Posts Tagged ‘diplomatic pressure’

Cyber attacks on City of Weimar for awarding Ilham Tohti

November 11, 2017

9 November, 2017 Photo courtesy of World Uyghur Congress

The website of the German city of Weimar – since the announcement that they would award this year’s Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti – continues to face attacks (likely) by Chinese hackers who, among other things, deleted all of the website’s content on Ilham Tohti. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/05/uyghur-human-rights-defender-ilham-tohti-wins-also-weimar-human-rights-prize/]

(The information below is based on an article published by ChinaChange.org) 

 The city of Weimar announced on June 30 2017 that they were awarding this year’s Weimar Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti in recognition of his work upholding the rights of the Uighur people and promoting understanding between Uighurs and Han Chinese. In accordance with tradition, the Prize is awarded every year on December 10—International Human Rights Day. In September 2014, Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life in prison for “separatist activities,” and his real “crimes” though were his efforts to build bridges between different ethnic minorities and his speaking out bluntly about China’s draconian, unproductive policies in Xinjiang. The Weimar City Council hopes that by awarding the Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti, “his advocacy for peace and dialogue will not be forgotten, and support for his release will be strengthened.”

Mr. Oehme is in charge of the Weimar Human Rights Prize. He told Radio Free Asia that, starting in early July and shortly after the prize was announced, the city’s official website was attacked and continues to be until now. All news about the award and the December 10 prize ceremony has been removed. Mr. Oehme said that the Weimar government deeply regrets that hackers have deleted the content from the webpage that has been three years in the making. Mr. Oehme also revealed that the City Council’s Human Rights Prize Committee received a telephone call in July from a self-identified “Ms. Li” from the Chinese Embassy in Berlin, alleging that Ilham Tohti’s work had nothing to do with human rights and freedom of speech. She protested Weimar giving the human rights prize to a “Chinese criminal.” The Weimar municipal government also learned that, after the announcement of the prize, Beijing had protested to Berlin through diplomatic channels.

The Weimar government asked the police to conduct a criminal investigation into the hacking. It’s not yet clear where the cyber attacks originated. But Isa Dolkun, current General Secretary of the World Uyghur Congress based in Munich, believes that this attack is undoubtedly being carried out by China.

Mr. Oehme said that no matter what happens, there will be no change in awarding this year’s human rights prize to Ilham Tohti.

In 2016 Ilham Tohti was nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and he won the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, known as the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein gave the award to Ilham Tohti’s daughter. The Chinese government subsequently attacked the High Commissioner for “interfering with China’s internal affairs and judiciary sovereignty.”

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/ilham-tohti/

 

http://unpo.org/article/20443

Azerbaijan releases human rights defenders bit by bit: Khadijah Ismayilova now free

May 27, 2016

Khadija IsmayilovaOn Wednesday 25 May 2016 Azerbaijan finally released investigative journalist Khadijah Ismayilova [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/azerbaijan-khadija-ismayilova-remains-in-jail-but-council-of-europe-takes-exceptional-step/] after a number of other human rights defenders were released bit by bit over the last months. Ismayilova was serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence on charges which included embezzlement, illegal business activities and tax evasion. The Supreme Court has now amended her imprisonment to 3 1/2 years of suspended sentence and released her from prison. She vowed to continue to fight to clear her name. “I will continue to fight until complete acquittal,” Ismayilova told reporters after her release. “I will also continue to work as a journalist.” The British-Lebanese lawyer Amal Clooney is representing Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights.

As an independent reporter and journalist of the Azerbaijani radio Azadliq (“Radio Freedom”) she has shown great courage (see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/khadija-ismayilova-azerbaijan-is-not-deterred/), and received several international prizes, such as the 2015 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism (HRW), the 2015 Freedom to Write Award, the 2012 Fritt Ord/Zeit Press Prize, and the 2012 Courage of Journalism Award by the Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation.

Although there are still human rights defenders and journalists in prison, Azerbaijan provides a fine example of how awards and the combined international pressure from a variety of sources (States, NGOs and international organizations) can have an impact:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/azerbaijan-pardon-jafarov-ismayilova-aliyev/

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/released-intigam-aliyev-azerbaijan-civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award/

Source:

Reuters – Azerbaijan frees journalist whose case raised outcry in West

https://www.cpj.org/2016/05/-azerbaijani-reporter-khadija-ismayilova-ordered-r.php

Fury about US award for Askarov in Kyrgyzstan: backlash or impact?

July 23, 2015

Awarding the State Department prize for human rights defenders to Azimzhan Askarov in Kyrgyzstan has led to a most interesting follow up. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/us-state-department-2014-human-rights-defender-award-to-azimjon-askarov-and-foro-penal/]In retaliation Kyrgyzstan has cancelled a coöperation treaty with the USA which has been in force since 1993.

The bilateral agreement that facilitated cooperation between the countries in certain areas was renounced by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev.As a result US aid to Kyrgyzstan will no longer be free of taxes and other custom duties as from August 20. US civil and military aid personnel, working in Kyrgyzstan will be deprived of their near diplomatic status. On Monday, the US warned Kyrgyzstan that if the accord got canceled, it would damage a range of its aid programs in the country.

On 23 July 2015 Tatyana Kudryavtseva of the 24.kg news agency collected a range of reaction from a variety of persons in Kyrgyzstan under the title “Very expensive Azimzhan Askarov“. Interesting to note that almost all ‘expert’ reactions assume that Askarov is guilty with the exception of the Chairwoman of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society. Still, there is almost unanimity that the move by the Kyrgyz Government was ‘unwise’ to say the least. Here follow some excerpts:

Giving the US State Department Award to the human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov has become a real time bomb. It would seem that nothing terrible has happened. But the news about the award was the trigger. It all ended in scandal – Kyrgyzstan’s government denounced the agreement with the USA on cooperation of 1993. Almost all the projects implemented in the country at the expense of American money turned out to be under threat. Read the rest of this entry »

NGOs call for United Nations to pressure Laos on human rights during UPR

December 8, 2014

On 3 December 2014 the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), the Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR), and a coalition of other NGOs called for United Nations to urge the government of Laos to cease ongoing human rights violations and to restore fundamental human freedoms. They are also calling for the release of Sombath Somphone and other imprisoned Lao and Hmong political and religious dissidents.

In advance of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR)’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheduled for 20 January 2015 in Geneva, the Geneva-based UPR-Info invited diplomats to hear the concerns of civil society organizations at a UPR pre-session in Geneva. Twenty one representatives from the Geneva-based missions attended the pre-session.

We have deep concerns about violations of freedom of expression, enforced disappearances and religious freedom in Laos. Regretting that Lao PDR has not implemented recommendations it accepted at its first UPR in 2010, she urged States to raise concerns on these human rights abuses and presented concrete recommendations for human rights progress in Laos,” stated Thephsouvanh, speaking on behalf of the LMHR, which is also a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

NGOs Call for United Nations to Pressure Laos | Scoop News.

http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

No more double speak for Peña Nieto’s Mexico

November 21, 2014

On 21 November 2014 Ben Leather (Advocacy and Communications Manager at the International Service for Human Rights, who was previously Advocacy Coordinator for Peace Brigades International’s Mexico Project) published an extensive and fascinating piece on Mexico’s double talk when it comes to human rights defenders: “No more doble-cara: it’s time for Peña Nieto to practise what he preaches”.

(In Mexico, 43 students remain missing. How is this possible in a country known for its UN human rights advocacy? Demotix/Hugo Ortuño – Some rights reserved)

The key notion of the article in Open Democracy is summarized in the phrase: “How can Mexico lead the way internationally, when it cannot protect the basic rights of its own people?“. A contradiction laid bare also by Alejandra Ancheita’s Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in October this year [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/breaking-news-alejandra-ancheita-is-the-2014-mea-laureate/].

On September 26, I delivered the final NGO statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 27th session, celebrating some of the key resolutions passed after weeks of diplomatic arm-wrestling. As in previous experiences advocating at the UN since swapping Mexico City for Geneva, I observed Mexico’s firm commitment to strengthening international human rights norms through its diplomats’ constructive initiatives.

Yet that very same night, I also learned that Mexican police forces were suspected of disappearing 43 student protesters from Ayotzinapa college, after murdering six others at the scene. A month later, those students remain missing, while the role of Mexican officials in human rights violations is becoming increasingly apparent.

These contrasts are a microcosm of Mexico’s perverse doble-cara, or two-facedness, which has exasperated its civil society for decades. They demonstrate the schizophrenia of a reputed international human rights promoter that is also proven to repress, torture, disappear and kill at home. How can Mexico lead the way internationally, when it cannot protect the basic rights of its own people?

This contradiction was underscored when Alejandra Ancheita, Director of the Mexican human rights group ProDESC, won the acclaimed Martin Ennals Award and denounced the risks facing Mexican human rights defenders. Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho then visited the UN to put her own case of arbitrary detention and torture to its Human Rights Committee. She highlighted Mexico’s exemplary efforts to strengthen its own legal framework, but lamented appalling implementation. She also emphasised the role of corruption, drugs and people traffickers—in exacerbating the context of abuses.

The schizophrenia’s causes therefore, are complex. However, the cases of Ayotzinapa, Alejandra and Lydia are not only emblematic of the Mexican human rights paradox, but also of two crucial factors which prevent its cure: blanket impunity and unbridled risks for human rights defenders.

Mexico: la doble-cara of human rights

None of this, of course, is new. In the 1960s and 70s, successive Mexican presidents opened the doors to political refugees fleeing persecution in Europe and Latin America, while simultaneously disappearing, torturing andmassacring student activists, political opponents and guerrilla groups in theDirty War.

Under former president Felipe Calderón, Mexico became a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council, where it led and lobbied for resolutions on women’s, migrant and indigenous rights. It consistently promoted the protection of human rights defenders, and voted for UN action worldwide. Yet this was all happening while the Mexican State was failing to prevent systemic femicide, migrants were denouncing abuses by public security forces colluding with organised crime, and indigenous activists were condemning attacks by the army.

Calderón promulgated some excellent human rights policies, including a Constitutional Reform guaranteeing the domestic legal transcendence of international treaties. On the ground, however, the abuses multiplied: 80,000 people were killed and over 27,000 disappeared in six years of the “War on Drugs”. In many cases, there is considerable evidence that Mexican State actors were involved, but the lack of sufficient investigation leaves most perpetrators free and unidentifiable.

Under current President Peña Nieto, with his emphasis on structural economic reforms and on international investment, Mexico’s progressive reputation at the UN and the Organization of American States has consolidated. Time magazine’s controversial front page this February was emblematic of the international community’s willingness to overlook Mexico’s human rights abuses in return for business opportunities. However, the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, along with the attempted cover-up of 22 civilians killed by Mexican soldiers in the town of Tlatlaya this June, mean that—like the mass graves in Guerrero State—Mexico’s human rights reality is being exposed.

Impunity: green light for human rights abusers

In December 2011, I participated in Peace Brigades International’s meetings with Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre and federal authorities to demand accountability for the killing of two students from Ayotzinapa shot by police at a protest, with others arbitrarily detained and tortured. Aguirre promised justice, while Mexico’s Human Rights Commission deemed authorities at all levels guilty of abuses. Nevertheless, the local Attorney only imprisoned a handful of local policemen, who were soon released.

Exacerbating the large number of crimes in Mexico is the fact that 98% of them remain unsolved. The impunity of 2011 joined a longer list of unsolved violations and, echoing in a weak international response, sent a message that resonated with grave implications this September: in Mexico, you can murder and abuse activists without consequence.

The relevance of widespread impunity becomes even clearer when one realises that Aguirre last governed Guerrero when the 1998 El Charco Massacre saw the army open fire on indigenous community activists, killing 11. His predecessor had stood down following another massacre of activists, just as Aguirre did this October. Nobody was punished for either crime. Meanwhile Peña Nieto himself has been criticised for the excessive use of force, torture and sexual abuse by police officers against protesters in San Salvador Atenco, when he was governor of the state of Mexico. Impunity prevails.

Silencing those who dare to speak out

Alejandra Ancheita has faced defamation, threats and attacks for her work. Yet this is par for the course in Mexico, with at least 25 human rights defenders killed and 29 disappeared in the first 18 months of Peña Nieto’s government, which began—in December 2012—with the arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force by Mexico City police against those protesting alleged electoral fraud. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented that activists face threats, attacks, criminalisation, harassment and killings for their work, with aggressions carried out by a range of state, non-state and unidentified actors. Members of the ruling party have proposed a lawto jail protesting teachers.

In 2012, Mexican activists successfully lobbied for the passage of the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which reflects civil society input and international best practise. Yet the law’s implementation has been consistently undermined by administrative flaws, a lack of resources and—crucially, as identified by NGOs on the ground—an absence of political will at all levels. Government officials have not implemented the preventative organ promised by law, staff constantly rotate, and some activists complain that the same police forces attacking them are sent to protect them.  

A shared schizophrenia

It is not only Mexico’s doublespeak that compromises global human rights protection. If the international public is appalled by abuses in Mexico, then it is time their political and diplomatic representatives began to condition aid, trade and political support on the evidence of real change on the ground. While the EU and the US have established human rights dialogues with their Mexican counterparts, activists complain that these serve only to legitimise, rather than impact, the free trade agreements with what the EU calls its “strategic partner”.

Meanwhile in Mexico, Peña Nieto must use Ayotzinapa as a catalyst to ensure his federal officials are clean, competent and accountable, and that they use their power to investigate and punish local level officials suspected of human rights violations. Ongoing abuses undermine not only the valuable efforts of Mexico’s diplomats, but the international system itself.

Resolutions and laws are not enough: those with leverage must demand implementation and otherwise attach a real political cost. By protecting human rights defenders and ensuring justice, Mexico can take steps towards safeguarding not only human rights on the ground, but the integrity of the entire human rights system.”

No more doble-cara: it’s time for Peña Nieto to practise what he preaches | openDemocracy.

MEA Laureate Mutabar continues to press for diplomatic action on Uzbekistan

November 7, 2014

Mutabar Tadjibayeva, MEA Laureate 2008 and now living in exile in Paris has as President of International Human Rights Association “Fiery Hearts Club” wrote an Open Letter in advance of the meeting between the French and Uzbek Ministers of Foreign Affairs in France. Here follows the full text of the letter:

Mr. Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs
37, Quai d’Orsay
F – 75351 PARIS

Members of the French Senate and National Assembly
Palais du Luxembourg
15, rue de Vaugirard
75291 PARIS Cedex 06

Dear Minister Laurent Fabius, Dear Members of the Senate and National Assembly:

In advance of your meeting with Mr. Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, we write to encourage you to urge the Uzbek government to sincerely address the serious, systematic and ongoing human rights violations of the Uzbek people, including the situation of civil society activists, religious prisoners, transparency and openness in France-Uzbekistan dialogue, the recent undemocratic initiatives of president Karimov to amend the Uzbek Constitution, and state-orchestrated forced labour of children and adults during annual cotton harvesting season.

The situation of civil society

In your meeting with Mr. Kamilov we urge you to raise the situation of imprisoned civil society activists who make up one of the most vulnerable categories of inmates in the Uzbek penitentiary system. The number of imprisoned civil society activists has remained almost unchanged for many years because of two reasons: there are not so many independent civil society activists operating in Uzbekistan because of the government’s continued repressive policy and ongoing persecutions against the activists, and in place of one released imprisoned activist the government tends to send to jail two more civil society activists. Different independent observers and international rights groups mention from 15 to 30 civil society activists who remain in prison.

Our organization has studied well the cases of at least the following civil society activists who were sent to jail under trumped up criminal cases and who are serving their lengthy prison terms: Murod, Juraev, Solijon Abdurakhmonov, Azam Farmonov, Mehriniso Hamdamova, Zulkhumor Hamdamova, Isroiljon Kholdorov, Nosim Isakov, Gaybullo Jalilov, Abdurasul Khudoynazarov, Erkin Kuziev, Ganikhon Mamatkhonov, Zafarjon Rakhimov, Yuldash Rasulov, Dilmurod Saidov and Akzam Turgunov. Whereabouts of journalist Jamshid Karimov who has been kept forcedly in a psychiatric clinic for five years and then released in 2011 is unknown. Soon after his release from the psychiatric clinic he has disappeared. His colleagues suggest he has been forcedly placed into the psychiatric clinic again.

We urge you to raise the issue of the above mentioned political prisoners in your talks with the Uzbek Minister and call on the Uzbek government to immediately release those civil society activists from prison out of urgent humanitarian concerns. But specifically we urge you to request immediate release of the following imprisoned civil society activists who are elderly and experiencing dire health problems: Murod Juraev, Dilmurod Saidov, Solijon Abdurakhmonov, Agzam Turgunov, Ganihon Mamatkhonov and Mehriniso Hamdamova. In February several human rights defenders from Uzbekistan were allowed by the authorities to visit Murod Juraev, Dilmurod Saidov, Solijon Abdurakhmonov and Agzam Turgunov in prison. The visits have confirmed their poor health conditions and lack of access to proper medical treatment in prison. The fact that the Uzbek activists were allowed by the authorities to visit the imprisoned colleagues is unprecedented but we don’t yet what underlying reasons have pushed the Uzbek authorities to do so. Nevertheless we can accept this fact as a good sign.

Ganikhon Mamatkhonov, another elderly human rights activist, who was convicted under trumped up criminal charges in 2009 to 4,5 years was expected to leave the prison on March 10, 2014 because his prison term ended. But on the eve of his release the prison administration has accused him of disobeying orders and rules of prison administration and put into a solitary confinement. Mamatkhonov has experienced heart attack three times, the last time it happened during his detention. We think the Uzbek authorities have deliberately accused Mamatkhonov of disobeying prison orders and rules and sent him to a solitary confinement in order to prolong his prison sentence. This is a popular method used by the Uzbek authorities to keep “unwanted” inmates in prison under prolonged sentences. For instance, an opposition activist Murod Juraev was convicted to 12 years in prison in 1995, but his sentences ever since been prolonged up to four years each time in 2006, 2009 and 2012. An inmate accused of disobeying prison orders and rules becomes automatically non eligible for annual amnesty acts. Mehriniso Hamdamova is a women religious scholar and activist convicted to 7 years in prison in April 2010. She has hysteromyoma and needs an urgent surgery. This type of surgery and post-surgery medical treatment can’t be provided in prison.

During your talks with Minister Kamilov we urge you to call on the Uzbek authorities to immediately release the above mentioned small group of political prisoners out of humanitarian concerns. We also take this opportunity to stress that the Uzbek authorities keep sending more civil society activists to prison under clearly trumped up charges. In 2013 Bobomurod Razzakov of “Ezgulik” Human Rights Society was sent to prison. In March 2014 two members of “Erk” political opposition party Fakhriddin Tilloev and Nuriddin Jumaniyozov were convicted to 8 years and 3 months in prison.

Religious prisoners

Under religious prisoners or prisoners of conscience we understand those inmates who are convicted for religious extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism, crimes against the constitutional system. Today religious prisoners are the most vulnerable massive group of inmates in Uzbekistan. Numerous accounts of independent observers point out that the vast majority of the religious prisoners were convicted to lengthy prison terms as a result of self-incriminating confessions extracted under torture and similar ill-treatment. Among them there are many family members and close relatives.

The government policy against religious extremism targets in most cases peaceful religious practice and is based on a primitive maxim that if there is one religious extremist in the family, then all members are automatically labeled as extremists. For most religious prisoners torture and similar ill-treatment continues even when after they are convicted and sent to prison facilities for serving their sentences. They rarely fall under annual amnesties, in most cases the authorities accuse them of disobeying prison orders and rules and prolong their sentences. Independent observers think there are from 6.000 to 10.000 religious prisoners but this data can’t be corroborated because the penitentiary system in Uzbekistan is completely closed. The issue of religious prisoners and gross human rights violations they are facing does rarely become a subject of discussions between Uzbekistan and its international interlocutors because of its sensitive character but we think France should be concerned with this issue as well if the bloc cares about the security situation and human rights in this Central Asian nation.

France – Uzbekistan dialogue

In its dialogue with the Uzbek government France should be careful to be dragged too much to different ends affected by the various views among the EU member-states. This trend could continuously affect the implementation of the EU strategy towards Uzbekistan because of the lack of precise set of benchmarks which makes independent monitoring / evaluation difficult. Moreover, we are afraid that the whole process of the dialogue between France as well as the EU and Uzbekistan has mostly been an “insiders’ game” and elite driven, neither France and the EU nor the Uzbek government have consulted members of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in Uzbekistan. Lack of public information over France’s and the EU’s strategy and relations with Uzbekistan logically leads into a virtually non-existent public awareness of it in Uzbekistan. Information on the France and the EU – Uzbekistan dialogue is kept behind closed doors meetings.

While pointing to human rights, democracy, good governance and rule of law as one of the first priority issues, senior EU officials (e.g. the EUSR and his staff) are at the same time careful in avoiding “double standards” by singling out less criticism on human rights record in Uzbekistan. This, however, from local viewpoint means that in terms of democracy and human rights even longer patience is needed as the strategy does neither pressure the Uzbek regime nor advises to ease the social tension by adopting new practices. Such an attitude merely allows Tashkent choosing among priorities what fits to their own policy path, Thus Tashkent can continue playing

its own regular role in a new framework as well: each time an important international interlocutor (e.g. the UN or EU) adopts a set of specific recommendations addressed to the Uzbek government, the Uzbek authorities respond by adopting a National Action Plan on the implementation of the recommendations. No practice changes in the end.

In advance of elections Uzbek president aims at amending the Constitution again

In advance of expected parliamentary and presidential elections in December 2014 and March 2015 Uzbek president Karimov has initiated amendments to articles 32, 78, 93, 98, 103 and 117 of the Constitution. The government controlled mass media reported about the president’s initiative on March 14, 2014 but the substance of suggested amendments to the constitutions was missing in publications. However quick analysis of the suggested amendments demonstrate that the president is most probably aiming at amending the constitution to allow himself to be appointed as a life-time president through a referendum.
Moreover, he has already used such tactic of entrenching himself in the power in the past several times during presidential elections and referendums he has himself orchestrated in the past. There is also a bad precedent in the Central Asian region – Nazarbaev of neighboring Kazakhstan has appointed himself a life-time leader through similar constitutional amendments without any hesitation several years ago.

We think the EU should be concerned seriously with such trends in the political life of Uzbekistan which further entrenches an authoritarian system in the country and further increases political uncertainty with security situation in this Central Asian nation.

Forced labor

Despite continuous international protests and criticism the Uzbek authorities keep on practicing massive state-orchestrated forced labour of children and adults during annual cotton harvest season. In the fall of 2014 as well the Uzbek authorities forced more than million of different groups of citizens, including schoolchildren, students, teachers, personnel of medical facilities, owners of small and medium businesses, to harvest cotton in abusive conditions under the threat of punishment. As in the previous years during 2014 cotton harvest season independent observers have again documented over 10 cases of death in the cotton fields of the people forced to this type of labor mainly because of failing technical and labor security standards, incidents and lack of proper medical treatment. The Uzbek authorities kept harassing local activists and journalists who tried to report on the issue.

We appreciate your attention to these matters and welcome the opportunity to discuss them with you.

Sincerely,
Mutabar Tadjibayeva
President of International Human Rights
Association “Fiery Hearts Club”

Kirk-Rubio Bill in US Senate risks to undermine Human Rights Defenders in Iran

September 14, 2014

A marvelous example of how (bellicose) sanctions can harm human rights defenders is to be found in this piece of 10 September by

Tyler CullisTyler CullisJamal Abdi.

Under the title Kirk-Rubio Bill Would Undermine Human Rights in Iran, Torpedo Nuclear Talks”, they argue that a new Senate bill (fortunately still pending) that purports to support human rights in Iran would actually ratchet up broad sanctions on the Iranian population, bolster Iranian hardliners, and even directly target some Iranian human rights defenders. The bill would impose new sanctions under the guise of human rights and threaten to derail the nuclear talks while undermining human rights defenders inside Iran. Considering that Senator Kirk has previously called on the US to collectively punish and “take the food out of the mouths” of Iranians, this charade of human rights concern is especially callous.

As Iranian human rights defenders [including MEA Laureate Emad Baghi] continue to speak out against sanctions and in support of current diplomatic efforts, the Kirk-Rubio bill would escalate Iran’s isolation through broad sanctions and risk torpedoeing nuclear talks. If passed, the legislation would be a gift to hardline political factions in Iran, who themselves are widely suspected of  ratcheting up abuses to gain the upper-hand against moderates seeking to implement internal reforms and secure a diplomatic deal with world powers.

 

Kirk-Rubio Bill Would Undermine Human Rights in Iran, Torpedo Nuclear Talks – National Iranian American Council NIAC.

Human Rights First disappointed by Nomination of new Ambassador to Bahrain

September 12, 2014

The travails of the Al-Khawaja family in my previous post [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/bahrain-travails-of-a-family-of-human-rights-defenders/] are unlikely to end soon if it depends on US policy towards Bahrain according to Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.  Following the 10 September Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on the nomination of William Roebuck to be Ambassador of the United States of America to Bahrain, he issued the following statement: Read the rest of this entry »

Nabeel Rajab on the situation in Bahrain and lack of western pressure

August 18, 2014

On 17 August 2014 Nabeel Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (the MEA Final Nominee of 2012), posted a strong piece in the Huffington Post which contains an impressive stand on why he takes the risks he does as well as a scathing attack on the western governments, especially those of the UK, for putting (arms) business before human rights consideration.

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Read the rest of this entry »

25 Years Tiananmen ‘celebrated’ with over 100 detentions

June 13, 2014

(A map of all individuals detained in the wake of the Tiananmen anniversary. Some of these persons have already been released. Photo: CHRD)

Yesterday China Human Rights Defenders has released a list of over 100 activists, journalists, lawyers, dissidents and other assorted individuals who are thought to have been detained by the government in the wake of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. As of June 11, 116 individuals from various parts of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Xinjiang and Guangdong are all listed, with an estimated 49 criminal detentions and two confirmed arrests. Many who were not detained were invited by local authorities to “drink tea” – a veiled phrase for questioning – and were warned to avoid participating in any anniversary activities. Chief among the detainees is veteran human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was placed in criminal detention on May 6 under charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after he attended a May 3 Tiananmen commemoration.

(Pu Zhiqiang. Photo: Reuters)

Pu was … a student lawyer in the 1989 protests, [and he] became a prominent human rights lawyer and advocate, taking up some of the most politically sensitive rights-defending cases,” said David Zhao, researcher and representative for CHRD. “He [has made] earlier remarks that he is still ‘deeply emotionally tied to [Tiananmen]’ and has ‘no regrets over his involvements’.”

 

(Yu Shiwen (left) and Chen Wei (right). Photo: Screenshot via RFA)

Other persons on CHRD’s list include Wang Xiuying, an 83-year-old activist who had her home searched by Beijing police after signing a Tiananmen commemoration petition, Chen Wei and Yu Shiwen, an activist couple who organised Tiananmen memorial services, and Wu Wei, a former South China Morning Post journalist in Beijing who interviewed Pu Zhiqiang in the past. “The clampdown on commemorative events this year is the most severe of all years and this reflects the [government’s] determination to wipe out the memory of Tiananmen,” Zhao said.

View CHRD’s list in full here.

via http://www.scmp.com/news/china-insider/article/1530899/human-rights-group-releases-list-over-100-people-detained-during

A few days earlier, 6 June, Mary Lawlor of Front Line wrote a thoughtful piece on the same issue stating that it “would be fitting that the 25th anniversary of the  Square massacre be marked by a renewed international effort to provide greater support to Chinese human rights defenders.

China-Tiananmen-Square

Human rights defenders (HRDs) currently working in China are frequently seen as challenging the Party and as such must be prepared to risk everything, including death, to continue their work. Although the Party’s methods may have changed in the past quarter of a century, its intention to crush dissent at any cost has not. On 3/4 June 1989 hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were killed in the approach roads to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, bringing an end to seven weeks of protests which had drawn up to a million people onto the streets. What started off as a student protest in the capital calling for political reform quickly morphed into a mass movement supported by broad cross-sections of society which spread to dozens of other cities throughout the country.

The legacy of these protests and the massacre that followed is still keenly felt by HRDs in today’s China. The events of 1989 remain a key touchstone to many Chinese HRDs and as the CCP works to erase the memory of what happened that June, HRDs are equally determined to keep that memory alive, and honor those who died. They do this not only through yearly commemorations of the dead, but also through their day-to-day work defending the rights for which the 1989 protesters struggled. These HRDs highlight injustice, campaign against discrimination, defend in court those who have been arrested for expressing themselves freely and shine a spotlight on the myriad of abuses, including corruption, carried out by the CCP.

So threatened does the Party feel by the memory of its actions 25 years ago that it criminalizes the very act of remembering. In early May, five HRDs were arrested following a low-key memorial at a private residence in Beijing. They are being held on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The only “quarrel” these HRDs “picked” was with the CCP’s whitewashed version of history, and the Party’s hysterical overreaction to such a commemoration is as clear an admission of guilt as any signed confession. The author then refers to groups such as the  The Tiananmen Mothers and the New Citizens Movement…

On the surface, the China of today is a much changed place to the China of 1989… Yet beneath the confident exterior lies the reality that the CCP remains a fragile entity, haunted by the possibility that the values of equality, justice and dignity espoused by HRDs in China might threaten its legitimacy, which is based almost solely on an economic growth model…..While various countries trip over each other in a race to secure lucrative trade deals with China, emphasis on human rights gets pushed further and further down the agenda. The CCP knows that no matter how egregious its abuse of rights – as in the recent death of human rights defender Cao Shunli in custody – international reaction will be muted at best. These are the same rights which workers and students died for twenty five years ago and whose deaths were met at the time with a robust international response.

The weakening of such international support for HRDs working today can only be seen as a betrayal of the values espoused in 1989. It would be fitting that the 25th anniversary of the massacre be marked by a renewed international effort to provide greater support to Chinese HRDs as they bravely continue their work in advancing and protecting internationally recognized rights, despite knowing with full certainty that they will be targeted as a result of this work.

Tiananmen 25: More than a Symbolic Legacy | Sharnoffs Global Views.