Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

The human rights defenders in AI’s 2018 Write For Rights Campaign

November 25, 2018

Ukrainian filmmaker Sentsov wins EU’s Sakharov prize for human rights

October 27, 2018

Video by Claire PRYDE

The European Parliament on Thursday awarded the Sakharov human rights prize to Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, jailed in Russia for opposing its annexation of Crimea and described as a “symbol of the struggle” to free political prisoners. {https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/09/30/nominees-for-the-2018-sakharov-prize-announced-by-european-parliament/}

“Through his courage and determination, by putting his life in danger, the filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has become a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said.

Sentsov, is serving a 20-year sentence in a Russian penal colony north of the Arctic Circle. The 42-year-old was convicted of an alleged arson plot in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and triggered sanctions from the European Union.

Sentsov’s cousin Natalya Kaplan, who lives in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, said she hopes the prize will raise his morale when he finally hears about it. “I hope (this) will help Oleg to further stay strong and of course I am happy for him. He deserved this,” Kaplan told AFP in written remarks.

Sentsov started a hunger strike on May 14 demanding the release of all Ukrainian prisoners in Russia, and his deteriorating health provoked an outcry from the international community. Sentsov called off the protest after 145 days to avoid being force-fed.

https://www.france24.com/en/20181025-jailed-ukrainian-filmmaker-oleg-sentsov-wins-eus-sakharov-prize-human-rights

Joint Statement by NGOs: Ukraine should address attacks against Human Rights Defenders

October 8, 2018

On 3 October 2018 a number of NGOs published a Joint Statement on Ukraine deploying the many attacks against Human Rights Defenders:

More than 50 attacks on activists and human rights defenders in Ukraine have been recorded by local human rights organisations in just the last nine months, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and Front Line Defenders said today. Those under attack include people working to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, protect the environment, and campaign against corruption. 

The organisations criticised the lack of effective investigations into these incidents and of prosecutions of those responsible, which heightens the risk to human rights defenders and sends a message that the authorities tolerate such attacks and assaults. Recently, the prosecutor general suggested that civil society activists brought the attacks on themselves <https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2018/09/27/7193378/&gt;  for criticising the authorities, giving an impression that human rights defenders can be openly targeted.

In most cases, the attacks have targeted individuals or groups that campaign against corruption in the local community, shine a light on the operation of local government and businesses, or defend people’s rights. The purpose of such attacks is clear: to silence activists and human rights defenders and to discourage others from speaking out against injustice and standing up for human rights. 

Two recent examples of the kind of vicious attacks that have yet to be effectively investigated took place on 22 September, in Odessa and Kryvyi Rih. Oleh Mikhaylyk, an anti-corruption activist, was shot in Odessa, in southern Ukraine, and remains in the hospital. Mikhaylyk had campaigned with the Syla Lyudei (People’s Power) movement against illegal construction in Odessa. Three hundred kilometers away, in Kryvyi Rih, unidentified assailants broke into the home of Artem Moroka after he criticised the local police on Facebook. The assailants severely beat him, breaking his nose, Moroka told Ukrainian human rights monitors.

In June, an environmental activist, Mykola Bychko, was found dead under suspicious circumstances in a village in Kharkiv region. Villagers found Bychko hanged in the woods near the village of Eskhar on June 5. The local police initially started a suicide investigation, but have yet to investigate the possibility that he was killed in connection with his activism. At the time, Bychko was documenting the pollution of a local river, allegedly caused by a nearby waste treatment plant.  A lawyer representing Bychko’s family questioned the conduct of the local police for ignoring the possibility that this was an intentional killing, and for allegedly intentionally delaying the investigation. The lawyer told Freedom House that police lost relevant evidence from the site where Bychko’s body was found, such as the rope from the improvised gallows. The authorities have also not pursued allegations that Bychko had received threats related to his documentation work, such as questioning people from the waste treatment plant. 

On July 31, an unidentified assailant threw acid on Kateryna Handzyuk, a local council member who monitored police activities, in Kherson. ……….

The Ukrainian authorities should take effective steps to prevent further threats and attacks against activists and human rights defenders, and ensure prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into such threats and attacks and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials. 

The Interior Ministry, the National Police, the prosecutor general’s office, and other relevant institutions should explicitly recognise the important work of human rights defenders in protecting human rights and uncovering corruption. The authorities should publicly denounce any threats and attacks against human rights defenders. They should take decisive measures to ensure that government critics can work in a safe and enabling environment in which they can exercise the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and conduct their activities without fear of reprisals. 

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/statement-report/ukraine-address-attacks-against-activists-and-human-rights-defenders

https://freedomhouse.org/article/ukraine-address-attacks-against-activists-and-human-rights-defenders

https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR5092012018ENGLISH.pdf

Nominees for the 2018 Sakharov Prize announced by European Parliament

September 30, 2018

The nominees for the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought have been announced on 27 September (Nominations can be made by political groups and groups of at least 40 MEPs – remarkable is the more active role played by right-wing groups in the EP, see the last two nominees):

Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director, convicted to 20 years in prison for “plotting terrorist acts” against the Russian “de facto” rule in Crimea. Amnesty International has described the court process as “an unfair trial before a military court”. He has become a symbol for the approximately 70 Ukrainian citizens illegally arrested and convicted to long prison sentences by the Russian occupation forces in the Crimean peninsula. He has been on hunger strike since May 2018. Nominated by EPP.

NGOs protecting human rights and saving migrant lives across the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2015, NGOs from across the EU have launched search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean to try and save the lives of refugees struggling to reach EU shores. The NGOs are: Boat Refugee Foundation, Jugend Rettet, Lifeline Rescue Boat, Médecins Sans Frontières International, MOAS, Proactiva Open Arms, PROEM-AID, Save the Children, Sea Eye, Sea Watch, and SOS Mediterranée. Nominated by S&D and the Greens/EFA.

Seyran Ateş, a German lawyer of Turkish origin, fighting against political and religious extremism and the oppression of women. She was behind the establishment of the Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque in Berlin, where men and women can pray together and has received numerous death threats and has to have round the clock protection. She was nominated by ECR, Hans-Olaf Henkel and 40 other MEPs for her “commitment to the protection of human rights and her devotion to a modern and open Islam”.

Caesar is the code name of a former Syrian military photographer who smuggled more than 55,000 pictures out of Syria exposing the war atrocities. Their authenticity is confirmed by the Human Rights Watch. Caesar’s photographs will play a vital role in building criminal and civil cases against those responsible for the crimes documented. Nominated by ALDE.

Nasser Zefzafi is the leader of Hirak, a mass protest movement in the Rif region, Morocco, fighting corruption, oppression and abuse of power. He was arrested in May 2017 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for “conspiracy against the security of the state”. On August 2018, King Mohammed VI pardoned 188 Hirak activists, but Zefzafi was not among them. At the end of August he went on hunger strike to denounce his conditions of detention. Nominated by GUE, Kati Piri, Judith Sargentini, Marie-Christine Vergiat and 39 other MEPs for his fight “against oppression and abuse of power”.

Dewayne Johnson is a former groundskeeper from the US who has just won a landmark case against Monsanto. He was the first person to take Monsanto to trial over allegations that the chemicals sold by the company under the herbicide brand Roundup cause cancer. At the end of the process Dewayne had just months to live, yet he took the stand and described his pain and suffering. Nominated by EFDD as an inspiration “for those afraid to go to court and defend their rights”.

AfriForum is an NGO that aims to protect the rights of minorities in South Africa, with a specific focus on the rights of Afrikaners. It focuses on raising national and international awareness about farm attacks, murders and the expropriation of farm land without compensation, which threatens property rights, food supply and food security. Nominated by ENF.

Mary Wagner is a Canadian activist who has been arrested on multiple occasions and accused of “disturbing the business” of an abortion clinic in Toronto. She remained in prison for not complying with a probation order to stay away from abortion clinics. She was nominated by Marek Jurek and 41 other MEPs for her work “safeguarding the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves”.

For more information this award and 2 others with Sakharov in the name: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest

Finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award come from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait

March 31, 2017

The Jury has selected human rights defenders from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait as finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:

emil-kurbedinov.jpg

Emil Kurbedinov, Crimea/Ukraine

Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea’s Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.

Pham Thanh Nghien

Pham Thanh Nghien, Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger Pham Thanh Nghien spent four years in prison for her work publicising violations against and defending the rights of relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols. Following her release, she was kept under house arrest, during which time she spearheaded numerous human rights campaigns and co-founded the renowned Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network. Nghien has had her home raided, been blocked from attending medical appointments, had a padlock placed on her door from the outside, and been refused a marriage certificate. Nghien has also survived numerous physical assaults aimed at stopping her powerful, peaceful work uncovering and publicising human rights violations in Vietnam.

nonhle_mbuthuma.jpg

Nonhle Mbuthuma, South Africa

Nonhle Mbuthuma has persisted in her struggle for land and environmental rights in South Africa’s Eastern Cape despite assassination attempts, ongoing death threats and the murder of her colleague. She is a founder and current member of the Executive Committee of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, formed to unite community members in five villages of the Amadiba Tribal Authority region opposing destructive mining projects. In July 2016, Nonhle and other activists successfully forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project to withdraw, but threats to activists continue as the community now fears the project will continue with funding from local “front” companies.

Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Kuwait

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli is currently imprisoned for his peaceful activism on behalf of Kuwait‘s stateless Bedoon and other minority communities in Kuwait. The term Bedoon, meaning “without” in Arabic, refers to the community of stateless persons, native to Kuwait, who are prohibited from obtaining any official state documents including, but not limited to, birth, death and marriage certificates. Abdulhakim is currently serving a one-year prison sentence and faces deportation upon release. Throughout his imprisonment, he has protested and staged hunger strikes against the inhumane and unsanitary conditions in the Anbar 4 prison facility, where he has also been subjected to solitary confinement. [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/27/car-chase-in-kuwait-bedoun-human-rights-defender-the-target/]

francisca-ramirez

Francisca Ramírez Torres, Nicaragua

Human rights defender Francisca Ramírez Torres‘ children were attacked in attempt to stop her powerful work advocating against a destructive inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Francisca is the coordinator of the Council for the Defence of Land, Lake and Sovereignty, which educates communities on their rights, campaigns for the repeal of laws allowing land-grabbing. The proposed canal would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples, without respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent. Francisca has been detained, harassed, and had her home and family attacked for her peaceful resistance to this destructive canal project.

The annual Front Line Defenders Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender’s work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security, and a cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to the Award recipient and his/her organisation in an effort to support the continuation of this important work.

Source: 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk | Front Line Defenders

European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize 2016: nominees announced

September 16, 2016

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/

Source: Sakharov Prize 2016: nominees revealed | News | European Parliament

Side event on human rights situation in Ukraine on Monday 20 June Geneva

June 18, 2016

HRHFlogo

Despite the hopes raised by the Euromaidan movement and improvements in many facets of life and governance in Ukraine, the last two years have brought the occupation of Crimea, armed conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine, and ongoing abuses, corruption, and political unrest. Two years after Euromaidan and the illegal occupation of Crimea, what efforts have been undertaken to prevent unlawful killings and ensure accountability, justice and redress in such cases?

The Human Rights House Foundation organisms a side event: “The human rights situation in Ukraine two years after Euromaidan: a view from civil society”, on Monday 20 June 2016, from 17:00 to 18:00 in Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Speakers:

  • CHRIST HEYNS, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
  • TETIANA PECHONCHYK, Human Rights media monitoring, Ukraine;
  • OLGA SKRYPNYK, Crimean Human Rights Group, Ukraine;
  • MARKIYAN HALABALA, Euromaidan victim’s legal representative, Ukraine;
  • Moderator: Anna Innocenti,  Human Rights House Foundation.

for more info: ALEXANDER.SJODIN@HUMANRIGHTSHOUSE.ORG

Fritt Ord and ZEIT awards to Eastern European media: Elena Milashina, Seymour Hazi and Nashi Groshi

May 13, 2016

Fritt Ord and ZEIT-Stiftung have given their 2016 awards to: Read the rest of this entry »

Side event on the Ukraine on 17 March

March 14, 2015

  • HRHFlogoThe Human Rights House Foundation, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (Ukraine), the Center for Civil Liberties, the Human Rights House Kyiv, the “Almenda” Civic Education Center and the Head of Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar People (Ukraine), organizes the side event: “The Human Rights Situation in Ukraine“.  On Tuesday 17 March 2015, from 14 to16h, at Palais des Nations, room XII.Panelists:
    Valeriya Lutkovska, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (Ukraine),
    Refat Chubarov, Head of Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar People (Ukraine),
    Olga Skrypnyk, “Almenda”, Civic Education Center (Ukraine),
    Oleksandra Matviichuk, Center for Civil Liberties, Human Rights House Kyiv (Ukraine).

Florian Irminger, Human Rights House Foundation, moderator.

Human rights defenders in Ukraine oppose forced mobilisation

February 12, 2015

In the context of the current conflict in Ukraine, the following notice, dated 11 February 2015, from the Ukrainian Helsinki Union is interesting:

Human Rights Defenders: Introduction of Certificate from Military Registration and Enlistment Office for Trips Abroad can Prejudice National Interests of Ukraine

The initiative of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, demanding persons liable for call-up to have the certificate from military registration and enlistment office to travel abroad and even to leave region is contrary to the Constitution of Ukraine and valid legislation, perpetrates human rights and can prejudice national interests of Ukraine.

The representatives of Ukrainian Helsinki Union assert: “The implementation of forced mobilization in no way will strengthen the defensive capacity of our country and will not make better anything in our Armed Forces, except the call-up statistics of military registration and enlistment offices. Yet, Ukraine is extremely interested in free movement of people, wares and capital. Panic about mobilization breakdown is more the product of information war than the result of real processes in the society. The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin was the first one to state the forced mobilization in Ukraine. The contempt of freedom of movement policy must be ceased immediately. Provoked by Russian propaganda, this policy is apparently harmful for the national interests of Ukraine”.

via Human Rights Defenders: Introduction of Certificate from Military Registration and Enlistment Office for Trips Abroad can Prejudice National Interests of Ukraine :: helsinki.org.ua.