Posts Tagged ‘woman human rights defender’

Kazakh Human Rights Defender Yelena Semyonova not allowed to travel to Strasbourg

October 10, 2018

Kazakh rights activist Yelena Semyonova (file photo)
Kazakh rights activist Yelena Semyonova (file photo)

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Profile of Sor Rattanamanee Polkla from Thailand

October 6, 2018

Looking ahead to next month’s UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, ISHR featured this profile ISHR trainee and Thai lawyer Sor Rattanamanee Polkla. Sor describes her work improving access to justice for those affected by development projects in rural Thailand, and explains how she plans to use the connections she made with ISHR and others at the Forum to expand her network and support her community on the ground.

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Really, Real Madrid honors Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi

October 1, 2018

I have written above football clubs (such as Real Madrid) having Emirates as a sponsor [see:], but this time the club has done something admirable: Saturday 29 September it has honored Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, who was imprisoned for eight months this year for slapping an Israeli soldier after her cousin was shot in the head, was honored Saturday by the Real Madrid football team in Spain.

In December 2017, a video was released of Ahed slapping a soldier in the front yard of her house just hours after her cousin had been shot in the head and put in critical condition by Israeli soldiers who fired at him during a non-violent demonstration. The next day, Ahed and her mother were pulled from their beds in the middle of the night by Israeli soldiers, separated, and imprisoned. Ahed was imprisoned for eight months, and released in July 2018.

17-year old Ahed was greeted by former striker Emilio Butragueno, who presented the teenager with a personalised football jersey. The jersey had ‘Ahed’ printed across the back, and the number 9, which is commonly assigned to strikers who take the front lines of the field and score most of the goals.

(In 2012, her father Bassem Tamimi, was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International)

In response to the honor by Real Madrid, Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli foreign minister spokesman, tweeted in Spanish, “A shame! Real Madrid receives a terrorist who incites hatred and violence. What has that to do with the values of the football?!?!”

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Iranian Human Rights Defenders in trouble

September 27, 2018

On 21 September 2018 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/ OMCT) petitioned the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to seek the release of Iranian human rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent defender and 2012 laureate of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, was arrested on June 13, 2018 at her home in Tehran. [see: ].. On September 16, 2018, Ms. Sotoudeh was informed that she would be denied her family visitation rights if she and her female visitors – including her daughter – did not wear a full hijab. Ms Sotoudeh has refused the condition and was denied the right to see her daughter on September 17, 2018.
The Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Sotoudeh and to cease all acts of harassment and other abuses against her and all human rights defenders in Iran, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Iran is a State party.

The semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Thursday 27 September that another human rights defender, Narges Mohammadi, has been granted a three-day leave from prison to visit her ailing father.

However, the recent terror attack in Iran may be expected to prompt the Guards to compensate by cracking down on domestic detractors and perceived opponents of their mission of defending and principles of the Islamic revolution. Certainly, some prominent figures within the Iranian activist and expatriate communities have been quick to raise alarms about the likelihood of this outcome. For instance, the Center for Human Rights in Iran quoted the Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi as saying of last Saturday’s attack, “Such actions lead to the justification of state violence and the arrest of many opponents in the name of fighting terrorism.” Meanwhile activists echoed the sentiment, saying, “Terrorism and violence in any form should be condemned in the strongest terms [but] such acts of violence should not become an excuse for state violence to suppress peaceful opposition.

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Human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh on hunger strike in Iran

August 30, 2018

One of the most admirable human rights defenders in the world, Iranian Nasrin Sotoudeh, has gone on hunger strike, Front Line Defenders reports on 25 August 2018. This time in protest against her judicial harassment and the continuing pressure which is being exerted on her family, relatives and friends. The defender was arrested in June and has been in the women’s ward of Evin Prison since.

Nasrin Sotoudeh  is a human rights defender and lawyer who in recent months has represented a number of women’s rights defenders who have faced charges as a result of their protests against compulsory veiling in Iran. The defender has also actively criticised the new limit which has been imposed by the Iranian judicial system on the number of state-approved lawyers which are permitted to defend political and security based cases. [see  and]

On 25 August 2018, human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh began a hunger strike in protest against her judicial harassment and the continuing pressure which is being exerted on her family, relatives and friends. The next day, the Assistant Prosecutor and two other judicial authorities filed three new charges against her for “urging a referendum,” “assisting in the formation of house churches” and “organising protest rallies”. The human rights defender believes that these charges have been filed as a result of her failure to attend a court hearing on 15 August 2018, when she was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for “propaganda against the state”, “assembly against national security” and “espionage”. The defender has lodged an appeal against these convictions. On 18 August 2018, at approximately 8 a.m., three agents of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, holding  a warrant from Branch 7 of the Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison, raided Nasrin Sotoudeh’s house while her children were asleep. The agents also raided the house of her sister-in-law. It is believed that the agents were searching for objects related to the defender’s human rights work, such as badges reading “I oppose the compulsory Hijab”. 


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Senator de Lima – in detention in Philippines – receives her award

July 30, 2018

 PRIZE FOR FREEDOM. Liberal International gives the Prize for Freedom award to detained Senator Leila de Lima. Her son Israel and other members of her family receive the award on her behalf. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

On Saturday, 28 July 2018 Liberal International has given its ‘Prize for Freedom’ (as announced a year ago) to detained Senator Leila de Lima. Her son Israel and other members of her family receive the award on her behalf.  “Human rights are for all, or they are for nothing. The world is indeed watching, and Leila de Lima’s unjust detention will not be forgotten…. Senator Leila de Lima, you have received this prize for speaking truth to power,” Liberal International (LI) president Juli Minoves said during ceremonies held at the Novotel hotel in Quezon City on Saturday night. Minoves said this is the first time in almost a decade that the Prize for Freedom is being awarded outside of Europe. Fo more on this award and some 20 others with the word ‘freedom” in their name, see:

On Saturday, De Lima’s brother read her speech on her behalf: “I am extremely and unconditionally blessed, so much so that there is no room in my heart for regrets or second thoughts. No room for could haves, would haves, or should haves. I am where I am because I did the right thing.” Later in her speech, De Lima said that while dictators, oppressors, and abusers come and go, “we, the defenders of the people, can never rest.

In May Amnesty International (AI) Philippines, had recognized the detained Senator as the “Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender” on its first-ever Ignite Awards for Human Rights. Time Magazine listed her as one of its 100 Most Influential People and Foreign Policy. Fortune Magazine in April 2017 ranked her as the 39th out of 50 of the World’s Greatest Leaders.

See also my:


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Human rights lawyer Felicia Langer died on 21 June 2018

June 24, 2018

Felicia Langer (born 9 December 1930 ) died on 21 June 2018. She was a German-Israeli attorney and human rights defender known for her defence of Palestinian political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She authored several books alleging human rights violations on the part of Israeli authorities. She lived in Germany from 1990 and acquired German citizenship in 2008.In her writings, lectures and interviews she criticized the Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, which she considered equivalent to an annexation. Langer furthermore considered the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as undermining the possibility of a two-state solution and demands the complete and unconditional retreat of Israel from the territories conquered in 1967 and a right to return for any descendant of the Palestinian refugees. In 1990, Langer received the Right Livelihood Award ” for the exemplary courage of her struggle for the basic rights of the Palestinian people.” In 1991, she was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Award. In July 2009, President of Germany awarded her the Federal Cross of Merit. The bestowal triggered a public controversy because of her attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more on human rights awards see:

 on 23 June wrote in an Op ED in EurAsia Review Felicia Langer is highly respected and revered by the Palestinians like no other Israeli-German citizen. Only Yasser Arafat is more adored. Both the Palestinian Authority and the city of Tübingen, where she lived in exile, should set up a memorial place for this great German-Israeli woman…Felicia Langer is one of the few outstanding Israeli-German personalities who have sacrificed themselves to the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people to the last breath, and whose memory should remember by all three peoples. Their tireless commitment to Palestinian justice and human rights should always be considered an inspiration and a societal obligation to their political actions.”

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Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, arrested – again

June 16, 2018


Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh next to her husband Reza Khandan | Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images


On 13 June 2018, Nasrin Sotoudeh, the human rights defender was arrested at her home in Tehran, Iran. She was transferred to prosecutor’s office of Evin prison.  Nasrin Sotoudeh  is a prominent human rights lawyer who in recent months has acted as the lawyer for women’s rights activists who protested against the compulsory veiling in Iran and were subsequently prosecuted. According to her husband, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh was informed that she will be imprisoned for five years, however neither of them are aware of the charges against her.  

In 2010, Nasrin Sotoudeh was given a prison sentence of eleven years and banned from working as a lawyer or leaving the country for twenty years. Nasrin Sotoudeh remained in prison for three years under charges of ‘spreading propaganda’ and ‘conspiring to harm state security’, designed to force her to stop her legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. Nasrin Sotoudeh was finally released in September 2013 after receiving a pardon. Prior to her detention, Nasrin Sotoudeh represented many human rights defenders opposed to the current regime in Iran, and worked extensively with young prisoners who had been sentenced to death for crimes they committed when they were under 18. In 2012 she won the EU’s Sakharov award {]

 see also:


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UN rapporteurs ask India to protect journalist Rana Ayyub and refer to fate of Gauri Lankesh

May 27, 2018

Many newspapers reported (here India Today) that a group of UN human rights experts has expressed concern over continued threats to journalist Rana Ayyub, calling on the Indian government to urgently take steps to protect her and ensure the threats against her are promptly and thoroughly investigated. “We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats,” said the UN experts.

Ayyub is an independent journalist and writer whose work has included investigations into alleged crimes committed by public and government officials.

The experts recalled the murder of another Indian journalist, Gauri Lankesh, who had also received death threats for her work. [see:]

The UN experts are: Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and Special Rapporteur on violence against women.

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Shifa Kateregga: profile of a ‘regular’ woman human rights defender

May 27, 2018

Shifa Kateregga: A treasured human rights defender

The human rights defender explains her mission. Photo by Moses Muwulya

Clad in a veil, Shifa Kateregga listens attentively and sorrowfully to the tale of Scovia Kamashanyu, a woman from Kakuuto, Kyotera District, whose husband abandoned her with five children, leaving them to survive at the mercy of neighbours…..
Kateregga is the executive director of Human Rights Defenders Masaka (Huridem). She is committed to advocating for and defending human rights, especially domestic violence, land succession and child abuse cases.

The calm, jolly woman was born 50 years ago to Sheik Mustafa Walusimbi and Mitina Namaganda (both deceased). The motivational speaker and counsellor holds a Bachelors in Social Sciences from Islamic University In Uganda, a Diploma in Development Studies, a certificate in Public Law from Abuja University, as well as a Post graduate Diploma in Counselling, which academic disciplines have moulded her into a passionate human rights defender. The former Masaka District community development officer, who also doubled as the rehabilitation, probation and welfare officer for a decade, shares that she has heard all sorts of problems that women go through.

“Then our office was referred to as ‘office yebizibu’ translated as office for those with problems,” Kateregga shares. With sadness, she recalls the suffering and manipulation of women and children whom she says were marginalised and yet these practices were supported by culture. Kateregga notes that she would intervene wholeheartedly, fighting tooth and nail to see that mothers’ rights are not infringed upon, in the guise of culture and gender. “I had to change the mindset of men and culture that denies women a say in the home setting,” the mother of seven shares.

However, along the way, for reasons she is yet to understand, Kateregga was forced into early retirement. But the staunch Moslem shares that the experience she went through could not allow her to sit back and look on because she had left a public office. In 2005, she joined her colleague Teddy Nampera, a retired social worker who had started Huridem, to fight for people’s rights especially women. When Nampera requested her to join the struggle, she embraced the cause wholeheartedly and the organisation is still running to date.

Between 2011 and 2017, Kateregga shares that they received close to 430 walk in clients whose cases have been about domestic violence, land succession disputes and child abuse. On top of these, a series of human rights awareness campaigns have been conducted in outreaches. “Allah has been good to us. Most of the cases we have handled have emerged successful, with just a few cases referred to our partners,” Kateregga happily shares, adding that sometimes Uganda Human Rights Commission in Masaka District, refers certain cases to them on grounds that they can ably handle them “I’m a human rights defender not activist because the latter sometimes use force but for us we want a win win situation, because if we use force, sometimes the offenders may retaliate bitterly.” She quickly gives an example of the case, I found her handling saying, she intends to call the husband and bring the matter before him to see if he responds as per the demands of his ex-wife. It is only after negotiations fail that she resorts to strong arm methods.

Kateregga does not only defend women’s rights but men as well especially those whose rights at home are violated by their spouses. She says although some men are shy due to the cultural settings which place them in an upper position, some are bold and seek redress from her.  “This year I have received eight cases of domestic violence being reported by men,” She notes.

Kateregga’s journey has not been smooth. She says several challenges have come across her way including negative attitude of some elements in police and local government over her style of work. Financial constraints have also affected their activities especially when it comes to mass sensitisation of citizens. “Most people are ignorant about their rights and thus need to be sensitised to know when their rights are violated,” she adds…

She is a great woman whom I admire; an activist who has really fought for human rights to a bigger extent and rescued many from the jaws of domestic violence.” Mariam Tusiime, Former Masaka Municipality Councillor

Kateregga has been our strength in defending human rights and when it comes to land wrangles, defending mothers who tend to be denied access to their deceased spouse’s property. Her continuous sensitisation campaigns about human rights have seen mothers get to know their rights and quickly report any kind of violation.”  Joseph Ssekasamba, Deputy RDC Masaka

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