Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, Iranian environmentalist, dies in prison under suspicious circumstances

March 7, 2018

On 6 March, 2018 Scholars at Risk (SAR) reported the death in custody of Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, a scholar of sociology and an environmentalist in Iran who was arrested in January 2018 on charges of espionage.

Professor Seyed-Emami was a professor of sociology at Imam Sadiq University and a co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. A dual Canadian-Iranian national, he was an environmentalist who led camping trips for Iranian youth in his spare time. SAR understands that, on January 24, 2018, Iranian authorities arrested Professor Seyed-Emami, along with at least seven others, who Iranian authorities claimed were “collecting classified information about the country’s strategic areas under the guise of carrying out scientific and environmental projects.” The information released by authorities does not make clear what classified information Professor Seyed-Emami and others were alleged to have collected, who they were allegedly working for, or what evidence supports these allegations.

On February 9, authorities reportedly notified Professor Seyed-Emami’s wife of her husband’s death. The following day, authorities announced the arrests and Professor Seyed-Emami’s death, claiming it was a suicide. SAR understands that Professor Seyed-Emami’s family was pressured to bury him quickly. Human rights groups have called for an autopsy and investigation, pointing to the suspicious circumstances of his death. Professor Seyed-Emami’s death follows two other recent incidents in Evin Prison in which activists died and authorities later ruled their deaths suicides.

SAR demands an investigation of Professor Seyed-Emami’s deeply troubling death and generally that the ability of intellectuals in Iran to exercise their right to academic freedom be guaranteed. To join the action, follow the link below:

See also my post:

Link between protecting the environment and human rights asserted by UN Expert Knox (re-issued with working links and references to case law)

March 11, 2013

What is apparent from this blog, which has featured many cases of environmental Human Rights Defenders, has now been clearly stated (on 7 March 2013) by the United Nations Independent Expert on human rights and environment, John Knox. In his report to the Council of Human Rights, he highlighted the urgent need to clarify the human rights obligations linked to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Such clarification, he said, “is necessary in order for States and others to better understand what those obligations require and ensure that they are fully met, at every level from the local to the global.”……………….In his report Mr. Knox also identifies rights whose implementation is vital to environmental policymaking, such as the rights to freedom of expression and association, rights to receive information and participate in decision-making processes, and rights to legal remedies. “The exercise of these rights, makes environmental policies more transparent, better informed and more responsive to those most concerned.” “States should recognize the important work carried out by human rights defenders working on land and environmental issues in trying to find a balance between economic development and environmental protection, should not tolerate their stigmatization and should ensure prompt and impartial investigations into alleged violations of their rights,” he said.

John Knox was appointed as the Independent Expert on human rights and the environment in July 2012 by the United Nations Human Rights Council.humanrightslogo_Goodies_14_LogoVorlagen

Learn more:

Knox’s full report: 

via Link between protecting the environment and human rights | Scoop News.

I would also like to refer now to an article by Lauri R. Tanner  in the Oxford Press Journal of Human Rights Practice on the landmark environmental defenders cases by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: the milestone case of ‘Kawas v. Honduras‘ and the so-called ‘Mexican Ecologists case‘. In its first-ever ruling on environmental defenders, the Court found a positive obligation on the part of member states in the Hemisphere to protect environmentalists who are in serious jeopardy from human rights violations. The Kawas case is a paradigmatic example of the constant threats these activists encounter, both in the Americas and internationally, and states in the region are now on notice to ensure special protection to those most in danger of harm. The Court arrived at the remarkable juncture of ‘making visible and potentially punishable what heretofore has been invisible and unpunished’. In an epilogue Tanner addresses the subsequent ruling in the ‘Mexican Ecologists’ case, and offers recommendations to human rights and environmental defenders and practitioners both regionally and internationally.

PDF to download:

Full Text online:

Honduras in video: “The Law of the Strongest” screening on 6 March in Geneva

March 1, 2013

Protection International – based in Brussels – announces the launch of its new documentary, The Law of the Strongest, an in-depth account of the work of Honduran human rights defenders and the many challenges they face. You can watch it now at (Spanish version with English subtitles). On 6 March 2013, The Law of the Strongest will be screened in Geneva.

“In this country, everything is being sold : water, earth and even oxygen” says Salvador Zúñiga, leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) standing on a muddy road. Behind him, a no-trespassing sign bars the way to a dam construction project. This project will not benefit the local population, but only the private interests”.

Like other members of his organization, Salvador Zuñiga denounces judicial harassment, threats and attempted corruption aimed at putting an end to their peaceful resistance to these mega projects.

Pascale Boosten and Eric Juzen, directors at the PI video team, met with COPINH representatives and other human rights defenders in order to produce the documentary, The Law of the Strongest.

Contact : Pascale Boosten,

Environmentalist Prajob Murdered in Thailand; HRW demands investigation

February 28, 2013

Thai authorities should immediately investigate the murder of Prajob Nao-opas, a prominent environmentalist in Chachoengsao province, Human Rights Watch said today, 27 February 2013.HRW_logo

The government’s measures to protect human rights defenders, including environmentalists, who stand up for their communities have consistently proved to be inadequate. On February 25, 2013, at around 2 p.m., a gunman shot 43-year-old Prajob four times at a garage on the Phanom Sarakham-Ban Sang road as he was waiting for mechanics to repair his pickup truck. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Prajob was seriously wounded from the 11mm bullets and died while being rushed to the hospital by villagers at the shooting scene. The gunman escaped in a getaway car. “The cold-blooded killing of Prajob marks yet another example of the fundamental failure of Thai authorities to protect activists who risk their lives while defending their communities,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The government must undertake a serious investigation to bring those responsible for his death to justice, regardless of the status or political affiliation of the killers.

Since February 2012, Prajob had led villagers in a campaign to expose the dumping of toxic waste in Chachoengsao province’s Phanom Sarakham and Plaeng Yao districts. Many ponds in the area have been filled with dangerous chemicals from industrial estates along Thailand’s eastern seaboard. The Thai government took little action until Prajob managed to get the issue into the national news headlines in August 2012. Only then did the Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation DSI announce that it would treat the chemical waste disposal in Chachoengsao province as a special and urgent case under the DSI’s purview. In December 2012, Prajob told his family that he had received warnings from the Chachoengsao police that there might be an attempt on his life. Since then, he noticed and reported to the police that he was frequently followed and photographed by unidentified men on motorcycles. Despite these explicit threats, no one at either provincial or national level proposed any protective measures for Prajob. Read the rest of this entry »