Posts Tagged ‘Turkmenistan’

Human Rights Council: Reprisals instead of responses is the answer by many States

March 21, 2019

Room XX of the Human Rights Council

In two statements delivered to the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council, ISHR and Amnesty International reacted to the latest Joint Communications Report of the UN Special Procedures – independent human rights experts, appointed to monitor and report on human rights violations and to advise and assist in promoting and protecting rights. The report cites nine cases of reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the UN, and reveals that 95 states have not responded to letters from the UN experts concerning human rights violations.

There are two, related issues at stake here: (1) non-response to letters from the UN, and even worse (2) reprisals against human rights defenders who cooperate with the UN.

When I started my blog in 2010 (and one of the motivations) a main concern was the lack of response and enforcement [see https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2011/03/20/taking-on-non-response-this-bloggers-lone-response/ and : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140603192912-22083774–crime-should-not-pay-in-the-area-of-international-human-rights ].

As Helen Nolan of ISHR explains, 35 States have recently failed to respond to two or more of these letters. 13 of these nations are members of the Council. ‘Repeat offenders are a particular concern,’ says Nolan. India has failed to reply to a staggering 8 communications, Mexico 6, Italy 5, and Bangladesh and Nepal 4 each.’ Nolan emphasises that a failure to reply is a failure to cooperate, and welcomes the fact that the recently published report of the Annual Meeting of Special Procedures focuses on non-cooperation, including ‘more subtle forms’, such as selective cooperation with particular mandates. ‘To encourage cooperation, the Council must make non-cooperation more costly,’ says Nolan. ‘We urge the President of the Council to work closely with the Coordinating Committee of the Special Procedures to find ways to do this,‘ adds Nolan.

ISHR and Amnesty International’s second statement noted that under GA Resolution 60/251, Council members must ‘fully cooperate with the Council.’ Yet, the report cites nine cases of reprisals involving these members:

  • China sought to revoke the Society for Threatened Peoples’ ECOSOC status after vexatiously alleging that a person accredited by them, Dolkun Isa, participated in incitement and funding of separatism and terrorism, in retaliation for cooperation with the UN;
  • Egypt carried out forced evictions, and violations of the rights to physical integrity, liberty and security against individuals who cooperated with the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing during her recent visit;
  • Iraq carried out unlawful arrest, enforced disappearance and torture against Imad Al Tamimi and intimidated and threatened Israa Al Dujaili for cooperating with the UN;
  • Libya arrested an individual in retaliation for taking steps to clarify the fate and whereabouts of his father, including with UN mechanisms;
  • The Philippines labeled defenders “terrorists” in reprisal for their engagement with the UN;
  • Russia surveilled, intimidated and harassed Yana Tannagasheva and her husband, for speaking out about impacts of coal mining on indigenous people in Siberia and in possible reprisal for their communication with UN mechanisms;
  • Turkmenistan carried out reprisals against a defender and her husband for her cooperation with the UN; and
  • In Yemen, forces loyal to President Hadi and the Saudi-led coalition detained human rights defenders Radhya Al-Mutawakel and Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih for cooperating with the UN.

‘We call on the President of the Council to request updates on the cases from Iraq, Libya, Russia, Turkmenistan and Yemen, as there has been no response from the States concerned,’ said Nolan. For an older post on reprisals, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/03/13/zero-tolerance-for-states-that-take-reprisals-against-hrds-lets-up-the-ante/

Full text of the first statement (on failure to reply) available here.

Full text of the second statement (on cases of reprisals) available here.

You can also watch the videos of the statements via the link below:

Reporters Without Borders published its 2014 World Press Freedom Index

February 14, 2015

couverture classement 2014

Reporters Without Borders recently published its 2014 World Press Freedom Index. It has a nice easy-to-use and colorful map. The accompanying text spotlights the negative correlation between freedom of information and conflicts, both open conflicts and undeclared ones. In an unstable environment, the media become strategic goals and targets for groups or individuals whose attempts to control news and information.

The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year. At the other end of the index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, three countries where freedom of information is non-existent. Despite occasional turbulence in the past year, these countries continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them. This year’s index covers 180 countries.

Reporters Without Borders.

JOINT NGO RECOMMENDATIONS ON ENSURING PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN CENTRAL ASIA

May 21, 2014


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From 20-21 May 2014 there was in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, a Regional Workshop on Implementing the Human Dimension Commitments and Enhancing the role of Civil Society. An important contribution was the joint statement by six NGOs containing recommendations to protect human rights defenders in Central Asia.  The text in its totality follows below:  Read the rest of this entry »

And the Nominees Are……Oscars for Human-Rights !!

February 28, 2014

Regular readers of this blog know that I like the idea of holding  celebrities accountable (most recently: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/star-power-and-human-rights-a-difficult-but-doable-mix/).   The reason is that there is a mutually reinforcing (and for many profitable) interaction between the stars and the media (which in turn feed on the interest of the public). Celebrities’ views on all kind of issues – including human rights –  can hardly be called private. Their social media are virtual industries and influence millions globally. So it seems a good idea to have an annual look at which celebrities have advanced and which have harmed the cause of human rights around the world. Halvorssen and Leigh Hancock ( of the Human Rights Foundation) have done exactly that in the Atlantic on 27 February 2004 and linked it to the upcoming Oscars night on Sunday. 

(Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

The list of celebrities deserving recognition for their accomplishments in the field of human rights or those who should be ashamed for supporting human-rights violators, is long and contains many video links. Like the real Oscars, the list is slanted in terms of geopolitical interest and I think that if all major international human rights organisations would get together to agree on a list if would be more balanced, but that is probably wishful thinking. Still, the Human Rights Foundation deserves credit for this creative initiative. and here is the summary:

The Nominees for Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights Read the rest of this entry »

Star power and human rights: a difficult but doable mix

February 10, 2014

RED-FACED. Jennifer Lopez performing for the leader of 'one of the world's most repressive regimes,' according to Human Rights Watch. Photo by Agence France-Presse/Igor Sasin

 (Jennifer Lopez performing for the leader Turkmenistan. (c) Agence France-Presse/Igor Sasin)

In quite a few earlier posts in this blog I have drawn attention to stars and celebrities who either support dictators or simply do not care that their actions do. So, I was quite happy to see a thoughtful piece by Jo Biddle of Agence France-Presse on 9 February 2014 analyzing this issue a bit more in-depth, with actress Scarlett Johansson as the “poster girl of Israeli apartheid”, Dennis Rodman in North Korea, and Kim Kardashian expressing her love of Bahrain. I would add, Mariah Carey who thinks nothing of singing for Gaddafi or the Angolan President, while Jennifer Lopez (picture above) did the same in Turkmenistan.

The author rightly states that when celebrities wander into complex foreign policy issues, it can be a minefield, leaving diplomats and human rights campaigners scrambling for damage control. The article mentions exceptions such as Bob Geldof, Bono, George Clooney or Angelina Jolie Read the rest of this entry »

Mariah Carey needs better-informed staff and donate her 1 million fee to Human Rights Defenders in Angola

December 19, 2013

Mariah Carey Celebrates Angola’s Dictator, his Family, and Their Ill-Gotten Wealth

Mariah Carey poses with José Eduardo dos Santos, the 34-year dictator of Angola, his wife, and his daughter Isabel—Angola’s only billionaire

 

 

 

The Human Rights Foundation has lately been targeting celebrities who give their voice and reputation to bad causes and I think it is an excellent idea. Some celebrities do good work (think of Barbara Hendricks or Angelina Jolie), most are not interested but there is no reason why some should go out of their way to give support to dictators. There is no financial or diplomatic necessity. So, it is good to highlight Mariah Carey‘s concert on 15 December during a gala for the Angolan Red Cross, which was sponsored by Unitel (President José Eduardo dos Santos billionaire daughter Isabel owns Unitel and is also president of the Angolan Red Cross). “Mariah Carey can’t seem to get enough dictator cash, reportedly more than $1 million dollars this time. Read the rest of this entry »

Dictators in Central Asia like music – some musicians like the dictators

September 4, 2013

Jennifer Lopez at ISC Miami.

Kanye West

On 28 May 2012 I congratulated Loreen – the Swedish winner of the Eurovision song festival – as she was the only of the contesting artists who stood up for human rights. During her visit to Baku she visited human rights defenders at risk during a meeting the NGO Civil Rights Defenders arranged. The Government of Azerbaijan tried to downplay the issue by saying that music and human rights have to be separate, but it is shocking that a number of musicians seem to agree with this position.

The New-York based Human Rights Foundation, on 3 September 2013,  reports that the American musician Kanye West performed at the wedding of President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson last Saturday night in Kazakhstan. He reportedly received $3 million for the private engagement in the oil-rich former Soviet state, which has been autocratically since 1991. West’s lucrative private performance comes on the heels of a similar concert given by Jennifer Lopez for the dictator of neighboring Turkmenistan earlier this summer, which sparked a worldwide media interest. At the time, Lopez claimed ignorance of Turkmenistan’s notorious human rights abuses. West is not the first global celebrity to be approached to play in Kazakhstan: in 2011, Sting refused to play a private concert there, citing concern over the repression of workers in the country.

Oil-richness helps to shield Turkmenistan from criticism says Zawya

May 27, 2013

When North Korea, Iran and Kazakhstan start praising your human rights records, it may be time to change tactics. Turkmenistan came under fire at a recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council where it was questioned by its peers for its torture programs, systematic suppression of free speech and persecution of human rights defenders. Read the rest of this entry »

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: non-cooperation should not pay!

April 22, 2013

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s highly repressive policies are coming up for rare international scrutiny as from today (22 and 24 April 2013), Human Rights Watch said today. United Nations member countries gathering at the Human Rights Council in Geneva under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure should seize the opportunity to expose and denounce the ongoing repression in both countries and press for concrete steps to end abuses.HRW_logo

The governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan stand out as among the most repressive in the world, Human Rights Watch said. Both also stand out for their failure to heed recommendations made during their previous Human Rights Council reviews, in December 2008. “The extraordinarily high levels of repression in both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, coupled with their governments’ refusal to acknowledge problems, let alone to address them, underscores the need for a strong, unified message,” said Veronika Szente Goldston, Europe and Central Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

In submissions on Turkmenistan and on Uzbekistan Human Rights Watch highlighted key concerns with respect to both countries, and the steps needed to address them. One immediate step – and crucial if crime should not pay ! – is that both governments should be urged to end their longstanding denial of access for the UN’s own rights monitors. Ten UN rapporteurs have requested such access to Turkmenistan, while the number of UN rapporteurs barred from Uzbekistan has reached 11!  Cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC is another pressing issue [On April 12, the ICRC took the unusual step of announcing publicly its decision to end prison visits to detainees in Uzbekistan].

Other key concerns in Turkmenistan include: The government’s longstanding use of imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation and draconian restrictions on freedom of expression and association, which authorities enforce by threatening, harassing, or imprisoning those who dare to question its policies, however modestly. The severe repression of civil society activism makes it impossible for independent human rights defenders and journalists to work openly.

via Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan: Abuses in International Spotlight | Human Rights Watch.

 

Turkmenistan: two surviving Human Rights Defenders finally released but others linger in jail

February 18, 2013

On 17 February 2013 Human Rights Watch announced that two human rights defenders were released in Turkmenistan after serving their sentence: Sapardurdy Khajiev and Annakurban Amanklychev  (© Turkmen Helsinki foundation)
The Turkmen authorities have long used the judicial system and long-term imprisonment to suppress civic activism and settle political scores. So while we celebrate Amanklychev and Khajiev’s long overdue freedom, the pressing question remains, how many others still languish behind bars on wrongful charges? said Rachel Denber of HRW. Read the rest of this entry »