Posts Tagged ‘Zimbabwe’

Patson Dzamara, brother to missing activist Itai, died in Zimbabwe

August 29, 2020

Chenayi Mutambasere in Nehanda Radio of 28 August 2020 wrote a tribute to his friend, the human rights defender Patson Dzamara:

My dear friend Patson here is my attempt at writing a befitting tribute, it has been hard mate to say goodbye instead of come back. Even as I write it all seems extraordinarily surreal. Indeed a great lesson on the preciousness of time and relationships take nothing for granted instead make moments count .

I first encountered Patson on my Facebook timeline (so those that say social media achieves nothing think again). I was at that point very much neutral/oblivious to the goings on of the mother country. I was aware but not as bothered and definitely not ‘woke’. I was easily coasting. Until this young man awoke my consciousness just through his photo stood right there in front of Mugabe with the words ‘Independent But Not free’, where is my brother Itai?

I can’t imagine the shock – horror that went through Mugabe and his ‘minions’ (if you know you know) confronted in broad daylight by this young man no armour, no shield just a strong conviction , a piece of cardboard and very neat writing. I easily put myself in his and the whole Dzamara’s family’s shoes what that must have been like to just have someone disappear without a trace in broad daylight.

See: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/05/05/itai-dzamaras-disappearance-worrying-for-all-human-rights-defenders-in-zimbabwe/

To face his young wife and kids daily without an answer of what became of their beloved dad and husband. Immediately I knew I was now at a point of no return I would stand with Itai and I would stand with Patson and all others who dared to fight for a better Zimbabwe.

Patson Dzamara, brother to missing activist Itai Dzamara, was brutally assaulted by state security agents on Monday after his one-man demonstration in front of President Robert Mugabe at the National Sports StadiumPatson Dzamara, brother to missing activist Itai Dzamara, was brutally assaulted by state security agents after his one-man demonstration in front of President Robert Mugabe at the National Sports Stadium in April 2016.

As I joined the quest for better we found each other as young activists across the world. We forged our way around spending most of 2016 strategising Evan Mawarire with #ThisFlag movement was also strongly on the scene at the time. Most of us had never met but we were united by cause. Uniquely we brought varying strengths and it kind of worked .

Patson was very insightful if the train was going to crash believe me he would be the one to have seen that coming . Not perfect by any means but strongly convicted. He was clear on whom we stood against and as he constantly reminded us ‘Leadership was his mainstay’. To be around Patson you were literally a lesson away from a leadership lecture.

He would be quick to identify leadership talent, those folks he would learn much from he did . He would openly respect and accord them the praise. From memory I remember how much he looked upto Nelson Chamisa, he respected Bishop Tudor Bismark and Bishop Magaya amongst others but them I distinctly remember.

Patson gleaned life lessons from most situations. I sometimes wondered if it was the disappearance of his brother that made him receptive to the pursuit of purpose so much that he never wanted to miss an opportunity.

Patson Dzamara: An indelible force gone but never forgotten

Podcast series “Exile Shall Not Silence Us” now complete

August 10, 2020

AfricanDefenders‘ podcast series, “Exile Shall Not Silence Us”, is now complete and fully available for you to listen to. “Exile Shall Not Silence Us” (which I announced on 22 June 2020: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/22/exile-shall-not-silence-us/) is a podcast series on the situation of African human rights defenders (HRDs) in exile. The podcast is based on a research that collected the testimonies of more than 120 HRDs and in-depth case studies, and it features interviews with four exiled HRDs. It  highlights the professional, security, socio-economic, and psychosocial challenges of HRDs in exile in Africa, but most of all their achievements and resilience strategies.

Episode#1 gives an overview of the main findings of the research on the situation of African HRDs in exile, with key issues and current trends.

Episode #2 features an anonymous interview with a young woman HRD from Zimbabwe in exile in South Africa. She not only sheds light on the challenges faced by HRDs in and outside Zimbabwe, but also on the complex and painful relationship between exile and motherhood.

Episode#3 explores the challenges HRDs face after returning from exile through an interview with  a formerly exiled Gambian journalist.

Episode #4 explores the challenges and contradictions of internal displacement, as well as the multiple layers of vulnerability faced by HRDs in conflict-ridden areas through an anonymous interview with a Cameroonian woman HRD.

Episode#5 zooms in on Egypt where we speak to an Egyptian HRD in exile in Tunis who tells us about his experience, his hopes, and what he has been learning from Tunisian civil society.

Listen to all the episodes here› <https://app.getresponse.com/click.html?x=a62b&lc=B5QJao&mc=IN&s=9JQZDZ&u=Bl16k&z=Eh2xCOx&>

EXILE SHALL NOT SILENCE US!

 

Troubling Trends in Southern Africa: Tanzania and Zimbabwe

August 5, 2020

Tanzania's President John Magufuli addresses members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM) at the party's sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam, October 30, 2015
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli addresses members of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi Party (CCM) at the party’s sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam, October 30, 2015 Emmanuel Herman / REUTERS

Michelle Gavin – In a blog post of 29 July, 2020 – draws attention to the deterioriation in Tanzania where President John Magufuli claims that Tanzania is free from the virus and tourists should feel confident about visiting the country. To ensure that the public will take his word for it, official data on the number of positive cases has not been released since the end of April, part of a pattern of hiding, or tightly controlling information that in most countries can be accessed and interrogated without incident. Since his election in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform, Magufuli’s penchant for eliminating or suppressing discordant narratives has proven toxic to his country’s democracy.

Brave Tanzanians continue finding ways to speak out about the shrinking space for discourse and dissent in their country [see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/31/annual-reports-2019-tanzania-mostly-a-bad-year/]. Outsiders, including UN human rights experts, have spoken out about the persecution of journalists, civil society leaders, and opposition politicians [see e.g.: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/04/06/tanzania-shows-great-power-sensitivity-to-un-human-rights-criticism/. ….

In this climate, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the upcoming October elections. The legal context in which opposition parties operate has changed, limiting their capacity to mobilize voters, and major civil society organizations have been disqualified from observing the polling. In Zanzibar, where citizens’ civil and political rights have been denied multiple times in the context of elections, the voter registration system has only added to citizens’ mistrust of the process. The stage increasingly looks to be set for an election that serves the interests of the current leader, but erodes popular trust in democracy itself.

in the meantime in neighbouring Zimbabwe dozens of people have been arrested and detained in the past few weeks over protests against government officials and corruption. Speaking on Tuesday 5 August 2020, President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused who he referred to as “rogue Zimbabweans” of working together with foreign detractors to destabilise Zimbabwe. “We will overcome attempts at destabilisation of our society by a few rogue Zimbabweans acting in league with foreign detractors,” Mnangagwa said.

Inflation in Zimbabwe is more than 700 per cent and last month the World Food Programme projected that by the end of the year 60 per cent of the country’s population will lack reliable access to sufficient food.

Footage of violence carried out by security forces and the detaining of opposition politicians and government critics has drawn international condemnation. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter call to action, Zimbabweans have expressed their thoughts and demands for actions on social media using the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.

The UN Human Rights Council is among those expressing concern about claims the authorities in Zimbabwe are using the COVID-19 outbreak to crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful protest.

“While recognising the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic”, the OHCHR spokesperson said, “it is important to remind the authorities that any lockdown measures and restrictions should be necessary, proportionate and time-limited, and enforced humanely without resorting to unnecessary or excessive force”.

Amnesty International said in a statement released last week that a number of activists had gone into hiding after police published a list of names of those wanted for questioning in connection with the planned protests. 

Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southern Africa, said: “The brutal assault on political activists and human rights defenders who have had the courage to call out alleged corruption and demand accountability from their government is intensifying. The persecution of these activists is a blatant abuse of the criminal justice system and mockery of justice.

Shannon Ebrahim – Independent Media’s foreign editor – on 5 August 2020 wrote from Pretoria that a week ago she was a speaker at a webinar on Zimbabwe organised by the South African Liaison Office, and sh spoke after the spokesperson of the MDC Alliance, Fadzayi Mahere. I was impressed by her eloquence, professionalism and commitment to human rights and the rule of law.It never occurred to me, looking at this immaculately-dressed young lawyer, that in three days she would find herself in a filthy police holding cell overnight with other women, no water, no sanitiser, only an overflowing pit latrine and a few filthy blankets.

,,Mahere saw her colleagues, Terrence and Loveridge, in the other holding cells. They had been abducted, beaten and tortured, and had bleeding head injuries. They had been blindfolded, told they were at Lake Chivero and were going to be fed to the crocodiles.

…It is a great tragedy that 40 years after liberation, Zimbabweans are asking themselves how there is no rule of law or political freedom.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/01/16/human-rights-in-africa-in-2019-rage/

—-

https://www.cfr.org/blog/troubling-trends-threaten-what-little-trust-remains-tanzanias-democracy

https://www.voice-online.co.uk/news/world-news/2020/08/04/zimbabwe-president-mnangagwa-issues-warning-to-critics/

https://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/265993300/explainer–what-you-need-to-know-about-whats-happening-in-zimbabwe

https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/zimbabweans-are-relying-on-us-to-speak-for-them-when-they-are-silenced-9c650bdc-66b9-4cdf-9be8-900b5a13d0c6

Former Botswana president Ian Khama throws weight behind #ZimbabweanLivesMatter

 

Zimbabwean Human rights defender sets up torture fund

May 28, 2020

On 28 May 2020 Bulawayo News reported that Kwekwe-based human rights defender Nkosilathi Moyo said he was putting together a war chest to assist victims of State-sponsored violence.

Moyo launched his fight for democracy in 2015 when he travelled to the Netherlands and met European Union’s human rights ambassadors lobbying them to support human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. During the visit he also met Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and lobbied her to support efforts to improve democracy back home.

Speaking to Southern Eye on Monday, Moyo said the recent events that saw MDC Alliance’s Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe, youth leaders Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, and Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe gender secretary Moreblessing Nyambara tortured at the hands of suspected State security agents, had motivated him to set up the fund.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, I established the community human rights defenders academy which trained more than 80 defenders in Midlands province, empowering them with skills to enhance human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe.”

Now in light of the upsurge in violations against activists with the height of that madness being abduction of an MP Joanah Mamombe and others, I have been jolted to act. So far I have written to foreign embassies in Harare, international donors and other development partners to solicit for a financial facility that would support victims of human rights violations. We have also started putting together resources with local partners for the same cause,” Moyo said.

In the past, Moyo through his organisation Zimbabwe Youths in Politics, raised awareness on good governance and tenets of democracy mostly among rural dwellers.

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/02/04/zimbabwe-death-threats-against-human-rights-defenders-nkosilathi-moyo-and-jasper-maposa/]

What we are realising is that autocratic regimes take advantage of poverty among political activists to suppress them and violate their rights at will. But with the kind of funding we are putting together, that will not be the case. Activists need to be supported to meet medical bills, legal representation costs, programming of their activities and compensation to their families in extreme cases. So that is the motivation of our current efforts. We should not wait for the worst to happen, then we start running around to look for resources. A ready fund must be there,” Moyo said.

https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-186130.html

International Women’s Day 2020: Lutheran leaders on gender justice

March 9, 2020

Gender Justice is “a matter of life or death”, so both men and women must work together “to break the silence” about gender-based violence and commit to work toward gender justice. Rev Elitha Moyo, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe and Rev. Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

Lutheran leaders say churches must continue to raise awareness, promote action and demand accountability from all their members around the crucial issue of gender justice. Speaking at the conclusion of a visit to Zimbabwe, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge and Rev. Elitha Moyo, Gender Justice coordinator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) underlined the urgency of this work by recalling the recent murder of a women’s rights activist in Madagascar. The 63-year-old theologian, Ms Hélène Ralivao, was assaulted and killed after she left a church on 23 February.

Calling on all Christians to break the silence, Junge said: “I want to see, and hope and pledge from my end, a much stronger participation of men in the quest for gender justice. This is not a women’s issue, this is an issue of men and women working together so that relationships are just, and that both men and women can flourish in their full potential and dignity that God has given them.” Paying tribute to the murdered mother and grandmother, Moyo said: “We will continue with our struggle for [….] gender justice in the church and in the community.” She noted that her own church has been working hard with pastors, with village chiefs and with school children to break the silence around gender-based violence.

Supporting grass-roots movements, women’s human rights activists, and encouraging men to be more involved in gender equality work was also the focus of a meeting organized by the LWF in Geneva ahead of International Women’s Day. LWF staff and members of other organizations met at the Ecumenical Center for a discussion with a gender specialist from the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. Highlighting ways of countering the current global pushback against women’s human rights, the discussion underscored the importance of education to challenge patriarchal attitudes and gender stereotypes which breed discrimination and violence.

A quarter of a century on from the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, it is vital to recreate the momentum of integrating a gender perspective into all aspects of legislation, policy and programs at national and international levels, remarked Rev. Judith Van Osdol, LWF Program Executive for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment.

We need to ask why there has not been another World Conference on Women for 25 years; to analyze and understand the global push-back on women’s human rights and gender justice will help us to formulate a strategy for moving forward” said the LWF Program Executive.This will empower us to raise awareness, call to action, and ensure accountability that will benefit and transform couples, family relationships, churches and society.

https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/mens-voices-vital-quest-gender-justice

 

2020 International Women of Courage Awards by the U.S. State Department

March 4, 2020

Today, Wednesday 4 March 2020, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo hosts the Annual International Women of Courage Awards at the U.S. Department of State to honor 12 women from around the world.  The First Lady of the United States Melania Trump will deliver remarks to recognize the accomplishments of these women. For more on this and 7 other international awards that have word COURAGE in their name, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/international-women-of-courage-award.

The 2020 announcement comes remarkably quickly on the heels of last year’s, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/18/usas-international-women-of-courage-awards-for-2019/

This year will bring the total to 146 awardees from 77 countries. U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries. The finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials. Following the IWOC ceremony, the 12 awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) visiting various cities throughout the country, before reconvening in Los Angeles for the conclusion of their program on March 16. The 2020 awardees are:

Zarifa Ghafari (Afghanistan) After successfully launching and operating a women-focused radio station, Afghanistan’s Zarifa Ghafari became mayor of Maidan Shar, in conservative Wardak province, at the age of 26.  When she showed up to start work, a male mob appeared and she was forced to flee.  Despite death threats, Ms. Ghafari came back, defying her conservative critics and their narrative that a woman is unfit to lead.  She then withstood a walkout by all of the male members of her office.  She later demonstrated ability and courage in tackling her town’s problems.  Despite fierce opposition from vested interests, she successfully launched a “Clean City, Green City” campaign that reduced littering.  Ghafari’s courage has inspired girls and women not only in her community and the wider province, but across the country.  In her capacity as a trail-blazer and door-opener for a new generation of young women, she has helped empower the women of Afghanistan.

Lucy Kocharyan (Armenia) Using her platform as a journalist, Kocharyan has championed children with mental health issues and has emerged as a leading voice in the fight against psychological, physical, and domestic violence against women and children.  Through her dedication and resolve, Kocharyan became famous for launching “Voices of Violence” in August 2018.  She has become a spokesperson on gender-based violence in Armenia and has continued to speak out despite harsh criticism – from people on the street who yell “shame” as she passes by, to parliamentarians speaking out against her and threatening her with lawsuits.  She successfully started a conversation about domestic and sexual violence that is slowly leading to some action. Gender-based violence is a pervasive problem throughout Armenia, where traditional social norms regarding masculinity, femininity, gender equality, and the division of household tasks remain rigid, making her achievements and impact all the more impressive.

Shahla Humbatova (Azerbaijan) Shahla Humbatova has worked as a defense lawyer in Azerbaijan since 2013, and is one of a handful of legal advocates who have been consistently willing to defend individuals facing punishment for exercising their fundamental freedoms.  She has bravely defended human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, youth activists, members of the political opposition, and others.  Her example has inspired other lawyers to better advocate for their clients in politically sensitive cases, and her courage in representing LGBT clients in a conservative culture has pushed civil society further down the path to tolerance.  She is one of only two female lawyers to take these cases on in a difficult environment in which human rights lawyers have regularly been harassed and threatened in social media, suspended from practicing law, and disbarred. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/01/20/annual-reports-2019-azerbaijan-in-review-muted-hope-for-2020/]

Ximena Galarza (Bolivia) Ximena Galarza is a Bolivian journalist with over 25 years of experience. She has worked as a reporter, a television presenter, and news editor on some of Bolivia’s most important news channels including Red UNO, Cadena A, and TVU. Across her extensive career, Galarza has interviewed hundreds of politicians, academics, intellectuals, artists, and experts. She has also trained journalists to better inform the public of their rights and obligations. Galarza’s work has supported democracy in Bolivia and exposed corruption and violations of democratic freedoms. Since 2015, Galarza has hosted the program Jaque Mate (Check Mate) on TVU, one of Bolivia’s most prestigious news programs. In 2019, two of Galarza’s interviews impacted Bolivia’s history by demonstrating fraud in the October 20 presidential elections.  The electoral irregularities were later confirmed by an independent analysis from the Organization of American States.

Claire Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) Claire Ouedraogo is the President of the Songmanegre Association for Women’s Development (Association féminine songmanegre pour le développement), an organization she founded that focuses on eliminating female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and promoting female empowerment through family planning education, vocational training, and micro-credit for women in the rural and underserved Center North region of Burkina Faso. She also serves as a senior advisor on the National Council to Combat Female Genital Mutilation. She is an active member of the Burkinabe Movement for Human and People’s Rights. In 2016, the prime minister of Burkina Faso nominated her as an Ambassador of Peace for her work in empowering rural women. Despite the increased threat of terrorist attacks and violent acts against civilians in Bam Province, Mrs. Ouedraogo continues her courageous work on behalf of vulnerable women threatened both by FGM/C and terrorism.

Sayragul Sauytbay (China) Sayragul Sauytbay was born in Ele Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, China.  She attended medical university and worked as a doctor, teacher, education director, and headmaster. In July 2016, Sayragul and her family attempted to move to Kazakhstan but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) confiscated her passport and prevented her from going with her husband and children.  From November 2017 to March 2018, Sayragul was forced by the CCP to teach Chinese to ethnic minority people in a detention camp.  In March 2018, Sauytbay fled to Kazakhstan to avoid being sent back to the camps, where she feared she would die.  Subsequently, Sauytbay become one of the first victims in the world to speak publicly about the CCP’s repressive campaign against Muslims, igniting a movement against these abuses.  Her testimony was among the first evidence that reached the broader international community of the CCP’s repressive policy, including both the camps and the coercive methods used against Muslim minorities.  Sayragul and her family received asylum in Sweden, where they now live.

Susanna Liew (Malaysia) Following the February 2017 abduction of her husband, Christian pastor Raymond Koh, allegedly by state agents, Susanna Liew has fought on behalf of members of religious minorities who disappeared in Malaysia under similar circumstances—including Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy, and Ruth Sitepu—or who face persecution for their beliefs.  Susanna actively pursued justice for her husband and others during the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (SUHAKAM) 2018-2019 public inquiry into enforced disappearances and continues to push the government to investigate these cases and prosecute those responsible.  Despite police harassment and death threats, she continues to advocate for her husband and others, not because of her faith or theirs, but because of their rights as Malaysians.  Susanna and Raymond founded Hope Community in 2004, a non-profit organization that works with the poor, needy, and marginalized.  She previously served as a school principal and educator.

Amaya Coppens (Nicaragua) Coppens is one of the leaders of the 19th of April Student Movement in Nicaragua. She participated in numerous protests against the Sandinista government and the violent, repressive tactics deployed by its security forces. In September 2018, she was abducted by Nicaraguan police from her residence after participating in a peaceful protest. She was released in June and continued to speak out against the regime in Nicaragua. She had the opportunity to repatriate to Belgium during her first captivity, but refused. On November 14, Coppens was imprisoned again when she and 12 other activists attempted to bring water to mothers of political prisoners on hunger strike. She and other political prisoners were released by the regime on December 30, 2019.

Jalila Haider (Pakistan) Known as the Iron Lady of Balochistan, Jalila Haider is a human rights attorney and founder of “We the Humans – Pakistan”, a non-profit organization to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children. She specializes in defending women’s rights and provides free counseling and legal services to poverty-affected women. The first female attorney of her Hazara community, Haider led a peaceful hunger strike to recognize the right to life for the Hazara following a series of targeted attacks. Ms. Haider has taken up the cause of many other vulnerable communities. As Balochistan’s President of the Women Democratic Front and Balochistan’s branch of the Aurat (Woman’s) March, she fought against violence against women in public spaces, at work, and at home.

Amina Khoulani (Syria) Khoulani is a survivor of the Assad regime’s detention and torture centers, which have arbitrarily detained over 140,000 Syrians, and has dedicated her life to helping the families of forcibly disappeared Syrians.   A long-time civil society activist, she fled Syria in 2014 after her release from prison. She was imprisoned for six months for “peaceful activism” and her husband detained for two and a half years at the notorious Sadnaya Prison. They survived, but her three brothers died while in regime custody.  From this devastating experience, Khoulani rededicated her life to seeking information and justice for the families of the disappeared. She is a founding member of “Families for Freedom”, a women-led movement launched in 2017 by families who’s loved ones have been detained and disappeared in Syria. Forced from her home and country, living under constant threat as a refugee without government representation, she continues to advocate for human rights, democracy, and peace in Syria.

Yasmin al Qadhi (Yemen) After obtaining her journalism degree, Yasmin Al-Qadhi was one of the first women to write articles for local newspapers during the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests in Sanaa’a.  When the civil war broke out in Yemen in 2015, Yasmine and her sister Entisar established the Marib Girls Foundation.  Through the foundation, she works with senior army officials to combat child recruitment and obtained the military’s commitment to release any child recruited or detained.  She fostered support for women displaced by the conflict by coordinating with the local and international community.  She also raised awareness by co-producing a film about the negative effects of displacement on women and children. Yasmine still resides in Yemen, a tribal society where women are discouraged from working in public spaces. She is working to change social norms and has become a role model in her society.  Both at home and abroad, she encourages women’s empowerment and meaningful participation in civil society and the UN-led peace process.

Dr. Rita Nyampinga (Zimbabwe) Rita Nyampinga has been a human rights defender for more than 35 years, fighting for gender equality in the workplace since she joined a trade union in 1983.  She is also a trained mediator, and a mentor for girls and young women in leadership.  Her experiences during detention led her to form the Female Prisoners Support Trust to support women and children in detention and raise awareness of the appalling conditions they face. Dr. Nyampinga continues to serve on several boards including Women Coalition of Zimbabwe, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Women Academy on Political Leadership Excellence, and Women AIDS Support Network.  Her goal is to see a world that protects and respects the rights of prisoners through a just and fair legal system that is nondiscriminatory based on gender.  In 2010 she became the Social and Economic Justice Ambassador for Zimbabwe’s Coalition on Debt and Development.  Dr. Nyampinga won the Female Human Rights Activist of the Year in 2014 from Alpha Media House.

—-

2020 International Women of Courage Award Recipients Announced

Human Rights in Africa in 2019: rage

January 16, 2020

There was rage across the African continent last year, says Human Rights Watch in its annual report, with no sign of cooling down in 2020. In Sudan and Guinea, there were manifestations of frustration with entrenched leadership.  In Zimbabwe, protests mostly about economic conditions.  While in rural Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, they were about the rights of communities displaced by conflict. But the public outrage is good to see, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) at its Johannesburg report unveiling. Africa Advocacy director for HRW Carine Kaneza Nantulya says ordinary citizens took the spotlight this year.v”We’ve seen, I think, the average men and women of the African continent taking agency, being agents for their own for the changes they wanted to see, which we saw an increase of peaceful protest in different countries,” she said. “The second takeaway is that we’ve also seen a backsliding from government in terms of political and civic space.”

That has taken the form of outright police aggression and repression, as seen in Southern Africa, says the group’s Southern Africa researcher, Dewa Mavhinga. “We expected more from southern African leaders, including President Ramaphosa of South Africa, based on their commitment and promises to fulfill people’s rights across the region, “ he said.   “But we saw that there was a constriction of space for human rights defenders in countries like Zimbabwe,” Mavhinga told VOA.

But there was also a glimmer of hope, as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize for his reform agenda and for his reconciliatory moves with arch-enemy Eritrea, noted HRW’s Africa deputy advocacy director, Babatunde Olugboji. “He’s done quite a few great things in Ethiopia, he’s released political prisoners and is actually reforming some repressive laws,” he said. “He sort of made peace with Eritrea. So things are moving in the right direction, mostly,” said Olugboji.   “There’s still a lot to be done in Ethiopia,” he added.

He pointed to an event few people could have predicted at this time last year: the popular uprising that led to the ouster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after a 30-year rule marked by oppression,  human rights abuses, and  attempted genocide in the Darfur region.

Human Rights Day 2019: anthology part II

December 17, 2019

As always a lot of reports on 10 December 2019 came in after the posting of my anthology [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/12/11/human-rights-day-10-december-2019-an-ant]. So here a second collection:

Zimbabwe:

In a statement to mark International Human Rights Day, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) said young people have a significant role to play in the protection and promotion of human rights. The ZHRC said rights come with certain responsibilities and obligations and young people should exercise their rights responsibly. “For instance, young people must shun all forms of violence and refrain from being used to oppress other people, engaging in political violence and other acts inconsistent with human rights principles and values of respect for human dignity, honesty, justice, fairness and equality,” reads the ZHRC statement. The commission said it is advocating for youths across the political divide to push their parties towards embracing human rights. ZHRC said youths should positively change the national narrative towards enjoyment of rights.

The Bahamas Weekly used the occasion of International Human Rights Day to publish a statement by the OAS Secretary General: ..As Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), I have dedicated myself above all else to promoting a strong vision: more rights for more people. ..This year I particularly want to express my concern about the violence suffered by people who defend human rights in the Americas. Unfortunately, all too often we are forced to remember what should be obvious: the human rights of social leaders are, as are the human rights of all citizens of the Hemisphere, inviolable. I want to recognize these leaders and defenders of human rights throughout the Hemisphere. For the OAS, it has been and remains imperative to accompany and support their efforts to promote, assert, respect and protect human rights. This work constitutes a central axis for social transformation and the consolidation of peace, democracy and the validity of human rights in the region. It is fair to make a special mention of all those women leaders defending human rights, for transforming their realities, for being peace-building agents, for opening spaces that historically have been denied them, making way for more women to exercise their rights every day with a powerful agenda of equality and peace.

The New Times of Rwanda focused on people with disabilities.

…..Despite political will and legal guarantees, persons with disabilities are generally denied many of their rights and dignity across the world. This is often due to discrimination and stigma in society. We see this discrimination and stigma in the way people relate to persons with disability and in the language that is used towards them, their parents and their siblings. We also see it in the names people give them, the way people look at them and the manner in which they are often dismissed, excluded and marginalized in schools and businesses etc.

This is why we must work hard on changing mindsets and improving awareness. We need the current and the next generation to realize that people with disabilities are still people, who think and dream and feel the same way we do. And they have abilities, as much as the rest of us, but they sometimes need some assistance to realize their full potential.

The Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) calls for the empowerment of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life. Disability is referenced in various parts of this Agenda and specifically in parts related to education, economic growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, access to services, as well as data collection and monitoring. The 2030 Agenda encourages us to focus on providing fair and equitable opportunities to all, including persons with disabilities……How often do we stop to ask, “How accessible are our homes, schools, hospitals, public transport, churches, public offices, entertainment buildings to persons with disabilities?” Do we include sign language in meetings and television? Do we welcome persons with disabilities in our workshops and on our panels to discuss important topics pertinent to all? In our families, study and work environments, in our churches and communities, are we having conversations about the needs and rights and abilities of persons with disability?

Finally, empowerment is about equipping persons with disabilities with skills and facilities, including assistive devices, which allow them to actively and independently contribute to the development of themselves, their families, communities and countries. It is about not giving them a fish to survive on for a day but teaching them to fish to create a better future and, and also contribute to Rwanda’s development.

Yemen:

Over 17 NGOs wrote to the leaders of all warring parties in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE:

We write to you on Human Rights Day to call on you to take meaningful steps to end detentionrelated abuse in Yemen. Steps taken in recent weeks by both the Ansar Allah armed group (Houthis) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to unilaterally release hundreds of detainees were positive. There remains an urgent need to address rampant, ongoing detention-related abuse that continues to affect tens of thousands of Yemenis across the country. The impact of detention-related abuse goes beyond the person detained – it impacts their family members, their loved ones and wider society. In addition to ending the suffering of victims and their families, ending and redressing detention-related abuses also would contribute towards reaching a just and sustainable resolution of the conflict in Yemen.

We specifically write to ask you to build on recent positive steps by using your authority and influence to help ensure the release of all those arbitrarily detained, an end to enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment, the improvement of conditions of detention, including the facilitation of family visits, and full cooperation with efforts to ensure that individuals reasonably suspected of responsibility for war crimes and serious human rights violations, including torture and hostage-taking, are prosecuted in fair trials that preclude the death penalty.

……. While the recent unilateral release of prisoners – mostly fighters – by both the Houthis and KSA, may help build confidence between the parties, more extensive and comprehensive steps must be taken to address rampant detention-related rights abuse, regardless of the state of political talks. To that end, we call on you to use your influence and good offices to help bring about an end to ill-treatment, torture, arbitrary detention and forced disappearances by all parties to the conflict. We urge you to help secure the release of those arbitrarily detained, human rights defenders, journalists and peaceful activists; and that anyone deprived of their liberty is granted regular access to their families and lawyers; and that international monitors are allowed immediate access to all detention facilities, unofficial and official.

Nigeria: Lawyers and activists have used this year’s International Human Rights Day to assess the human rights situation in Nigeria. Marking the event last week in Abuja, the activists were of the view that the human rights situation has dropped since the return of democracy in 1999. Speaking at the event organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), and civil society groups, senior lawyers and rights defenders called on legal practitioners and citizens to defend liberty. In his remark, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN) said “until the legal profession begins to take objection to every violations of human rights, including self-violations, and begin to apply sanctions, the government will continue to violate human rights with such impunity and audacity of arrogance.” Speaking on the topic ‘The State of Human Rights in Nigeria’, a civil society activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), criticised the Social Media Regulation Bill and Hate Speech Bill before the National Assembly as a breach of the provisions of Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution which grants freedom of expression. “When you get to a situation in a country where the leader says people should not talk, then they are afraid of something. It is either we are getting set for a third term agenda or getting set for a full blown civilian dictatorship,” he said. Also commemorating the day, the Avocats Sans Francaise France (ASFF) otherwise known as Lawyers Without Borders, called on security agencies to adhere to the rule of law and due process in the discharge of their duties.

Heinrich Boell Foundation: used the occasion to publish a article by ISHR’s Salma El Hosseiny the 20th anniversary (in 2020) of the creation of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. For the full article follow the link below.   All UN agencies should treat the Declaration on human rights defenders as a ‘guiding star’ for their work. UN agencies working on promoting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should integrate the protection of defenders as a vital component of contributing to implementation of the SDGs and the prevention of human rights violations. At a time where people across the globe are demanding more inclusive, sustainable and fairer societies, defenders are acting as leaders and agents of change to ensure that the world’s leaders have no choice but to listen.


 

Youths urged to defend human rights

http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/oas-media-releases/Secretary_General_on_International_Human_Rights_Day64244.shtml

https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/featured-human-rights-day

https://news.pngfacts.com/2019/12/eu-recognizes-five-civil-society.html

https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/joint-letter-detention-yemen

https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/lawyers-activists-assess-human-rights-situation.html

https://www.boell.de/en/2019/12/10/protecting-those-who-defend-our-human-rights

How can the human rights defenders use new information technologies better?

November 28, 2019

(twitter: @mads_gottlieb) wrote in Impakter about Human Rights, Technology and Partnerships and stated that these technologies have the potential to tremendously facilitate human rights defenders in their work, whether they are used to document facts about investigations, or as preventive measures to avoid violations. His main message in this short article is an appeal to the human rights sector at large, to use technology more creatively, to make technology upgrades a top priority, and to engage with the technology sector in this difficult endeavor. The human rights sector will never be able to develop the newest technologies, but the opportunities that technology provides is something they need to make use of now and in collaboration with the technology sector

…Several cases show that human rights are under threat, and that it is difficult to investigate and gather the necessary facts in time to protect them. Duterte in the Philippines, ordered the police to shoot activists who demonstrated against extra-judicial killings. He later tried to reduce the funding of the Philippines National Human Rights Commission to 1 USD a year. This threat followed a period of 15 months of investigating the killings, and Duterte responded with the claim that they were “useless and defended criminal’s rights.” 

Zimbabwe is another country with a difficult environment for human rights defenders. It is not surprising that few people speak out, since the few that dare to demonstrate or voice opposing political views disappear. A famous example is the activist and journalist,  from Occupy Africa Unity Square. He was allegedly beaten in 2014, and in 2015 he went missing and was never found. His disappearance occurred after a period of public demonstrations against Mugabe’s regime. To add to the challenging conditions that call for better tools to defend human rights, is the fact that many European countries digitalise their public services. The newly introduced data platforms store and process sensitive information about the population, such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, past health records, etc. Information that can easily be used for discriminative purposes, whether intentionally or not.

Human rights defenders typically struggle to find adequate resources for their daily operations and as a result, investments in technology often come second. It is rare for human rights defenders to have anything beyond the minimum requirements, such as the internally-facing maintenance of an operational and secure internet connection, a case system, or a website. At the same time, global technology companies develop new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and advanced data and surveillance techniques. These technologies have the potential to tremendously facilitate human rights defenders in their work, whether they are used to document facts about investigations, or as preventive measures to avoid violations. It is also important to facilitate and empower rights-holders in setting up and using networks and platforms that can help notify and verify violations quickly. 

Collaboration is an excellent problem-solving approach and human rights organizations are well aware of it. They engage in multiple partnerships with important actors. The concern is therefore not the lack of collaboration, but whether they adequately prioritize what is now the world’s leading sector — technology (the top 5 on Forbes list of most valuable brands are all technology companies; Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook). It is not up to the technology sector to engage with the human rights sector (whether they want to or not), but it should be a top priority for the human rights sector to try to reduce their technology gap, in the interest of human rights.

There are several partnership opportunities, and many are easy to get started with and do not require monetary investments. One opportunity is to partner up with tech universities, that have the expertise to develop new types of secure, rapid monitoring systems. Blockchain embraces most of the principles that human rights embraces, such as transparency, equality and accountability, and rapid response times are possible. So why not collaborate with universities? Another opportunity is collaborating with institutions that manage satellite images. Images provide very solid proof regarding changes in landscape, examples include deforestation that threatens indigenous people, and the removal or burning of villages over a short period of time. A third opportunity is to get in dialogue with the technology giants that develop these new technologies, and, rather than asking for monetary donations, ask for input regarding how the human rights sector can effectively leverage technology. 

 

Peter Magombeyi, doctor in Zimbabwe, on the growing list of victims

September 18, 2019

 

 

 

 

On 18 September 2019 several outlets (here NewsDay Zimbabwe) reported that the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) has called on the government of Zimbabwe to guarantee the safety and security of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting president Peter Magombeyi, who was allegedly abducted by suspected State security agents on Saturday night and to ensure his immediate release.

Magombeyi, who was abducted by three masked men from his Budiriro, Harare home at the weekend, had been leading an industrial job action by junior doctors nationwide over poor salaries and working conditions. “The SAHRDN further calls on authorities to curb the emerging pattern of abductions, enforced disappearances and torture of human rights defenders and legitimate political opponents,” said SAHRDN in a statement. The government has denied that its security agents were involved in the abduction and blamed a third force trying to tarnish the image of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Before Magombeyi’s abduction, he had reported to his lawyers a variety of threats he was receiving some via his mobile phone.

Since January 2019 when Zimbabweans protested against the worsening economic situation, thousands of people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained and scores of civil society activists, human rights defenders and legitimate political opponents have faced abductions and enforced disappearances. Unfortunately, some of them have died as a result of torture such as Blessing Toronga,” said the organisation chaired by prominent lawyer, Arnold Tsunga. The organisation accused the Zimbabwe Republic Police of failing to enforce the law and to hold those responsible for perpetrating attacks on human rights defenders accountable. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/08/26/zimbabwe-two-years-emmerson-mnangagwa-have-shown-little-difference-from-mugabe/.

———-

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/abduction-human-rights-defender-peter-magombeyi

Pressure piles over missing doctor

https://allafrica.com/stories/201909180043.html