Take a minute to make this social media campaign a success!

April 15, 2014

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has started a most interesting campaign using social media to free human rights defenders. I strongly advise readers of this blog to take action by subscribing to the idea and retweeting or reblogging it on their own platforms. Let us see what can be achieved by 27 April when the campaign finishes!

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/9969-forfreedom

logo FIDH_seul

 


AI animation to galvanise support for human rights defenders

April 15, 2014

We have a tendency to take for granted that there is a worldwide human rights movement to support all the actions and campaigns in favor of human rights defenders. But, this movement needs to be created and galvanised. One tool is the use of animated images with a simple message: that a loud voice can save lives. The example above (animated by Cesare Davolio) is a “commercial’ commissioned by Amnesty Netherlands for the “Use your power” campaign, explaining what the Amnesty urgent action network can accomplish. This short film – published on You Tube on 8 April – explains how the Urgent Action Network works, from receiving news of a human rights defender being arrested to news being sent out to AI activists and members all over the world via text messages (SMS), email etc to individuals taking action. Shows how effective these individual acts can be when coördinated to produce a ‘louder voice’.

 

 


Espionage on Human Rights Defenders reaches further than Governments

April 13, 2014

In a very interesting post in Dissident Voice of 12 April, Binoy Kampmark picks up on the item I referred to on 9 April (http://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/snowden-alleges-spy-agencies-have-targeted-human-rights-defenders/) about Snowden’s allegation that human rights defenders were also the subject of surveillance. He not only shows the discrepancy between the (rather positive) Guidelines on HRDs by the State Department and what NSA is actually doing, but also provides a link to a November 2013 report by Centre for Corporate Policy, a Washington, D.C. thinktank, titled “Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations,” which shows that aversion to dissent is endemic, and attracts birds of a feather in both government and corporate circles. According to the report, the precondition for such espionage is that the non-profit organisation in question “impairs or at least threatens a company’s assets or image sufficiently.” The targets are varied, including “environmental, antiwar, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups.

Irresistible: Espionage, Dissent, and NGOs | Dissident Voice.


20 years ago: the Toonen watershed case from Tasmania

April 13, 2014

On 12 April Dan Harrison, in the Australian newspaper ‘Daily Life”, recalls how the famous Toonen case – decided 20 years ago – had a tremendous impact: “The fax arrived from Geneva on a Saturday almost exactly 20 years ago. The message on United Nations letterhead that landed on the fax machine at the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Groups office in Hobart’s Battery Point would change the lives of millions. It carried the UN Human Rights Committees finding that Tasmanian laws, which made consenting sex between adult men in private a criminal offence punishable by up to 21 years jail, were in violation of Australia’s international obligations.” Read the rest of this entry »


India and South Africa forsaking their human rights credentials

April 12, 2014

Mandeep Tiwana posted on 10 April in the Mail & Guardian a piece that – sadly – needed to be written. On how South Africa and India increasingly find themselves siding with Russia, China in votes concerning human rights in the UN Human Rights Council. Mandeep recalls that “Mandela was acutely aware of the role that international solidarity played in supporting anti-apartheid activists as they mobilised on the streets. As president, he made a compelling speech at the Southern African Development Community’s periodic conference in 1997 in Blantyre, Malawi. He urged that national sovereignty and non-interference in the affairs of other countries could not blunt the common concern for democracy, human rights and good governance in the regional grouping. Mandela called upon his fellow leaders to recognise the right of citizens to “participate unhindered in political activities”. Under title : “India, SA risk forsaking their proud histories on human rights” the piece makes good reading for your weekend: Read the rest of this entry »


Egyptian court upholds restrictive law and severe sentences of 3 human rights defenders

April 10, 2014

On Monday 7 April, an appeals court in Cairo, Egypt, upheld the 3-year prison sentences for three pro-democracy activists on charges of unlawfully organizing a protest and assaulting security officers outside a court on November 30, 2013. The verdict against Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel marks the first usage of the new restrictive law. [None of the three activists were involved in any violence that took place when clashes broke out during the protests. Maher and Douma were inside the courthouse when scuffles ensued, and a police officer attested to the fact that Adel was attempting to pacify protesters.]
for background see:
http://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/mona-seif-reports-on-crackdown-in-egypt-including-her-brothers-case/#more-4139

 


Russia: “foreign agent” law considered constitutional and upheld against Memorial

April 10, 2014

 

In a hearing observed on 8 April by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT joint programme), the Saint Petersburg City Court upheld that the Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) “Memorial”, a prominent Russian NGO was performing the functions of a “foreign agent” and had to register as such for its human rights work.

At the end of yesterday’s hearing, which lasted less than an hour, the Observatory mission delegate reported that the judge interrupted ADC “Memorial’s lawyers on several occasions throughout the session, thereby hindering their capacity to develop their arguments and breaching their right to a fair trial and due process, while no one objection or remark was voiced when the prosecutor was speaking. Once again, the City Court pointed a report submitted by ADC “Memorial” to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2012 as the only evidence of its so-called “political activities Read the rest of this entry »


RFK Training Human Rights Defenders in Social Media

April 10, 2014

You can participate in an on-line conversation on the use of social media in human rights work on 15 April 2014 organised by the John F. Kennedy Centre for Human Rights [RFK]. The speakers are: 
Santiago A. Canton is the Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights. Mr. Canton was the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, after serving as the first Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in the Inter American System. Mr. Canton was also Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a democratic development institute based in Washington D.C. Mr. Canton was a political assistant to President Carter in democratic development programs in countries in Latin America. In 2005, Mr. Canton was awarded the Chapultepec Grand Prize for his contributions to the promotion, development, strengthening and defense of the principles of freedom of expression throughout the Americas.
Maria Isabel Rivero is a Uruguayan journalist and has been director of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Press and Outreach Office since July 2007. She started working at the Commission in 2006, through a competition for the post of press coordinator for the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. She studied social communications at the Catholic University of Uruguay and has a Master of Latin American Studies degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Before joining the IACHR, she was a journalist for 15 years, working for an international news agency in Santiago (Chile), Asunción (Paraguay), Montevideo (Uruguay), and Washington, D.C. (United States).

Ali Ravi is Senior Consultant – Digital Strategy, Security, Capacity. With advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering and Robotics, Ali Ravi’s work focus has primarily been on information systems design, Digital strategy development and adult-learning methodology. He has spent 15 years in the NGO world as Technology Strategist for smaller NGOs, and Digital Strategy and Security educator/trainer for individuals involved in progressive causes.

Maya Derouaz is the Social Media Manager at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). She has developed the social media presence of OHCHR on various platforms since 2012. Ms Derouaz has also been advising, designing and implementing communications strategies aimed at increasing the visibility of OHCHR on social media. She leads various social media campaigns in order to disseminate key information on the activities of the UN Human Rights Office on the ground. Ms Derouaz took part in the development of a National Agricultural Programme for Eritrea when she worked at the International Fund for Agricultural Development in Rome. Ms Derouaz holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Sciences Po Paris, a Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Business from Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi and has a keen interest in new media, global politics and sustainable development.

Lely Djuhari is Communication Specialist at UNICEF, working on social media. She has also worked in other humanitarian and development agencies in Indonesia, Southeast Asian countries, Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Turkey, South Caucasus and Central Asia. She managed wide ranging multi-country advocacy campaigns on inclusion of children with disabilities, ethnic minorities such as the Roma; disaster risk reduction into mainstream education; child-friendly schools during post-tsunami reconstruction, the roll out of journalism education and child rights in 30 universities in Europe and Central Asia; groundbreaking research and advocacy for maximizing safer online access for boys and girls. As a correspondent for The Associated Press and Kyodo News English Service during 2004-1998, she covered social and political issues in Indonesia, East Timor`s path to nationhood and the Indian Ocean Tsunami.  While on a Chevening scholarship at London`s City University, UK, she explored new media and new competencies needed by journalists in an increasingly connected world.

Human Rights Affairs: Social Media & HR | RFK – Training Institute.


Sad anniversary in Bahrain today: Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja arrested 3 years ago

April 9, 2014

30 human rights organizations express their serious concern for the health and well-being of imprisoned Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Mr. Al-Khawaja was arrested three years ago today, on 9 April 2011, and continues to require medical attention for injuries sustained during his arrest and subsequent torture.

Former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Mr. Al-Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 by a military court as part of a group of human rights activists and political leaders known as the Bahrain 13. The NGO state their belief that Mr. Al-Khawaja is being unjustly persecuted for his legitimate human rights activity.[In its September 2012 decision, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Mr. al-Khawaja’s arrest was due to his exercise of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. [According to the Working Group, the charges against Mr. al-Khawaja—including membership in a terrorist organization— were “vague” and “raise doubts as to the actual purpose of detention.” The Working Group also concluded that throughout Mr. Al-Khawaja’s arrest, detention, and trial, “the Government violated numerous international norms to the right to fair trial.”]
[The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) further concluded that Mr. Al-Khawaja was subjected to torture and inhumane treatment during his arrest and detention. Mr. Al-Khawaja was severely beaten, resulting in a broken jaw, and later spent two months in solitary confinement where he was subjected to physical, psychological and sexual torture. A full testimony from Mr. Al-Khawaja regarding his torture can be found here.]

BAHRAIN: Third Anniversary of Arrest: Calls for the Release of Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja – FIDH.


Journalists get training in Africa: examples from Tanzania and South Sudan

April 9, 2014

Like other people, journalists have personal interest in the rights that allow them to live in freedom and to be free from fear or oppression…” said Onesmo Olengurumwa, National Coordinator of  Tanzania Human Rights Defenders – Coalition (THRD-C).  He was speaking recently in Dar es Salaam at a 3-day seminar for journalists meant to train them in Security Management and Risk Assessment. Similar trainings will be conducted periodically to ensure journalists are equipped with the knowledge on how to best respond and tackle volatile and potentially dangerous situations. “Media owners, editors, journalists, human rights NGOs, community and the government should take security and protection issues for journalists much more seriously,” said Olengurumwa. He also reminded journalists that their personal behaviour, lifestyle and how they approach their work may place them at risk. “Investing on security management and protection for journalists should be undertaken by all media owners,”

Journalists, CSOs, Human Rights and CBOs representatives posing for a group photo during the two-day training on Human rights in NBGS. [Gurtong| Abraham Agoth]

group photo of training on Human rights in NBGS. [Gurtong| Abraham Agoth]

On 28 March 2014 Abraham Agoth in “Oye! News from Africa” reported that Journalists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has completed a Human Rights Defenders training course organised by the Human Rights Protection and Civil Affairs Departments of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Speaking at the closing ceremony, the acting UNMISS state coordinator, Numa Shams urged the participants to apply what they learnt during the training in their daily work so that human rights abuses are minimized. “We hope this work will be incorporated into your daily activities of monitoring human right in your respective working locations and within your communities,” he said. I have seen your participation and commitments in this training. It clearly shows that you have learnt something and are eager to learn more,” said Mary Makelele, the director general in the state ministry of Information, “My appeal to everyone is that; do not take these skills for granted but instead use them to educate others.” During the training, it was generally observed that human rights have been mostly violated due to negligence and ignorance.

Journalists, CSOs Complete Human Rights Defenders Training | Oye Times.


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