Posts Tagged ‘disappearances’

Mexican Graciela Pérez Rodriguez to receive 2017 Human Rights Tulip

November 10, 2017

The 2017 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to Mexican human rights defender Graciela Pérez Rodriguez. Foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra will present her with the prize on Friday 8 December in The Hague, two days ahead of Human Rights Day. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Dutch government to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work. See: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/tulip-award

Graciela Pérez Rodriguez defends the rights of family members of disappeared persons in Mexico. Through her work she attempts to break through the taboos surrounding this issue. The human rights defender is herself searching for her disappeared daughter, brother and three nephews. Graciela Pérez Rodriguez, a non-professional who has immersed herself in forensic science, is a founding member of the Forensic Citizen Science project. This national collective of disappeared persons’ family members in various Mexican states helped establish the Mexican National Citizen Registry of Disappeared Persons and a DNA database run by and for citizens, which facilitates the identification of victims’ remains at a late stage.

Despite the difficult circumstances in which she works, Graciela remains committed to searching for disappeared persons in Mexico,’ Mr Zijlstra said. ‘Human rights defenders like Graciela are indispensable in the fight for a better world. It takes pressure from the inside to achieve real change.’ Disappearances are a serious problem in Mexico. Between January and August this year over 2,400 people were reported missing. In mid-October the Mexican Congress passed a new law to combat disappearances, which provides for longer prison sentences and a committee tasked with finding disappeared persons. The Dutch government sees this law as an important step forward in dealing with this problem.

see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/mexico/

https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2017/11/09/graciela-perez-rodriguez-to-receive-2017-human-rights-tulip

Egyptian human rights defender, Doaa Hassan, speaks about disappearances

October 31, 2017

On 30 October 2017 the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) published this testimony by Doaa Hassan, the criminal justice programme director at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Justice. Doaa is particularly focusing on enforced disappearances which several members of the organisation have been victims of.

For other post on Egypt see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/

Silencing of Miriam Rodriguez Martinez in Mexico: a loud voice for the disappeared

June 21, 2017

Since December 2012, on average two human rights defenders have been killed every month in Mexico. During his recent visit to Mexico (25 January 2017), United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, highlighted the particular dangers faced by indigenous rights defenders and those campaigning to protect the environment from the impact of mega development projects. The situation of human rights defenders in Mexico is conditioned by the criminalisation of their activities through the deliberate misuse of criminal law and the manipulation of the state’s punitive power by both state and non-state actors, to hinder and even prevent the legitimate activities of defenders to promote and protect human rights,” said Forst. “The failure to investigate and sanction aggressors has signaled a dangerous message that there are no consequences for committing such crimes. This creates an environment conducive to the repetition of violations”Two major contributory factors are the impunity enjoyed by organised criminal gangs and the failure by state authorities to provide protection to HRDs or to bring the perpetrators of attacks to justice. Nothing demonstrates the problem better than the work and life of Miriam Rodriguez Martinez, who was gunned down on 10 May 2017.

The obituary in the Economist of 20 May 2017 tells the sad story of this enormously courageous woman in detail: http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21722139-campaigner-mexicos-disappeared-was-50-obituary-miriam-rodr-guez-mart-nez-died-may

see also: https://socialistworker.org/2017/05/18/justice-for-miriam-rodriguez

and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/02/27/alarming-criminalisation-of-human-rights-defenders-in-latin-america/

Re-appearance of Abdul Wahid Baloch in Pakistan after four months!

December 8, 2016

abdul-wahid-balochRe-appearances after a time lapse of 4 months are rare. So this case in Pakistan deserves a mention: Abdul Wahid Baloch is a human rights defender who has called for justice for the Baloch community through the organisation of campaigns, protests and public condemnation of a number of high profile cases. Human rights defenders that have demanded justice for state violations against the Baloch community have been regarded as being anti-state by the Pakistani authorities.  On the morning of 5 December 2015, Abdul Wahid Baloch returned to his house in Karachi, roughly four months after his disappearance on 26 July 2016. Abdul Wahid Baloch thanked human rights groups, media and individuals who campaigned for his release but refused to comment on anything involving his disappearance.

Source: Abdul Wahid Baloch | Front Line Defenders

For another post on repression of the Baloch: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/04/07/intimidation-against-human-rights-defender-nasrullah-baloch-in-pakistan/

#BringBackOurGirls gets Argentinian Emilio Mignone award

December 6, 2016

The Government of Argentina has awarded the Nigeria#BringBackOurGirls movement the International Human Rights Prize ‘Emilio F. Mignone’ for work in advocacy towards respect for human rights worldwide. A statement on Monday 5 December in Abuja by the BBOG spokesman, Sesugh Akume, said the award ceremony would take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires. It added that the coalition would be represented at the event by two members of the Movement, Aisha Yesufu, who is the Chairperson of the  Strategic Team, and Dr. Chinwe Madubuike.
The group stated “While in Argentina, they will as part of the award ceremonies, meet with the human rights group– Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo … …It is made up of grandmothers, mothers and other citizens who have since 1977 been advocating for the return of an estimated 500 children abducted or born in detention during the military era and illegally adopted, with their identities hidden.

The statement noted that like the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, which has advocated weekly in the last 39 years, the Chinwe Madubuike has been on a daily campaign since April 30, 2014 for the rescue of now 196 out of the 219 ChibokGirls abducted from their school on 14 April 2014 by Boko Haram.

Source: BBOG wins Argentine rights award – Punch Newspapers

Anti-Disappearances NGO wins Asian human rights award

November 11, 2016

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) has won the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award 2016 for its efforts to resolve the problem of forced disappearances in Asia.

AFAD has made indelible contributions in pushing states to address the rights of families of the disappeared and in seeking justice for the victims,” said Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan, chairman of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. He said that AFAD was a major force behind the UN’s adoption in 2006 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, and has in recent years been active in lobbying Asian governments to sign and ratify the convention.

[Su said that many instances of politically motivated disappearances also occurred in Taiwan when the nation was under authoritarian rule. As someone who took part in rescue missions for missing people at that time, Su said he could deeply empathize with the fear experienced by the victims’ families and the hardships faced by human rights organizations in authoritarian nations.]

Founded in 1998 in Manila, AFAD facilitates searches for people who are abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization, and works to ensure the attainment of truth, justice, redress and the reconstruction of the collective memory of the missing. Recipients of the award include Reporters Without Borders, Rescue Foundation of India, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes International, as well as Kim Seong-min, founder and director of Free North Korea Radio. The award comes with a prize of US$100,000.

Source: AFAD wins human rights award – Taipei Times

Cameroon: killing and disappearances by government forces in graphic video

September 7, 2016

This animation – published by AI on 5 September 2016 – was produced based on testimonies collected by Amnesty International by interviewing over 35 direct eyewitnesses and a senior military source. All the sources confirmed that at least 200 men and boys were arrested on 27 December 2014 in the villages of Magdeme and Doublé in Cameroon. In the same operation conducted jointly by the army, the police and the gendarmerie, at least 8 people, including a child, were killed, over 70 buildings were burnt down and many possessions were stolen or destroyed.

The fate of most of those arrested in these two villages remains unknown. At least 25 of these men and boys – perhaps more – died in custody during the night of their arrest in a makeshift cell, while 45 others were taken and registered in Maroua’s prison the following day. At least 130 people, therefore, remain unaccounted for, presumed to be victims of enforced disappearance, with some evidence suggesting more may have died while in the custody of the security forces.

You can sign the petition to the Cameroonian authorities here: http://bit.ly/2cbpF7v

Video: Africartoons Studio; Music: Kalakuta Music Group

for other posts on Cameroon: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cameroon/

UN Rapporteurs urge Ethiopia to end violent crackdown and impunity

February 10, 2016

On 21 January 2016 a group of United Nations Rapporteurs (Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances) called on the Ethiopian authorities to end the ongoing crackdown on peaceful protests by the country’s security forces, who have reportedly killed more than 140 demonstrators and arrested scores more in the past nine weeks. “The sheer number of people killed and arrested suggests that the Government of Ethiopia views the citizens as a hindrance, rather than a partner,” the independent experts said, while also expressing deep concern about allegations of enforced disappearances of several protesters.

The current wave of protests began in mid-November, in opposition to the Government’s ‘Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan’ to expand the capital’s municipal boundary. The ‘Master Plan’ could reportedly lead to mass evictions and the seizure of agricultural land in the Oromia region, as well as extensive deforestation. The UN experts welcomed the Government’s announcement on 12 January 2016 suspending the implementation of the ‘Master Plan’, but were concerned about continuous reports of killings, mass arrests, excessive use of force and other abuses by security forces. “The Government’s decision is a positive development, but it cannot be seen as a sincere commitment until the security forces stop their crackdown on peaceful protests,” they said. “The role of security forces should be to protect demonstrators and to facilitate peaceful assemblies, not suppress them.”

We call on the Government to immediately release protesters who seem to have been arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, to reveal the whereabouts of those reportedly disappeared and to carry out an independent, transparent investigation into the security forces’ response to the protests,” the experts said.  “Impunity, on the other hand, only perpetuates distrust, violence and more oppression.

The UN independent experts also expressed grave concern over the Ethiopian Government’s application of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation 652/2009 to arrest and prosecute protesters, labelling them as ‘terrorists’ without substantiated evidence. This law authorises the use of unrestrained force against suspects and pre-trial detention of up to four months. “Ethiopia’s use of terrorism laws to criminalize peaceful dissent is a disturbing trend, not limited to the current wave of protests,” they experts noted. “The wanton labelling of peaceful activists as terrorists is not only a violation of international human rights law, it also contributes to an erosion of confidence in Ethiopia’s ability to fight real terrorism. This ultimately makes our world a more dangerous place.”

How the law was used recently is clear from the case of the “Zone 9” bloggers. Fortunately, on 16 October 2015 Front Line was able to report that all “Zone 9” bloggers were cleared of terrorism charges by the Federal Court in Addis Ababa. All bloggers and journalists whose terrorism charges have been dropped are members of the “Zone 9” and prominent social media activists. With the exception of Soliana Shimelis, the other human rights defenders, namely Mss Mahlet Fantahun and Edom Kassaye and Messrs Natnael Feleke, Befekadu Hailu, Atnaf Birhane, Zelalem Kibret, Abel Wabela, Tesfalem Weldyes and Asmamaw Haile Giorgis, were arrested on 25 and 26 April 2014 and remained in detention for over a year before being freed.  The human rights defenders’ lawyer stated that “all the evidence presented was very weak to prove they were planning any kind of terrorism”. However, charges of inciting violence remain pending against Befekadu Hailu, who might face a ten-year imprisonment sentence if convicted. See: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29137

On Ethiopia: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/suffocating-dissent-in-ethiopia-counterpunch-tells-the-facts-and-names-the-names/

http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16977&LangID=E

Human rights laureates call for end to torture and disappearances in Asia

January 15, 2016

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a press release of 18 December gave a short report of a meeting held on 12-14 December 2015, where 8 laureates of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, and human rights defenders from the Asian region participated in an international workshop on“Torture, Violence, and Enforced Disappearances in Asia” organized by Imparsial, IKOHI, and the May 18 Memorial Foundation, (Gwangju, South Korea). The speakers and the victims discussed the realities of human rights issues including torture and enforced disappearances and the implications for the justice institutions to address the problems: Read the rest of this entry »

Argentina: reunification of mother and disappeared son after 4 decades

December 3, 2015

It is understandable that many people doubt the usefulness of pressing for the case of disappearances in Argentina after almost four decades, but this case shows that one should never give up hope: Mario Bravo and the mother he never knew, from whom he was snatched at birth in a jail by Argentina’s military, hugged, laughed and wept on Tuesday 1 December 2015, together at last. “We cried a lot. We are talking about 38 years of searching,” Bravo told a news conference after meeting his mother, Sara, thanks to help from the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group. “It was a miracle to have found my mom alive. “She heard my wail (as a newborn) and now she is hearing my voice, 38 years later.

During the junta regime, from 1976 to 1983, the Argentine military plucked people off the streets and detained leftists and even suspected leftists, and gave away the babies born to mothers they were holding in jail. Some of the women who experienced this horror of the so-called “Dirty War” were raped in prison, and others were detained while pregnant. While Bravo said he suspected something was strange about his identity as a child, it was after his adoptive mother died that he started searching in earnest, registering with a DNA database of families with missing and abducted children.
The Grandmothers group has worked for 20 years trying to bring about such reunions. Of the hundreds of missing, Bravo was their “Missing grandchild No. 119.”

http://www.ndtv.com/topic/agence-france-presse

http://www.ndtv.com/world-news/4-decades-on-victims-of-argentine-dirty-war-reunite-1250003