Posts Tagged ‘International Human Rights Day (2020)’

2020 Human Rights Day in Myanmar: arrest of human rights defenders

December 22, 2020

Khine Rola in the Irrawaddy of 22 December 2020 relates what happens when you demonstrate peacefully during international human rights day in Myanmar.

Rakhine State police have opened a case against three activists under Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law over a human rights demonstration in the state capital, Sittwe, earlier this month.

The three – Ko Min Bar Chay (also known as Ko Than Hla), Ko Naing Naing Tun and Ma Khaing Mrat Thu from the Rakhine Youth New Generation Network — led other protesters to mark Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. The three were detained as they protested on Strand Road in Sittwe and released on bail later that evening.

However, Sittwe Township police chief, Major Zaw Naing, said the three organized the event without seeking approval from the authorities when he filed the charges on Monday. The three insisted that the event was too important to cancel because the authorities failed to grant approval. At the event, the activists held placards calling for human rights, women’s rights and to end terrorism.

The three suspects leave court on December 21. / Khine Rola / The Irrawaddy

Ma Khaing Mrat Thu said: “It was Human Rights Day and Myanmar has ratified the International Human Rights Declaration. What we organized was not a protest but a campaign. We are very sad that the government filed a lawsuit against us instead of appreciating the citizens who respect human rights.

Ko Zaw Zaw Min, a lawyer at the Arakan Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association, said: “They just expressed their opinions on Human Rights Day. They should have freedom of expression. They marked the event to protect human rights. Treating such activities as a sensitive issue and taking legal action will only disrupt justice.” The next court hearing is scheduled for December 30.

2020 Human Rights Day: 6 Human rights defenders highlighted by NHRF

December 22, 2020

On December 10th the Norwegian Human Rights Fund celebrated Human Rights Day. Many have been heavily impacted by the #COVID19 pandemic, and others face even more risks for defending their #rights now than before. In this video, six human rights defenders (such as Ruki Fernando, Norma Ledezma and Asha Kowtal) from different countries (India, Sri lanka, Thailand, Mexico and Colombia) share their thoughts on the importance of the fight for human rights.

OSCE message for Human Rights Day: human rights defenders will lead in 2021

December 15, 2020

(Alex Tait/ Creative Commons 4.0)

On 10 December 2020, Human Rights Day, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) issued a statement “The brave people strengthening human rights in 2020 will lead us out of adversity“. A bit belatedly. I reproduce here OSCE paying “tribute to human rights defenders and many organizations across the OSCE region that have protected our rights throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and will have a key role to play if the global recovery is to put respect for human rights at its core

OSCE states have long recognized the important role played by human rights defenders in ensuring full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.  Throughout the pandemic, numerous organizations, initiatives and activists have worked hard to lessen the suffering caused by the health crisis. They have exposed gaps in responses to the health emergency and drawn attention to the undermining of human rights standards and democratic values in the name of public safety.​​

As public emergencies were introduced across the OSCE region and human rights and freedoms of millions of people were restricted, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) as well as civil society organizations were swift to hold accountable those states that were using vaguely defined regulations to bypass human rights obligations and lower standards. In addition to their regular monitoring activities, NHRIs were often quick and resourceful in developing solutions and disseminating key information to the public when it was needed. 

A spirit of dialogue and compromise, the ability to combat systematic inequality and exclusion, and the will to overcome ever-deepening polarization, are hard to imagine without a strong and vibrant civil society. But in many places across the OSCE region, pressure on civic space is increasing. This takes many forms, from legislation restricting the activities of civil society to smear campaigns against human rights defenders and journalists.

Despite their commitment – or because of it – many courageous human rights defenders across the OSCE region have been the brunt of attacks in 2020. They have faced threats and intimidation, frequently initiated by national authorities, as well as funding cuts and risks to their data security and privacy.

Two years ago, ODIHR launched its first ever targeted assessments on the situation of human rights defenders. Early next year, ODIHR will publish trends and recommendations based on an analysis of almost 250 discussions across five OSCE countries. The report will identify gaps and challenges in the protection of human rights defenders, as well as highlighting good practices so countries can learn from each other as they seek to rebuild societies overwhelmed by the challenges of the pandemic. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/12/11/human-rights-day-2014-odihr-director-link-wants-to-move-from-words-to-deeds-for-human-rights-defenders-in-the-osce/]

Today, ODIHR wants to thank all those brave people across the OSCE region who are committed to safeguarding the human rights of us all. The Office will continue to support and work with them towards this ultimate goal.

https://www.osce.org/odihr/473352

Detention of the “Human Rights Day 7” in the Philippines

December 14, 2020

Fight Back News Service is circulating this 11 December 2020 joint statement from the Council of Global Unions Philippine affiliates.

We strongly deplore the simultaneous raids of residences and the consecutive arrests of trade union organizers, Dennise Velasco of Defend Jobs Philippines, Romina Astudillo, Deputy Secretary-General of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Metro Manila, Mark Ryan Cruz, Regional Executive Committee of KMU-Metro Manila, Jaymie Gregorio Jr. of KMU-Metro Manila, Joel Demate of Solidarity of Labor Rights and Welfare (SOLAR), Rodrigo Esparago of Sandigang Manggagawa sa Quezon City (SMQC) and journalist Lady Ann Salem, Communication officer of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, and editor for online news site Manila Today.

The raids happened dawn of December 10, International Human Rights Day, which allegedly generated an armory of high-powered rifles and explosives in each of the residences searched. Velasco, Esparago, Astudillo, Cruz, Demate, Gregoria Jr and Salem may be facing obviously manufactured charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives on this account –the same criminal charges filed against trade union activists who were arrested before them. Just a few days before Human Rights Day, Jose Bernardino of Workers Alliance in Region III (WAR III-KMU), an organizer of workers in industrial zones and jeepney drivers, and former President of the Young Christian Workers, was also arrested on the same made up criminal charges. With the Anti-Terror Law in effect, it has been an open season for arrests of activists, and it will not come as a surprise that these trade union organizers will be labelled as communist-terrorists.

This is yet another blow to the trade union movement in the Philippines. Trade union activists are being criminalized, illegally arrested and detained, as the government’s way of preventing them from organizing workers into unions and associations and depriving them their freedom of thought and expression as translated into their activities among the workers. The intensified crackdown is precisely aimed at stifling dissent and organized action among the people. Killings among activists and rights defenders, as a way of instilling fear and silencing the people, have not ceased.

We call on the Duterte government to immediately release the HRD7 workers and journalist, drop the trumped-up charges against them, and stop this detestable practice of filing manufactured criminal charges against unionists and activists.

We also call on international bodies – the UN Human Rights Council and the International Labor Organization (ILO) – to consider as an emergency the deteriorating human rights condition in the Philippines and employ all official and diplomatic venues available, including sending their missions to investigate human rights and trade union repression in the country and help reverse the situation.

We likewise call on trade unions and freedom-loving people all over the world to continue the fight for trade union and human rights in the Philippines. We shall hold to account all those responsible in these brazen human rights violations.

http://www.fightbacknews.org/2020/12/12/philippines-labor-movement-demands-release-human-rights-day-7

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/12/12/2063300/after-human-rights-day-arrests-hrw-says-there-damning-history-cops-planting-evidence

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/multimedia/photo/12/14/20/groups-urge-release-of-human-rights-day-7

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/12/19/2064984/amnesty-govt-drop-fabricated-charges-vs-red-tagged-human-rights-day-7

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

Rwanda’s Divine Ingabire wins local Human Rights Tulip award

December 11, 2020

Nasra Bishumba Nasra Bishumba published in the New Times of Rwanda on 10 December 2020 the story of Rwanda’s Divine Ingabire, the founder and executive director of I Matter, an organisation that seeks to end period poverty and menstrual shame, to become the first Rwandan to win the Human Rights Tulip award.

This is not the international version of the Tulip Award [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/11/armenian-lilit-martirosyan-receives-human-rights-tulip-2020/] but one of the local satellite awards I referred to earlier [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/12/09/national-level-tulip-award-in-georgia/]

Rwanda’s Divine Ingabire, the founder and executive director of I Matter, an organisation that seeks to end period poverty and menstrual shame, has become the first Rwandan to win the Human Rights Tulip award. The award comes with €5,000 monetary funding that goes to the project. 

The Human Rights Tulip was established by the government of the Netherlands in 2008. Since 2018, selected Dutch embassies have also issued a Human Rights Tulip to a local human rights defender.

At only 23, Ingabire founded I Matter to build and support a community of young and strong women after drawing experiences from a personal story growing up as an orphan and living in poverty.

Receiving the award, Ingabire said that she identified with the struggles of many girls and young women in Rwanda who fail to fully participate in society because of menstruation due their failure to afford the costly sanitary products, lack of enough reproductive health information, and social norms which fuel menstruation shame. “It is indeed a right for every girl and woman to have access to sanitary products as well as sexual reproductive health information. What a journey! This journey can be summarized in these words. Responsibility, acceptance, embracing change and respect for humanity,” she said.

She expressed her gratitude to those who have helped her on the journey to break the silence around menstruation. Ingabire is credited for being some of the organisations that persistently pushed for the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) levied on sanitary pads, culminating into the legislation that was passed in 2019.

https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/rwandas-divine-ingabire-wins-human-rights-tulip-award

https://allafrica.com/stories/202012110031.html

Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2020 goes to Naw Ohn Hla

December 11, 2020

Naw Ohn Hla appears in court in Kyauktada Township in October last year on charges of organizing Kayin Martyr’s  Day. (Photo-Nay Myo Win)

Naw Ohn Hla appears in court in Kyauktada Township in October last year on charges of organizing Kayin Martyr’s Day. (Photo-Nay Myo Win) Published 11 December 2020

Naw Ohn Hla, chairperson of Democracy and Peace Women Network in Myanmar, has been presented with the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2020 by Civil Rights Defenders based in Sweden. The award announcement was made on Human Rights Day on December 10.

Naw Ohn Hla is a Karen democracy activist, politician, human rights defender, environmental rights and land rights activist for decades. She has been active in campaigning against the Letpadaung mining project in northern Burma. Naw Ohn Hla is also serving as general secretary of the United Nationalities Democracy Party.

Naw Ohn Hla has received the award for her exceptional perseverance in the fight against oppression and for her continued courage to stand up to those in power, Civil Rights Defenders said in its statement.

We are standing by the victims of human rights violations. It is now encouraging to see that not only us but also the international community is standing by this. It also encourages us to do more,” said Naw Ohn Hla.

She said she would accept the award at the headquarters of Civil Rights Defenders in Sweden together with the 2021 award winner because this year sees the Covid-19 outbreak.

For more on the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/ 

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/25/civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award-2017-goes-to-edmund-yakani-from-south-sudan/

https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/naw-ohn-hla-wins-civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award-2020

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naw_Ohn_Hla

Armenian Lilit Martirosyan receives Human Rights Tulip 2020

December 11, 2020

On Human rights Day 10 December 2020 the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok presented the Tulip award during an online ceremony to Lilit Martirosyan.

Lilit Martirosyan

For more on this and similar awards see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/D749DB0F-1B84-4BE1-938B-0230D4E22144

Minister Blok tijdens de uitreiking van de Mensenrechtentulp

‘This year,’ said Mr Blok, ‘the three candidates shortlisted for the Human Rights Tulip 2020 were an indigenous women’s rights advocate from Guatemala [on behalf of a network of female healers], a doctor from Sudan [on behalf of an association of trade unions] and a transgender woman from Armenia. They all share a common dedication to promoting human dignity and equality, and work to defend other people’s fundamental rights. They have demonstrated the true meaning of hope, and shown that human rights are for everyone. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from or how much money you have. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/10/15/final-three-nominees-human-rights-tulip-2020/]

Lilit Martirosyan is Armenia’s first registered transgender woman. As founder and current president of the Right Side human rights defender NGO, she works fearlessly for equal rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. ‘Lilit has never given up on the peaceful path towards change,’ said Mr Blok, ‘even after receiving death threats. Throughout everything she has remained hopeful and has stood up to defend what she believes in. Hopefully this prize will help her continue to make meaningful strides in her human rights work.’

Thanks to the peaceful activities of Lilit and Right Side, there is now a community centre that serves as a home and safe place for the LGBTI community and sex workers in Armenia. They receive legal and social-psychological support, and if they want to change their name in their passport they can do so without undergoing gender reassignment. The Dutch government recognises Lilit Martirosyan for her constant leadership in demanding attention and respect for transgender people and sex workers in Armenia. Her nomination has also drawn attention to the plight of transgender people and sex workers throughout the region.

https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-foreign-affairs/news/2020/12/10/lilit-martirosyan-receives-human-rights-tulip-2020

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

The launch of the Freedom of Thought Report 2020

December 9, 2020

On 10 December 2020 Humanist International launches its annual Freedom of Thought Report. Time: 3pm UTC. Location: Facebook or YouTube
Speakers:

● Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

● Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, Mauritanian blogger, activist and former prisoner of conscience

● Debbie Goddard, Vice President ofAmerican Atheists and Board Member of Humanists International

● Rev. Frederick Davie, Commissioner of The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

● Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International

● Emma Wadsworth-Jones, Casework & Campaigns Manager at Humanists International

Since 2012 Humanists International has published the Freedom of Thought Report to monitor the rights and treatment of humanists, atheists and non-religious people in every country in the world.

This year, the thematic focus of the Report is COVID-19, and its impact on the non-religious people globally.

In particular the focus is on restrictions on:
● Women’s rights

● Media freedom, protest and access to information

● Individuals at risk.