethiopian human rights defenders amid the ongoing reform process and makes concrete recommendations for rebuilding a robust and inclusive civil society ahead of elections planned for 2020. Despite some positive developments, serious gaps remain, the report concludes and rights-based organisations in the country currently lack the capacity to keep pace with these developments. This report outlines several avenues donors and international organisations can use to help effectively rebuild civil society in Ethiopia, such as capacity-building activities, and areas of focus like psychosocial support.

I believe that the role of HRDs and civil society is prescient in ensuring that ideals of democracy and open civic space are not only achieved in Ethiopia, but offer a roadmap to other African countries,” says Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders. “This report should not only highlight the many achievements of Ethiopia in the last year, but also acknowledge the uneasy road ahead and make concrete recommendations to mitigate potentially negative outcomes.

After a 13-year crackdown on civil society (hundreds of killings and the arrest, arbitrary detention, and torture of thousands of peaceful protesters), amid internal pressure, Dr. Abiy Ahmed was appointed as the new Prime Minister In April 2018 and began a series of reforms aimed at opening political and civic space in the country. This has been accomplished by releasing thousands of political prisoners and granting them amnesty, and accepting previously banned groups back into the Ethiopian political mainstream, in addition to the appointment of prominent women to positions of power within the government. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/12/human-rights-defender-yared-hailemariam-back-in-his-homeland-ethiopia-after-13-years/]

However, concerns remain over the top-down nature of the reforms, as well as gaps in the economic, security, health, and legal sectors. This report also contains a detailed analysis of the new Civil Society Organisations Proclamation, with commentary on the provisions that mark an improvement, as well as remaining concerns.

Questions over how to achieve accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations remain, with concerns regarding civil society’s lack of capacity to effectively support such endeavors, as well as the state’s ability to constructively handle this process.

While the majority of the country’s media remains state-owned, small publications and online outlets have flourished since the reform process began. The ongoing liberalisation of the media sector raises concerns over the rise of online hate speech spurred by ethnic nationalism.

Women HRDs remain at risk in the country, with rigid social norms often preventing their active participation in public life or human rights organisations. Women also often lack access to justice, especially in cases of female genital mutilation and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as access to positions of power in the government.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual minority (LGBT+) HRDs remain a critically unaddressed group within Ethiopia’s burgeoning human rights movement, partially rooted in the country’s religious and conservative value systems, in addition to lack of prior experience and sensitisation. Mainstreaming LGBT+ organisations into the wider rebuilding of Ethiopian civil society will be paramount to addressing these gaps.

Forthcoming elections scheduled for May 2020 offer a critical test for the country with questions over what role civil society will be ready to play ahead of, and during, a free and fair poll, and whether there is sufficient capacity to conduct effective democratic sensitisation campaigns and monitor polls.

A properly functioning national coalition of HRDs is paramount to effectively rebuild civil society, however, issues remain with regard to the inclusion of previously marginalised groups. If these efforts are successful, Addis Ababa also bears the potential to become an important Ubuntu Hub City for HRDs from across Africa, with welcoming policies regarding migration, refugee rights, and institutional support from international organisations and diplomatic missions. For more information, please contact communications@defenddefenders.org.

Turning the Page: Rebuilding Civil Society in Ethiopia

Call for nominations for women human rights defenders from East Africa to learn about digital safety

January 26, 2019

The community of Safe Sisters is announcing the 3rd round of women’s digital safety fellowship program to start in March 2019. They are looking for creative, self-motivated and dependable women who want to take their digital safety skills and online activism to the next level and they invite women human rights defenders from Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda to apply. The workshop is scheduled in March 2019 in Kampala, Uganda.

Two years ago, they started the work of building a community of tech-savy East African women ready to stand up and defend digital rights and digital safety while fighting online harassment in their communities. Since then 21 amazing women from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Tanzania have been trained to play an important role in their communities as digital security mentors! [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/09/defenddefenders-launched-new-security-manual-for-human-rights-defenders-in-africa/]

Participation involves 

Minimum 4 hours per week for 3 weeks before the first workshop to complete self-study assignments and exercises. Please note these exercises are mandatory for participation in the workshop; you must be available for weekly email check-ins with mentors;

You must be able to attend a one-week workshop to be scheduled in March 2019 in Kampala, Uganda. You will get an opportunity to seek small grants to carry out community digital safety activities of your own; you will work with mentors and peers as they improve their skills and work to defend your community; and Opportunity to participate in the 2nd gathering of Safe Sisters to further grow skills and reflect on practice and experience gained during project implementation

Application requirements 

Applicants must have a demonstrated interest in digital safety and security; should have experience working in the human rights and/or media field with strong links to communities who are digitally at-risk; must hold a sufficient level of English, as English will be the working language; and must complete and submit the application form.

Selection Criteria 

Priority will be given to applicants who: demonstrate experience with strong technical competencies (though this need not be formal education); have experience with tech and human rights initiatives; demonstrate an understanding of their own and their community’s digital safety challenges and needs; Propose creative project ideas; and construct clear project objectives/goals.

Applications are now open until 15th February 2019. You can apply by filling out the online application form.

For more details, visit Defend Defenders.

Call for Nominations for the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards

January 11, 2019

The Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network has re-opened nominations for the 3rd edition of the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards. The award will honor exceptional individuals who have contributed to changes in their community by peacefully promoting and protecting human rights. See: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/african-human-rights-defenders-shield-awards.

Six awards will be presented:

– Pan-African Shield Award (Overall);
– East and Horn of Africa Shield Award;
– West African Shield Award;
– Southern Africa Shield Award;
– Central Africa Shield Award;
– Northern Africa Shield Award.

To make a nomination please fill out one of the online forms below. Nominations will be open until 15 March 2019. Both individuals and organizations are eligible for the award. Nominations made during the previous nomination period (June to September 2018) are still valid and will be automatically taken into consideration for the 3rd edition of the Awards without need to re-apply. The awards will be presented to the winners at the margins of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 64th Ordinary Session 2019.

English | French | Portuguese

PS Note that the name of the awards has changed by adding the word “shield” (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/09/04/call-for-nominations-2014-african-human-rights-defenders-awards/)

https://africandefenders.org/hrd-award/

 

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Vacancy: Data & Web Campaigning Coordinator in Kampala

November 20, 2018

The African network NGO DefendDefenders seeks a Data & Web Campaigning Lead to coordinate its “Doc-IT” program. The Data & Web Campaigning Lead will work with human rights organisations throughout the East & Horn of Africa to improve their documentation and data collection practices and turn them into high-impact online and print advocacy campaigns. A strong confidence with visual communications, web technologies, social media marketing, and data analysis is ideal. Experience in project management and working with outsourced designers and developers is an added advantage. Full Time. Location of work: Kampala, Uganda. Starting January 2019.

Fo more information go the the website. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

To apply to this vacancy send a letter of interest and CV to jobs@defenddefenders.org with “[DOCIT]” in the subject line by 2 December 2018.

Profile of William Leslie Amanzuru, Africa’s defender of the month

November 7, 2018

On 6 November 2018, the African network NGO DefendDefenders published this profile of their ‘Defender of the month’: William Leslie Amanzuru from Uganda:

Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Shoot the Messenger – also valid in Africa

November 6, 2017

In a new report launched at the 61st session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) finds that amid growing restrictions on civic space in the sub-region, journalists play a critical role in exposing human rights violations and providing vital information and analysis of current events. Simply documenting and sharing information can simultaneously place them at risk and at the forefront of human rights defence.
In “Don’t Shoot the Messenger! Journalists as Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa”, DefendDefenders examines the challenges journalists face, and provides an overview of the various strategies they have used to circumvent and continue their work amid these restrictions. Overall trends, legal frameworks, and case studies from 11 countries in the East and Horn of Africa provide an understanding of the capacity, risks, and needs of journalists reporting on human rights issues. Over 60 journalists, bloggers, and media professionals from the sub-region were interviewed, in addition to significant input from civil society organisations dedicated to free expression and the protection of journalists.
Central to the report is the question of whether journalists, by nature of their work, should be considered HRDs. Nearly all journalists interviewed for this report considered themselves to be HRDs, but many had doubts over whether this also applied to all their colleagues. Some interviewees claimed to actively seek out human rights stories, especially in conflict situations, while others also advocated for freedom of expression, often from exile.
Journalists are increasingly faced with new threats to their work and security, including harassment, arbitrary detentions, and imprisonments and prosecutions under spurious laws, both online and offline. These threats intensify amid violent conflicts and political crises, and often force journalists into exile, where they face new challenges. The report offers concrete solutions to online and offline challenges and makes key recommendations to governments and civil society to ensure that a free media environment in the region is protected and promoted.
Download “Don’t Shoot the Messenger!” here.

Africa’s DefendDefenders new website

August 30, 2017

In 2015, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (then still abbreviated EHAHRDP) celebrated its ten-year anniversary and decided it was time to give the organisation a new, fresh face under its new name: DefendDefenders. In February, after a year of consultations, it presented its new logo and rebranded image during the third general assembly of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network. Today, it launched its new website at https://www.defenddefenders.org as the final step. 

On DefendDefenders’ new website, it is easier to find information and stay up to date on its work. HRDs will be able to contact them more quickly in case of emergencies and to access essential resources they can use to improve their safety. The website itself was developed with the specific requirements of the East and Horn of Africa in mind, and is designed to work with low bandwidth Internet or on mobile devices.

Every element of DefendDefenders’ new brand represents the changes over the years, without losing sight where it came from: from prominent features in the logo, such as the shield which remains the core of its identity, to a font inspired by anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko.
For earlier posts on DefendDefenders: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/defenddefenders/

Source: DefendDefenders | East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project