Posts Tagged ‘human rights awards’

Eren Keskin, MEA nominee 2019, speaks out fearlessly: Turkey more oppressive today than ever

January 29, 2019

Turkey‘s anti-democratic mentality has not changed since its foundation, but it has never been as oppressive as today, said Turkish human rights defender Eren KeskinOver the years, Keskin played a vital role in strengthening civil society awareness in Turkey. She became involved with the Human Rights Association (IHD) three years after its 1986 founding and headed its Istanbul branch for years. She has been arrested and imprisoned numerous times, accused of terrorist ties for defending Kurdish rights, and won several awards including the Aachen Peace Award, the Theodore Haecker Prize, the 2018 Helsinki Civil Society Award, the 2018 Anna Lindh Prize, and the 2017 Hrant Dink Award. A new travel ban is likely to stop her from coming to the Martin Ennals Award ceremony on 13 February 2019.

Turkey’s undemocratic mentality has not changed since its foundation,” said Keskin. “There is no change in the mind or understanding of the state. I have been part of the struggle for human rights for nearly 30 years. I have not experienced a period in which freedom of thought and freedom of expression have been contravened this much. Turkey is more oppressive today than ever.

Keskin said she had been brought before the courts more than 100 times and convicted on numerous occasions.

I see the struggle for the defence of human rights as respect for those who have died. It is out of respect for them that I am part of the struggle for human rights,” she said. “We experienced a lot of pressure, but our friends were killed. They were killed fighting for human dignity. I am lucky to be alive…I was assaulted twice with firearms, imprisoned and threatened with death, but never gave up.”

…Keskin became the editor-in-chief of the Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper from 2013 to 2016 as part of a solidarity campaign after Turkish authorities arrested its journalists. She was prosecuted for a number of articles that appeared in the newspaper as, under Turkish law, editors-in-chief can be indicted when the authors cannot be held to account. Keskin said 143 criminal cases had been brought against her for her time working at Özgür Gündem. “I have already been sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison, a 450,000 lira ($85,000) fine and travel ban,” she said. A court in October lifted the ban on Keskin travelling abroad, but last week she realised she had been given another one when authorities refused to issue her a passport. She had been nominated for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and was planning to attend the award ceremony in Switzerland. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/24/breaking-news-ennals-award-announces-its-3-finalists-for-2019/]

People ask, ‘How do you live? How do you endure it?’” Keskin said. “For me, the job we do is a way of life and I have never regretted it.”

https://ahvalnews.com/human-rights/turkey-more-oppressive-ever-rights-activist

Three NGOs urge you to nominate Ilham Tohti for the Rafto Prize

January 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of the Radio Free Asia

On 28 January, 2019, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Norwegian Uyghur Committee (NUK) announced that they have nominated the Chinese human rights defender Ilham Tohti for the Rafto Prize. With the completion of five years of his arrest, the organisations believe his peaceful trajectory in defense of the freedom and fully enjoyment of human rights by the Uyghur population in China is deserving of this prestigious prize. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/15/today-ilham-tohti-completes-his-fourth-year-in-chinese-detention/.

[Ilham Tohti served as a professor of economics at Minzu University in Beijing where he specialized in research focused on Uyghur-Han relations, China’s ethnic policies and East Turkistan. Alongside his scholarship and teaching, Ilham is revered for establishing and maintaining Uyghur Online, a website dedicated to promoting Uyghur human rights and improved relations between Uyghur and Han Chinese people. Professor Tohti criticised oppressive policies against Uyghurs and wrote extensively on constructive approaches to overcome unequal treatment between ethnic groups. Notably, he called for dialogue and reconciliation, using his web platform as the primary vehicle. For his efforts, he was arrested by Chinese authorities on January 15, 2014. Despite the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention finding his detention to be arbitrary in March 2014, Tohti was sentenced to life in prison in September of that year on charges of “separatism” after just a two-day trial. The legal process involving Tohti was met with significant issues throughout. His lawyers were unable to meet him for six months following the initial arrest, his defense team was not provided with complete evidence by the prosecutor, nor were their requested witnesses allowed to testify during the trial. Ilham has been serving his life sentence since December 2014 at Urumqi’s No. 1 Prison. Since then, he has been allowed very few visits from his family. Complicating this has been his continued detention in Urumqi, despite his family living in Beijing – a likely punitive move from Beijing. ChinaChange has noted that Tohti has been held in solitary confinement until at least early 2016 and has been denied the right to communicate with family and friends aside from minimal visits. The WUC gathered 132 scholars and 19 civil society organisations in an open letter to urge the Chinese government to release Ilham Tohti from his arbitrary detention of the five-year anniversary of his arrest in January 2019.]  

In 2014 Mr. Tohti was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. On October 11, 2016, Tohti was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. In 2017 he received the Weimar Prize (https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/05/uyghur-human-rights-defender-ilham-tohti-wins-also-weimar-human-rights-prize/). He was also nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize in 2016. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/15/martin-ennals-award-2016-relive-the-ceremony-in-13-minutes-or-in-full/

The WUC,the UNPO and the NUK encourage scholars and organisations to join in nominating Ilham Tohti. The deadline for nominations is Friday, February 1st. As the situation in East Turkistan continues to deteriorate, with more than one million innocent Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in internment camps and the Uyghur people facing unparalleled repression, Ilham Tohti’s life and work stands as an inspiration to continue the peaceful struggle for peace, understanding

https://unpo.org/article/21350

 

Call for nominations for 40th edition Right Livelihood Award

January 24, 2019

2019 will see the Right Livelihood Award being presented for the 40th time. The RLF maintains an open nomination process, so anyone is able to propose any individual or organisation they feel are creating structural changes through concrete and successful work. The deadline for submitting a nomination is 1 March, 2019.  For more on this and other such award see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/right-livelihood-award

Read more about the nomination process here.  Do not hesitate to contact the RLF via email at research@rightlivelihood.org or by phone at +41 (0)22 555 0943 if you have questions about the nomination process.  As is stated in the guidelines, proposals for the award must remain confidential and will not be published, as publicising of a proposal will unfortunately result in disqualification.

 

For last year’s winners: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/09/24/laureates-of-the-2018-right-livelihood-award-announced/

https://mailchi.mp/rightlivelihood/2019-call-for-proposals?e=24f028b242

Call for Nominations for the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards

January 11, 2019

The Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network has re-opened nominations for the 3rd edition of the African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards. The award will honor exceptional individuals who have contributed to changes in their community by peacefully promoting and protecting human rights. See: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/african-human-rights-defenders-shield-awards.

Six awards will be presented:

– Pan-African Shield Award (Overall);
– East and Horn of Africa Shield Award;
– West African Shield Award;
– Southern Africa Shield Award;
– Central Africa Shield Award;
– Northern Africa Shield Award.

To make a nomination please fill out one of the online forms below. Nominations will be open until 15 March 2019. Both individuals and organizations are eligible for the award. Nominations made during the previous nomination period (June to September 2018) are still valid and will be automatically taken into consideration for the 3rd edition of the Awards without need to re-apply. The awards will be presented to the winners at the margins of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 64th Ordinary Session 2019.

English | French | Portuguese

PS Note that the name of the awards has changed by adding the word “shield” (see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/09/04/call-for-nominations-2014-african-human-rights-defenders-awards/)

https://africandefenders.org/hrd-award/

 

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Scottish Bar gives inaugural human rights award to Salome Nduta of Kenya

January 9, 2019

Salome Nduta receives her award from Lord Bonomy, Chair of the judging panel in Scottish Bar International Human Rights Award.

Salome Nduta, from Nairobi, Kenya, is a protection officer with the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, and was honored as the first winner of the Scottish Bar International Human Rights Award. [see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/scottish-bar-international-human-rights-award]

I was born and brought up in one of the informal settlements of Nairobi in Kenya – Korogocho. I experienced first hand deprivation and lack of necessities as a child. I saw the struggles of a single mother eking [out a living] for her children surrounded by poverty and human rights violations by both state and non-state actors. It is this kind of environment that laid the basis of my activism work. My journey of activism has been full of experiential moments that have continued to push me to the next level. In all these moments, the legal fraternity has walked with me side by side. In Korogocho, a legal advice centre first trained me as a paralegal and walked with me through my journey of campaign against forceful evictions and for demolition of informal settlements which saw me arrested a number of times for standing up against oppression. Korogocho and other informal settlements do still exist but there is now in place clear eviction and resettlement guidelines, a housing Act and article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on social economic rights, as a result of the work of human rights defenders (HRDs). HRDs play a pivotal role in bringing and sustaining change. My activism life is a journey of moments and not just challenges, moments of falling, waking up, dusting yourself down and keeping on walking. Some moments are sad and some are joyous even when you are inhaling tear gas from canisters thrown by police.

“In each moment, one constant factor remains, change does occur! It is this change that keeps human rights defenders going. At times, it is difficult to see the change with our naked eyes but faith makes us believe that change has occurred or will occur, however long it takes, and that for me and other HRDs is sufficient. We are all blessed with characteristics that best describe us: patience, focus and dedication to the cause. My employer, NCHRD-K, deserves recognition and accolades for giving me the space and opportunities for growth and sharpening my skills to do what I love doing most, supporting human rights defenders. My daily tasks entail responding to distress calls from targeted HRDs day and night – targeted by both state and non-state actors – assessing their cases and advising on best suited intervention including legal, medical, psychosocial and relocation. The environment which HRDs operate in within the country cannot be described as entirely safe. I get satisfaction and strength when HRDs come and say, your intervention has brought me this far. In 2016, a human rights defender was sleeping in his house with his ten-year-old son Ainea, seven-month-old daughter and his wife. A petrol bomb was thrown into the house and it was by sheer luck that Ainea was still awake. He woke his parents. They safely got out, but everything else was burnt to ashes. This was the first time I was dealing with a case where children were involved. In 2018, the family invited us to the opening of their new home and I could not contain my emotions when I heard Ainea and his sister tell me thank you for the support to their family. Ainea declared he will support his father in his work as long as God gives him strength. For me this was a major change, winning a young boy into activism because he has seen it, lived it and emerged victorious. My passion is to give life to Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, where humanity is respected not just in rhetoric but in words and deeds.”

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/scottish-bar-salutes-salome-s-work-1-4852029

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama rescinds honor for political activist Angela Davis

January 8, 2019

That giving human right awards is not always easy the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama has learned the hard way: it has rescinded its decision to honor political activist and scholar Angela Davis. [Davis is a Birmingham native who has spent decades fighting for civil rights. She was an active member of the Black Panther Party, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Communist Party USA.] The institute announced Saturday that an examination of Davis’ statements and public record concluded that she didn’t “meet all of the criteria” for the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. The statement (see full text below) didn’t indicate what criteria it found Davis didn’t meet or the origin of the complaints. But while expressing “dismay” at the decision, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin cited protests from the “local Jewish community and some of its allies.” Davis has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.  CNN has contacted officials at the institute for more clarity on what the concerns were and why they made the move. Davis herself said in her statement that she, too, asked for more clarity on the board’s decision. “I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue,” she said.

THE ANNUAL FRED L. SHUTTLESWORTH HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD:

In September of 2018, the ‪Birmingham Civil Rights Institute‬’s (BCRI) Board of Directors selected Angela Davis to receive the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala in February 2019. In late December, supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations, both inside and outside of our local community, began to make requests that we reconsider our decision.

Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based. Therefore, on January 4, BCRI’s Board voted to rescind its invitation to Ms. Davis to honor her with the Shuttlesworth Award. While we recognize Ms. Davis’ stature as a scholar and prominent figure in civil rights history, we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.

We regret that this change is necessary, and apologize to our supporters, the community and Ms. Davis for the confusion we have caused. We will move forward with a keen focus on our mission: to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.

The associated gala event, scheduled for ‪February 16th‬ at Haven has been cancelled. Ticket purchasers will received a full refund.

Myanmar human rights defender Maung Saung Kha wins one of the Tulip Human Rights Awards

December 19, 2018

During the year of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to give an extraordinary Tulip to the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/08/22/change-of-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-at-the-un-optimism-warranted/ ]. In addition the Ministry will also award several Human Rights Tulips to local human rights defenders around 10 December, International Human Rights Day. These Tulips will be awarded by a the Embassies of the Netherlands. [for more on the award: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/tulip-award]

Maung Saung Kha, the founder and executive director of Yangon-based freedom of expression advocacy group Athan, will received the Human Rights Tulip Myanmar 2018 i The 25-year-old said he welcomed the award an international recognition for his group. “I was awarded not just because of me but me and Athan. Plus, were it not for the support of democracy and human rights activists, we wouldn’t have kept our freedom of expression movement alive,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Founded in January, Athan is one of only a few advocacy groups focusing on freedom of expression in Myanmar. From the beginning, the group has put a spotlight on issues challenging freedom of expression in Myanmar, such as the controversial Telecommunication Law and Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law. It also carefully documents cases posing a threat to freedom of expression in the country while lobbying lawmakers and educating the public about the importance of free speech.

Freedom of expression and assembly in Myanmar are currently perceived by many as on the decline. As of Tuesday, according to Athan, the country has two journalists in jail, 164 cases in the courts under Article 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Law, and 51 peace activists on trial. Maung Saung Kha said he used to believe that there would be more freedom of expression under a government led by the National League for Democracy. “Seeing people brought to trial for criticizing government activities shows that it hasn’t lived up to our hope,” he said. The poet-cum-activist was arrested himself under Article 66 (d) in 2015 for posting a verse on social media with a risqué rhyme about an unnamed president. “I felt very bad because I was arrested for writing a poem,” he said. “It’s partly because I am now seriously involved in promoting freedom of expression as I don’t want others to see a fate like mine.

https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/myanmar-free-speech-activist-wins-dutch-human-rights-award.html

Call for Nominations: Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2019 and the Special Prize

December 7, 2018

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is pleased to announce the call for 2019 nominations for the following Prizes:

1. The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (GPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 50,000 USD.
2. The Special Prize of the GPHR (SPGPHR): It carries a cash award of $ 10,000 USD.

Since 2000, the Foundation has been bestowing the ‘Gwangju Prize for Human Rights’ to individuals, groups and institutions in Korea and abroad that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace in their work. Last year’s: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/18/award-winning-bersih-2-0-saw-speech-censored-by-taiwan-award-giver/

See also: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/gwangju-prize-for-human-rights

SPGPHR is for an individual or an organization that has contributed to the promotion of democracy and human rights through cultural activities, journalism, and in academic fields.  These prizes are awarded by the citizens of Gwangju in the spirit of solidarity and gratitude to those who have helped them in their struggle for democratization and their search for truth. It is hoped that through this award, the spirit and message of May 18 will be immortalized in the hearts and minds of humankind.

Selection of the GPHR and SPGPHR

The May 18 Memorial Foundation is responsible for the selection of eligible candidates and the choice of the GPHR and the SPGPHR laureates. The selection committee is composed of seven members who are designated by the May 18 Memorial Foundation’s Articles of Association. The rest of the procedure will abide by the Articles of Association.

Deadline: December 31, 2018 (by 24:00 Korea time)

Required Submission Documents
i) Nomination Form (Download the attachment)
ii) Two ID Pictures (paste them on the designated spots)
iii) Other materials that can substantiate your activities and eligibility for the award
iv) How & to Whom: Via E-mail to gwangjuprize@gmail.com

Submission Confirmation
E-mail confirming the receipt and validity of the submitted nomination will be sent out to the nominator once the submission is complete.


For more information, please visit http://eng.518.org/ or email to gwangjuprize@gmail.com.

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/11/01/asian-peoples-charter-for-human-rights-needs-updating/

Li Wenzu – wife of Wang Quanzhang – wins 2018 Edelstam award

December 5, 2018

On 27 November, 2018 Li Wenzu, Chinese ‘709’ campaigner won the Edelstam human rights award [see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/edelstam-prize]

Li is barred from leaving the country, so at Tuesday night’s ceremony, the organisers could only air a recorded video message from Li and present the award on Li’s behalf to Yuan Weijing, wife of the exiled and blind Chinese legal campaigner Chen Guangcheng. It was the first time the Edelstam Prize, named after Swedish diplomat Harald Edelstam, was awarded to a Chinese person.
Li Wenzu is the wife of detained human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang. She was barred from  leaving China after her high-profile 170km march from Beijing to Tianjin in April, when she petitioned to visit the husband she has not seen since his arrest in the summer of 2015. Wang, now 42, was among the 300 lawyers and legal activists taken by the Chinese government during a crackdown that began on July 9, 2015. Critics said the campaign was an effort to silence China’s human rights defenders. In the aftermath of what became known as the “709” crackdown, Li and other spouses of detainees formed a support group and began campaigning for their release. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/07/29/the-remarkable-crackdown-on-lawyers-in-china-in-july-2015/]

When I heard the news of the award, I was nervous because I felt that in China there were so many people who worked hard for the 709 case, and their achievements were far greater than mine. Everything that I’ve done is just what I should do. I don’t deserve this award. So thanks to everyone for the encouragement and recognition,” Li said on Wednesday. “Every 709 family is now facing problems,” she said. “For example, the lawyers who have been released are still strictly controlled by the authorities. They are almost unable to work normally. Without income, family life is a big problem.

Second, the released lawyers need a long time to recover because of the torture, the physical and mental damage [they have suffered]. In the process, I think it was very important for lawyers to be reunited with their family members. Therefore, the 709 families and wives did not return to an easy life when their husbands came home,” she said.

Most of the 709 detainees were released, but several were jailed. Only Wang, who was charged with subverting state power in February 2017, remains behind bars in Tianjin awaiting trial. In her video message for the Edelstam ceremony, Li voiced her fears for her husband: “Only Wang Quanzhang remains in extended detention. I am really worried and afraid that he might never leave jail in his lifetime”. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/12/30/rsdl-chinas-legalization-of-disappearances/]

Caroline Edelstam, the founder and president of the Edelstam Foundation, said Li “has continued advocating, beyond her personal interest, for the principles of rule of law and democracy in China, and campaigned not only for her husband’s release but also for the freedom of all the victims of violations of human rights in China”.

Human Rights Defenders in Kenya honored with national awards

December 3, 2018

Kenya is one of the few countries with a fully developed system of national awards for human rights defenders. They are organized by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya and the Working Group on Human Defenders. A ceremony was held on 1 December 2018 at the residence of the Belgium ambassador.

A panel of eminent Kenyans chaired by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has honoured rights activist Okiya Omtatah with a Lifetime Achivement award. Omtatah also scooped the Popular Vote award in the annual ceremony.

Anastacia Nambo and Is’shaq Abubakar were awarded the 2018 Human Rights Defender of the year award:

Ms Nambo from Mombasa is a mother, a preacher and an avid advocate of environmental rights. She started her human rights work in 2009 when the Metal Refinery was established in the Uhuru Owino slums. The adverse effects of the metal refinery led to active advocacy and lobbying by Nambo and her community. Threats and attacks. Their struggle bore fruit in 2014 when the refinery was closed. She has endured verbal attacks, threats through texts and attempts to break into her home and had to seek refuge in Uganda.

Is’shaq, a public relations manager working with indigenous communities in Lamu, is a human rights defender on environmental rights issues. He co-founded Save Lamu, an umbrella of CBOs established in Lamu in the onset of the Lapsset project. Save Lamu teaches the community on the environmental impact of the Lapset project and seeks legal redress for the locals. His work has earned him threats and police harassment which he has overcome through strategic partnerships with mainstream organisations like the NCHRD, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). Receiving his award, he said it will legitimise his work and encourage other human rights advocates in Lamu.

Christine Kandie won the Upcoming Human Rights Defender of the Year award. Kandie fights for the land rights of Endorois women and is the programme’s officer for the Endorois Welfare Council (EWC). She represented her community at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) session in 2011.

The objective of the awards is to honour extraordinary work of human rights defenders who face a myriad of challenges in their calling.  “The award ceremony is a special occasion for these courageous individuals who do excellent work within our community,” said National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Executive Director Kanau Ngugi.

Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001304811/human-rights-guardians-feted-ahead-of-day-of-human-rights-celebrations