Posts Tagged ‘Radio Free Asia’

Cyber attacks on City of Weimar for awarding Ilham Tohti

November 11, 2017

9 November, 2017 Photo courtesy of World Uyghur Congress

The website of the German city of Weimar – since the announcement that they would award this year’s Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti – continues to face attacks (likely) by Chinese hackers who, among other things, deleted all of the website’s content on Ilham Tohti. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/07/05/uyghur-human-rights-defender-ilham-tohti-wins-also-weimar-human-rights-prize/]

(The information below is based on an article published by ChinaChange.org) 

 The city of Weimar announced on June 30 2017 that they were awarding this year’s Weimar Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti in recognition of his work upholding the rights of the Uighur people and promoting understanding between Uighurs and Han Chinese. In accordance with tradition, the Prize is awarded every year on December 10—International Human Rights Day. In September 2014, Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life in prison for “separatist activities,” and his real “crimes” though were his efforts to build bridges between different ethnic minorities and his speaking out bluntly about China’s draconian, unproductive policies in Xinjiang. The Weimar City Council hopes that by awarding the Human Rights Prize to Ilham Tohti, “his advocacy for peace and dialogue will not be forgotten, and support for his release will be strengthened.”

Mr. Oehme is in charge of the Weimar Human Rights Prize. He told Radio Free Asia that, starting in early July and shortly after the prize was announced, the city’s official website was attacked and continues to be until now. All news about the award and the December 10 prize ceremony has been removed. Mr. Oehme said that the Weimar government deeply regrets that hackers have deleted the content from the webpage that has been three years in the making. Mr. Oehme also revealed that the City Council’s Human Rights Prize Committee received a telephone call in July from a self-identified “Ms. Li” from the Chinese Embassy in Berlin, alleging that Ilham Tohti’s work had nothing to do with human rights and freedom of speech. She protested Weimar giving the human rights prize to a “Chinese criminal.” The Weimar municipal government also learned that, after the announcement of the prize, Beijing had protested to Berlin through diplomatic channels.

The Weimar government asked the police to conduct a criminal investigation into the hacking. It’s not yet clear where the cyber attacks originated. But Isa Dolkun, current General Secretary of the World Uyghur Congress based in Munich, believes that this attack is undoubtedly being carried out by China.

Mr. Oehme said that no matter what happens, there will be no change in awarding this year’s human rights prize to Ilham Tohti.

In 2016 Ilham Tohti was nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and he won the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, known as the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein gave the award to Ilham Tohti’s daughter. The Chinese government subsequently attacked the High Commissioner for “interfering with China’s internal affairs and judiciary sovereignty.”

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/ilham-tohti/

 

http://unpo.org/article/20443

Detained Chinese lawyer Wang Yu wins Ludovic Trarieux Prize

June 7, 2016

china-lawyer-wangyu-07202015.jpg

Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu poses during an interview in Hong Kong, March 20, 2014. –  AFP
Radio Free Asia reported on 6 June 2016 that detained (on suspicion of “subversion of state power”) lawyer Wang Yu was awarded the prestigious Ludovic Trarieux Prize in Athens on Saturday. [for more info on award see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/ludovic-trarieux-international-human-rights-prize]. The jury said it wanted to “hail the courage” of a woman who “decided that she could no longer keep her mouth shut,” founder Bernard Favreau said. “She chose to expose herself to dangers in order to defend the rights of women, children and persecuted minorities,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Wang’s attorney Wen Donghai welcomed the award. “They used a serious of objective criteria, for example, the fact that Wang Yu often gave legal assistance to clients from vulnerable groups,” Wen said. “This has nothing to do with any government, nor with diplomacy.” But he said the award is unlikely to help Wang’s case with the Chinese authorities. “I don’t hold out much hope of that, because our government has a very biased attitude to such prizes, and they see human rights groups as trying to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Wen said. “In reality, rights groups aren’t targeting China, but trying to help victims and vulnerable people around the world.” Wang has unfortunately figured regularly in this blog: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/wang-yu/ 

[The award comes as the families of dozens of rights lawyers detained on similar charges hit out at the government for denying the detainees access to their lawyers, and amid concerns that some detainees may have been tortured or sexually abused in police detention centers.]

On 5 June 2016, in a joint letter Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, China Aid, Freedom House, Human Rights in China, Initiatives for China, International Campaign for Tibet, Reporters without Borders, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and World Uygur Congress – urged the US to:
  • Meet with representatives of civil society in China during or immediately after the meeting;
  • Press Chinese counterparts to repeal or bring into line with international law new national security laws, including the Counterterrorism and the Foreign Non-Governmental Management laws;
  • Publicly call for the release of specific individuals detained for peacefully exercising their rights; and
  • Publicly discuss US concerns about growing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and religion, among others.

In Hong Kong, protesters marched to Beijing’s Liaison Office in the former British colony on Monday, demanding an inquiry into the 2012 “suicide” death of Chinese labor rights activist Li Wangyang in police custody four years ago. Rights activist Ou Biaofeng said Li’s friends and relatives are under house arrest or close police surveillance on the anniversary of his death. “They are all under surveillance by the state security police, and are cooperating

For the Lucovic-Trarieux prize 2015: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/saudi-arabian-human-rights-lawyer-waleed-abu-al-khair-wins-ludovic-trarieux-prize/

Source: Detained Chinese Lawyer Wins Award Amid Calls For Pressure on Human Rights

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/05/us-show-breadth-rights-commitment-china-dialogue

Selection of what happened at the local level on Human Rights Day 2015

December 13, 2015

International human rights day is an occasion for a multitude of local activities, some denouncing violations others quietly remembering, some (trying to) march in the streets, others issuing statements. This anthology of 10 such events is far from complete but gives an idea of the variety, from human rights defenders speaking out to governmental institutions ‘celebrating’ …. Read the rest of this entry »

The remarkable crackdown on lawyers in China in July 2015

July 29, 2015

On 10 July 2015 over 250 lawyers and support staff were detained or questioned by the police in China in one of the largest crackdowns in recent years. Many newspapers and NGOs have reported on this phenomenon. This is the situation on 29 July: Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnam Rights Conference Goes Ahead Despite Police Harassment of Human Rights Defenders

December 5, 2014

vietnam rights conference goes ahead despite police harassment

Radio Free Asia reported on 27 November that Vietnamese human rights defenders and foreign diplomats went ahead with a planned human rights conference in Hanoi on Wednesday, defying efforts by police to harass and intimidate. The conference, titled “U.N. Protection Mechanisms for Human Rights Defenders in Vietnam,” was held at the Thai Ha church in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, and was attended by over 70 members of civil society groups, together with representatives of the United Nations and embassies of Australia, the U.S., the UK, and the European Union.After being warned by police that the rare gathering was considered “illegal” by authorities, event organizer Nguyen Quang A was repeatedly blocked in his efforts to arrive at the church, he told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Wednesday. It took him 4 hours to reach the meeting place after having been blocked several times from taking public transport.

Vietnam Rights Conference Goes Ahead Despite Police Harassment.

Cambodian MEA Laureate 2012 Luon Sovath charged with incitement

November 5, 2014

 
cambodia-luon-sovath-award-oct-2012.jpg

(Luon Sovath after receiving the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva on 2 October 2012; left myself.  AFP)
 On 4 November Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that two outspoken critics of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen are called to court this month on vague charges of “incitement to commit a crime,” but the defendants say they have done nothing illegal. It concerns the human rights defender and monk Luon Sovath (MEA Laureate 2012) and dissident Sourn Serey Ratha (based in the USA). They received summons dated 22 October (!) signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpeseth accusing then of “incitement to commit crimes in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and abroad” in 2011, under Penal Code article 495, but the summonses, which ordered the two men to appear in court together in the capital on 25 November, do not specify what crimes they had incited or how their cases were linked.

[Under the Penal Code, incitement is vaguely defined in article 495 as directly provoking the commission of a crime or an act that creates “serious turmoil in society” through public speech, writings or drawings, or audio-visual telecommunication. Luon Sovath faces up to five years in prison if convicted, while Sourn Serey Ratha faces a total maximum punishment of 15 years.]

Read the rest of this entry »

Even China makes sometimes a small gesture towards HRDs – family visit Gao Zhisheng

January 22, 2013

On 12 January 2013 the family of imprisoned human rights defender Gao Zhisheng were permitted a visit to see him ten months after an initial visit on 24 March 2012. A report of this second visit reached Front Line only on 18 January 2013. Gao Zhisheng’s wife, Ms Geng He who is US-based, told Radio Free Asia that her father and brother-in-law saw Gao Zhisheng for 30 minutes on 12 January but were forbidden from asking any “sensitive” questions, including what conditions in prison were like.  Gao Zhisheng is being held in China’s remote northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Previous attempts by his family for a second visit had been denied by the authorities. According to Geng He, Gao Zhisheng appeared to be ‘relatively well’ and did not need assistance walking. Gao Zhisheng is a human rights defender and self-taught lawyer, and was named one of China’s top ten lawyers by the Ministry of Justice in 2001. He regularly took on cases involving persecution of religious minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners and those associated with the unofficial ‘house church’ movement.

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

While Front Line Defenders welcomes this recent visit by the family of Gao Zhisheng, it reiterates its continued call on the Chinese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Gao Zhisheng as it believes he is being detained solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.

For more information on Gao Zhisheng’s case, see http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/17876

Luon Sovath speaks out on Radio Free Asia

November 10, 2012

On 7 November the activist monk Luon Sovath, MEA Laureate of 2012, spoke to Radio Free Asia about his work.

As the interview is quite interesting I copied here in in full:

Fresh from receiving the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights,” Cambodia’s technology-savvy activist monk Loun Sovath has called on authorities in his country to end the use of violence in land eviction cases, vowing to continue his struggle to protect victims of land grabs. He also said he would not be cowed by government harassment and called on his fellow monks, often respected as figures of moral authority in Cambodia, to join in the struggle to defend villagers who have become victims of forced evictions. Loun Sovath was the first Southeast Asian to be presented with the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders as he was selected for documenting the struggle of land rights activists and ordinary citizens evicted from their homes in his impoverished country. The monk collected the award—viewed by many as the Nobel Prize for Human Rights—in Geneva last month.

“The Buddha advised people to do good deeds both physically and mentally,” he told RFA’s Khmer service during an interview in Washington on Wednesday. “Respecting human rights is a good deed which will lead to peace and prosperity for this world and in the next. So for monks to become rights defenders is nothing against Buddhism, but can lead to enlightenment and peace.” “Monks play a vital role in society. I appeal to monks to rise up to follow in the Buddha’s footsteps,” he said. Loun Sovath  said the Cambodian people must also rise up to demand their rights, highlighting land disputes as the one of the biggest issues facing the public in the country.

“The authorities must stop using violence against innocent villagers who are the victims of land grabbing,” he said. Research by Cambodian rights group LICADHO shows that some 2.1 million hectares of land has been given to private companies in the form of land concessions over the last two decades. The massive transfer has led to countless forced evictions and affected over 400,000 people in the 12 provinces that LICADHO monitors since 2003 alone, the group said.

Sovath is currently touring the U.S., meeting with the Cambodian community and addressing various nongovernmental organizations on the human rights situation in his country. He began his nearly two-month visit last week in New York, traveled to Washington, and arrived in Chicago Thursday. Sovath said he was honored to receive the Martin Ennals Award.

“I was given the award because I have worked as a rights defender and a protector of social justice involved with land issues, forced evictions, and the protection of natural resources and wildlife,” he said. In June 2011, the New York-based Human Rights Watch awarded Loun Sovath with the Hellman/Hammett grant for his work supporting communities facing forced evictions and land-grabbing in Cambodia.

Luon Sovath by Dovana

Years of activism Sovath first became involved in human rights work in 2009, when members of his family were injured during a police shootout at unarmed villagers in a land eviction case. The monk’s brother and nephew were wounded in the standoff, which he documented in a video. He is known for his extensive use of video to inform the world about his confrontations with authorities, earning him the nickname “multimedia monk.” The monk is rarely seen without a mobile phone or tablet. He also uses songs and art to spread his non-violent message of defending human rights. Loun Sovath said he strove to protect human rights in the interest of his country. “I have a desire to help build Cambodia,” he said. In June, Loun Sovath was briefly detained by Cambodian authorities and accused of “causing instability” after he joined protests against the jailing of 13 women over a long-running forced land eviction case in the capital Phnom Penh. Municipal monk officials threatened to have him defrocked as a monk, but released him after he put his thumbprint on a statement assuring that he will not join future protests. Loun Sovath had been banned in April from entering pagodas in Phnom Penh after he participated in land protests.

Sovath, who has since participated in various protests, said he would not stop his activism even though he was concerned about his personal safety. “The authorities have tried to prevent me from doing good things and from helping the country and [the Buddhist] religion,” Sovath said. “I can’t accept this because I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “As long as human rights violations continue to exist in Cambodia, I will continue to do my work.”

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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