Posts Tagged ‘digest of human rights awards and laureates’

Vincent Raj Arokiasamy wins Raoul Wallenberg Prize of the Council of Europe

January 18, 2022
Defender of disadvantaged population of “untouchables” in India receives Raoul Wallenberg Prize

Vincent Raj Arokiasamy, founder of the organisation “Evidence” in India, has been awarded the Council of Europe’s Raoul Wallenberg Prize for his outstanding determination and persistence in bringing meaningful change to the lives of the Dalits, historically known as “untouchables”. For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/730A3159-B93A-4782-830F-3C697B0EC7A0

“Vincent Raj Arokiasamy (better known as “Evidence” Kathir) has risked his life to help an exceptionally disadvantaged part of the Indian population whose plight is often ignored by national and international communities. In defending human rights with incredible commitment and resilience, his courageous actions for the so-called “untouchables” fully reflect the spirit and values of the Raoul Wallenberg prize”, said Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

Vincent Raj Arokiasamy has demonstrated enormous courage and taken grave risks regarding his own and his family’s lives. He has rescued some 25,000 victims in 3,000 incidents of human rights violations. As a result, he has to live apart from his family to protect them. He has devoted his life to the cause of promoting justice for Dalits and others whose voices are rarely heard.

The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday 19 January at 12h30 CET in a hybrid format. The event will be live streamed, and speakers include the Secretary General, the Chair of the Jury and the Laureate. A screening of József Sipos’s documentary on the life of Raoul Wallenberg “The Lost European” will follow the ceremony. The documentary can be streamed online, free of charge, until 23 January. The film streaming is made available with the support of the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the Council of Europe.

17 January marks the anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s arrest in Budapest in 1945. The Swedish diplomat used his status to save tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. His actions show that one person’s courage and ability can really make a difference. Starting in 2014, at the initiative of the Swedish Government and the Hungarian Parliament, the Council of Europe has created the Raoul Wallenberg Prize to keep the memory of his achievements alive. The Prize, worth €10,000, is awarded every two years in recognition of extraordinary humanitarian achievements by a single individual, a group of individuals or an organisation.

https://www.coe.int/en/web/human-rights-rule-of-law/-/defender-of-disadvantaged-population-of-untouchables-in-india-receives-raoul-wallenberg-prize

Follow the Announcement of the Martin Ennals Laureates 2022 on 19 January

January 17, 2022
Webinar banner

The 2022 Martin Ennals Award Laureate Announcement will be live-streamed at a press conference, announcing the 2022 Laureates on Wednesday 19 January at 11am CET. More on this awards and it laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

Media requests can be shared at media@martinennalsaward.org. To register, follow link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_C–uTIoFQAumucPTbGOeeQ

You can follow the livestreaming on the MEF website for general audience: https://youtu.be/UgvIli5X-T8

Nominations for Rafto Prize 2022 now open

January 14, 2022
Raftoemblem Test

You can now nominate a candidate for the Rafto Prize, meant for a person or an organization who stands up for human rights and democracy. Annual deadline is 1 February. For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/A5043D5E-68F5-43DF-B84D-C9EF21976B18

  • A candidate should be active in the struggle for the ideals and principles underlying the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • A candidate’s struggle for human rights should represent a non-violent perspective.
  • A candidate may be a person or an organization, and two or more candidates may share the prize.

Deadline for nominations: 1 February 2022. Nominations received after 1 February will be taken into consideration for the Rafto Prize the following year.

For questions regarding nominations, please contact the Secretary of the Committee, Liv Unni Stuhaug, e-mail: livunni.stuhaug@rafto.no

Nominate a candidate

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has shut down

January 11, 2022

On 10 Jan 2022 one of Egypt’s last independent human rights organisations has closed down, according to a statement by the group, citing government persecution. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/C6490073-ED93-793A-C5DB-3C931BB470D3

Egypt’s government has engaged in a widespread crackdown on dissent for years that has stifled many of the country’s civil society groups and jailed thousands

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information [ANRI], an Egyptian organisation, was founded in 2003 by a team of lawyers and activists. It documented violations against citizens, journalists and political prisoners in Egypt and the region. It also followed the increasing government intimidation and targeting of human rights workers and others. But laws that made many of ANHRI’s operations illegal have forced the organisation to shut down, Executive Director Gamal Eid said in the statement on Monday. See e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/31/egyptian-human-rights-defender-gamal-eid-assaulted/. As a lawyer, Eid represented some of the most prominent secular detainees. A court ordered his assets frozen and has banned him from travelling since 2016.

He said the group’s workers had been arrested, intimidated and physically assaulted by security forces.

We continue to be lawyers who have a conscience, and as individual, independent human rights defenders will work side by side with the few remaining independent human rights organisations, independent human rights defenders and the entire movement calling for democracy,” he wrote.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/1/10/egypt-leading-rights-group-closes-citing-government-persecution

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egyptian-rights-group-closes-cites-government-persecution/2022/01/10/7348be54-7226-11ec-a26d-1c21c16b1c93_story.html

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya wins the Four Freedoms Award

January 8, 2022

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will receive the Four Freedoms Award this year. The intention is that Tikhanovskaya will receive the prize on April 21 in Middelburg. For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/CC8B97CB-FAE1-5A1F-68DB-0CE63E3306D0

Tikhanovskaya was the main rival to current President Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election. Her husband, Sergei Tikhanovski, had originally wanted to run for president, but was arrested before he could run for office. Tikhanovskaya then took over his role.

After Belarusian state television released an exit poll showed Lukashenko winning by an overwhelming margin, Tsikhanouskaya said that she didn’t trust that poll, saying, “I believe my eyes, and I see that the majority is with us. She filed a formal complaint with the Central Election Commission on election night, but was detained for seven hours in retaliation. After her release from detention, Tsikhanouskaya chose to flee to Lithuania in fear of repercussions, which could have possibly affected her children.

Tsikhanouskaya and other Belarus leaders of the country’s democratic opposition were awarded the European Parliament’s 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/10/22/belarus-opposition-movement-wins-eus-sakharov-prize-for-freedom-of-thought/

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

https://www.pzc.nl/home/four-freedoms-award-voor-svetlana-tichanovskaja-situatie-in-belarus-wordt-met-de-dag-erger~aff02eaa/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Russia’s Supreme Court orders closure emblematic Memorial

December 29, 2021

As feared in November (see blog post below) Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday 28 December 2021 ordered the closure of Memorial International, one of the country’s most respected human rights organizations, wiping out three decades of work to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era. Memorial is the winner of at least 7 international human rights awards: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/BD12D9CE-37AA-7A35-9A32-F37A0EA8C407

The court ruled that Memorial International had fallen afoul of Russia’s “foreign agent” law. But the group said the real reason for the shutdown was that authorities did not approve of its work.

The ruling is the latest blow to Russia’s hollowed-out civil society organizations, which have gradually fallen victim to Putin’s authoritarian regime.

Videos posted on social media showed Memorial supporters shouting, “Shame, shame!” in the court’s hallways and at the entrance to the building shortly after the ruling. Seven people were detained outside the courthouse following the proceedings, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. The organization said three of them are believed to be instigators whose sole aim was to cause havoc, not support Memorial.

Memorial International’s lawyer, Tatiana Glushkova, confirmed the ruling to CNN and said the group would appeal the decision. “The real reason for Memorial’s closure is that the prosecutor’s office doesn’t like Memorial’s work rehabilitating the victims of Soviet terror,” Glushkova told CNN.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia requested Memorial International be liquidated in November. The group was accused of repeatedly breaking the law for failing to mark all its publications with a compulsory “foreign agent” warning. The Justice Ministry had designated the group a foreign agent in 2016, using a law targeting organizations receiving international funding.

Memorial’s representatives argued there were no legal grounds for the group’s closure, and critics say the Russian government targeted Memorial for political reasons.

Oleg Orlov, a member of Memorial International’s board, said the court’s decision was “purely ideological” and “a demonstrative, blatant, illegal decision.”

“Allegedly, we do not assess the Soviet Union and Soviet history the right way. But this is our assessment, we have the right to do it,” Orlov told CNN.

Memorial was founded in the late 1980s to document political repressions carried out under the Soviet Union, building a database of victims of the Great Terror and gulag camps. The Memorial Human Rights Centre, a sister organisation that campaigns for the rights of political prisoners and other causes, is also facing liquidation for “justifying terrorism and extremism”. One of the group’s co-founders was Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, who went on to be the first honorary chairman of the Memorial Society.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/28/russian-court-memorial-human-rights-group-closure

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/-erasing-history—russia-closes-top-rights-group–capping-year-of-crackdowns/47222634

Desmond Tutu, human rights champion par excellence, is no more

December 29, 2021

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who was post-apartheid South Africa’s moral compass and the driver of its troubled reconciliation process, has died. He was 90 years old.

He is the laureate of at least 10 human rights awards: For the complete list, see:

https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/3E4065ED-420D-D94E-ECB1-4A2C91FE3BE6

Andrew Donaldson in News24 of 26 December 2021 published an interesting obituary: A tireless social activist and human rights defender, Tutu not only coined the term “Rainbow Nation” to describe the country’s ethnic diversity but, after the first democratic elections in 1994, went on to become its conscience, using his international profile in campaigns against HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, among others…

His was a powerful, forthright voice, one that irked both the Nationalist government and its successor, the African National Congress and its allies. He was, an activist noted, “given to expressing his opinion in ways that are guaranteed to be outside the realm of comfortable politics”. As Tutu himself put it, in 2007, “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.“..

Both at home and abroad, Tutu’s opposition to apartheid, which he often likened to Nazism, was vigorous and unequivocal. The Nationalists twice revoked his passport, and he was briefly jailed in 1980 after a protest march. Many felt that his increasing international reputation and his advocacy of non-violence had spared Tutu from more harsh treatment by the government…

He was a born orator and, according to the journalist Simon Hattenstone, “a natural performer [with] his hands and eyes flying all over the place, his voice impassioned and resonant; a tiny ball of love.”

Tutu would often play down such adulation. “I was,” he once said of his reputation, “this man with the big nose and the easy name who personalised the South African situation.”…

Following the Soweto riots in 1976, Tutu became an increasingly vocal supporter of economic sanctions and a vigorous opponent of US president Ronald Reagan’s “constructive engagement” with the Nationalist government.

In 1978, he was appointed general secretary of the SACC, a position he used to further rally support, both local and international, against apartheid. He was just as harsh in his criticism of the violent tactics later used by some anti-apartheid activists, and was unequivocal in his opposition to terrorism and communism.

Tutu’s finest hour came when he chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of apartheid-relation human rights violations, as well as rule on reparation and the rehabilitation of victims…

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/07/30/desmond-tutu-chooses-hell-over-homophobic-heaven/

He is survived by his wife, four children, seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Desmond Tutu was responsible for countless notable quotes throughout his life as an activist and elder. TimesLive (Ernest Mabuza) of 26 December 2021 in “In his own words: Desmond Tutu’s unwavering stance on human rights” published 12 of his best:

https://www.news24.com/news24/Obituaries/obituary-desmond-tutu-tenacious-charismatic-and-a-thorn-in-the-national-party-and-ancs-side-20211226

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-12-26-in-his-own-words-desmond-tutus-unwavering-stance-on-human-rights/

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS – Front Line Defenders 2022 Award for human rights defenders

December 22, 2021

Front Line Defenders is currently accepting nominations for the 2022 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk

award banner

The annual Front Line Defenders Award was established in 2005. For more on this award and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/2E90A0F4-6DFE-497B-8C08-56F4E831B47D

In 2021, Front Line Defenders took the decision to name all 5 regional winners as Global Laureates. For each region of the world (Africa; Americas; Asia-Pacific; Europe & Central Asia; and Middle East & North Africa) there will be one winner selected and Front Line Defenders will recognize all five as the 2022 Front Line Defenders Award Laureates.

The nomination process is open for anyone to submit a nomination of a human rights defender, collective, organisation or community working on any human rights issue and facing significant risk due to their work or operating in an environment that itself is characterised as insecure. Winners will receive:

  • a modest financial prize;
  • a security grant to improve their security measures;
  • collaboration with Front Line Defenders for media work in recognition of the Award;
  • advocacy by Front Line Defenders related to the Award and the work of the winners;
  • an event co-organized by the HRD, local partners and Front Line Defenders to give visibility to the Award in the winners’ countries (as determined and guided by the winners);
  • the Global Laureates will attend a ceremony in Dublin at a date to be determined;
  • ongoing security consultation with Front Line Defenders

If you would like to nominate a HRD for the 2022 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, please follow this link to the secure online nomination form 2022 Front Line Defenders Award – Nomination Form

Please submit nominations via the online form. If there are any problems using the form, or if you have any questions, please contact: campaigns@frontlinedefenders.org

Last year’s winners of the Front Line Defenders Award, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/12/14/front-line-defenders-award-for-human-rights-defenders-2021%EF%BF%BC/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/call-nominations-2022-front-line-defenders-award-human-rights-defenders-risk

Harassment of Adilur Rahman Khan and other Human Rights Defenders in Bangladesh

December 21, 2021

On 14 December 2021 a Statement Bangladesh: Stop Harassment of Human Rights Defenders” was published by Forum Asia, FIDH and other NGOs: “Bangladesh authorities must end the harassment of Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, respectively Secretary and Director of the human rights group Odhikar, who have been targeted through the misuse of the criminal justice system”, eleven rights groups said.

On December 15, 2021, the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka will continue the examination of prosecution witnesses in the case brought against Adilur Rahman Khan, also a member of OMCT General Assembly and FIDH Secretary-General, and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, for charges brought against them in Case No. 1 of 2013 under the notorious Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act, 2006 (amended in 2009), in relation to a fact-finding report issued by Odhikar on the killing of at least 61 people by security forces and law-enforcement agencies in May 2013. Khan and Elan face up to ten years in prison. See also; https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/88F17E2F-F919-580F-2FDA-59B8E24ACBF6

The government should stop using vague laws to silence human rights defenders and start holding perpetrators of abuses to account, ” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Odhikar’s findings not only should have led to investigations and reforms, but also should have been welcomed by the government as an opportunity to strengthen their commitment to upholding human rights.

Following Odhikar’s 2013 report, Khan and Elan were arbitrarily detained for respectively 62 and 25 days until they were both released on bail. On February 14, 2021, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh rejected Odhikar’s appeal to quash the case on its legal merits. On September 12, 2021, the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka resumed the trial in the case against the two while their review petition is still pending hearing before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, contravening the right to a fair trial. On October 5, November 9, and November 24, 2021, the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka started to examine prosecution witnesses in the case.

We express our deepest concern over the ongoing harassment of Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, which is manifestly a form of reprisals against Odhikar for their legitimate human rights work, including for cooperating with UN human rights mechanisms in documenting enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions and torture in Bangladesh.

It is further a matter of great concern that since 2013, attacks, unlawful surveillance, smear campaigns and harassment against Odhikar and its staff and management have been incessant. Odhikar is also facing serious difficulties to conduct its work due to violations of the right to freedom of association, since its registration has not been renewed by the NGO Affairs Bureau of the Government of Bangladesh and is still pending since 2015. Moreover, all of its bank accounts have been frozen and the organization has been forbidden from receiving funding from foreign or international sources, impacting its operations considerably.

The trial against Khan and Elan resumes in a context where human rights in Bangladesh are under attack from all sides. Human rights violations committed by security forces, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture remain pervasive throughout the country, with absolute impunity. Authorities regularly crackdown on human rights defenders and journalists who speak out against these violations, including through the use of the Digital Security Act – 2018, the Special Powers Act – 1974, and other draconian laws. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/12/02/adilur-rahman-khan-speaks-out-against-torture/

Cases such as these question the Bangladeshi government’s commitment to protecting human rights. The international community, including the United Nations and the diplomatic corps in Bangladesh, should monitor the case against Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan and take a clear stand to ensure that the government of Bangladesh respects the rights of the two defenders to a fair and public trial and, more generally, guarantees the right to defend human rights and puts an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Bangladesh.

Our organisations call on the authorities of Bangladesh to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, and to ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bangladesh are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

This trial is in reality an indictment of the authorities and a crucial test case for the country’s judiciary to be closely watched by the international community,” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General, speaking on behalf of the Observatory. “The true culprits are those responsible for extra-judicial killings not those who report on it. Prosecuting human rights activists will not stifle dissent but will isolate Bangladesh from the international community.

The NGOs:

Amnesty International

Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN),

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC),

Asian Network for Free Elections

Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP)

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation,

Eleos Justice, Monash University, Associate Professor

FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, i

FORUM-ASIA

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/bangladesh/bangladesh-government-must-act-to-address-rule-of-law-crisis

Franco-German Prize for Human Rights 2021

December 17, 2021

Germany and France honoured this year 15 people who have made outstanding contributions to the protection of human rights, campaigning for causes including women’s rights in Afghanistan, the freedom of the press in South Africa and children who are born as a result of rape in wartime.

On 10 December, international Human Rights Day, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and French Foreign Minister Jean‑Yves Le Drian presented fifteen people with the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights. This award recognises the efforts of all those who work tirelessly every day to advance the causes of human rights and the rule of law. It is presented decentralised by the French and German missions in various locations around the world.

Chang Weiping a Chinese human rights lawyer.

Jake Epelle who works to combat the ongoing stigmatisation and discrimination faced by people with albinism in Nigeria.

Noelah Godfrey Msuya who promotes the rights of children and women in Tanzania.

Monika Borgmann who is a German-Lebanese documentary-maker.

Jacques Letang who is a judge and lawyer in Haiti.

Cristina Palabay from the Philippines who leads the national association Karapatan.

Alexandrine Victoire Saizonou who is an advocate for women’s and children’s rights in Benin.

Ajna Jusic from Bosnia discovered at the age of 15 that she was born as a result of rape during wartime, and since then she has advocated for others in the same situation.

Erika Lorena Aifán Dávila is a judge who has been the target of constant attacks from the authorities of Guatemala.

Nebahat Akkoc is the Managing Director of the NGO Kamer in Turkey.

The Venezuelan Education-Action Program on Human Rights or PROVEA.

Narges Mohammadi who is spokesperson and vice chairman of the Iranian organisation Defenders of Human Rights Center.

May Sabai Phyu is a Kachin activist from Myanmar/Burma.

Shaharzad Akbar is an Afghan human rights defender who campaigns in particular for the rights of women in Afghanistan.

Tabelo Timse is an investigative journalist and a member of an independent non‑profit media centre in South Africa.

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aussenpolitik/themen/menschenrechte/franco-german-prize/2501086