Posts Tagged ‘Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders’

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

Martin Ennals Award 2021 Nominations: deadline approaching

June 8, 2020

Nominations for the Martin Ennals Award 2021 are currently accepted. The deadline for nominations is June 12th 2020. Please forward this message to whomever you can.

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders honours individuals and organizations who have shown exceptional commitment to defending human rights, despite the risks involved, and who are in need of protection. [see also: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders]

In addition to the achievements of the nominee, several criteria are taken into consideration for the Award:

• Nominees must be currently active in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Award does not consider defenders who are deceased.

• The nominee should not employ or advocate violence.

• Self -nominations are not accepted.

• Defenders who are no longer in need of protection (e.g. because they are now in a safe environment) will normally not be considered.

Three finalists will be selected by the Jury and announced in October/November 2020. The Laureate will be announced in February 2021.

To submit a candidate use the form

Martin Ennals Award laureates rally to demand freedom for their imprisoned fellow award-winners

April 24, 2020

On 21 April 2020, – for the first time – a group of 14 former winners of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders rallied around their follow laureates lingering in jail.  They signed a joint letter to the Permanent Representatives to the UN of Bahrain, China, Iran and the United Arab Emirates:

Your Excellencies:

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, we the undersigned, winners of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, are calling for the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders around the world, who are at tremendous risk due to the virus. We add our voices to the calls of international leaders, of hundreds of civil society organizations and thousands of mobilized citizens, to grant clemency towards vulnerable prisoners during this health crisis, including our fellow award-winners who are imprisoned for their defense of human rights in four countries:

…..

Today we are deeply concerned about the continued imprisonment of defenders across the world, despite their exposure to and high risk of contracting COVID-19. Numerous health authorities and human rights organisations have denounced the risks of COVID-19 for prisoners held in crowded conditions. …[ See e.g. also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/23/civicus-and-600-ngos-dont-violate-human-rights-while-responding-to-covid-19/; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/14/un-guidelines-for-use-of-emergency-powers-in-time-of-covid-19-pandemic/%5D

Despite the tragedy of lives lost and significant economic damage, we believe this crisis will also present opportunities for a better world. Now is the time to remedy the unjust detention of these individuals. By releasing our brothers and sisters – Ilham, Ahmed, Nabeel, Abdullah, and Nasrin – the leaders of your nations would demonstrate their capacity for mercy and responsibility. We therefore call on your government to free our fellow Martin Ennals Award winners immediately, as well as all human rights defenders in detainment, so that their physical integrity is ensured, and they can receive appropriate medical and psychological support.

 Signed:

Huda al-Sarari
Yemen, Laureate 2020

Norma Librada Ledezma
Mexico, Finalist 2020

Sizani Ngubane
South Africa, Finalist 2020

Abdul Aziz Mohamat
Sudan, Laureate 2019

Eren Keskin
Turkey, Finalist 2019

Marino Córdoba
Colombia, Finalist 2019

Mohamed Zaree
Egypt, Laureate 2017

Karla Avelar
El Salvador, Finalist 2017

Asmaou Diallo
Guinea, Finalist 2015

Adilur Rahman Khan
Bangladesh, Finalist 2014

Mona Seif
Egypt, Finalist 2013

Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Finalist 2012

Arnold Tsunga
Zimbabwe, Laureate 2006

Clement Nwankwo
Nigeria, Laureate 1996

—-

https://www.martinennalsaward.org/the-mea-winners-are-calling-for-the-release-of-imprisoned-hrd-including-their-fellow-award-winner/

Huda Al-Sarari is the laureate of the 2020 Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders

February 22, 2020

On 19 February 2020 the Martin Ennals Foundation announced that is has granted Huda Al-Sarari, Yemeni lawyer and human rights defender, the 2020 Martin Ennals Award. Huda was among three women human rights defenders selected as finalists for the Award by a jury of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations, along with Sizani Ngubane, South Africa, and Norma Librada Ledezma, Mexico. [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/26/breaking-news-mea-has-3-women-hrds-as-finalists-for-2020/]

The 2020 Martin Ennals Award ceremony, co-hosted with the City of Geneva, was held on Wednesday 19 February, and for the first time in the history of the Award, all three finalists are women. “Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are subject to the same risks as every human rights defender, but as women, they also face certain forms of violence and violations due to their gender. WHRDs are often stigmatized and ostracized by community leaders, faith-based groups and even family members”, said the Mayor of the City of Geneva, Sandrine Salerno.

Huda Al-Sarari is a Yemeni lawyer and human rights defender who graduated from Aden University. She also holds a masters in Women’s Studies and Development from the Women’s Centre at Aden University. Since 2015, Huda investigated, exposed and challenged the enforced disappearances that occurred as a result of secret prisons run by foreign governments in Southern Yemen where thousands of men and boys have suffered from arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings. She collected evidence on more than 250 cases of the abuse taking place within those prisons and succeeded in convincing international organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to take up the cause. “Being a human rights defender in Yemen is extremely challenging, and being a woman makes this even more difficult. In a male-dominated society, I have to prove myself maybe ten times more than a man”, explains Huda. Despite the threats, defamation campaigns and sacrifices she and her family endured, Huda continues to stand alongside the families of those who have disappeared.

Receiving the 2020 Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders means the world to me. It gives me great strength and emboldens me to continue this fight for justice”, she says. “I believe the Award will be incredibly important in drawing attention to the continual plight of victims of arbitrary detention, abuse and torture in Yemen”, she concluded.

As Chair of the Martin Ennals Award Jury, I myself added that “We commend Huda for the work that she conducted, not only against the backdrop of the ongoing Yemeni civil war, but also, in a country where women still struggle to express their political and civil rights. Huda’s legacy is crucial as her thorough investigations and search for accountability will serve to bring justice for human rights violations occurred during the conflict.

For more on this and other awards for human rights defenders see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders. The Martin Ennals Jury is composed of 10 of the world’s leading human rights organisations. See: https://www.martinennalsaward.org/about-us-about-the-martin-ennals-award/

Martin Ennals Award ceremony on 19 February – in Geneva and on internet

February 10, 2020

The MARTIN ENNALS AWARDS CERMONY 2020 will take place on Wednesday 19 February 2020, 18h00, at the Salle communale de Plainpalais in Geneva. It wil honour three women human rights defenders for their exceptional courage and dedication:

Ms Huda Al-Sarari, Yemen

Ms Norma Ledezma, Mexico

Ms Sizani Ngubane, South Africa

See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/26/breaking-news-mea-has-3-women-hrds-as-finalists-for-2020/

If you are in Geneva on 19 February please REGISTER . If not, note that the event with be live streamed. More information to follow on: https://www.martinennalsaward.org/.

Please spread the message.