Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

International Nuremberg Human Rights Award for Syrian photographer “Caesar”

October 1, 2017

“’Caesar’ and his colleagues were driven by a desire to ensure that the documented crimes against humanity would not go unpunished. To this end they took great risks upon themselves”, explains the jury statement. “In bestowing the International Nuremberg Human Rights Award on the ‘Caesar’ group, the jury also wishes to highlight the history of Nuremberg as the cradle of modern international criminal law.

When the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, it was “Caesar’s” job to photograph the corpses of Syrian soldiers and opposition forces and to systematically archive the images. He found the work increasingly difficult to bear. “I had never seen anything like it”, he later said in an interview with the French journalist Garance Le Caisne, whose persistence played a major part in ensuring that “Caesar’s” images found their way into the public domain.

“Caesar” decided to act rather than continue documenting in silence: over a period of roughly two years, he secretly copied his photographs onto USB sticks and smuggled them out of the country with the help of friends. His life was constantly at risk as a result.

In January 2014, “Caesar’s” photographs were published on the Internet and found to be “reliable” by an investigative commission of former chief prosecutors of international criminal courts. “Caesar” fled from Syria and by his own account is now living in Europe.

Because his life is still in danger, the photographer was not able to attend the award ceremony at Nuremberg Opera House. Garance Le Caisne accepted the award on his behalf.

Garance Le Caisne
Stadt Nürnberg/Christine Dierenbach

Source: International Nuremberg Human Rights Award for “Caesar”

Refugee Olympic Teams and Turkish pianist are given human rights awards

December 19, 2016

Human rights awards – one of my favorite topics [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/?s=human+rights+awards] – come  in many shapes and forms. Here two special ones: the first concerns a handicapped swimmer from Syria and other refugee related recipients (in Madrid) and the second a Turkish pianist (in Bonn).

Ibrahim Al Hussein - Human Rights Award Spain
Ibrahim Al Hussein receiving the Human Rights Award from the Spanish General Council the Bar © • IPC

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Martin Ennals Award 2016: relive the ceremony in 13 minutes or in full

October 15, 2016

For those who missed the amazing Martin Ennals Award ceremony in Geneva on 11 October here is the 13-minute summary

For those who would like to relive the whole event please go to: new MEA_logo with text

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ueCvkmTf59u

Summary and streaming are courtesy of THF

Right Livelihood Awards 2016 to Syrian, Egyptian, Russian and Turkish human rights defenders

September 22, 2016

 

Right Livelihood logoThe Laureates of this year’s Right Livelihood Award have been announced today – 22 September 2016 – in Stockholm, Sweden:

SYRIA CIVIL DEFENCE (Syria)

Syria Civil Defence (The White Helmets), ‘for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war’. It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to a Laureate from Syria.…for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.

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This is what MEA Jury members say about Razan Zaitouneh, abducted in Syria in 2013

September 20, 2016

Jury members of the Martin Ennals Award speak about Razan Zaitouneh, one of three Finalists for the Martin Ennals Award 2016 . Razan Zaitouneh is a prominent human rights lawyer, activist, and journalist in Syria. Razan has dedicated her life to defending political prisoners and documenting crimes against humanity, whether committed by the Government or rebel forces. This video was uploaded on 25 April 2016. The MEA ceremony will take place in Geneva on 11 October. new MEA_logo with text

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/an-early-save-the-date-11-october-2016-martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders-in-geneva/

 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “States may shut my Office out – but they will not shut us up”

September 14, 2016

Readers are forgiven for not remembering that in the 1980’s it was forbidden for UN officials to name and shame countries by name (with a few exceptions) and those that did usually paid a price for that (e.g. Theo van Boven in 1982 and the curtailing of terms for some High Commissioners). Now, in the span of one week the current High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has first named and shamed some politicians as dangerous demagogues (6 September 2016 in the Hague): Mr. Wilders. Mr. Trump, Mr. Orban, Mr. Zeman, Mr. Hofer, Mr. Fico, Madame Le Pen, and Mr. Farage. He followed this up in his opening statement at the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council on 13 September 2016 with a forceful attack on countries that refuses to cooperate with his Office or other UN procedures: foremost Syria but also Venezuela, Turkey, Ethiopia, Israel, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Mozambique, USA, Gambia, China, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Dominican Republic, Belarus, Eritrea, Iran, and Burundi. The non-cooperation by those in control of areas such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, and Nagorno-Karabakh was also singled out.

The part that underpins the ‘legitimacy’ of his interference is of special relevance: “Under international law, wrongful “intervention” – as prohibited in Article 2(7) of the UN Charter – is by nature coercive. And it should be obvious that my Office has no coercive power. No activity that we undertake can possibly be considered constitutive of a prohibited “intervention”. …We request access so we can better work to help bring your laws and practices in line with international agreements which you, the States drafted and ratified – and to assist you to comply with recommendations which you have publicly, and often fulsomely, accepted….Are human rights exclusively a national issue? Governments have the responsibility to uphold their human rights obligations and to respect the standards. But the human rights of all people, in all countries, also require – unquestionably ­– our collective attention. The Vienna Declaration, adopted unanimously 23 years ago, confirmed this..”

“Human rights violations will not disappear if a government blocks access to international observers and then invests in a public relations campaign to offset any unwanted publicity. On the contrary, efforts to duck or refuse legitimate scrutiny raise an obvious question: what, precisely, are you hiding from us? I classify as refusals of access all unreasonable delays, elaborately ritualised and unreasonably prolonged negotiations, and responses to specific requests which seem to seek to fob us off with inadequate alternatives to real, fact-based assessment. Access delayed is access denied: two weeks is surely amply sufficient to secure a decision from all relevant officials. Claims that insecure conditions make it impossible to give my staff access are also less than acceptable. My staff work with great courage in some of the world’s most severely threatened communities, and will continue to do so when called upon – or at least, we could be the judge of that.

States may shut my Office out – but they will not shut us up; neither will they blind us. If access is refused, we will assume the worst, and yet do our utmost to nonetheless report as accurately as we can on serious allegations. Our remote monitoring is likely to involve witness testimony, credible third-party reports and use of satellite imagery, among other techniques. Certainly, remote monitoring is a poor substitute for in-person observation by expert analysts. It makes it more difficult to verify and confirm the competing allegations of any party – including the Government. I regret that imprecision, and encourage all States to assist us to correct it, by permitting my teams unhindered access to events on the ground when requested.

The two texts follow below in toto; summarizing them would not do justice to the elaborate and courageous words of this High Commissioner, who seems not to be concerned about securing a second term. Moreover, the one in the Hague stands out by its eloquence!

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Shackled Freedoms : what space for human rights defenders in the EuroMed?

September 7, 2016

 

cover-en-shackled-freedomThe recent report SHACKLED FREEDOMS : WHAT SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE EUROMED? depicts the obstacles and repression against civil society in the region and showcases first-hand accounts from Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories among others. The report also features recommendations by CSOs for joint action and seeks to influence EU policies to that effect. The report also focuses on the impact of security and anti-terrorist policies and lists the growing arsenal of repressive measures – both in law and practice – that civil society organizations (CSOs) face on a daily basis: judicial harassment, surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture and assassination.

Despite legal safeguards and the human rights “shared values” rhetoric in the EU, EuroMed Rights argues that European civil society is under increasing pressure. Austerity measures and anti-terrorism laws are increasingly used to legitimise practices that go against individual freedoms and rights of assembly, association and expression, such as in France, Spain or the UK, for instance. The report – published on 7 September 2016 – is the result of a seminar organised in April 2016 as an open dialogue between EU representatives, South Mediterranean activists and Brussels-based CSOs.

 DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


 

Source: Shackled Freedoms : What Space for Civil Society in the EuroMed? – EuroMed Rights – Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Drawn to peace: Hani Abbas has a dangerous pen

September 7, 2016

On 6 September 2016 True Heroes Films (THF) published a short video on Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist Hani Abbas, who is the laureate of the 2014 Cartooning for Peace Award.
See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/cartooning-for-peace-award-in-euronews-video-clip/

An early Save the Date: 11 October, 2016, Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva.

July 1, 2016

poster MEA 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The 2016 Martin Ennals Award Ceremony, organized annually by the City of Geneva and the Martin Ennals Foundation, will this year take place on 11 October, 6.00 pm, at Uni Dufour, Geneva, as the the opening of the Human Rights Week hosted by the University of Geneva from October 11 to 14 and with the support of the Canton of Geneva.

The laureate will be selected from among three 2016 finalists:

Mr. Ilham Tohti
(China) was sentenced to life imprisonment after working for two decades to foster dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.

Mrs. Razan Zaitouneh (Syria) was kidnapped after dedicating her life to defending political prisoners and documenting crimes against humanity in Syria.

Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia) have been prosecuted for documenting human rights abuses in their country.

See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/breaking-news-final-nominees-2016-martin-ennals-award-tohti-zone-9-bloggers-razan-zaitouneh-annoucement/

The finalists and laureate are selected by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, made up of ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), Frontline Defenders, the International Commission of Jurists, EWDE-Germany, the International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS. The detailed programme of the ceremony will follow at the beginning of September.

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders

For the conversation in the social media, use the hashtag: #Ennals2016.

You can register already now through: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=296%3Amea-2016-save-the-date&lang=en.

Syrian citizen-journalist Abdalaziz Alhamza’s talk at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum

June 8, 2016

Abdalaziz Alhamza and his team of citizen journalists risk their lives to smuggle video out of Syria to expose the shocking brutality of both the Assad regime and ISIS. Now ISIS has put a price on his head. Abdalaziz took the stage at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum of the Human Rights Foundation to talk about his work and his hopes for a brighter future in Syria.