Posts Tagged ‘Sudan’

MEA nominee Aziz Abdul Muhamat suffers under Australia’s endless detention policy

December 4, 2018

 wrote for Al-Jazeera about “Manus and the deepening despair of Australia’s endless detention policy”, saying that fellow refugees are the only lifeline for men who wonder whether they will ever escape the remote Pacific island where they have been held for more than five years under Australia’s harsh off-shore detention policies. His focus is on MEA nominee Aziz Abdul Muhamat [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/finalists-mea-2019/]. As interviews with this man are difficult to come by, here the full story:

Aziz Abdul Muhamat has been supporting his fellow refugees on remote Manus Island. He's now been nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award [Bill Code/Al Jazeera]
Aziz Abdul Muhamat has been supporting his fellow refugees on remote Manus Island. He’s now been nominated for the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award [Bill Code/Al Jazeera]

Manus Island, Papua New Guinea – Aziz Abdul Muhamat had agreed to meet me for an interview near the East Lorengau refugee transit centre at eight in the morning. The 25-year-old Sudanese man is a nominee for a global human rights prize – the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award – for his advocacy work on behalf of his fellow refugees on Manus Island. He has been a refugee on this remote Pacific island, part of Papua New Guinea, for more than five-and-a-half years.

But Muhamat wasn’t answering messages. Later, I would learn that it was because he’d been up until the early hours, giving words of hope to desperate men – men who have been self-harming. Men have been dousing themselves in petrol. Men suffering from depression, grief and anxiety, marooned on an island and withdrawn deep inside themselves.

‘Transition centres’

As of October, there were around 500 male refugees remaining on Manus. Perhaps another 100 were asylum seekers whose bid to be recognised as refugees had failed. Getting precise data on them – and whether they have moved to the capital, Port Moresby – from Australia’s government has been consistently hard for years. Luck was not on the side of these men when they tried to get to Australia from Indonesia, coming face-to-face with a new Australian policy to halt boat arrivals once and for all – and, according to the government, stop deaths at sea. From 2013, authorities began intercepting boats and taking those on board to Australia’s Christmas Island. Eventually, the refugees were flown to Manus or the tiny republic of Nauru. With the agreement of the government in Port Moresby, it was decided that the men on Manus would be housed in an Australian navy base. The detention centre was shut in late 2017 – its last remaining men violently ejected and moved on to “transition centres” – after a large cohort spent several weeks resisting the power, water, food and medicine cuts, gaining a sizeable amount of media coverage. For many, though, the only transition was to a deeper state of despair.

Muhamat was at the forefront of the refusal to leave the centre, borne from a glimpse of freedom when the men were suddenly reminded of the power that came from being able to make their own decisions on when to shower or sleep. “I never felt that I’m free in five-and-a-half years, except those 24 days,” he said. “I felt that people are calling my name, ‘Aziz’, instead of Q and K and zero, zero two.

Suicide attempts

Australia closed its main detention camp on Manus Island a year ago and the men now live in ‘transition centres’ with only rudimentary support; those at the East Lorengau centre protested against the conditions last month [Al Jazeera]

Having been moved from the prison-like detention centre, the refugees are now in poorly-serviced camps which they are free to leave. But most stay put. A much-vaunted “US deal” to allow these refugees to settle in the United States is their remaining hope, but for many, it is fading fast. More than 400 people formerly held in Nauru – where Australia detained families and children – and Manus Island have already been resettled in the US  The ones I’ve spoken to have jobs, rented apartments, cars – in short, new lives. Of course, they’re still scarred from their time in detention, but they’re off the islands. 

But many Iranians, Sudanese, Somalis and others are simply not being accepted by the administration of President Donald Trump under the deal struck by the government of his predecessor, Barack Obama. They have either been outright rejected, or have applied for resettlement and spent the year in vain waiting for replies.

A mental health crisis grips the remaining men. Suicide attempts and self-harm are rife. As the stress and anxiety increase, men like Muhamat and the Kurdish-Iranian writer Behrouz Bouchani continue to work round-the-clock providing impromptu counselling to their grief-stricken friends and counterparts. Australia’s government has repeatedly promised that these men will “never” settle in Australia, lest “people smugglers” begin selling their product once more. The hope that came with news of the so-called US deal has for some become an unbearable disappointment. 

In the face of that, I’m struck at the incredible strength of character on display by many of the young men I met. “We tell these men, we give them false hope for them to go and sleep,” Muhamat said one afternoon as we sat in my hotel room. “We do it because we want to keep them positive, we want to keep them alive.” When asked if he needed to head back at any time to deal with the desperate messages coming up on his phone, he replied: “It’s OK, Behrouz is there.” 

The despair is as great as at any time in the past five-and-a-half years. For Muhamat, the day-to-day ritual of helping others over the years – liaising with journalists and lawyers, teaching English to other refugees, talking friends out of self-harm and suicide – has been part and parcel of survival. “As long as what I’m doing, people are getting a benefit out of it, I don’t actually feel that pressure,” Muhamat said. At the time of writing, a newly-elected independent member of parliament from Sydney is attempting to get a bill through the parliament which would see the evacuation of psychologically or physically ill men from Manus.

But glimmers of hope come and go on Manus. Later, I see a message from a refugee reporting a man’s attempted suicide, his second in two days. After he fails to hang himself, he tries another desperate act – overdosing on tablets and drinking shampoo.

https://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2018/12/manus-deepening-despair-australia-endless-detention-policy-181203070732724.html

Sudan’s human rights defender Mudawi Ibrahim freed

August 30, 2017

 Sudan‘s human rights activist Mudawi Ibrahim on Tuesday 29 August 2017 was pardoned by President Omar al-Bashir with another five political activists, reported Sudan Tribune.

Nabil Adib, Mudawi Ibrahim’s defence lawyer, said the republican decision has dropped all charges against his client, who has served nine months in detention with charges including undermining the constitutional order and inciting war against the state. Ibrahim, 59, was detained by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service last December. He was also charged with espionage, dissemination of false news and inciting hatred against the state. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/mudawi-ibrahim-adam/]

In March 2009, the authorities shut down Sudan Social Development Organization, which was chaired by Ibrahim, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Khartoum, and winner of the inaugural 2005 Front Line Defenders Award for human rights defenders [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/dr-mudawi-ibrahim-adam]. Ibrahim’s case has received wide concern from national and international legal organizations and societies defending human rights.

What is interesting also here is the source: Xinhua….which reports on human rights violations regularly except in China of course.

Source: Sudan’s human rights activist receives amnesty – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Sudan: award-winning human rights defenders under pressure

July 12, 2017

Amal Habani
AFP reported on 10 July from Khartoum that a court found that the journalist Amal Habani, winner of Amnesty International’s Ginetta Sagan Award, was ordered to pay 10,000 Sudanese pounds ($1,430) or face a jail term of four months. The court found her guilty in a case filed by a security officer who accused her of preventing him from doing his job during the March trial of three rights activists. “This is injustice. I was covering a trial of human rights activists when the security officer beat me,” Habani told AFP by telephone from the court on Monday. “When I complained against him, he filed a case against me. I will not pay the fine but rather go to jail.”
Her lawyer Ahmed Elshukri said he will file an appeal against the court’s order. Habani, who writes for online Sudanese newspaper Al-Taghyeer, said the incident with the security officer occurred when she was taking pictures on her mobile phone outside a court during the March trial.

An even more serous case is that of Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/dr-mudawi-ibrahim-adam] an internationally recognised human rights defender who was the winner of the inaugural 2005 Front Line Defenders Award for human rights defenders. Ibrahim Adam Mudawi and his colleague Idris Eldoma Hafiz face six serious charges such as “undermining the constitutional system” and “waging war against the state”. Rights groups have denounced the allegations as trumped up and linked to their human rights advocacy. The trial is underway in the capital Khartoum. “Human rights work is not a crime, so Dr Mudawi and Hafiz must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director. “Their arrest and continued incarceration is a miscarriage of justice, plain and simple.” Mudawi has continuously been harassed for his human rights work in Darfur and across Sudan for more than a decade. See also: https://www.defenddefenders.org/2017/07/sudan-human-rights-defenders-detained-face-death-penalty/

Sudan regularly ranks near the bottom of international press freedom rankings. International NGOs have accused Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of detaining human rights workers, opposition politicians and journalists.

Sources:

http://www.enca.com/africa/sudanese-human-rights-defenders-face-death-sentence

Sudan court fines award-winning journalist

for the Ginetta Sagan award see: https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/amnesty-international-usa-honors-sudanese-journalist-amal-habani-with-annual-award-for-womens-human-rights-defenders/

Nominations are open for the 2018 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

June 28, 2017

Nominations are Open for the 2018 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. The Aurora Prize is seeking the stories of selfless individuals who demonstrate exceptional courage and commitment, whose work has evidence of significant impact, and who do so at great personal risk. Each year the Aurora Prize honors someone who will receive a $100,000 grant, as well as the unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by nominating organizations that inspire their work for a $1,000,000 award.

Anyone can nominate a candidate who they believe has risked their life, health, freedom, reputation or livelihood to make an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. Nominations for the 2018 Aurora Prize can be submitted before September 8, 2017 at http://www.auroraprize.com.

The 2017 Aurora Prize went to Dr. Tom Catena, a Catholic missionary from Amsterdam, New York who has saved thousands of lives as the sole doctor permanently based in Sudan’s war-ravaged Nuba Mountains where humanitarian aid is restricted. Dr. Catena named the African Mission Healthcare Foundation (U.S.), the Catholic Medical Mission Board (U.S.), and Aktion Canchanabury (Germany) as the beneficiaries of the $1 million award.

The Aurora Prize Selection Committee includes Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson; former Foreign Minister of Australia, Gareth Evans; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Vartan Gregorian; former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, and actor and philanthropist, George Clooney.

The Aurora Prize was founded on the principle of Gratitude in Action—those who have been victimized and survived express thanks in a concrete way, by daring to offer help and hope to those in urgent need, and thus initiating a cycle of giving that transforms the saved into saviors. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is represented by three organizations—Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Foundation, Inc. (New York), the 100 Lives Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the IDeA Foundation (Yerevan).

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/25/inaugural-aurora-prize-1-million-goes-to-marguerite-barankitse-founder-of-burundian-orphanage/

Source: Nominations are Open for the 2018 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity | The Armenian Weekly

“Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong” – revealing piece by Alex de Waal

June 10, 2016

Alex de Waal {https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_de_Waal} published on 6 June 2016 a long piece entitled “Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong” in the Boston Review. There is no way I can give you a summary but reading the whole article is certain worth the time. It is bound to be controversial – especially within the international human rights movement – and stands out by being critical and mostly self-critical about the role of human rights monitors. The focus of the narrative is on Africa (Sudan, Rwanda) and genocide but the former HRW staff reaches out to the general questions of context and impartiality that human rights defenders struggle with, still today.  READ IT!

Read the rest of this entry »

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Sandra Kodouda in Sudan, injured but back from illegal detention by NISS

April 17, 2015

Having just posted about Sandra Kodouda’s disappearance for 4 days [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/human-rights-defender-sandra-kodouda-remains-missing-four-days-after-abduction-in-sudan/ ] I am happy to report that yesterday (16 April 2015), the Sudanese human rights defender was returned home after reportedly being held in custody by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) although they had denied they held her. She suffered a dislocated shoulder and other injuries during her detention.

Human rights defender Sandra Kodouda remains missing four days after abduction in Sudan

April 17, 2015

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped reports that on 12 April 2015, human rights defender Sandra Kodouda was forcibly taken from her car by a group of unidentified men in Omdurman, Sudan. 

She was speaking to a friend on the phone and the kidnappers were overheard on the telephone line as they refused to show their identification when Sandra Kodouda requested it, and instructed her to switch off her phone. Shortly after, family members found her abandoned car with the keys still in the ignition. When filing a criminal case at the Omdurman Central Police Station alleging the kidnapping of Sandra Kodouda, her family members were informed by the authorities that there was no record of her detention at that time.

[Sandra Kodouda has campaigned on social issues throughout the country. She is a member of the Youth Committee against the Building of Dal and Kajabar Dams, and peacefully partook in country-wide anti-austerity demonstrations in September and October 2013. Sandra Kodouda has previously been targeted as a result of her human rights work. She was detained by the NISS in August 2014 on account of her participation in the No to Women’s Oppression collective, an initiative which has worked to raise awareness of oppression against women and to promote and protect women’s rights through peaceful protest and reporting. She was also detained by the NISS in July 2012 after mobilising support for the release of youth activist Mr Rudwan Daoud, who himself had been detained by the NISS in the same month on the basis of participating in peaceful political protests.]

Havel Prize for Creative Dissent awarded to Girifna, Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, and El Sexto

April 16, 2015

On 15 April 2015 the New York based Human Rights Foundation announced that the laureates of its 2015 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent are:

  • the Sudanese nonviolent resistance movement Girifna,
  • the Indonesian stand-up comedian Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, and
  • the Cuban graffiti artist and activist El Sexto.

Girifna, Arabic for “we are fed up,” is a nonviolent resistance movement founded in 2010 by pro-democracy youth activists. Thousands of Girifna members work together to monitor crackdowns on protests and defend dissidents in spite of constant surveillance by the Sudanese authorities. “While the international press focuses its attention on Sudan’s history of armed conflict, Girifna has challenged the al-Bashir regime in novel ways—from producing humorous commercials to teaching citizens the art of nonviolent protest…” said jury chairman Thor Halvorssen.

Sakdiyah Ma’ruf is a stand-up comedian from Indonesia whose comic routine advocates for individual rights and challenges Islamic fundamentalism. She grew up watching U.S.-based comedians and decided to use the same medium to talk about issues plaguing her own country. Television producers have asked her to censor her jokes, but Ma’ruf, who believes comedy mirrors a culture’s hypocrisy, has refused to be silenced. “Sakdiyah Ma’ruf is marshaling the use of parody to challenge oppression and extremism—no small risk for a woman in Muslim culture. She is an inspiration,” said Amnesty International Norway Secretary General John Peder Egenæs.

El Sexto, whose real name is Danilo Maldonado, is a Cuban graffiti artist and activist whose public work has turned him into a formidable dissident, evidenced by the ongoing repression he suffers. This past December, El Sexto was arrested on his way to put on a performance art piece called “Rebelión en la Granja,” with two pigs decorated with the names “Fidel” and “Raúl.” El Sexto was charged with contempt and remains in prison awaiting trial. “Through his art, El Sexto reveals the intolerance of the Cuban regime,” said former Romanian President Emil Constantinescu.

For more information on the award see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/václav-havel-prize-creative-dissent

The ceremony on 27 May will be broadcast live online at oslofreedomforum.com beginning at 16:00 CET; for more info contact: Jamie Hancock, (212) 246-8486, jamie@thehrf.org

2015 Havel Prize Awarded to Girifna, Sakdiyah Ma’ruf, and El Sexto | News | The Human Rights Foundation.

The Lemkin Summit: a Gathering of the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders in the USA

March 23, 2015

In a post of 10 March 2015, Rachel Finn of the Enough Project describes an interesting but in Europe mostly unknown gathering of US student leaders preparing to become human rights defenders:

From 21-13 February 2015, the Lemkin Summit: A National Gathering of the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders took place in Washington DCDuring the three-days students networked with one another, developed their advocacy and movement-building skills, and engaged with experts on current conflict areas including Burma, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria. Participants were from 28 States, including D.C., as well as the UK, Canada, India, Rwanda, and South Sudan, with 48 different high schools, colleges, and universities represented.

Students arrived Saturday night for a screening of Watchers of the Sky, as well as two special presentations by community leaders. Sunday’s program included panels on sexual & gender based violence, the financial leverage of combatting atrocities, and conflict-specific overviews; advocacy trainings, communications and storytelling workshops; and an Open Space for students to capitalize on the collective knowledge they brought to the Summit themselves. Sunday’s program included student participation in a Keynote Discussion with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who skyped into the Summit, moderated by John Prendergast.

The final day of the Summit was an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, during which students discussed these ongoing issue areas with various congressional offices, and urged Congress to support the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and additional expert capacity to the Treasury Department to investigate and enforce sanctions on people in the DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, and Central African Republic. Students met with 43 offices in the House, 27 in the Senate, and one at the State Department, with Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and DRC Russ Feingold.

For a visual representation of the students’ experience over the weekend through social media, check out the Storify below or click here.

via Students Take Action in D.C. as part of The Lemkin Summit: A National Gathering of the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders | Enough.