Posts Tagged ‘Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders’

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)

Save the date: Martin Ennals Award ceremony on 11 February 2021

November 24, 2020

Under the slogan “Nothing can stop us from celebrating human rights defenders!” the Martin Ennals Foundation and the City of Geneva invite you to join in an unforgettable evening dedicated to protecting human rights and honoring three exceptional human rights defenders.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 3 Finalists on 18 January 2021.

If you want to be kept informed of the 2021 edition CLICK HERE

The event will be livestreamed from Geneva and worldwide locations.

Former MEP Barbara Lochbihler about her human rights work

July 13, 2020

On 10 July 2020 the Martin Ennals Foundation published an interview with new Board member Barbara Lochbihler, former Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany and Member of the European Parliament (2009-2019):

  1. What motivated you to join the Martin Ennals Foundation?

During the past thirty years, in my role as Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany and before with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Geneva, and then later on as Member of the European Parliament, with a focus on human rights, the work and expertise of human rights defenders were and became central to me. The increasing challenges and threats they face demanding better protection of the rights of their fellow human beings is still very worrisome and needs all our attention and solidarity. 

  1. Why did you choose to join the UN Committee against Enforced Disappearance?

After ending my mandate in the European Parliament in Brussels, I was looking for a way to continue my human rights engagement. The United Nations human rights work in Geneva is at the centre of developing international protection mechanisms and norms.
Since a year now, I’m an independent expert in the UN Committee against Enforced Disappearance. It monitors the implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and takes up individual cases. I’m enjoying the great teamwork with colleagues in an international context.

  1. 2020 has been so far a year of global upheaval. What is your advice to human rights defenders across the world?

The work of human rights defenders is essential to improve the situation on the ground, by factual reporting of cases, by analysing the root causes of human rights violations, by demanding political change and proposing better legal protection mechanisms. In 2019, Front Line Defenders registered 304 cases of human rights defenders who were killed. Increasingly human rights defenders are under threat, they experience violence and oppression. It is urgent to continue our international support and solidarity with human rights defenders, in order to counter and defend the space for civil society actors.

https://www.martinennalsaward.org/barbara-lochbihler-interview/

Breaking: Human Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain finally released

June 10, 2020

Human rights activist Nabeel Rajab gestures as he leaves a police station in Manama, Bahrain, on May 28, 2012. Rajab, who had been sentenced to five years in prison for tweets alleging abuse at Bahrain’s prisons, has been released amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic HASAN JAMALI/AP

JON GAMBRELL for Associated Press reproted on 9 June, 2020 that Bahrain has freed prominent human rights defender Nabeel Rajab amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, allowing him to serve out the remainder of his internationally criticized prison sentence from home. See recent post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/24/martin-ennals-award-laureates-rally-to-demand-freedom-for-their-imprisoned-fellow-award-winners/

Nabeel Rajab, 55, wore a garland of white roses after his release, smiling while posing with his family for the first time since being detained in June 2016. Bahrain has been releasing inmates amid the pandemic, but largely had avoided freeing political prisoners. In September, a court denied Rajab’s request to serve out the rest of his sentence at home.

Rajab received a five-year prison sentence over tweets alleging torture at one of the country’s prisons and criticism of the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He separately received a two-year prison sentence over television interviews he gave that included criticism of Bahrain, a small island nation off Saudi Arabia that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Fo rmore posts on Rajab, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/nabeel-rajab/

Bahrain’s prisons remain crowded with peaceful human rights defenders and opposition leaders, whose lives are threatened by the government’s inadequate response to COVID-19,” said Husain Abdulla, the executive director of the group Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain.

https://www.startribune.com/bahrain-activist-nabeel-rajab-released-from-prison/571128782/?refresh=true

https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/prominent-bahraini-rights-activist-released-from-prison-1.633018