Posts Tagged ‘HRF’

Belarus elections : will Tyga front for dictator Lukashenko?

August 7, 2020

The New-York-based Human Rights Foundation has a track record when it comes to pressurising celebrities for endorsing human rights violators [e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/18/will-janet-jackson-50-cent-and-tyga-perform-tomorrow-in-jeddah-and-what-will-they-say/]. This time it urges hip-hop artist Tyga to cancela his peformance at a government-sponsored concert in Belarus on August 8.

In 6 August, 2020 HRF’s President sent a letter to the American hip hop artist Tyga pointing  out that his performance is part of a plan to distract from the electoral fraud in the imminent election and prevent protesters from gathering at opposition rallies. The concert is organized and funded by the Belarusian dictatorship, led by Alexander Lukashenko. Under this regime, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, and no freedom of association.

This performance, scheduled for the day before Belarus’ elections, is no coincidence. It is an excuse to cancel the opposition’s final electoral rally, and prevent ordinary Belarusians from showing their support for freedom and democracy,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “It is also a deliberate attempt to turn attention away from the massive electoral fraud that is already taking place across the country.” Belarus’ elections, which haven’t been free or fair since 1994, have been met with extreme repression. As HRF recounted in its letter to the performer: “Protestors are grabbed off the street at random, and many are beaten bloody. The two most popular candidates in the upcoming presidential election, Viktor Babryka and Sergei Tikhanouvsky, were both arrested on trumped up charges. Many opposition activists have had to flee the country, along with their children, after receiving threats from the government.” “Tyga has been an outspoken advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement. He has urged followers to vote in local elections and take to the streets in protest. His support for Lukashenko’s regime will greatly undermine the activism he has encouraged in the United States, and provide the Belarusian dictator a useful propaganda stunt,” said Halvorssen. “We hope he will stand on the side of the people of Belarus as opposed to their oppressor. He must decline the invitation to perform for the dictator.” HRF requested that Tyga cancel his concert and use this media opportunity to send an urgent and categorical message of encouraging support to protestors in Belarus.

Latest: https://belsat.eu/en/news/head-of-presidential-candidate-cherachan-s-campaign-office-detained/

Read the letter in full: https://hrf.us14.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c5e3037cd362a8e29147b750c&id=d46741b1d8&e=f80cec329e

For some of my older posts on celebrities see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/star-power/

Low key launch of 2016 State Department Human-Rights Report raises questions

March 4, 2017

The Voice of America (3/3/17: Tillerson in Background as State Department Issues Human-Rights Report) and other media reported on the low-key way in which the US State Department launched the 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 22, 2017.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 22, 2017.

Sources:

Tillerson in Background as State Department Issues Human-Rights Report

http://gantdaily.com/2017/03/03/tillerson-skips-release-of-annual-human-rights-report/

Brian Dooley gets a kind of reply from Bahrain..

May 18, 2015

Under the title “Dooley doodling” appeared a post in the Gulf Daily News of 18 May 2015. It is supposed to a pun on the name of Brian Dooley, the director of Human Rights First’s human rights defenders’ programme. The writer [Duri?] draws fortunately more attention to Dooley’s piece in the Huffington Post of 6 May: ‘How to Sound Like a Washington Expert on Bahrain’.

There is a rather-vaguely worded attack on his work for human rights defenders in Bahrain without ever substantiating any of the claims that he or his organization is receiving money from unnamed sources (Guess who foots the bills?“) or going in any detail on the harassment of the human rights defenders (“Every time Mr Rajab or any of the players happen to be [SIC] behind bars, expect one piece from him attacking the Bahraini government and its institutions.).  Dooley is quite capable of defending himself, but the awards aspect below is worth a bit more attention: Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights First annual summit on 9-10 December 2014

October 28, 2014

 

HRF logo organises on 9-10 December 2014 its annual Human Rights Forum. It takes place in the Newseum in Washington DC, USA. Several panels are of direct relevance to human rights defenders, such as:

  • Show Them the Money: What are the Lifelines for Civil Society in a Sea of Restrictions? More and more governments – and not only authoritarian ones – are finding ways to close the space for independent civil society groups, especially those critical of government policies.  As part of this effort, governments have developed sophisticated methods to undermine the credibility of international –especially American – support for local human rights and democracy organizations. Russia and Egypt are leading the way; each has passed laws restricting access by independent civil society groups to foreign funding, which is essential to their existence. How should the U.S. government and other donors respond to these coordinated efforts to restrict human rights and democracy activists? Given the legal landscape, is foreign funding for NGOs even possible anymore?
  • Progress and Backlash in the Global Struggle for LGBT Equality Human rights advocates often describe achieving full equality for LGBT people as the next chapter in the struggle for universal human rights.  For many years, this movement appeared to be one of steady gains, but we are now facing a moment of profound backlash.  LGBT citizens of Russia, India, and Nigeria have seen a sharp curtailment of their rights. In many cases, this is part of a larger attack on civil society, marked by laws and policies aimed at limiting freedom of expression, freedom of association, and other basic rights.  The countries in question may see themselves as in conflict with the West and its values; support for such laws is often driven by anti-Western sentiment.  How can the United States respond to this development in ways that will improve the lives of LGBT people worldwide?
  • NGOs as the Enemy Within? Human rights defenders face particular challenges when their societies mobilize for war.  In such circumstances, questioning government policies can be characterized as disloyalty or siding with the enemy.  Human rights defenders become targets of defamation, persecution, and violence.  The universal values they are seeking to uphold are themselves called into question and undermined. Does the U.S. government have a role in preserving the rights of activists espousing what may be deeply unpopular points of view in times of public fear and conflict?

 

 

For more information and to enroll: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/event/human-rights-summit

Sudan HRD Ryan Boyette to Receive Human Rights First Award

October 12, 2014

HRF logo will honor Ryan Boyette, a human rights advocate based in Sudan, with its 2014 Human Rights First Award. Boyette is recognized for his courageous work documenting and drawing international attention to the ongoing attacks against civilians by the Sudanese government in conflicts largely hidden from worldview. The organization will present the Award at its annual gala on 22 October in New York. Human Rights First’s CEO Elisa Massimino stated: “We are inspired by Ryan’s commitment to keep the eyes of the world on the human rights crisis in southern Sudan.” Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Defender Maryam Al Khawaja stopped at Bahrain airport; may appear in court tomorrow

September 1, 2014

HRF logo today (1 September 2014) expressed fears for leading human rights defender Maryam Al Khawaja, who landed at Bahrain airport last night on a visit home and has been held by Bahraini authorities. Reports state that al Khawaja, a Danish citizen, was immediately detained and will be held at the airport until tomorrow. Bahrain is consistently revealing itself as a place where voices on human rights are not welcome,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “In the last two months, a U.S. diplomat, a member of Congress, and the NGO Human Rights First have either been kicked out of or not allowed into the country. Now Maryam has been taken into custody and will appear in court tomorrow after trying to visit her family, including her father who is on hunger strike in prison there. Lets hope the United States, United Kingdom, and other governments  will respond to whats happening to her with more than just an awkward silence.

For more information please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb[at]humanrightsfirst.org.

via Leading Bahrain Human Rights Defender Stopped at Airport, May Appear in Court Tomorrow | Human Rights First.

Nominations deadline for 25th Annual Roger Baldwin Medal on 15 March

February 14, 2014

New York based Human Rights First is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty which recognizes an individual or organization who demonstrates exceptional commitment to advancing human rights. Named in honor of the principal founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and the International League for Human Rights, the Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award was established in 1989. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the award and it will focus areas such as human trafficking, religious freedom, LGBT rights, refugee protection, and defense of civil society. The winner will be selected by a jury and will receive a $25,000 prize.  The award will be presented at a ceremony during Human Rights First’s annual Human Rights Summit in Washington, D.C. in December 2014. Nominations are due on March 15, 2014.
More information on this award and past awardees can be found at: <http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/human-rights-defenders/baldwin-award> .

For more on other human rights awards see THF’s Digest of international human rights awards: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/

Star power and human rights: a difficult but doable mix

February 10, 2014

RED-FACED. Jennifer Lopez performing for the leader of 'one of the world's most repressive regimes,' according to Human Rights Watch. Photo by Agence France-Presse/Igor Sasin

 (Jennifer Lopez performing for the leader Turkmenistan. (c) Agence France-Presse/Igor Sasin)

In quite a few earlier posts in this blog I have drawn attention to stars and celebrities who either support dictators or simply do not care that their actions do. So, I was quite happy to see a thoughtful piece by Jo Biddle of Agence France-Presse on 9 February 2014 analyzing this issue a bit more in-depth, with actress Scarlett Johansson as the “poster girl of Israeli apartheid”, Dennis Rodman in North Korea, and Kim Kardashian expressing her love of Bahrain. I would add, Mariah Carey who thinks nothing of singing for Gaddafi or the Angolan President, while Jennifer Lopez (picture above) did the same in Turkmenistan.

The author rightly states that when celebrities wander into complex foreign policy issues, it can be a minefield, leaving diplomats and human rights campaigners scrambling for damage control. The article mentions exceptions such as Bob Geldof, Bono, George Clooney or Angelina Jolie Read the rest of this entry »

Grammy-winning Esperanza Spalding performs on-line against Guantanamo tomorrow

January 28, 2014

Grammy award-winning Esperanza Spalding and Human Rights First bring a LIVE online broadcast of Spotlight on Guantanamo, a night of performance and discussion from Washington, DC’s historic Lincoln Theatre. In November 2013, Esperanza Spalding launched her new music video titled ”We Are America” to urge Congress to close Guantanamo responsibly. You can watch the live stream via the link below starting at 19h00 (Washington DC time) on Wednesday 29 January.

via Spotlight on Guantanamo: An Evening with Esperanza Spalding [Live Stream] | Human Rights First.

Human Rights First recommends complete revision of U.S. Strategy in Egypt

January 24, 2014

On 23 January Human Rights First released a report that describes how the Egyptian government is increasingly targeting non-violent human rights defenders and activists through widespread repression, stifling basic freedoms and exacerbating the chronic instability that has plagued the country for the past three years. The new report titled, “Back to Square One: The U.S. Government and Political Change in Egypt,”  outlines recommendations for the U.S. government to take a new course of action to advance human rights and the rule of law in order to achieve greater stability in this vital country. “The U.S. must overhaul its approach to Egypt if it’s to really get on the right side of history” said Brian Dooley of HRF.HRF logo

The report calls on the U.S. government to:

  • Provide clear, sustained and consistent public statements from Washington on its assessment of the situation in Egypt and the ramifications for U.S. interests, including human rights and democracy;
  • Work with its donor partners to establish sizeable, sustained economic incentives for Egypt’s leaders that should be conditioned on Egypt adhering to democratic norms and international human rights standards;
  • Use its vote and influence at the IMF to withhold loans to Egypt until sound economic policies are in place and meaningful progress is made on human rights and the rule of law;
  • Use targeted funding to support civil society efforts to combat human rights abuses and promote an enabling environment that advances religious pluralism and tolerance;
  • Promote clear, uniform conditions for the registration and operation of political parties that agree to be bound by the rules of peaceful, democratic contestation;
  • Push the Egyptian authorities to investigate all incidents of violence against Christians, assaults on their property and institutions, and hold accountable those responsible; and
  • Make available through the Justice Department, resources for prosecutions and police trainings.

For more information about today’s report or to speak with Dooley, please contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme[at]humanrightsfirst.org.

Report Recommends Overhaul of U.S. Strategy in Egypt | Human Rights First.