Posts Tagged ‘MEA final nominee 2014’

Cao Shunli – a profile and new award in her name

February 12, 2016

On 7 February 2016, Big News Network carried a profile of Cao Shunli, the Chinese human rights defender who died in custody on 14 March 2014. It starts with a beautiful quote of Cao Shunli (in an article on the China Change website on The Life and Death of Cao Shunli: “I was so saddened. I thought: you [China] are such a big government, but you do this to one individual. I don’t understand it.”

I have blogged enough on Cao Shunli [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cao-shunli/] skip her life story here but the profile is worth reading for those who want to know more about this remarkable woman.  Cao was a final nominee for the Martin Ennals Award 2014, for which True Heroes Films (THF) produced a moving video about her work that includes footage of the Chinese quashing of the motion of silence at the UN. [see: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=248&Itemid=161&lang=en]

Cao-Shunli-644x362

 

 

 

 

 

 

The article does not refer to the establishment of the annual Cao Shunli Memorial Award for Human Rights Defenders. On 9 March 2015 Three rights groups launched the award in honor of  Cao Shunli: Human Rights Campaign in China, Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch, and Rights Defense Network. The award is handed out on March 14, to mark the day Cao Shunli passed away. The recipient will be awarded funding to conduct human rights initiatives, especially “to push for civil society participation in international human rights activities” and to monitor the Chinese government’s implementation of its human rights obligations. In a joint announcement, the three NGOs said that the award will “commemorate Ms. Cao Shunli, so her life’s story will inspire generations to come.Read the rest of this entry »

BREAKING NEWS: FINAL NOMINEES MARTIN ENNALS AWARD 2015 JUST ANNOUNCED

April 22, 2015


new MEA_logo with text

Being the award of the global human rights community (for Jury see below) today’s announcement (22 April 2015) deserves special attention:

The Final Nominees of Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders 2015 are:

Robert Sann Aung (Myanmar)

Since his first year of University in 1974, Robert Sann Aung has courageously fought against human rights abuses. He has been repeatedly imprisoned in harsh conditions, physically attacked as well as regularly threatened. His education was interrupted numerous times and he was disbarred from 1993 – 2012. In 2012 he managed to regain his license to practice law. Since then he has represented jailed child soldiers, those protesting at a contested copper mine, peaceful political protesters, those whose land has been confiscated by the military, as well as student activists. Throughout his career he has provided legal services, or just advice, often pro bono, to those whose rights have been affected.

Upon receiving the news of his selection, he stated, “I feel humble and extremely honored to be nominated for this prestigious award. This nomination conveys the message to activists, human rights defenders and promoters who fight for equality, justice and democracy in Myanmar that their efforts are not forgotten by the world. And this is also the nomination for the people in Myanmar who stand together with me, who struggle with me, for the betterment of citizens so that they can live in dignity, under the just law, in conformity with the principles of UN human rights declaration.”

Asmaou Diallo (Guinea)

Her human rights work started following the events of 28 September 2009 when the Guinean military attacked peaceful demonstrators. Over 150 were killed, including her son, and over 100 women raped. Hundreds more were injured. She and l’Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du 28 septembre 2009 (APIVA), which she founded, work to obtain justice for these crimes and to provide medical and vocational support to victims of sexual assault, many of whom cannot return to their homes. She has worked to encourage witnesses to come forward and supported them as they provided information and testimony to court proceedings. As a result, eleven people have been charged, including senior army officers.

Upon receiving the news of her selection, she stated, “As a human rights defender in Guinea, I am very comforted to be among the nominees for the Martin Ennals Foundation, this prize encourages me to continue my fight for the protection and promotion of human rights in Guinea. I trust that this award will have a positive effect on the legal cases concerning the events of the September 28, 2009, and will be a lever for all defenders of human rights in Guinea

 Ahmed Mansoor (United Arab Emirates)

Since 2006, he has focussed on initiatives concerning freedom of expression, civil and political rights. He successfully campaigned in 2006-2007 to support two people jailed for critical social comments. They were released and the charges dropped. Shortly after, the Prime Minister of UAE issued an order not to jail journalists in relation to their work. He is one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates who provides a credible independent assessment of human rights developments. He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture, international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, and domestic laws that violate international law. He was jailed in 2011 and since then has been denied a passport and banned from travelling.

Upon receiving the news of his selection, he stated, “I’m very pleased to be nominated for the Martin Ennals award. This recognition indicates that we are not left alone in this part of the world and that our voices resonate and our efforts are appreciated by a well-informed people. I hope this nomination sheds further light on the human rights issues in the UAE. It is not just full of skyscrapers, big malls and an area attractive to businesses, but there are other struggles of different sorts beneath all of that.”

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:

  • Amnesty International,
  • Human Rights Watch,
  • Human Rights First,
  • Int’l Federation for Human Rights,
  • World Organisation Against Torture,
  • Front Line Defenders
  • International Commission of Jurists,
  • EWDE Germany,
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • HURIDOCS

An electronic version with Bios, Photos, and Video can be found at: http://bit.ly/1DYqlFn

For last year’s nominees see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/announcement-ceremony-of-the-martin-ennals-award-2014-on-7-october/

For further information: Michael Khambatta +41 79 474 8208, khambatta@martinennalsaward.org or visit http://www.martinennalsaward.org

China OR the UN must ensure independent investigation into death of Cao Shunli !

March 27, 2015

When late Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli – as Final Nominee of he Martin Ennals Award 2014 – got a standing ovation during the ceremony in October last year, we all said, with the 10 NGOs on the Jury, that we should not forget her. On 19 March 2015 in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council that is exactly what a group of NGOs [International Service for Human Rights and supported by Human Rights WatchCIHRSCIVICUSConectasEHARDPArticle 19HRHF and ALRC] asked for: Ensure independent investigation into death of Cao Shunli.CAO_SHUNLI_PORTRAIT

China must ensure a full, independent and impartial investigation into the death of Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli, ..If Chinese authorities are unable or unwilling to conduct such an investigation in accordance with international standards, the Human Rights Council as the world’s top human rights body must take appropriate action, the statement said.

One year after her tragic death, there has been no adequate investigation or accountability in relation to the death of Chinese defender Cao Shunli,’ said Michael Ineichen, Head of Human Rights Council Advocacy at ISHR. ‘If China is let of the hook for such a blatant case of reprisals against someone wanting to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms, the Council sends a message to rights abusers that activists can be attacked with impunity.’

The statement highlighted the negative effect of impunity for cases of intimidation and reprisals, as shown by the numerous reported cases of intimidation and reprisals occurring during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council, including against South Sudanese and Bahraini defenders.

The legal and moral obligations of States to protect those who cooperate with the UN are clear, and if a State fails to conduct stop reprisals or to properly investigate allegations, the UN has a responsibility to act, the statement said.

We welcome recent advances on the institutional level, such as the treaty body policies that recognise States’ primary duty to ensure accountability in the case of reprisals, and the UN’s own duty of care,’ said Eleanor Openshaw, Head of Reprisals Advocacy at ISHR. ‘However, in the absence of a more systematic approach, such as through a dedicated focal point on reprisals which could coordinate investigation of and follow-up to individual cases, these steps will remain the proverbial drop in the ocean’   The statement is available as a PDF and video.

for more on reprisals in this blog see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/

Adilur Rahman Khan speaks out against torture

December 2, 2014

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention against torture, the OMCT HAS launched its Campaign “10 Days of Activism against torture and ill-treatment” from the 1st to the 10th of December 2014. This is the first episode figuring human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan, from Bangladesh. He was one of the 3 final nominees of the MEA 2014.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/adilur-rahman-khan/

 

Bangladesh Human Rights Defender Adilur accorded more awards

October 29, 2014

Adilur Rahman Khan addresses weeklong IBA annual conference in Tokyo, Japan ended on Friday. Photo: AHRC Press Centre

Adilur Rahman Khan addresses IBA annual conference in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: AHRC Press Centre

Bangladesh human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan, of the human rights organisation Odhikar, has won the 2014 International Bar Association (IBA) Human Rights Award.

For more on these awards see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/awards.
Adilur received the award from IBA President Michael Reynolds at the Rule of Law Symposium held at the conclusion of the IBA Annual Conference in Tokyo, which finished on 24 October. In October 1994, he founded the human rights organisation Odhikar, which has undertaken extensive fact-finding and reporting of human rights violations in Bangladesh. During the presentation of the award, Reynolds said, “Let us be reminded that lawyers play a vital role in promoting justice, human rights and upholding the rule of law, both at home and abroad.  May Mr Khan’s courage, determination and resilience be an inspiration to lawyers everywhere.”In his acceptance speech, Adilur told the 200 delegates gathered at the Symposium, ‘The Rule of Law is under serious threat in my country. Justice for all the ongoing gross human rights violations is inaccessible for victims and their families.  Their right to access to complaint mechanisms is denied, regardless of whatever is written in the laws or the Constitution of the country”. Repressive laws are in force and the independence of the judiciary is under attack in a spree of politicisation of institutions of the state, he added.

via Adilur gets IBA int’l human rights award.

Breaking News: Alejandra Ancheita is the 2014 MEA Laureate

October 7, 2014

AlejandraTM4M1713The Martin Ennals Foundation just announced in Geneva – during a ceremony broadcast live on the internet – that the MEA Laureate of 2014 is  Alejandra Ancheita from Mexico. She was selected by a Jury representing the broad international Human Rights movement (see below).

Alejandra Ancheita is the founding Director of ProDESC. For over 15 years she has worked with migrants, workers, and indigenous communities to protect their land and labour rights vis-a-vis transnational mining and energy companies. These disputes have included violent attacks on those she is trying to protect. She is also one of the pioneers in seeking accountability for transnational companies in Mexican courts when local communities’ rights are not taken into account. In Mexico, there is a clear pattern of attacks, threats, criminalization, and murders of human rights defenders. Ms Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, a defamation campaign in the national media, and a break in at their offices. Read the rest of this entry »

Announcement: Ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award 2014 on 7 October

June 22, 2014

2014 poster MEA Geneva
The City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation have set the day of the 2014 ceremony for 7 October 2014, 6 pm, at Uni-Dufour, Geneva, during the opening day of the Human Rights Week hosted by the University of Geneva. Save this date in your agenda and register as from now online athttp://www.martinennalsaward.org/.

The laureate will be selected among the three Final Nominees of the 2014 edition:

  • Ms Cao Shunli (China), who lost her life on March 14th, 2014, had vigorously advocated since 2008 for access to information, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, encouraging strengthened domestic implementation of international mechanisms.
  • Mr Adilur Rahman Khan (Bangladesh) has worked since the 1990’s on a wide range of humain rights issues, such as illegal detention, enforced disapearances, extra-judicial killing, and elections monitoring with his non-governmental organization, Odhikar.
  • Ms Alejandra Ancheita (Mexico) founder and Executive Director of ProDESC, has worked for more than 15 years with migrants, workers, and indigenous communities to protect their land and labour rights vis a vis transnational mining and energy companies.

The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award is made up of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Frontline Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists, EWDE-Germany, the International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS.

Bangladesh also to use funding controls to restrict human right defenders

June 14, 2014

Bangladesh is trying to restrict human rights defenders such as Adilur of the NGO ODHIKAR, final nominee of the MEA 2014. The cabinet has approved the “Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulations Bill, 2014”, which will likely become law soon. The Bill empowers bureaucrats to decide the fate of NGOs. All individuals or collectives, from NGO’s to volunteer groups, receiving foreign funds for implementing projects will be under constant surveillance under this law.

In a statement of 13 June the Asian Legal Resource Centre says that the law will usher even more arbitrary executive actions in Bangladesh. Read the rest of this entry »

BANGLADESH: Chains of Corruption Strangle Nation — Asian Human Rights Commission

May 12, 2014

To better understand the climate of lawlessness in which the Final Nominee of the MEA 2014, Adilur of ODHIKAR, has to operate, please read the detailed statement below by the Asian Human Rights Commission. It tells how seven men, including a lawyer and city councillor, have been murdered in cold blood, mostly likely by the infamous Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Bangladesh. I decided not to shortened it:

“The rule of law does not exist in Bangladesh. The way the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) abducted seven men, including a senior lawyer and a member of the mayoral panel of the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC), on 27 April 2014, and murdered them, allegedly on behalf of a feuding faction of the ruling party, in exchange for a 60 million Taka (US$ 774,000) bribe, is proof yet again of this fact. The role of family members of a cabinet minister in masterminding the operation, police inaction in the face of knowledge of the abduction, and eyewash gestures at the highest levels of government confirm fears. The politics of blood and wealth reign supreme in Bangladesh; there is no space for the rule of law. A ‘chain of corruption’ has replaced the ‘chain of command’ in Bangladesh’s law-enforcement system, and the people are forced to pay more to the law enforcers than they do their government (For further details, please see an earlier statement on the subject).

On 27 April 2014, Mr. Md. Nazrul Islam, a Councillor of the NCC, approached the district’s Sessions Court to seek permanent bail in a case filed against him and his followers by political opponents, the Bangladesh Awami League, i.e. the ruling party.

At the court premises, Nazrul was under constant surveillance by plain-clothed members of the RAB. Nazrul’s associates caught one of the plain-clothed men, who happened to be armed, and handed him to the on-duty police officers at the court. The police released the man following intervention by a uniformed RAB officer, who came to rescue his colleague. Vehicles with “‘RAB-11’ signs were also noticed parked in front of the court.

By 12:30 p.m., Nazrul and fifteen more persons, who were all accused in the same case, managed to get bail from the court. After a while, Nazrul, along with three associates and his car driver, left the court. Their car began heading towards Dhaka through the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road. Mr. Chandan Kumar Sarker, a senior lawyer of the Narayanganj Bar Association, whose car followed that of Nazrul, left the court for lunch at his home, located adjacent to the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road.

The RAB team abducted Nazrul and his associates, allegedly from a place called Lamapara. Chandan’s car is reported to have arrived at the scene right when Nazrul and his associates were being abducted by the RAB. So there would be not witnesses to the abduction, the RAB team abducted Chandan and his car driver too.

Within 24 hours of the abduction, Chandan’s car was found at the Gulshan Niketan area of Dhaka, while the car carrying Nazrul and his associates was found at Rajendrapur, Gazipur District, where a cantonment is situated. After three days, on 30 April, dead bodies of six of the seven men were found floating in the Shitalakkhaya river, adjacent to Narayanganj. The seventh body was found in the same river on 1 May. Each dead body had 24 bricks fastened to it, 12 in the front and 12 in the back. The bricks were placed in ration bags, similar to those distributed among security forces.

The Civil Surgeon of Narayanganj district, who headed the team that conducted the autopsy on the dead bodies, told the media that all the seven victims were hit in the head before they were strangulated. The injuries on most bodies appeared similar; Nazrul’s body had additional injury marks. The abdomens of all seven bodies were perforated, so that the bodies would not float. However, the jute ropes used in fastening the dead bodies rotted under water and gave way. As a result, the dead bodies surfaced. The Civil Surgeon said that he believed “only professional, skilled and trained people could have carried out such an act.

The police officers later admitted to the media and local human rights defenders that they came to know about the abduction of seven people, including Nazrul Islam and Chandan Sarker, soon after the incidents occurred. However, the police did not take any action. The police did not include the names of any RAB officers in the complaint regarding Nazrul’s disappearance. This is the kind of immunity enjoyed by criminals in the RAB, and the goons of the ruling parties of Bangladesh. The deliberate avoidance of the police, other units of RAB and all the agencies in rescuing the abducted men alive also indicates the level of lawlessness that plagues the country.

Lt. Col. Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Commander of RAB-11, based in Narayanganj, is married to a daughter of Mr. Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury (Maya), a cabinet minister of the incumbent regime. The RAB-11 Commander and his brother-in-law, Mr. Sajedul Islam Chowdhury, also known as Dipu Chowdhury (son of Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury), who is a business partner of NCC Councillor Nur Hossain, allegedly planned the abduction and disappearance of Nazrul, as a result of enmity between Nazrul and Nur, with Nur, allegedly, being a goon of Mr. Shamim Osman.

Mr. Shamim Osman, a Member of Parliament from Narayanganj district won his seat uncontested in the January 5th fake parliamentary election (For further details, please seeAHRC’s statement on the fake general elections in Bangladesh here). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina backs Mr. Osman; he has even claimed, in a press briefing, that he informed the Sheikh Hasina over telephone within ten minutes of the RAB abduction. Sheikh Hasina, who also happens to be the nation’s Home Minister, has not denied Shamim’s version of events.

The Prime Minister and Home Minister Sheikh Hasina took no action to save the lives of the abducted seven. Her hands are stained with the blood of these seven victims. Following continued public protest, the government withdrew top officials from Narayanganj district two days after the disappearance of the seven men. The officers include the Deputy Commissioner (DC), the Superintendent of Police (SP), and three officers of the RAB-11, namely Lt. Col. Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Major Arif Hossain, and Lt. Commander SM Masud Rana. The three military officers were deputed back to their original units in the army and navy. On 5 May, the government announced that these three military officers had been given forced retirements. The government has, however, not frozen their bank accounts or arrested any of the officers.

Since the abduction and disappearance of the seven men, a number of people took to the streets around Narayanganj and other parts of the country. The district Bar Association continuously staged protests demanding the return of their member, Mr. Chandan Kumar Sarker. The lawyers called for a general strike in the district, which was supported by different Bar Associations in Bangladesh. Public protests have not stopped.

The Narayanganj Bar Association, along with another organisation and the son-in-law of slain lawyer Chandan Kumar Sarker, has filed a writ petition with the High Court Division demanding the arrest of the military officers.

On 11 May 2014, a High Court Bench has directed the government and the Inspector General of Bangladesh Police to arrest the three military officers. Two of the officers are reportedly being housed in the Logistic Area of the Dhaka Cantonment. The High Court has also asked the authorities to explain why they would not be directed to “effectively consider an amendment to the existing law(s) regulating professional activities of the police, RAB and other law enforcement agencies aiming at updating their various legal provisions relating to their duties and responsibilities towards ensuring effective enjoyment of the citizens’ rights enshrined Article 31, 32, 36, 42 and 44 of the constitution.

The court has reportedly asked the authorities to explain why the government would not be directed to ensure ‘uninfluenced’ and ‘unbiased’ investigation into the murders. The authorities have also been asked why the government would not be directed to “oversee the performance of the law enforcement agencies in view of human rights“. Secretaries to the home, law, and public administration ministries, the National Human Rights Commission chairman, and the Inspector General of Police have been asked to reply in four weeks. The police have not yet identified all the alleged RAB perpetrators and no RAB official has yet been accused in the cases filed regarding the seven victims.

Could this abduction and murder of seven men have been committed by but three officers? It is likely that more than a dozen RAB personnel were involved in the crime; this is something the government has been trying ignore. Bangladeshis know that the officers of the military and paramilitary forces – such as the Bangladesh Army, the RAB, and the police – enjoy impunity for the crimes they commit. Officers of the armed forces and ruling politicians and their associates and families are understood to be above Bangladesh’s Constitution and other domestic laws while the party is in power.

Everyday, citizens are abducted by plain clothed men claiming to be the officers of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the Detective Branch (DB) of Police. No such incident has been met with a credible investigation. Citizen questions about the abductions, which are followed by either disappearance or the recovery of dead bodies, have not been answered.

In few incidences the abductees have been found alive, following temporary disappearance. These victims and their families are usually more scared than ever. Nobody dares to share the true stories of their abduction, either publicly or privately, on fear of extrajudicial execution, and with an understanding that an official complaint will come to nothing. On the other hand, law-enforcement agencies continue to blame ‘criminals’ for such abductions and disappearances.

The people of Bangladesh have been demanding that the RAB be disbanded immediately for its utter failure in acting under the purview of the laws of the land. Instead, the RAB, which claims to be an ‘elite force’, has always blamed ‘criminals’ for gross violation of human rights, such as the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. If the RAB’s job is to blame ‘criminals’ for committing crimes like abduction and disappearance, criminals that use similar uniforms, vehicles, and mien across the country, then what kind of elite force is the RAB? The Asian Human Rights Commission and its sister organisation the Asian Legal Resource Centre recommended in 2006 that the government of Bangladesh disband the RAB. At that time, a Special Report titled “Lawless law-enforcement and the parody of judiciary in Bangladesh” was published in article2. The AHRC reiterates that the RAB should be disbanded, immediately, joining voices in Bangladesh making this demand at present.

The discourse regarding abduction, disappearance, and extrajudicial executions should not focus on only the seven victims of Narayanganj, i.e. on event reporting. There are so many names like Mohammad Salim Mian, Imam Hossain Badal, Chowdhury Alam, M. Ilias Ali, who have been victim to enforced disappearance. In last eight years, hundreds of people have been disappeared. The discourse must include all these victims. None of their families have received any answer from the government or justice through the judiciary. The people have to find a way to bring the rule of law to Bangladesh. Presently, law-enforcement agencies do not comply with the system of rule of law. It is the chains of corruption that are being complied with. And, it is these chains of corruption that are strangling the nation and mangling the fate of rule of law, against the people’s aspirations.”

 

BANGLADESH: Chains of Corruption Strangle Nation — Asian Human Rights Commission.