Posts Tagged ‘Huffington Post’

MEA Laureate Mbonimpa has message of hope at his son’s funeral

November 12, 2015

Since I published my post about MEA Laureate Pierre Claver Mbonimpa two days ago (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-need/) the situation has not improved and the hope is that the UN will find the muscle to impose itself. In the meantime, the Huffington Post of 12 November carries a long piece on Mbonimpa and his Burundi by Charlotte Alfred under the title “Burundi’s Human Rights Legend Urges Hope After His Son’s Killing“.

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption">Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is founder and president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detainees in Burundi.</span>

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa founder and president of the APRODH in Burundi (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa wasn’t able to attend his son’s funeral. Instead, he sent a message from Belgium, which was read out at the funeral of his son, Welly Nzitonda, on Tuesday, according to independent journalist network SOS Médias Burundi: “Do not lose courage … The tragedies we face will end with a resolution of the conflict in Burundi.

……..

“The problem that plagues the country is not ethnicity, but politics,” Mbonimpa told the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2010. “It is politicians who manipulate the population in pursuit of power.”

For the full article, worth reading, see: Burundi’s Human Rights Legend Urges Hope After His Son’s Killing

What awaits Xi Jinping in London when it comes to human rights defenders?

October 20, 2015

Today’s state visit by the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UK has led to considerable attention to the issue of human rights defenders.

Under the nice title “Man Threatens State Banquet” former AI staff member Richard Reoch posted a blog on the Huffington Post (UK) on 19 October 2015:

The Queen will host the President of China as her guest of honour. Some 170 guests will attend in full formal attire and raise their glasses to welcome him. But the gracious decorum has been threatened by one of those who will attend. He attaches great importance to British values, and is proposing to talk about them during the banquet. The Daily Mail this week warned: “Jeremy Corbyn may embarrass the Queen by raising human rights abuses with the Chinese president at a state banquet next week“.

Human rights are no longer a “top priority” for the government, Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office, told MPs just before Chancellor George Osborne visited China. Leading a trade delegation, the chancellor remained mute on the country’s human rights record. Sir Simon said that human rights no longer had the “profile” within his department that they had “in the past”.

 

It is these [Magna Carta] values that Jeremy Corbyn, now Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is seeking to raise with the Chinese President during his state visit to London next week.

…China’s human rights record, not only in Tibet, but across its territory remains a cause for deep concern. A recent Amnesty International report cited continuing violations on freedoms of religious belief, expression, association and assembly. It also cited the the use of torture and the country’s lucrative trade in torture equipment. The death penalty remains in place; last year alone 2,400 people were executed. At particular risk were “human rights defenders” it said. They “continued to risk harassment, arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture and other ill-treatment for their legitimate human rights work.”

So what do those courageous Chinese citizens who are challenging their government — one of the most powerful states in the world – expect from us in Britain, the home of Magna Carta? That we would be afraid of embarrassing the Queen and her guest – their president – by using rude words like “torture” and “ill-treatment” over dinner?

Jeremy Corbyn’s answer is clear. He has been an embarrassing figure most of his life, speaking out on human rights issues worldwide, as seen below.

2015-10-16-1445018027-332881-croppedfullsizerender.jpg

“I have huge admiration for human rights defenders all over the world. I’ve met hundreds of these very brave people during my lifetime working on international issues,” Jeremy Corbyn told the recent Labour Party conference.

“I’ve been standing up for human rights, challenging oppressive regimes for 30 years as a backbench MP. Just because I’ve become the leader of this party, I’m not going to stop standing up on those issues or being that activist,” he declared.

Mr Corbyn’s office has confirmed that he is seeking a meeting with the Chinese delegation and has not ruled out bringing the issue up at the state dinner.

He may be standing up for a set of centuries’ old British values that are no longer the currency of government.

Recently, the Prime Minister agreed not to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama “in the foreseeable future” after he angered the Chinese by meeting the Tibetan leader in 2012. Last week, His Holiness was asked by The Spectator magazine what he would say to Mr Cameron if the two did meet. “Money, money, money,” said His Holiness. “That’s what this is about. Where is morality?

You can follow Richard Reoch on Twitter

The Independent refers to the open letter (signed by Amnesty International UK, the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Students for a Free Tibet, Uighur activists and other Tibetan and human rights organisations) sent to Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss Chinese human rights violations in a “principled, forceful, and specific way”. Downing Street have pledged that “nothing would be off the table” when Cameron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping amid accusations that ministers are playing down worries about the Beijing government.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman insisted that China’s record on human rights and claims it initiated cyber-attacks on other countries would be on the agenda during detailed talks this week. The Prime Minister has also pledged to personally raise the issue of subsidized Chinese steel during talks with the Chinese leader.

Click here for full version of the Open Letter.

A blog post written by AI staff (Two Versions of China: Repression and Resistance). The repression is represented by the government and the Party and the post metes out details on that.

The resistance aspect in the this post is represented by a human rights defender. Her name was Cao Shunli. She died in police custody on 14 March 2014.  For more on her, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cao-shunli/

Today, the UK is faced with two versions of China. Choosing Xi Jinping’s China, the UK will be bought and fooled on its knees. Choosing Cao Shunli’s China, the UK will stand in solidarity with the people of China, which will eventually also benefit the people of Britain.

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/countdown-china/two-versions-china-repression-and-resistance

8 Must-Read Stories from the US Human Rights Reports selected by Catherine Russell

July 2, 2015
Catherine Russell, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, wrote in the Huffington Post of 1 July 2015 a piece which highlights 8 stories about women taken from the State Department’s annual human rights reports, that she says would not reach the evening news but are a must. Here is her selection:

2015-07-01-1435772655-6505904-HRRblog.jpg

[Photo: Gustave Deghilage ]

In Nepal, a mother may be denied the ability to confer her Nepali citizenship to her children if the father’s identity is unknown or he is not Nepali. This is not uncommon: 27 countries discriminate against women in their ability to pass citizenship on to their children. Too often this results in a child who is stateless, meaning he or she may not be able to access basic services like health care and education.

In Afghanistan, a survey found that 39 percent of Afghan women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18 — making them part of a global trend where one in three girls in the developing world is married as a child — and Afghan women who marry later in life often don’t have a choice in their marriage. These stories and statistics exist despite laws against early and forced marriage.

A story in the Nigerian report highlights the case of a college student who reported that a soldier lured her to a police station and raped her repeatedly. The soldier was reportedly “disciplined” for leaving his post, but as of December nothing else had happened.

In Burma, there is an effort underway to enact legislation that would mandate that women can’t have children more than once every three years. There are obvious questions as to how such a law would be enforced. Many are concerned that it would only be enforced in areas where many members of minority groups live.

Fortunately, the news is not all bad.

In Afghanistan, the national electoral commission’s gender unit focused on women’s political participation in the 2014 election, and increased the number of women who helped determine their country’s future.

In Brazil, the federal government operates a toll-free nationwide hotline for women to report intimate partner violence, while in India, a partnership between state government and civil society led to the launch of a crisis center for survivors of rape, dowry harassment, and domestic violence.

Another partnership — between government and civil society in Guinea — is helping to educate Guinean health workers on the dangers of female genital mutilation. The report says that more than 60 health facilities have integrated FGM/C prevention into their services thanks to this effort.

 

You can follow Catherine Russell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmbCathyRussell

8 Must-Read Stories From the Human Rights Reports | Catherine Russell.

Documentary Filmmakers and Human Rights Defenders: the Impact Awards

November 22, 2014
A blog that pride itself to follow with special interest what is happening in the area of film making and human rights defenders, cannot pass up this post by Queen Noor of Jordan in the Huffington Post of 21 November 2014: “Today, as the winners of the 2014 Impact Award are announced, is a good day to honour the work of documentary filmmakers everywhere. In particular, their role in documenting, highlighting and explaining human rights abuses and human rights protests even in places that western journalists cannot reach.” The growing availability of cheap small recording devices over the past years has been a major development for filmmakers and human rights defenders, allowing stories to emerge even from ‘difficult’ countries.

no fire zone

(No Fire Zone – one of the winners of BRITDOC Impact Award 2014)

Four years ago, when I was part of the first Impact Award jury, we gave a special mention to the film Burma VJ. I was struck by the bravery of the Burmese video journalists who were able to capture the striking images of the Saffron Revolution. 

This year, the Impact Award is honouring No Fire Zone, which examines the closing days of the Sri Lankan civil war against the Tamil Tigers, a deeply shocking account of an assault against civilians, which premiered at the United Nations Human Rights Council and played a crucial role in the Council’s decision this year to finally order an independent review of the death of 70,000 civilians. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/11th-human-rights-film-festival-starts-1st-march-in-geneva-with-a-bang-that-upsets-sri-lanka/]

Other films being awarded this year are: GranitoBlackfishAmerican Promise and The House I Live In.

Documentary Filmmakers Piece Together The Truth | Queen Noor of Jordan.

Are human rights videos making a difference?

September 3, 2014

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, the Executive Director of WITNESS, posted an important piece in the Huffington Post of 2 September on how to make sure that the increase in human rights videos uploaded to Witness (and the same for other NGOs) make a real difference. After citing several examples of such footage of violence, conflict, and human rights abuses, she reflects as follows: “When I watch these videos with such potential to transform human rights advocacy, I am concerned about the gaps and the lost opportunities: the videos that cannot be authenticated; the stories that will be denied or thrown out of court — or worse, will never reach their intended audience; a survivor’s account lost in a visual sea of citizen media. Mostly, I worry about the safety of the person who filmed, about her privacy and security.

…….

“When WITNESS was created, we talked about the power of video to “open the eyes of the world to human rights violations.” Today, our collective eyes have been opened to many of the conflicts and abuses that are going on around us. This creates, for all of us, a responsibility to engage. I am deeply convinced that citizen documentation has the power to transform human rights advocacy, change behaviors, and increase accountability. But let’s make sure that all of us filming have the right tools and capabilities, and that we apply and share the lessons we are learning from citizen witnesses around the world, so that more people filming truly equals more rights.”

How Do We Ensure That More People Using Video Equals More Rights? | Yvette Alberdingk Thijm.

Nabeel Rajab on the situation in Bahrain and lack of western pressure

August 18, 2014

On 17 August 2014 Nabeel Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (the MEA Final Nominee of 2012), posted a strong piece in the Huffington Post which contains an impressive stand on why he takes the risks he does as well as a scathing attack on the western governments, especially those of the UK, for putting (arms) business before human rights consideration.

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Films Every Human Rights Defender Should Watch in HR Watch

May 31, 2014

I announced the HRW film festival in an earlier post [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/human-rights-watch-film-festival-celebrates-25th-anniversary-with-5-films-on-human-rights-defenders/] but now that the Huffington post of 31 May 2014 has listed the 10 films it says every human rights defender should see, I gladly share their pick:

1. Sepideh — Reaching for the Stars (Denmark/Iran/Germany/Norway/Sweden) The story of a teenage girl named Sepideh, living in a rural village outside of Tehran, who dreams of becoming a famous astronomer. The documentary tackles gender roles in Iran while showcasing one young woman’s ambition and strength in the face of her family’s discouragement, university pitfalls and societal expectations. Directed by Berit Madsen. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTzbIc6oiqs?wmode=opaque]

2. Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus (US/UK/Belarus) Made up of smuggled footage and uncensored interviews, this documentary gives audiences a glimpse into Belarus’ dissident movement as it takes the shape of stage performances and public activism. Directed by Madeleine Sackler. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGALySJ3O24?wmode=opaque]

3. Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story (US) A veteran shares her story moving from one identity, a former U.S. Navy Seal named Chris Beck, to another, a transgender woman named Kristen Beck. Directed by Sandrine Orabona. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r21OdLSTfQY?wmode=opaque]

4. A Quiet Inquisition (US) Here you’ll meet OBGYN Dr. Carla Cerrato, who must navigate the perilous territory of Nicaragua’s anti-abortion policies, which prohibit abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is at stake. Directed by Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn.

5. Scheherazade’s Diary (Lebanon) This “tragicomic documentary” follows women inmates in Lebanon as they stage a theater/drama therapy project titled “Scheherazade in Baabda,” revealing personal stories of domestic violence, failed relationships and traumas associated with motherhood. Directed by Zeina Daccache. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VnZGmd6EMg?wmode=opaque]

6. Siddharth (Canada/India) One father’s desperate journey to locate his son, a 12-year-old boy who was sent to work in another province to support his family, but did not return and is feared to have been kidnapped or trafficked. Directed by Richie Mehta.

7. The Supreme Price (US) The film covers the evolution of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. Directed by Joanna Lipper.

8. Private Violence (US) Questioning the accepted discourse on domestic violence, the documentary introduces audiences to two women survivors who advocate for justice while exploring “the fact that the most dangerous place for a woman is her home.” Directed by Cynthia Hill.

9. The Beekeeper (Switzerland) This is the touching story of Ibrahim Gezer, a Kurdish beekeeper from southeast Turkey who, robbed of his family, possessions and 500 bee colonies, moves to Switzerland to make a new life. Directed by Mano Khalil.

10. Abounaddara Collective Shorts from Syria (Syria) The Abounaddara Collective is a group of filmmakers who came together in 2010 to help provide an alternative image of Syrian society, one not seen in mainstream media. This portion of the festival will showcase 90 minutes of their short films.

 

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival will run from June 12 to June 22, 2014. See a complete schedule of screenings here.

10 Films Every Human Rights Advocate Should Watch.

The use of SMS against torture in Egypt highlighted

December 10, 2013

In the context of 10 December, Human Rights DayCurt Goering of the Centre for Victims of Torture posts in the Huffington Post a piece on the value of information technology to prevent torture. .. Read the rest of this entry »

AI and Jody Williams on today’s elections in Honduras: Will Human Rights Defenders fare any better?

November 24, 2013
Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, human rights defender from the Honduran NGO COPINH.

(Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, human rights defender from the Honduran NGO COPINH. © COPINH)

There’s hardly a moment when Honduran human rights defender Bertha Cáceres is not worrying about what may happen to her for defending the rights of her community, the Lenca Indigenous People. The risk is so high that she’s been forced into hiding. “They want to terrorize us,” she told Amnesty International.  “I cannot live my life like before. I cannot go to the office, take part in our campaign, or leave the country to denounce our situation in international forums. I can’t even go swimming in the Río Blanco, which is very important to me because it is sacred to our people,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Most Oppressive Laws passed since Putin became President again

September 6, 2013

In a piece in the Huffington Post of 9 September Frank Jannuzi, dep director of Amnesty International USA gives a good overview of the the 6 most damaging laws passed in Russia since President Putin was inaugurated last year, effectively criminalizing criticism: Read the rest of this entry »