Posts Tagged ‘exile’

Lev Ponomarev, human rights defender, leaves Russia

April 26, 2022
Lev Ponomarev. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP Photo / TASS

On 22 April, 2022 AFP reported that Lev Ponomarev, a veteran Russian rights defender who was earlier detained for protesting the Kremlin’s military operation in Ukraine, has “temporarily” left the country. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/27/anti-war-human-rights-defenders-in-russia/

The 80-year-old former parliament member has been engaged in activism since the last years of the Soviet Union, helping create the now-dissolved Memorial organization in 1988. He said in a statement on Friday that worries about his personal safety, including “shadowy information about what they intended to do to me,” have forced him to take a break abroad.

I doubt that my leave of absence will last long,” said Ponomarev, whose name has been added to Moscow’s list of “foreign agents” in Russia.

Ponomarev did not disclose his new location, saying only that he continued to closely follow the “worrying” news in Russia.

Ponomarev confirmed his departure on the same day fellow Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza appeared before investigators on charges of spreading false information about Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, according to his lawyer. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/04/14/human-rights-defender-vladimir-kara-murza-arrested-in-russia/]

The charge, which falls under a new law introduced after Russia’s Feb. 24 launch of the campaign, could see Kara-Murza, 40, jailed for up to 15 years. Kara-Murza was due to appear in a Moscow court later Friday, Interfax said.

Colleague activist Ronald Airapetyan: //www.rferl.org/a/russia-activist-asylum-netherlands/31823471.html

See also re Mikhail Nesvat: https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-activist-asylum-united-states-crackdown/31833981.html

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/04/22/veteran-rights-defender-ponomarev-leaves-russia-a77467

Exiled Nicaraguan Human Rights Defenders in Costa Rica

March 15, 2022

A recent case study by Freedom House focuses on programming that offers holistic protection, support, and services, tailored to the needs of human rights defenders in their host country. This case study focused on the most current wave of migration of HRDs and CSOs who were forced to flee after anti-government protests in April 2018.

The Nicaraguan government continues to violate freedoms of expression, assembly and information and thwart the work of HRDs, including journalists and CSOs. Ortega-Murillo’s recent actions against potential presidential candidates and opposition figures demonstrate that the country will continue to see an outpouring of critics, activists, and HRDs to Costa Rica, among other countries. Nicaraguans continue to flee based on the attacks and harassment they face as HRDs and members of CSOs that champion democracy and human rights. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/21/nicaragua-death-in-detention-and-sham-trial/

Of those 20 Nicaraguan HRDs who were surveyed, almost 90% stated that harassment and surveillance was a primary reason for leaving Nicaragua, followed by violence (65%) and threats (50%).
Costa Rica provides comparatively ample protection for migrants, and recently launched a new asylum category for those fleeing from authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. The flow of migration since 2018 has persisted until March 2020 when the border shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, migrant flows have begun to increase in recent months. However, Costa Rica is struggling to recover economically from the pandemic, particularly within the tourist, service, and commercial industries where most migrants and refugees find work. Most Nicaraguan refugees find themselves in a precarious economic situation, unable to find steady work, forcing many to resort to informal work with low salaries. HRDs are often not recognized as having different needs or characteristics from the larger refugee population, either by organizations or the Costa Rican population in general. Even for those who continue to work in human rights describe their ability to
continue work is difficult, and many express experiencing severe trauma as an exile, with remorse for not being able to stay and remain fighting for human rights at home. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/12/24/vilma-nunez-human-rights-defender-who-stays-in-nicaragua/]
However, many Nicaraguan HRDs try to carry out their work by investigating the laws and procedures in Costa Rica, accompanying their compatriots in their efforts, sharing knowledge, and giving advice. There are support and protection options for HRDs and CSOs in exile in Costa Rica, including a network of organizations and institutions facilitated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that provide access to vital services.

All available support and protection options for Nicaraguan HRDs are operating at full capacity and cannot keep pace with the growing demand. We believe that it is necessary to seek support and accompaniment mechanisms for HRDs that facilitate their subsistence and enhance the
implementation of their work to defend the human rights of exiles and other Nicaraguan migrants who lack mechanisms for complaint and demand for their rights in Costa Rica.

https://freedomhouse.org/article/fighting-democracy-exile-my-story-nicaraguan-activist

later: https://thegaltimes.com/daniel-ortegas-regime-outlawed-another-25-ngos-in-nicaragua/87071/

Warning: Human rights defenders in Ukraine and in exile will be danger

March 4, 2022

Isabel Linzer and Yana Gorokhovskaia in Just Security of 3 March 2022 state that “Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Imperils Human Rights Defenders and Political Exiles“:

It is not just human rights defenders in Russia who are at risk [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2022/02/27/anti-war-human-rights-defenders-in-russia/] but (soon?) also those based in Ukraine or exile:

.. while general humanitarian aid is essential to accommodate the expected millions fleeing the conflict, Ukraine’s allies should also provide immediate, strategic support to individuals who may be targeted for reprisals by Russian authorities, specifically human rights defenders, journalists, as well as political exiles from authoritarian states. As intelligence reports have suggested, Ukrainian and foreign activists – democracy’s vocal defenders – may be singled out for attacks by Russia.

As of 2021, Freedom House documented over thirty physical acts of transnational repression – attempts to silence dissent beyond its borders through physical violence or other coercion – committed by Russia since 2014. Increasingly, Russian authorities have also helped other repressive States, including Belarus, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, reach political activists and dissidents who reside in Russia. Among other dangers, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to extend the reach of these authoritarian practices and endanger civil society activists who had previously found safe haven in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s civil society is exceptionally vibrant. Widespread civic mobilization was crucial during both the Orange Revolution in 2005 and the Maidan Revolution in 2014. A dozen activists who participated in protests in 2014 were elected to the Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) and others joined regional and local councils around the country. Ukrainian civil society was instrumental in providing military supplies to the under-resourced Ukrainian army when Russian-backed forces began an armed conflict in the east of the county in 2014. Since then, non-governmental groups have worked hard to help internally displaced people including through programs that support young people and women. Though it has faced challenges, today Ukraine’s civic sector represents a wide range of causes and identities, including free expression, anti-corruption, and LGBT+ rights. Many of these same civic causes have been under attack in Russia for years.

Last week, reporting revealed that U.S. intelligence was aware of lists, drafted by the Russian government, of people in Ukraine who would be arrested or assassinated following the invasion. Russian and Belarusian dissidents, journalists, activists, religious and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQI+ individuals were identified as potential targets, and the U.S. government has reportedly warned individuals of the threats against them. Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to confirm these chilling reports when he declared the invasion on Feb. 24, saying, “We will hand over everyone who committed bloody crimes against civilians, including Russian citizens, to court,” in a thinly-veiled threat to people his government broadly defines as opposition.

In addition to Ukrainian activists, the country is also home to many foreign activists. Ease of entry facilitated by Ukraine’s visa-free entry regime for citizens of dozens of countries makes it a natural refuge for people escaping repressive regimes and a hub of diaspora activism. Now, Ukraine’s uniquely inclusive civil society landscape may provide the Kremlin with an abundance of individuals it views as politically threatening to target for repression.

These are credible threats. …

Russia not only engages in transnational repression directly. It also helps other States to pursue their dissidents within its sphere of control.  Wherever the Russian government controls territory, activists, members of civil society, and political dissidents are at risk. Following a mass protest movement in response to fraudulent elections, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko undertook an aggressive campaign to pursue opponents within Belarus and abroad, relying especially on Russian assistance. The world was stunned when Minsk forced the landing of a RyanAir flight to arrest a dissident journalist on board, but Belarus has also extracted dozens of its citizens from Russian territory, with the full cooperation of Russian authorities. Many had been living in Russia for years and had done little except post messages of support for pro-democracy protests in their home country. Ukraine today is home to thousands of Belarusians who fled Minsk’s brutal repression. Their safety has been stripped from them by the invasion. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/11/05/joint-statement-on-the-sentencing-of-two-members-of-human-rights-group-viasna-in-belarus/

Protecting civilians, and especially human rights defenders both Ukrainian and foreign, is one of the most urgent non-military actions Ukraine’s allies can take. They should coordinate to warn and, when desired by the individuals in question, extract and resettle vulnerable individuals. Family members of potential Russian targets should also be relocated, to prevent them becoming leverage points used against those who are evacuated. Given the Kremlin’s track record of transnational repression across Europe, at-risk individuals should be given the option of swift relocation to geographically distant countries, like the United States, rather than remaining in border States where they are more vulnerable. Civil society organizations in a position to offer digital security training and socio-psychological assistance to members of civil society should be given ample funding to do this work…

New report Freedom House on Human Rights Defenders in Latin America

February 24, 2022

It finds that Latin American human rights defenders and their organizations face intimidation, harassment, physical attacks, and legislation that criminalizes their work, among other threats.

Latin America was the most dangerous region in the world for human rights defenders during 2020, and according to Defending Latin American Human Rights and Democracy Activists, a new report released today by Freedom House, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse. Under the guise of enforcing public health measures, governments have deployed authoritarian restrictions to inhibit movement, curtail freedoms of expression and assembly, and implement militarized security policies.

This is a seminal study that lays the foundation for further areas of inquiry and analysis,” said Gerardo Berthin, vice president of international programs at Freedom House. “The report identifies the main needs of vulnerable activists and human rights defenders in Latin America and highlights major issues that merit regional and national attention.”

The report found that worsening human rights conditions have also spurred unprecedented levels of migration and displacement—including of human rights defenders—across the region. Growing migrant and refugee populations in Latin America have been especially vulnerable in the context of COVID-19, as border closures and lockdowns made living conditions even more precarious and curtailed mobility and access to information and services. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/29/global-witness-2019-worst-year-ever-for-land-rights-and-environmental-defenders/

The democratic landscape in Latin America is discouraging. According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2021 report, fewer than 40 percent of the countries in the region are classified as Free. Against this backdrop, the new study provides a baseline review of regional efforts to protect human rights defenders and prodemocracy civil society organizations in Latin America, including through shelter and relocation programs.

Key findings:

  • Human rights defenders are increasingly being forced into exile in neighbouring countries, and many are unable to continue their work.
  • The pressure experienced by human rights defenders can push them beyond the limits of physical and psychosocial safety. This can result in some level of trauma, as well as severe psychological symptoms including anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation, and suicidal inclinations. The symptoms have also taken the form of physiological conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Human rights defenders, especially women and Indigenous people, have sought to rethink “security,” moving away from a military and policing approach toward a more comprehensive and gender-balanced understanding. For example, women human rights defenders are incorporating the body, self-care, and self-awareness when defining security, and examining how these elements can affect other types of security, including the security of the family. For them, security is not just about reacting to a threat; it is also about maintaining economic security, food security, mental or psychological security, and physical health security. Indigenous human rights defenders are proposing to include their perspective in the design of protections for activists, dissidents, journalists, and others. This has begun to shift the focus of some protection mechanisms from the individual toward a more community-based model that accounts for the collective nature of human rights defense.
  • State-run protection mechanisms are often prescriptive, offering a predetermined menu of services that do not necessarily address the specific needs or risks faced by human rights defenders.
  • International protection organizations have implemented good practices pertaining to protection and security in general, aided by the expansion of internet access. This has enabled enhanced connection and communication with civil society organizations on the ground, including continuous and more systematic meetings and planning for effective protection.
  • The report contains two case studies of Venezuelan and Nicaraguan human rights defenders who have been forced into exile in Colombia and Costa Rica, respectively. The cases highlight key forms of individual, collective, and contextual support that would strengthen protection and allow human rights defenders to expand their work while in exile.
  • Few approaches to protect human rights defenders in Latin America have been evaluated systematically. The need for systematic evaluation is a key recommendation of the report, as such analysis could be used to develop future programs and strategic plans, and would help to identify the potential security risks that human rights defenders may face at home or in exile.
  • There are still gaps in knowledge about how to best support human rights defenders. However, human rights defenders themselves are driving efforts to share information about effective protection approaches. Thanks to their active involvement in protection strategies, temporary relocation providers, national protection organizations, and human rights defenders are more frequently raising the notion of holistic protection or integral security, which goes beyond physical or traditional security to include services such as medical, psychosocial, and psycho-emotional support.

Access the full report here.

https://freedomhouse.org/article/new-freedom-house-report-reveals-dire-conditions-human-rights-defenders-and-democracy

About the Chilean American Poet and human rights defender, Marjorie Agosin

November 9, 2020

Jackie Abramian, contributor of ForbesWomen of 5 November 2020, gives a voice to Chilean-American poet, novelist, and human rights activist Marjorie Agosin. The piece is too rich to summarize, so here it is in full:

Chilean American Poet, Marjorie Agosin
Chilean American Poet, Marjorie Agosin. John Wiggins

Like a beam of light piercing through the darkest tunnels of human destitute, Chilean-American poet, novelist, and human rights activist, Marjorie Agosin unveils the misery of the marginalized, weaving Latin America’s brutal history with her own Jewish traditions of survival and endurance. Memory and remembrance surface and resurface as a constant in Agosin’s writing. She ­flirts with her ancestral ghosts to unveil universal pain, desperation of loss and exile, and a yearning to belong.

Braided Memories - Marjorie agosin
In Braided Memories (Solis Press, 2020), Marjorie Agosin awakens her great-grandmother, Helena … [+] Marjorie Agosin

Her most recent poetry collection, Braided Memories (Solis Press, 2020), with photographer Samuel Shats, awakens her great-grandmother, Helena Broder’s memory, and escape from Vienna for Chile after the 1938 “Night of Broken Glass.” Agosin journeys to Prague and Vienna to shed light on her ancestors–finding their Stolperstein–stumbling stones of brass plate inscriptions of Holocaust victims’ name and life dates, set before their homes. Her great grand cousins’ spirits fly over Vienna “like a Chagall dream.” In Helena’s imprisoned “silent gaze” she imagines her train ride from Vienna with strangers “familiar in the knowledge of certain escape.” We learn how Helena taught Agosin to “leave glasses of wine before the vacant places” of the dead, how she “acquired the blessing of forgetfulness” and left to “roam on the other side of imaginary spaces.” Agosin, grateful for the remembering gift, becomes Helena’s “tranquil memory.

“The hand that writes knows before the actual writing foreshadows. I hear a voice, a spirit that comes to me—call it intuition or God. You either suppress it or follow it for the magic of discovery,” speaking in her gentle Chilean accent, Agosin is alone with her creative thoughts in spaces that make poetry happen. “Poetry is the soul of life, the language of sentiments. Poetry is not in a hurry—the world is in a hurry and that’s why we fail to see the most important problems of our civilization.”

As a human rights activist, Agosin’s 84 works of poetry, fiction, and literary criticisms have earned her the Pura Belpré Award, Letras de Oro Prize, Latino Literature Prize, Jeannette Rankin Award in Human Rights, U.N. Leadership Award for Human Rights, the Gabriela Mistral Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Chilean government, and the Fritz Redlich Human Rights Award by the Harvard Program on Refuge and Trauma. She holds a BA from the University of Georgia, an MA and a Ph.D. from Indiana University–and has been a Professor in Latin American studies and Spanish at Wellesley College for over 30 years.

Born in the U.S., Agosin spent her childhood in Chile before the rumbles of a U.S.-backed coup sent her family fleeing the país de poetas (land of poets) to settle in the U.S. The coup overthrew the democratically elected socialist leader, Salvador Allende and on September 11, 1973 brought Augusto Pinochet to power. During the 17-year rule, Pinochet imprisoned, tortured and killed some 130,000 Chileans–and thousands “disappeared.”

Tapestries of Hope, Threads of Love - Marjorie Agosin
Tapestries of Hope, Threads of Love (U. of New Mexico Press, 1996) is Agosin’s landmark work with a … [+] Marjorie Agosin

Tapestries of Hope, Threads of Love (U. of New Mexico Press, 1996) is Agosin’s landmark work with a foreword by Isabel Allende. It spans 30-years of interviews with members of Latin America’s most influential women’s resistance the Arpilleras (burlapin Spanish) movement. The tapestries of embroidered cloth scraps made by impoverished women memorialize the “disappeared” loved ones under Pinochet’s rule. Agosin worked with the initial group of 12 women and brought their stories to the world. They were part of the anti-Pinochet art workshops, funded by Vicarâia de Solidaridad human rights organization of the Chilean Catholic Church. The embroideries, smuggled and sold abroad, provided income for the destitute women. {see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/22/arpilleras-making-a-come-back-as-blankets-that-protect/]

“As a woman and a mother, this is the most important work I’ve done–it changed my life,” Agosin was 24 when she first saw an Arpillera shown by the Chilean National Literature Prize-winning writer, Antonio Skármeta–whose book Ardiente paciencia inspired Academy Award-winning movie on Neruda, “IL Postino”.

Arpillera
Arpillera, means burlap in Spanish, a patchwork picture made by the women, became popular in Chile … [+] Marjorie Agosin

Like poetry, women’s distinct resistance movement reaches the core of what it means to be human, Agosin believes. The tapestries reveal an innate grief, immortalize memory, unfulfilled yearning to reunite with loved ones, and the trauma of lifelong scars.

In her most favorite poem The Most Unbelievable Part, Agosin explores how power corrupts and turns ordinary people into torturers. How in 1973 Pinochet designated La Esmeralda, the 1400 feet-long Chilean navy training vessel, into a detention and torture center for the “disappeared.”..

“Poetry is the intimacy of memory–it transcends history. The poem wrote the story of the tortures on La Esmeralda, not the other way around,” explains Agosin. “Torture is a metaphor for how power works—how a woman of privilege treats her maid.”

Considering Chile her home that gave her “a beautiful language” (she still writes in Spanish), and refuge to her family when they came on ships from war-torn Europe, Agosin’s exilic yearning of the familiar stranger expresses the constant pangs of un-belonging. In her Pura Belpré Award–winning young adult novel, I Lived on Butterfly Hill (Atheneum Books 2014)

Kids Post Summer Book Club Selections
WASHINGTON DC – JUNE 01: I Lived on Butterfly Hill by author Marjorie Agosin is one of the Kids … [+] The Washington Post via Getty Images

and its sequel, The Maps of Memory: Return to Butterfly Hill (Atheneum Books2020), Agosin recreates her happy childhood in Chile through the 11-year-old Celeste Marconi’s life. Her peaceful life, extended family, deep ties with the sea and the pelicans of the hill-town of Valparaiso unravel with the political shift to dictatorship. Celeste goes into exile to Maine and returns years later to find her country scarred by the brutality of dictatorship, and is determined to find her displaced classmates, re-build and heal her town and country. Like Celeste, Agosin is not totally at home in Chile.

“I’m home in books, poems, writings, friendships, history, travels–in places where Jews lived, and among trees and nature–human beings are not exiled from the beauty of the world,” Agosin immerses herself in her seacoast Maine home–which reminds her of Chile– surrounded by her garden dotted with quaint alcoves that invite the visitor to stop, rest, and embrace nature. “I’m at home in sacred places, from mosques to churches to synagogues.”

In A Cross and a Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile (Feminist Press, 1997)and Always from Somewhere Else: A Memoir of My Chilean Jewish Father (Feminist Press, 2000)Agosin meets her parents at history’s crossroads. Her father, as an infant with chickenpox, was hidden, crossed the ocean and was named Moisés. He became a medical doctor in Chile and later emigrated to the U.S., becoming a foreigner once again. Her blond, blue-eyed mother could only attend an impoverished rural school–not a Catholic school because she wasn’t baptized, nor the German school run by the Nazis.

“My mother’s story explains what’s it like to be a minority in south of Chile when the Nazi’s arrived–how Chile denied and marginalized its minorities and its indigenous people,” Agosin wonders why vast majority of Chile’s Jewish community stood in silence against Pinochet’s atrocities as she explores human rights abuses from Latin America to the unfair partition of Israel which offered a refuge for the Jewish people displaced by the Holocaust–and in process displaced the Palestinians. 

“Unfortunately Israel continues to suppress the Palestinian people that deserve the right of self-determination. To continue with the occupation of their lands violates the spirit of Israel as a vibrant democracy. Only a two state solution will allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and with the dignity each one deserves,” Agosin states.

Agosin is inspired by her “amazing group of politically engaged” students at Wellesley College whose worldview, commitment to academic learning, open expression, and internships across the world to engage with the vulnerable reflects in their “gratitude for the possibility of learning as they face economic and emotional challenges amidst a pandemic.” Her immense empathy and loyalty to amplify all injustices reveals an undeniable allegiance to the spiritual and universal values of preserving memory.

“Memory is the active cause. Memory will not remember itself, like the Stolperstein tiles. Memory is a process, a constant commitment; without it we won’t remember the future. Memory is the future of the past,” Agosin confirms.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackieabramian/2020/11/05/chilean-american-poet-marjorie-agosin-unpacks-remembrance-giving-the-future-a-past/?sh=5b80f5fb12f4

Podcast series “Exile Shall Not Silence Us” now complete

August 10, 2020

AfricanDefenders‘ podcast series, “Exile Shall Not Silence Us”, is now complete and fully available for you to listen to. “Exile Shall Not Silence Us” (which I announced on 22 June 2020: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/22/exile-shall-not-silence-us/) is a podcast series on the situation of African human rights defenders (HRDs) in exile. The podcast is based on a research that collected the testimonies of more than 120 HRDs and in-depth case studies, and it features interviews with four exiled HRDs. It  highlights the professional, security, socio-economic, and psychosocial challenges of HRDs in exile in Africa, but most of all their achievements and resilience strategies.

Episode#1 gives an overview of the main findings of the research on the situation of African HRDs in exile, with key issues and current trends.

Episode #2 features an anonymous interview with a young woman HRD from Zimbabwe in exile in South Africa. She not only sheds light on the challenges faced by HRDs in and outside Zimbabwe, but also on the complex and painful relationship between exile and motherhood.

Episode#3 explores the challenges HRDs face after returning from exile through an interview with  a formerly exiled Gambian journalist.

Episode #4 explores the challenges and contradictions of internal displacement, as well as the multiple layers of vulnerability faced by HRDs in conflict-ridden areas through an anonymous interview with a Cameroonian woman HRD.

Episode#5 zooms in on Egypt where we speak to an Egyptian HRD in exile in Tunis who tells us about his experience, his hopes, and what he has been learning from Tunisian civil society.

Listen to all the episodes here› <https://app.getresponse.com/click.html?x=a62b&lc=B5QJao&mc=IN&s=9JQZDZ&u=Bl16k&z=Eh2xCOx&>

EXILE SHALL NOT SILENCE US!

 

EXILE SHALL NOT SILENCE US!

June 22, 2020

On 19 June, 2020 AfricanDefenders launched a podcast series on African human rights defenders in exile  

“If you have to leave, leave. But refuse to keep quiet. Silencing you is what all oppressive regimes want. Don’t stop defending others because you are outside your country. Defending others is defending ourselves.”  Interview with an African HRD in exile  

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Africa face grave risks in conducting their invaluable work of promoting the rights of others, protecting the environment, and holding the powerful to account. All too often, they are forced to leave their homes to seek protection, after threats, surveillance, judicial harassment, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearance, torture, and targeting of colleagues and family members.

Exile impacts every aspect of a person’s life, and no experience of exile is the same. Exiled HRDs face serious challenges in their human rights work, such as losing legitimacy in the eyes of their government and their communities, collecting information remotely in a safe manner, and accessing funding. Many exiled HRDs also continue to face security concerns, worry about the safety of colleagues and family members in their country of origin, and struggle with socio-economic integration in their host country. Exile can also take a toll on their wellbeing and family dynamics.

Yet, the majority of exiled HRDs continue their human rights work, disseminating the information received by monitors on the ground through regional and international advocacy and campaigning, mobilising diaspora communities, and at times (re-)establishing organisations in exile. If authoritarian governments, corrupt leaders, and violent militia groups aimed to silence HRDs by forcing them into exile, their strategy has largely failed.

Based on research that collected the testimonies of more than 120 HRDs, in-depth case studies, and live interviews with four exiled HRDs, Exile Shall Not Silence Us is a podcast series that highlights the professional, security, socio-economic, and psychosocial challenges of HRDs in exile in Africa, but most of all their achievements and resilience strategies.

In episode 1, Cristina Orsini, Senior Programme Officer at AfricanDefenders, gives an overview of the main findings of the research on the situation of African HRDs in exile. Listen to Episode 1

IDREAM Project: Training support to displaced or exiled Human Rights Defenders

February 8, 2020

Call for Applications: IDREAM Project.

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) has launched a Call for Applications for a new human rights training and mentoring project, the “Incubator for Defenders Remaining in Exile to Advance Movements.”

This application package includes detailed 3 documents – applicants should complete their application online. :

(1) Call for Applications: IDREAM Project

(2) Guidelines

(3) Instructions for Applicants

The IDREAM Project provides support to displaced or exiled Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and their organizations in three technical areas, which are described in the documentation.  IDREAM seeks to enable displaced or exiled HRDs and civil society organizations to continue their work advocating for fundamental freedoms despite forced relocation due to threats or attacks they have experienced as a result of conducting their human rights work. HRDs who are selected to join the IDREAM project (“partner HRDs”) will benefit from participation in a range of capacity building and mentoring activities and exercises.

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5421839/IDREAM-APPLICATION

Vietnamese blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ released

October 18, 2018
Quynh, one of Vietnam's most prominent dissidents, was serving a 10-year-sentence for anti-state propaganda [AP]
Quynh, one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, was serving a 10-year-sentence for anti-state propaganda [AP]

Vietnam has released dissident blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as “Mother Mushroom“. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/06/the-kind-of-blogging-that-got-mother-mushroom-10-years-imprisonment-in-vietnam/]. Quynh, 39, was freed from jail and put on a plane to the United States where her mother and children live. She boarded a flight to Houston around noon Wednesday 17 October 2018, said Martin Gemzell, Asia program director for Civil Rights Defenders, a group based in Sweden.

Quynh, one of Vietnam’s most well-known activists, whose recognisable pen name “Me Nam” comes from her daughter’s nickname “mushroom”, was jailed in June 2017.  She is an outspoken critic of Vietnam’s one-party state and gained notoriety with her writing about the environment, politics and deaths in police custody. Quynh came to prominence when she received the Civil Rights Defender of the Year award in 2015 and also the (USA) International Woman of Courage Award in 2017.

The overly broad, ill-defined scope of this law makes it all too easy to quash any kind of dissenting views and to arbitrarily detain individuals who dare to criticize government policies,” former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in 2016.

While the Vietnamese authorities have not given a reason for the release of Quynh, it coincided with a visit to Vietnam by US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis.  Quynh is the second Vietnamese dissident released this year. A prominent human rights lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, was released from prison in June and went to Germany.

[See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/18/overview-of-recent-campaigning-for-human-rights-defenders-in-vietnam/]

https://www.wral.com/mother-mushroom-vietnamese-activist-is-said-to-be-released/17922631/

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/dissident-vietnamese-blogger-mother-mushroom-released-181017100207668.html

Maldives’ Mohamed Nasheed: from human rights defender to president to exile

June 26, 2017

On 23 Jun 2017 the Human Rights Foundation published the above video from its May Oslo Freedom Forum. Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was first arrested for founding an underground newspaper when he was just 17 years old. This, however, wasn’t the last time the former president would be punished for his activism. Describing his journey from democracy dissident to president of the Maldives to ousted leader championing human rights in exile, President Nasheed shares how he perseveres despite the many challenges he has faced. Although the fight for freedom is difficult, he tells us not to give up – because that’s exactly what the dictators want you to do: “Giving up is exactly what the dictators want you to do. It’s why they jail, beat, and torture. It’s why they fine newspapers and murder people who speak out. We can only beat them by not giving in.”
https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/10/16/amal-clooney-speaks-about-the-maldives-at-ai-side-event/
see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/maldives/