Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian Laureate of MEA 1998, dies at 69

December 18, 2013

Today, 18 December 2013,  Scoop News brings the sad news that Palestinian Human Rights Defender Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian psychiatrist and Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights, passed away in Gaza a few hours ago. Born in Beersheva, Palestine on 27 April 1944, Dr El-Sarraj arrived with his family in Gaza in 1948 as a refugee. He grew up to become the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza, beginning in 1977. Dr El-Sarraj went on to found and direct the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme [GCMHP], which he established in 1990 to promote the mental well-being of three major target groups in the Palestinian community: children, women, and victims of organized violence and torture. “We strongly believe that there is a correlation between human rights and mental health, because sound mental health cannot be gained under violent circumstances, and human rights will not be respected in a society exposed to ongoing trauma,” states the organisation’s strategy document. His human rights work was not without cost – in 1996 he was arrested and tortured for condemning torture and violation of human rights by the Palestinian Authorities.  In 1998 he received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders [MEA], in 1997 the Physicians for Human Rights Award, and in 2010 the Swedish labour movement’s  Olof Palme Prize. In the same year, Dr El-Sarraj was jointly awarded the Juan José López-Ibor prize in psychiatry, along with Professor Jules Angst, in recognition of his contribution to advancement of the rights and dignity of people with a mental illness, and his scientific research. Other notable activities include being a consultant to the Palestinian delegation at the Camp David 2000 Summit, and his appearance as an expert witness before the United Nations-mandated Goldstone Commission on the war crimes committed during Israel’s 2008-9 military offensive “Operation Cast Lead.” His evidence on the long-term psycho-social impacts of the conflict on civil society in Gaza was quoted in the final report. The light that Iyad El-Sarraj shone into some of the darkest corners of Palestine can not be dimmed by his death. “You are the window through which I can breathe,” one of his patients once told him. His legacy of hope, and a legion of Palestinians both taught and inspired by him, will continue his important work.  During his acceptance speech at the MEA ceremony he said, “Receiving this award reminded me of one of the persons I left behind in prison. He said to me: ‘Don’t forget me… please… don’t forget me’.” The best we can do now, is the same for El Sarraj: Don’t forget him… please… don’t forget him!

For more information and a video on El Sarraj and his work see: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83&Itemid=107&lang=en

via Palestinian Human Rights Defender Dies at 69 | Scoop News.

Write for Rights – Amnesty International’s main campaign starts on 6 December

December 2, 2013

Write for Rights is one of Amnesty International’s major global campaigns

Write for Rights” is one of Amnesty International’s major global campaigns. AI is capable of getting its own outreach and does not need my blog but I want to refer to it anyway as it is such a quintessential human rights action model.   Read the rest of this entry »

Right Livelihood Awards 2013 announced today

September 26, 2013

Today were announced as the 2013 Right Livelihood Laureates:

Paul Walker (USA), 

Raji Sourani (Palestine),

Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of Congo) and 

Hans Herren/Biovision Foundation (Switzerland).

for more information see: http://www.rightlivelihood.org/

 

Five UN experts urge Israel to stop harassment of human rights activist Issa Amro

August 14, 2013

Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. UN Photo/Jess Hoffman

On 13 August 2013 a group of 5 United Nations independent human rights experts expressed deep concern at the alleged ongoing judicial harassment, intimidation and abusive treatment directed against Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian human rights defender. Mr. Amro, a founder of the non-governmental organizations Youth Against Settlements and Hebron Defenders, was arrested and detained 20 times in 2012, and six times in 2013, without being charged Read the rest of this entry »

Stop the Wall activist Hassan Karajah arrested by Israel

February 5, 2013

karajah1

The Palestinian News Network on 4 February 2013 reported that in the early hours of Wednesday 23rd January 2013, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested Hassan Yasser Karajeh, a 29 year old youth activist in the Stop the Wall Campaign, violently breaking into his home in the West Bank village of Safa, west of Ramallah. Since then he is in interrogation without access to his lawyer or family. He is part of a new generation of active Human Rights Defenders. ‘Stop the Wall‘ asks solidarity groups, social movements, human rights organizations and concerned citizens to act together to free Hassan Karajah and stop the repression of human rights defenders in Palestine.

UN Watch and Human Rights Watch – two very different animals but how clear does one make it?

January 9, 2013

Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, wrote in her blog through Al-Jazeera, on 9 January 2013, a very informative piece under the title: “Human Rights Watch: Time to stand with human rights defenders” with the provocative byline: It is disappointing to see HRW’s unwillingness to stand with those who are working to promote and defend human rights.

The full article one should certainly read at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/20131781532514238.html but what matters here is the policy question to what extent a (decent) NGO (i.c. HRW) should take to task another (very biased) NGO (i.c. UN Watch).

In short, the pro-Israeli, UN-bashing UN Watch discovered that the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, US lawyer Richard Falk, was still ‘on the Board’ of HRW. HRW quickly replied that he was only a member of HRW’s local support committee in Santa Barbara, California, where he lives and that it was an oversight that he still held this honorary position and that it was rectified (“longstanding policy, applied many times, that no official from any government or UN agency can serve on any Human Rights Watch committee or its Board. It was an oversight on our part that we did not apply that policy in Richard Falk’s case several years ago when he assumed his UN position”).  UN Watch of course cried victory implying that Falk was expelled an enemy of human rights or because he is anti-Semitic.

The author of the blog finds fault with HRW’s meek response that did indeed not amount to a strong defense of Richard Falk’s credentials, impartiality and expertise. Should HRW not have made clear that substantively it stands with Richard Falk, that he was removed for technical reasons only and would be welcomed back as soon as he ceases to be UN Rapporteur? These are policy question that each NGO should answer for itself but in the context of UN Watch’s obsession to undermine the work of the UN in general and Richard Falk in particular a more robust stance would have been useful. I think that the similarity – even confusion –  in name should also have led HRW to take a tougher public stand.

Phyllis Bennis concludes with: “Given his Middle East staff’s consistent work, there is no question that Ken Roth and the HRW board understand that human rights criticism of Israeli occupation is well-grounded in fact, and that such criticism remains a crucial element in changing the public, media and policymaking discourse in the United States. If we are ever to have any hope of changing US government policy in Palestine-Israel towards one grounded in human rights and international law, consistent human rights criticism and a willingness to stand with human rights defenders like Richard Falk when they face attack, remain crucial tools – for all human rights activists, including the leadership of Human Rights Watch.