Posts Tagged ‘laureate MEA’

Mexican laureate MEA, Alejandra Ancheita, pictured with UN High Commissioner

October 15, 2014

I have written about this wonderful woman, the Laureate 2014 of the MEA, before but did not yet have this nice picture with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/dont-miss-the-high-commissioners-words-at-mea-2014-ceremony/]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/MartinEnnals2014.aspx#sthash.Y5CTi7Ug.dpuf

Mexican attorney receives top human rights defender award.

Kirk-Rubio Bill in US Senate risks to undermine Human Rights Defenders in Iran

September 14, 2014

A marvelous example of how (bellicose) sanctions can harm human rights defenders is to be found in this piece of 10 September by

Tyler CullisTyler CullisJamal Abdi.

Under the title Kirk-Rubio Bill Would Undermine Human Rights in Iran, Torpedo Nuclear Talks”, they argue that a new Senate bill (fortunately still pending) that purports to support human rights in Iran would actually ratchet up broad sanctions on the Iranian population, bolster Iranian hardliners, and even directly target some Iranian human rights defenders. The bill would impose new sanctions under the guise of human rights and threaten to derail the nuclear talks while undermining human rights defenders inside Iran. Considering that Senator Kirk has previously called on the US to collectively punish and “take the food out of the mouths” of Iranians, this charade of human rights concern is especially callous.

As Iranian human rights defenders [including MEA Laureate Emad Baghi] continue to speak out against sanctions and in support of current diplomatic efforts, the Kirk-Rubio bill would escalate Iran’s isolation through broad sanctions and risk torpedoeing nuclear talks. If passed, the legislation would be a gift to hardline political factions in Iran, who themselves are widely suspected of  ratcheting up abuses to gain the upper-hand against moderates seeking to implement internal reforms and secure a diplomatic deal with world powers.

 

Kirk-Rubio Bill Would Undermine Human Rights in Iran, Torpedo Nuclear Talks – National Iranian American Council NIAC.

ALERT: MEA Laureate 2007 Pierre Claver Mbonimpa arrested in Burundi

May 16, 2014

 

MEA Laureate 2007 Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa

MEA Laureate 2007 Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa

MEA Laureate 2007, Pierre-Clavier Mbonimpa, was arrested this morning early. The latest information is that he is still detained  at the Police-Judiciare. The background is rising tension in Burundi, where it is feared that President Pierre Nkurunziza is expected to campaign for a third term in office in 2015 despite a two-term constitutional limit. The Economist of 29 March 2014 already carried an article under the prescient title “Trouble Ahead” and on 17 April Paul Debbie, security chief at the UN office in Burundi, was ordered to leave the country in connection with a UN report disliked by the Government containing “allegations of weapons distribution to members of the youth league of the ruling party”. [http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/04/burundi-expels-un-official-over-arms-report-2014417144546195161.html] It is feared that this youth wing, named the Imbonerakure, are being armed and trained in weapons use, raising fears of a return to civil war, even of genocide. No charges have been brought against Mbonimpa, but it is believed that the arrest is related to comments made on the radio regarding the above. Read the rest of this entry »

Ganji: Human rights in Iran improved, but still short of expectations

March 26, 2014

 

Remise du Prix Martin Ennals 2006

(Ganji – second from the right – at the MEA ceremony of 2006, where he received the award from UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour)

Al-Monitor of 25 March carries a lengthy interview with MEA Laureate Akbar Ganji in which Jahandad Memarian records many interesting insights, especially on the issue of sanctions and support to human rights defenders. The whole interview is certainly worth reading; here follow some long excerpts:

It is not an exaggeration to say that Akbar Ganji is the most celebrated dissident within the ranks of Iranian journalists since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. A former supporter of the revolution, Ganji became disenchanted and turned into one of its most vocal critics. He is best known for his work as a journalist covering the 1998 murders of Iranian dissidents in Reformist newspapers, a series which came to be known as “the chain murders” that implicated top governmental officials. For his work revealing the murders of dissidents and attending a conference in Berlin that was condemned by hard-liners who were reeling after a Reformist victory in parliament, Ganji was arrested and served time in Tehran’s Evin Prison from 2001 to 2006. During his final year in prison, he went on a hunger strike that doctors urged him to end for concerns he would suffer permanent brain damage.

Ganji has won several international awards, including the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen of Freedom Award, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’s International Press Freedom Award, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and the Cato Institute Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. In an exclusive interview via email with Al-Monitor, Ganji, based in New York, shared his thoughts about human rights and democracy in the context of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.

Al-Monitor:  The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has sharply criticized the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, saying, “He has not made any significant improvement” in ending human rights abuses since taking office. Nevertheless, Mahmoud Sadri — Iranian professor of sociology at the Federation of North Texas Area Universities — is optimistic about the new administration and has asked Iranian dissidents and intellectuals to take advantage of this historic opportunity. How do you evaluate the Rouhani administration?

Ganji:  The situation has improved from various aspects compared with the [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad administration. However, it falls short of the expectations of democracy advocates and human rights activists. The Rouhani administration truly seeks to improve the state of human rights, but it has faced obstacles in Iran’s power hierarchy, including organizations that [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei oversees, such as the judiciary, law enforcement, etc., in addition to the Majles [parliament] that is controlled by the conservatives and some radical reactionaries.

…….Since his administration came to power, Rouhani has spoken with the supreme leader about freeing the Green Movement’s leaders (former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former Majles speaker Mehdi Karoubi) and political prisoners, guaranteeing that nothing would happen, if they were freed.

Al-Monitor:  In January, you wrote a Huffington Post article titled “The Iran Nuclear Accord Is Good for Human Rights.” It seems to me whenever international pressure on the Iranian government increased, Iran improved its record. For example, Tehran released political prisoners ahead of Hassan Rouhani’s UN speech, including prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Don’t you think such actions stem from international pressure? In the absence of this leverage — i.e., international pressure — Iran would continue human rights violations.

Ganji:  With regard to “external pressure on an undemocratic regime and improvement of human rights or increased oppression,” there is no law/rule that would address the cause-reaction relationships. At most, one can speak of “correlation.”[…] we need to know the following:

First, economic sanctions represent the collective punishment of a country’s people and do not necessarily lead to dictatorships’ downfall.

Second, long-term sanctions destroy the internal infrastructure of societies. ..Consequently, trust that is the basis of social capital is destroyed. Because of the sanctions, the oppressive regime’s increasing level of oppression, the internal destruction of society, is not visible. It is only in the aftermath of the dictatorship’s downfall that we will witness the visible spread of a wave of hatred, revenge and violence.

Third, in a life and death situation, the state of human rights, democracy and freedom completely falls by the wayside.

Fourth, consider Iraq’s example again. Before, the invasion al-Qaeda forces did not exist in Iraq, but they were born and bred as a result of the US sanctions and the US attack on Iraq. This story has been repeated in Libya and Syria. …..Iranian, US and European officials have professed that economic sanctions against Iran have affected Iran’s economy negatively. Last year, the economic growth rate fell to -5.8%. The inflation rate rose to 40%. The corruption rate climbed, and other negative outcomes followed. We should ask ourselves, what is the impact of recession on ordinary people’s lives?

The middle class, as a vehicle of democracy, has been transformed to the impoverished class, and its democratic movement may lose its agents. Democracy is the product of the balance of power between the government and civil society.

The transformation of the nuclear agreement from temporary to permanent, improvement of Iran’s relationship with Western governments, rekindling of ties between Iran and the United States, lifting of all the economic sanctions and alleviation of foreign threats can help empower the people through their mobilization and expansion of civil society. In that sense, the regime’s focus and its supporters will not be on discovering conspiracies of foreign governments and military attacks to destroy the regime. Let’s not forget that democracy and human rights have a direct relationship with economic development.

Al-Monitor:  You have opposed US aid to Iranian dissidents and human rights activists. What are your key criticisms against such aid? What actions should foreign countries.. take or avoid ?

Ganji:  The opposition that I have spoken about consists of groups and people that advocate regime change in Iran, so they can come to power. It is not possible for the leaders of a country to be indebted to other foreign governments, including the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. In that case, they will become the greater powers’ pawns. Look at the groups that have received financial aid from foreign governments in the past 35 years. What have they done? Do their terrorist and espionage activities constitute human rights activism, or are such activities considered criminal in all countries, including the United States and Israel, and are they strongly punished?

However, I support educational financial aid, including student scholarships and research fellowships for scholars. Just think about what would have happened if the $1.5 trillion that was spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would have been used toward education and development of the Middle East, and how that would have changed the region. Why do Western governments, the United States included, not grant scholarships to tens of thousands of talented and smart Iranian youth as students in social sciences?

Western governments should protest all human rights violations; they should give ethical and spiritual support to pro-democracy and human rights activists; they should file complaints at the UN Human Rights Council and ease the process of bringing perpetrators to justice. Moreover, Western powers should stop selling weapons of torture and oppression to dictatorial regimes. Ultimately, they should allocate financial resources to form independent labor unions and improve the state of human rights.

Ganji: Human rights improved, still short of expectations in Iran – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

Read more:

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/iran/

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/03/rouhani-reform-nuclear-iran-politics-student-human-rights.html#ixzz2x3K4G8RK

Chechen President Kadyrov tries to intimidate Joint Mobile Group

March 6, 2014

Igor Kalyapin – as President of the Joint Mobile Group [JMG] – is recipient of the 2013 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders [http://www.martinennalsaward.org which contains an excellent short film on his work] as well as the 2011 Front Line Defenders new MEA_logo with textFrontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedAward [http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/16876].   In spite of this, he is continually subjected to a defamation campaign, the most recent incident taking place on 25 February 2014, at a meeting of the Civil Chamber of the Chechen Republic, where the Head of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, accused Igor Kalyapin of being a “traitor of the nation” and a man who defends “bandits and drug addicts” and “promotes his personal interests”.

On 25 February 2014, Ramzan Kadyrov further accused the human rights defender of using human rights work to make a career. Kadyrov stated that there are ‘real’ human rights defenders in Chechnya and that the Republic does not need ‘Kalyapins’. This statement was broadcast by the state TV channel Vainakh. Kadyrov went on to list cases which are being investigated by Igor Kalyapin and the JMG (such as Islam Umarpashaev and Ruslan Kutaev – more information on these cases on: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/.)

Venerable LUON SOVATH becomes MEA laureate 2012

October 2, 2012

 

 The international human rights movement announces the 2012 Martin Ennals Award winner, A Cambodian Monk working to prevent Forced Evictions

 The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA), met in Geneva today and selected the Venerable LUON Sovath as the 2012 Martin Ennals Award winner. The Prize winner was announced at a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva at Victoria Hall.

 The Venerable Luon Sovath, a Buddhist monk from Siem Reap, Cambodia witnessed his family and fellow villagers being forcibly evicted from their homes in 2009.  Since then he has been a strong advocate against forced evictions, which remove families from their homes, often violently and little or no compensation. Despite threats to his person, of arrest and disrobing, the Venerable Sovath, a non-violent Buddhist monk, uses videos, poems and songs to defend the right to housing. His advocacy touches powerful economic interests. The threats against the Venerable Sovath are very real.

Venerable Sovath was selected from among three final Nominees. Also nominated was Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian Lawyer serving a 6 year prison sentence in Iran for her Human Rights work . She is known particularly for her work on behalf of women and children’s rights, especially juveniles facing execution. The third nominee is the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who report widely on human rights abuses in Bahrain. Many of their key staff are currently imprisoned for their work.

The New Chair of the Martin Ennals Foundation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, the former Swiss President and Foreign Minister said: “This year’s novel  format with three nominees made the Jury’s decision particularly difficult. As a Buddhist monk, Venerable Sovath has managed to raise wider attention to the issue of forced evictions in Cambodia”

 The main award of the human rights movement. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide.  The Jury is composed of the following NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.

 Previous laureates : Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera (2011) Muhannad Al-Hassani, Syria, Emad Baghi, Iran; Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Uzbekistan; Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi and Rajan Hoole-Kopalasingham Sritharan, Sri Lanka; Akbar Ganji, Iran and Arnold Tsunga, Zimbabwe; Aktham Naisse, Syria; Lida Yusupova, Russia; Alirio Uribe Muñoz, Colombia; Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad; Peace Brigades International; Immaculée Birhaheka, DR Congo; Natasha Kandic, Yugoslavia; Eyad El Sarraj, Palestine; Samuel Ruiz, Mexico; Clement Nwankwo, Nigeria; Asma Jahangir, Pakistan; Harry Wu, China.

 Patrons of the Martin Ennals Award: Asma Jahangir, Barbara Hendricks, José Ramos-Horta, Adama Dieng, Leandro Despouy, Louise Arbour, Robert Fulghum, Irene Khan, Theo van Boven and Werner Lottje†.

For further information visit www.martinennalsaward.org

EMBARGOED until 18:45 Central European (Geneva) Time 2 Oct 2012

 

Who is the laureate of the MEA 2012? – answer tonight at 18h45 in Geneva

October 2, 2012

 

This morning the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for human rights Defenders (MEA) came together in Geneva to decide who will ultimately be the Laureate of the MEA 2012. I was there and know the result but it stays under wraps until approximately 18h45 Geneva time when the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will make the announcement during the ceremony which can be followed live on http://www.martinennalsaward.org as from 18h00.