Posts Tagged ‘hungerstrike’

Ukrainian filmmaker Sentsov wins EU’s Sakharov prize for human rights

October 27, 2018

Video by Claire PRYDE

The European Parliament on Thursday awarded the Sakharov human rights prize to Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, jailed in Russia for opposing its annexation of Crimea and described as a “symbol of the struggle” to free political prisoners. {}

“Through his courage and determination, by putting his life in danger, the filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has become a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said.

Sentsov, is serving a 20-year sentence in a Russian penal colony north of the Arctic Circle. The 42-year-old was convicted of an alleged arson plot in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and triggered sanctions from the European Union.

Sentsov’s cousin Natalya Kaplan, who lives in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, said she hopes the prize will raise his morale when he finally hears about it. “I hope (this) will help Oleg to further stay strong and of course I am happy for him. He deserved this,” Kaplan told AFP in written remarks.

Sentsov started a hunger strike on May 14 demanding the release of all Ukrainian prisoners in Russia, and his deteriorating health provoked an outcry from the international community. Sentsov called off the protest after 145 days to avoid being force-fed.

Iranian human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh speaks to the Guardian

June 2, 2014

The Guardian of 1 June 2014 contains a long and fascinating interview with Nasrin Sotoudeh, the Iranian lawyer who won the Sacharov Prize and was a Final Nominee of the MEA in 2012. The now freed Iranian human rights lawyer – in an interview with Simon Tisdall – speaks out in a moving way about why she is a human rights defender and how she coped with the separation from her family. The title of the piece: ‘I’ve a bad feeling about the women I left behind’ is telling of her concern for others.
Nasrin Sotoudeh

(Nasrin Sotoudeh with her son, Nima, after being freed from prison last year. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

“Nasrin Sotoudeh’s seven-year-old son, Nima, wants to go out to play. His mother, the leading Iranian human rights lawyer whose arbitrary imprisonment in 2010 sparked an international campaign to free her, has been talking for ages. Nima is bored. At the door to their apartment in north-west Tehran, Nasrin takes Nima in her arms. The boy stands on tip-toe to embrace his mother. They hold each other for a minute or more. It is as though the two cannot bear to be separated..…….”. For more: Freed Iranian rights lawyer: Ive a bad feeling about the women I left behind | World news |

other posts on Nasrin:

Human rights defender Shireen Essawi goes on hunger strike against trial postponement

May 18, 2014

Shireen Essawi holding a photograph of her brother Samer

On 8 May 2014 human rights defender and lawyer Ms Shireen Essawi began a hunger strike after learning of the postponement of her trial for nine months and a day. She is charged with cooperating with actors who are working against the state of Israel. Shireen Essawi is a human rights lawyer who has participated in monitoring and documenting human rights violations committed against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, especially children, women, and prisoners from the Gaza Strip. The human rights defender also reported on practices adopted by Israeli authorities for Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails that she believes violate human rights, such as preventing visits by lawyers.

The postponement of her trial on 7 May 2014 follows several court appearances by the human rights defender since her arrest on 6 March 2014. It is reported that under Israeli law, a trial may be suspended and detention can continue upon the condition that a final judgment and sentence is issued within nine months and a day of the adjournment. Shireen Essawi began her hunger strike out of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, and has declared she will continue it in protest at the adjournment of her trial. The human rights defender was arrested at her home in Jerusalem as part of a wave of arrests targeting lawyers. Her colleagues have since been released on bail, pending trials.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the postponement of the trial and continued detention of Shireen Essawi, which is solely related to her peaceful and legitimate human rights work, in particular concerning the rights of Palestinians and Arab Israelis.


Trial of Vietnamese human rights defender Le Quoc Quan set for 2 October

September 27, 2013

In five days from now, on 2 October 2013, the People’s Court in Hanoi, Viet Nam, will hear the case of human rights defender Le Quoc Quan, who has been held in detention since 27 December 2012 and whose trial was postponed on 8 July 2013. Le Quoc Quan is a prominent lawyer, blogger and human rights defender. He has a long history of being targeted by the Vietnamese authorities in retaliation for his work. As a lawyer, he represented many victims of human rights violations, but was disbarred in 2007 on suspicion of engaging in “activities to overthrow the regime”. Le Quoc Quan also runs a blog  where he writes about various issues including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom. On 27 December 2012, Le Quoc Quan was arrested on trumped up allegations of tax evasion, was held incommunicado for the first two months and spent fifteen days on hunger strike. Currently the human rights defender remains imprisoned awaiting trial.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

More information, please see update from 12 July 2013







20 NGOs call on Oman to immediately release all detained Human Rights Defenders

February 22, 2013

An impressive list of 20 human rights organizations have signed a statement regarding Omani human rights defenders who are currently in detention, especially those undertaking hunger strikes. 24 defenders and activists including Basma Al-Kiyumi, Bassima Al-Rajhi, Saeed Al-Hashemi, Hamad Al-Kharusi, and Bassam Abu Qasida undertook a hunger strike on 9 February 2013 in Samail Central Prison, protesting the delayed ruling on the appeals that they brought to the Supreme Court against the judgments that were passed against them. Confirmed reports reveal that the conditions of some of the hunger strikers have deteriorated seriously to the point that some are currently at risk of death. Saeed


Al-Hashemi was transferred to the Royal Hospital in Muscat, where a neurologist examined him and confirmed that he is in urgent need of physiotherapy or surgery as a result of an injury on his right side sustained when he was beaten by unknown assailants during peaceful protests in Oman in 2011. The same reports reveal that Hamad Al-Kharusi and Bassam Abu Qasida were transferred to the jail’s clinic due to exhaustion caused by their hunger strike.These human rights defenders were incarcerated following the decisions of the Appeals Court on 5, 12, and 19 December 2012 which upheld sentences of between 6 months and 1 year in prison issued against them by the Muscat Court of First Instance in July and August 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nasrin Sotoudeh stops hunger strike after daughter is given freedom to travel

December 5, 2012

The LA Times and others report that jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, 2012 nominee of the MEA and winner of the Sacharov Award, has halted her hunger strike after the Iranian judiciary agreed to drop a travel ban against her daughter, her husband Reza Khandan said this Tuesday. Sotoudeh had endured nearly seven weeks without food, drinking salt and sugar solutions, to protest her 12-year-old daughter Mehrave being banned from leaving the country. The couple claimed their daughter was being punished for the alleged crimes of her mother, who has defended dissidents.

Khandan went with a group of female activists to the Iranian parliament on Tuesday, where they met with reformist lawmaker Mohammad Reza Tabesh, who in turn negotiated with the deputy speaker and speaker Ali Larijani to obtain an agreement from the head of the judiciary, Khandan said.

Nasrin - Joan of Arc

“They agreed to close the dossier of Mehrave and she is no longer banned from leaving the country and there are no charges against her,” Khandan said Tuesday.

The family reunited Tuesday evening in the administration department of Evin Prison, the husband said. Sotoudeh, who had earlier been restricted to talking to her children behind a glass partition, was allowed to hug her son and daughter.

“There she stopped her hunger strike and started eating in front of us,” he said.

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights called again Tuesday for Sotoudeh to be released along with other detained human rights activists. Iranian authorities often target the families of human rights defenders, “a disturbing trend apparently aimed at curbing the freedoms of expression, opinion and association,” spokesman Rupert Colville said in a Tuesday briefing.



Finally some better news from Bahrain – but still a long road ahead

May 31, 2012

On 28 May 2012 there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Nabeel Rajab was released on bail and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja ended his hunger strike. Another HRD Zainab Al-Khawaja was also freed. I reported several times on these cases related to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), the 2012 nominee of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

Throughout Al-Khawaja’s hunger strike he was able to draw international attention to the on-going human rights violations that are taking place in Bahrain. The hunger strike brought attention to the plight of human rights defenders and political activists who are in detention or have been subjected to human rights violations by the authorities. Despite the primary demand of his hunger strike of “freedom or death” not being met, he has achieved one of his main goals by attracting global attention and focus on the human rights situation in the country. In a statement the human rights defender thanked his family for their support and expressed his gratitude to all those who had shown solidarity with him both inside and outside Bahrain. He will now begin a special diet in order for his body to recover from the 110-day hunger strike.

That Nabeel Rajab was released on bail is of course excellent but we should not forget that he should never have been arrested (on the 5th of May) to start with.  He was charged with ‘insulting the statuary bodies” the so-called “Twitter Defamation case”, “participating in illegal assembly and calling others to join” through social networking sites. (See GCHR appeal dated 05-05- 2012 (

He was released on bail of 300 Bahraini Dinars (appr. $796). However, a travel ban remains in place and the trials will continue (a hearing on the “illegal assembly” case is scheduled for 17 June while another session for the “twitter case” is scheduled for 24 June).

Furthermore, human rights defender Zainab Alkhawaja @angryarabiya was released on 29th May 2012, after more than 1 month imprisonment. She is still facing trials in 2 cases. One of the hearing sessions on the case of “illegal assembly, assaulting a police officer and inciting hatred against the regime is scheduled on June 24th, while the case of “obstructing traffic” is scheduled for November 1st 2012.

While the BCHR welcomes the ending of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s hunger strike and the release of both Nabeel Rajab on bail and Zainab Al-Khawaja, it expresses serious concern for the on-going trials of the released activists, the on-going violations of human rights by Bahraini authorities and the continued detention of human rights defenders including Abdulhadi Alkhawaja on fabricated charges.

Bahrain again: Court postpones decision – Al-Khawaja in critical condition

April 3, 2012

In my post of 1 April I wondered whether the would be justice for the Bahraini HRD on hunger strike, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Now we know that the Court of Cassation on Monday did not order the requested release but announced that the decision will be read on April 23. His deteriorating health condition simply cannot wait until that date. The Government remains responsible for the consequences.

Will Bahrain’s highest court do justice tomorrow for HRD Al-Khawaja?

April 1, 2012

A leading Bahraini human rights defender, Al-Khawaja’s appeal is set to be heard in Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on 2 April. He is currently serving a life sentence for his role in anti-government protests last year. The activist is at risk of death after 50 days on hunger strike (according to his lawyer, he has lost 16 kg since his hunger strike began on 8 February). Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former protection co-ordinator with Frontline, an NGO on the Jury of the MEA. He was arrested in April last year for being one of the leaders of anti-government protests and was sentenced to life imprisonment in a grossly unfair trial by a military court last June.  “Bahrain must ensure that Al-Khawaja is released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther of  Amnesty International, another member of the MEA Jury. He added: “The continued imprisonment of Al-Khawaja demonstrates that the Bahraini authorities are not serious about fulfilling their promises to release people imprisoned for exercising their right to free spHe has not used or advocated violence in his participation in the anti-government protests, and no such evidence was shown by the authorities during the trial.

Activists in Bahrain have repeatedly called for ’s release. Demonstrators in Manama attempted to stage a sit-in at a main highway on Monday, but were quickly dispersed by riot police.  Al-Khawaja, who is married with four daughters, is also a citizen of Denmark, where he lived in exile for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001. Danish diplomats have visited him in prison several times and confirmed his deteriorating health.

Eight important NGOs protest assault on MEA laureate Al-Hassani in Syrian jail – situation criticial

November 4, 2010

On 4 November 2010 eight leading human rights organizations  – of which 6 are on the jury of the Martin Ennals Award (MEA) – called on the Syrian government to guarantee the safety of Muhannad al-Hassani, a human rights defender serving a three year prison term, after he was assaulted last week in ‘Adra prison, Damascus. The eight organizations – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and Front Line – urged the Syrian government to investigate the assault and protect Muhannad al-Hassani from further brutality or ill-treatment. The joint statement adds some important new development:

Muhannad al-Hassani was physically assaulted on 28 October by a prisoner sentenced for a criminal offence who was being held in the same cell in ‘Adra prison. For five days after the attack Muhannad al-Hassani continued to be held in the same cell as his attacker, but is then reported to have been moved to a tiny underground isolation cell. He and other political prisoners in ‘Adra prison have now launched a hunger strike to protest against his solitary confinement.

The prisoner who attacked Muhannad al-Hassani is said to have been moved into the same cell only recently and to have beaten him using a heavy metal finger ring he was wearing at the time of the assault although prisoners are not normally permitted to wear such ‘jewellery’. As a result of the assault, Muhannad al-Hassani suffered a cut to his forehead requiring ten stitches, swelling to his eye and cheek and bruising to his body.

Following the incident, the police took statements from other prisoners who had witnessed the assault and interviewed Muhannad al-Hassani in the presence of his attacker, but reportedly took no action when he continued to threaten him and accused him of being unpatriotic and did not even make note of the threats.

Muhannad al-Hassani was subsequently taken to a doctor at a government forensic clinic in Douma, a town between ‘Adra and Damascus, who issued a report on his injuries on 1 November. The case was referred to a court in Douma though Muhannad al-Hassani’s lawyers were not informed and so were unable to be present at the hearing.

The eight human rights organizations call on the Syrian authorities to carry out a prompt, thorough and transparent, independent investigation into the assault on Muhannad al-Hassani and the circumstances which led to his being exposed to such risk. In particular, they must examine whether officials at ‘Adra prison were complicit in the attack by moving the prisoner responsible into Muhannad al-Hassani’s cell to facilitate it, and why they continued to hold them in the same cell for several days afterwards. The results of such an investigation should be made public and those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice.”

The  organizations also called for an immediate end to Muhannad al-Hassani’s solitary confinement and for guarantees of his safety while he remains in prison, although he should NOT be in prison to start with (see previous posts). The statement adds that “other government critics are previously reported to have been assaulted by criminal inmates, as well as prison guards, while held in ‘Adra prison. In December 2006, for example, Anwar al-Bunni, another human rights lawyer, was pushed down a flight of stairs by a criminal detainee and beaten on his head in the presence of prison guards, who failed to intervene.”