Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Sweden’s aid to Cambodia refocuses on civil society

June 17, 2020

Sweden’s Ambassador to Cambodia Bjorn Haggmark (left) meets with Kem Sokha, leader of the dissolved main opposition CNRP, at Sokha’s home, in this photograph posted to Sokha’s Facebook page on May 19, 2020.
The Cambodia Daily

On 13 June 2020 this newspaper reported that Sweden said it would phase out bilateral development funding to Cambodia by the middle of next year in order to focus aid on promoting human rights, democracy and rule of law in the country following severe rights restrictions in recent years.

In a press statement on Friday, the Swedish Embassy in Phnom Penh said its government decided on Thursday to shift its funding away from bilateral aid to the Cambodian government and toward programs that aim to develop democracy in the Asia Pacific region, which would also aid Cambodia.

The statement said Sweden would still support civil society, human rights defenders and democracy advocates in Cambodia, though it did not clarify which organizations may qualify for assistance.

In full: https://vodenglish.news/sweden-to-refocus-cambodia-aid-due-to-rights-concerns/

https://english.cambodiadaily.com/politics/sweden-to-refocus-cambodia-aid-due-to-rights-concerns-165383/

Internet of things (IoT) connectivity for Natalia

May 28, 2020

Swedish operator Tele2 is to provide IoT connectivity to the Civil Rights Defenders’ Natalia Project, allowing those in the program who feel under threat to use a specially issued wearable device to send a distress signal with a GPS location to nearby local contacts, as well as to the Civil Rights Defenders headquarters in Stockholm. [The Internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction]. In the future, Tele2 will provide IoT connectivity to every unit in the Natalia Project, including roaming on more than 450 networks worldwide

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/04/24/the-natalia-gps-alarm-bracelet-wins-golden-egg-awards-in-stockholm/

The Natalia Bracelet is named in honor of Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist who was abducted and murdered in Chechnya in 2009.

Phyllis Omido, a Kenyan environmental human rights defender who participates in the Natalia Project, said the scheme has freed her from fear as she knows that someone is watching over her, adding that no tangible change can be achieved when one constantly lives in fear of retribution. 

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/tele2-provides-iot-connectivity-for-civil-rights-defenders-security-alarms–1340142

Mural of human rights defenders Vitaly Safarov, Greta Thunberg and Berta Cáceres unveiled at Hague university

May 19, 2020

A portrait of late human rights defender and multiculturalism activist Vitali Safarov was created as part of the mural by artists Karski & Beyond. Photo via Hague University of Applied Sciences.
On 15 May 2020 Agenda.ge reported that a mural portrait of Vitali Safarov, the Jewish-Georgian human rights defender and activist killed in Tbilisi in 2018, now adorns a facade of the Hague University of Applied Sciences alongside faces of student climate movement figure Greta Thunberg and assassinated Honduran indigenous activist Berta Cáceres. Re Safarov see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/22/vitos-trial-in-georgia-opens-crucial-to-challenge-raising-hate-crimes/. The 25-year-old can be seen on the large work by artist duo Karski & Beyond, painted on an outside wall of the university after the project originated at one of their sessions involving students. Thunberg, a teenage climate activist who has become widely acknowledged for inspiring school student strikes on climate change [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/17/greta-thunberg-receives-amnestys-ambassador-of-conscience-award/], and Cáceres, an indigenous leader on environmental concerns who was killed in 2016 [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/berta-caceres/], are the other two personalities seen in the artwork.

Started in an initiative by Justice & Peace Netherlands to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the declaration of universal human rights, the creative project pays tribute to the activists for their commitment to “climate, freedom and equality”, the university said.

The mural] is a tribute to three people who show that it is really possible to make a difference”Hague University of Applied Sciences

https://agenda.ge/en/news/2020/1530

Ali Gharavi of the “#Istanbul10” speaks about his experience and his hope

May 6, 2020

Ali Gharavi is a consultant working with human rights defenders, their organisations and communities. He is one of ten people who were arrested in Turkey in July 2017 at an information management and well-being workshop on Buyukada island. The hashtag #Istanbul10 was used in the sustained advocacy efforts that called for the dropping of all charges against them and their immediate release. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/02/16/turkey-who-will-defend-the-human-rights-defenders/]

In March 2020, ahead of an anticipated – but since postponed – verdict hearing, Ali spoke with IFEX Regional Editor Cathal Sheerin about how his experience being arrested in Turkey and jailed for four months has affected his life and informed his work. “While I breathe, I hope: In conversation with Ali Gharavi of the #Istanbul10″ (interview published through a partnership between Global Voices and IFEX).

Ali Gharavi. Credit Annie Game
CS: How do you feel about the upcoming hearing? I feel a combination of anticipation and anxiety. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions over the last almost three years and the verdict was supposed to have been reached at the last hearing. In terms of realistic outcomes, we’ve talked about two or three possibilities with our families, lawyers and the authorities in Sweden. I’ve been trying to keep my wits about me and not putting all my eggs in one basket, but we’re pretty optimistic that the outcome could be acquittal.

What makes you optimistic for acquittal? I’m only nominally optimistic really because these things can turn on a dime. At the hearing before the last one, the prosecutor said that – of the ten of us plus Taner Kılıç – he would accept acquittal for five because of lack of evidence, but the rest he wanted to convict. I was in the acquittal group. All of us are quite adamant, however, about not having this ‘split’ decision.

Why do you think you were divided into two groups? It’s really hard to say. Two of us in the acquittal group – Peter Steudtner and I – are not Turkish, so it’s possible that they want to remove the international angle from all of this. However, that’s just my speculation. It’s actually quite arbitrary, and I think this is partly because they have no evidence. It might even be a way to ramp this down: Let’s acquit half of them now and then acquit the rest in a trickle.

…..
How aware were you when you were detained of the advocacy that was taking place on your behalf? What impact did it have on your morale? Maintaining my morale was one of the biggest challenges for me. I was held at four different sites. At one point, they transferred us to the anti-terrorism headquarters for interrogation, which sounds like – and was – quite a harrowing experience. ……

I’ve done letter-writing campaigns in the past, and I never knew for sure if they had any effect on the people who were in jail, but having been on the inside, I can say that those moments were life-saving. Sometimes my lawyer would search for my name on Twitter and print out all the tweets that had been posted that week about me; there was also this Twitter campaign, #haikusforAli, and demonstrations in Brussels, sit-ins in front of embassies. All of those moments reminded me that people on the outside were thinking of me and mobilising. I’m not exaggerating when I say that those were the things that saved me when I was in the depths of an abyss.

How has the experience affected how you work?  The kind of work I’d been doing was intended exactly for this kind of situation, where you need to pay attention to the whole person, not just their devices or the organisation’s activities. Because of my incarceration, I now understand that at a molecular level. For me, the whole experience has placed a higher premium on understanding people – who they are, where they are – as a big part of how we can actually help them regardless of whichever aspect of their work we’re trying to assist them with. One thing the experience revealed was how inadequately resourced and researched care and crisis response is: how do you care for not just the person incarcerated, but also his family, the community around him, his colleagues?

Once the crisis is ‘over’ the assumption is that life goes on as usual, whereas there’s actually recovery that needs to be done. Often there’s also a massive financial burden due to legal costs and the inability to work for a while. After my release I went to Berlin and arrived into a very supportive debriefing environment. It’s a very privileged situation to be in – those ten days were very helpful in making me understand that I’d be going through this trauma and recovery and that it’s not just business as usual. There was a crowd-funder created for me so that I didn’t just have to drop back into work, and there was physical and psychological therapy too. I knew it intellectually, but now I know it viscerally, that just because you get released the trauma doesn’t just go away. It takes years to be functional again. People assume that when you recover you’re going to go back to being who you were, but that’s not true.

Would you ever return to Turkey? It would be very difficult for me to feel safe there, but I would go, if only in order to ‘get back on the horse’. If the verdict doesn’t go the way we expect, then I’d be incarcerated if I turned up there, so I obviously wouldn’t return. I love Turkey – the people and the environment – and I feel like a big part of my life and friends is now off-limits to me. But I dream of when I’ll be able to go back, hug the people who were inside with me and eat baklava with them. As Cicero said: ‘While I breathe, I hope.’

The humanity of what I experienced in detention was humbling. Regardless of why those people were incarcerated with me, they – that young 19-year-old who spoke to me in German, and others – were an amazing source of inspiration and support. During the toughest times I’d be angry with them, but they were amazingly unwavering. I’ve heard via word of mouth that those two supposed ISIS members are now back with their families and all is well. I owe them a big debt of gratitude.

Most of the time I was incarcerated alongside political prisoners who faced trial on specious charges, or who had been (and continue to be) detained for years on end as they wait for an indictment. And now we hear that despite the mortal threat of COVID-19 sweeping through the prison system, those prisoners will stay behind bars.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/03/20/corona-virus-threatens-human-rights-defenders-in-detention-egypt-and-turkey/]

‘While I breathe, I hope’: In conversation with Ali Gharavi of the #Istanbul10

While I breathe, I hope: In conversation with Ali Gharavi of the #Istanbul10

Gui Minhai: 10 years jail sentence in China

February 25, 2020

Members of the pro-democracy Civic party carry portraits of Gui Minhai and Lee Bo during a protest in Hong Kong.
Members of the pro-democracy Civic party carry portraits of Gui Minhai and Lee Bo during a protest in Hong Kong. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

A court in Ningbo said on Tuesday that Gui had been found guilty and would be stripped of political rights for five years in addition to his prison term. The brief statement said Gui had pleaded guilty and would not be appealing against his case. The Swedish foreign minister, Ann Linde, told Radio Sweden: “We have always been clear that we demand that Gui Minhai be released so he is able to reunite with his daughter, his family and that demand remains…We demand immediate access to our Swedish citizen in order to give him all consular support that he is entitled to.

Gui appears to have been tried and convicted in secret, denying him any chance of a fair trial,” said Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International, calling the verdict “deplorable” and based on unsubstantiated charges.

For previous posts on this shocking story:

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/10/sweden-charges-ex-ambassador-to-china-over-pressure-on-daughter-of-gui-minhai/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/19/sweden-defies-chinese-threats-after-award-to-book-publisher-gui-minhai/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/21/confessions-abound-on-chinese-television-first-gui-minhai-and-now-peter-dahlin/

—————

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/25/gui-minhai-detained-hong-kong-bookseller-jailed-for-10-years-in-china

A remarkable choice: John le Carré wins Olof Palme Prize

January 12, 2020

John le Carré, has been revealed as the winner of the Olof Palme prizefor his engaging and humanistic opinion making in literary form regarding the freedom of the individual and the fundamental issues of mankind,” said the prize organizers in a statement on Friday 10 January 2020. They further justified their selection of the novelist by stating, “Attracting world-wide attention, he is constantly urging us to discuss the cynical power games of the major powers, the greed of global corporations, the irresponsible play of corrupt politicians with our health and welfare, the growing spread of international crime, the tension in the Middle East, and the alarming rise of fascism and xenophobia in Europe and the United States of America.

For more on the Olof Palme Prize see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/olof-palme-prize

Le Carré was born as David John Moore Cornwell on October 19, 1931 in Poole, Dorset. His mother abandoned him at a young age and his father, who would spend some time in jail, was what he would later call a “confidence trickster and a gaol bird.” Having studied modern languages at Oxford, le Carré was fluent in German and worked under cover for both the MI5 and the MI6, Britain’s domestic and international intelligence organizations. Disguised as a junior diplomat, he was stationed at the British Embassy in Bonn during the early 1960s. In his free time, he started writing spy novels, taking the pseudonym so as not to interfere with his work. He would go on to publish 21 titles, most of which deal with espionage during the Cold War, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in 1974 and A Perfect Spy in 1986.

Upon receiving Germany’s Goethe Medal in 2011, le Carré said, “Europe is in critical condition. The distance between the institutions and the people is bigger than ever before.” “We’ve lived in freedom for so long that our democracies are blemished” and populism is growing just as fast as social injustice, he also warned.

John le Carré said he would donate the $100,000 (€90,000) award money to the international humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, according to The Guardian. The prize ceremony will take place at the Stockholm Concert Hall on January 30, 2020.

For last year’s Olof Palme award, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/01/10/daniel-ellsberg-wins-swedens-olof-palme-prize/

Civil Rights Defenders is looking for a controller with experience of working with projects

January 10, 2020

The Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defenders wants to take its Finance Department to the next level and is now looking for a Controller to help develop processes and working methods. As a Controller, you are a key asset in the Finance Department. The main focus is to simplify and improve all financial areas in order to get the very best results out of our new ERP system Maconomy. As a Controller, you will be responsible for a number of departments and act as controller for important projects in close cooperation with your colleagues in Stockholm as well as the rest of the world.

Some of the key activities include

  • Setting up project budgets in consultation with our project and program managers.
  • Financial reporting of our projects to donors and auditors.
  • Supporting department managers in budgeting and forecasting.
  • Responsible for analysing projects and department results in connection with monthly, quarterly and annual reports.
  • Contact person for our departments regarding financial matters.
  • Contributing to our work with new reports and improved controlling processes.
  • Participating in improving the financial work.

We are especially interested in applicants with

  • A Degree of Master of Science in Business and Economics, or similar, with a few years working experience in controlling and project reporting.
  • Experience in a project-based work, preferably from a non-profit organisation or consultancy-driven work.
  • Strong interest in pursuing improvement, big or small.
  • Experience in managing ERP systems, such as Maconomy.
  • Good knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite and a very experienced Excel user.
  • Very good knowledge of Swedish and English, both written and verbal.

About the position

  • Permanent employment (100%) with an initial six months probation period.
  • The position is based at Civil Rights Defenders’ head office in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • The position may include some travel to Civil Rights Defenders’ local offices.

Application

To apply, submit your cover letter and CV to info@crd.org no later than 30 January 2020. Please state “Controller” in the subject line. Interviews will be conducted on an ongoing basis, meaning the position could be filled ahead of the deadline. Welcome with your application! For questions about this position, please contact Karin Ancker, CFO. Civil Rights Defenders has a local union club connected to Unionen. The union can be reached at crdunionclub@crd.org.

Civil Rights Defenders is Looking for a Controller with experience of working with projects

A Rabbi and an Imam share Malmo’s human rights award

December 26, 2019

Rabbi Moshe David Hacohen and Imam Salahuddin Barakat from Amanah are awarded Malmo's City Prize on December 19, 2019. (photo credit: MUBARIK ABDIRAHMAN)
Rabbi Moshe David Hacohen and Imam Salahuddin Barakat from Amanah are awarded Malmo’s City Prize on December 19, 2019. (photo credit: MUBARIK ABDIRAHMAN)

The Swedish city of Malmö has bestowed its Human Rights Award on a rabbi and an imam who have been working together to bridge the gap between the city’s large Muslim population, the Jewish community and the general society. Rosella Tercatin reports on 25 December in the Jerusalem Post that Rabbi Moshe David Hacohen and Imam Salahuddin Barakat established Amanah (“The Jewish-Muslim Faith and Trust Project”) in 2017. Since then, they have been working together relentlessly organizing joint projects as well as touring Malmö’s schools and addressing the students.

Malmö, where about a third of the 300,000 residents is Muslim, is considered one of the most problematic cities in Europe for lack of integration. About 1,200 Jews live in the city. Working against discrimination and racism, specifically antisemitism and Islamophobia, is one of the organization goals. The rabbi and the imam were awarded the prize, that entails funding $5,300 by the mayor of Malmö Katrin Jammeh Stjernfeldt in a ceremony that took place on Thursday 19 December.

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Challenging-Swedish-city-of-Malmo-honors-Jewish-Muslim-organization-612088

Sweden charges ex-Ambassador to China over pressure on daughter of Gui Minhai

December 10, 2019

Last month I reported on Sweden standing up to China in giving an award to Gui Minhai [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/11/19/sweden-defies-chinese-threats-after-award-to-book-publisher-gui-minhai/] On 9 December 2019 the New York Times comes with a related story that is quite amazing: the former Ambassador to China, Anna Lindstedt, is accused of arranging unauthorized talks between the daughter of a detained bookseller and two men representing Chinese interests. She has even been charged with “arbitrariness during negotiations with a foreign power”. “In this specific consular matter, she has exceeded her mandate and has therefore rendered herself criminally liable,” Hans Ihrman, the deputy chief public prosecutor for Sweden’s National Security Unit, said in a statement on Monday. Mr. Ihrman said the charge of arbitrariness during negotiations with a foreign power was “unprecedented.” Angela Gui, the daughter of Gui Minhai, said the two Chinese men who had offered to help free Mr. Gui instead pressured her to keep silent.

Credit…Leif R Jansson/TT, via Associated Press

A lawyer for Ms. Lindstedt, Conny Cedermark, said Monday in an email that no crime had been committed. “Arbitrary conduct in negotiation with a foreign power has a series of prerequisites,” he said, and none of them had been met in the case.

Mr. Gui was one of five Hong Kong-based publishers who were abducted and taken to China in 2015 after publishing books that were critical of the Communist Party elite, setting off international condemnation. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/21/confessions-abound-on-chinese-television-first-gui-minhai-and-now-peter-dahlin/

Relations between Sweden and China have been strained since Gui Minhai was kidnapped in 2015, and tensions increased last month when the Swedish office of the writers’ group PEN said that it was awarding a literary prize to Mr. Gui. The prize is given annually to an author or publisher who is persecuted, threatened or living in exile. Three days later, the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm called the prize a “farce” and threatened consequences if members of the Swedish government were to attend the award ceremony. A week later, Amanda Lind, Sweden’s minister of culture, not only attended the ceremony but also awarded the prize, despite warnings from the Chinese ambassador that Ms. Lind and other government officials working in the area of culture would no longer be welcome in China. Late last month, China appeared to follow through on its warning, with SVT reporting that two Swedish films had been banned from screenings in China. Last week, after a seminar in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Swedish-Chinese relations, the Chinese ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, told the newspaper Goteborgs-Posten that China would limit trade with Sweden because of its handling of the Gui Minhai case.

2019 Right Livelihood Awards programme

November 24, 2019

2019 Right Livelihood Award to be Presented in Stockholm 4 December

The Laureates of this year’s Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, will be celebrated during a 10-day long programme in Germany, Switzerland and Sweden from 25 November – 4 December. The Award Presentation in Stockholm also marks the 40th Anniversary of the Right Livelihood Award, established in 1980. See: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/right-livelihood-award.

For the 2019 Laureates see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/26/right-livelihood-award-2019-lauds-practical-visionaries/

The 40th Right Livelihood Award Presentation will take place on 4 December, 19.30-21.15 (CET) at Cirkus in Stockholm and is open to the public. Everyone is invited to join an inspiring evening together with 2019 Laureates and world-renowned artists such as José González. Also, on stage, journalist Amy Goodman (2008 Laureate) will moderate a conversation with whistleblower Edward Snowden (2014 Laureate) who is joining via link from Moscow.

The Award Presentation will be livestreamed on rightlivelihood.org.

2019 Laureate Greta Thunberg is currently crossing the Atlantic Ocean to participate in the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP25, in Spain. Thunberg will not attend the Award Presentation in Stockholm and will instead be represented on stage by activists from Fridays For Future Sweden. Thunberg’s fellow Laureate Guo Jianmei will also not be able to attend the Award Presentation in person. Guo has stated: “The Right Livelihood Award recognises and acknowledges the efforts of my team and me to uphold women’s rights and the rule of law in China. This award serves as an encouragement and motivation.”

The 2019 Award programme covers 10 days of events and high-level meetings for Laureates in Berlin, Zurich, Geneva and Stockholm. For further details, please see below.

Berlin

Tuesday, 26 November, 18:00-19:45 CET
Conversation with Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara) at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin. For press accreditation, please contact: presse@rightlivelihood.org.

Zurich

Wednesday, 27 November, 18:30-20:00 CET

The 12th Right Livelihood Award Lecture with Aminatou Haidar at the University of Zurich. Please register online via zurich.rightlivelihoodaward.org.

Geneva

Thursday, 28 November, 18:00-19:45 CET

Celebration of the 2019 Laureates at Maison de la Paix in Geneva. Please register online via The Graduate Institute Geneva.

Stockholm

Sunday, 1 December, 15:00-16:30 CET

Join a conversation with Aminatou Haidar about her nonviolent activism in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. Pre-registration not needed. Medelhavsmuseet, Fredsgatan 2.

Tuesday, 3 December, 13:30-15:00 CET
Seminar at the Swedish Parliament with Aminatou Haidar and Davi Kopenawa. For press accreditation, please reach out to communications@rightlivelihood.org.

Wednesday, 4 December, 19:30-21:15 CET
The 40th Award Presentation at Cirkus in Stockholm with special guests, including Edward Snowden, and world-renowned artists. Buy tickets online or reach out to communications@rightlivelihood.org for press accreditation.

2019 Right Livelihood Award to be Presented in Stockholm 4 December