Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Faith Leaders as Human Rights Defenders

October 25, 2017

This week (23 – 27 October 2017) there is an on-line Dialogue by New Tactics Supporting Faith Leaders and Faith-Based Organizations as Human Rights Defenders” with as goal: Mobilizing Allies and Modeling Systems and Structures.

The background to this interesting topic is the converging and diverging principles of secular human rights goals and religious values. On the one hand, there are historical and contemporary instances in which oppressors have used religious doctrines to endorse discrimination and violence against marginalized groups. Around the world, people continue to suffer daily from these acts of hate. Yet, many faith leaders from a range of religions denounce religiously motivated violence and actively work to combat human right abuses around the world. Some of history’s most impactful activists—El Salvador’s Oscar Romero, India’s Mahatma Gandhi, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, the United States’ Martin Luther King drew upon their personal faith to promote civil rights and peace.
Today, many faith leaders and faith-based organizations have become leaders in human rights activism and humanitarianism, both locally and internationally. In Northern Uganda, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative has united faith leaders to advocate for peace and strengthen the peacebuilding process in the wake of the region’s devastating civil war. Rabbis for Human Rights supports human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories by performing acts of solidarity with Palestinians suffering from the Occupation, organizing interfaith dialogues, and educating their fellow community members on the interconnectedness of Judaism and human rights. Musawah is global human rights movement working to advance women’s rights in Muslim contexts, using Islamic teachings and universal human rights doctrinal frameworks to guarantee equality in the lived realities of men and women. Each of these organizations has incorporated their faith into action-based human rights movements that demonstrate their accountability in practicing what they preach: dignity, justice, and fairness for all humanity.
Faith leaders and organizations can contribute to strengthening human rights around the globe by countering voices of oppressors, mediating conflicts to end or avoid violence, denouncing discrimination, organizing humanitarian assistance, and so much more. Just as faith communities may thrive in environments where each member’s dignity and rights are recognized, the international human rights movement may learn from engaging communities with deeply rooted ethical and spiritual foundations. In March of 2017, the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights launched “Faith for Rights,” an initiative to strengthen the interconnectedness of the world’s religions and human rights. In the subsequent Beirut Declaration, participating faith-based and civil society actors recognized their mutual commitment to “upholding the dignity and the equal worth of all human beings.” Across the world, faith leaders and faith-based organizations can be valuable allies in achieving universal human rights for all.
In this conversation, New Tactics seeks to discuss the role of faith in promoting human rights across the globe and strategies for strengthening partnerships between secular and religious human rights defenders.  The Conversation Leaders are:
habdille's picture
Marie Juul Petersen's picture

Source: Supporting Faith Leaders and Faith-Based Organizations as Human Rights Defenders | New Tactics in Human Rights

Asia and human rights defenders: the shrinking space for NGOs

May 26, 2015

In a few recent posts I drew attention to the trend of shrinking space for NGOs in countries such as Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/draft-laws-on-civil-society-restrictions-also-pending-in-kyrgyzstan-and-cambodia/]. On 9 May 2015, The Economist’s column on Asia (Banyan) was devoted to the same issue, concluding that “Democratic Asian governments as well as authoritarian ones crack down on NGOs“. Under title “Who’s afraid of the activists?” it mentions China, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

It lists the usual ‘complaints’ that both authoritarian and democratic leaders use against the activities of NGOs, which range from:

  • threats to national sovereignty
  • promotion of ‘Western’ values
  • hidden agenda (such as conversion to Christianity)
  • blocking development through environmental objections.

E.g. the Indian home ministry claims that 13 billion $ in foreign money has gone to local charities over the past decade and that 13 of the top 15 donors were Christian outfits. Interestingly, similar complaints come from the biggest Indian NGO, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which itself has “strong foreign links, draws on an Indian diaspora in America and elsewhere for support, and dishes out help across borders, such as in Nepal following last month’s earthquake”.

Quite rightly the article concludes that in the long run, such limitations only rally political opponents, while (local) NGOs may face close scrutiny themselves one day (when the Government has changed hands): “Battering-rams, after all, have two ends.”

Who’s afraid of the activists? | The Economist.

Easter cards to christian human rights defenders

March 17, 2015

Fra Angelico

This blog does not often carry religious paintings. This time it is to illustrate the action by Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, who is encouraging to contact Christian prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders with a message of hope this Easter. For the first time, Action by Christians Against Torture has published an Easter greetings list containing details of Christians including a teacher imprisoned on political charges in Indonesia, a priest facing threats because of his human rights advocacy in Cuba and an MP risking her safety by speaking out on behalf of religious minorities in Pakistan.

Bishop Declan stated: “Pope Francis has called on us to support Christians facing persecution wherever they are in the world. Sending an Easter message to Christian prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders is a practical yet powerful way to give hope and encouragement. Showing that they are not forgotten can also lead to better treatment by the authorities. I strongly welcome the work of Action by Christians Against Torture, and hope that Catholics throughout England and Wales will join me in sending a message of solidarity this Easter.

The Action by Christians Against Torture Easter greetings list is available at: www.acatuk.org.uk/EastercardList2015.pdf

Bishop endorses campaign to send Easter cards to persecuted Christians – Independent Catholic News.

Asma Jahangir speaks on human rights restrictions justified in name of religion

December 9, 2014

From left: Asma Jahangir, Bill McKibben, Alan Rusbridger and Basil Fernando (photo: Wolfgang Schmidt/Right Livelihood Award Foundation)

(The four winners of this year’s Right Livelihood Award (from left): Asma Jahangir, Bill McKibben, Alan Rusbridger and Basil Fernando. US whistle-blower Edward Snowden (not pictured) also received an honorary award)

Qantara.de 2014 on 9 December 2014 published an interesting interview by Roma Rajpal Weiss with Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights defenders, winner of the Right Livelihood Award of this year and Laureate of the MEA as far back as 1995. The title “Every restriction is justified in the name of religion” is taken from Asma’s statement that most restrictions on the human rights of women in Pakistan are justified by arguments (perhaps rather feelings) based on religious or tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

Jimmy Carter’s new book on the rights of woman and how religions have kept them suppressed

April 8, 2014

Former President Jimmy Carter (89 years old!!) has incredible stamina but his latest book – A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power – is remarkable not just because of that high age but because it is incredibly blunt in describing how religions have systematically denigrated women, leading to prejudice, infanticide and horrific violence. The highlights of the interview below with KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, about “the human and civil rights struggle of our time”, in too interesting to try and summarize and the same goes for the long excerpt from the book following: Read the rest of this entry »

Trial of Vietnamese human rights defender Le Quoc Quan set for 2 October

September 27, 2013

In five days from now, on 2 October 2013, the People’s Court in Hanoi, Viet Nam, will hear the case of human rights defender Le Quoc Quan, who has been held in detention since 27 December 2012 and whose trial was postponed on 8 July 2013. Le Quoc Quan is a prominent lawyer, blogger and human rights defender. He has a long history of being targeted by the Vietnamese authorities in retaliation for his work. As a lawyer, he represented many victims of human rights violations, but was disbarred in 2007 on suspicion of engaging in “activities to overthrow the regime”. Le Quoc Quan also runs a blog http://lequocquan.blogspot.ie/  where he writes about various issues including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom. On 27 December 2012, Le Quoc Quan was arrested on trumped up allegations of tax evasion, was held incommunicado for the first two months and spent fifteen days on hunger strike. Currently the human rights defender remains imprisoned awaiting trial.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

More information, please see update from 12 July 2013 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/23255

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gambia: Release of detained human rights defender Imam Baba Leigh

May 29, 2013

One should be grateful for small gains: Front Line Defenders reported that on 11 May 2013, the Gambian government released renowned Muslim cleric and human rights defender, Iman Baba Leigh, to whose arrest I referred earlier. The human rights defender was arrested on 3 December 2012, and was detained incommunicado for five months for declaring the execution of nine death row inmates to be inimical to Islamic teaching. Imam Baba Leigh Read the rest of this entry »

Social Divisions Hinder Saudi Rights Movement explains insider

May 28, 2013

In an interesting blog post for Al-Monitor Bayan Perazzo (a professor in Saudi Arabia) writes on May 27 about the background to the human rights movement in Saudi Arabia. His detailed analysis seems very sound Read the rest of this entry »

Double Bind: what to do if perpetrators are themselves being persecuted?

May 25, 2013

Meredith Tax, a writer and political activist, has recently addressed in a book a most important and tricky subject: Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights, published by the Centre for Secular Space. Human rights defenders are supposed to protect the rights of those oppressed by the state or by non-state actors.   Read the rest of this entry »

Oman: Update on trial against Human Rights Defenders

March 27, 2013

On 22 February I reported on a large trial in Oman against several human rights defenders, Front Line now report in an update that some of them were released on bail but others continue in detention.

Said Al-Hashimi is amongst those released

(Said Al-Hashimi, a HRD amongst those released on bail)

On 17 March 2013, several human rights defenders were granted bail by the Appeals Court during a retrial ordered by the Supreme Court. Amongst the human rights defenders released are writer Said Al Hashimi, lawyer Basma Al KiyumiBasima Al Rajihi, Khalid Al Nawfali and Mohammed Al Fazari. The next hearing was adjourned until 24 March 2013. Basma Al Kiyumi, Basima Al Rajihi, Khalid Al Nawfali and Mohammed Al Fazari had been convicted for allegedly publishing insulting and defamatory material on a social media site, while Said Al Hashimi was convicted for alleged participation in an illegal gathering.

While Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of the human rights defenders, it reiterates that the ongoing campaign of judicial harassment and intimidation should be ceased and that all their convictions should be quashed.

Oman: Update – Release of several human rights defenders on bail | Front Line.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped