Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, HRW staff member, expelled from Algeria

August 21, 2019

Former Moroccan journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi. / Ph. DR

On 20 August 2019 Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Algeria’s expulsion of former Moroccan journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, who acts as its Middle East communications and advocacy director. In a statement, the NGO recalled that Benchemsi arrived in Algeria on August 1 on behalf of the organization. Police arrested him on August 9 around 2 pm, while he «was observing the 25th consecutive Friday pro-democracy demonstration in downtown Algiers». Authorities confiscated his phone and laptop and «ordered him to provide his passwords to unlock both devices, which he refused to do».

«Ahmed Benchemsi was in Algiers simply doing his job observing human rights conditions», executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth said. «His arbitrary arrest and mistreatment send the message that authorities don’t want the world to know about the mass protests for more democracy in Algeria», Roth added.

Benchemsi lawfully entered Algeria and revealed his professional affiliation at the request of the authorities, said HRW, recalling that the Moroccan had already made three trips to Algeria since 2017 on behalf of the organization. The Algerian authorities have not, at any time, informed Benchemsi of the charges he could be facing or the legal basis to confiscate and keep his passports, his telephone and his laptop, or to demand that he provides the passwords of the devices, he denounces. «Benchemsi’s mistreatment is a sobering reminder of the risks faced every day by Algerian human rights defenders exposing and reporting on government abuses», Roth concluded.

https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/82356/denounces-arrest-mistreatment-ahmed-reda.html

https://allafrica.com/stories/201908200439.html

Gulf Center publishes 2018 survey of human rights in the Middle East

March 12, 2019

A Bahraini woman sits near portraits of jailed political activists, in the village of Sitra, 12 February 2016
A Bahraini woman sits near portraits of jailed political activists, in the village of Sitra, 12 February 2016  MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) released its seventh annual report on human rights activism in 2018, entitled Breaking Boundaries. It remembers the women and men human rights defenders imprisoned for their work across the region, particularly in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The report features a summary and case updates of 145 women and men human rights defenders across the Gulf and neighbouring countries as well as the legal and political developments relevant to human rights in these countries. Additionally, it summarises GCHR’s research, advocacy and capacity-building activities with regional and international partners. [for my earlier post on the GCHR, see:  https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/gulf-centre-for-human-rights/]

In this 2018 report, GCHR recognises that despite increased restrictions on civic space and aggressive prosecution of human rights defenders, the boundaries crumbling since 2011 are worth celebrating. In the act of breaking these boundaries, solidarity networks nationally, regionally, and internationally have been nurtured and strengthened. With continued activism of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society, GCHR foresees that governments’ disrespect for human rights and freedoms in the region will be increasingly overturned.

The main focus of the report is to shed light on human rights activism. While governments intensified their harassment and prosecution of journalists, human rights defenders, online activists, and civilians, through the advocacy efforts of civil society on different fronts, the defence of human rights in the region has been met with international recognition, including many international awards for human rights defenders from across the Gulf and neighbouring countries.

The spotlight on governments, especially in the Gulf, unveiled the extent to which governments reject accountability to their people and commitment to human rights internationally. To mention a few examples: Bahrain denied the entry of United Nations experts along with extending travel bans on human rights defenders so they continue to miss UN Human Rights Council sessions. In Iraq, peaceful assembly was met with tear gas and live bullets to disperse the protests, leaving dozens killed and hundreds arrested. In Iran, well-known lawyers were among those sentenced to prison for defending women’s rights to reject forced hijab. And notoriously, Saudi Arabia arbitrarily arrested over 20 men and women who defend and advocate for women’s rights, even after the Kingdom formally lifted the driving ban on women.

Khalid Ibrahim, Executive Director of GCHR, says: “It is hard work to support human rights defenders and ensure their safety and security. Yet a success such as having the European Parliament formally and publicly denounce human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia in May 2018 and again in February 2019 shows the importance of diligence, solidarity and commitment to research- and evidence-based advocacy in the pursuit of defending human rights. Not to mention the attention facing Saudi Arabia at the UN Human Rights Council this month, where 36 States, including all EU Member States, called on 7 March 2019 for the release of detained women human rights defenders, sending a strong message to the Saudi authorities that the Council will hold its members accountable.

GCHR presented a number of recommendations at the end of this report to governments, and the international community. Emphasis is placed on guarantees of a legal framework grounded in respect for human rights, especially for the freedom of expression and opinion, to protect the safety of journalists, media workers and online activists whom governments across the region relentlessly harassed, targeted, or prosecuted. Other recommendations are made to ensure the safety of civilians such as in conflict-zones, as well as in countries in transition where respect for freedom of association and assembly are essential for peace and justice.
To download the full report, follow the link.

https://www.ifex.org/middle_east_north_africa/2019/03/11/human-rights-activism/

Travel bans against human rights defenders remain popular in the Middle East

November 10, 2016

Travel bans on human rights defenders are popular with all kind of autocratic regimes but seem to enjoy special status in the Middle East. The video clip above (part of a joint campaign by AI and HRW) focuses on Egypt and so does the statement by 6 other NGOs issued on 9 November.  They strongly condemn the travel ban against Malek Adly, prominent Egyptian human rights lawyer and director of the Lawyers Network of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). But there is more: Read the rest of this entry »

2013 report by Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders

October 1, 2014

The Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF) today released its 2013 Annual Report detailing its activities in support of individuals, groups and NGOs who are defending human rights in a wide variety of distinctly challenging contexts across the Arab region. In 2013, when access to internal and external funding sources in the region remained limited and difficult, the Foundation faced the dual challenges of protecting defenders in increasingly repressive and violent environments and of consolidating positive civil society dynamics in countries where tentative steps were taken toward democratisation.

In countries such as Syria, Libya, Algeria and Egypt, Read the rest of this entry »

ISIL kills human rights defender Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy

September 26, 2014

 

Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy

The United Nations human rights High Commissioner for human rights today condemned the recent brutal, cold-blooded slaying by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of Iraqi human rights defender Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy, as well as the continuing detention, sexual exploitation and sale of hundreds of women and girls in areas captured by the militant group. Read the rest of this entry »

Nabeel Rajab on the situation in Bahrain and lack of western pressure

August 18, 2014

On 17 August 2014 Nabeel Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (the MEA Final Nominee of 2012), posted a strong piece in the Huffington Post which contains an impressive stand on why he takes the risks he does as well as a scathing attack on the western governments, especially those of the UK, for putting (arms) business before human rights consideration.

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Nabeel Rajab, Final Nominee MEA 2012

Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty Ireland expresses concern about possible foreign policy change

February 2, 2014

Newstalk image

Amnesty Ireland has voiced serious concern about the government’s failure to raise human rights issues during its trade mission to the Middle East. The group wrote to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Jobs to ask if it is now part of our foreign policy to allow trade issues to trump the government’s human rights commitments, sending a copy of its report from November 2013 which details abuses of the rights of migrant workers in Qatar.

Colm O Gorman, executive Director of Irish Amnesty, says Ireland needs to show leadership on human rights issues: “It is of grave concern to us Read the rest of this entry »

Petty: Human Rights Watch Refused Entry to the Emirates

January 27, 2014

The United Arab Emirates [UAE] authorities have refused to allow Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, to enter the country on 24 January, 2014, for a planned two-day visit to Dubai. The move followed the country’s forced cancellation on 23 January of a Human Rights Watch news conference to release its annual World Report 2014 in the UAE. Whitson had traveled to the UAE on numerous occasions.“These petty tactics by the UAE authorities to muzzle Human Rights Watch only demonstrate the government’s intolerance of free speech and fear of critical discussion,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director. “Human Rights Watch will continue to document abuses in the UAE and to urge the government to comply with its most basic human rights obligations.” “While UAE newspapers regularly use the work of Human Rights Watch from around the world, it’s a pity the government can’t tolerate any review of its own record,” Roth added.

via UAE: Human Rights Watch Official Refused Entry | Human Rights Watch.

“We are the Giant” – film about the Arab spring – here is the trailer

January 23, 2014

WE ARE THE GIANT by Greg Barker, former war-correspondent-turned-filmmaker, is a full-length documentary about human rights people in the context of the Arab spring. It comes out in the Sundance Film festival 18-26 January. English and Arabic with English subtitles, 2014, 90 minutes, color, U.S.A./United Kingdom.

http://filmguide.sundance.org/film/14064/we_are_the_giant

Five Women Human Rights Defenders from the Middle East

December 13, 2013

On 12 December 2013 Tasnim Nazeer published a list of 5 women human rights defenders who in spite of setbacks in the “Arab Spring” have no plans to stop fighting:

  1. Tawakkol Karman. The first Yemeni and the first Arab woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize. A Yemeni journalist, human rights activist and politician member of the Al-Islah political party, Karman is the leader of the renowned group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005. She became the international public face of the Yemeni “Arab Spring” uprising in 2011. The people of Yemen know her as the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” due to her courage in sticking up for human rights injustices in Yemen.
  2. Razan Ghazzawi Razan, an award-winning Syrian blogger, campaigner and human rights activist. She has been actively involved in the events during the Syrian Civil War, and has been particularly outspoken on activists’ arrests and the violations of human rights committed by the Bashar al Assad regime.Razan, who has been arrested by the Syrian regime several times and is forbidden to leave Syria, was named as an “iconic blogger and leading activist” by The Telegraph as well as awarded the 2012’s Human Rights Defenders at Risk award by the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders foundation.
  3. Moushira Mahmoud Khattab, an Egyptian human rights activist, former politician and diplomat. She has previously held the positions as Minister of Family & Population as well as ambassador to South Africa, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Khattab is a renowned human rights activist who speaks up for the rights of children and women in Egypt and the MENA region. Her efforts to advocate human rights have been recognized internationally through numerous awards, including the two highest honors that can be bestowed on any foreign national in South Africa and Italy.
  4. Nawal El Saadawi,  an Egyptian feminist writer, human rights activist, physician and psychiatrist. Saadawi has authored many books on the subject of women and Islam and advocates human rights issues involving women. The founder and president of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and co-founder of the Arab Association for Human Rights, she has been awarded numerous honorary degrees on three continents.
  5. Manal al-Sharif. Women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who helped start a groundbreaking women’s right to drive campaign in 2011. An outspoken voice on the rights of women in the Kingdom, she was detained and released on 21 May and rearrested the following day on the conditions of returning for questioning if she were to continue talking to the media about rights for women to drive in Saudi Arabia.

via Five Women Human Rights Activists who are Changing the Middle East | Informed Comment.