Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

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.

Irish Students Meet Human Rights Defenders

December 19, 2014

Not a shocking story but an excellent illustration of ​​how to motivate students through meeting Human Rights Defenders in person:

Thirty three staff and students of the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Tipperary were in Strasbourg last November as guests of the European Parliament’s Human Rights committee. The group spent three days in the French city. They were given a seminar on the European Parliament. However the main purpose of the visit was to attend a workshop with Human Rights Defenders from across the world. They met students involved in the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine and a young woman pleading for the lives of her imprisoned parents in Azerbaijan.

However the most heart wrenching and inspiring words came from Dr Denis Mukwege, a doctor from the Congo who has dedicated his life to treating women who are victims of the brutal conflict in the east of his country. Dr Mukwege was in Strasbourg to receive the Sakharov Prize for freedom of speech and the Tipperary students were part of a delegation of young people invited to meet with him and other nominees. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/congolese-gynecologist-wins-europes-sakharov-prize-in-2014/]

He told the group that it was the womens’ courage and stories of recovery that kept him motivated. All present felt honoured to be invited to such a prestigious event and urged everybody to remember those struggling against injustice. For more information on the groups visit: Social Community Studies facebook page at LIT

 

paul.jpg 20141126_EP-012284_MCH_135.jpg​​​​​​​

 

News – LIT-Tipperary-Students-Meet-Human-Rights-Defenders.

TASS reports without blushing on Putin’s support for human rights defenders

December 5, 2014

Vladimir Putin

(Vladimir Putin (c) Mikhail Metsel)

Russia‘s TASS agency reports on 5 December that today President Vladimir Putin will meet in the Kremlin members of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society Development and Human Rights (HRC) and federal and regional ombudsmen. “The meeting participants are planned to tell the head of state about their work in the current year, as well as touch upon most important issues of human rights observance and development of the civil society institutions in regions,” the press service said.

Putin regularly meets with human rights defenders, the piece continues and refers to one held on 14 October with members of the Human Rights Council. The main issues on the agenda were assistance to Ukrainian refugees, support of non-profit organizations, transparency of elections, problems of the law enforcement system and others.

The article continues (without blushing): “Speaking of supporting the civil society institutions, including human rights defenders, Putin promised that the state spending on this in 2015 would be increased to 4.7 billion rubles ($86.47 million), while in 2013 this figure stood at 2.7 billion rubles ($49.67 million).” The president thanked the Russian human rights activists for the attention they pay to numerous facts of violation of human rights in the neighbouring country — Ukraine. “Many international human rights organizations hypocritically turn a blind eye to the developments,” he said.

Many of the proposals voiced by the human rights activists turn into presidential instructions. Thus, on the October meeting results the president has already given a number of instructions on organizing assistance to children affected by the armed conflict in the south-east of Ukraine, on perpetuation of the memory of the victims of political repression, on migration problems, on improving law enforcement activity and a number of others.

TASS: Russia – Putin to discuss with ombudsmen human rights observance issues.

some items that were apparently not discussed: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/foreign-agent/

MEA Laureate Mutabar Tadjibayeva appeals to politicians not to sit next to Putin

May 31, 2014

On the eve of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, MEA Laureate 2008 Mutabar Tadjibayeva speaks out through her exile-based NGO “Fiery Hearts Club”. She passionately appeals to Western politicians invited to the ceremony not to sit next to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the honor podium. The text is below is reproduced as is (it exists also in Russian):

We see the following solid arguments that have pushed us to make this appeal.
 
Firstly, it is continuing policy of Putin’s intervention in the internal affairs of Ukraine that has given rise to the so-called “Ukrainian events”, has led to increased ethnic strife between the fraternal Slavic peoples of Ukraine and escalation of the armed conflict, has resulted in many casualties on both sides of the incomprehensible, artificially stirred up conflict, has led to separatism and threat of the collapse of the independent, sovereign nation.
 
One of these days the Ukrainian people democratically elected their new president. Despite this, the situation in Ukraine causes serious concerns and is far from stability. Putin’s policy of interference and provoking conflicts continues and poses a serious threat to achievement of the peacebuilding process and stabilization of the situation in the country. Western leaders should make it clear to Putin that such interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine is intolerable. They must refuse sitting next to him during the celebrations in Normandy, which is an excellent diplomatic opportunity to express such a stance.
 
Secondly, the major concern is the situation with the civil society in Russia under Putin. Following overall Putin’s “hunt for foreign agents” represented by Russian human rights organizations, the government put the “foreign agent” label on any independent public activity. Russian human rights activists argue that the sign “foreign agent” is offensive for human rights, environmental and social organizations. Their goal is to deliver assistance to people, defend generally valid, legal and democratic principles. This way they serve the country and the peoples of Russia.
 
Human rights activities are not possible without an appeal to the government and the public opinion, without involvement of activists into civic campaigns. The “foreign agent” label in the current social atmosphere of xenophobia and hatred towards the West undermines the very idea of the civilian control because it makes any public activities of non-governmental organizations senseless and first of all their appeals to officials for the sake of interests of individuals and the society. With such a label, work of human rights organizations has no sense, provokes and justifies public hatred towards human rights defenders, and pushes human rights organizations to liquidation or disbandment.
 
How can Putin, the initiator of all-out struggle against “foreign agents” among Russian human rights activists and the oppressor of free activities the of Russian civil society, sit on the podium next to the honorable leaders of democratic countries during the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy? It is beyond our understanding.
 
Thirdly, the next reason, which pushed us to make this appeal, is associated with the recent tragic deaths of well-known Russian human rights activist Andrei Mironov and Italian journalist Andrea Roccella in Ukraine during armed conflicts. Italian journalist Andrea Roccella and his translator Andrei Mironov were killed on the night of May 25 in the village of Andreevkaunder Slavyansk. According to preliminary data, their car came under a mortar attack. During the accident, French correspondent William Rogulon was wounded. Although both sides of the conflict, the official Ukrainian armed forces and the separatist armed groups supported by Russia, blame each other for the tragedy, it has been widely discussed in the Internet the version according to which the group of journalists could be attacked by separatists.
 
OSCE has called the death of Roccella and Mironov a terrible reminder of how little is done in the east of Ukraine to protect journalists risking their lives in the conflict zone. This and all other deaths of innocent victims of the Ukrainian conflict require immediate and thorough investigation and punishment of those responsible for casualties. We believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for what is happening in Ukraine, including the tragic deaths of the Italian journalist and the Russian human rights activist. The solemn events in Normandy is also dedicated to the memory of million victims of World War II, and Putin as one of the main perpetrators of human casualties occurring in Ukraine, is just not worthy to take part in the celebrations in Normandy.
 
Fourthly, it is under Putin’s ruling that numerous cases of kidnapping and illegal extraditions of Uzbek citizens temporarily residing on the territory of Russia occur as well as those who seek asylum from persecution of the Uzbek authorities in third countries, including Uzbek labor migrants, whom the Uzbek authorities want to describe as “religious extremists and terrorists”. It is Putin that allows the Uzbek authorities increase their unauthorized surveillance and monitoring of millions of Uzbek labor migrants working in Russia through their agent intelligence networks.
 
Cases of unauthorized detention and abduction of Uzbek labor migrants in Russia by the Uzbek security services have increased. Sometimes the Uzbek security services work through official channels, make official requests to the Russian authorities, for instance, they make requests for extradition of those, who are suspected of religious extremism in Uzbekistan. The Russian authorities arrest Uzbek labor migrants and extradite them to Uzbekistan, very often even when their complaints are under consideration of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and/or the Court ordered the Russian authorities not to extradite Uzbek citizens.
 
It is under Putin’s regime that ethnic nationalism is growing in Russia against immigrants or non-indigenous ethnic groups of Russia and numerous fascist and ultranationalist groups conduct their activities with impunity. Every year, these groups murder with impunity and physically maim over a hundred representatives of other ethnic groups residing in Russia. The Russian enforcement agencies do not investigate most of such cases and do not punish those responsible for such crimes.
 
Websites of fascist groups openly promote violence and methods of punishment, torture against “visitors”, and majority of materials of the Russian media are full of discriminatory, one-sided approach to coverage of events related to non-indigenous residents of Russia. Rights of migrant workers from the former Soviet countries are grossly violated in Russia not only by fascist groups, but also by employers, government and administrative bodies and officials. Most of such cases are not investigated and perpetrators remain unpunished.
 
We call Western politicians to refuse sitting next to Putin during the celebrations in Normandy.
 
The U.S.A. President Barack Obama and President of France Francois Hollande will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 5, 2014 on the eve of the celebrations in Normandy. We call the Presidents of the United States and France to take it seriously and demand that Putin provides clarifications on the above-described human rights violations.
 
Western politicians should pay special attention to the issue of violation of human rights in post-Soviet countries, who are under the influence of Moscow’s policy and the role of Putin’s government in these offenses against citizens of post-Soviet countries, like, for instance, cases of abductions and extraditions.
 
Fiery Hearts Club International Human Rights Organization also intends to organize a protest near the venue of the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy and in the French capital. We also invite to participate in the planned protest actions those, who will support our appeal.
 
We also call our partners, international organizations, non-profit organizations, ordinary citizens, including citizens of France and other democratic countries of the world, young people in these countries to support our appeal and express their support by signing this appeal.
 
In order to support our appeal, by signing it and/or taking part in the protest, please contact us by email mutabartadjibaeva[at]gmail.com
 
Thank you in advance for your support!
 
Sincerely,
Mutabar Tadjibayeva,
Head of “Fiery Hearts Club”
International Human Rights Organization

28 may 2014
France, Paris
    

http://jarayon.com/en/index.php/component/k2/item/249-we-appeal-to-politicians-not-to-sit-next-to-putin

Russian human rights defender Andrei Mironov meets his death in Ukraine

May 27, 2014

Picture taken May 25 shows the domestic and foreign passports of Russian rights defender Andrei Mironov, who was reportedly killed with Italian journalist, Andrea Rocchelli, near the eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk. AFP

(Picture taken May 25 shows the domestic and foreign passports of Russian rights defender Andrei Mironov, reportedly killed near Ukrainian town of Slavyansk. AFP POOL-/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

“It’s hard for me to believe that Andrei Mironov is dead” writes  Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter of the Toronto Star on 25 May 2014. Indeed a terrible shock. I met him for the first time in 2004 when he accompanied the MEA Laureate Lida Yusupova of Memorial to the ceremony in Geneva. According to an Agence France- Presse report from Slavyansk, Ukraine, the veteran Russian human rights defender and sometime war zone fixer, used up the last of his nine lives on Sunday. He was acting as a translator for Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, who was also killed. According to a French photographer who escaped with leg wounds, the two men were hit by shrapnel from mortar shells as government troops and pro-Russian separatists continued to battle for territory in eastern Ukraine.

Olivia Ward describes Andrei as a “slight, self-effacing man of 60, with a puckish sense of humour, he belied his frail appearance with an iron will to do good in the world. In 1986, that got him a year in a Soviet labour camp as an “anti Soviet dissident” – a time he used to channel his talent for languages, including French and Italian. Nor did he let up on government abuses after the fall of the Soviet Union. As a human rights campaigner linked with the venerable rights organization Memorial , he snapped at the heels of Boris Yeltsin’s and Vladimir Putin’s governments, especially during the two bloody wars when Russian troops battled Chechen separatist fighters…..“You don’t understand,” he rasped. “I have to go and witness what is happening. If I don’t, who will?

Andrei dodged so many bullets in his decades of battling impunity that it is hard to believe he is gone. It would be harder still if the truth were buried along with him” concludes Olivia Ward, who covered the former Soviet Union as bureau chief and correspondent from 1992 to 2002. For the full story see:  Death in Ukraine: bitter end for Russian human rights hero | Toronto Star.

 

 

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 »

the Crimea and Foreign Agents: a T-shirt tells it all

April 1, 2014

As a result of the annexation of the Crimea, the Russian Procurator-General has found himself in a legal conundrum. The local NGO “Crimea Human Rights Centre” [CHRC] had for years militated in favour of the rights of the Russian speaking majority and insisted on the right to self-determination already in 2005 as the only way to secure their rights.

As the NGO receives funding from abroad (mostly from the Russian government but also from a rich businessman in Abkhazia), it had been forced on 2 February 2014 to register under the new Ukrainian “Foreign Agents law” [see my earlier post: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/ukraine-follows-russias-example-again-human-rights-defenders-labeled-as-foreign-agents/].

As a result, the members of the CHRC had even been forced to wear T-shirts with the text: “Foreign Agent”. With the integration of the Crimea, several staff members had stopped wearing the hated T-shirts but a certain, Aleksey Baburinko, one of the few Ukrainian human rights defenders left in the Crimea, lodged a complaint saying the CHRC still fell under the law on Foreign Agents, “either the Ukrainian or the Russian version”.

Today, 1 April 2014, the local Prosecutor’s office in Sebastopol issued a statement that wearing the T-shirts was no longer necessary but that the issue of registration would be referred to the new Russian Minister for Crimean Affairs, Oleg Savelyev, who has just been appointed.

Via http://en.itar-tass.com/russia/1april2014

Two more side events on Human Rights Defenders on 10 and 12 March

March 5, 2014

In a post earlier in the day I mentioned that I would restrict myself to announcing Side Events to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that are specially focused on Human Rights Defenders, but that seems not be much of a restriction with two more interesting events scheduled for next week:

1.Human Rights Defenders and the Shrinking Space for Civil Society” on Monday 10 March 2014 from 14 to 15h00 in Room XX Palais des Nations. Speakers:

  • Navi Pillay UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Halah Eldoseri – Saudi Arabia [researcher on women’s health services; blogs (Saudi women’s rights) to educate women about the country’s  international obligations towards women; writes and organises lectures and workshops in Saudi Arabia for activists and the public]
  • Maksym Butkevych – Ukraine [radio and TV journalist working with “Hromadske Radio” (“Public Radio”) in Kiev; Co-Founder of “No Borders” project of the NGO “Social Action Centre”, which works on anti-discrimination issues;  organised an independent radio station to directly cover the events in Ukraine; Co-Ordinator of the Independent Civic human rights violations Investigation Commission]
  • Mary Lawlor Director of Front Line Defenders [Chair]Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

Co sponsors: Troicare, International Commission of Jurists, Permanent Mission of Ireland.

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2. “Global Trends for Human Rights Defenders” on Wednesday 12 March from 09h30 -12h00 in the office of International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Rue de Varembé 1.  This Roundtable brings together human rights defenders, practitioners, academic scholars, intergovernmental officials, government representatives, and donors to discuss innovation and the way forward to improve understanding and protection of HRDs, specially to foster an enabling environments for human rights defenders. This discussion will draw upon:

  1. Recommendations made in the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders  to the Human Rights Council on 10 March 2014,
  2. Ideas shared in the Side Eventof the Human Rights Council on ‘Creating a Safe and Enabling Environment for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders’ on 11 March 2014 (see my post:https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/important-human-rights-council-side-event-on-11-march-to-be-followed-on-internet/)
  3. Issues in the Special Issue on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in the Journal of Human Rights Practice (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/special-issue-on-human-rights-defenders-of-the-oup-journal-of-human-rights-practice/).

To attend this event, please register by Friday March 7 at 12:00 noon by completing this on-line form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/19rJ44GM_VQybtestvtH8gH26vn9B2TLCBQ0VVftpobs/viewform