Posts Tagged ‘MEA’

Martin Ennals Ceremony 2017 was very moving

October 19, 2017

For those who missed it, here the link to the FULL version of the ceremony for the 2017 Martin Ennals ward of Human Rights Defenders.

breaking news: Egyptian defender Mohammed Zaree laureate of the Martin Ennals Award 2017

October 10, 2017

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the highest accolade in the international human rights moment, has just announced that Mohamed Zaree, a human rights lawyer from Egypt, has been selected as the 2017 Laureate. The announcement was made on 10 October at 18h30, during the annual ceremony in Geneva. You can still follow it through live streaming at this very moment: via: https://www.facebook.com/villegeneve.ch/.

Mohamed Zaree is a human rights activist and legal scholar whose work focuses on human rights advocacy around freedom of expression and association. He is also known for his role as the Egypt Country Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), which works throughout the Arabic speaking world. He assumed this role after government pressure on CIHRS prompted them to relocate their headquarters to Tunis in 2014.

The Egyptian government has been escalating its pressure on the human rights movement. Human rights NGOs and defenders are confronted with a growing wave of threats, harassment, and intimidation, legal and otherwise. Despite this, Zaree continues to lead CIHRS’ research, human rights education, and national advocacy initiatives in Egypt and is shaping the media debate on human rights issues. During this critical period for civil society, he is also leading the Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs, a network aiming to unify human rights groups in advocacy. Zaree’s initiatives have helped NGOs to develop common approaches to human rights issues in Egypt. Within the context of the renewed crackdown on Egyptian human rights organizations, he has become a leading figure in Egypt’s human rights movement. Zaree is currently facing investigation under the “Foreign Funding Case” and is at high risk of prosecution and life imprisonment. The “Foreign Funding Case” highly restricts NGO activities. Despite this, Zaree continues to engage the authorities in dialogue wherever possible, arguing that respect for human rights will increase stability in Egypt. Zaree has been under a travel ban since May 2016.

Martin Ennals Foundation Chair Dick Oosting stated: “Severe restriction of civil society’s space to express itself is what led Mohamed Zaree to advocate for human rights and fight for the freedom of association. He is still paying the price for his courageous acts, and we urge his government to lift the travel ban.”

The unique composition of the Jury of the MEA [a coöperation by 10 global human rights organizations, see www.martinennalsaward.org for more detail] makes this award the most important prize in the human rights world. It is supported by the City of Geneva.

The two other finalists also received Martin Ennals prizes:

Karla Avelar (El Salvador)

FreeThe5KH (Cambodia)                                                            

For more on the award see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/09/18/ceremony-of-the-24th-martin-ennals-award-coming-up-on-10-october.  and

http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders

Geneva: the right place for the world’s human rights award

October 5, 2017

Global Geneva published today, 4 October 2017, an article by me called “[Geneva] The right place for the world’s human rights award“. Rather than summarizing it, here is the full article. There are lots of other interesting pieces in the issue, see: http://www.global-geneva.com.

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The 2017 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders will be announced on Tuesday, 10 October, 2017 at the University of Geneva (UniDufour) in Geneva, Switzerland. For further information, go to MEA: This article also appears in the Oct-Nov 2017 edition of Global Geneva magazine.

WITHOUT INDIVIDUAL HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS (HRDs), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights law risk being a dead letter. Almost all human rights organisations have a mandate to come to the succour of threatened colleagues via urgent appeals and other campaigns. Some 150 now run an award and the number keeps growing – half were created since the beginning of the 21st century.

Curiously, however, the best known of these awards, the Nobel Peace Prize, is given out annually in Oslo and not in Geneva, the international hub for human rights. Alfred Nobel died on 10 December. Decades later, the United Nations declared 10 December as International Human Rights Day and designated 21 September as the International Day of Peace. The strange result is that the Nobel Peace Prize – intended for contributions to ‘peace’, not necessarily ‘human rights’ – is awarded every year in Oslo on 10 December, which is ‘Nobel Day’ in Sweden and Norway, and International Human Rights Day for the rest of the world.

In 1992, I became involved in the creation of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA). Originally, this was meant to keep alive the memory of the first Secretary General of Amnesty International and a key figure behind the creation of the modern human rights movement. In recognition of his work, 10 global human rights organisations, (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Front Line Defenders, Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung, HURIDOCS, Human Rights First, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Service for Human Rights, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), all agreed to form the Jury. Later, a panel of regional NGOs joined the common effort.

The small volunteer secretariat operated out of Geneva, but many of the first award ceremonies were held abroad in places where the laureates are active. In 2001, it was decided to make Geneva the permanent location for the annual ceremony. By 2008, the lakeside city started offering serious support by making the award part of its “International Geneva” plan, an effort to galvanize the private and public sectors, including the rest of Switzerland, with regard to the region’s crucial importance as a hub for critical global issues. Since then, cooperation has grown into an admirable win-win partnership with the award run on a fully independent basis, while Geneva provides the infrastructure for the ceremony.

This suits all parties. The actual decisions are made by an autonomous jury of experts enabling the city to avoid having to deal with controversial aspects.

Mohamed Zaree of the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) is one of the three finalists, and is subject to a travel ban to Geneva where he is supposed to attend the 10 October 2017 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony. Despite requests directly to Egyptian President Al-Sisi, the ban – at this time of writing – has yet to be lifted.

Presenting the awards: a matter of protection – and courage

The wisdom of this separation was reiterated in 2016 when the MEA went to an imprisoned scholar belonging to the Uyghur minority. China reacted furiously, but its target ended up being the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who courageously persisted in presenting the award at the ceremony as his predecessors have done over the years.

How effective are human rights awards? To answer this, one needs to know in which way they are intended to help human rights defenders. In the first place, all awards seek to offer recognition and encouragement at the psychological level. This goal should not be trivialized as activists often have to work in difficult environments. Furthermore, they may prove unpopular even within their own social circles.

Secondly, many awards come with some financial support. Even relatively small amounts go far in cash-strapped organizations, many based in developing countries.

Finally, the most important but also elusive goal is protection. The latter is not really possible without a fair degree of publicity. An example: On 13 May 2008, Mutabar Tajibaeva, a detained human rights activist in Uzbekistan, was announced as that year’s MEA Laureate. A few weeks later, on 2 June, she was released from prison on medical grounds, and a few months later, was allowed to travel abroad. She came to Geneva to receive the MEA in person, declaring publicly that the award saved her life. However, one cannot state categorically that her release was a direct result of the award; many other actors contributed to the pressure that resulted in her release from prison.

Karla Avelar 2017 FINALIST – EL SALVADOR: Karla Avelar has dedicated her life to defending, nationally and internationally, the Human Rights of LGBTI persons, HIV affected persons, migrants, persons deprived of liberty in situations of vulnerability as well as victims of discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

For human rights abusers: embarrassment fueled by global press coverage 

That such impact cannot be taken for granted is shown by the case of Ahmed Mansoor from the United Arab Emirates, the 2015 Laureate. The government did not lift his travel ban and he had to address the audience via a video link.

His case received further global coverage in August 2016. Flaws in Apple’s iOS operating system were discovered by Mansoor who alerted security researchers to unsolicited text messages he had received. Apple has since released a software update that addresses the problem. Then, on 20 March, 2017, around midnight, Ahmed Mansoor was arrested at his home in a raid by a large team of the Emirates’ security forces.

His importance as a human rights defender was demonstrated by the international response to this sudden arrest. In addition to many newspapers and social media, the UN Special Procedures and the EU Parliament quickly called for his release. But today, six months later, he continues to linger in jail.

FreeThe5KH 2017 FINALIST = CAMBODIA: Mr Ny Sokha, Mr Yi Soksan, Mr Nay Vanda, Ms Lim Mony and Mr Ny Chakrya, the “Khmer 5” are Cambodian human rights defenders who face judicial harassment and had spent 427 days in pre-trial detention, as a result of their legitimate human rights work.

Some believe that human rights awards can endanger the lives of laureates. Clearly, this is a danger, but the best judge of the balance between increased risk and greater protection remains the human rights defender in question. And generally, they seem to regard public exposure foremost as a form of protection, reflecting the increased importance of the media even in tense situations. The biggest problem with seeking increased protection through publicity is perhaps that the media are not automatically interested in all human rights awards.

That the media are increasingly referring to the MEA as the “Nobel prize for human rights” is perhaps the best sign that after almost 25 years, the award has found its status and place in Geneva. With the delivery of the 2017 prize on 10 October in Geneva, it will again be in the hope to go ‘from the front line to the front page’.

Hans Thoolen is a Dutch national who has worked for various NGOs and inter-governmental organizations, including 12 years in Geneva. He is now retired but not tired. Read his blog: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/

Source: The right place for the world’s human rights award | Global Geneva

Ceremony of the 24th Martin Ennals Award coming up on 10 October

September 18, 2017

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders/

The City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation have announced the program of the 24thCeremony of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. The ceremony will be held in French and in English at Uni Dufour, Jean-Piaget auditorium (U 600) on Tuesday 10 October 2017, at 6 pm. This ceremony will open the Human Rights Week organized by the University of Geneva.This ceremony is open to the public. Please register to attend the ceremony.  The event will be streamed. The key elements in the programme are:

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/16/trans-defenders-karla-avelars-life-is-under-constant-threat/ and

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/30/cambodian-adhoc-5-human-rights-defenders-surprisingly-freed-for-the-time-being/

Last year’s film portraits can be seen here.

The 2017 Martin Ennals Award on social media:

– its Facebook event

– on Twitter: @martinennals #Ennals2017

SAVE THE DATE: 10 October 2017 ceremony Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva

June 28, 2017

The City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation have started the registration for 2017 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony on 10 October 2017, 6.00 pm, at Uni Dufour, Geneva.  The MEA ceremony is held as the opening of the Human Rights Week hosted by the University of Geneva from October 11 to 12 and with the support of the Republic and canton of Geneva.

The 2017 finalists (to the extent that they are allowed to travel) will be present and documentaries on the life of these finalists will be screened for the first time, illustrating the difficult conditions in which they have to work. The evening will conclude with a reception hosted by the City of Geneva, allowing the 2017 finalists, the Geneva community of human rights and the public to exchange in an informal setting.

The finalists are:
Karla Avelar (El Salvador) is a transgender woman who defends the rights of LGBTI persons. She suffered discrimination, exploitation, and rape.

FreeThe5KH (Cambodia) are five senior staff members from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) who have been in pre-trial detention for over one year.

Mohamed Zaree (Egypt), from the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, is a legal scholar coordinating research to challenge laws designed to limit NGOs activities working on human rights.

The finalists and laureate are selected by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, made up of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, FIDH, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Frontline Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists, EWDE-Germany, the International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS.

Last year’s ceremony: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/10/15/martin-ennals-award-2016-relive-the-ceremony-in-13-minutes-or-in-full/

Register now on the Martin Ennals Award’s website.

 

Trans defender’s Karla Avelar’s life is under constant threat

May 16, 2017

Brian Dooley of Human Rights First, wrote the following piece “Karla Avelar’s Life Of Constant Threats” in the Huffington Post of 13 May 2017 (in full below). Karla (El Salvador) is one of the three finalists of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/26/breaking-news-three-human-rights-defenders-selected-as-finalists-for-the-2017-martin-ennals-award/].  An rise in deadly violence against transgender women in El Salvador prompted the United Nations on Friday to call for an investigation into crimes against sexual minorities in the conservative Central American country. So far this year, seven transgender women have been killed in El Salvador, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights [http://www.reuters.com/article/us-elsalvador-violence-lgbt-idUSKBN189018]

CARLOS CRUZ, COMCAVIS TRANS
Karla Avelar, advocating despite the danger.

Six times in two years. Human rights activist Karla Avelar has been forced to move home six times in the last two years after being physically threatened by individuals she believes are gang members and for her work as a human rights defender in El Salvador.

She’s a leading advocate for the human rights of LGBT people, founder and head of COMCAVIS TRANS, an organization known for its work for transgender people for nearly a decade. It’s dangerous, unpopular work, and Avelar is regularly targeted and threatened.

A couple of weeks ago she was forced to move home when people tried to extort from her possible prize money for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award, for which she is a finalist. The award’s winner will be decided and announced in October, but news of her nomination has prompted these latest threats.

It hasn’t been an easy life. She was shot in two separate incidents, spent five traumatic years in jail and has been a constant target of abuse for being a transgender woman. Avelar told my colleague Mariel Perez-Santiago at her office in San Salvador last year how she had been raped by more than a hundred men on her first day in prison, and that the attacks continued with the complicity of prison staff.

She became a formidable advocate for the rights of trans people in and out of prison, helping to win important reforms in the prison where she used to be an inmate. Thanks to her campaigning, transgender women are now separated from men in different wards, and human rights organizations are allowed access to the prisoners to educate them about their rights. She also represented El Salvador’s LGBT civil society at the country’s 2014 Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations in Geneva.

Her advocacy has led to international recognition including becoming a finalist for this year’s Martin Ennals Award. “Transgender persons, and the wider LGBT community, face widespread hostility and social rejection in El Salvador,” said the Martin Ennals organization in a statement. “Crimes against them are almost never brought to justice, which results in a climate of impunity. Sadly, this treatment of transgender people can be seen well beyond El Salvador. We aim to highlight Ms. Avelar’s bravery in continuing her work. We are encouraged that the authorities contacted her after the media coverage of the latest threats. This needs to be followed up with judicial proceedings against those responsible and, most importantly, effective protection for Karla Avelar.”

Her profile has meant that the threats against her are receiving attention, and the Attorney General’s office has been in touch with her to discuss issues of her safety. But for Avelar and others in El Salvador’s LGBT community the risks are daily and grave. She estimates around 600 cases of unsolved murders of LGBT people in the country over the last 25 years.

“Sadly, these most recent threats against me are not surprising and are part of a broader and systematic pattern of persecution of members of the LGBT community in El Salvador,” said Avelar. “I will not be silenced by these threats, but the Salvadoran government must guarantee my safety and that of all human rights defenders and activists, who work tirelessly to monitor and urge respect for the human rights of the most vulnerable.”

Forced to leave her home again and again, she’s asking for protection as well as international visibility. Making her more famous won’t guarantee her safety but we can try to help by sharing her story with whoever we know, by showing that we’re watching, and by saying that she should be protected and never be forced to move again.

Source: Karla Avelar’s Life Of Constant Threats | HuffPost

Martin Ennals Award 2016: relive the ceremony in 13 minutes or in full

October 15, 2016

For those who missed the amazing Martin Ennals Award ceremony in Geneva on 11 October here is the 13-minute summary

For those who would like to relive the whole event please go to: new MEA_logo with text

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ueCvkmTf59u

Summary and streaming are courtesy of THF

Nominations for the 2017 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (before 9 November)

October 2, 2016

please pass this on to those who you think are deserving candidates:

 

Call For Nominations – 2017

MARTIN ENNALS AWARD
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Deadline: 9 November 2016

Nominations can be submitted electronically at www.martinennalsaward.org (for the PDF version see below)

  • The Award is granted annually to an individual, or exceptionally an organisation, in recognition of their commitment and ongoing efforts in the defence and promotion of human rights.
  • The MEA aims to encourage individuals or organisations, particularly those who are working in conditions hostile to fundamental human rights and who are at risk and in need of protection. Special account is taken of those who combat human rights violations by courageous and innovative means.
  • Nominations are welcome from all regions, genders, and human rights related themes.
  • Three Finalists are selected and announced early in the year and the Laureate is selected from among them. All three are invited to participate in the ceremony in Geneva.

The following 10 international human rights NGOs form the Jury:

OMCT
ISHR
International Commission of Jurists
HURIDOCS
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights First
Front Line Defenders
FIDH
EWDE Germany
Amnesty International

The present value of the annual Award is a minimum of 20’000 Swiss Francs, to be used for further work in the field of human rights. The ceremony is hosted by the City of Geneva which provides each of the final three Finalists with project funds of 11’650 CHF and a 5’000 CHF travel grant.

The Award is named after Martin Ennals (1927-1991), an activist who was instrumental to the modern human rights movement and a driving force behind several organisations. His deep desire was to see more cooperation among NGOs.

Call For Nominations – 2017 MARTIN ENNALS AWARD FOR HRD
1 page / 206 KB

Source: Call For Nominations – 2017 – MARTIN ENNALS AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS / September 23, 2016 / Events / Human rights defenders / OMCT

China wants us to forget Ilham Tohti, but we will not

September 21, 2016

It’s been two years since Ilham Tohti, [sometimes spelling Ilam Totti] a well-regarded ethnic Uyghur economist and peaceful critic of the Chinese government, was sentenced to life in prison by the Xinjiang People’s High Court for alleged “separatism” after a grossly unfair trial. Tohti and his family had already endured years of harassment and periods of house arrest by state agents, but in September 2014 Beijing evidently felt it necessary to take him off the grid permanently.”
Ilham Tohti speaks to students at Beijing’s Minzu University of China in 2009.
Ilham Tohti speaks to students at Beijing’s Minzu University of China in 2009. © 2009 Associated Press

Since then, human rights defenders and the rule of law in China have been under sustained attack from President Xi Jinping’s government. But the dynamics in Xinjiang – a region synonymous with gross discrimination against the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population, restrictions on religion and speech, economic development plans that favor Han Chinese over Uyghurs, and now a highly politicized counterterrorism campaign to stem violence – provide fertile ground for further serious human rights violations.

The signs are ominous: restrictions on observing Ramadan are now an annual reality, and some Uyghurs are now being required to give DNA samples and other biodata in order to obtain passports. China’s state media reports on counterterrorism operations when it’s politically convenient to do so, but we don’t know how many local residents die in these raids, how those detained in connection with the operations are treated, or even whether the state is responding to a credible threat. Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of Uyghurs have fled the country, some of whom have been forcibly returned under Chinese government pressure.

The Martin Ennals Foundation [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/breaking-news-final-nominees-2016-martin-ennals-award-tohti-zone-9-bloggers-razan-zaitouneh-annoucement/] and the European Parliament [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/european-parliaments-sakharov-prize-2016-nominees-announced/] have recently announced that Professor Tohti is a finalist for their human rights awards this year. “But if Beijing was actually serious about stability, economic development, and respect for human rights in Xinjiang, it would give itself and many others the most important prize: Ilham Tohti’s freedom.”

For more posts on Ilham: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/ilham-tohti/

Source: China Wants You to Forget Ilham Tohti | Human Rights Watch

An early Save the Date: 11 October, 2016, Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva.

July 1, 2016

poster MEA 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The 2016 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony, organized annually by the City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation, will this year take place on 11 October, 6.00 pm, at Uni Dufour, Geneva, as the the opening of the Human Rights Week hosted by the University of Geneva from October 11 to 14 and with the support of the Canton of Geneva.

The laureate will be selected from among three 2016 finalists:

Mr. Ilham Tohti
(China) was sentenced to life imprisonment after working for two decades to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.

Mrs. Razan Zaitouneh (Syria) was kidnapped after dedicating her life to defending political prisoners and documenting crimes against humanity in Syria.

Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia) have been prosecuted for documenting human rights abuses in their country.

See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/breaking-news-final-nominees-2016-martin-ennals-award-tohti-zone-9-bloggers-razan-zaitouneh-annoucement/

The finalists and laureate are selected by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, 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 (FIDH), World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Frontline Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists, EWDE-Germany, the International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS. The detailed programme of the ceremony will follow at the beginning of September.

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

For the conversation in the social media, use the hashtag: #Ennals2016.

You can register already now through: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=296%3Amea-2016-save-the-date&lang=en.