Posts Tagged ‘Front Line Defenders’

Front Line Defenders announces steady hand Andrew Anderson as new Executive Director

October 8, 2016

Dublin-based NGO Front Line Defenders announced on 6 October 2016 that Andrew Anderson has been appointed as the organisation’s new Executive Director. Andrew has worked for the international protection of human rights defenders for more than twenty years, and has played a key leadership role in building Front Line Defenders into an effective force fighting for those most at risk. He will begin his new role on 1 November 2016.

The Front Line Defenders Board of Trustees selected Andrew due to his extensive management, fundraising and human rights experience. In its announcement, the Board of Trustees noted that it “unanimously agreed that Andrew is the candidate with the experience and skills best placed to lead Front Line Defenders into the next stage of our development.

Andrew Anderson and Mary Lawlor, launch of the 2016 Annual Report

The choice is a good one in my view as Andrew has 27 years experience of working for human rights at the international level and has served as Deputy Director of Front Line Defenders since March 2003. As Deputy Director, he led the development of an international civil society consortium to implement the EU human rights defenders mechanism (www.ProtectDefenders.eu), and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Applied Human Rights at the University of York. Before joining Front Line Defenders, Andrew worked for thirteen years at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International where he served as Director of the Campaigning and Crisis Response Programme and as Director of the Africa Programme. For an earlier video statement by Andrew see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/andrew-anderson-speaks-and-speaks-well-on-the-anniversary-of-un-declaration-on-hrds-youtube/.

“It is an honour and a challenge to take on this role at a time when human rights defenders are facing increasing attacks in all regions of the world,” said Andrew. “We must sustain the drive and energy which made Front Line Defenders so effective under Mary’s inspirational leadership and build on that legacy to deliver rapid and practical support for those who risk their lives to build a better future.”

Andrew will succeed Front Line Defenders’ current Executive Director Mary Lawlor, who founded the organisation in 2001. See: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/mary-lawlor-leaves-as-executive-director-of-front-line-defenders-job-search-for-successor-started/

Source: Front Line Defenders Announces New Executive Director, Andrew Anderson | Front Line Defenders

Mary Lawlor leaves as Executive Director of Front Line Defenders: search for successor started

July 11, 2016

Founding directors do not alway leave in such a well-planned way, but in the case of May Lawlor this is different. Having done a most admirable job in setting up and developing Front Line Defenders into the main ‘hub’ for information Human Rights Defenders over the last 15 years, she has now announced her departure. Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

For the few readers of this blog who need further information, please visit www.frontlinedefenders.org

The Board of Trustees now seeks an Executive Director with significant previous experience of working at a senior level for the protection of human rights defenders or equivalent experience in a human rights based activity or organization in a leadership role. The Executive Director will have strong communication, management and analytical skills. They will have an understanding of the political environment for human rights defenders and have excellent political judgement. This position will be based in Dublin but will involve frequent travel.

For more information, please contact: Claire Cronin, Cronin Partners International Search, 12 Merrion Square  |  claire@croninpartners.com

Application deadline: Friday 29th July, 2016

Source: Executive Director Job with Front Line Defenders

Remember: 2nd anniversary of the death of Cao Shunli

March 15, 2016

Yesterday, 14 March 2016 was the second anniversary of the death of Cao Shunli, a Chinese human rights defender who was detained and denied adequate medical treatment in police custody for five months, before dying in a military hospital in Beijing in 2014. This happened shortly after she was shortlisted for the Martin Ennals Award in that year. [see also https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/cao-shunli-a-profile-and-new-award-in-her-name/]. Has the situation improved…? Read the rest of this entry »

Human rights defenders Sui Muqing and Huang Liqun in China released

January 7, 2016

On 6 and 7 January 2016, human rights lawyers Mr Sui Muqing and Mr Huang Liqun in China were released from police custody reports Front Line Defenders on 7 January.  The two human rights defenders were detained on 10 July 2015 in the midst of a nationwide crackdown on human rights lawyers [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/] and placed under ‘residential surveillance at a designated location‘. Article 73 of the Criminal Procedure Law allows for the detention of suspects in state security, terrorism and serious bribery cases for up to six months in undisclosed locations, under the guise of ‘residential surveillance’. The authorities are not obliged to specify the place of detention or notify the suspect’s relatives or legal representative of the reasons for the residential surveillance in cases relating to the three charges, if doing so may “interfere with the investigation”. Neither of the human rights defenders were permitted access to lawyers during their six months’ detention. https://frontlinedefenders.org/node/29112

(Sui Muqing is a Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer who has represented a number of other human rights defenders, including Guo Feixiong, and has suffered harassment, intimidation and travel bans as a result of his work. Huang Liqun is a human rights lawyer with Beijing Fengrui Law Firm, a firm specifically targeted by the authorities in Beijing. Six other lawyers with the firm remain in detention).

Up to 20 other human rights defenders in the July crackdown are still in detention.

 

 

 

 

Job and internship openings at Front Line Defenders

January 6, 2016

Source: Recruitment & Volunteering | Front Line Defenders

Closing Civil Society Space – a euphemism for Killing Human Rights Defenders

November 30, 2015

The Huffington Post of 29 November 2015 carried a good piece by Brian Dooley (Human Rights First) under the title “When Closing Civil Society Space Means Killing Human Rights Defenders”. He states that “what sometimes gets overlooked in the discussion around “shrinking civil society space” are direct, violent attacks on human rights defenders.”

He refers to this year’s Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) which details killings of HRDs in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. And a Note by the UN Secretary-General in July this year included how “defenders also describe their sense that they are often on their own, with the media showing little interest in reporting acts of aggression against them and with little support from political figures…”

Read the rest of this entry »

Front Line award winner Guo Feixiong sentenced to six years in prison

November 29, 2015

Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - croppedOn 27 November 2015, Mr Guo Feixiong was sentenced to six years in prison by the Tianhe District People’s Court in Guangzhou, China. Two other human rights defenders, Liu Yuandong and Sun Desheng, received three and two and a half year sentences respectively. In September, Guo Feixiong (pen name of Yang Madding) was awarded the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/2015-front-line-defenders-award-to-chinese-guo-feixiong-yang-maodong/].

Guo Feixiong was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “gathering crowds to disturb social order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. The latter charge was reportedly added by the judge at the sentencing and therefore one that Guo Feixiong’s lawyers had no opportunity to defend him against, and which resulted in two years being added to his sentence. Liu Yuandong was sentenced to three years, while Sun Desheng was sentenced to two and a half years, both on charges of “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”.

Since his detention in 2013, Guo Feixiong has reportedly been held in a 30 sq metre cell with 30 other detainees. Furthermore, he has been denied permission to go outside or exercise in the prison yard since his initial detention and has alleged ill-treatment by the prison guards. According to his lawyer, Mr Zhang Lei, Guo Feixiong’s health has suffered greatly as a result. It has also been reported that Sun Desheng had had his hands cuffed and legs shackled for long periods after his detention.

 

 

2015 Front Line Defenders Award to Chinese Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong)

September 12, 2015

On Friday 11 September the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was presented to imprisoned Chinese Human Rights Defender  Guo Feixiong in Dublin City Hall. Irish author and playwright Sebastian Barry presented the award to Guo’s wife, Zhang Qing, and daughter, Yang Tianjiao (Sara), at the award co-presented by the Al-Jazeera Media Network. Guo has been held in Guangzhou’s Tianhe Detention Center for over 750 days, where is currently awaiting sentencing. Sebastian Barry said:“For human rights defenders the struggle is not just to implement rules and regulations and theoretical international standards. It is is about the right to raise your voice without the fear of arbitrary violence, whether by the state or others. Guo Feixiong has defended farmers illegally evicted from their land, Falun Gong practitioners persecuted for their beliefs and journalists who dared to speak out. He is a symbol of the endurance of the human spirit, of the will to survive and of the human need for the free air of ideas, to make life worth living. He is a worthy recipient of the 2015 Front Line Defenders Award.”
Guo Feixiong (pen name of Yang Maodong) is a leading figure in the movement for human rights China – a struggle fraught with danger for human rights defenders seeking civil, political, economic and social rights; accountability; transparency; and an end to corruption. After more than two years in detention, Guo Feixiong’s lawyers now report that during their most recent meeting, his memory, speech, and mental awareness all showed signs of damage.Last week, a coalition of Chinese human rights activists writing at China Change called his detention “a deliberate effort to harm Guo Feixiong and kill him slowly.”Accepting the Award on behalf of her husband, Zhang Qing said:“Guo Feixiong is a faithful idealist. Although he has experienced a wide range of political persecution by the Chinese government including, being sentenced to four prison terms, being the target of a witch hunt, and enduring countless brutal and evil tortures from the Chinese government he still holds a peaceful and pure heart. He shows enduring strength and courage to pursue rights, equality and justice peacefully. We are proud of Guo Feixiong and all the other human rights defenders and lawyers working to the same end in China”.

for info on the finalists: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/finalists-for-the-2015-front-line-defenders-award-announced/

– See more at: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29586#sthash.AZYZfOz1.dpufnders Award Presented to Chinese HRD Guo Feixiong | Front Line Defenders

Stop dancing with dictators, says Chinese human rights defender Teng Biao

March 17, 2015

‘Chinese leaders are not known for tolerating dissent, but Xi Jinping is less tolerant than his predecessors.’  Photograph: EPA/WU HONG

‘ Xi Jinping, even less tolerant than his predecessors.’ Photograph: EPA/WU HONG

Human rights defender Teng Biao, a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School, President of China Against the Death Penalty, and Co-founder of the Open Constitution Initiative, is in Ireland as the guest of Front Line Defenders. In a post of 10 March 2015, he depicts the grim situation of human rights defenders in China since President Xi took office. ‘Chinese human rights defenders are facing the most severe crackdown since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989’ he statesThe hard-hitting piece [“Over 1,000 human rights activists were detained since President Xi took office“] is interesting enough to provide in full:

“I remember Cao Shunli’s speech during her trial. She was a brave activist who fought for land rights, documented cases of human rights abuse and participated in the United Nations human rights system.Tang Jingling, a lawyer in Guangzhou, is a prominent leader of the non-violent civil disobedience movement.

Ilham Tohti is a Uighur professor who set up a website to promote the rights of the muslim Uighur people. He advocated mutual understanding and reconciliation between Han Chinese and the Uighurs.

Pu Zhiqiang and Xu Zhiyong are both well known lawyers who have played a key role in abolishing the laws allowing extrajudicial detentions, in breach of China’s own constitution. Xu also founded an NGO called the Open Constitution Initiative, focusing on religious freedom and free speech. The organisation worked on the issues of forced eviction, forced abortion and ensuring transparency in local elections.

Guo Feixiong, Liu Ping, Ding Jiaxi, Zhao Changqing, all took an important part in the New Citizens Movement which has campaigned for constitutional government and for Communist Party officials to declare their assets.

Cao Shunli was arrested on her way to a human rights training in Geneva and died in custody as a result of torture, on March 14th, 2014. All the others are now in jail.

Chinese leaders are not known for tolerating dissent, but Xi Jinping is less tolerant than his predecessors. Over a thousand human rights activists have been detained since Xi took office, and Chinese human rights defenders are facing the most severe crackdown since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. Xi’s suppression is widespread, targeting not just those at the forefront of the human rights struggle in China, but also faith groups, internet users, universities, and the media. Many members of China’s budding civil society, who have avoided politically risky issues so far, are now also being jailed.

In the past, those who crossed a red line, who stood out, took to the street, or who engaged in organised actions were the main targets of the crackdown. Now, the dragnet is much wider and is being used against anyone who demonstrates. At least 10 feminist activists were detained last week as they planned to stage a small protest against sexual harassment on public transport, which is a common occurrence in China. The government seems to be targeting all the nodes that connect civil society, picking off emerging civil society leaders, and destroying the capacity for civil resistance.

It seems that the Communist Party of China has never been stronger or more confident: China is the second largest economy in the world. China is exerting more influence on the international stage. There is no viable opposition, and the Chinese model is more effective than western democracies that have been bogged down by financial crises and intractable social problems. But as David Shambaugh pointed out in his recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “A more secure and confident government would not institute such a severe crackdown. It is a symptom of the party leadership’s deep anxiety and insecurity.”

For the Communist Party of China, “governing the country according to law” does not mean the “rule of law” as you and I understand it. It is first and foremost a tool to further control society, as the Party understands perfectly well that the rule of law, freedom of information, religious freedom, property rights, and other basic features of democratic governance would mean the demise of the Party’s rule, as Freedom House pointed out in its recent report.

Chinese civil society, fragile as it is, owes its emergence to the dedication and sacrifice of many human rights defenders. Every day, we receive information from all over the country about human rights defenders being detained, disappeared, tortured, or sentenced. But despite the perilous journey, more and more Chinese people – lawyers and journalists, farmers and bloggers, poor and rich, young and old, males and females – have stepped up to join the human rights movement, driven by their dignity, belief in freedom, and the desire to make a difference in our time of great change.

These Orwellian rulers can only do so much damage to the spirit of the people. A few are silenced but many more are inspired by a combination of international and domestic recognition, the admiration of “fellow travellers”, a sense of mission, and occasional victories in human rights cases. I speak from experience. I have been banned from teaching, fired from my job, disbarred, disappeared, detained and tortured for my human rights work since 2003, but I have never felt that I should stop. I believe it is my responsibility to fight for freedom for the next generation, for the dream that my children can live in a free and democratic country. This dream is shared by more and more Chinese people, even at this unlikely moment when the night seems the darkest.

Most Beijing watchers in the west misunderstand Beijing. Every time Beijing has a new slogan like “rule by law” or “harmonious society,” they embrace it as a sign of change, ignoring all the evil the Communist Party of China has been perpetrating. They fail to see where the real hope lies and remain fixated on the ruling class. Their selective blindness has hindered the West’s understanding of the real state of affairs in today’s China. If we human beings can learn anything from modern history, it is that it is time for the West to stop wishful thinking, to stop dancing with dictators, and to support human rights activists who are challenging the one-party dictatorship in China. History will judge the crimes committed by dictators against universal values, and it will also remember those Western governments who adopted short-sighted policies of appeasement in dealing with autocratic regimes and favouring trade over human rights.”

Over 1,000 human rights activists were detained since President Xi took office.

Another killing of a human rights defender in Libya: Intissar Al Hasairi

February 26, 2015

In the morning of 24 February 2015, the bodies of human rights defender Ms Intissar Al Hasairi and her elderly aunt were discovered in the boot of the human rights defender’s car in Tripoli, Libya, by security forces. The human rights defender and her aunt had allegedly been shot by members of an armed group.  The human rights defender had been missing since the previous evening.  Read the rest of this entry »