Posts Tagged ‘disappearances’

Sad symbolic number reached in Mexico: 100,000 disappeared.

May 17, 2022

The 100,000 officially registered disappearances in Mexico illustrate a long-standing pattern of impunity in the country, indicating the tragedy continues daily, UN human rights experts warned.

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) on 17 May 2022 expressed grave concern about the growing numbers registered by Mexico’s National Register of Disappeared Persons

There are now over 100,000 people in Mexico’s national register of the “disappeared.” The UN says organized crime is among the leading causes of missing people in the country. Human rights organizations and relatives of the missing have called on the government to step up investigations and conduct searches more effectively

In the last two years the numbers have spiked from about 73,000 people to more than 100,000 — mostly men.

Mexico has seen spiralling violence since the war on drugs began in 2006, with over 350,000 people having died since then. Last year, the country of more than 129 million people saw 94 murders a day on average.

It’s incredible that disappearances are still on the rise,” Virginia Garay, whose son went missing in 2018 in the state of Nayarit, told news agency Reuters. “The government is not doing enough to find them,” said Garay, who works in a group called Warriors Searching for Our Treasures that seeks to locate missing loved ones.

Civil society groups that help try and locate missing people stress that many families do not report disappearances because of distrust in the authorities. The actual figure of missing people is therefore believed to be much higher than the official data.

Organized crime has become a central perpetrator of disappearance in Mexico, with varying degrees of participation, acquiescence or omission by public servants,” a report by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, released last month, said.

“State parties are directly responsible for enforced disappearances committed by public officials, but may also be accountable for disappearances committed by criminal organizations,” the report added.

The missing people include human rights defenders, some of whom went missing because of their own involvement in the fight against disappearances.

According to the UN committee, over 30 journalists have also disappeared in Mexico between 2003 and 2021. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/01/31/more-killings-of-journalists-in-mexico-in-2022/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/05/mexico-dark-landmark-100000-disappearances-reflects-pattern-impunity-un-experts

https://www.dw.com/en/mexicos-number-of-disappeared-people-rises-above-100000/a-61820055

State of human rights in Pakistan 2021

May 7, 2022

On 2 May 2022 – for the 30th year – the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has put forward its review of the state of human rights in the country and the measures that should be taken to reduce human rights violations in the country. The main takeaway from the report is that there were blatant and unrelenting attempts to crack down on dissent, with at least nine journalists having faced harassment in an attempt to silence them in their work. As happens every year, violence against women took every possible form: from rape to domestic abuse to horrific murders to honour killings. The report has noted that 478 honour killings were reported in the country in 2021, although the number is almost certainly much higher with many never reaching the press, and over 5000 cases of rapes were reported by the media. Overall, violence in the country appeared to have increased quite dramatically. The HRCP has especially noted the case of Nazim Jokhio, and the mob lynching of Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot. These are but just a few examples of the disturbing trend of increased violence in the country. Just a few months back, research had revealed how many of these cases of violence are perpetrated by young people. The past few years we have watched in horror as Pakistani society has increasingly grown more violent — bringing nightmare-inducing optics straight to our phones. This is a direct result of the extremist tendency prevalent in society, an inevitable consequence of consistent state policies.

The report has also noted the way the previous government used ordinances to push through laws, some of them highly detrimental to freedom of expression. The HRCP has also noted that religion was used multiple times over the years to try and stop various acts of legislation from being passed. One of the most difficult issues human rights defenders in Pakistan have faced over a number of years has been that of missing persons or enforced disappearances. In 2021, says the HRCP, the highest number of enforced disappearances was reported to have been in Balochistan, with the government having failed to resolve concerns of families of the missing despite sit-ins in Islamabad.

From missing persons to the Gujjar and Korangi nullah evictions to sectarian violence to violence against transgender persons — the HRCP’s State of Human Rights 2021 is a timely reminder to the current government that it must do better on all these counts and more. It is on the Shehbaz Sharif led government to ensure that media freedom is upheld, there are no more arbitrary anti-journalism laws, and journalists are not harassed for doing their jobs. The incumbent government must not make the mistake of taking human rights issues lightly during its tenure. This report card on human rights by the HRCP comes out every year but each successive government has failed to take suggestions from rights activists seriously. It is hoped that with a change in government there will finally be a change in how citizens’ rights are treated and that all citizens from all communities and regions in the country can feel safe and less vulnerable to injustice and state or non-state violence.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/12/asma-jahangir-memorial-lecture-at-second-anniversary-of-her-death/

The Chair of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is Hina Jilani.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/954916-state-of-human-rights
https://www.latestly.com/agency-news/world-news-address-human-rights-violations-seriously-hina-jilani-to-pak-government-3654179.html

Sudanese Fadia Khalaf, Defender of the Month of March

March 25, 2022

DefendDefenders’ regulary chooses a Defender of the Month. Here an example:

Fadia Khalaf was not meant to be an activist. By her own admission, she was born into a conservative Muslim family – the first of six siblings. In Saudi Arabia where she was born and raised, the ruling ideology in the Kingdom was wahabbism – a puritanical version of Islam in which women are strictly expected to stay in the background and not play any public role. Yet even in that conservative setting, she managed to nurture a political consciousness:

“I think reading at young age helped build my awareness on concepts like justice and rights in general. I was exposed to concepts around human freedom, and that nurtured the rebel in me,” she says. Fadia Khalaf Tweet

Now aged 25, Fadia is the Co-founder of Missing Initiative, a volunteer, youth organization dedicated to documenting all persons that are reported missing during Sudan’s ongoing political crisis. The initiative was started in the aftermath of the Khartoum massacre, when armed forces of the Sudanese Transitional Military Council attacked a protest outside the country’s military headquarters, killing at least 127 people.

From the start of protests to remove Bashir (Sudan’s long-serving President deposed in April 2019), we would always report people who we would realize never returned home after the protests. This was our way of looking out for each other. But after 3 June 2021 (the day of the Khartoum massacre), the situation was terrible. People were killed, women were raped, while many others were disappeared. All of a sudden, because of our past work, I started getting tens of phone-calls of people letting me know that their persons were missing, asking me to do something about it. I had to post all these missing cases on my social media platforms(Twitter & Instagram via @SlayKaiii) in addition to reporting to police, to try to find them. It was from that crisis that I and five other friends decided to start Missing initiative to continue searching for these people,” Fadia Khalaf Tweet

The initiative helps document persons announced missing, liaises with the police to conduct a search process, follows up on those in police detention to ensure the progress of their cases and helps some of those arrested find legal representation. To date, Missing Initiative has documented over 100 cases of missing persons, and helped locate about 60, from prisons to hospitals. Among these, at least five were found dead in city morgues.

“It’s horrifying, the conditions in which we find some of these people, if we find them at all. Some are in urgent need of medical attention from all forms of torture, others are imprisoned without charge. Others, we find, have died. But at least, it gives closure to their families,” she says. Fadia Khalaf Tweet

As a result of their work, Fadia says that Sudanese now recognise forced disappearances as a state crime, and have gradually developed a consciousness and vigilance to look out for each other against state-inspired violence.

These efforts have not been without consequences. Fadia says she and her colleagues have been threatened together with their families, and that she continues to be randomly followed and her phones tapped. She says as women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in a deeply patriarchal society, they’re even more endangered because the society does not believe they should have any rights at all, much less a voice.

“The day women rise in Sudan, patriarchy will fall because it thrives on subjugating women. And that’s why those like us are harassed because the system fears that we will awaken and empower other women to rise up and refuse to be dominated,” she says. Fadia Khalaf Tweet

Nonetheless, Fadia is optimistic, the growing women and youth agitation is unstoppable: “This spirit and desire for change, I have never seen it before. Young people are willing to die for a better country every day!  It is inspiring. All they need is to be empowered more,” she notes.

UN experts urge Bangladesh to end reprisals against human rights defenders

March 17, 2022

On 14 March 2022 a group of UN human rights experts today called on Bangladesh to immediately cease reprisals against human rights defenders and relatives of forcibly disappeared persons for their activism and co-operation with international human rights bodies and UN mechanisms.

Following the announcement of sanctions imposed by the United States of America against top Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officials on 10 December 2021, Bangladeshi authorities have reportedly launched a campaign of threats, intimidation and harassment against relatives of forcibly disappeared persons, human rights defenders, and civil society actors. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/05/12/bangladesh-chains-of-corruption-strangle-nation-asian-human-rights-commission/

In the period between December 2021 and February 2022, the homes of at least 10 relatives of forcibly disappeared individuals were reported to have been raided late at night.

During the raids, relatives were intimidated, threatened and forced to either sign blank sheets of paper or pre-written statements indicating that their family member was not forcibly disappeared and that they had deliberately misled the police. This is unacceptable,” the experts observed.

The experts noted with concern the increasingly challenging situation relatives, human rights defenders and civil society are facing in Bangladesh. Repeated accusations by senior Government officials against some civil society organizations of providing “false information” to the UN mechanisms risk undermining the civil society’s key role.

Bangladesh must ensure that relatives and human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of threats, intimidation or reprisals of any kind,” the experts stressed. They expressed their concern that the reported reprisals may have a chilling effect and deter others from reporting on issues of public interest, including human rights, and from cooperating with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms.

Since 2009, the RAB has reportedly been involved in the perpetration of the majority of cases of enforced disappearance in the country, as noted in several reports by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.**

“Bangladeshi authorities are obliged under international law to promptly launch ex officio, independent, impartial and thorough investigations into these serious allegations, complemented by a thorough and comprehensive search for disappeared persons. At the same time, the RAB and other security agencies should not be shielded from scrutiny and criminal responsibility.”

The experts also reiterated their request to the Government of Bangladesh to take effective steps to protect and uphold the rights of victims and their families to truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence.

On 17 March HRW stated that the Bangladesh government should meaningfully respond to United Nations concerns regarding grave allegations of torture, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killings in the country.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/03/17/bangladesh-stop-flouting-un-rights-concerns

China’s “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location” needs to disappear!

February 5, 2022

In China, brave activists are trying to improve the daily life of their fellow citizens and defend their rights to speak freely, to be treated on an equal footing with others, to protest peacefully, or to practice a religion. But the Chinese government fears that their actions will challenge its power and that their criticisms will undermine it. Like the Uyghur and Tibetan peoples, many who stand up for human rights are repressed and silenced, and the authorities have found a very effective way to do that: they disappear them.

On 22 October 2020, exactly a year ago, lawyer Chang Weiping was disappeared under ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’ (or ‘RSDL’) for ‘inciting subversion of State power.’ Lawyer Chang is a human rights lawyer, who has bravely defended sensitive cases of victims of sexual harassment during China’s ‘Me Too’. He has also worked with victims of discriminatory practices due to their sexual orientation or HIV status, or targeted for speaking freely or practicing their religion. Ten days before his disappearance, he had published a video denouncing torture he had endured when he was first held under RSDL in January 2020, after attending a meeting with other activists a month earlier. UN experts have publicly called for his release. No one knows where he is held. [see also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/2e6ec951-79e7-4a36-b077-76bfe05e3817]

Since 2012, China’s rubber-stamp legislative body passed and amended several articles in its Criminal Procedure Law that give police the power to take people into custody without disclosing where they will be held: this is called ‘Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location’. When this happens, people are denied all contact with the outside world, even with their family or a lawyer, for up to six months. No one knows where they are. They are interrogated and often tortured to extract confessions. Meanwhile, despite the barriers and risks they have to overcome, their families persist in seeking knowledge about their loved one’s fate and justice for what they suffered.

United Nations experts are clear: RSDL is a form of enforced disappearance. With estimations of up to 57.000 individuals under RSDL, enforced disappearances are endemic in China. RSDL tears families apart, and is intended to instill fear into China’s human rights movement. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/10/more-on-residential-surveillance-in-a-designated-location-rsdl-in-china/

Many human rights activists have stopped promoting dignity, peace and justice in their communities because they fear to be disappeared by the police. This practice – enforced disappearance – is absolutely wrong and prohibited under international law. Everyone should be able to speak their mind and participate in the life of their communities. 

ISHR, Safeguard Defenders, The Rights Practice and The 29 Principles are mobilising the international community to put pressure on China to #RepealRSDL and end enforced disappearances against human rights defenders.

They want the Chinese government to repeal RSDL (articles 74 to 79 of China’s Criminal Procedure Law), and to bring truth and justice to victims.

RSDL should be high on the agenda of any human rights exchange with the Chinese government. We want governments worldwide to speak out and use all bilateral and multilateral channels to press the Chinese government to #RepealRSDL. We want the UN to amplify its monitoring of RSDL in China, and to sustain its pressure on the authorities to respect international law and to #RepealRSDL.

Feeling supported is vital for disappeared defenders and their relatives. We want the media, human rights groups and activists across the world to pay closer attention to RSDL, to raise awareness around them, and to stand in solidarity with disappeared Chinese human rights defenders and their relatives.

How do we achieve this? 

We are working hard to: 

  • Increase the awareness and legal understanding of government officials and diplomats, UN experts, journalists, and human rights groups, there is a short document that explains clearly what UN experts have said about RSDL, and are spreading the word online and offline.
  • Mobilise diplomatic missions, through meetings and letters, and encourage them to speak out on RSDL at the UN and in other spaces; 
  • Push UN experts to take up individual cases and pay a closer look at the use and impact of RSDL in light of China’s obligations under international human rights law ;
  • Encourage governments, activists, and concerned individuals to stand in solidarity with disappeared human rights defenders and their relatives

What can you do? 

Stand in solidarity! Feeling supported is vital for disappeared defenders and their relatives. Send a solidarity message with Chen Zijuan, lawyer Chang’s wife: write a postcard, and share it with her on your social media by clicking on the image below. Don’t hesitate to personalise it before tweeting. Alternatively you can copy paste this link in your browser: https://ctt.ac/477cf

You can also raise awareness! Check out the informational and communication material in our ‘Campaign Toolbox’, and share it with your country’s ministry of foreign affairs, a journalist you know, your friends or your social media followers – and remember to tag @ISHRglobal, and #StandWithDefenders #RepealRSDL.

https://ishr.ch/action/campaigns/call-on-china-to-free-defenders-and-repealrsdl/

Today is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, also in Nepal 

August 30, 2021

Enforced disappearance refers to the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by agents of the State, or those acting with State authorization or support, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Once largely the product of military dictatorships, it has become a global problem, according to the UN, with hundreds of thousands of people “disappeared” in more than 80 countries. Impunity remains widespread.

While strictly prohibited under international human rights law, the SG, Mr. Guterres said enforced disappearance continues to be used across the world as a method of repression, terror, and stifling dissent.

Paradoxically, it is sometimes used under the pretext of countering crime or terrorism. Lawyers, witnesses, political opposition, and human rights defenders are particularly at risk,” he added. 

Having been removed from the protection of the law, victims, who can include children, are deprived of all their rights and are at the mercy of their captors. 

They are frequently tortured and know that it is unlikely anyone will come to their aid.  Some are even killed. 

Enforced disappearance deprives families and communities of the right to know the truth about their loved ones, of accountability, justice and reparation,” the Secretary-General said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the agony and anguish of enforced disappearance, by limiting capacities to search for missing persons and investigate alleged enforced disappearance.”

It was established by the UN General Assembly, which adopted a resolution in December 2010 expressing deep concern about the rise in incidents in various regions, and increasing reports of harassment, ill-treatment and intimidation of witnesses of disappearances, or relatives of people who were disappeared.

The resolution also welcomed the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which calls for countries to take measures to hold perpetrators criminally responsible.

“The Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances is indispensable in helping to tackle this cowardly practice. But it requires the will and commitment of those with the power to do so,” the Secretary-General said. “States must fulfil their obligations to prevent enforced disappearance, to search for the victims, and to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators.”

Mr. Guterres reiterated his call for countries to ratify the Convention, and to work with the UN Committee that monitors its implementation, as well as the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, which assists families in determining the fate of their loved ones.

On this day Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a statement that the government of Nepal should promptly enforce Supreme Court rulings and permit the regular courts to try cases of enforced disappearance and other grave international crimes. On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, August 30, 2021, thousands of Nepali families are no closer to knowing the truth of what happened to their missing loved ones than they were when the country’s armed conflict ended 15 years ago.

Nepal’s Supreme Court has repeatedly ordered the government to investigate gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the conflict from 1996 to 2006, and to conduct a meaningful, effective transitional justice process to establish the truth and provide justice for thousands of cases of serious abuses.

The Nepali government stands in blatant violation of express orders of the Supreme Court by failing to conduct a credible, timely transitional justice process,” said Mandira Sharma, senior legal adviser for South Asia at the ICJ.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/03/17/where-is-somchai-a-brave-wifes-17-year-quest-for-the-truth/

The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/08/30/nepal-stop-stalling-enforced-disappearance-inquiries

Amnesty accuses Nicaragua of using enforced disappearance as the new tactic for repression

August 26, 2021
Amnesty International Logotype

The enforced disappearance of people is the latest tactic that authorities in Nicaragua have adopted to silence any criticism or dissenting voices, Amnesty International said in a new report released on 25 August 2021. Where are they? Enforced Disappearance as a Strategy of Repression in Nicaragua documents the cases of 10 people detained for their activism or for exercising their right to freedom of expression who have been subjected to enforced disappearance, despite being in the custody of the Nicaraguan authorities. 

Daniel Ortega’s government of is implementing a new strategy to try to silence those who speak out. By disappearing opponents, activists and journalists, Ortega is showing his fear of criticism and complaints,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

The 10 cases we have documented demonstrate a new pattern of detentions followed by enforced disappearances and bear strong similarities to the cases of dozens of others who may be in the same situation. We demand that Daniel Ortega’s government immediately release all those detained for exercising their rights.” 

Since the beginning of the human rights crisis in Nicaragua in April 2018, there has been no end to reports of harassment against people identified as opponents of the government, human rights defenders, journalists, victims of human rights violations and their families.

The new phase of the repressive strategy of President Ortega’s government, which is highlighted by the detention of a new group of people identified as opponents of the government, began on 28 May 2021. From then until 2 August, more than 30 people were deprived of their liberty, adding to the more than 100 people who were already in prison just for exercising their human rights.

After analysing the cases of 10 individuals, Amnesty International concluded that – in light of the Nicaraguan state’s international human rights obligations – their detention, followed by the concealment of their whereabouts, constitutes the crime of enforced disappearance. The cases documented were those of Daysi Tamara Dávila, Miguel Mendoza, José Pallais, Suyen Barahona, Víctor Hugo Tinoco, Félix Maradiaga, Ana Margarita Vijil, Violeta Granera, Jorge Hugo Torres and Dora María Téllez.

The 10 documented cases are not isolated cases and occur in a context where there are repeated reports of other situations that have important similarities. Therefore, the cases analysed likely represent just a small sample of a longer list of victims.

In all of the documented cases, as of 2 August (the closing date of the investigation), the authorities had not officially disclosed the exact location of the detainees – a requirement under international law. In most cases, the only information received about their possible location has been provided verbally by police officers at the gate of the Judicial Assistance Directorate Evaristo Vasquez Police Complex (Dirección de Auxilio Judicial Complejo Policial Evaristo Vásquez, DAJ), known as the “New Chipote” (Nuevo Chipote), after family members insisted. However, mere statements by police officers in charge of the entrance of a detention centre are not sufficient, official and credible proof of the whereabouts and conditions of the detainees.

Both the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the National Police have issued public statements acknowledging the detentions. However, in none of them do they mention the place of detention. Furthermore, the families have not been able to visit the detainees, their legal teams have not had access to interview them, and the judicial authorities have not responded to calls to authorise the entry of family members and lawyers.

The information available to Amnesty International shows that the families and legal representatives of the 10 detainees submitted more than 40 applications, petitions and appeals to different authorities, requesting access to their files, medical examinations for the detainees, interviews with their lawyers, family visits, and immediate release, among other requests. Unfortunately, these appeals have been ineffective and, in most cases, left unanswered by the authorities.

Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law and one of the most serious human rights violations because it implies the violation of multiple human rights. It is defined as a lawful or unlawful deprivation of a person’s liberty by state agents, or by other actors with the acquiescence or tolerance of the state, without subsequently acknowledging that the detention took place, or, if acknowledged, withholding information about the fate or whereabouts of the person deprived of liberty.

“This week will mark 90 days since the most recent detentions began, but the authorities continue to refuse to provide official information on the whereabouts and conditions of detention,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas. “The families deserve to know for sure if their loved ones are alive and where they are being held. The anguish they’re experiencing is yet another form of punishment under the repressive policies of Daniel Ortega’s government.”

Where are they? Enforced Disappearance as a Strategy of Repression in Nicaragua (Research, 25 August 2021)

Saturday Mothers charged in Istanbul

August 7, 2021

On 12 July 2021, the case against the 46 human rights defenders and activists, which includes the families of the disappeared and supporters continued at the Istanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance. They were charged with violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations for “unarmed participation in an unauthorised assembly and refusal to disperse after warnings” (Article 32 of the Law 2911). The case was filed following the violent arrest of the 46 people and one minor by the police during the 700th gathering of the Saturday Mothers/People on 25 August 2018.

On 18 November 2020, an Istanbul court of first instance filed a lawsuit against 46 people who were arrested on 25 August 2018 during the violent police intervention at the 700th gathering of Saturday Mothers/People in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square.

On 25 August 2018, police forcibly dispersed the Saturday Mothers’ weekly vigil and detained 47 protesters, including families of the victims of enforced disappearances in the 90s. The detained protesters were released from police custody later that day.

About the situation:

On 12 July 2021, the case against the 46 human rights defenders and activists, which includes the families of the disappeared and supporters of Saturday Mothers/People, continued at the Istanbul 21st Criminal Court of First Instance. They were charged with violating the Law on Assemblies and Demonstrations for “unarmed participation in an unauthorised assembly and refusal to disperse after warnings” (Article 32 of the Law 2911). The case was filed following the violent arrest of the 46 people and one minor by the police during the 700th gathering of the Saturday Mothers/People on 25 August 2018.

On 18 November 2020, an Istanbul court of first instance filed a lawsuit against 46 people who were arrested on 25 August 2018 during the violent police intervention at the 700th gathering of Saturday Mothers/People in Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square.

On 25 August 2018, police forcibly dispersed the Saturday Mothers’ weekly vigil and detained 47 protesters, including families of the victims of enforced disappearances in the 90s. The detained protesters were released from police custody later that day.

Cumartesi Anneleri/İnsanları: Saturday Mothers/People is a human rights group, comprised of human rights defenders and families of victims of enforced disappearance in Turkey in the 1990s. They began organising weekly vigils at Galatasaray Square after the detention of Hasan Ocak on 21 March 1995 and the subsequent discovery of his tortured body in a common grave. Human rights defenders and the families of the victims gathered in Galatasaray Square for the first time on 27 May 1995, demanding an end to enforced disappearances, seeking information on the whereabouts of those who have disappeared and justice for the victims. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Mothers

In the meatime in Malta, two Turkish mothers who were jailed and separated from their young sons for using forged passports have been freed as Court overturned their prison sentence. The women, Rabia Yavuz, 27, and Muzekka Deneri, 29, have been fighting to be reunited with their sons – aged two and four – after being sentenced to six months in prison. 

The two women were freed on Friday afternoon after having ear.lier this week filed an appeal against the ‘disproportionate and excessive’ punishment. They admitted to using fake travel documents, saying they could not return to their country because of political persecution. Moreover, the two women, who were separated from their sons, are in the process of applying for asylum.

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/saturday-motherspeople-court-second-hearing

https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/court-to-decide-whether-to-free-turkish-mothers-today.891802

Garifuna rights defenders in Honduras should be released.

March 16, 2021
Defensoras garífunas

Sunday March 7 2021 an initial hearing was held in the court at Trujillo, Colón, in which Marianela Solórzano and Jennifer Solórzano, women human rights defenders belonging to the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), are on trial. Both were arrested by the Public Security Force (FUSEP) on March 3rd, and charged with damages, threats, robbery and usurpation of lands. 

In the trial records they are incriminated for the offenses of land usurpation, involving other Garifuna defenders, as well. The charges against them are related to the historic process of resistance by the Garifuna people to the plunder of their lands. Private businesses and governments alike have participated in the illegal appropriation of the ancestral territory of the Garifuna people, particularly the ownership of more than seven thousand hectares of land in the Cristales and Rio Negro communities confirmed by ancestral property deeds.  

Marianela is a defender of the rights of the LGBTI Garifuna community, and Jennifer, a defender of the ancestral Garifuna territories. Their arrests took place in the context of the continuous persecution and attacks against the Garifuna people organized in OFRANEH.

Historically, the communities belonging to OFRANEH have been the target of harassment, threats by armed groups, assassinations, and the disappearance of community leaders, among other highly serious rights violations. During the last ten years, these have only worsened due to the authoritarian criminal government model headed by Juan Orlando Hernández. Eight months ago, five Garifuna comrades were disappeared by armed men wearing uniforms of the Office of Police Investigations (DPI) of Honduras. As of now, their whereabouts are unknown. 

National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders (IM-Defensoras), and many other groups and networks of women human rights defenders in Mesoamerica, as well as the FIDH call on all feminist and LGBTI social movements and the international community to stay on the alert for developments in this case and to demand a hearing with full guarantees for the rights of the criminalized Garifuna defenders. 

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/25/four-honduran-woman-human-rights-defenders-say-why-funders-need-to-prioritize-social-movmements/

They demand the immediate freedom and point out that Marianela and Jennifer are human rights defenders, not criminals.  

http://im-defensoras.org/2021/03/urgent-alert-honduras-arrested-garifuna-rights-defenders-will-have-hearing-this-sunday-march-7th-the-international-community-demands-their-release/

https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/honduras-criminalizacion-de-las-defensoras-garifunas-marianela-y

Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021

March 8, 2021

This day leads to a plethora of statements and actions. Here a small selection focusing on women human rights defenders:

Credit: UN Women/Yihui Yuan.

Joan Kuriansky – a volunteer with The Advocates For Human Rightswrites: “Celebrating International Women’s Day in 2021 compels us to pause and examine the lessons of the past year- the COVID pandemic, economic distress and the surging mandate of Black Lives Matter. Each phenomenon has made so more visible the challenges that historically face women across the globe. Importantly, these forces have also made it clear how connected we are to each other whether in neighborhoods within miles of our home or across a continent and the extraordinary role that women play in making lives better and more just in every corner of the world. The UN and UNDP estimate that the pandemic will push 47 million more women and girls below the poverty line. Our upcoming workshop at the NGO CSW65 Virtual Forum will highlight the economic and other inequalities women face as a result of the pandemic. Register here: https://bit.ly/3dmVgSk Event link: https://bit.ly/2NhPoiL

Women have been in the forefront of promoting peaceful solutions to conflict -conflict that has often included the rape and violation of women, the death of those in combat and the destruction of communities. Women have been in the forefront of promoting peaceful solutions to conflict -conflict that has often included the rape and violation of women, the death of those in combat and the destruction of communities. The Soldiers Mother’s Committee in Russia and Chechnya [[https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/3371DC1A-42AE-44BF-E349-26987BF98314], or the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace founded by Leymah Gbowe or the 3 co-founders of Black Lives Matter have inspired all of us. And as we documented in our work with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, women have a key role to play in the post-conflict and peacebuilding process.], or the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace founded by Leymah Gbowe or the 3 co-founders of Black Lives Matter [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/4f840e00-be5d-11e7-b953-f7f66015c2f3]have inspired all of us. And as we documented in our work with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, women have a key role to play in the post-conflict and peacebuilding process.

Women's World Summit Foundation (WWSF)

The WWSF introduces 60 Heroes out of 462 Laureates awarded with the WWSF Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life (1994-2020)

UN Women this year is celebrating women’s leadership in all its forms and calling for women and feminists across the world to claim their space in leadership and decision-making. Presently, only 7.4 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. Despite progress and many broken records, women continue to be excluded in certain sports. Systemic barriers, gender bias, discrimination and gender stereotypes continue to hold women back from rising in STEM careers. Women and girls have been leading climate action and environmental movements, but men occupy 67 per cent of climate-related decision-making roles. 119 countries have never had a woman leader. Just 25 per cent of national parliamentary seats are held by women.

Around the world, the space for civil discourse and movements is shrinking. The media plays a critical role in amplifying women’s voices and stories and drawing attention to key issues. But, with women holding only 27 per cent of top management jobs in media organizations, More than one-third of women’s employment is in agriculture, increasing women’s access to land and providing better support for women farmers is, therefore, essential. The majority of negotiators, mediators, and signatories in peace processes are still men.

In news media, only 24 per cent of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news are women. In global news coverage of COVID-19, only one in five expert sources counsulted were women.

Amnesty International stated that across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), despite some limited reforms, women continue to face entrenched discrimination and daily violence amid the abject failure of governments to stamp out arbitrary arrests, abductions, assassinations, so-called “honour” killings and other forms of gender-based violence, said Amnesty International, marking International Women’s Day. ..Inadequate government action to protect women from gender-based violence and address impunity has long perpetuated this form of abuse.  As a first step, authorities must publicly condemn all forms of gender-based violence and dismantle discriminatory structures that facilitate such abuse – such as male guardianship,” said Heba Morayef.   “They must also ensure that the rights of survivors are protected, that survivors can safely access justice and that perpetrators are held to account. Survivors must be able to access adequate shelter, psycho-social support as well as legal and other services.”

All over the world, a female-driven political awakening is taking place. But this is met with prosecution by the State and persecution by self-vigilante groups. Their experiences are marred with patriarchal subordination, sexualised violence, threat and harassment. They face severe retribution and systematic abuse, even at the hands of the State. It is important to have an enabling environment for these soft targets who face heightened risks as compared to their male counterparts. International obligation requires the State to stop criminalising women defenders, write SHRUTIKA PANDEY & MRINALINI MISHRA in The Leaflet of 8 March 2021.

MRT of 8 March 2021 states that International Women’s Day is not celebrated, a struggle is commemorated – that has not ended- in favor of justice, peace and freedom of each one of them. In a strict sense, feminism seeks make gender issues visible. Under that idea, there should be no censorship or exclusion. Nevertheless, What about trans women? While it is true that some people do not agree that they are part of the feminist movement, the reality is that they also suffer from violence, harassment and discrimination. Therefore, they are in the same fight. With that said, we present to you 8 recognized trans women in history

The Media Line of 7 March writes that “Women face uphill climb to equality in the MENA region” Activists and human rights groups paint a daunting portrait of the equality landscape between the genders in the MENA region, as they prepare to mark International Women’s Day, March 8. The coronavirus epidemic, certainly, did not help the plight of women this past year. Still, going forward, the largest issues facing women in the Middle East were entrenched long before the pandemic hit.

In the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries, women’s rights defenders have it tough. While prominent Saudi women’s activist Loujain al-Hathloul was freed last month after almost three years in prison [see https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/1a6d84c0-b494-11ea-b00d-9db077762c6c], Samar Badawi [https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/eaed8641-4056-4130-a5ff-fb7bf289cece], Nassima al-Sadah, Nouf Abdelaziz and Maya’a al-Zahrani remain in jail after their 2018 arrests on charges of advocating for women’s rights. “Those who are behind bars are the champions for the change that took place,” Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, told The Media Line, referring to women driving.

In UCANews of 8 March 2021 Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Manila writes that “Millions of women the world over suffer from discrimination, abuse, poverty, gender-based violence and human rights violations, of which enforced disappearance is one of the most cruel forms. Enforced disappearance, which motivated the international community to establish the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, especially affects women.  On this significant occasion, I remember the faces and voices of women I personally encountered from 50 countries that I visited during my almost three decades of advocacy for the cause of the disappeared. Many of them carried pictures of their loved ones. Some gave me every bit of information with the hope against hope to find light amidst the dark night of the disappeared.”

Euromed uses the occasion for a series of podcast. For our first episode, the story you are about to hear is that of Mozn Hassan, a woman human rights defender and the founder and executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, a feminist organisation working in Egypt and the MENA region on gender equality and combatting violence against women. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/38B5C337-72F5-C4DE-BC95-95094B9E3939

[https://open.spotify.com/episode/0BLcZcwdDrab9guLW6fHVo]

https://www.woman.ch/campaign-17-days/meet-60-heroes-out-of-462-laureates-awarded-with-the-wwsf-prize-for-womens-creativity-in-rural-life-1994-2020/

https://un-women.medium.com/claiming-womens-space-in-leadership-6acc13946e2

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/mena-gender-based-violence-continues-to-devastate-lives-of-women-across-region/

https://www.ucanews.com/news/women-turn-grief-into-courage/91671#