Posts Tagged ‘woman human rights defender’

Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2019 goes to Hungarian Márta Pardavi

April 5, 2019

Hungarian human rights lawyer Márta Pardavi has been awarded the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2019. As an outspoken critic of the Hungarian government and its policies, Márta is often smeared and her work discredited. The award is a recognition of her work of many years, fighting against the attempts to systematically dismantle democracy, normalisation of xenophobia and hate crimes in Hungary.

Márta Pardavi is the Co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, one of Hungary’s leading human rights organisations. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee is a watchdog organisation that protects human dignity and the rule of law through legal and public advocacy methods. Being both vocal and successful in its activities, and particularly because of their work to support asylum seekers, the organisation has become a prime target of the government’s toxic campaigns.

“Democracy is under threat all over the world and now we see what authoritarians do when they get to power. They target critics, human rights defenders and treat marginalised groups as threats to society. We see this happening in Hungary, but also in other countries such as Poland. This award sends a very strong message, that our work is recognised, and that we as civil society organisations will continue to defend democratic values”, said Márta Pardavi.

Márta Pardavi, Civil Rights Defender of The Year 2019

“For many years, human rights lawyer Márta Pardavi has courageously defended civil and political rights in Hungary. She is leading the Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s work in the field of refugee protection, and with dignity and professionalism, confronts those who attempt to systematically dismantle civil society and normalise xenophobia and hate crimes. For her dedication and exceptional contribution to resist inhumane treatment of the most vulnerable, Márta is awarded the Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2019”, , said the Board of Civil Rights Defenders in its motivation.

During the first two decades of Hungary’s post-communist history, the country was a young but stable democracy, and a role-model of successful transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Today, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been in power almost a decade, a period during which Hungary has undergone dramatic changes. Too many posts in this blog have been devoted to this, see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/hungary/.

….But despite this climate, human rights defenders and human rights organisations continue to challenge state policies and propaganda, and the public support for their activities is growing.

“Many civil society organisations are working to address this and while it was probably both unwanted and unintended, the Hungarian government’s pressure has made us better at working together, making us stronger. And the same is true for the government’s anti-NGO campaigns – we have seen that civil society support is growing as an unintended consequence of the state propaganda”, said Márta Pardavi.

For  more on the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-award

https://crd.org/2019/04/04/civil-rights-defender-of-the-year-2019-marta-pardavi/

 

In memoriam human rights defender Tejshree Thapa of Human Rights Watch

April 3, 2019

Profile of Nayaali Ramirez Espinosa, indigenous rights defender of the Maya

March 31, 2019

Last year ISHR interviewed Nayaali Ramirez Espinosa, a lawyer providing legal assistance to Mayan communities in the region of Holpelchén, in the State of Campeche in Mexico. She expresses her satisfaction with some legal achievements such as the indigenous consultation in the region. It was published on 13 December, 2018.

Profile of Valentina Rosendo Cantu, human rights defender in Mexico

March 13, 2019

On 8 March 2019 LEXICON marked International Women’s Day  – in partnership with Peace Brigades International,- with a profile of Valentina Rosendo Cantu, a human rights defender in Mexico. This is the story of a woman who fought for her dignity and transformed her trauma and suffering into resilience. Her case led to a groundbreaking verdict by the Inter-American Court in June 2018.

Read the rest of this entry »

Eren Keskin, MEA nominee 2019, speaks out fearlessly: Turkey more oppressive today than ever

January 29, 2019

Turkey‘s anti-democratic mentality has not changed since its foundation, but it has never been as oppressive as today, said Turkish human rights defender Eren KeskinOver the years, Keskin played a vital role in strengthening civil society awareness in Turkey. She became involved with the Human Rights Association (IHD) three years after its 1986 founding and headed its Istanbul branch for years. She has been arrested and imprisoned numerous times, accused of terrorist ties for defending Kurdish rights, and won several awards including the Aachen Peace Award, the Theodore Haecker Prize, the 2018 Helsinki Civil Society Award, the 2018 Anna Lindh Prize, and the 2017 Hrant Dink Award. A new travel ban is likely to stop her from coming to the Martin Ennals Award ceremony on 13 February 2019.

Turkey’s undemocratic mentality has not changed since its foundation,” said Keskin. “There is no change in the mind or understanding of the state. I have been part of the struggle for human rights for nearly 30 years. I have not experienced a period in which freedom of thought and freedom of expression have been contravened this much. Turkey is more oppressive today than ever.

Keskin said she had been brought before the courts more than 100 times and convicted on numerous occasions.

I see the struggle for the defence of human rights as respect for those who have died. It is out of respect for them that I am part of the struggle for human rights,” she said. “We experienced a lot of pressure, but our friends were killed. They were killed fighting for human dignity. I am lucky to be alive…I was assaulted twice with firearms, imprisoned and threatened with death, but never gave up.”

…Keskin became the editor-in-chief of the Kurdish Özgür Gündem newspaper from 2013 to 2016 as part of a solidarity campaign after Turkish authorities arrested its journalists. She was prosecuted for a number of articles that appeared in the newspaper as, under Turkish law, editors-in-chief can be indicted when the authors cannot be held to account. Keskin said 143 criminal cases had been brought against her for her time working at Özgür Gündem. “I have already been sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison, a 450,000 lira ($85,000) fine and travel ban,” she said. A court in October lifted the ban on Keskin travelling abroad, but last week she realised she had been given another one when authorities refused to issue her a passport. She had been nominated for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and was planning to attend the award ceremony in Switzerland. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/24/breaking-news-ennals-award-announces-its-3-finalists-for-2019/]

People ask, ‘How do you live? How do you endure it?’” Keskin said. “For me, the job we do is a way of life and I have never regretted it.”

https://ahvalnews.com/human-rights/turkey-more-oppressive-ever-rights-activist

María Ruth Sanabria: 40 years of taking risks as human rights defender in Colombia

January 20, 2019

The Lutheran World Federation published on 18 January a profile of Colombia HRD María Ruth Sanabria: “40 years of taking risks to defend the rights of others“.

María Ruth Sanabria, Colombian human rights defender. Photo: LWF Colombia
María Ruth Sanabria, Colombian human rights defender. Photo: LWF Colombia

Despite continued threats on her life, María Ruth Sanabria remains undeterred in the struggle for the rights of marginalized people. This includes a project called “Towards the territorialization of peace through women’s bodies, voices and words,” supported by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Ever since she was young, Sanabria always felt drawn to dealing with “the pain of others,” and describes this characteristic as the essence of a true human rights defender. Looking back at more than 40 years of advocacy work, she remembers the people who lost their lives because of their work as human rights defenders, a task that is becoming increasingly dangerous in Colombia. Sanabria is gravely concerned about the prevailing discrimination and attacks against human rights’ defenders in her country. She has been the target of attempts against her life. And, she is not the only one. According to the Piedra en el Zapato [A pebble in your shoe] report published by the organization Somos Defensores [We Are Advocates] in 2017, there were more than 500 attacks against human rights’ defenders, leading to 106 murders, 370 threats, 23 arbitrary detentions, nine case of legal prosecution and two instances of theft of sensitive information. [see also my: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/04/28/2018-latin-america-still-the-graveyard-for-environmental-human-rights-defenders/]

She was aged only 17, when she first became involved in the peasants’ struggle for land rights in San Alberto, a small village in the northern department of Cesar. She later became acquainted with the Indupalma’s Union of palm tree workers, many of who were persecuted and killed during the 1984 economic liberalization crisis, and the subsequent paramilitary attacks.

Following the murder of her husband, a peasant leader, in the early 1990s, and a series of threats against her, Sanabria fled San Alberto in 1994, and sought refuge in Arauquita town in the northeastern department of Arauca. She recalls arriving there with her four children, four boxes and 10,000 Colombian pesos (USD 3).

Fleeing meant she not only had to leave behind a major part of her life, but she also had to gain recognition as a woman leader and advocate in an unfamiliar environment. Gradually, she began to participate in political fora via the Unión Patriótica party, which saw 3,500 of its members murdered during the second half of the 1990s.

In 2001, she met Armando, her partner, who is also a human rights advocate. Together, they formed the Arauquita’s section of the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights – Arauca Chapter (CPDH). The threats from armed groups resumed, and there were new attempts against her life again, which forced her to seek refuge in Argentina in September 2006. She returned in 2007 only to witness the vicious attacks that paramilitary forces meted on peasant leaders and human rights advocates.

Her contact with the LWF started with a meeting involving its office in Colombia, CPDH and the Arauca Peasant Association (ACA), where joint work was initiated. The strong bond of trust that was established then is still going strong. Thanks to the LWF, “the CPDH was able to open its first offices in Arauquita and Fortul, although the latter was dismantled after the conflict took a turn for the worse,” she says. The office also acted as a center for workshops, which previously had been held under trees, in slums, and in the streets. “The people from the Lutheran World Federation have always been there for us through the toughest of times,” Sanabria concludes.

https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/maria-ruth-sanabria-40-years-taking-risks-defend-rights-others

Scottish Bar gives inaugural human rights award to Salome Nduta of Kenya

January 9, 2019

Salome Nduta receives her award from Lord Bonomy, Chair of the judging panel in Scottish Bar International Human Rights Award.

Salome Nduta, from Nairobi, Kenya, is a protection officer with the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, and was honored as the first winner of the Scottish Bar International Human Rights Award. [see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/scottish-bar-international-human-rights-award]

I was born and brought up in one of the informal settlements of Nairobi in Kenya – Korogocho. I experienced first hand deprivation and lack of necessities as a child. I saw the struggles of a single mother eking [out a living] for her children surrounded by poverty and human rights violations by both state and non-state actors. It is this kind of environment that laid the basis of my activism work. My journey of activism has been full of experiential moments that have continued to push me to the next level. In all these moments, the legal fraternity has walked with me side by side. In Korogocho, a legal advice centre first trained me as a paralegal and walked with me through my journey of campaign against forceful evictions and for demolition of informal settlements which saw me arrested a number of times for standing up against oppression. Korogocho and other informal settlements do still exist but there is now in place clear eviction and resettlement guidelines, a housing Act and article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on social economic rights, as a result of the work of human rights defenders (HRDs). HRDs play a pivotal role in bringing and sustaining change. My activism life is a journey of moments and not just challenges, moments of falling, waking up, dusting yourself down and keeping on walking. Some moments are sad and some are joyous even when you are inhaling tear gas from canisters thrown by police.

“In each moment, one constant factor remains, change does occur! It is this change that keeps human rights defenders going. At times, it is difficult to see the change with our naked eyes but faith makes us believe that change has occurred or will occur, however long it takes, and that for me and other HRDs is sufficient. We are all blessed with characteristics that best describe us: patience, focus and dedication to the cause. My employer, NCHRD-K, deserves recognition and accolades for giving me the space and opportunities for growth and sharpening my skills to do what I love doing most, supporting human rights defenders. My daily tasks entail responding to distress calls from targeted HRDs day and night – targeted by both state and non-state actors – assessing their cases and advising on best suited intervention including legal, medical, psychosocial and relocation. The environment which HRDs operate in within the country cannot be described as entirely safe. I get satisfaction and strength when HRDs come and say, your intervention has brought me this far. In 2016, a human rights defender was sleeping in his house with his ten-year-old son Ainea, seven-month-old daughter and his wife. A petrol bomb was thrown into the house and it was by sheer luck that Ainea was still awake. He woke his parents. They safely got out, but everything else was burnt to ashes. This was the first time I was dealing with a case where children were involved. In 2018, the family invited us to the opening of their new home and I could not contain my emotions when I heard Ainea and his sister tell me thank you for the support to their family. Ainea declared he will support his father in his work as long as God gives him strength. For me this was a major change, winning a young boy into activism because he has seen it, lived it and emerged victorious. My passion is to give life to Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, where humanity is respected not just in rhetoric but in words and deeds.”

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/scottish-bar-salutes-salome-s-work-1-4852029

Profile of migrants rights defender Mariana Zaragoza from Mexico

December 18, 2018

On 13 December 2018 ISHRGlobal published this interview with Mariana Zaragoza. Our countries are restricting migrants’ rights, and there is always something we can do to demand full protection of people“, says Mariana Zaragoza in her interview. Mariana works in the immigration programme at the Ibero-American University of Mexico and she advocates for migrants and refugees’ rights.

Russian human rights defender Ludmila Mikhailovna Alexeeva is no longer

December 10, 2018

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/09/tribute-ludmila-mikhailovna-alexeeva#

Meet Eva Lewis, the sole human rights defender from the USA at the HRD Summit in Paris

November 16, 2018

A young activist, Eva Lewis, who grew up on the south side of Chicago recently traveled to Paris to participate ...

Eva Lewis, founder of the I Project. Photo Credit: Provided by Eva Lewis

Katherine Newman in the Chicago Citizen proudly profiles the young woman from Chicago Eva Lewis who – as only HRD from the USA almost represented “the United States At Human Rights Defenders World Summit” [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/07/24/announcement-of-the-human-rights-defenders-world-summit-in-paris-october-2018/].

A young activist, Eva Lewis, who grew up on the south side of Chicago recently traveled to Paris to participate in the Human Rights Defenders World Summit 2018. Lewis spoke on the Americas panel, alongside activists from Latin America, and discussed youth-led movements in the United States as well as the state of black and brown people in the country. “What the Summit aims to do is bring together representatives from each country to talk about the state of human rights defenders and to brainstorm ways that we can elevate our fight for human rights and create a direct action plan that can be implemented to protect human rights defenders internationally,” said Lewis.

Lewis was one representative in a diverse group of 150 human rights defenders from around the world that came to Paris for the three-day Summit.  “I was on the Americas panel and I was the only US representative and also the youngest delegate at the Summit and I was the only English speaker on my panel. Everyone on the panel talked about their own fight for human rights and how it pertains to their country and the people that they were there to represent,” said Lewis.

“I set my self up to fulfill a specific agenda which was to bring human rights of black and brown folks in the U.S. to an international platform because we don’t talk about human rights violations against black and brown people in the US as a human rights issue. This was the first time anyone had that conversation at the Summit and I was happy to be able to be the one to present that conversation.”

Nineteen-year-old Lewis is an award-winning student, activist, and artist. She is also known for founding the I Project, a non-profit organization aiming to create equitable communities in Chicago.

I really liked hearing about how people structure their organizations so what I think I gained the most from the Summit is good information about how to make the infrastructure of my own organization more sustainable. The I Project is relatively new and we’ve only had a fiscal sponsorship for about a year and we are not sustainable at all and I’m comfortable admitting that because the journey is important and part of the process,” said Lewis.

http://thechicagocitizen.com/news/2018/nov/14/young-chicagoan-represents-united-states-human-rig/