) wrote in the Huffington Post of 31 March 2017 under the title “The world’s human rights movement would look very different ‘if it weren’t for women’” a piece that highlights women human rights defenders in the context of the Movies That Matter Film Festival which took place in the Netherlands earlier this year [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/15/movies-that-matter-film-festival-in-the-hague-from-24-march-to-1-april-2017/]. Movies that Matter, the Amnesty International film festival celebrated nine human rights defenders and screened films that share their powerful stories. Here some of these defenders: Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’
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 receiving the Human Rights Award from the Spanish General Council the Bar © • IPC
On 22 September 2016 a ceremony took place for the 8th annual ceremony of the Hrant Dink Award Granted. The laureates of the International Hrant Dink Award are the Diyarbakir Bar Association and Malawian human rights defender Theresa Kachindamoto, who works for children’s right.
Diyarbakir Bar Association Chair Tahir Elçi was murdered on 28 November 2015 in Diyarbakir, while he was making a press statement. Deputy Chair Ahmet Özmen received the award on behalf of the association. Ahmet Özmen said inter alia: “I gratefully commemorate our dear chair Tahir Elçi, who devoted his life to the struggle for peace and freedom and sacrificed his life for this struggle….Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink are two heroes, two human rights defenders who made history. People will remember them as intellectuals who made efforts for establishing a democratic order for the peoples of Turkey. Their only measure was rightfulness and justice. The ones who ordered their murder thought that their strong legacy will vanish and we won’t be able to follow their lead, but they are wrong.”…“Today, our most important duty and historical responsibility is to preserve and improve the legacies of Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink. Demanding peace and speaking up for building peace is the only way.” During the ceremony, a video titled “Inspirations” was shown. People and institutions from Turkey and all around the world, who gave people hope about the future with their actions, were featured in the video. There were also people who objected to the coup and defended democracy on July 15.
Theresa Kachindamoto is the paramount chief, or Inkosi, of the Dedza District in the central region of Malawi, one of the poorest counties of Africa. For years, she has been working for preventing child marriages and defending their right to education. Becoming the chief of a tribe with 900,000 people, Kachindamoto started to struggle against child marriages, when she saw that half of the girls in the tribe are forced to marry at the ages of 12 or 13. She banned “marriage camps”, where children are abused under the name of sexual education. She managed to convince 50 tribe chiefs to abandon the traditions encouraging child marriage and to annul 850 marriages. Receiving the award from Yildiz Tar on behalf of last year’s laureate KAOS GL and Michèle Marian, Kachindamoto told the story of her struggle: “It wasn’t easy to fight against this problem. For majority of people, this practice was one of the most fundamental traditions of Malawi and encouraged by the society. We had to inform all people about the dangers and consequences of child marriage and abolish the accepted opinion which deems this practice as normal. There is no doubt that I need to push against more of the old ways of thinking to achieve my ultimate goal of removing child marriage from Malawi, and giving all girls and boys the opportunity to complete their education. I am proud of what we have achieved so far, but I am aware that there is still a long way ahead of us. I am grateful to every one who walked this way with me. I hope more people will join us and fight for the rights of Malawian girls. God bless you all.”
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.
The European Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought every year to honor individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. Nominations for the Sakharov Prize are made by political groups or by at least 40 MEPs. The 4 nominees for this year’s Sakharov Prize are:
Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, was arrested last November after his newspaper reported on Turkey’s intelligence service smuggling arms to rebels in Syria. He was later sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for “revealing state secrets”, survived an assassination attempt and now lives in exile. He was nominated by Greens/EFA, EFDD and GUE/NGL.
Mustafa Dzhemilev, former chair of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars People (Tatar parliament), a former Soviet dissident and a Ukrainian MP, has been standing up for human and minority rights for more than half a century. He was six months old when he and his family were deported to central Asia along with all other Crimean Tatars and was only able to come back 45 years later. Now, after Russia annexed Crimea, the human rights activist is again barred from entering the peninsula. He was nominated by EPP and ECR.
Nadia Murad Basee and Lamiya Aji Bashar are advocates for the Yazidi community and for women surviving sexual enslavement by Islamic State. They are both from Kocho, one of the villages near Sinjar, Iraq, which was taken over by Islamic State in the summer of 2014, and are among the thousands of Yazidi girls and women abducted by Islamic State militants and forced into sex slavery. Murad is also a promoter for recognition of the Yazidi genocide. They were nominated by S&D. Murad Basee was also nominated separately by ALDE.
Ilam Totti, a peaceful advocate of China‘s Uyghur minority, is serving a life sentence in prison. He was convicted on charges of “separatism” for co-founding the website Uyghur Online, designed to promote understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. He was nominated by MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk and 42 other MEPs. Ilam Totti – also spelled as Ilham Totti – was announced on 27 April as one of the Final Nominees of the MEA [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/breaking-news-final-nominees-2016-martin-ennals-award-tohti-zone-9-bloggers-razan-zaitouneh-annoucement/]
The vote for the shortlist of three finalists will be held during a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committee. The Conference of Presidents, made up of the Parliament President and the political group leaders, will announce the winner(s) of the 2016 Sakharov Prize on 27 October.
For more on the Sakharov award: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/sakharov-prize/
A Turkish court on Thursday 30 June 2016 released a prominent press freedom advocate and leading human rights defender, two of three activists put under pre-trial arrest on June 20 for participating in a solidarity campaign with a pro-Kurdish daily newspaper. [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/turkey-outcry-over-detention-of-human-rights-defenders-is-even-russia-too-much/]
Sebnem Korur Fincanci, president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and Erol Onderoglu, Turkey’s representative to Reporters Without Borders, are to remain free pending trial on charges of “propaganda for terror organization PKK,” or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. The first hearing is scheduled for November 8. A different court is handling the case against writer and journalist Ahmet Nesin and there has been no decision yet on the possibility of his release pending trial, according to Anadolu.
The three had participated in a solidarity campaign taking turns as co-editors in support of Ozgur Gundem, a pro-Kurdish publication subject to multiple investigations and lawsuits.
An academic and two journalists who play a key role in Turkey’s human rights movement have been jailed pending investigation into spurious allegations of spreading terrorist propaganda. Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Boarder, Front Line, and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint program of FIDH and OMCT), among others, have raised serious concern and demanded their immediate release.
An Istanbul court on 20 June, 2016, accepted a prosecutor’s request for them to be placed in pretrial detention on suspicion of having committed terrorist offenses. They are Erol Önderoglu, who is the Turkey representative of Reporters Without Borders and a journalist with the independent news website Bianet; Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı, an academic at Istanbul University’s forensic medicine department and head of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey; and Ahmet Nesin, a writer and journalist.
“The decision to demand the detention of Önderoğlu, Fincancı, and Nesin is a shocking new indication that the Turkish authorities have no hesitation about targeting well-known rights defenders and journalists who have played a key role in documenting the sharp deterioration in human rights in the country,” said Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia Director. “
The three were among 44 journalists, writers, and activists who participated in a solidarity campaign for media freedom in which each of them acted as a symbolic co-editor-for-a-day at the pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem in Istanbul. The government sees the newspaper as hostile to it and as a result has placed it under immense pressure.
“Jailing a world-renowned journalist and human rights defender such as Erol sends a very powerful signal of intimidation to the entire profession in Turkey. It’s a new, unbelievable low for press freedom in Turkey,” Johann Bihr, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at RSF, told CPJ. At least 14 journalists were imprisoned in Turkey on December 1, 2015, when CPJ last conducted its annual census of journalists jailed around the world. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/turkey-fair-trial-human-rights-lawyers-expression-l4l/]
Front Line Defenders has more information on these individuals: Sebnem Korur Fincanci (https://frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/sebnem-korur-fincanci) who also received the International Hrant Dink Award for her human rights work. Erol Önderoğlu (https://frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/erol-onderoglu) and Ahmet Nesin (https://frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/ahmet-nesin).
While the NGO reactions are expected, more remarkable is the reaction from Russia which (in the good company of the USA, the UN and the EU) has condemned the crackdown on Turkey’s press freedom: Read the rest of this entry »
The Deutsche Welle (DW) Freedom of Speech Award 2016 goes to Turkish ‘Hürriyet’ journalist Sedat Ergin. The DW prize is awarded annually to journalists who stand out in their fight for human rights and free speech. The award ceremony will on 13 June 2016 at the Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany. Read the rest of this entry »
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:
At the latest session of the Human Rights Council, States and NGOs reacted to the new compilation of advise and recommendations on how to protect the right to assembly (‘freedom to demonstrate’). UN human rights experts have launched a major new report on the proper management of assemblies. The compilation of practical recommendation, which seeks to ensure that the management of assemblies and protests comply with international law through which to apply international law, was drafted by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Association and Assembly (Maina Kiai) and on Extrajudicial Executions (Christoph Heyns), after a series of consultations with multiple stakeholders including civil society.
An interactive dialogue with the Rapporteurs followed the report’s presentation, and several States – including Norway, Egypt and Ireland – reiterated the responsibilities of business. Whilst a broad range of States – including Costa Rica, Turkey and Tunisia – acknowledged the report’s importance, others used their interventions to emphasise the responsibilities of protesters. In response to Russia, Botswana and Cuba amongst others, Mr Heyns was clear: ‘Rights come before responsibilities. The report does not challenge that responsibilities are an inherent component of human rights, but one must come before the other.’ Maina Kiai underlined that ‘requiring authorisation for a protest dilutes a right to a mere privilege’.
ISHR’s statement reiterated that free assembly is a vital component of a safe and enabling environment for human rights defence, and highlighted how vague laws such as the Ley de Tumulos in Guatemala, repressive clampdowns on protest such as in Gezi Park in Turkey, and the imprisonment of protesters such as the Bahrain 13 are being used to hamper the work of human rights defenders.
ISHR welcomed the report’s emphasis on the responsibilities of business. ‘We hear increasingly of abuses by private security firms against protesters, as well as strategic lawsuits against public participation brought by companies and the enactment, by States, of laws which specifically target and restrict protests against business operations,’ said ISHR’s Ben Leather. ‘States should take heed of the recommendations made in the report to reverse these trends’.
For other posts on this topic: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/freedom-to-demonstrate/