Posts Tagged ‘human rights awards’

Breaking news: Yu Wensheng, Chinese human rights lawyer, is Martin Ennals Laureate 2021!

February 11, 2021

Yu Wensheng, a lawyer from China, was just announced as the laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders 2021 during an on-line ceremony broadcast from Geneva. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/11/reminder-in-a-few-hours-starts-the-martin-ennals-award-ceremony-2021/]

Yu was just another corporate lawyer in a fast-rising Chinese economy. But when he decided to take on human rights cases and ask for constitutional reform in his country, he drew the ire of one of the most powerful regimes in the world. Yu has been detained, harassed, and convicted in secret. While in custody, he has been tortured and denied medical care and family visits. His wife, Xu Yan, who Yu has not seen in person for 3 years, herself has become an icon. She has taken up the mantel of human rights defense and is currently studying law. Yu’s fight for due process has completely upended his life. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/21/mea-nominee-yu-wensheng-in-poor-health-after-years-in-prison/]

Let us hope that China will behave a bit more moderately in response this time {see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/29/chinese-sensitivity-again-on-display-re-human-rights-awards/]

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/3121512/jailed-chinese-lawyer-yu-wensheng-wins-international-human-rights-award

Coup in Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi will come to regret her loss of stature

February 1, 2021

Many institutions have responded negatively to the arrest of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and others in the context of a military coup Myanmar. A military-owned television station announced that a one-year state of emergency was being imposed under the authority of the Commander in Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said: “The arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, senior officials and other political figures is extremely alarming. Unless those detained can be charged with a recognizable criminal offence under international law, they must be immediately released.

This is an ominous moment for people in Myanmar, and threatens a severe worsening of military repression and impunity. The concurrent arrests of prominent political activists and human rights defenders sends a chilling message that the military authorities will not tolerate any dissent amid today’s unfolding events.

Previous military coups and crackdowns in Myanmar have seen large scale violence and extrajudicial killings by security forces. We urge the armed forces to exercise restraint, abide by international human rights and humanitarian law and for law enforcement duties to be fully resumed by the police force at the earliest opportunity.

While this kind of coup d’état is clearly shocking, I fear that Aung San Suu Kyi will come to regret her anti- human rights behaviour of the last years which have led several award givers to rescind their human rights award [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/09/03/myanmar-time-for-aung-san-suu-kyi-to-return-at-least-some-of-her-many-human-rights-awards/]. It should not play a role in condemning the coup d’état, but one can imagine the outpouring of support for her that would have followed if she had not tarnished her image. See also: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/11/amnesty-withdraws-award-from-aung-san-suu-kyi/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/02/aung-san-suu-kyi-others-arrested-military-coup/

https://news.sky.com/story/aung-san-suu-kyi-from-symbol-of-human-rights-to-fighting-claims-of-genocide-12205035

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/2/164683/Rights-groups-denounce-Myanmar-generals%27-disdain-for-elelctions

https://www.dw.com/en/who-is-myanmars-aung-san-suu-kyi/a-56406128

A new gateway to human rights information being launched: awards and their laureates

January 25, 2021

THF

As this blog has abundantly shown, Human Rights Awards have become an increasingly important tool in the protection of Human Rights Defenders. They give HRDs visibility and provide support and protection for those at risk. [see e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/human-rights-awards/].

On February 2nd 2021 a new one-stop resource will allow to find and search human rights awards and their laureates.

The Digest of International Human Rights Awards and their Laureates, a unique centralised resource for the human rights community, gives visibility, strengthens legitimacy of human rights defenders’ work, and could influence authorities to better apply human rights. There are now 200 awards and over 2400 HRDs/laureates in the digests.

It will give researchers, students, activists, the media and the public a searchable overview on who has won which awards and their short profiles. The digest will allow people to filter (re)searches on laureates by, e.g. theme, prize, profession, country or region, gender, etc.         

On February 2nd, 2021 True Heroes Films will be launching the new platform to the public.  See the clip below:

Please forward this post to whom you think might be interested. Twitter: https://twitter.com/TrueHeroesFilms

https://mailchi.mp/7176a72bfc91/digest-of-international-human-rights-awards-and-their-laureates

MEA nominee Yu Wensheng in poor health after years in prison

January 21, 2021

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Yu Wensheng was known for taking on a number of high-profile human rights cases. (AFP pic)

AFP reported on 19 January 2021 that Yu Wensheng Chinese lawyer nominated for the 2021 Martin Ennals award [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/18/%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8bmartin-ennals-award-finalists-2021-announced/] is in poor health after years in prison according to his wife.

Yu Wensheng was detained in Beijing in January 2018 in front of his young son just hours after he wrote an open letter calling for constitutional reforms, including multi-candidate elections.

His physical state is very poor. His right hand is deformed and trembles so much that he cannot write,” his wife Xu Yan told AFP. Last week, she was allowed to have a 25-minute video call with her husband, who is being held in a detention centre in the eastern province of Jiangsu. It was their first such meeting in three years, she said. Four of Yu’s teeth were missing and he was unable to chew food properly, Xu said, and that there was no heating in the detention centre.. “There are probably a lot of things he cannot say right now, we will only know the full extent of what he experienced after he is released,” she said.

Xu said her husband’s nomination “not only supports and honours (him), but is also  encouragement and affirmation to other human rights lawyers and defenders”. Yu’s defence lawyer Lu Siwei had his legal licence revoked by authorities last week after handling several sensitive human rights cases..

Beijing denied knowledge of either Yu or the Martin Ennals Award on Tuesday. “There are indeed some people abroad who are always using human rights as a pretext to create a disturbance,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular briefing on Tuesday. “I think this behaviour has no meaning whatsoever.”

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2021/01/19/imprisoned-chinese-human-rights-lawyer-in-poor-health-says-wife/

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/activists-crackdown-01252021082807.html

3 Women human rights defenders shortlisted for Václav Havel human rights award

January 11, 2021

Vaclav Havel banner above National Museum Prague, VitVit via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
Vaclav Havel banner above National Museum Prague, VitVit via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

This year’s Václav Havel Human Rights Award has shortlisted three female finalists, The panel nominated Saudi women’s rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul, a group of young Buddhist nuns from a monastery in Nepal and Julienne Lusenge, who documents cases of wartime sexual violence in the Congo.

The winner will be announced at the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 19. For more on this award see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/7A8B4A4A-0521-AA58-2BF0-DD1B71A25C8D.

Al-Hathloul heads the opposition to the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. She has been imprisoned since 2018. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/29/loujain-al-hathloul-sentenced-to-over-5-years-prison-by-saudi-terror-court/]

The nuns from the monastery called Amitabha Drukpa constitute a group who promotes gender equality, environmental sustainability, and intercultural tolerance in the Himalayan villages. They gained fame by transporting material help to outlying villages after an earthquake near Kathmandu in 2015. They also teach women’s self-defense and they have biked over 20,000 kilometers in protest against trading in women and girls.

Lusenge is a human rights activist who documents cases of sexual abuse and violence against women in Congo. She has contributed to the conviction of hundreds of perpetrators of acts of sexual violence against women nationwide. She was often threatened for her work.

Michael Žantovský, director of the Václav Havel Library, said: “Last year, we dedicated the autumn Prague conference, which usually takes place on the occasion of the Václav Havel Prize, to women’s rights. We are glad that the jury followed a similar point.”.

https://www.expats.cz/czech-news/article/vaclav-havel-human-rights-prize-to-celebrate-international-female-activists

Patti Smith recognized with International Beethoven Prize

December 16, 2020

Musician Patti Smith attends a special screening of The Seagull at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in New York, NY on May 10, 2018. (Photo by Stephen Smith/SIPA USA) (Newscom TagID: sipaphotoseight127601.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Patti Smith is honored for her social commitment “She is an activist – with her books, her songs and her life. She stands up for human rights, peace, freedom, poverty reduction, inclusion and climate protection all her life,” the message said. In addition, Smith is a declared Beethoven fan. The Beethoven Academy has taken human rights, peace, freedom, poverty reduction and inclusion as its guiding principles. The International Beethoven Prize was awarded for the sixth time. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/c05408e0-e598-11e7-a009-858a33846a9e].

For last year’s award see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/09/igor-levit-wins-the-2019-beethoven-prize-for-human-rights/

Emilio Mignone prize 2020 to Haitian NGO

December 14, 2020

The Argentinian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday 9 December delivered the 2020 edition of the Emilio Mignone International Human Rights Prize to Haiti’s Devoir de Mémoire foundation in a virtual ceremony due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2013, this foundation has pioneered the publication of historic testimony of previous human rights violations in the Caribbean island republic. The prize, awarded since 2007 in recognition of outstanding work abroad to defend human rights, is named after the late Professor Emilio Fermín Mignone, lawyer and founder of CELS (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales) human rights organisation. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/51115C74-AFA5-4D19-BDC1-E31917D770C4

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/06/bringbackourgirls-gets-argentinian-emilio-mignone-award/

https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/5th-december-12th-december-what-we-learned-this-week.phtml

https://www.devoirdememoire.ht/

University of Oslo Human Rights Award 2020 goes to the Congolese agronomist Marcelline Budza.

December 14, 2020

Using coffee to secure women´s rights

The University of Oslo Human Rights Award 2020 [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest] goes to the Congolese agronomist Marcelline Budza. Mrs. Budza is awarded the prize for her work in securing women’s financial rights and increasing their participation in society through the coffee cooperative Rebuild Women’s Hope.

Rebuild Women’s Hope (RWH) is an initiative that ensures financial independence and security for women in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The women receive training and the opportunity to become financially self-reliant coffee producers.

– In addition to enabling women to take control of their own lives, Mrs. Budza works to provide clean water and health services. We know this is crucial for both women’s and children’s health, and her commitment creates enormous positive ripple effects, said Stølen.

Marcelline is a trained agronomist, and she herself experienced how her mother as a single parent had to struggle to ensure necessary livelihood for the family.

The Franco-German Prize for Human Rights: most of the 2020 laureates

December 12, 2020

From gynaecological medical care for victims of ISIS to “Cartoons for Peace”. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on 10 December 2020 honoured 15 individuals from around the world who have shown a special commitment to human rights.

Every year since 2016, to mark Human Rights Day, Germany and France have jointly presented the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. See: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest. For last year’s award; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/13/2019-franco-german-human-rights-prize-to-14-human-rights-defenders/

The 13 Laureates for 2020 that were announced are:

Sara Seerat, an Afghan journalist

Azza Soliman Egyptian lawyer

Sérgio Piçarra, Angolan cartoonist

Francinara Soares Martins, leader of the indigenous Baré people in Brazil

Yury Dmitriev, Russian historian of repression [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/10/01/dunja-mijatovic-calls-on-russia-to-end-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights-defenders/]

Li Yuhan, Chinese human rights lawyer

Nagham Nawzat Hasan a Yazidi gynaecologist

Zoya Rouhana Director of the feminist organisation KAFA (enough!) in Lebanon

Nayyab Ali, transgender activist from Pakistan

Issam Younis, general director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza

Mathilda Twomey, first female judge in the Seychelles

Mária Patakyová, Slovak ombudswoman

Merekaje Lorna Nanjia of the South Sudan Democratic Engagement, Monitoring and Observation Programme.

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aussenpolitik/themen/menschenrechte/franco-german-prize-for-human-rights/2425936

Albert Ho wins Baldwin Medal 2020

December 10, 2020

Human Rights First announced today that it will award the 2020 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty to Hong Kong human rights defender Albert Ho. The award will be presented today 10 December in a virtual event that will include a conversation between Ho and Human Rights First Senior Advisor Brian Dooley.

Albert Ho is a veteran Hong Kong lawyer and advocate whose career in human rights and political activism stretches back almost four decades. A leading figure in the pro-democracy movement for many years, he remains prominent in the protest movement that energized Hong Kong in 2019 and 2020.

No dictatorship is too big or too strong to take on,” said Vladimir Vladimir Kara-Murza, Senior Advisor for Human Rights Accountability at Human Rights First and 2020 Baldwin Award jury member. “This decision shows who is right and wrong, and Albert Ho is in the right. There are no lost causes, and the cause of democracy in China is not lost.

Ho is now facing a dozen charges related to those peaceful protests and his law firm continues to represent many others who have protest-related charges.

I’m honored to accept this award,” said Ho, “but I do it on behalf of many colleagues who have shared the case of human rights in Hong Kong with me for so many years.”

Ho is the co-founder and senior partner of Ho, Tse, Wai and Partners (HTW), a Hong Kong law firm renown for advocacy on landmark human rights cases.  Ho and HTW have represented many arrested pro-democracy protestors and challenged many of the Hong Kong government’s dubious actions, such as the banning of face masks under a colonial-era law and the disqualification of numerous pro-democracy lawmakers.

Ho has also done extensive advocacy for human rights lawyers in mainland China. He founded the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group in 2007 to provide humanitarian assistance to detained human rights lawyers and their families, advocate on behalf of detained lawyers, and share knowledge and experience with Chinese lawyers.

Despite surveillance and threats by Chinese authorities, Ho has maintained his steadfast support for his peers in mainland China in the face of the government’s crackdown on human rights lawyers, the “709 crackdown” known for the day it began – July 9, 2015. Placing the pursuit of justice before his own safety, Ho continues to raise awareness of the plight of human rights lawyers in China to see that the world holds the Chinese Communist Party accountable for human rights abuses.

For more on the Baldwin Medal of Liberty see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/F23B5465-6A15-4463-9A91-14B2977D9FCE.

https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/human-rights-first-honors-hong-kong-human-rights-defender-albert-ho-baldwin-medal