Posts Tagged ‘western Sahara’

Right Livelihood Award 2019 lauds ‘practical visionaries’

September 26, 2019

On its 40th anniversary, the Right Livelihood Award is honoring the efforts of an activist, a lawyer, a rainforest protector and Greta Thunberg. Deutsche Welle takes a closer look at the people who have inspired others.

German-Swedish writer Jakob von Uexküll thought there weren’t enough Nobel Prize categories to truly address the challenges faced by humanity. So in 1980, he founded the Right Livelihood Award [see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/right-livelihood-award]

This year, the recipients hail from Western Sahara, China, Sweden and Brazil. “With the 40th Right Livelihood Awards we honor four people whose leadership inspires millions of people to defend their rights and fight for a livable future on planet Earth,” said Ole von Uexküll, Jakob von Uexküll’s nephew and the current executive director of the Right Livelihood Foundation.

Aminatou Haidar speaks at a podium (Right Livelihood Foundation)

Aminatou Haidar spent four years in a secret prison, isolated from the outside world

By the time she was a teenager, Aminatou Haidar was already an activist. She has continued to campaign peacefully for the independence of her home country, Western Sahara, ever since. Haidar has become the face of a movement that is committed to Sahrawi self-determination, and fights for their fundamental human rights to be respected. She is also co-founder and president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) humanitarian organization. Haidar has organized demonstrations, documented torture and gone on a hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of her people. These actions are often not tolerated by Moroccan authorities: Haidar has been imprisoned without being charged or tried many times. She even spent four years in a secret prison isolated from the outside world. Yet in the face of harassment, attacks and death threats — including against her children — she continues to fight tirelessly for a solution to the long-standing conflict in Western Sahara. Her enduring stamina and nonviolent protests earned her the moniker “Gandhi of Western Sahara.” The jury said she was chosen to for her “steadfast nonviolent action, despite imprisonment and torture, in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.” [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/10/30/saharawis-human-rights-defender-aminatou-haidar-awarded-bremen-solidarity-award/].

 

Guo Juanmei (Right Livelihood Foundation)

Guo Juanmei has been working for women’s rights in China for 25 years

It wasn’t until 2014, when official figures were released, that it became known just how endemic domestic violence is in China: one in four married Chinese women is beaten by their husbands. It was a topic that had long been hushed up. Two years later, the Chinese government passed a law against domestic violence, an achievement owing to the tireless efforts of women’s rights activists like Guo Jianmei. Guo is one of China’s most prominent women’s rights lawyers. Over the past 25 years, she and her team have provided free legal advice to 120,000 women. She is the first lawyer in the country to work full-time in non-profit legal assistance. Guo supports campaigns on issues such as unequal pay, sexual harassment and widespread employment contracts that prohibit pregnancy across the country. In rural areas, Guo helps women who are denied land rights where patriarchal systems leave women dependent on their husbands. She founded an association of more than 600 lawyers that handles cases in the country’s most remote regions. Guo received this year’s award “for her pioneering and persistent work in securing women’s rights in China.”

 

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami (Right Livelihood Foundation)

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami has long been committed to protecting indigenous rights and land

The Amazon is burning, and the world is worried about the effects the burning rainforest will have on the climate. But local inhabitants are feeling the immediate impact. The award organizers wanted to draw attention to the plight of the indigenous people of Brazil by jointly recognizing Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, one of Brazil’s most respected advocates for the indigenous peoples, and the Hutukara Yanomami Association, which he founded in 2015. Kopenawa belongs to the Yanomami tribe, one of Brazil’s most populous indigenous tribes with some 35,000 members. The well-known Hutukara Yanomami Association is committed to protecting the rights, culture and lands of the indigenous people of the Amazon region. Increasing destruction and deforestation for agricultural purposes poses a threat to the environment, but also to the livelihood of the indigenous people. In the 1980s and 1990s, gold miners destroyed villages, shot people and spread diseases. Now such attacks are on the increase again. In 1992, Kopenawa was instrumental in ensuring that a 96,000 square kilometer (37,000 square mile) area in Brazil became Yanomami protected area. He also plays a crucial role in bringing different indigenous groups together to protect themselves from exploitation. It was for this purpose that he founded the Hutukara Yanomami Association, which represents different Yanomami communities. Kopenawa and the Yanomami Hutukara Association have been jointly awarded “for their courageous determination to protect the forests and biodiversity of the Amazon, and the lands and culture of its indigenous peoples.”

Greta Thunberg in the USA (picture-alliance/S. Reynolds)

Greta Thunberg has become the face of a generation fighting climate change

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is without a doubt the most well-known of the 2019 laureates. In August 2018, the then 15-year-old started a solitary school strike in front of the parliament building in Stockholm a few weeks before elections. She has since become the face of a generation who view climate change as an enormous threat to their future. Her campaign has pushed for worldwide political action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/09/17/greta-thunberg-receives-amnestys-ambassador-of-conscience-award/

Around the world, millions of young people have joined her in skipping school and taking to the streets for the “Fridays for Future” demonstrations, which culminated in a huge global climate strike last Friday. Thunberg speaks at major conferences and meets with world leaders. Her message is clear: Humanity must acknowledge climate change, the urgency of the crisis and act accordingly. Thunberg has been awarded “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts.” The jury added that she is “the powerful voice of a young generation that will have to bear the consequences of today’s political failure to stop climate change,” and that her efforts have inspired millions of people to take action.”

For last year see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/09/24/laureates-of-the-2018-right-livelihood-award-announced/

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https://www.dw.com/en/right-livelihood-award-2019-lauds-practical-visionaries/a-50554572

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

Morocco: military turned HRD sentenced to 6 months, while UN does still not monitor human rights in Western Sahara

April 16, 2015

Easter is over and we resume our human rights defenders coverage with the story of Mbarek Daoudi in Morocco who was sentenced to 6 months. What makes it remarkable is that this human rights defender served loyally for 30 years in the Moroccan army. On 15 April 2015 Frontline posted this update:

On 9 April 2015, Mbarek Daoudi was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by the Court of Appeal in Agadir. The decision came after the Public Prosecutor appealed the initial court decision [3 months imprisonment] against Mbarek Daoudi, and called for the stricter punishment of the human rights defender.

Since retiring from the Moroccan army in 2008, Mbarek Daoudi has peacefully advocated for the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination. On 21 December 2014, the human rights defender ended a seven-week hunger strike he had began in protest at his conditions of detention and the delays in scheduling his trial.

 

In the meantime the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights came out on the same day with a statement urging the UN to add a human rights monitoring mechanism to the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the only active peacekeeping mission established after 1978 without a human rights monitoring mechanism! The Security Council must vote to extend the mandate by April 30, 2015.

It is shameful that a small group of countries are denying the people of Western Sahara a basic human rights protection mechanism. The reports of abuses are undeniable, and the United Nation’s Security Council needs to respond by expanding MINURSO’s mandate,” said Kerry Kennedy. “The international community must not turn its back on reports of torture in detention, medical negligence towards ailing prisoners, unmonitored landmine blasts, violent dispersal of peaceful protests, and constraints on entry and travel within the region.

In February 2015, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights released a report tracking reported human rights abuse in Western Sahara.

Update: Morocco – Mbarek Daoudi sentenced to six month’s imprisonment | Front Line Defenders.

Terrorist charges against journalists and human rights defenders in Morocco

October 31, 2013

In the last three days Morocco has been seen using Anti-Terrorism laws against human rights defenders and journalists exercising their freedom of expression. The following two cases come from Frontline: Read the rest of this entry »

Saharawis Human Rights Defender Aminatou Haidar awarded Bremen Solidarity Award

October 30, 2013

Today it was announced that the Bremen Solidarity Award for the year 2013 has been awarded by the German Province of Bremen to the Saharawis activist and President of the Collective of Saharawis Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), Ms. Aminatou Haidar.

The committee overseeing the selection of the winner explained that Aminatou Haidar has been chosen for her record of defending the Saharawis’ human rights desert, praising the great efforts being made by CODESA’s President in order that the Sahrawis benefit from their natural resources, as human rights cannot be separated from political and civil rights. “Aminatou Haidar has frequently and boldly defended the rights of the Saharawis by peaceful mean. She still struggling to find a just solution to the question of Western Sahara by the same means,” added the committee. The Bremen Solidarity Award has, since 1988, been presented to people who campaign for freedom, democracy and human rights and who fight against colonialism and racism.

via Activist Aminatou Haidar awarded Bremen Solidarity Award | Sahara Press Service.

Western Sahara in the limelight – mission report

September 12, 2012

In this 3 September report on Western Sahara (one of the few in recent years on this part of the world) the dire situation of Human Rights Defenders is described. The problems the delegation had on the ground are also worth noting as the human rights situation in Morocco itself has in fact considerably improved over the years.

http://rfkcenter.org/images/attachments/article/1703/Final091012.pdf