Posts Tagged ‘Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders’

Follow the Announcement of the Martin Ennals Laureates 2022 on 19 January

January 17, 2022
Webinar banner

The 2022 Martin Ennals Award Laureate Announcement will be live-streamed at a press conference, announcing the 2022 Laureates on Wednesday 19 January at 11am CET. More on this awards and it laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

Media requests can be shared at media@martinennalsaward.org. To register, follow link below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_C–uTIoFQAumucPTbGOeeQ

You can follow the livestreaming on the MEF website for general audience: https://youtu.be/UgvIli5X-T8

Xu Yan, the wife of Yu Wensheng, sets up a legal aid firm

November 8, 2021

The wife of Yu Wensheng, a jailed human rights lawyer, has set up a legal firm to help persons struggling with China’s justice system. Xu Yan’s husband is currently serving a four-year sentence on the charges of ‘incitement to subvert state authority.’ “My husband will be allowed to return home in around four months, but his law licence will be cancelled. This will have a significant impact on his profession as well as our family,” Yan was quoted as saying by Radio Free Asia. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/06/24/martin-ennals-foundation-reaches-out-today/] Notably, he had received the Martin Ennals Award 2021 for his work as a human rights defender earlier this year. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/69fc7057-b583-40c3-b6fa-b8603531248e]

According to Radio Free Asia, the Martin Ennals Foundation labelled Yu “one of the best-known and most intrepid human rights campaigners” in China, noting that he had been subjected to arbitrary arrest, a secret trial, and the revocation of his law licence.

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/china/china-jailed-human-rights-lawyers-wife-establishes-legal-firm-to-help-people.html

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/271623682/china-jailed-human-rights-lawyer-wife-sets-up-legal-consultancy-to-help-people

Venerable Luon Sovath gives Master class on 23 November in Geneva

November 8, 2021

As part of the Human Rights Week at the University of Geneva, the Venerable Luon Sovath, the 2012 Martin Ennals Award winner, gives a master class on November 23, 2021, from 12:30 – 14:00. [see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/3F3F580C-3E8F-01C3-92CC-E6B02940BCD4]

Venerable Sovath is a Buddhist monk and human rights activist from Siem Reap, Cambodia. In March 2009 he witnessed the forced eviction of his family and fellow villagers from their homes, without reason and in most cases without compensation. This unfortunate event pushed him towards human rights activism.

Venerable Sovath was compelled to flee his native Cambodia in May of 2020, after fake videos and accusations appearing on Facebook served as the bases for a decision to ‘de-frock’ him of his monk’s robes. In retaliation for his advocacy against land grabbing and in favour of human rights, Venerable Sovath and his loved ones have suffered years of threats and reprisals by the authorities of Cambodia. Finally, the prospect of losing his religious freedom convinced Venerable Sovath that his position in Cambodia was untenable and he sought a temporary safe haven in Switzerland.

Because the fake evidence used against Venerable Sovath circulated on Facebook, the case also has critical lessons for the role of social media in upholding human rights. During his segment, he will discuss the story of how he became a human rights activist, and how social media can be a double-edged sword in the fight for human rights; as it gives visibility to the defenders but also puts them at risk. He will focus on social media as a tool of liberation and repression; and also discuss how a lack of accountability by these social media companies can play a role in the repression of human rights defenders. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/11/02/bbc-podcast-on-the-framing-of-video-monk-luon-sovath/

This master class is hosted by the Martin Ennals Foundation and the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights.

Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Time: 12:30 – 14:00
Location: UniMail, MS 150

Registration for this master class will open on November 11 with limited places available. COVID certificate is required.

Venerable Luon Sovath with a camera in his hands

https://gcbhr.org/insights/2021/11/master-class

Martin Ennals Foundation reaches out: today

June 24, 2021

Martin Ennals Foundation, together with the Geneva Academy, IBAHRI, and ODAGE, is organizing a high-level panel discussion on how to effectively defend human rights lawyers in authoritarian times. Today 24 June at 13h30 Geneva time. With Belarussian human rights activist Tatsiana Khomich, sister of political prisoner Maria Kalasnikova; Xu Yan, wife of 2021 Martin Ennals Laureate Yu Wensheng of China; and Turkish human rights lawyer Ayşe Acinikli. You will also have the opportunity to hear Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and ISHR Director Phil Lynch.  

 Register for the event here >>

The MEA has also started an occasional newsletter with in this summer edition:

After a successful campaign, nominations for the 2022 Martin Ennals Award are now closed. We are excited by the high-quality nominations and thank those who contributed to our search for the next generation of human rights heroes.   Meanwhile, our support for human rights defenders continues through the Martin Ennals programs.

Director Isabel de Sola shares how education is paving the way for a more sustainable human rights movement. She informs about the Foundation’s education project – a program aimed at familiarizing students with the concept of human rights and the causes promoted by our Defenders.

Programme Officer Cristina Rendón writes “It takes a village to protect defenders”.  Because the three 2021 awardees were unable to communicate freely with the Martin Ennals Foundation, we had to reinvent our “Geneva Residency” programme by extending its activities to the support networks of our awardees. We learned about the importance of building a strong network of allies who can support defenders, in the good times and the bad

 https://www.martinennalsaward.org/upcoming-event-defending-human-rights-lawyers-in-authoritarian-times/
 

Reminder: Call for Nominations MEA closes on 30 May

May 26, 2021

Only a few days remain to submit candidates for the 2022 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. For detials see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/04/15/call-for-nominations-martin-ennals-award-2022-with-a-focus-on-digital-rights/

Call for Nominations Martin Ennals Award 2022 with a focus on digital rights

April 15, 2021

On 13 April 2021 the Martin Ennals Foundation opened it call for nominations for the 2020 award. For more on the award see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

More than 60 defenders from 34 countries have been recognized by the Martin Ennals Award to this day.  For last year see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/18/%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8Bmartin-ennals-award-finalists-2021-announced/

Focus on Digital rights in 2022

A human rights lens is urgently needed so that the opportunities of digital technology reach all of humanity and solutions can be found for risks online. Human rights Defenders are at the forefront of ensuring digital technology is inclusive, respectful of human rights and employed for human betterment. To offer our support to them and keep the spotlight on these issues, the Martin Ennals Award 2022 will reserve one of its three prizes for defenders working at the intersection of human rights and digital technology.  

The deadline for nominations is: 30 May 2021. The independent Jury composed of 10 major NGOs will select three Finalists to the Award, who will be announced publicly in early 2022. The Laureate of the Award will be announced in the first semester of 2022. 

Read the Nominations FAQ here to learn more about the nominations process. 

Euronews on Achilova and the MEA was banned by Turkmenistan

March 10, 2021

It now transpired that Turkmenistan on March 8 stopped broadcasting the news TV channel Euronews, which showed the footage about the 2021 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony for Human Rights Defenders and one of its finalist, the Turkmen journalist Soltan Achilova, independent foreign-based news website Chronicles of Turkmenistan reported.

The 2021 Award Ceremony of the most prestigious award for human rights defenders was held in an online format on 11 February.

As Vienna-based Chronicles of Turkmenistan has reported, l This year’s finalists included Soltan Achilova, a 72-year-old journalist and activist who has reported on state repression in Turkmenistan in the face of relentless intimidation. Her story was well told in a recent profile by AFP news agency. [see also; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/23/soltan-achilova-has-issued-a-rare-rebuke-of-the-turkmen-president-on-youtube/]

Akhal-Teke is a weekly Eurasianet column compiling news and analysis from Turkmenistan. It added on 9 March: Euronews is about as anodyne a news channel as one could hope to find. So much so that the Turkmen Foreign Ministry in January 2020 hosted the channel’s chief business development officer, Roland Nikolaou, for talks on future cooperation. That makes the inclusion of Euronews among the ranks of undesirables all the more remarkable. 

Turkmenistan has the backup option of Mir 24, a Euronews clone based out of Moscow and focused on news from Commonwealth of Independent States members. Turkmenistan is an associate member of the post-Soviet bloc. The station began broadcasting inside the country in December 2020, following a cooperation deal signed with the Turkmen state broadcaster a month earlier. 

Mir 24 also produces content, of the most unimaginably inoffensive kind, from inside the country. Recent reports have included one on a highly chaste beauty contest for female students, several touching upon celebrations for International Women’s Day and a piece about the creation of a national annual holiday devoted to the Alabai dog breed

Blocking Euronews is of little import in the larger scheme of things. As RFE/RL wrote on March 7, police are adopting invigorated measures to make sure that smartphone owners are not using VPN services to circumvent censorship. The broadcaster said that authorities in the city of Mary are stopping people in the street for spot inspections of their phones.  

The cause of this alarm is the continued seepage of news belying the absurd government insistence that the country has experienced no cases of COVID-19.

https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/23543-turkmenistan-stops-broadcasting-euronews-channel-after-tv-footage-about-turkmen-journalist

https://eurasianet.org/turkmenistan-a-ban-on-all-news-ye-who-enter-here

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

Reminder: in a few hours starts the Martin Ennals Award ceremony 2021

February 11, 2021

Nothing can stop us from celebrating human rights defenders!

On-line February 11, 2021 at 18h (UTC+1): Celebration of the 2021 Martin Ennals Award Finalists:

Soltan Achilova, Republic of Turkmenistan

Loujain AlHathloul, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (who was just released from jail https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/02/09/will-loujain-al-hathloul-be-released-on-thursday-11-february/]

Yu Wensheng, People’s Republic of China

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2021/01/18/%e2%80%8b%e2%80%8bmartin-ennals-award-finalists-2021-announced/

With cartoons by Patrick Chappatte, music by Gaspard Sommer and choreography by the Ballet Junior of Genève. An evening hosted by the journalist Catherine Sommer – in French and English – and broadcast on https://www.martinennalsaward.org/


    

​​Martin Ennals Award Finalists 2021 announced

January 18, 2021

Today 18 January 2021, the Martin Ennals Foundation announced that three outstanding human rights defenders based in authoritarian states are nominated for the 2021 Martin Ennals Award.

In isolated Turkmenistan, Soltan Achilova documents human rights violations and abuses through photojournalism.

Imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, Loujain AlHathloul is a leading advocate for gender equality and women’s rights.

A lawyer, Yu Wensheng defended human rights cases and activists before his conviction and imprisonment in China.

The Finalists distinguish themselves by their bravery and deep commitment to the issues they defend, despite the many attempts to silence them by respective governmental authorities. The 2021 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony will celebrate their courage on 11 February during an online ceremony hosted jointly with the City of Geneva which, as part of its commitment to human rights, has for many years supported the AwardEvery year thousands of human rights defenders are persecuted, harassed, imprisoned, even killed. The Martin Ennals Foundation is honored to celebrate the 2021 Finalists, who have done so much for others and whose stories of adversity are emblematic of the precarity faced by the human rights movement today”, says Isabel de Sola, Director of the Martin Ennals Foundation.

For more on this and similar awards, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/043F9D13-640A-412C-90E8-99952CA56DCE

Authoritarian states tend to believe that by jailing or censoring human rights defenders, the world will forget about them. During the COVID-pandemic, it seemed like lockdowns would successfully keep people from speaking out. This year’s Finalists are a testament to the fact that nothing could be further from the truth, says Hans Thoolen, Chair of the Jury.

  • In Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most isolated countries, freedom of speech is inexistent and independent journalists work at their own peril. Soltan Achilova (71), a photojournalist, documents the human rights abuses and social issues affecting Turkmen people in their daily lives. Despite the repressive environment and personal hardships, she is one of the very few reporters in the country daring to sign independent articles.
  • In Saudi Arabia, women still face several forms of gender discrimination, so much so, that the Kingdom ranks in the bottom 10 places according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Loujain AlHathloul (31) was one of the leading figures of the Women to drive movement and advocated for the end of the male guardianship system. She was imprisoned in 2018 on charges related to national security together with several other women activists. Tortured, denied medical care, and subjected to solitary confinement, Loujain was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months in prison on 28 December 2020. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/loujain-al-hathloul/]
  • In China, more than 300 human rights activists and lawyers disappeared or were arrested in 2015 during the so called 709 Crackdown. A successful business lawyer, Yu Wensheng (54) gave up his career to defend one of these detained lawyers, before being arrested himself. Detained for almost three years now, Yu Wensheng’s right hand was crushed in jail and his health is failing. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/06/26/lawyers-key-to-the-rule-of-law-even-china-agrees-but-only-lip-service/]

Online Award Ceremony on 11 February 2021

The 2021 Martin Ennals Award will be given to the three Finalists on 11 February 2021 at an online ceremony co-hosted by the City of Geneva (Switzerland), a long-standing supporter of the Award. “The City of Genevareaffirmsits support to human rights, especially during these times of crisis and upheaval. Human rights are the foundation of our society, not even the pandemic will stop us from celebrating brave persons who have sacrificed so much”, says Member of the executive Alfonso Gomez.

For more information:

Chloé Bitton
Communications Manager
Martin Ennals Foundation
cbitton@martinennalsaward.org
media@martinennalsaward.org
Office: +41.22.809.49.25
Mobile: +41.78.734.68.79

Media focal point for Loujain AlHathloul
Uma Mishra-Newberry
FreeLoujain@gmail.com  
https://www.loujainalhathloul.org
+41.78.335.25.40 (on signal)

Press release

Press release (English)

Press release (French)

Press release (Chinese)

Press release (Russian)

Press release (Arabic)