The Norwegian branch of the PEN Club had hoped to honor whistleblower Edward Snowden in Oslo, but a Norwegian court has dismissed a bid for assurances he would not be extradited should he visit Norway to collect the Carl von Ossietzky award which was granted to him in 2014 [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/edward-snowden-gets-another-human-rights-award-in-berlin/]. Read the rest of this entry »
The Diplomat wrote under the title “OSCE Manages to Irritate Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Human Rights Advocates, Too” a good piece summarizing the situation at the latest annual human rights conference (officially the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting), taking place from 19-30 September 2016, in Warsaw.
Most attention should go to the recurring reprisals against HRDs and in particular (when they are out of reach through exile) against their family: Read the rest of this entry »
On 22 September 2016 a ceremony took place for the 8th annual ceremony of the Hrant Dink Award Granted. The laureates of the International Hrant Dink Award are the Diyarbakir Bar Association and Malawian human rights defender Theresa Kachindamoto, who works for children’s right.
Diyarbakir Bar Association Chair Tahir Elçi was murdered on 28 November 2015 in Diyarbakir, while he was making a press statement. Deputy Chair Ahmet Özmen received the award on behalf of the association. Ahmet Özmen said inter alia: “I gratefully commemorate our dear chair Tahir Elçi, who devoted his life to the struggle for peace and freedom and sacrificed his life for this struggle….Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink are two heroes, two human rights defenders who made history. People will remember them as intellectuals who made efforts for establishing a democratic order for the peoples of Turkey. Their only measure was rightfulness and justice. The ones who ordered their murder thought that their strong legacy will vanish and we won’t be able to follow their lead, but they are wrong.”…“Today, our most important duty and historical responsibility is to preserve and improve the legacies of Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink. Demanding peace and speaking up for building peace is the only way.” During the ceremony, a video titled “Inspirations” was shown. People and institutions from Turkey and all around the world, who gave people hope about the future with their actions, were featured in the video. There were also people who objected to the coup and defended democracy on July 15.
Theresa Kachindamoto is the paramount chief, or Inkosi, of the Dedza District in the central region of Malawi, one of the poorest counties of Africa. For years, she has been working for preventing child marriages and defending their right to education. Becoming the chief of a tribe with 900,000 people, Kachindamoto started to struggle against child marriages, when she saw that half of the girls in the tribe are forced to marry at the ages of 12 or 13. She banned “marriage camps”, where children are abused under the name of sexual education. She managed to convince 50 tribe chiefs to abandon the traditions encouraging child marriage and to annul 850 marriages. Receiving the award from Yildiz Tar on behalf of last year’s laureate KAOS GL and Michèle Marian, Kachindamoto told the story of her struggle: “It wasn’t easy to fight against this problem. For majority of people, this practice was one of the most fundamental traditions of Malawi and encouraged by the society. We had to inform all people about the dangers and consequences of child marriage and abolish the accepted opinion which deems this practice as normal. There is no doubt that I need to push against more of the old ways of thinking to achieve my ultimate goal of removing child marriage from Malawi, and giving all girls and boys the opportunity to complete their education. I am proud of what we have achieved so far, but I am aware that there is still a long way ahead of us. I am grateful to every one who walked this way with me. I hope more people will join us and fight for the rights of Malawian girls. God bless you all.”
Human right defender, Iftikhar Mubarik, discusses his work addressing child exploitation in Pakistan and how he seeks to utilise the UN Human Rights system.
Azerbaijan: constitutional referendum on 26 September will surely pass but not the human rights musterSeptember 24, 2016
SYRIA CIVIL DEFENCE (Syria)
Syria Civil Defence (The White Helmets), ‘for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war’. It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to a Laureate from Syria.…for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.
Monday 26 September: important panel discussion on responses to intimidation and reprisals against HRDsSeptember 21, 2016
Ghana, Hungary, Ireland and Uruguay – in cooperation with ISHR – are organizing a panel discussion about current situations, existing practices and new ideas for better implementation of Human Rights Council resolutions on preventing and responding to reprisals.
Monday 26 September 2016, 1.00 – 3.00 pm – Room XXIII, Palais des Nations
• Ms Peggy Hicks, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
• Mr Alessio Bruni, Rapporteur on reprisals of the Committee Against Torture
• H.E. Ms Yvette Stevens, Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the UN
• Ms Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-director of Gulf Center for Human Rights
• Mr Philip Lynch, Director of International Service for Human Rights
• H.E. Ms Zsuzsanna Horváth, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN
For my earlier posts on reprisals: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/
Since then, human rights defenders and the rule of law in China have been under sustained attack from President Xi Jinping’s government. But the dynamics in Xinjiang – a region synonymous with gross discrimination against the predominantly Muslim Uyghur population, restrictions on religion and speech, economic development plans that favor Han Chinese over Uyghurs, and now a highly politicized counterterrorism campaign to stem violence – provide fertile ground for further serious human rights violations.
The signs are ominous: restrictions on observing Ramadan are now an annual reality, and some Uyghurs are now being required to give DNA samples and other biodata in order to obtain passports. China’s state media reports on counterterrorism operations when it’s politically convenient to do so, but we don’t know how many local residents die in these raids, how those detained in connection with the operations are treated, or even whether the state is responding to a credible threat. Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of Uyghurs have fled the country, some of whom have been forcibly returned under Chinese government pressure.