BOOK OF TESTIMONIES

FROM HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS THE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM
WWW.FRONTLINEDEFENDERS.ORG

WHAT DOES FRONT LINE DEFENDERS DO?
Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) established by charitable deed trust. It was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Front Line Defenders aims to address the protection needs identified by defenders themselves. Front Line Defenders provides rapid and practical support to at-risk human rights defenders including: n grants to pay for the practical security needs of human rights defenders; n provision of training and development of resource materials on security and protection, including digital security; n international advocacy on behalf of human rights defenders at immediate risk; n rest and respite, including the Front Line Defenders Fellowship; n opportunities for networking and exchange between human rights defenders, including at the biennial Dublin Platform; n the annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk; n an emergency 24 hour phone line for human rights defenders operating in Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian; n temporary relocation of human rights defenders in emergency situations. Front Line Defenders promotes strengthened international and regional measures to protect human rights defenders including through support for the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. Front Line Defenders seeks to promote respect for the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Front Line Defenders has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, partnership status with the Council of Europe and observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Front Line Defenders received the 2007 King Baudouin International Prize for Development.
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FRONTLINE TRUSTEES
Denis O’Brien (Chairman) Denis O’Brien is Chairman of the Digicel Group. Mr O’Brien is one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs with extensive investments across several sectors. He founded the Communicorp Group which has a portfolio of media and broadcastingrelated companies in Ireland and seven other European countries. In 2000 he established The Iris O’Brien Foundation to assist disadvantaged communities in Ireland and internationally. Mary Lawlor (Director) Mary Lawlor has been constantly inspired by the work of human rights defenders who put their vision of a civil and just world for all ahead of their own safety. In 2001 she set up Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders to provide round the clock practical support and deliver fast and effective action on behalf of human rights defenders at risk. Hina Jilani is an internationally known human rights lawyer and advocate for human rights defenders. She was the United Nations Special Representative on the situation of human rights defenders from 2000 to 2008. She and her sister Asma Jahangir cofounded the first all female legal practice in Pakistan and she is also one of the founders of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Jim Conway is the founder and Chairman of the Print & Display Group, one of Ireland’s largest print companies. He also has a number of other media interests in Ireland and Eastern Europe.

Kieran Mulvey is Chief Executive of the Irish Labour Relations Commission and Consultant with the International Labour Organisation and the European Union. Michel Forst is Secretary General of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights. He was Secretary General of the Paris Summit and Director of the French section of Amnesty International. Noeline Blackwell is Director of FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres), an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. David Sykes is Investment Director of Island Capital Ltd and worked in various banks and stockbrokers including Trinity Bank and Dolmen stockbrokers. Maria Mulcahy was involved with “People in Need” from 1988 – 2000. She was responsible for organising the RTE telethons, which raised €28 million. She was Director of Fundraising for the 2003 Special Olympics World Games.

LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
Hanan Ashrawi Founder and Secretary General of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy. Robert Badinter President of the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and a member of the French Senate. He was previously French Minister for Justice. Bono Founder member of the Irish rock group U2, and a prominent human rights advocate. Desmond Tutu Anglican archbishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984. Adolfo Pérez Equivel Leader of Servicio Paz y Justicia and the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Indai Lourdes Sajor Founder and former Executive Director of the Asian Centre for Women’s Human Rights. His Holiness The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso Temporal and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and Nobel Laureate.

Copyright 2013 Quotations have been edited for brevity and clarity. The insertion of quotations does not reflect the order in which participants spoke. Photography by Kamil Krawczak

SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

FOREWORD
THE FRONT LINE DEFENDERS DUBLIN PLATFORM BRINGS TOGETHER human rights defenders from every part of the globe – from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East – and despite the differences of culture, creed and language they are united by one thing – a fierce commitment to the struggle to defend the human rights of their community. For me, at the heart of the Dublin Platform are the testimonies of the defenders themselves, men and women, who in voices of quiet dignity share with us their experience of struggle and survival in the face of constant repression and vilification. Listening to these testimonies is a deeply humbling experience and when I hear someone telling of the threats to themselves, their colleagues or their familiy, I remember why we started Front Line Defenders in the first instance – because human rights defenders are special people, because their idealism has the potential to change the world and because their steadfast commitment and special kind of courage renews our sense of hope in the future. To all those human rights defenders who attended this, and previous, Dublin Platforms I want to repeat, you – who give words like dignity, rights, justice and equality their human form – know what it is like to confront entrenched and seemingly invincible repression, from governments and non state actors alike. You stand on the side of the victim, challenge the power of tyrants, the greed of multinationals and the corrupt governments in their thrall. We in Front Line Defenders salute you. Over the last two years, dreadful persecution against HRDs,has continued unabated. HRDs are targeted for documenting and denouncing abuses by governments and militias. They are targeted for exposing the corruption that forces countries rich in resources to their knees, and entrenches poverty and inequality amongst their people. And they are targeted for pushing for reform in the hope of creating fairer and more just societies. And in the case of women and LGBTI defenders, they are targeted for who they are and what they do in challenging discrimination and cultural stereotypes. It is hard not to become angry and cynical at the inaction of governments on some cases. As Confucius said “Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage”. When you wake up tired and bone weary from the systematic persecution, and the psychological pain you absorb from the suffering of others, know that we are here for you and our only objective is to make your lives safer and more bearable.

Your steadfast spirit defies injustice and alleviates pain. You have come to terms with fear and have tamed stress. You work with fierce resilience without stopping to bemoan the cruelty and depravity with which you are often faced. I am awed and inspired every single day by your courage. It is your dignity and your tremendous spirit that vibrates in every one of these words from Paul Cobbitt a HRD at risk in the US who participated in a previous Dublin Platform. He said: “Now my dear brothers and sisters, I have witnessed the passion and commitment of each of you. I realise that we struggle in solidarity rather than solitude. Through our commitment, I realise we must build a world where justice is the rule rather than the exception. Justice will come as quietly as a new dawn, and I will rejoice in seeing her radiant reflection in each one of you. We CAN and we MUST persist.” Mary Lawlor, Executive Director, Front Line Defenders

“I REMAINED PATIENT. I STRUGGLED AND I SURVIVED.”

MASOODA PARVEEN, KASHMIR

DUBLIN CASTLE, OCTOBER 2013

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. . . . . . . 64 Asia Pacific . . . . . . . . Stephen Ulimboka Doctors Community & Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition Zimbabwe: Nkosilathi Emmanuel Moyo Zimbabwe Organization For The Youth In Politics The Americas Argentina: Félix Díaz The Qom Potae Napocna Navogoh Community Brazil: Astronadc Pereira Police Force Canada: Cindy Blackstock First Nations Child and Family Society Dominican Republic: Solange Manuela Dandre Pie Dominican Haitian Women’s Movement Ecuador: Carlos Pérez Guartambel Confederation of Kichwa People Guatemala: Oscar Morales Committee in Defence of Life and for Peace Guatemala: Yolanda Oqueli The Northern Metropolitan Front and the Peaceful Resistance “La Puya” Guyana: Candace McEwan Guyana Trans United Haiti: Patrice Florvilus Defenders of the Oppressed Honduras: Gilda Silvestrucci Journalist Honduras: Hedme Castro ACI-Participa Mexico: Alma Rosa García Guevara Fray Juan de Larios Diocesan Centre for Human Rights Mexico: Nataniel Hernández Núñez Digna Ochoa Human Rights Centre Peru: Jaime Cesar Borda Pari Human Rights Without Borders United States of America: Deon Haywood Women With a Vision TABLE OF CONTENTS CONTRIBUTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Africa . . . 53 Middle East & North Africa . . 34 2 SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The Americas . . . . . . . . . . . David Ugolor Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice Rwanda: Elisabeth Mukajambo Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights Senegal: Awa Wade Democratic Union of Teachers of Senegal Somalia: Abdiaziz Ibrahim Journalist Somalia: Mohamed Sheikh Mohamed Iniskoy for Peace Tanzania: Dr. . . . . . . . . . . Governance and Environmental Action Madagascar: Noromanana Lalaharivony Children’s rights activist Malawi: Rafiq Hajat Institute for Policy Interaction Mauritania: Biram Dah Abeid Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement Nigeria: Rev.CONTRIBUTORS Africa Democratic Republic of Congo: Jean de Dieu Mulikuza Action for Access to Human Rights Democratic Republic of Congo: Rebeca Masika The Association of Disinherited Persons United for Development Eritrea: Elizabeth Chyrum Human rights defender Gabon: Paulette Oyane-Ondo Centre for Promoting Democracy and the Defence of Human Rights in Gabon Kenya: Phyllis Omido Centre for Justice. . . . 19 Europe & Central Asia . . . . . . .

MSM Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Republic of Korea: Dong-Kyun Kang Gangjeong Village Association Thailand: Teeranet Chaisuwan Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand Vietnam: Nguyen Lan Thang Journalist Tajikistan: Dilrabo Samadova Association of Young Lawyers ‘Amparo’ Turkey: Halil Savda Conscientious Objector Turkey: Oyku Sezer Hebun LGBT Organisation Middle East & North Africa Algeria: Farida Ouaghlissi National Coordination of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria Algeria: Omar Farouk Slimani Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights Bahrain: Ali Abdulemam Blogger Bahrain: Said Yousif AlMuhafdah Bahrain Center for Human Rights Kuwait: Nawaf Alhendal National Committee for Monitoring Violations Oman: Habiba Al Hinai Omani Group for Human Rights Tunisia: Imed Ouertani Tunisian Organisation for the Defence of Persons with Disabilities Western Sahara: El Ghalia Djimi Saharan Association of Serious Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Moroccan State Yemen: Samia Al Aghbari Human rights defender Europe and Central Asia Belarus: Iryna Khalip Journalist Belarus: Tatsiana Reviaka Belarussian Human Rights House Georgia: Natia Gvianishvili Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group Kosovo: Arben Fejza Center for Equality and Liberty Moldova: Stepan Popovskiy Republican Social Movement for Defence of Property & Social Rights of Peasants Russian Federation: Andrei Bulanov & Rafik Roganyan Invatur Russian Federation: Igor Yassin Rainbow Association Serbia: Višnja Šijai Youth Center CK13 DUBLIN CASTLE. OCTOBER 2013 3 . Society and Human Rights China: Wang Jianfen Chinese Women’s Rights Defenders Empowerment Network China: Ye Jinghuan Human rights defender India: Prashant Paikary Pratirodh Sangram Samiti Indonesia: Donal Fariz Indonesia Corruption Watch Indonesia: Toni Almuna Violet Grey Kashmir: Masooda Parveen Human rights defender Laos: Ng Shui Meng Human rights defender Malaysia: Azwan Ismail Seksualiti Merdeka Malaysia: Mohd Faizal Musa Writer Nepal: Badri Prasad Bhusal Human rights lawyer Philippines: Sr.Asia Pacific Bangladesh: Ashrafun Nahar Misti Women with Disabilities Development Foundation Bangladesh: Shahed Kayes Subornogram Foundation Cambodia: Mam Sonando Beehive Radio China: Liu Dejun Human rights defender China: Liu Yiu Education Centre for Culture. Ma. Somogod. Famita N.

I was the victim of death threats from officials and agents of this Congolese state-run company. before. To finish. making sure that I do not go out late at night and if. another car appeared from the opposite direction which allowed me to quickly turn back and spend the night at a friend’s. because the legal action I had taken had the aim to incite a revolt of the 45. SNEL has about 45. I want to point out that in view of the insecure circumstances in which human rights defenders in the East of the DRC find themselves. somebody is there to accompany me. MAKING SURE THAT I DO NOT GO OUT LATE AT NIGHT AND IF.000 clients across these two provinces in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But human rights organisations who are members of the Network for the protection of victims. it costs only 12 Congolese francs. as I was going home on 18 October 2008 approaching 9. Bandundu and the two Kasaï provinces. Indeed. As they were getting out of their car. they stopped ahead. The first told me he had been at a meeting where some SNEL officials were planning to attack me. 1 kwh costs 83 Congolese francs in the East of the DRC. SOMEBODY IS THERE TO ACCOMPANY ME SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . The breach of the law being condemned here relates to the fact that SNEL customers in South and North Kivu pay seven times more than customers in other provinces such as Kinshasa. A press release was also issued at the time.JEAN DE DIEU MULIKUZA “ 4 Action for Access to Human Rights DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO MY NAME IS JEAN DE DIEU MULIKUZA. Some time later. It should also be added that the legal action that was begun continues. I personally try to take the necessary precautions. with the aim of exhausting all domestic remedies. an annulment of the judgement RCA 4081 rendered before the Supreme Court of Justice still needs to be obtained.30pm. and that refusing to do so would be seriously dangerous. as had I continued on the same path I would have found myself in a cul-de-sac. Bas-Congo. if necessary bringing it before the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.000 SNEL customers in South and North Kivu. I PERSONALLY TRY TO TAKE THE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS. whereas in the West and in Katanga. Having gone past me. once in a while it is necessary. as well as from the security services. 20 metres from my house I decided to let them pass. Just as a reminder. witnesses and human rights defenders (VIWINE) as well as the human rights section of Monusco (United Nations Mission for the Stabilisation of Congo) went to meet the suspected perpetrators of the threats against me to dissuade them. And as a result. I WORK WITH Agir pour l’accès aux droits de l’homme (ADH: Action for Access to Human Rights) in DRC. As a result of having denounced the injustices of the Congolese State by taking legal action at the Bukavu Regional Court against the national electricity company (SNEL) for overcharging for electricity in the provinces of South Kivu and North Kivu (under the number RC 7206). Katanga. ONCE IN A WHILE IT IS NECESSARY. I was followed to within a kilometre of my house by people in a car who I did not recognise. three other people who I again did not know came to see me individually. The two others came specifically to tell me to renounce my legal action against SNEL.

DESPITE EVERYTHING I WENT THROUGH. When they had finished they told me to put all the pieces together and lie on top of them. they started raping them all. Here women could see a doctor and get treatment. You can start again and build something fresh and new. full of wild animals and on the other there was water. I cried “Leave him. I brought women to Isle Africa which was a shelter for women who had been raped. what are you going to do? Even if I survive you have no money to take me to the hospital.. and they did. When I left the hospital. I started to help to find women who had been raped. they came into the house and took everything. They can start again like me. and my little sister. My husband said “Mama Yvette. Better to let them finish me off”. Then they raped me on top of my husband's body. we're not going to shoot you. Then. OUR four children. and I had an operation. you can be something. They both had babies and I also look after these children. and they raped me. There was nowhere to run to because on one side of the village there was jungle.. When I awoke. That the men who raped me were men I had been sleeping with and that I had wanted them to kill my husband. so we teach them to sew. One said “Remember when they killed Dad? They raped us as well and that's why our stomachs are big”. Despite everything I went through. Then they told us to sit on the floor. I lost consciousness. We want to show them that just because they have been raped. My husband said “Do whatever they want so that you can stay alive for the children”. and we didn’t have a boat. but I didn't tell them anything of my own story. Then they told me that if I were to meet her.. they would rape her any way they could.. so I look after their babies and I send them to school. They threw me out and said that I had planned it all.The Association of Disinherited Persons United for Development DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO IT WAS ABOUT 11PM WHEN IT STARTED. MY HUSBAND. I am still standing and they can do it as well. one of the other women pointed me out as Masika. On one of these trips I met a rebel group who asked “Do you know a woman called Masika?” I responded no. They tied him to the bed by his hands and feet and they asked him for money. I found that my house and possessions had been sold by my husband's family. I should tell her that when they caught up with her. Some of the girls are too young to go to work the fields. They said. so they took my two younger girls away. even like this I can take him to the hospital”.. and not with a knife”.. I discovered that I had been in hospital for 6 months. I decided to talk to the doctor. He asked them “Now that you have everything. In 2000. I AM STILL STANDING AND THEY CAN DO IT AS WELL DUBLIN CASTLE. me and my husband. My daughters of 15 and 13. naked. All the time I kept on going out into the mountains to find women who had been raped.. I counted to 12 and while I was counting I heard the children screaming. My children came to visit and their stomachs were swollen. this is not the end.. OCTOBER 2013 5 . Finally. He gave them all the money but even though they had taken everything we owned. After that I decided that I had to do something empowering for myself and for other women. We support each other. To help women move from the state they are in today and reconnect with the women they were before. why do you want to kill me?” and then he asked them “At least kill me with a gun. Then they threatened to kill me too and they started to cut me. They were giving me drugs for my head but the damage from the rape was not properly treated. I set up a group called The Association of Disinherited Persons United for Development (Association des Personnes Déshéritées Unies pour le Développement – APDUD). working in the fields and growing food to sell to fund different projects. they would not let him live. “No. Others have some schooling. “ THEY CAN START AGAIN LIKE ME. I don't know how they buried my husband. We're going to kill you piece by piece”. There is one girl who had a baby when she was in school and now she is in university. we could hear the neighbours screaming. Then my brother's family came. REBECA MASIKA I had a lot of physical problems resulting from the rape and finally in 2006.. they wanted me to marry my husband's brother and I refused. a lady visited who was looking for people to help with other women who had been raped. my little sister and I. The shooting went on and on. Finally..

However. – family members cannot seek for their whereabouts. – they are detained in an inhospitable place. Today. So far. NO PARLIAMENT TO MAKE A COLLECTIVE DECISION AND NO RULE OF LAW SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS .000 prisoners of conscience in 300 prisons in the country. They tried to defend the rights of ordinary Eritreans by reporting on what was really happening in their country. Article 19 took the journalists’ case to the African Commission in 2003. In May 2007. printing the truth and informing their people. and ten independent press journalists were arrested. as there is no local legal remedy and there is no independent judiciary system. The Commission has also recommended that the detainees be released and compensated. – those who are alive do not know about the deaths of their colleagues. and they have not seen each other since their detention in September 2001. I am based in London. For the last 22 years. books or newspapers. hate campaigns. but by numbers. Citizens’ rights have been violated in every possible way. television. Human rights defenders and human rights organisations are not allowed to work in Eritrea. A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER from Eritrea. there is no constitution in place. Their only crime was doing their jobs as journalists. as this platform is for human rights defenders. and the Eritrean government was held in violation of the African Union Charter. death threats and intimidation. where temperatures can reach between 45 and 55 degrees Celsius. Since then. and to lift the ban on the press. They have been handcuffed 24/7 for the last twelve years. so that they are part of this platform and they are also remembered. The independent media outlets were shut down in September 2001. Six years after the African Commission’s decision and recommendations. Eritrea was freed from Ethiopian occupation in 1991. They have no ventilation. the Commission made a decision. This is so the prisoners do not know who is held in which room. more state media journalists have been jailed and some have died in detention. After thirty years of armed struggle. no parliament to make a collective decision and no rule of law. THERE IS NO CONSTITUTION IN PLACE. this proved to be the beginning of a ruthless oppression from within. four out of ten have died in detention and the remaining six were reported to be in poor health. – their guards are not allowed to converse with them. and they are locked inside their room all of the time. The only time they are not handcuffed is when they wash and that could be once a week or once a month. the fate of the six journalists is still unknown. – their two hands are cuffed in front during the day and behind their backs during the night. but instead of an end to human rights abuses. – they are not allowed to have a radio. They eat while handcuffed. – they are not called by their names. the country has been governed by an elite that causes so much suffering to its people. So.ELIZABETH CHYRUM “ 6 Human rights defender ERITREA MY NAME IS ELIZABETH CHYRUM. defamation. CITIZENS’ RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY. and they sleep while handcuffed. Since their imprisonment: – they have not been visited by their family or lawyers. and was urged to bring the journalists to a speedy and fair trial. Eritrea has over 10. I wish to focus on those ten journalists. I just want to bring the plight of the Eritrean journalists to your attention. – they are detained in solitary confinement. and yet I have not been spared from abuses.

The villagers were awoken by gunshots and explosions of tear gas. gendarmes and policemen armed to the teeth besieged my village. that someone had told the government they were doing something wrong. in part because this is an attack on property. Following that. the State of Gabon undertook land grabs on a vast scale. Gabon has been under the same political regime for the last 50 years and is not used to being contradicted. Some were killed by suffering a heart attack on finding out that their houses had been razed to the ground whilst they were at their place of work. I am surviving and I continue to denounce and fight against all the human rights violations that come to my attention. They ransacked my home and barbarically desecrated the grave of my father who had died in 1992. OCTOBER 2013 7 . beds. I should remind you that this was the first time since Gabon had existed. and that the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ rights forbids land seizures. Without such consensus the government’s change is non-constitutional. which is sacred. I am currently engaged in four cases against the State of Gabon at the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights. Throughout 2011. PAULETTE OYANE-ONDO “ ALL SORTS OF COMPLETELY UNFOUNDED STORIES THAT HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO LEGAL STANDING ARE CONSTANTLY MADE UP ABOUT ME. which is a human right. all with the aim of intimidating me and endangering my right to work in order to reduce me to begging. chairs. I also took the State of Gabon to court for gross violation of human rights. flattening everything in its path – tables. five convoys comprising of five hundred the Constitution in December 2009. In my tradition we have an absolute respect for the dead. in spite of the African Charter on Democracy (to which Gabon subscribes) that forbids African Union member states from changing their constitution without having gained prior popular consensus by referendum. I began a campaign to explain to people that having a home is a human right. that I had unleashed a tsunami. is constantly under threat. All sorts of completely unfounded stories that have absolutely no legal standing are constantly made up about me. but also because it is an attack on the right to housing which is a human right. Today. All my actions are under constant surveillance and my telephone calls are tapped. In addition to this. and particularly African. Indeed. My right to work. I therefore told the Prime Minister that he could not put the constitutional amendment bill to the National Assembly because in doing so. they unleashed an aggressive media campaign against me. and two or three times a week the papers. as things stand. Some were at work when they received a call telling them that a state bulldozer was demolishing their house. Gabon has made international commitments to put a housing policy in place. ALL WITH THE AIM OF INTIMIDATING ME AND ENDANGERING MY RIGHT TO WORK DUBLIN CASTLE. In this way. telling the state that it was violating the terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. engagements. plates – the entire contents of a house. razing entire neighbourhoods. the government was committing an anti-constitutional offence. But. which it has ratified. I am the victim of systematic harassment. The nonconstitutional amendment that was put to the National Assembly had on no occasion been the object of popular consensus. engaged in mudslinging to try and harm my credibility.Lawyer: Centre for Promoting Democracy and the Defence of Human Rights in Gabon Legal Council of the Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa GABON MY PROBLEMS BEGAN WHEN I OPPOSED THE AMENDMENT OF At 6am on 1 May 2011. I was well aware that in reminding the government of one of its international. I spoke out against these actions. These were mostly areas that housed poor people. I have broken all records for being the lawyer most struck off the bar. It was Gabon’s 14th amendment to the Constitution since 1991. My NGO has recorded nearly two thousand homeless people and five deaths caused by the State of Gabon. but instead of doing this it has deliberately caused people to be homeless. which are controlled by those in power. they wanted my community to reject me because I was putting them at risk by opposing the government.

Front Line Defenders issued urgent appeals and news items about me that led to my acquittal in November 2012. Arraigned in court on charges of “Illegal gathering” and “inciting violence”. choking pungent plumes of smoke. but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. In 2009. In 2012 while planning a public demo to lobby and protest the injustice. Front Line Defenders also handled the lawyer’s bills and security for me and my family. By 2011. I was arrested alongside 17 other CJGEA employees and community members. Both employees and community members succumbed to the poisoning. fevers. exposed the community to sickness and loss of life. fainting and by 2012 toxic BLL levels of 38 ppm.” CJGEA CAME UNDER ATTACK FROM THE GOVERNMENT. dignity and a clean environment. Arrogance or corporate irresponsibility? Early in 2009 the urban poor community woke up to thick. forgetfulness. CJGEA came under attack from the government. I founded the CJGEA in 2009 in order to address environmental and human rights challenges facing the urban poor in Kenya. In partnership with ASF. CJGEA was fundraising for class act litigation for Kelvin and the people of Owino Uhuru. I was accused of funding illegal groups and being a terrorist. In the days to follow the children became sick with coughing. Sadly in the greatest show of impunity with arrogance in 2013 the smelter still operates under the protection of the local political class. One day while Kelvin played in the football field his ball strayed into the drain. the chicken and other livestock and pets succumbed to the smoke and thick. The trees shrivelled and died. filthy and smelly flu gasses and effluent directed into the community from the smelter. I entered the scene mid-2009 and educated the people about Lead (Pb) poisoning. Kelvin’s blood lead level was at 32ppm. Governance and Environmental Action KENYA I AM A COMMUNITY ORGANISER IN MOMBASA AND FOUNDER of the Centre for Justice. The forum in part recommended. CJGEA engaged in crush capacity building sessions and lobbying. Police raids were conducted on our offices and my son and I were accosted and abused by gunmen while entering my house in late 2011. human rights. The Lead (Pb) smelter spewing toxic fumes and effluent. Push and pull between CJGEA and the government on the issue forced the government to convene a public forum to address the Issue. POLICE RAIDS WERE CONDUCTED ON OUR OFFICES AND MY SON AND I WERE ACCOSTED AND ABUSED BY GUNMEN WHILE ENTERING MY HOUSE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . “The EIA license should be revoked and be re-issued if at all upon the consensus of all the stakeholder licensing authorities.PHYLLIS OMIDO “ 8 Centre for Justice. The Owino Uhuru case – Lead (Pb) smelters in residential areas. much higher than the World Health Organisation upper limit of 5ppm. The act of fetching his ball left him with a scar that would cause him and his grandmother sleepless nights. fatigue and head aches. CJGEA was weighed down under the burden of cash bails and rampant arrests. Governance and Environmental Action (CJGEA). Because of the urgency of the issue. Originally with a background in business. an organisation focused on promoting environmental justice in Kenya’s coastal region. the right to life. Kelvin was by now suffering seizures. 5% of the children tested positive for severe lead poisoning. Kelvin is yet to access justice.

racked with never-ending political crises and eroded by corruption on a national scale in all sectors. Madagascar is participating in the Platform for Human Rights Defenders organised by Front Line Defenders. Blessed with exceptionally rich natural resources. I understood the difficult conditions in which they live. THE SAME VISION OF A WORLD OF JUSTICE. as so many human rights defenders in this world have. fortunes. our island is a wonderland. “ Childrenʼs rights activist MADAGASCAR IT IS THE WISH TO STRIVE TOGETHER TOWARDS A BETTER WORLD. it feels as though we too have experienced them. For me the Dublin Platform has been an inspiring encounter. culture and age. infinite lakes. Together we have all shared our experiences. The challenges are great and human rights defenders have an important role to play. Every day. I have never been put in prison. Over the three days of the Platform I have been at the heart of an exceptional community of individuals. In hearing the testimonies of the human rights defenders at this meeting. thousands of hectares of cultivable land.NOROMANANA LALAHARIVONY MADAGASCAR HAS NEVER HAD TO EXPERIENCE BLOODY CIVIL war. THAT HAS BROUGHT US TOGETHER DUBLIN CASTLE. delights. I saw the images they spoke of. Listening to and sharing the experiences of human rights defenders. This was possible despite differences in language. peace and tolerance and of shared experience. I understood the seriousness of the conditions in which they work. animated by the same joys. nor have I experienced torture. and that we might do so again in the near future. the same vision of a world of justice. PEACE AND TOLERANCE AND OF SHARED EXPERIENCE. For the first time. The spirit of sharing and the determination to denounce the injustices that human rights defenders in the world must face. have given me renewed determination to continue with my work. feelings and aspirations. that has brought us together. nor has it witnessed armed conflict or massacres of its people. I do witness the struggles that the population and in particular children must face. bringing hope to the activities of human rights defenders in my country. smiles. I felt the pain they described. The 7th Dublin Platform represented a show of solidarity and a call to hope. OCTOBER 2013 9 . idyllic beaches and a young population. But in a country with a poverty rate of 81%. I am conscious that peace is hanging by a thread and our people are facing the worst. It is the wish to strive together towards a better world.

will you walk with me on this quest? WE HAD TO GO INTO HIDING IN FEAR FOR OUR LIVES. 80% of our populace still earn less than 1 dollar per day. we have descended into a vicious cycle of corruption and abuse of power. On 20 July 2011. patronage and neo-patrimonialism.. The then President. but it is rapidly undermined by vested interests who pursue the amassment of power laced with corruption.RAFIQ HAJAT “ 10 Institute for Policy Interaction MALAWI The Quest for Dignity Lost MY NAME IS RAFIQ HAJAT AND I AM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI). Subsequently. Dr.the retrieval of dignity lost. MY OFFICES WERE PETROL BOMBED AND ALL MY PRICELESS ARCHIVES WERE BURNT TO ASHES SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . called the Life President. I was virtually at my last gasp in December 2011. Bingu wa Mutharika ordered the police to "shoot to kill" and twentyfour unarmed people were slaughtered during the next two days. social justice and good governance towards the consolidation of a truly participatory democracy that adheres to the rule of law and the constitution. a research based advocacy think tank that aspires to bridge the chasm between policy formulation and grassroots aspirations. I was privileged to be part of a CSO grouping which organised and led mass demonstrations to protest against misgovernance and the lack of essential services. We had to go into hiding in fear for our lives. We shed the shackles of colonialism in 1964 and then suffered for thirty years under the despotic authoritarian regime of Dr. hounded everywhere by machete-wielding state sponsored thugs. and others who also stepped in with invaluable support to sustain us during those dark days. when the Norwegian Government stepped in and took me to Bergen. Malawi is a landlocked country in southern Africa. we still have a per capita income of 165 dollars per annum. He was deposed when the populace voted overwhelmingly for multiparty democracy in a referendum held in 1993 and the first multiparty elections were subsequently held in 1994.may God give him what he deserves! I returned to Malawi in July 2012. Malawi has struggled with the pursuance of human rights.. only 6% have access to electricity and less than 1% have access to tertiary education. H. ranked as the sixth poorest country in the world. where I worked with the Christian Michelson Institute for the next six months. the President declared in public. this cycle of poverty and ignorance dehumanises people and that is our greatest challenge . HOUNDED EVERYWHERE BY MACHETE-WIELDING STATE SPONSORED THUGS. and we would feel the full fury of his wrath. Norway. 67% of our people are still illiterate. My offices were petrol bombed and all my priceless archives were burnt to ashes. Kamuzu Banda. that he would ‘smoke us out’. There has been some progress. Since then. We now have a kleptocratic oligarchy instead of our cherished democracy. to find the country euphorically expecting great changes under the stewardship of Joyce Banda but sadly. since then. Unfortunately. After fifty years of independence and billions of dollars in aid. My profound thanks go to Front Line Defenders. Bingu died of a heart attack on 5 April 2012 .

Since then. which is still taught in our religious schools and is still applied by the ruling elite to the detriment of more than 20 percent of our people. In this regard. have been imprisoned since 30 September 2013. who was responsible for examining the matter. In addition to the two activists that remain in prison. punches and tear gas. the Hratin community. where two IRA-Mauritania activists. a practice in which Mauritania has proven itself to be a champion in recent years. I would like to stress that other IRA-Mauritania members were seriously injured on 6 October. whose leaders and elites originate from the very same system that international opinion obliges them to ostensibly condemn. I also remember your unwavering support for our leaders and activists. who are trapped in an environment of rigid and growing hostility marked by the continued ban on our NGO. when police and gendarmerie units stormed the sit-in venue and employed the liberal use of batons. were charged with three crimes carrying a death sentence. the officer at the gendarmerie responsible for receiving complaints. as well as aggression. This attack led to the hospitalisation of Baba Traoré. Sabbar Ould Mousse. Yes. OCTOBER 2013 11 . IRA-Mauritania mobilised a number of its activists to stage a permanent sit-in in front of the gendarmerie. THE CLAIMING OF RACIAL EQUALITY AND EQUALITY OF BIRTH STATUS AMONG CITIZENS IS A COMPLETE TABOO AND SHOULD BE PUNISHED DUBLIN CASTLE. we are in an excellent position to bear witness to the effectiveness of urgent appeals. international bodies and democratic States around the world. which are directed towards eighty percent of the Mauritanian population – people whose only fault is having been born black and descended from slaves. In 2012 alone. hastened to dismiss the case by falsifying the victim’s testimony. after we protested against slavery by setting fire to copies of the “Black Code”. For 15 years she has been deprived of schooling and starved of parental warmth and comfort. The reaction of the current Mauritanian power structure was the violent repression of our activists. calling for the laws which penalise slavery to be applied to the dominant Arab-Berber group poses a problem for the State. the claiming of racial equality and equality of birth status among citizens is a complete taboo and should be punished. intimidation and imprisonment. The perpetrators . NGOs and State institutions must use all of their diplomatic influence to counter the persecution of human rights defenders. WHO ARE RESISTANT TO CHANGE. In the eyes of these oppressors. Abdallahi Ould Hmeyid and Slama Ould Seyid. At the smallest non-violent protest on our part. The rally followed a complaint that was brought before the gendarmerie of Boutilimit (a town to the East of Nouakchott) by 18-year-old Noura Mint Aheymed. the Mauritanian legal and security apparatus accuse us of gross coercion. arrests and imprisonments. who are resistant to change. beatings.have yet to be punished. L'Initiative pour la Résurgence du Mouvement Abolitionniste en Mauritanie (Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement) (IRA-Mauritania). BIRAM DAH ABEID “ IN THE EYES OF THESE OPPRESSORS. which are quick to oppose the enforcement of the law on slavery and protect supporters of slavery. corporal punishment and solitude. a loss of work in the public and private sectors and harassment in all forms. We are pleased that Front Line Defenders. These authorities have attempted to silence our peaceful. seven IRA-Mauritania members. Our fight is your fight. As is the case with all higher authorities in Mauritania. who for more than a month have been subjected to assaults from the police and the gendarmerie. kicks. a victim of slavery who was supported and assisted by IRA-Mauritania. Dear friends.brothers Cheikh and Amar Sidi Ould Ely Mhaymed (respectively a businessman and a member of the ruling political party) and the rest of their family . Cheikhna Ould Mahmoud and Namoury Ould Bilal. for the sake of a humanity that is ethical and fair. It is this dilemma that leads to our repression as a social group that is in direct and open opposition to the repetition of injustice. my thoughts move to the Mauritanian town of Rosso. both of them punished for having participated in a peaceful demonstration calling for the enforcement of the law that criminalises slavery in Mauritania. including myself. Let us pursue it together. legal and legitimate demands through violence. like all other NGOs. Ahmed Ould Ghalla. takes an increasingly critical standpoint on the crimes of slavery and racism. she has been subjected day and night to a life of forced labour. and Judge Ould Rabbani. Noura was taken away form her mother at the age of four. In response to this sham. diplomatic lobbying and other actions that Front Line Defenders carries out for the benefit of human rights defenders who are in danger around the world.Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement MAURITANIA I BRING YOU A MESSAGE OF RECOGNITION FROM THE MEMBERS of my organisation.

I was kept at three different inhuman detention facilities for a period of forty-one days.000 GB pounds) and that I paid them only 200. It will interest you to note that when the DSS paraded their suspects before the media and the public. and a close family friend. an NGO based in Benin City. On our way to the prison and even at the prison. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the Inspector General of Police to commence an investigation into those behind the killing of Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde. transparent and accountable use of oil resources and a better deal for our kinsmen in the oil-rich Niger Delta. We started crying and later returned back to Oliatan’s house to pick up his family and bring them to my house for safety. the purported accuser and two others. Danjuma Musa and Muritala Usman confessed to me that they were tortured by the Nigerian police officers to deliberately implicate and point at me. Edo State. in favour of credible elections that are inclusive of all stakeholders. I was arrested by the Nigerian police. I went to the house which was about five minutes drive from my own and saw him in a pool of blood after several gunshots from unknown gunmen. During my detention I was kept in a police prison without a toilet and I had to defecate and urinate in a bucket all day and in the process I contracted skin diseases. also brought me to my office in handcuffs and to my house. That drama changed the whole story around my frame up by the Nigerian police. Garba Maisamari. paraded six suspects who were different to the four suspects presented by the police. These three men were shot by the police. A few days later. Danjuma Musa has difficulty in passing urine as a result of the police torture. It was on the strength of this trumped up allegation that I was arrested and detained under gruelling conditions. Unfortunately. IN FAVOUR OF CREDIBLE ELECTIONS THAT ARE INCLUSIVE OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . as there was no evidence linking me to the crime outside Maisamari’s accusations. In November 2012 I was discharged and acquitted by the Magistrates Court following the advice of the Ministry of Justice / Department of Public Prosecution (DPP). Comrade Oliatan Oyerinde. I was framed by the Nigerian police for being the mastermind behind the assassination of Oyerinde. Comrade Oliatan Oyerinde was a senior staff member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) before he joined the Government of Edo State and we had a very good relationship. while a spoke was poked into Danjuma Musa’s penis in a desperate bid to implicate me. Following pressure from the Edo State Government. on 31 August 2012 the presiding Magistrate remanded all the suspects including me at Oko Prison in the State capital. I WAS JUST BEING PERSECUTED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA FOLLOWING MY DOGGED CAMPAIGNS AGAINST CORRUPTION IN THE OIL AND GAS SECTOR. On 4 May 2012. they were specifically asked if they had any knowledge of David Ugolor and they all responded negatively. Before then the police had photographed me. I was the first family friend to be contacted by his wife. Nigeria. holding staff and visitors hostage for more than three hours. When I and nine other suspects were eventually charged to a Magistrates’ Court in Benin City. I was just being persecuted by the Federal Government of Nigeria following my dogged campaigns against corruption in the oil and gas sector. DAVID UGOLOR “ 12 Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice NIGERIA I AM REVEREND DAVID UGOLOR. claiming that one of the suspects in their custody. They told me that my photograph was brought to them to study two weeks before I was arrested. accused of being the mastermind behind the assassination of my friend. The police officers who had invited me to the state police command. Edo State. Today. I had to resort to another court process to secure my release from prison custody and I was granted bail by a High Court in Benin City. The police investigation team was led by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG).000 Naira (800 GB pounds). and we drove to the Government Central Hospital. still in prison. 27 July to 11 September 2012. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ). the Department of State Security Service (DSS) of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Comrade Adams Oshohmole. before the doctor and nurses on duty could respond he passed away. I carried him into my Hilux pick-up truck. which of course he has since recounted. who gave graphic details of how they had plotted and hatched the killing of Comrade Oliatan Oyerinde. when he was assassinated. The police asked me in for interrogation and on 27 July 2012 a team of heavily armed police invaded the premises of the international secretariat of ANEEJ. Garuba Masamari alleged that one David had promised his gang of four a total of 20 million Naira (80.REV. with the assistance of his wife. On 27 July 2012. Immediately. who until his untimely death was the private principal secretary to the Edo State Governor. in clear disobedience of a ruling of the court of competent jurisdiction which ordered my immediate and unconditional release. for better.

Multiple meetings were held and participants discussed the progress made with regard to the recommendations. This occurred despite the existence of evidence to the contrary. The meeting had been organised subsequent to LIPRODHOR’s withdrawal from the Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits Humains (CLADHO) (Umbrella Association for Human Rights Organisations). Only three organisations were in agreement with the recommendations. rather than strengthening them. notably the invitation letters issued to the organisations. whose results were accepted by the Rwanda Governance Board. It was then turned into a General Assembly meeting. after two years and during a General Assembly it must elect a new Board of Directors. At the end of the meeting. rather than receiving invitations. a number of participants left the meeting on the grounds that they had been told the session would be a Consultation Meeting. According to its statutes. Invited organisations nominated agents or members to represent them in this capacity. while the others came together to counter them. a Rwandan NGO aimed at defending the rights of women and children. insofar as some participants claimed not to have taken part in the work or not to have sent representative members or agents. which had occurred because CLADHO had been creating conflict among its members. At that point. whose two-year mandate may then be renewed once. it held what was called a “Consultation Meeting”. Others remained in the room and elected the new Board. during which participants were asked to dismiss the current Board of Directors and elect a new one. Interestingly. In July 2013. This withdrawal had not pleased CLADHO and LIPRODHOR eventually rejoined the Association. ELISABETH MUKAJAMBO “ THE FRAGILITY AND FEAR OF RWANDAN CIVIL SOCIETY IS REFLECTED IN WHAT HAPPENED AROUND THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF RWANDA IN SEPTEMBER 2010 DUBLIN CASTLE. receipts signed by the participants when they had received their travel expenses and confirmation by the venue where the meetings were held. they agreed upon recommendations to be submitted to the government so that they could be taken into consideration. OCTOBER 2013 13 . Other organisations said that they had participated but that they did not agree with the recommendations. rather than a General Assembly. the attendance lists. despite the fact that the meeting had been held in violation of the LIPRODHOR statutes. saying that they had not participated in the work. The fragility and fear of Rwandan civil society is reflected in what happened around the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda in September 2010. Certain organisation representatives went on national radio saying that legal action should be taken against LDGL. The meeting was chaired by the former President of LIPRODHOR. there were disagreements among the participants when the recommendations were issued. (Ligue des Droits de la Personne dans la Région des Grandes Lacs) (LDGL) The League for the Defence of Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region member organisations were invited by the League to participate in a meeting to analyse the implementation of the recommendations that had been submitted to Rwanda during the Universal Periodic Review.Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights RWANDA LA LIGUE RWANDAISE POUR LA PROMOTION ET LA DÉFENSE des Droits de l’Homme (Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights) (LIPRODHOR) experienced some difficulties in July 2013. who had already completed his mandate. Not all the members of LIPRODHOR were invited to participate and those who were invited were contacted by telephone. Among the most insistent were the Executive Secretary of CLADHO and the Executive Secretary of HAGURUKA.

We are also developing programmes to promote respect for the right to education. I have just come from a congress which confirmed that the African trade union movement is rooted in the patriarchal system and cares little about the rights of women. sharing and learning. The quality of the dialogue lived up to my expectations and the variety of testimonies at times brought me to tears. we do advocacy work to promote respect for people’s rights in general and trade union rights in particular. This Platform for human rights defenders has encouraged me to pursue the struggle. And I was particularly impressed by the professionalism and thoroughness of the logistical organisation. I’D LIKE TO THANK FRONT LINE DEFENDERS AND I TRUST THAT WE WILL CONTINUE THIS COLLABORATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . Our organisation. I’d like to thank Front Line Defenders and I trust that we will continue this collaboration for the promotion of human rights around the world. We organised the first African Congress on Education for Peace and Human Rights in 1995.“ 14 Democratic Union of Teachers of Senegal SENEGAL AS A FEMALE TRADE UNIONIST AND DEFENDER OF THE RIGHTS of women and children. is a member of the International Association of Educators for World Peace. AWA WADE THIS PLATFORM HAS ENCOURAGED ME TO PURSUE THE STRUGGLE. in particular for girls living in rural areas. Along with other Senegalese organisations. it has been a real space for exchange. the Union Démocratique des enseignantes et enseignants du Sénégal (Democratic Union of Teachers of Senegal) (UDEN). I was honoured and pleased to take part in the Seventh Dublin Platform. For me.

ABDIAZIZ IBRAHIM MY NAME IS ABDIAZIZ IBRAHIM. detained and wrongfully sentenced after I interviewed a victim of rape by government forces. primarily in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and later in Mogadishu Central Prison simply for doing my work and for having interviewed a woman who had been raped. Given that I have been working as a journalist in Somalia in some of the worst years of our country’s conflict. Also. It is often difficult to know which side of the conflict the attack might come from. They searched both places and then kept me in a cell at the criminal investigation facility for 17 days. several members of the police and judiciary lost their positions in part as a result of my case and I am likely to be an easy target for them. He asked me for my name and he told me he knew me and that he wanted to see me. I was arbitrarily arrested. I was very worried during my imprisonment. reporting and documentation. I interviewed the woman two days before my arrest and she gave me details about her abuse. This year. and just how many injustices ordinary Somalis are suffering at the hands of the authorities. We request that you carry out investigations to make sure that the lives of journalists and other human rights defenders are protected and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.. THEY WERE KILLED IN A SUICIDE ATTACK ON 14 APRIL 2013 DUBLIN CASTLE. as they carried out further investigations. I have had many experiences in both my professional and personal life which have affected me. “ Journalist SOMALIA I HAD TWO VERY GOOD LAWYERS. I had two very good lawyers – human rights lawyers who were well respected in Mogadishu. UNFORTUNATELY. including government soldiers and fighters from the Islamist group AlShabaab. as I sat in very horrible conditions in a cell with over 45 others. or anything. My case received a lot of attention both in Somalia and internationally and it created a lot of negative attention for the government. one of the experiences which has affected me the most is a recent one. Guys from AlShabaab would come up to me and tell me things that weren’t good for me to hear. There was no official letter. journalists. My experience made me realise just how weak and corrupt the Somali police and Somali justice system are. He showed me a report published on Al Jazeera website and asked me if I’d written the article. that it was propaganda and that they were going to search my home and my office. It was crowded and I could not sleep. One of them told me.. During this time police and intelligence officials did not allow my lawyers. lawyers. Human rights defenders. whether from the government or from the militias. family members or journalists to visit me. and I have lost many colleagues along the way. religious leaders and whoever has the courage to speak out and defend the rights of others. During my detention I received threats from the security services. I AM A FREELANCE JOURNALIST. journalists and activists in Somali regions continue to expose human rights violations through investigation. At least four journalists and a prominent human rights activist have been murdered since January of this year. Then they sent me to the central prison in Mogadishu. THEY THOUGHT ABOUT JOURNALISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS AND HOW TO DEFEND THOSE RIGHTS. While on a personal level this was an incredibly challenging experience. I speak on behalf of Somali human rights defenders and journalists. OCTOBER 2013 15 . We appealed and it was reduced to six months. in January 2013. For two months I was in detention. I told him I hadn’t but he didn’t believe me. professionally it made me further committed to making sure that the voices of those abused by the government would be heard. The people recently killed include prominent human rights activists. Unfortunately. They thought about journalism and human rights and how to defend those rights. they were killed in a suicide attack on 14 April 2013. Threats against journalists and other human rights defenders in Somalia are an everyday reality. I had been sentenced to a year in jail. I was found not guilty and I was released. The head of the Somali Criminal Investigations Department called me on the mobile phone of the victim. I went to his office and after a couple of minutes he told me I was under arrest. This whole experience was incredibly stressful and a strain both on my health and my psychological state of mind. and there were four officials from CID who told me they would not let me get away with all the negative attention my case was creating even when I was released. “If I was out of this prison then I would never let you live in this world”. Then we appealed again. This case has created longer security concerns for me. They told me that I’d made the article up for Al Jazeera.

He received support from Front Line Defenders and other organisations. Alshabaab tortured and beheaded the two men who were supposed to be watching him. He was attacked at his house. on 21 July 2013. Once I was feeling in good health. has seen violence. Personally I have faced risks at different times as a result of my work. In theory there is law and a constitution in Somalia. and we pray to Allah to protect him and get his freedom back. I narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when unknown men with pistols attacked me and shot me in the neck while I was heading to the office. and the situation we are in is risky at all times. and he is still in the hands of Alshabaab. Somalia. I’m the Director of the Iniskoy for Peace Organisation. in the middle of the night. Alshabaab have burned all of the humanitarian and human rights organisation in the areas where they were operating. During this time they tortured him badly and accused him of being a spy. including from his wife. wounded. Once I came Mogadishu. Recently. Amongst the Alshabaab these organisations are called spies. and they also had to leave the country. and some of them have been killed. In 2009. The opportunity to escape presented itself that day and with the help of our chairperson and other people. In 2010. and he was jailed for more than seven months. They took my mobile and my laptop. His life is in danger. Others have fled the country because of this great insecurity and remain outside as refugees and asylum seekers. In 2010. Never stop working on human rights issues in Somalia! FORTUNATELY I SURVIVED THE ATTACK. kidnapped. ONCE I WAS FEELING IN GOOD HEALTH. and human rights defenders have been sucked into this mess. BUT I COULD NOT STOP MY INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES. never stopping it. I continued my work. I took up my human rights work again. Sadly. I TOOK UP MY HUMAN RIGHTS WORK AGAIN SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . in all places in the country. Since 1991. extremism. There is a negotiation taking place between the Alshabaab and his clan. They have refused him all visitation rights. Being a human rights defender in Somalia is a difficult task. I was forced to relocate from Baido to Mogadishu when the threats to my own security continued to grow. he managed to escape. and the people who helped him in his escape were also at risk for their lives. and relocated in Uganda. children and parents. But I could not stop my involvement in human rights issues.MOHAMED SHEIKH MOHAMED “ 16 Iniskoy for Peace SOMALIA MY NAME IS MOHAMED SHEIKH MOHAMED FROM SOMALIA. many human rights defenders have faced problems. Alshabaab arrested one of my colleagues after they attacked his house. a country torn by civil war since 1991. insecurity and a failed government for decades. I WAS HOSPITALISED FOR TWO MONTHS. and Alshabaab allowed him to go to bury his son with two Alshabaab watching over him. and I was hospitalised for two months. one of our human rights monitors was arrested by Alshabaab. Fortunately I survived the attack. but in reality it is not implemented. one day his son died. arrested and tortured.

Chairman of the Tanzania Editorial Forum. by the name of Mr. not a single journalist in Iringa. They lopped off the top of his right ring finger. I have been involved in the welfare of patients and doctors since 2005. The current draconian laws give the power to the Minister responsible for information to ban a newspaper or any media outlet at his discretion. assailants carried out a horrific attack. To date. the State has not opened charges or disciplinary action against the six other officers of whom video and photographs taken at the seen of the crime illustrate that they were involved in the incident. call on the international community to support the movement in fighting impunity by reminding the Government of Tanzania to achieve justice for victims. and this can be exemplified by a string of recent incidents. Daudi Mwangosi was killed by a police officer who fired a tear gas canister at him at close range. As the chairman of the Doctors Community and a member of Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition. pierced his left eye and pried out several teeth and fingernails. The government has never allowed free reporting of my abduction. I call upon this Platform to remind the Government of Tanzania of its commitment to international human rights laws in guaranteeing good governance and to repeal or amend all oppressive laws which curtail the freedom of the media. in order to off-set the public outcry. OCTOBER 2013 17 . I. Three months later. My colleague in the meeting has never been subjected to any inquiry. I was abducted on 27 June 2012 from a meeting set by the State house representative to discuss the way forward on patients and doctors welfare. there has never been an inquiry regarding the abduction. severe torture and my final dumping in the forest. The Government official employee. Absalom Kibanda. Since then. STEPHEN ULIMBOKA “ I CALL ON THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT THE MOVEMENT IN FIGHTING IMPUNITY BY REMINDING THE GOVERNMENT OF TANZANIA TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS DUBLIN CASTLE. Michael Kamuhanda who was Regional Police Commander at the time. has never denied that he had no hand in the abduction. beating and torturing Mr. including the journalist who took many photographs at the time of Mwangosi killing. Furthermore. Trends and evidence would appear to indicate that it is deliberately being delayed. a TV cameraman working for an independent channel. until now. have been suspended for fourteen days and ninety days respectively. to prosecute. one year after the killing. The law empowers the Minister to act as chief editor. banning indefinitely a weekly newspaper called Mwanahalisi which attempted to report the incident and the government has still up to the time of writing allowed an independent body/committee to investigate the incident. neither was he subjected to any inquiry ever since. Ramadhani Ighondu. In addition. To date. no one has been arraigned and no serious investigations have taken place. daily Kiswahili newspapers Mwananchi and Mtanzania. Authorities filed murder charges against the police but the case is still pending. Mr. judge and execute the sentence. in September 2012.Doctors Community & Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition TANZANIA THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN TANZANIA IS appalling. has been promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Police. has been called for interrogation by police officers who are handling the investigation and prosecution process. together with the Coalition of Human Right Defenders in Tanzania. on 5 March 2013. Furthermore. Six months later. Worse still. This is contrary to the rule of natural justice and the Tanzania Constitution.

their leader ordered that I should be arrested and his officer handcuffed me and dragged me to the police station. AFTER PRESIDENT ROBERT MUGABE. We went into hiding for some weeks in fear for our lives and had it not been for the support of Front Line Defenders only God knows where we would be today. besieged the gathering and disrupted the meeting. Here I am leading a civic group named the Zimbabwe Organization For The Youth In Politics (ZOYP) as the Director. a human rights defender based in the small mining town of Kwekwe in the Republic of Zimbabwe. Kwekwe is a known hot spot for political violence and gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe and those trying to defend human rights (like me) are branded as threats to the state. A group of thugs. WHO HAD BEEN JAILED BY THE COLONIAL ADMINISTRATION SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . I. On the day of the event I received a call from the police informing me that they had banned the meeting from taking place and I told them that the meeting was already in progress and I needed a clear reason why the police thought of banning such a peaceful gathering. after a year of being traumatised by being called to the court regularly. The purpose of the meeting was to call for peace and respect of human rights. who had been jailed by the colonial administration for contravening the same law prior to 1980. They surrounded us and started to disperse the gathering. Then in January 2013. Later on I was told that I was being charged with contravening section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act: convening an illegal political gathering that is of threat to national security. After a few minutes I saw anti-riot police arriving. I became the second person in the history of Zimbabwe to be convicted under this dubious law. The case took about 11 months on trial as the state was failing to prove its case. allegedly from the state-sponsored terror groups. not only in Kwekwe but Zimbabwe as a whole. Death threats were made against me and my colleague Jasper Maposa who is Programmes Manager at our organisation. After the civil society made noise condemning my arrest. I was later released after paying a fine of 500 US dollars. Then in October 2012. after President Robert Mugabe. I notified the police about this gathering as is required by our law in Zimbabwe (Public Order and Security Act known as POSA).“ 18 Zimbabwe Organization For The Youth In Politics ZIMBABWE NKOSILATHI EMMANUEL MOYO MY NAME IS NKOSILATHI EMMANUEL MOYO (26). I organised another meeting for human rights defenders in Mbizo community. I BECAME THE SECOND PERSON IN THE HISTORY OF ZIMBABWE TO BE CONVICTED UNDER THIS DUBIOUS LAW. on behalf of our organisation and human rights defenders in Kwekwe will remain indebted to Front Line Defenders. Upon my arrival at the police station I was thrown behind bars whilst they were trumping up a charge against me. It was on the 16 November 2011 that I organised a peace meeting at Kwekwe Theatre Hall in my community. The following morning I was taken to court where I was released on bail of 100 US dollars.

peace and love all over the world. in the province of Formosa. of the country or of justice. We are truly worried by the lack of recognition for the territory that is the essence of our life. a contaminated world. And we are like spectators watching the extraction of our natural resources and we continue. We respect and will continue to respect each institution that joins and works with our people. who protects us in every moment and throughout the history of humanity. without hope. LAND OR NATURAL RESOURCES DUBLIN CASTLE. healthcare. We should be treated as no different to the rest of the population. we want them to recognise our rights. because they are in private hands or in protected areas. We hope that during this time we are given to live. THE INHERITANCE WE ARE LEAVING FOR OUR FUTURE. freedom. We indigenous peoples have the right not to suffer more discrimination. the inheritance we are leaving for our future. A CONTAMINATED WORLD. which we. What is happening all over the world is very worrying. We do not want them to see us as enemies of democracy. WATER. which have always been vulnerable. For us. to struggle against the lack of water. To be able to carry our message and our voice to this region and to put forward our complaints regarding the lack of guarantees for our human rights. For this reason we give our life. OCTOBER 2013 19 . We want to be part of this country. I am very happy to be able to be here to attend an event which is so important for us as indigenous peoples of Argentina. but with the freedom we deserve before the State. hunting. because we are the victims of persecution. because we want life to reproduce and we want to have the freedom we are due. due to the lack of political will to guarantee our human rights. the territory is like life itself because it is where our natural resources are. our mother earth. land or natural resources. because what we want is to have justice. we will see an opening of a dialogue that must be started with the rulers of each country. water. the indigenous peoples. through gathering. fishing and spirituality.The Qom Potae Napocna Navogoh Community ARGENTINA MY NAME IS FÉLIX DÍAZ AND I AM THE LEADER OF THE QOM Potae Napocna Navogoh community. as the Argentine State recognises the pre-existence of indigenous Argentine peoples. and we are very keen to be part of a collective construction so that we can defend our human rights. in the Argentine Republic. education. We are truly worried by what is happening to the indigenous peoples living in each province of Argentina. despite the existence of many constitutional rights which were established to guarantee our existence. FÉLIX DÍAZ “ WHAT IS HAPPENING ALL OVER THE WORLD IS VERY WORRYING. etc. are being deprived of. like beggars. such as national parks. It gives us the opportunity to develop our culture and survival. WITHOUT HOPE.

teachers. He is being unfairly prosecuted and 22 charges have been laid against him. drug traffickers and organised crime. but there are many more problems. I work for the Brazilian Police Force. live in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and are poor. cattle. THE BRAZILIAN PEOPLE WENT OUT ONTO THE STREETS TO PROTEST AGAINST ENDEMIC CORRUPTION.000 such communities in Brazil. black. Fernando Perissê. I am here to call for the demilitarisation of the police force in Brazil. BETWEEN JUNE AND SEPTEMBER THIS YEAR. He needs Front Line Defenders. are subjected to constant death threats and can only go out with a police escort. a territory and a social class. who campaigns against state violence in the prisons of Paraiba. The UN has already made this recommendation to the Brazilian Government. The police force is discriminatory. there were 171 complaints against police officers in the last five years. The lack of quality education leads to more poverty and violence. others who claim ownership of the land with false title deeds. The police acted with violence against the demonstrators. violent and inefficient. This is a high number. The quilombola communities are the descendants of slaves in the colonial period. There is no secure water supply. Paraiba. young people and workers. There is a devastating drought in the semi-arid interior of the north east. kills and tortures poor people. the Brazilian people went out onto the streets to protest against endemic corruption. human rights defenders. THE POLICE ACTED WITH VIOLENCE AGAINST THE DEMONSTRATORS SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . He needs us. but only 170 have land rights. The people should be the police and the police should be the people! I am here to denounce that there is no security at all and no supply of drinking water in some regions of Brazil. The indigenous peoples of Brazil suffer at the hands of the farm owners. There is a lack of basic sanitation and this spreads disease among the population. and our colleague Valdenia Paulino. a colour. militarised. including the priest and federal deputy. but the government continues to ignore the situation. Organised crime. from the town of Sousa. corrupt. He campaigns for human rights so why does the state persecute him? In the state where I live. The current system frequently punishes. because he does not have the money to pay for a lawyer. Our colleague Guiany. I am here to denounce the situation in Brazil. I am grateful to all of you. are being wiped out and women’s rights are violated. In Paraiba. death squads and people who cannot tolerate human rights have threatened to kill them. My people. the Machacadias. It does not generally investigate or resolve homicides and all the other violence that takes place.“ 20 Police Force BRAZIL ASTRONADC PEREIRA MY NAME IS ASTRONADC PEREIRA. Between June and September this year. Violence in my country has a name. People are afraid to make an official complaint. In this region. Luiz Couto. There are 500. I am a psychologist and a member of the Human Rights Council of my state. sugar-cane and soya have more rights than indigenous children because sugar-cane and soya are produced by big companies. The Brazilian police acts with extreme brutality. Another colleague. I am here to ask for the international community’s help to put pressure on the Brazilian Government to demilitarise its police force and to carry out a thorough reform of the country’s criminal justice system. Victims of violence are generally young. that is democratic and that protects our people. reactionary. is being tried on trumped-up charges. We want a democratic and fair justice system and a police force that is not corrupt or violent. The indigenous peoples of Minas Gerais. my home and my family welcome you with open arms. There is a lot of violence in Mato Grosso do Sul and the government is against the indigenous peoples. campaigns against corruption.

The Privacy Commissioner has recently launched an investigation into numerous reports that government scientists are being muzzled and that Indigenous peoples organisations in Canada have repeatedly cited examples of government spying on participants of peaceful protests. This has been going on for decades and. including children. Equally disturbing. As one official testified at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Many people come to Canada to flee oppression by their own governments but Canada is increasingly becoming a place where you are only free if you agree with the government. The government documents suggest that the online spying activity is systematic as there are forms for government officials to fill out to access the personal social media pages of any citizen. A month later both organisations experienced government funding cuts and two years later hundreds of pages of government records would show that the Canadian government had been systematically monitoring my personal Facebook page. recording what I said at gatherings and meetings and obstructing my ability to support First Nations organisations advocating for equitable funding for their children. “ THE EQUALITY OF FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN AND OUR COLLECTIVE FREEDOM DEPEND ON COURAGEOUS PUBLIC DISSENT AND PEACEFUL ACTION WHEN OUR GOVERNMENT ENGAGES IN DISCRIMINATORY BEHAVIOUR DUBLIN CASTLE. there are widespread reports that the Canadian government has an official “enemies list” which includes environmental organisations standing up against the government’s resource development agenda. In 2007. the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society). The Privacy Commissioner found Canada’s access to my personal Facebook page and the collection of postings made by me and by others. Government documents say they are undertaking these antidemocratic tactics to try to find “other motives” for the child welfare case. filed a human rights complaint against the Canadian Government alleging that its lesser provision of First Nations child welfare services was discriminatory. The equality of First Nations children and our collective freedom depend on courageous public dissent and peaceful action when our government engages in discriminatory and oppressive behaviour. despite available solutions and the wealth of the country.First Nations Child and Family Caring Society CANADA FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN ON RESERVES GET FEWER PUBLIC services than all other Canadian children. there is no real promise of equality on the horizon. I will not be silenced. to be a violation of Canadian privacy law and yet there is still no guarantee that the Canadian Government has stopped.2 billion users in the world. OCTOBER 2013 21 . the Assembly of First Nations and the organisation I work for. CINDY BLACKSTOCK Although deeply disturbed and sometimes afraid of the Canadian Government. Moreover. once on Facebook a government employee is free to harvest information from any of the 1. testimony by government officials at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal indicates that there are no effective measures to monitor government officials once they gain access to these personal media sites.

MY MOTHER RECEIVED A CALL DURING WHICH SHE WAS TOLD THAT THEY WERE POINTING A GUN AT MY HEAD. Solange Manuela. who during her life suffered many attacks by the government and forces of power in the country. In July 2012. she received a call during which she was told that they were pointing a gun at my head. I. In April 2013 I was interviewed by the national newspaper Listín Diario. I was detained together with another female companion at the Junta Central y Electoral (Central Electoral Board). THAT THEY KNEW THE LOCATION OF THE SCHOOL MY SIBLINGS WERE AT. A soldier without identification took us to a room where there were three men. and who began to ask us questions about our work. am the eldest. who never identified themselves. without any explanation. These attacks carried on against her children. became involved in the work of the Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico Haitianas (Dominican Haitian Women’s Movement) in defence of young Dominicans of Haitian descent in the country. As a result I have also suffered from the threats and rights violations that this work carries in the Dominican Republic. human rights defenders in the Dominican Republic have suffered discrimination and various attacks from sectors known as Nacionalistas or defenders of the homeland. We explained who we were and we asked them to identify themselves. In 2008. For years. the comments were very aggressive and threatening. where I spoke about the situation of Dominicans of Haitian descent. which they never did.“ 22 Dominican Haitian Womenʼs Movement DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SOLANGE MANUELA DANDRE PIE BEING A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER IN THE DOMINICAN Republic is almost like being part of a genocide. as her daughter. when my mother was still alive. AND THAT THEY WOULD KIDNAP. which caused uproar in the country. of which I. They made it very clear to me that they knew who I was and that they knew how we work and that they had orders from their superiors to investigate us. Defenders such as Solain Pie (Sonia Pierre). RAPE AND KILL US SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . From the prominent work of my mother in the defence of the rights of migrants and their descendants in the Dominican Republic. through my work. The title of the interview was “El Relevo de Sonia Pierre” (The Work of Sonia Pierre). the prominent human rights activist in the Dominican Republic. they would rape us and then they would kill us. and even more so when you defend the rights of Haitian nationals and their descendants in the country. that they knew the location of the school my siblings were at and that they would kidnap us.

On 24 August 2010. pushing. in an effort to prevent my capture. the criminal court. . THE HARMONY OF THE COMMUNITY IN THE VILLAGES of the lower part of Kimsakocha was abruptly interrupted by the presence of foreign miners that were after gold. two years later. there were conflicts between extractivists and communities. FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE MINING LAW. dragging and torturing me. which was approved in the first debate and which contains new criminal offences and the increase and accumulation of sentences. confirmed our innocence. reduced the sentence to eight days. more than 30 special operations police agents (GOE) detained me. the “leader of the resistance”. with this the rights to resistance. DRAGGING AND TORTURING ME DUBLIN CASTLE. the police chief archived the case.Our records are stained. the first Court of Criminal Guarantees of Azuay. On 4 May 2010. interests and rights – some relating to the gold. On 8 January 2009. were also assaulted with gas and were hit by the police. we paid the penalty in the prison of Cuenca. My sentence was only the beginning of the sentences brought against more than two hundred people criminalised for social protest.The submission of the people to the ruler may come to be total and absolute. The effects of the sentence are manifold: . assault of police officers and destruction of public property. The indigenous resistance consolidated. From then on. We appealed and on 14 August 2012 the national court convicted us as defenders of water. like criminals. without a warrant.President Correa sent a new comprehensive criminal code to the national assembly. PUSHING. . others relating to the water. The Public Prosecutor’s Office appealed the ruling and the Provincial Court sentenced us to one year in prison but.I could not practice law for the duration of the sentence and I am stigmatised as a lawyer with a criminal record.In Ecuador people are afraid of resisting for fear of criminalisation.CARLOS PÉREZ GUARTAMBEL IN 2002. . which. along with other related human and collective rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Ecuador and international instruments. Kimsakocha is located 20 km from the city of Cuenca (Ecuador’s third city). OCTOBER 2013 23 . Then I pursued a lawsuit against the State in the Administrative Court. The following is noted in the police report as the cause of the detention. stopping and hindering public services”. . which declined jurisdiction and sent it to the police jurisdiction. MORE THAN 30 SPECIAL OPERATIONS POLICE AGENTS (GOE) DETAINED ME WITHOUT A WARRANT.The legal precedent is harmful for the indigenous movement and the Ecuadorian population. despite strong political pressure. they detained me together with two companions during a peaceful protest. then the persecution of the leaders began. We did not accept it. thereby allowing impunity. . “ Confederation of Kichwa People ECUADOR ON 8 JANUARY 2009. ordered the case to be archived. on 21 March 2013. thereby proving the criminalisation of social protest in Ecuador. for protesting against the mining law. “sedition. where the sources of two of the four rivers are located and where the water is used for domestic use and food sovereignty. since it was “a social and altruistic struggle in the defence of water”. Finally. That afternoon. disturbance of public order. I filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office. accepting the accusation of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. civil disobedience and legitimate self-defence disappear. The case is now with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). despite the fact that there was sufficient evidence provided. My companions. ordered my preventive detention for the crime of sabotage and terrorism affecting public services.

it happens to all of us. from an Ombudsman in my country. The former Human Rights Ombudsman came to visit me in hospital at the time of the attack and asked me if I thought it was worth it to take such huge risks. Although the President invited us. Personally I have had to survive an armed attack something which has marked me forever. When you realise the monster you are facing. only biting barefoot people. Last week in Barillas in Huehuetenango. for most human rights defenders in Guatemala. the President sent in the police and the army to suppress us. imprisonment. we also have to confront the justice system because we are accused of being terrorists. Unfortunately. AND WE WALK WITH THE BAREFOOT PEOPLE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . This project is being organised by companies from Canada and the United States who have arrived in our community to impose this project on us without any consultation whatsoever. There are many good people in Guatemala but there aren't many of us who raise our voices and speak out. I am the mother of two small children and the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with is the trauma caused to my children by knowing that someone had tried to kill their mother. They accuse us of anything they can think of.. There are many children in Guatemala who have already lost their parents. very close to my spine. and the government and the authorities who are responsible for the well being of all Guatemalans forever ruling in favour of the multinationals. It's very difficult because we are being invaded and they are taking away our space and our right to live with dignity. It was hard for me to hear that from a human rights defender. to meet him personally to begin a dialogue. persecution is silencing us. I believe that we have an obligation as human beings not to let this happen and to say “enough” to these human rights violations. Guatemala is known internationally for this tragedy. because we know what will happen to us. one of which is for kidnapping which carries only one penalty. It is driven by their desperation and their anguish at demands to be heard falling on deaf ears. to learn more about us and to be able to attack us further. ONLY BITING BAREFOOT PEOPLE. the members of the La Puya protest. Because of that attack I still have a bullet lodged in my body.. IN OUR COUNTRY THE LAW IS NOT RESPECTED. I said that I do it for my children. I believe that the only way we can overcome the atrocities that are inflicted upon us is by uniting our struggles and by feeling that if something happens to one of us. THE LAW IS LIKE A SNAKE. The greatest fear for me and. We know that this is part of the strategy to wear us down. A recent phenomenon has been the launching of a campaign of criminalisation against human rights defenders. in our country the law is not respected. Our rights have been completely violated even though our resistance is completely peaceful. my greatest fear is that they will kidnap my children.YOLANDA OQUELI “ 24 The Northern Metropolitan Front and the Peaceful Resistance “La Puya” GUATEMALA MY NAME IS YOLANDA OQUELI AND I COME FROM FROM Guatemala where it is extremely difficult to be a human rights defender. We don't believe in violence but we do believe in our right to keep speaking out to defend our rights based on the law. I believe that being here today is a great opportunity for us all as human rights defenders to be able to build connections beyond our countries and our individual spaces. I am in pain all the time but that pain serves to remind me that I have to continue the struggle. The law is like a snake. They accuse us of being communists. when you see the government and the multinationals against you. We are resisting a mining project organised by a multinational company operating in Guatemala. I don't blame the people who rise up like that. and we the community of human rights defenders walk with the barefoot people. a place that has also been peacefully resisting. It is not easy in my country to say that I am a human rights defender. We have no confidence in this dialogue.. But what he says is one thing. The only crime they committed was to raise their voices to demand justice. but is instead used to target human rights defenders. Personally I have three cases pending against me. it's very hard. Since they tried to kill me.. Apart from having to endure physical attacks that the government and multinationals carry out. In Guatemala we can no longer speak out. is thinking about our children. but without hesitation I told him yes. Still. and what he does is something else . BUT IS INSTEAD USED TO TARGET HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS. and I thank God that I am still alive. I want to tell you that the situation in Guatemala is getting worse every day. It's very hard when you know that the only thing facing you is death or prison.

. to decide on the future of our community. I am a pioneer of and have organised eight community consultations in good faith in our community. an employee and legal clerk for the mine made accusations of usurpations of functions and qualities. and I am President of the Community Development Council (COCODE) in my community. My name has appeared in at least five locations and mapping documents of the State of Guatemala. . On 28 May 2013 a manager of the mine presented at least four accusations against me which are under investigation in the public ministry. . “ I HAVE RECEIVED THREATS BY TELEPHONE. OSCAR MORALES I have been defamed publicly by local authorities. I studied and understood from the poorly prepared environmental impact assessments that the San Rafael mine was applying for an operation licence. to be informed. stating that I receive fees from abroad to oppose the mining project. On the second attempt for neighbourhood consultation I took on the role of Vice-President of the specific council for neighbourhood consultation. They all requested to join the specific committee of neighbourhood consultation. I took on the role of a human rights defender. I started to express my idea of carrying out a neighbourhood consultation to give our people the right to express an opinion for or against this mining project. They argued that as I was publicly opposed to the mine and that the San Rafael Las Flores company referred to them as ‘miners’. Three years ago I joined the Comité en Defensa de la Vida y por la Paz (Committee in Defense of Life and for Peace) to join the people in peaceful resistance to chemical metal mining (the Escobal mining project of Tahoe Resources and Goldcorp). it bothered them and disrupted their family life. This is because our rights to decide. This is currently happening. which intends to open another mine in our territory. bribery. to access to water and to live a normal life in a safe environment were about to be violated.I have received threats by telephone. Karen Elizabeth Coordon. I have opposed the mining licence of the San Rafael mining project. I am currently drafting a monograph about the extraction industry and chemical metal mining in San Rafael Las Flores at the request of the Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala (Office of Human Rights of the Archbishop of Guatemala (ODHAG). coercion and counterfeiting of material before the public prosecutor. Mr Rolando de Jesus Valdez issued an injunction against me claiming that I had been expelled from the specific council for neighbourhood consultation. . On 2 May 2013 my house was raided by order of a competent judge.In June 2012. stating that I do not belong to the civil society of San Rafael Las Flores. So. TEXT MESSAGE AND ANONYMOUS THREATS WHERE I AM CLEARLY ASKED NOT TO OPPOSE THE MINING PROJECT DUBLIN CASTLE. Although there was no neighbourhood consultation. filed charges of femicide and acts of violence against women against me. I am the promoter and proposer of the neighbourhood consultation which has been denied to our people on two occasions. 98% of those in attendance have voted against chemical metal mining. studied it more in-depth and found a greater need to consult our people.Committee in Defense of Life and for Peace GUATEMALA I AM AN AGRONOMIST. I looked into mining. OCTOBER 2013 25 . which was not recognised and I have now made an appeal against the denial of opposition before the Ministry of Energy and Mines. I have also filed an injunction action against the Juan Bosco mining licence. This accusation is still pending and under investigation. They were looking for explosives from the San Rafael mining company in my home and I fled to a safe place for twenty-three days because the PNC authorities said that they had a warrant for my arrest. and students at the Silvermith’s School of the San Rafael mine. at least fifteen women working in the San Rafael mine. text message and anonymous threats where I am clearly asked not to oppose the mining project. This accusation is still pending. A PRODUCER OF COW’S MILK AND cheese.In April 2012. .On 5 August 2012.My telephone lines have been tapped without any order from a competent judge. This is where the vilification of my character began. in accordance with the law and ILO Convention 169. In addition. At the first meeting.

At that point I realised that I had to be involved in human rights activism to represent this population. thus we were placed before the court. violence and inhumane conditions particularly by our law enforcement officers (police). The criticisms levelled against me since 2009 have created in me the zest and zeal to fight on for a better society where all are respected.CANDACE MCEWAN “ 26 Guyana Trans United GUYANA BEING A MEMBER OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY AND WITH THE impediment of the laws against this community. THUS WE WERE PLACED BEFORE THE COURT. He did not say what “improper purposes” are. It was within that one year that my name was mentioned at Media Houses and in discussions elsewhere. Ian Chang. We had refused to pay any bribes to the law men. law enforcement officials and citizens got hold of the information that was discussed and disclosed in our court appearances. This matter has since been appealed. I often support the sex workers’ programmes. With the continuous experiences of harassment and imprisonment I decided in 2009 to become a human rights defender. We were fortunate to file a challenge against the Constitution of Guyana on the basis of striking down laws that prohibit men from wearing female attire. stop violence against women marches and campaigns for differently able persons. It was during a discussion while we were incarcerated that we recognised that our laws discriminated against us. She went on to say to us that we need Jesus Christ and in her final decision she placed on us a fine (90 US dollars each) after which we were released from confinement. Six other transwomen and I were imprisoned for a lengthy period of time. I have never stopped advocating for LGBTIQ rights and I have been involved with other organisations that have an interest in human rights. WE HAD REFUSED TO PAY ANY BRIBES. it must not be for an improper purpose. I look at some of the most marginalised people in my country and I will continue to work with them. we are often times faced with varying levels of harassment. Mr. The magistrate was not very helpful and in her judgement she alluded to us that we were men and should not be dressed in female attire. He promised that he could seek assistance in getting this matter addressed and he said that he would speak to a few Attorneys-at-Law in garnering their pro bono support to look at the situation. I will continue to work with and for these communities in making our livelihoods respected by all and so that others can be happy for us to be ourselves. This matter was heard before several Justices before it was placed before the Chief Justice. It took us one year to get the lawyers to put the matter together for us and to file at court. I met Joel Simpson sometime during that period and he was a human rights activist with Students against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). In a brief conversation with Joel I disclosed to him that there needed to be something we should do to repeal the laws that discriminate against Trans persons. THE MAGISTRATE WAS NOT VERY HELPFUL AND IN HER JUDGEMENT SHE ALLUDED THAT WE WERE MEN AND SHOULD NOT BE DRESSED IN FEMALE ATTIRE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . faith based organisations. Justice Chang ruled that while cross-dressing is not a criminal offence. I came in for a lot of criticism after the religious communities.

My situation is still a complicated one. I used to borrow my friends’ exercise books so I could copy their notes. they devoted themselves to selling fruit. Let’s go forward together… offer your hand and take mine. and safeguard our education.PATRICE FLORVILUS FIRSTLY I WOULD LIKE TO UNDERLINE THAT I AM FROM A peasant family. Upon finishing my studies I decided to become a lawyer and a social worker. I decided to devote all my time to helping vulnerable people. oppression knows no borders. and following this. who is illiterate gave birth to seven children. There. we spent several weeks in a cave and my parents went in search of refuge in another town. charges of arson and conspiracy were brought against me by the government prosecutor. but the people were not scared. “ Defenders of the Oppressed HAITI WE ARE CITIZENS OF THE WORLD. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights defenders will be contacted. I accompanied the farmers and taught them to read and write. At the age of fifteen I started philosophy classes and left my native town to live in Port-au-Prince. We need to make our struggle a global struggle until we reach victory. I have had to move. supporting them against eviction threats and arbitrary expulsions.. One of my lawyers is prohibited from leaving and is subject to a warrant of arrest. LET’S GO FORWARD TOGETHER… OFFER YOUR HAND AND TAKE MINE. After graduating. and I am still being threatened with arrest. but we are one people. OCTOBER 2013 27 . which is an extremely sensitive subject in Haiti. At 14. The legal experts are specialised in defending land and housing rights. AND LET’S CREATE TOMORROW’S WORLD. At this time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the organisations who have come out in solidarity with me. and not formally the case. but when they got to the 11th child. In 1987. they were also scared of being arrested themselves. I am still under the threat of arrest. It is in these circumstances. “A WORLD OF JUSTICE AND SOLIDARITY” DUBLIN CASTLE. Thousands of people demonstrated in front of the court. In August. in order to meet the needs of the family. although so far this is only verbally. the more energy they give me to continue in my struggle. We are of different races. They started decapitating them one by one. to be decapitated one after the other. Amnesty International was not scared. as he knew my father. and this same year my office launched a school for permanent training in human rights. bizarrely one of the criminals asked for me to be spared. I was miraculously saved from a massacre of children and parents who were defending their rights and access to land. I took the competitive exams for entering the State University in Port-au-Prince and I was admitted to the Faculty of Law. After the earthquake. and another is receiving death threats. that between April and now I have escaped at least seven attempts on my life and police surveillance operations attempting to assassinate me. My case is currently at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. My office also works with those who were internally displaced following the 2010 earthquake. The more they threaten. On the day I was supposed to appear in court. of which I am the third. and likewise our battle should stop at nothing… we are citizens of the world. change office and on occasions hide my face. farmers. I was summoned twice and did not attend. I also participated in setting up a community radio station which is still running today. They were with me. orchestrated by the Haitian bourgeoisie in my native province of Jean Rabel. we decided to expand our support to LGBTI people. Following that. Gonaïves. As a result. oppressed by the capitalist system. and let’s create tomorrow’s world. and when I returned from working. Front Line Defenders was not scared. but the people showed up for me. trade unionists and the women’s movements. Stand up for your rights… brothers and sisters.. I have been defending workers. I started to work with a group of farmers not far from Gonaïves. I decided to open an office called Défenseurs des Opprimées-Opprimés (Defenders of the Oppressed). Organisations from everywhere wrote to the government and to the President of the Republic. human rights defenders. My mother. defending the world’s oppressed. “a world of justice and solidarity”. I was one of 12 children who had been tied up with ropes. in one of the largest slums in the Caribbean. The government lawyer who had filed the complaint against me announced he would drop the charges. Since then.

“ 28 Journalist HONDURAS GILDA SILVESTRUCCI TO SPEAK ABOUT WHAT WE DO AS JOURNALISTS IN HONDURAS is to refer to the 29 deaths of reporters after the coup d’état in 2009. without any investigation. without explanation and with no-one in prison. I belong to the Lenca people who live their life fighting because they respect their ancestral rights and will not concede their land to the extractive industry. But there is no progress. the majority of whom are young people. In the month of August alone. but a few are keeping them prisoner. For this. More than one hundred rural farmers have died. Even less so for my colleagues who embarked on a struggle together with those individuals who have died or who were victims of violence and persecution. They blame drug trafficking. we were beaten and had tear gas fired at us by the military. where on average 21 people a day are murdered. The majority of us are women. The government argues that there are no deaths linked to the professional practice of journalism. and for the peace of a nation. and they invest millions of dollars in combating it. I am also one of thousands of rural farmers who are dying as a result of their fight against the power of the landowner who is protected by the army and the police. WHERE ON AVERAGE 21 PEOPLE A DAY ARE MURDERED. they threaten us and call us communists. I am one of the people who has to hide in their houses from very early in the day. However. where justice does not exist for the white collar murderers. And there is no war. 110 people under the age of 23 were murdered. because it is risky to go out into the streets both at night and during the day. This is what we. Violence continues to flourish in the streets. THE MAJORITY OF WHOM ARE YOUNG PEOPLE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . as independent journalists. Our people continue to be murdered. and in December 2011 when we were peacefully protesting outside a government building. it doesn’t matter that they call us that as we work with the truth. but to this day there is no proof related to those deaths. I am one of eight million Hondurans living in fear of the violence that has taken hold of my country. are denouncing and questioning on a daily basis. This is a country in which corruption has permeated all spheres of life. Neither has there been any clear investigation into the death threats that I received along with my three children. I AM ONE OF EIGHT MILLION HONDURANS LIVING IN FEAR OF THE VIOLENCE THAT HAS TAKEN HOLD OF MY COUNTRY. It is also a joy to share a brief testimony from a country in which the majority of people are noble and good. I am a member of a group of journalists who defend life and freedom of expression.

30am: Leaving the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) my son was stopped by two mobile patrol units. . without number plates. MI 52. my husband phoned me from the landline at our house and told me that he had gotten a call and that everything that was being discussed at the meeting was being passed on to him over the phone. They raided my house. Colombia. One of our coordinators informed us that he had received calls from my mobile number. They arrested him and seized his motorbike. MI 13.40pm: My son together with his wife and five year-old son were stopped by a mobile patrol unit with two police officers.May 2013: At Leo Valladares’ place. . Juárez. MI 118. The assembly was abruptly suspended and those attending were evacuated. 3. They did not identify themselves at any point nor were they carrying badges although they had the appearance of being police. . MI 12. Cáceres and the officer Martínez. They took his vehicle documentation and his licence from him and left without giving him an explanation. alongside it. I received a call on my mobile phone and passed the phone to Leo Valladares. parked opposite my house for 32 minutes. they responded “We give a f***” and continued to hit me. with four police officers inside. MI 46 and T 44. and took the two rear wheels. Pagoada and Cáceres. Immediately afterwards. . Those who were speaking mentioned military ranks and spoke of a kidnapping.was taking photos from one of the street corners of the house.April 2011. Her mobile phone was stolen. parked in the middle of the entrance gate to the office with an armed woman and a police officer inside.6 September 2013. in which he could hear the conversations we were having with diplomats and international organisations.00pm: An unmarked police patrol car. 11. . HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER. OCTOBER 2013 29 . . almost immediately. It was from my mobile number and the person calling her was a man.October 2012: I was arrested in Costa Rica and interrogated on the reason for my visit. I was arriving from a Latin America-level meeting on access to justice in Bogota. . heavily armed and with their badges covered with the exception of Pagoada.19 September 2011. He was detained for two hours.April 2013: I bought another phone and SIM card.8 August 2011. . Two were stationed across from the car parked in front of the office and the other two were a few steps ahead monitoring the office. eight mobile patrol units and two patrol cars appeared: MI 22. MI 142. . “Who the f*** are you?” and struck me with batons.30 pm: My eldest son was stopped by a mobile patrol unit. . my son.t-shirt. 12.31 May 2012: Four soldiers in uniform were keeping watch on our office.40pm: A double-cabin dark blue car with grey stripes and with no number plates followed my daughter for several minutes. 4.40pm: Three heavily-armed men arrived at my house in a double-cabin white car with tinted windows and no number plates. Then. . MI 96. jeans and trainers . In response they began throwing tear gas bombs and when I complained they said to me. “ ACI Participa HONDURAS WHEN I WAS IN A MEETING. 9.25 May 2011.8 December 2011.00am: There was a large Ford van at ACI Participa. HEDME CASTRO. The police and the army were attempting to enter the building in a violent manner. FREELY AND voluntarily give this testimony: .7 May 2012: My daughter received a call on her mobile phone. . without number plates but with police colours and a siren.HEDME CASTRO I.17 March 2011: Brutal police repression towards protesters. MI 169. as a result of which I asked them if they would allow people to be evacuated.22 May 2012: From opposite the ACI Participa office. .15 May 2012: Attack on my daughter. amounting to a total of 20 police officers. a man dressed in civilian clothing . . When I was in a meeting. with two police officers in uniform whose jackets prevented him from seeing their ID. his wife and my grandson had guns pointed at them and were removed from the vehicle. . with tinted windows and no number plates. particularly a woman with a baby. they opened my vehicle which was across from the front door of the house. 12. I shouted at them that I had precautionary measures. 8.19 January 2012: At the ACI Participa annual assembly. .9 September 2013.20 May 2011: We made several visits to accredited diplomatic staff along with Jabier Zavala of Protection International. MY HUSBAND PHONED ME FROM THE LANDLINE AT OUR HOUSE AND TOLD ME THAT HE HAD GOTTEN A CALL AND THAT EVERYTHING THAT WAS BEING DISCUSSED AT THE MEETING WAS BEING PASSED ON TO HIM DUBLIN CASTLE.

opening the way in Mexico for the defence of human rights. the daily uncertainty of not knowing their whereabouts. in recent years. This year the federal government officially recognised that more than 26. It has the anger and indignation because the authorities do not do anything to search for them. it is not only the risk that any citizen of northeast Mexico faces simply by living in this territory. we will not lower our guard and we will continue to go where life takes us. Then I decided it was time to get to know Central America. a person’s life is worth nothing to the organised crime cartels and the governments that tolerate them. This is the context in which we work. This was a different job for me because it was a different way of working. one of the most impoverished countries in Latin America. extortion and. which recognises this problem but does not take steps to search for the many disappeared persons. Behind it there is the pain of each family. food. I worked in the National Forum for Migration in Honduras. It was then I learned to document abuses. In this part of the world. The number of violent deaths is estimated at more than 120. The migrant populations are victims of sexual abuse. carrying out a search of love. There are cities where you can die from a bullet in the full light of day. We raised awareness of what happens to migrants in Mexico and the effect of public policies on the issue. supporting committees of the relatives of migrants who were residing in the United States. Now the word disappearance has a different meaning for me. with new strategies. and of those who had disappeared on the migration route. and together with the team. accompanying victims of violence. I returned to Saltillo in 2010 and since then I have been working at the Centro Diocesano para los Derechos Humanos Fray Juan de Larios (Fray Juan de Larios Diocesan Centre for Human Rights). Even with all this. geography. Coahuila. In these territories bordering the United States. Most of the people had come from Honduras so I knew its culture. It was there I ventured. theft. is still in effect. but also the risk that goes with our work defending human rights. It also has a personal life story and has the courage and resistance of all those relatives who are seeking the truth every day. I WAS 19 WHEN I FIRST STARTED LISTENING TO THE STORIES OF HUNDREDS OF CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANTS WHO CROSS THROUGH COAHUILA ON A FREIGHT TRAIN IN SEARCH OF THE SO-CALLED “AMERICAN DREAM” SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . laying down our grain of sand for the construction of a more humane world.000 people disappeared during the presidency of Felipe Calderón. corruption and doublespeak from the State. denounced and confronted the authorities on abuses against the migrant population. mainly supporting families looking for their loved ones who disappeared in Mexico. and which migrants cling to in search of the so-called ‘American dream’. abductions. although under another name. the ‘protection fee’.ALMA ROSA GARCIA GUEVARA “ 30 Fray Juan de Larios Diocesan Centre for Human Rights MEXICO IN THE NORTHEAST OF MEXICO. a freight train that carries goods throughout much of Mexico. in a confrontation or for not paying the derecho de piso. but which appears to be against the population in general. in a movement of families called "United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila. WE ARE FACING A HUMANITARIAN emergency. we highlighted. those countries of which I had heard so much about. This security strategy. It is the result of a security strategy undertaken by the government against the organised crime cartels. These populations are some of the most vulnerable and invisible in the country. With this came harassment and the criminalisation of our work.000 people for the same period. and Nuevo León and Tamaulipas have become real human slaughterhouses. and in Mexico". It is one of the most complex jobs I have had because of what a disappearance in a family means and because we are faced with impunity. history and its people. disappearances and executions. working with and for the people in a context of so much violence. I was 19 when I first started listening to the stories of hundreds of Central American migrants who cross through Coahuila on the socalled ‘beast’. my home state and where I work.

I felt the communities in the districts of Tonalá. Mexico. Digna Ochoa Human Rights Centre MEXICO Since 2010. provide support and advice and defend human rights in the coastal region of Chiapas. These human rights include the right to a decent home. I am now facing an order for my rearrest due to the criminal proceedings being abandoned. support or advise. accused of an offence that they had not committed beyond that of having me as their son. Pijijiapan and Mapastepec were characterised by contempt. I have repeatedly been the victim of judicial harassment on the part of the Mexican State and specifically the Government of the State of Chiapas and the district councils of Tonalá. The centre focuses on four main areas of work: supporting communities and organisations. Then. social. “ THE CENTRE THAT I REPRESENT PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE AS A SPOKESPERSON FOR THE COMMUNITIES IN ORDER TO DRAW ATTENTION TO THE RECURRENT AND CONSTANT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS DUBLIN CASTLE. Chiapas. Mexico. in the 3rd district court of the federal jurisdiction. The various acts of harassment also focused on my parents to whom the attorney general’s office issued subpoenas requesting that they appear in court to give a statement. education. legal advice. abuses of power. Pijijiapan and Mapastepec). and the threats against me are still in force with the Mexican State using the judicial apparatus to prosecute and harass me and to discredit our work. etc. The Digna Ochoa Human Rights Centre is a non-governmental organisation established in 2009 in the town of Tonalá. The centre that I represent plays an important role in providing evidence. the attorney general’s office of the State of Chiapas incorporated a prior criminal investigation into the Motín offence (offences against public peace and the community) into the case against me. I was an active participant in the setting up and integration of the social organisation known as the Autonomous Regional Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas (Consejo Autónomo Regional de la Costa de Chiapas). Chiapas. denouncing and acting as a spokesperson for the communities in order to draw attention to the recurrent and constant human rights violations. media smear campaigns. derived from the same legal proceedings. I am still facing federal proceedings for the offence of attacks on communication channels. I am accused of the crime of ‘Attacks on Communication Channels’ on the basis of my being a leader of a movement which was demanding fair electricity prices in the region and which was protesting in a peaceful manner. Pijijiapan and Mapastepec in Chiapas. would devote themselves to discrediting our work and summoning those involved with our organisation before the courts. Personally speaking. a livelihood and the right not to suffer arbitrary and illegal detention. I began my activities as a human rights defender in Chiapas in 2006. police surveillance. the Mexican State. OCTOBER 2013 31 .NATANIEL HERNÁNDEZ NÚÑEZ MY NAME IS NATANIEL HERNÁNDEZ NÚÑEZ AND I AM THE Director of the Centro de Derechos Humanos Digna Ochoa (Digna Ochoa Human Rights Centre) in the town of Tonalá. We have suffered various attacks in the form of harassment. Subsequently. It also tackles issues related to the defence of economic. We realised that every time we came out to denounce. exploitation. and specifically the Government of Chiapas and the district governments. legal defence and training and capacity building for human rights defenders in the community. abuse and recurrent human rights violations. healthcare. Every day as human rights defenders in the coastal region of the State of Chiapas. Chiapas. In 2011. As a result of this. for which there is an arrest order against me. torture and harassment. threats. which primarily fights against high electricity prices and the privatisation of the energy sector. it subsequently incorporated the previous investigation into the crime of extortion and attacks on communications channels. cultural and environmental rights. and with a presence in three districts in the coastal Istmo region of Chiapas (Tonalá. infiltration. we are at constant risk and under a continual threat as a result of our human rights work. marginalisation. the trial taking place in the town of Tapachula. When I took up the position. the communities that make up the Autonomous Regional Council nominated and appointed me as Director of the Human Rights Centre in order to assist with securing the recognition of the communities. in the context of the official announcement of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation’s (EZLN) “The Other Campaign”. among others. in 2009.

Contrary to these false accusations. who pointed their guns at us. insulted and humiliated us and continued hitting us without giving us reasons for our detention. Without giving us any explanation. Before it was political violence that repressed them. physical and psychological abuse). I am at pains to point out that it was a very bitter. aggravated damage and attacking the means of collective transport and communication. A team from the Vicarage of Sicuani headed to Espinar. The defence of rights is being labelled as something that has a negative effect on the development of Peru.JAIME CESAR BORDA PARI “ 32 Human Rights Without Borders PERU APPROXIMATELY TEN YEARS AGO I CHOSE A WAY OF LIFE. they started beating us violently. it was us who had helped release the prosecutor. before putting us into one of the vans that took us inside the mining camp. and the bitter situation that we and the other detainees endured. AND THOSE SECTORS THAT HAVE HISTORICALLY BEEN EXCLUDED AND IGNORED SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . a progressive Church announcing the “Good News” and denouncing situations of injustice faced by the local people. on a personal and professional level. the leader Sergio Huamani and the members of the Vicarage of Sicuani. at the heart of the Church of the Southern Andes. We experienced. They accused us of kidnapping. in favour of defending and demanding human rights. took photos of us. We helped the prosecutor get out of this complicated situation and immediately offered the truck of the Vicarage of Sicuani to be used to transport the prosecutor. because we face a totally unjust judicial process. now it is the multi-national companies who are complicit with the government in power. This is an example of how the different sectors of the government collude to accuse people. My experience begins in the southern Peruvian Andes. more than seventy hours of violation of our rights (arbitrary detention. The situation of abuses against peasant people has really changed very little in the last few decades. Despite everything experienced in those days. it suggests to me that the defence and promotion of human rights is a bad thing when it comes to the interests of groups of economic. as it calls into question everything that the human rights movement in Peru stands for. political and media power in our country. humiliating and furthermore violent and savage experience that has marked my life in an unexpected and unjust way. only the prosecutor and lawyers of the vicarage were allowed in. we were released after three days. Today in Peru there is a government policy that seeks to criminalise any sort of protest or social mobilisation that is critical of the government and the neoliberal economic model. rioting. The events that we are facing in the province of Espinar definitely seem to be the history of a world turned upside down. The harassment and attacks against us continue today. and we headed to the Xstrata Tintaya mining camp. I am grounded in the work we do at Derechos Humanos sin Fronteras (Human Rights without Borders) in the defense of human rights. We arrived at 7pm at the central market of Espinar where the provincial prosecutor of Espinar. Had it not been for them. our brothers in the countryside. It is not possible to think about the development of Peru if it doesn’t take place hand in hand with respect for the rights of the Peruvian people. the situation would probably have been much more complicated. with dirty tricks and lies. using their weapons. Sergio Huamani the leader of the FUDIE (The United Front Defending the Interests of Espinar) and I waited in the truck. and those sectors that have historically been excluded and ignored. On arrival at the camp. along with other detainees. Hector Herrera was being held captive by inhabitants and some leaders who were outraged on hearing of inhabitants who had been killed or injured as a result of the confrontation and detention of others within the Xstrata Tintaya mining camp. we heard about clashes between inhabitants of Espinar and the police in the area. That is to say. while Romualdo Ttito Pinto from the vicarage. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO THINK ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF PERU IF IT DOESN’T TAKE PLACE HAND IN HAND WITH RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS OF THE PERUVIAN PEOPLE. alluding to there being a state of emergency. With the help of the lawyers of the vicarage and other institutions. We were arrested and transferred to the police station within the camp where they filmed us. shouted insults and forced us to get out of the truck. On 28 May 2012 at 4pm. Mr. It was at this point that we were surrounded by approximately thirty police officers.

As a grassroots organisation working with the most marginalised communities in New Orleans.THE MISSION OF WOMEN WITH A VISION (WWAV) IS TO IMPROVE the lives of marginalised women. national and international allies. While we are worried about our own safety. WWAV has been using a grassroots framework to transform policies that hinder health. We work from that place . Because of its targeted nature. they begin a first step to changing their relationship with the world. our office was broken into and set on fire. the awards we received for our internationally recognised advocacy work were pulled from the office walls and tossed into the alley two floors below. well-being and economic self-sufficiency for more than 20 years.and we provide pathways for women and LGBTQ people to work to create the world they want to live in. One year on from the arson attack. the law was officially deemed unconstitutional on March 29. these acute instances of harassment escalated to an environment of sustained intimidation of our staff and our participants. “ Women With A Vision UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DEON HAYWOOD WHEN PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AND REFLECT ON THE ISSUES THAT MAKE THEM MARGINALISED. supportive services. Founded in 1991 by a grassroots collective of African-American women. 2012. police harassment has been a constant in our work. drug policy reform. health education. there has still be no investigation.from that moment when a person sees that they are not what society has branded them . and reproductive justice outreach. we can only assume that this was an intentional act of violence. But it has also been important for us to find a new home. when we launched the NO Justice Project. When people come together and reflect on the issues that make them marginalised. we have been grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support from our local. Post-Hurricane Katrina. we also fear for the safety of our community. We accomplish this through relentless advocacy. it is important for us to know who committed this attack and why. OCTOBER 2013 33 . their families and communities by addressing the social conditions that hinder their health and wellbeing. HIV positive women’s advocacy. many of whom are engaged in streetbased economies. Our women’s health models were stacked and burned. The worst damage was concentrated in our community organising and outreach office where we stored all of the resources we use to educate our community. We have been successful because we know that for change to be real it must emerge from the community. and community-based participatory research. THEY BEGIN A FIRST STEP TO CHANGING THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORLD DUBLIN CASTLE. Two months after our NO Justice win. Moving forward. Our major areas of focus include sex worker rights. On both of these points. our reproductive justice posters were selectively singed throughout the office. so that our women might begin to know some semblance of safety again. WWAV became internationally renowned for challenging the use of Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature statute to criminalise street-based sex work.

I went to the local police station with my team to file a general account. Police rescued her from the spot but they did not file a case. THE ACCUSED WAS ARRESTED SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . as well as other social and community activities.. poor. education. I was a Magistrate. I work to stop the violence against WWDs. They are discriminated against on the basis of being female. In this case. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE Women with Disabilities Development Foundation. I have experience working at subdistrict level. WWDs in Bangladesh are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society. it will also happen so please settle out of court. perhaps the victim would be killed by the accused. Still the policeman threatened me that if I did not leave the station quickly. I read about the incident in the national newspaper and visited the location to find out more and to support the victim. The District Commissioner said “Madam. and still he would not file the case. AFTER THAT. and lots of similar cases were filed and in court the lawyers prove that the victim is a prostitute. I work for women with disabilities. I said let’s see what happens. When the Officer in Charge eventually came he said “You are not good women. disabled. “I will report you to your head office that you are supporting the people who torture disabled women”. I said to the journalist. We gave her assurances we would protect her. But I strongly protested his language and showed him important documents to support my coming to the police station and pointed out that without his presence the police station would not file the case. FIVE YEARS LATER. with many girls with disabilities growing-up lacking a sense of their own self-worth. When I have visited different parts of the country to stop violence against WWDs I have faced different types of threats from abusers and local authorities. but I went to the police station and requested to them that they rescue the victim and file the case. There had been a gang rape of a WWD. I very strongly said that I would collect one taka (Bangladesh currency) from disabled people around the country and test the victim’s DNA and that I would prove the victim was not a prostitute. I waited for the Officer in Charge at the police station until 12:30am. When I visited the victim’s house the village leader came with a journalist. I went to the court and filed the case there against the accused. Five years later. she was not able to stand. there was no filing of a case. WWDs are often stigmatised and neglected from early childhood. The police staff would not agree to file the case. I have 12 years work experience on disability issues. After that. In 2006 I visited Norshingdi District near Dhaka District. with no shelter and if the case were not filed. They threatened that they would kill me. She told us her life was at risk. Why do you wait here until my coming? Now I will file a case against you as bad women and this suspends you from coming here”. After that the District Commissioner became convinced of my logic and made an urgent phone call to the Officer in Charge at the local police station and filed the case over the telephone. Basically. WWDs are exposed to a greater risk of physical and sexual abuse. employment and income generation opportunities. and all too often. the accused was arrested. and she could hardly leave her house. In 2005 I visited Nokhali District to file a rape case against a hearingimpaired WWD. and do not file the case.. then my body would not return to Dhaka. I listened to details from the victim and discovered that she had been raped continuously for one month by her house-master. She is a one-handed woman and after the rape. I WENT TO THE COURT AND FILED THE CASE THERE AGAINST THE ACCUSED. where she was working as a maid. he would arrest me.ASHRAFUN NAHAR MISTI “ 34 Women with Disabilities Development Foundation BANGLADESH I AM ASHRAFUN NAHAR MISTI. and many are among the “poorest of the poor”. THE POLICEMAN THREATENED ME THAT IF I DID NOT LEAVE THE STATION. This time I was really scared. When we neared the police station. I went to the police station with my team. much of which takes place within the context of their own families.” Again I requested that the District Commissioner cooperate with us to file the case. Girls and Women With Disabilities (WWDs) face a “double disadvantage” based on gender and disability. HE WOULD ARREST ME. It did not work. In 2007 I visited Nilphamary District to file a case for a physically disabled woman who had been raped and had become pregnant. WWDs are regularly denied access to healthcare. there was a group of armed people who stopped our vehicle and threatened that if I were to file a case. vocational training. It would not be possible to settle out of court because the victim was an orphan. I went to the District Commissioner of Nilfamary and asked for his cooperation to file the case.

SHAHED KAYES
I AM SHAHED KAYES, FROM BANGLADESH. I AM THE FOUNDER and Executive Director of Subornogram Foundation. I work for human rights, the environment and for the education of nonprivileged children (like the River Gypsy Community, the Fisherfolk Community, the Cobbler Community and the Indigenous Community). I am working in the Mayadip and Nunertek islands where for the last four years the islanders and I have been fighting against illegal sand mining, in an effort to save 12,000 people’s lives, livelihoods and the environment. The illegal sand miners continue to harass us, filing no less than eight fabricated and false cases against me and the islanders. On the afternoon of 25 July 2013, at around 2.15pm, Chris Pinderhughes from New York University (an American citizen, and intern at Subornogram Foundation), Kamruzzaman Dipu, another volunteer of Subornogram Foundation and myself all left on a private boat from the Baidyer bazaar of Sonargaon sub-district, and headed for the Mayadip and Ram Prasader Chor (island) where the Subornogram Foundation has two free schools for the fisherfolk community children. Fifteen minutes out into the Meghna River, close to the banks of Nolchor (island), two small speedboats carrying some six or seven people each, came and stopped us in the river. These people are all involved with the illegal sand grabbing near the Myadip and Nunertek islands. After a lot of yelling and a brief altercation I was thrown into one of the speedboats and taken away to a place in the River called ‘Faraji Kandi’ in the Meghna sub-district of Comilla district. Once they reached the island with me, another speed boat came with seven or eight more people, as well as a trawler holding 30 or 35 people. These people beat me severely, stabbing me in my shoulder and slitting my wrist. While they were beating me, they were saying “You are fighting against us and we’ve lost lots of money because of your movement. We made the mistake of not killing you before; this time we will kill you. We will cut the veins in your wrist and legs, tie your hands and legs together and throw you in the river.” Immediately after they’d taken me from our boat, Chris and Dipu realised the severity of the situation and called a journalist, Mr. Tushar, and explained to him in detail exactly what had happened. Mr. Tushar then informed the police in Sonargaon and the Meghan police station. After the call, the police came and rescued me from my captors. The police of Sonargaon police station arrested one of the perpetrators and confiscated a speedboat from Rampur bazaar under the jurisdiction of Meghna sub-district of Comilla district; the rest of the kidnappers fled the scene. I filed a case in the Sonargaon police station that same evening, mentioning in the complaint, the names of the people behind the attack; Mr. Zakir Hossain, proprietor of ‘Shahjalal Enterprise’ and Mr. Mohsin, a member of the ‘Four Points Trading and Construction Ltd’ owned by Selina Islam. They are from the Meghna sub-district of Comilla district and are involved with the illegal sand extraction. The case no. is 38 dated 25.07.2013. The perpetrators are 1. Zakir Hossain, 2. Md. Mohsin, 3. Md. Oasim from Meghna sub-district under Comilla district, 4. Osman Member, 5. Jakir Hosen (Jakaria) and 6. Md. Hosen from Sonargaon sub-district of Narayanganj district. Besides that there are 12 to 14 more unknown culprits involved in the police case. Already three months have passed since that tragic incident, but it is surprising that the Sonargaon Thana police have arrested only one perpetrator, Md. Oasim. The police still have not arrested the other five perpetrators. The Meghna Thana Police did not arrest anyone so far, though the perpetrators are moving here and there, even sometimes coming to the Meghna police station. It is known to everybody that the Meghna Thana Police, the Officer in Charge, is involved with the illegal sand mining and regularly receives bribes from the perpetrators. My life is still under threat. The perpetrators have threatened me several times from unregistered mobile phone numbers to withdraw the case that I filed against them. They told me if I do not withdraw the case they will kill me. So I am living a very risky life right now. This is because of the bad nexus among the police, corrupt politicians and businessmen in the country. Bangladesh is a country where there is law, but the law simply does not function.

Subornogram Foundation BANGLADESH

MY LIFE IS STILL UNDER THREAT. THE PERPETRATORS HAVE THREATENED ME SEVERAL TIMES TO WITHDRAW THE CASE THAT I FILED AGAINST THEM. THEY TOLD ME IF I DO NOT WITHDRAW THE CASE THEY WILL KILL ME

DUBLIN CASTLE, OCTOBER 2013

Chris Pinderhughes, 2013 Advocacy Project Peace Fellow

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Beehive Radio CAMBODIA

MAM SONANDO
IT IS A GREAT HONOUR AND A PRIVILEGE FOR ME TO HAVE THIS opportunity to share with you my determination in defending human rights in my home country, the Kingdom of Cambodia. I wonder why the human beings born to this world have different destinies. The strong and powerful suppress and terrorise the weak. There is unfairness and injustice throughout the world. The law is very weak and meaningless to the dictators. I wonder for how long those who love justice and freedom can survive. There are people who think that we should keep our lives, live for longer and not bother with freedom. There are also people who think that it is better to die, rather than to stay alive if there is no freedom. For me, we must not only use our lives to defend our rights; we must also use our lives to defend the lives of others. This is if life is to have any value and meaning. I have the great honour to thank and to be grateful to Front Line Defenders for all of their activities; especially in providing opportunities to those who have been victimised when expressing the truth and the facts, to clarify and lighten their sorrows and hurt relating to the violation and abuse of human rights. These violations have been happening without any limits; including suppression, fear mongering, incarceration and even killing. These acts have been carried out without any justice and in barbaric ways. I myself have been in prison three times, in 2003 for 11 days, in 2005 for 100 days and in 2012 for 244 days. This is simply because I speak the truth and defend the rights and freedoms of those who have been victimised, through the broadcasting of an independent radio station, which is very popular. This radio station, of which I am the president, is Radio SBK Beehive, FM 105 in Cambodia.
* Unfortunately, due to last minute unforeseen circumstances, Mam Sonando was unable to attend the Seventh Dublin Platform.

FOR ME, WE MUST NOT ONLY USE OUR LIVES TO DEFEND OUR RIGHTS; WE MUST ALSO USE OUR LIVES TO DEFEND THE LIVES OF OTHERS. THIS IS IF LIFE IS TO HAVE ANY VALUE AND MEANING

SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

IN CHINA, WHEN PEOPLE’S RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED, IT IS OFTEN government officials or people who have close ties with the government who violate them. As a human rights defender, when we help the victims of these violations, we are challenging powerful interests, and the local officials make use of the courts, and other tools, to retaliate against us. What the Communist Party fears most is that people will form together into a community. The Party is afraid that when human rights defenders gather together to defend the rights of others, they will attract more and more people to the cause, and eventually there will be a fully-formed group of people determined to engage in the defence of human rights. As a result of this, the Communist Party sees human rights defenders as a threat to their rule. I will give you some brief examples of my own experience as a human rights defender in China and the threats that I have faced. In 2010, Ms Ni Yulan, a well-known human rights defender was left homeless when her house was torn down and she was evicted from her temporary lodging by police. With no other choice, she was forced to live in a tent in a park, close to the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party. After she was driven from this park by the police, a number of human rights defenders, myself included, planned a large protest on a central street on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival. The day before the protest was due to take place, Beijing secret police spent two hours prying open the door of my home, they abducted me, beat me and abandoned me in the middle of the night by the roadside in a mountainous suburb of Beijing, with no way for me to return to my home. During the time of the revolutions in the Middle East in 2011, the Communist Party was living in fear, afraid that a similar revolution might happen in China. They detained and disappeared scores of human rights defenders nationwide, and subjected them to various kinds of torture, including beatings, electric-shocks and starvation. When they grabbed me and were interrogating me, they said, “You guys shout loudly to defend human rights everyday. Don’t you know that the Tunisian government was brought down by a street hawker who was defending human rights?”. They even threatened to bury me alive or shoot me dead. In the end, I was disappeared for six and a half weeks.

These cases show that in China human rights defenders are treated as enemies by the government, and they will do anything they can to suppress us. We Chinese human rights defenders have drawn the following security lessons from our work: Number 1: In preparation for detention, we sign blank power of attorney documents so that when we are arrested, lawyers can immediately act on our behalves. Number 2: We know we must stay calm when being harassed and abused by the police. In order to avoid police retaliation, we do not swear at them or fight back. In China, there is no way for people to supervise illegal activities by the police without drawing police retaliation. Number 3: When we are in danger or face increased risks, one of the best strategies we can use is to publicise the danger we are facing online, to let people know that if we suddenly ‘disappear’, it is probably because of our human rights work.

Human rights defender CHINA

LIU DEJUN

WHAT THE COMMUNIST PARTY FEARS MOST IS THAT PEOPLE WILL FORM TOGETHER INTO A COMMUNITY. THE PARTY IS AFRAID THAT WHEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS GATHER THEY WILL ATTRACT MORE AND MORE PEOPLE TO THE CAUSE
DUBLIN CASTLE, OCTOBER 2013

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In China’s prisons. I volunteered for various grassroots organisations to better understand the marginalised groups in Chinese society. I was 25 years old when the Human Rights Campaign in China was founded. sensitive times throughout the year. It is a grassroots organisation dedicated to providing support to victims of injustice in China. Let’s work together to pay attention to. human rights defenders’ communications and online expression are monitored.LIU YI “ 38 Education Center for Culture. I am currently the head of an NGO called the Education Center for Culture. our centre also compiles a weekly human rights briefing to provide information for rights defenders. the Human Rights Campaign in China. WE ARE INTERROGATED OR THREATENED SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . I discovered that. in the Chinese language. these high-risk human rights defenders. For the rest of my college years. and some of our products are made for foreign brands to be exported to Europe and North America. and we have been working on some small. we are interrogated or threatened. I was released in 2010. I participated in the founding of the human rights organisation Tianwang Center for Human Rights. I DISCOVERED THAT. Following the arrest of the founder of the Tianwang Center after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. we have no privacy. After I was freed. The main purpose of this NGO is to provide information sharing. WE HAVE NO PRIVACY. Seared in my mind are scenes of when they waited to die. I founded the organisation Education Center for Culture. At the same time. At important. training and workshops. I was arrested by the Chinese police for “illegally possessing state classified materials” and sentenced. and their children could not go to school. we are subjected to long hours of strenuous labour. Probably due to my being young and lacking in experience. Many human rights defenders are thrown back into prison shortly after their release. after the imprisonment. That summer I went to a village in Henan province with a high prevalence of HIV and worked as a volunteer for a month. Every week we collect. In addition. I also look forward to exchanging views and experiences with rights defenders from around the world about capacity training of rights defenders. a mere four months after the founding of the new organisation. Interested friends are welcome to contact us. Imprisoned human rights defenders are often denied the right to legal counsel and the right to receive family visits. Even though we know very well that it is a serious violation of international human rights laws and related principles to use prisoners to manufacture export products. Liaoning province. I am thirty years old and I come from the western province of Sichuan in China. My name is Liu Yi. Society and Human Rights CHINA AS A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER. After serving an 18 month prison term in Yingkou prison. Society and Human Rights. IN CHINA. there is nothing we can do about it. networking opportunities and other forms of support for Chinese rights defenders. So. They were discriminated against. The organisation has been operating for only three years. they were unable to receive justice. SENSITIVE TIMES. other volunteers and I founded another human rights organisation. I was deeply shaken by the fate of villagers who had been infected with the HIV virus when selling blood. in China. AT IMPORTANT. and to share my story and my experience with all of you. which is dedicated to providing capacity-building training for Chinese rights defenders. Society and Human Rights. I AM VERY HAPPY TO HAVE the opportunity to be here. Here I would like to thank Front Line Defenders for providing support and training at the early stage of the organisation. and we will spread. I took part in human rights activities for the first time in 2002 when I was a college sophomore. I interviewed 37 human rights defenders who had been imprisoned or put in “re-education-through-labour” camps. helplessly lying on a wooden plank. HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS’ COMMUNICATIONS AND ONLINE EXPRESSION ARE MONITORED. information about high-risk rights defenders in your country. Graduating from college. and support. translate and circulate information about high-risk human rights defenders around the world. tentative projects with regards to rights defenders.

I was detained in a black jail for 34 days.Chinese Womenʼs Rights Defenders Empowerment Network CHINA I AM A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER FROM WUXI IN JIANGSU Province in China. I only focused on my own rights and my own fate. research institutes. This programme drew a lot of attention. the miseries which were happening 80 years ago are still happening in Wuxi today. they use the police. Government-backed development companies are forcing local people to transfer the ownership of their land at a very low price in the name of essential development of urban and rural areas. My life was in danger from governemnt officials and they even put a price on our heads – 50. Everyday around China. However when this happens. but the judge refused. Officials from the county government notified me that my building was lying in the path of a proposed expressway and I was given 15 days to move. I lodged a complaint with the police 23 times but received no response. In order to seize people’s property. military bases. In order to publicise our efforts to defend human rights. I reported my plight to different government agencies hoping they would help me. I also go to other cities in Jiangsu province to protest on behalf of human rights defenders who are illegally detained and broadcast information about these cases online.000 Chinese Yuan for a broken leg and 200. I also posted 20 administrative indictments to the court and went to the court in person 100 times to ask the judge to take up my case. In the spring of 2009. an unexpected thing happened. Following this. In addition. They then recruited thugs to smash my windows and used super glue to jam the keyholes in the front and back doors. I started to show people who were unfamiliar with it how to use it most effectively for rights defence. citing various reasons. then the electricity and then the access to my house. A colleague of mine was detained in total for 357 days on 16 different occasions. It is estimated there are thousands of cases like mine which have happened in Wuxi. leaving us both injured. as the expressway never ended up going through what was once my house. Notwithstanding a lot of intimidation from the developers. THEY THEN RECRUITED THUGS TO SMASH MY WINDOWS AND USED SUPER GLUE TO JAM THE KEYHOLES IN THE FRONT AND BACK DOORS DUBLIN CASTLE. the blind Abing. I used all my savings to buy a building for commercial purposes and acquired all the legal documents.000 Chinese Yuan per square metre. My eyes were gradually opened to others who were suffering the same fate I had and I began to help them with some legal representation. the courts and even hired thugs to threaten. The types of places where these petitioners are illegally held include schools. the human rights situation has not improved. They offered 3. a lot of victims have to go to Beijing to petition central government agencies and the highest judiciary or legislature. I will play a Chinese flute solo to present my misery and fighting. In the end. but then I extended my efforts to others in different parts of my own province and then the whole country. I lost everything I ever owned and I was in a desperate situation. I refused their offers. Overall. it turned out that the development plan was a complete lie. This is the way the government treats its people. the local government hires security firms to kidnap petitioners. My whole family worked very hard and it seemed we would lead a happy life. The developers used a digger to destory my house and all my belongings were ruined. After buying this building I set up a small factory and hardware store. We interviewed a lot of people and put out an episode of “The Citizen Broadcast ”. Eighty years ago Abing composed the song ‘The Reflection of the Moon’ in which he describes the miseries he suffered in Wuxi and unfortunately. My experience in this regard is typical: In the spring of 2000. It is also the birth place of a renowned and world-class musician. WANG JIANFEN “ THEY FIRST CUT OFF THE WATER. gymnasiums. hotels and warehouses. The misery which is depicted in Abing’s musical piece is still happening. there are hundreds of cases where people have their human rights abused. intidimate and beat up local people in order to take their property. My husband left me.000 Chinese Yuan per square metre as compensation even though the market price for a house like mine is 10. They first cut off the water. friends and I produced a video programme called “The Citizen Broadcast” and put it on the internet. disasters befell me and my family. Initially. After a scandal that took place earlier this year when a primary school principal took six students to a hotel and sexually abused them. I went to Beijing to petition the central government but was abducted and forcibly sent back to Wuxi where I was held in a black jail for 34 days. These places are called black jails because they are not legal and there is no legal oversight. detain them illegally and return them by force to their hometowns. In order to defend their rights. Wuxi is a small city in China and is not widely known by the outside world. but received no responses. I went to the province concerned with other human rights defenders and lawyers to protest against the attempted cover-up by the local authorities. They also beat me and my husband. OCTOBER 2013 39 . since the internet has become a powerful platform for people to defend their rights.000 Chinese Yuan to kill us. THEN THE ELECTRICITY AND THEN THE ACCESS TO MY HOUSE.

so the police and the centre officials pressed me onto the floor and forcibly cut my hair. and I haven't cut my hair since. Yet. I was beaten by the police. we had to stand facing the wall. when I was put into reeducation through labour.” If we broke the rule. Rests were not allowed even if one had high blood pressure. We petitioned government departments and courts every Wednesday. The mental torture was even more severe. at the Masanjia Womens' Labour Camp in Liaoning. In order to get back our hard-earned money. detained six times. heart disease or high fever. I became more determined to be a human rights defender. stand. As long as I am still alive. DEPRIVED US OF ALL OUR DIGNITY SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . Labouring started from six o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock at night. I forced myself to remember all the evil deeds. That is why. We protect our rights through legal procedures. No information about the RTL centre could be transmitted to the outside. we were only given four minutes to wash our face. THEY DIDN’T JUST TORTURE US PHYSICALLY. I lost all my savings along with five thousand other victims. we would be punished. This is because. I might consider changing my hair style the day the system of reeducation through labour is abolished. together with my team.000 words and exposes the crimes of RTL. we were strip searched. We had to adhere to all kinds of inhumane rules. I HAD A WELL-PAID JOB. except when we had meals. The court refused to process our cases. Or we might be punished to squat.YE JINGHUAN “ 40 Human rights defender CHINA BEFORE 1998. he or she would be punished by having to stand for at least seven days in the hall. we were followed by the police. I. or sit. displaying banners that demand the “restoration of the right of litigation” at the High Court of Beijing. our efforts were repressed. It has now been four years since I was released from the RTL centre. brush our teeth and urinate. deprived us of all our dignity. I soon became the leader of this action and was harassed and monitored as a result.A Record of the Re-education Though Labour Deployment Department in Beijing'. THE WAY THEY PUNISHED US FOR EVERYTHING. I remember the first day at the RTL centre. and I do not know how much further I can go. It was the first book to do so in detail and is now widely circulated on the Internet because it cannot be published in China. the deputy leader said. Almost everyone had swelling on some part of their bodies but there would be punishment if we did not keep up the speed of work. Every time we held election campaign activities. only if one was dying. In order to practice our right as citizens to elect and be elected. We see certain progressive changes by the courts and the police. not allowed to go to the toilet or drink water. I refused. I was sentenced to re-education through labour (RTL) for one year and nine months. we had to remain utterly still. so that later I could write a book called 'A Worthwhile Journey . When we left the centre. We would be made squat. and we would be punished if we defecated. strive to protect our rights and help others to protect theirs. We could not stop working. Chinese RTL camps are like concentration camps. on the first day after entering the RTL centre. The RTL centre was like a living hell. They didn’t just torture us physically. The way they punished us for everything. THE MENTAL TORTURE WAS EVEN MORE SEVERE. Our mobile phones were tapped and micro-blogs deleted. After financial fraud perpetrated by the Chinese Ordnance Corps and the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force. 13 people from our team announced they would run for election jointly as independent candidates to the National People’s Congress. THE RTL CENTRE WAS LIKE A LIVING HELL. head bowed. We gather for actions. You can only look at your own feet. every woman had to cut their hair short like a man. When we got up. Hence. I joined with other victims and tried to file lawsuits. my life has completely changed. In the hall. some shaved their heads. After I left the RTL centre. arrested once. with arms wrapped around our legs. We were not allowed to laugh or cry in the labour camp. It is 250. During the monthly meetings with our families. and until every person in China can live with dignity and respect. I will not give up defending human rights. We were only allowed to urinate in the mornings. Since then. if someone was found crying or talking about things which happened in the RTL centre. on 4 July 2011. “From now on. WORKING IN A large-scale private company. Regardless of which pose it was. We act collectively and have achieved some successes. arms straight at our sides. a female prisoner hid a letter in her vagina to bring it out. I am over 60 years old now. Not even a single piece of paper could be brought out. you must bow your dog head! Do not look at the leader of the guards in his eyes. head bowed. and on 4 March 2007.

but ironically hundreds of cases are being lodged by the police against us. This is particularly difficult for women as they find it difficult to even carry out their regular chores which demand them to move within or outside the village. This MOU outlined POSCO’s proposal to invest in the mining industry and build a steel plant. equipped forces were hired to silence our voices. The proposed plant will affect three gram panchayats (localgovernance bodies)  whom we represent – Gadkujang. this shows collaboration by POSCO with the acts of government and private muscle-men to terrorise people. The construction of the port could pose a threat to the nesting habitat of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. captive power station and port in Erasama block of Jagatsinghpur  district. Until now 230 cases have been registered against our villagers by the government. democratic struggle against the forceful land acquisition for the establishment of an integrated steel plant by Pohang Steel Company (POSCO) in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha in India. Almost one third belong to the Dalit (Untouchables) community and other castes.PRASHANT PAIKRAY AT THE OUTSET. no health centres in the vicinity. At this high time. But according to government sources. Instead. On 22 June 2005. as the police continuously register cases against them. Rather. The proposed POSCO port will be established on the banks of the Bay of Bengal which has large implications for the marine life. hired goons. Nuagaon and Dhinkia – with 11 villages in total comprising 4. There is no doctor who visits the villages. We ask for your support to the cause of the native people in any form in this hour of need where a democratically elected state has chosen to lift arms against its own people. up to 400 families will be affected by the POSCO project. At this point in time. Local authorities have ignored our demands for recognition of our right to the land. Laxman Paramanik (victim of the bomb attack). This will violate the Coastal Regulation Zone. Two thousand warrants have been issued. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Orissa in eastern India. We have been peacefully resisting all types of criminal forces for more than nine years. and the virtual siege prevents us from getting medical assistance from outside the village. POSCO has been morally complicit in statesanctioned attacks and acts of repression by the Government of Odisha to suppress peaceful demonstrations and opposition to the company’s proposed project. Promod Das and two others are still in the jail. Our leaders Abhay Sahoo. where nearly 400. The inability to leave the village has resulted in a complete lack of access to medicines or any medical treatment for the villagers. BOMB ATTACKS AND POLICE ATTACKS. We hope that action will put pressure on the chief Minister to desist this type of violent activities against us.000 people. we request you to highlight our cause in the different international human rights organisations and media. Apart from livelihood issues. Human Rights Violations Our life has been severely disrupted since the state government signed with POSCO.000 families of over 22. Furthermore. The police force has been using coercive measures to suppress our constitutional right to dissent. social and economic implications which are far more extensive and irreversible. the threat of arrest continues to loom over them. The government and POSCO company have been continuing their massive operation to forcefully oust people from their habitats and to sabotage our democratic peaceful movement. LOCAL AUTHORITIES HAVE IGNORED OUR DEMANDS FOR RECOGNITION OF OUR RIGHT TO THE LAND DUBLIN CASTLE. POSCO. For the past eight years. bomb attacks and police attacks. 340 of these were for women. five lives have been claimed as a result of POSCO operations and POSCO has never condemned any of these gruesome incidents.000 turtles come to nest every year. The ground situation of the villages is under strain and villagers are on high alert to face any government attempts to acquire their land. “ Pratirodh Sangram Samiti INDIA WE HAVE BEEN FACING KILLINGS. Our people cannot go out and receive treatment because of the threat of arrest. the police repeatedly attempt to arrest persons when they appear in court in other cases in which they are implicated and have been granted bail. Although some of the villagers implicated in various cases have been granted bail. We have been facing killings. OCTOBER 2013 41 . Especially at risk are the turtle-nesting beaches in the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. In Solidarity. the proposed project will likely have environmental. HIRED GOONS. I CONVEY MY GRATITUDE TO FRONT LINE Defenders for giving me the opportunity to share our years of peaceful. a large South Korean corporation.

ICW is an anti-corruption non-governmental organisation in Indonesia. He was very famous for his corrupt dealings. My thanks to Front Line Defenders for giving me the moral support to face the parliamentary resistance. however. He received 29 stitches in his head after being set upon by three people wielding a blunt object. we were escorted to the office on a daily basis by a number of police. I have already published the names of allegedly corrupt members of parliament and a number of members of parliament who have not demonstrated their commitment to eradicate corruption. ICW has uncovered hundreds of cases of corruption. and this figure does not even include people at local parliament level. The case of this attack is still on-going and there have been no developments over three years on. and some of these cases are on a significantly large scale. as there are no private institutions in Indonesia providing protection to the activists. INDEED THIS CHAPERONING MADE US FEEL VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. For three months after this incident. That tragic incident did not dampen our spirits however. WE WERE ESCORTED TO THE OFFICE ON A DAILY BASIS BY A NUMBER OF POLICE. but I am sure that one day they will call. Next year there will be a national election in Indonesia. Mr Tama S Langkun.DONAL FARIZ “ 42 Indonesia Corruption Watch INDONESIA MY NAME IS DONAL FARIZ. We did not have any choice. several colleagues and I who work at ICW discovered the cases of the "fat bank accounts" that involve a number of generals and police officials. We often feel that we are being followed wherever we go. President Suharto. the pressure continues to grow against us. BECAUSE AT THAT TIME WE WERE INVESTIGATING A NUMBER OF ELEMENTS WITHIN THE POLICE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . These people are angry with me. These cases involve people from a variety of areas and backgrounds such as law enforcement. because at that time we were investigating a number of elements within the police. was attacked by unknown people. at least 65 members of parliament have been processed by the ICW for corruption. On 8 July 2010 one of my colleagues and friends. The police in Indonesia are notoriously corrupt. The parliament in Indonesia is one of the most corrupt institutions. and one of these 17 has a banking transaction to his account of approximately 9 million US dollars. The total number is approximately 36. There are at least 17 police generals who we are investigating because of their unusual property. I have not received a call from the police. This year. fell from power. As we continue to investigate these cases. Our partnership will be very helpful. It was founded in 1998 when the regime of the former president. and they have reported me to the police on grounds of defamation. Until now. I have documented a number of members of parliament suspected of corruption and a number of members of parliament who are not demonstrating their commitment to eradicate corruption. heads of regions and politicians. The Seventh Dublin Platform event has given me so many benefits. In 2010. ICW activities are constantly monitored. Since 2003. I AM 27 YEARS OLD. Indeed this chaperoning made us feel very uncomfortable. ministerial backgrounds. I HAVE BEEN working at Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) since the beginning of 2010. where the number is into the hundreds.

I believe in my religion and have faith that it brings a unique peace of mind. Living as a member of the LGBTIQ community in Aceh. whilst gathering in a coffee shop. It imposes a punishment of 100 lashings. However. Once. In 2008. It’s an internal battle. OCTOBER 2013 43 . It’s a long way to go. last month. is very painful in my opinion.”* Threats come in many forms but what is most painful is the pure hatred for being who you are and being true to yourself. the Vice Mayor of Banda Aceh (the capital city of Aceh) made a statement in the local newspaper claiming that homosexual people have started invading Aceh. threatening to the values and moral standards that society has developed here. my friends and I decided to establish an organisation which appropriately represents our community. the enforcement of this law was refused. This philosophy is a direct contrast to my belief that religion and culture exist to enlighten one’s life and soul. Indonesia. but by promoting justice. the application of this law has been detrimental. As a result of association with an extremely negative stigma. due to pressure from human rights organisations at the international and national level. We do several activities to show people that we are not as negative as they think we are. it’s you people that caused the tsunami. Aceh province. That feeling of hatred is used to justify violence towards to us. payment of 100 kilograms of gold or 100 months imprisonment. Aceh passed a Qanun (local law) that criminalises homosexual conduct (liwath/ male with male sexual intimacy and musahaqah/ female with female sexual intimacy). We do not counter hate with hate. In 2009. particularly towards those who happen to live in an ultraconservative area. Luckily. continuously questioning why our religion is at odds with our sexuality. particularly if you position yourself as a defender of this community and way of life. which is often in the name of enforcing religious teachings and preserving culture. Before that. the provincial parliament published the draft of the law in the local newspaper and with speculation of its being re-legislated. but at least we have started.TONI ALMUNA WHAT IS WORSE THAN BEING HATED? AS A HUMAN. someone shouted at our group saying “You better get out of here. is far from easy. and there are plans to formulate a regulation in response to this ‘threat’. like in any other homophobic environment. peace and kindness. However. MY RELIGION IS OFTEN MISINTERPRETED AND USED AS A TOOL TO FIGHT AGAINST ME DUBLIN CASTLE. instead of bringing better lives for Acehnese people. and of course the sexual minority groups. *Aceh was struck by tsunami in 2004. Aceh province was granted autonomy to implement Sharia (Islamic law) as part of the agreement to end the 32 years of armed conflict between the separatist movement (Free Aceh Movement) and the state. but in reality. my existence in my own city is considered to be threatening. particularly to the lives of women and those that society likes to ‘other’ like punk groups. “ Violet Grey INDONESIA I BELIEVE IN MY RELIGION AND HAVE FAITH THAT IT BRINGS A UNIQUE PEACE OF MIND. BEING hated purely based on who you are. This kind of hate is often directed towards those belonging to sexual minorities. many times we have been expelled from public spaces and have even been told that our existence can cause natural disasters. That’s right. like the place where I come from. The challenges we encounter often create a conflict in ourselves. my religion is often misinterpreted and used as a tool to fight against me. BUT IN REALITY.

I could do nothing to save him. “Allah is with the patient”. A LOVING HUSBAND and two small kids. terrorising whole populations with its armed forces. managed the rent. As a woman I have been victimised twice. I remained patient. In February 1998. I was thrown out by my in-laws but there were some people who helped me in the course of my journey. I STRUGGLED AND I SURVIVED SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . no police party accompanied the 17 Jat regiment when they took him. I gave them the best education available in Kashmir. but I also had to face suffering from the side of my in-laws. I lived with the hope that the ever-widening security grid of the Indian State. I REMAINED PATIENT. the Indian State responded with a heavy hand. the fees of my children’s education and the expenses of the household. fake encounters and custodial killings… the killing machine that the Indian State unleashed was the worst kind of terrorism on the people of Kashmir. a dreaded regiment of the Indian army. As a wave of the pro-independence movement that we Kashmiris call “Tehreek” touched new heights. the verdict of the Supreme Court of India was finally delivered… I had filed the case with a little hope that somehow the justice system of India would be free of nationalistic partisanship. where I have lived in rented accommodation for the last 15 years. Despite calls for its abolishment however. thrown somewhere on the roadside or in the river Jehlum. but I was proven wrong.000 rupees. I have worked as a teacher on a paltry sum of 5. even though. The case of my husband is just one in thousands of such cases where the Indian army has arbitrarily taken away innocent people and later denied having taken them. I was helpless. I not only faced the ordeal of having been widowed by the Indian State. The conflict I was living in had already made inroads and I was to face it on the cold February dusk of 1998. The AFSPA has been declared by the UN. pounced on our dwelling in Chandhara village of Pampore. Indian occupying forces had already unleashed their terror through arbitrary detentions and extra judicial killings of innocent civilians.. In the 44 cases submitted so far by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Ministry of Defence. The security apparatus of the Indian State had assumed the shape of a horrible monster that spared no one. who were demanding nothing more than their right to self-determination as promised by the Indian State in the early 1950s. Even though he was taken away without a warrant. It was my universe. Like everybody else I too lived a life in hope of the daily violence and mayhem emanating from the Kashmir conflict keeping away from my doors. We Muslims have faith in the saying Innallaha ma`sabreen. and the violence accompanying it. His body parts were first torn apart by pick axes and then blown up by explosives so that it could be presented as an accidental death. the European Parliament and many human rights organisations as contrary to the conventions and protocols of international law. He had been brutally killed. resorting to early dawn crackdowns.. Fifteen years have passed but the image of my husband’s bruised and torn body never leaves my mind. and rape. As a single mother I have had to face many social and financial problems. the Indian Government continues with the draconian law. and nobody was ever charged. It was my everything. burning down houses and shops. The guilty were acquitted in the case. They used methods of enforced disappearance. as we were preparing for dinner. for whom a widow like me was an unnecessary burden. After dragging the case for many months. In India-occupied Kashmir an infamous law. I was widowed by the Indian State. Despite all of this I never bowed down. they could get the body retuned the next day. as a matter of Standard Operating Procedure.MASOODA PARVEEN “ 44 Human rights defender KASHMIR LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE I TOO HAD A FAMILY. the 17 Jat regiment. We got his body back the next day. They cannot be prosecuted for their involvement in human rights abuses without the sanction of the government. I struggled and I survived. I had to migrate from the house of my husband and take refuge in Pampore town. not a single person has been tried in the courts. With 12 and 13-year-old kids. If families are lucky enough. gives wide impunity to the Indian armed forces. a town 12km south of Srinagar city. though I threw myself on the feet of the occupying forces to leave him. The Indian forces of the 17 Jat regiment dragged my husband out of our house in front of the whole family. I kept myself up for the sake of my children. He was bundled into a vehicle and taken away. the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). As days passed I gathered myself and filed a case against the 17 Jat regiment in the courts. would never find its way to my family… but I was wrong. I can still feel the smell of that evening when he was taken away before my eyes.

Nobody. It is an act of impunity and an affront to the rule of law. Space for civil society action is limited and the media is tightly controlled. MY HUSBAND. the investigation has revealed nothing. and that is why the perpetrators in Laos can continue to act with impunity and know that they will face little or no consequences. but I was told that the family wanted it to remain confidential. the family is left in limbo. There are many cases of disappearances in Laos. I cannot accept such defeat and I cannot ignore such violation of my husband’s rights. By doing so. I am not sure whether I or other Laotian families will ever see justice done. they did not identify the person who drove it away. On the surface Laos is a country that respects human rights. Laos is a one-party communist state where there are very efficient public security networks and surveillance systems that extend to every village. A few minutes later his vehicle was driven away by an unknown person. the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. and after that they did not know what had happened or who had taken him away. He has spent the last 30 years working in sustainable rural development. Criminal activities are limited and crimes quickly solved if the authorities want to. SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY ACTION IS LIMITED AND THE MEDIA IS TIGHTLY CONTROLLED. The government promised to investigate. OCTOBER 2013 45 . left hanging between hope and despair. Despite the concerns of safety for myself and my family. THE LAO GOVERNMENT RULES LAOS WITH AN IRONFIST. Sombath Somphone.NG SHUI MENG ON 15 DECEMBER 2012. and their perpetrators be held accountable for such crimes against humanity. Sombath’s disappearance is not the first such case. made to get out of his vehicle and taken into the police post. Footage from the CCTV showed my husband was stopped by the police. Sombath's last public role prior to his abduction was supporting the organisation of the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) in Vientiane. They did not find Sombath’s vehicle. It has acceded to almost all the international human rights conventions. These systems can track the comings and goings of every individual. and to silence the emerging voice of civil society. Then. THERE IS THEREFORE. and draw strength from you. but little is ever publicised as family members of the victims are too afraid to speak out or reach out for help. and outsiders can never understand those feelings. a white truck drove up.” and until the person’s whereabouts and proof of life or otherwise are known. but I can still take some comfort that I am standing amidst other human rights defenders from across the world. Why Sombath Somphone? Sombath is an ordinary Lao citizen from a poor farming family. stopped at the police post and Sombath was taken away. His abduction was caught on a camera installed by the public security force. purportedly to help improve the security of the city. and has established legal systems that purportedly uphold the rule of law and protect the life and liberty of its citizenry. I suspect it was this role in organising a major civil society forum that provoked the conservative elements of the state security apparatus to abduct him. He even won the Magsaysay Award in 2005. we are reminding the world that we will not allow Sombath and other victims of involuntary disappearance to vanish from our collective consciousness. Recently. However. I wanted to reach out to another victim who had reported to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. LITTLE PUBLIC AWARENESS DUBLIN CASTLE. Sombath’s disappearance has taught me that silence is a form of defeat. That was the last I saw of him. I stand in front of you today to testify that the enforced disappearance of Sombath is a crime and a human rights violation. except those who have experienced such violations can even describe the agony and trauma they face every minute of the day. and hold up a light of hope that such violations can and will be halted in the future. There is therefore. Laos is also a signatory of the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearance. the Lao Government rules Laos with an iron-fist. His work in community empowerment has won him recognition both inside and outside the country. the capital of Laos. The official Lao Government statement said the police stopped Sombath for routine checks of vehicle documents. but ten months later. Such is the scale of fear inside Laos. was taken away right in front of a police post on a busy thoroughfare in Vientiane. “ Human rights defender LAOS HOWEVER. In human rights terms enforced disappearance is a heinous crime and the “mother of human rights violations” because a disappeared person is a “non-person. and they did not identify the white truck and the people who took Sombath away. NEARLY 10 MONTHS AGO. But the Lao Government’s official statements have repeatedly said that the police have done everything they can to find Sombath. education and youth empowerment to improve the livelihoods of the poor and expand the space for civil society. little public awareness or even recognition by the citizens that enforced disappearance is an issue in Laos.

who form the majority of the LGBTIQ community in the country. a coalition of non-governmental organisations and individuals that started as an annual sexuality rights festival held in Kuala Lumpur. some suggesting that I should be investigated and punished. In Malaysia. In 2012. and now has grown into an LGBTIQ rights movement. both the penal code and Sharia laws have statutes criminalising same sex sexual acts. However. and numerous websites and blogs – also quoted many politicians and religious leaders criticising me. the Seksualiti Merdeka Festival was banned by the police and government due to many police reports made against us by religious and extremist groups. soon after the Seksualiti Merdeka Festival in that year. I was in the planning committee for this year’s Seksualiti Merdeka Festival. the subject being highly taboo and politicised. Trucks of police arrived at the door of festival venue and were ready to arrest us if we did not disperse. This. THE LARGELY NEGATIVE COVERAGE IN THE MEDIA ALSO QUOTED MANY POLITICIANS AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . For the video.“ 46 Seksualiti Merdeka MALAYSIA AZWAN ISMAIL I’M A MALAYSIAN POET AND WRITER. FACEBOOK AND SMS MESSAGES. FOR THE VIDEO. where my face was everywhere – mainstream newspapers. Thinking that more activism was needed for Malay LGBTIQ people. Seksualiti Merdeka together with its allies came out with press statements to support me and also considered pursuing legal action. Its infamy was probably due to the fact that I’m a Malay and I spoke in the Malay language. We went to the court again this year for appeal but it was not successful. has given me hope to keep on doing what I have been doing. Nevertheless. Matahari Books. The largely negative coverage in the media. 2010). We lost the case as the judge said the ban was purely academic and only for the banning of the festival in 2011.500 comments in a week before comments were disabled and the video was pulled down. following the backlash with the video.000 views in two weeks. I’M CO-EDITOR OF Malaysia’s first Malay-language LGBTIQ anthology Orang Macam Kita (‘People Like Us’. I was listed among the top ten ‘gay rights heroes’ of 2010 by Change. I was a volunteer with a few other non-governmental organisations such as Malaysian Medical Relief Society (MERCY Malaysia) and the Centre for Independent Journalism. and over 1. I RECEIVED A LOT OF NEGATIVE FEEDBACK INCLUDING DEATH THREATS VIA EMAIL. Besides. It was held from 8 . with over 400. because of my courageous and controversial It Gets Better video. I took the launch of the book as a signal for my increased involvement in the movement. being Malay is equivalent to being Muslim and the LGBTIQ issue is rarely discussed openly and positively in Malay language.org. I’m also an LGBTIQ rights defender with Seksualiti Merdeka. together with some positive feedback. Back to the year 2012. We didn’t have the festival last year but we did have it again this year changing the name to Together Life Gets Better Festival so that it would not attract attention from the authorities and we also planned and conducted the festival discreetly. My video went viral. In 2011. Recently. which has been rebranded as Together Life Gets Better Festival. encouragement and support from various parties including individuals within the local LGBTIQ community. My contribution to the cause is also important due to the fact that there are so few Malay LGBTIQ rights activists in a country where Malay LGBTIQ people are most at risk. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and today still undergo therapy with a clinical psychologist. and I was featured in one of the videos. Previously. Malaysia (CIJ). Seksualiti Merdeka initiated their own It Gets Better video project.22 September at various LGBTIQ-friendly venues in Kuala Lumpur. I received a lot of negative feedback including death threats via email. I started to be actively involved with Seksualiti Merdeka after the Orang Macam Kita anthology was launched during the Seksualiti Merdeka Festival in 2010. This has not hindered me from being an LGBTIQ rights defender as I feel my work is crucial and there is still so much work to be done. Facebook and SMS messages. we went to the High Court and challenged the ban as we felt the ban was wrong and against our rights as defined under the Federal Constitution.

be they creative or academic. OCTOBER 2013 47 . will put you in a situation. planting seeds of hatred. I wrote a small poem when I was in Rhodes Island. PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY HAVE ‘RIGHTS’ AND THE ‘FREEDOM’ TO OPPRESS OR ERADICATE MINORITIES DUBLIN CASTLE.MOHD FAIZAL MUSA MY NAME IS MOHD FAIZAL MUSA BUT I AM BETTER KNOWN IN Malaysia as Faisal Tehrani. And that a good boy should not be with the first one. I was told that minors should be defended. a fellow human rights defender. jailed or shot (yet) but you live in a suffocating environment. and Denied Rights’. My name. My scholarly works include ‘The Axiology of pilgrimage’. Maria Chin Abdullah. a Mufti suggested my work should be banned. the oppressor and the oppressed. Do you know what to suffocate means? To die or cause death from lack of air or inability to breathe. published in the Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies. Human rights defenders fighting for freedom of religion face invisible enemies. “ Writer MALAYSIA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM OF RELIGION FACE INVISIBLE ENEMIES. Later in September 2013. I am a scholar at risk. which defy the establishment. researching on human rights. Am I? I am just committed to religious freedom. A few of my other creative works were inspected. Many people were thinking: Faisal Tehrani is Shia . defamed and condemned and I was threatened directly and indirectly including a death threat. It goes: This fear greediness and possession of power was not even ours we used to be children. You may not be abducted. I have won numerous prestigious literary awards in Malaysia and many of my works have been translated to various languages. Oppression. I was told that the world is divided into two camps. In 2009. Their conclusion came from layers of stigmatisation conducted by the establishment and media. Religious extremists have been naming me in their sermons. the pressure intensified. an International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology. is just a small kid fantasising as a saviour to help beloved dolls from a huge Angus giant to cure animals to plant trees and flowers and sometimes would like to give away free ice creams. Faisal Tehrani. In July 2013. things changed. Greece earlier this month. Since I was a kid. submitted an intervention at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2012.Shia is disgusting and dangerous. One of my novels was banned. people who think they have ‘rights’ and the ‘freedom’ to oppress or eradicate minorities. Of course any works. Perhaps the most famous is ‘The Malaysian Shi’a: A Preliminary Study of Their History. was mentioned in her report. Before being adult and realising power a king president or prime minister. which appeared in Cultura.

a loose network of human rights organisations and international organisations (ICRC etc. if it is discovered that their rights have been violated. World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) requesting urgent appeals. we file applications before the District Court for physical and psychological check-ups for the victim and provide free medical check-up support as per the court order. is working for the protection of human rights defenders. Human Rights Watch (HRW). If they do not act promptly to protect the detainee from further torture. we face many kinds of security threats. The Working Group of the European Union. the police do not afford us any security. In the second type of case.BADRI PRASAD BHUSAL “ 48 Human rights lawyer NEPAL I AM A HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER. There is no protection mechanism in Nepal. On the other hand. interview detainees about police treatment and provide them with legal counsel in relation to their constitutional and legal rights. the Office of the Attorney General and the Human Rights Unit of Nepal Police for immediate protection of the victim. we file habeas corpus writ. there is no strong protection mechanism from the government side so human rights defenders are vulnerable to threats in Nepal. I document it and make a complaint before the Officer In Charge of the police station to provide them with their rights. During the interviews. we forward the case to the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal. I VISIT POLICE DETENTION centres. On the one hand we are threatened by security personnel against whom we have either filed cases or are going to file cases against on behalf of the torture survivor. On the legal side. if the torture survivor wishes. we communicate the case to international human rights organisations like Amnesty International (AI). WHILE RAISING CASES OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN AREAS OF CONFLICT WE ARE THREATENED BY THE WARRING PARTIES: THE ARMY AND THE MAOIST REBELS. we support him or her in filing the case before the court. THERE IS NO PROTECTION MECHANISM IN NEPAL SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . while raising cases of human rights violations in areas of conflict we are threatened by the warring parties: the army and the Maoist rebels. However. under the Compensation Relating to Torture Act – 2053 (1996). In the course of our work. Likewise. Similarly. The National Human Rights Commission does not have a protection mechanism for human rights defenders. we are also threatened by the person who had filed the complaint against the person who was detained and tortured.). If the detainee is found to have been tortured. If the detainee is detained illegally.

Yagao was arrested and is currently being detained on trumped-up charges. 28 leaders and community members have been murdered since President Benigno Aquino III assumed power. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I work in indigenous communities. Despite the international recognition given to human rights defenders. we at RMP-NMR are fighting our hardest battle as staff have received death threats and hate calls from anonymous callers. Rest assured.Matthew 25:35-36 On an island marred by deepening divisions between the rich and poor. complete with eye-witness testimonies. I am afraid that the raiding of our convents which occurred in 2004 and 2006 will happen again. the devil is about to throw some of you into prison.Revelation 2:10 In Mindanao. RMP North Mindanao (RMP-NMR) has been put under surveillance. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. just like my other sisters in RMP-NMR. warning us against continuing our work. our tradition as the Church of the Poor teaches us to put the needs of the vulnerable above all. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. who is now at-large. MA.” . and we receive our share of persecution. there has been no let-up in attacks against our organisation. OCTOBER 2013 49 . but nobody has been seriously prosecuted. I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Since the death of my co-member at the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). and recently. FAMITA N. agricultural workers and indigenous peoples. “Indeed.SR. intimidated and harassed. and leaders and community members are ‘invited’ to military camps for questioning. 28 LEADERS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN MURDERED SINCE PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III ASSUMED POWER DUBLIN CASTLE. For speaking out against the killing of an indigenous leader in October 2012 who was resisting palm oil cultivation on ancestral land. attacks against church people working for human rights has a chilling effect and underscores the impunity enveloping the ‘Land of Promise. I. Behold. being deprived of access to resources. that you may be tested. Italian priest Fausto Tentorio. They were executed in broad daylight. all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” . Right now. For advocacy against land grabbing and environmental destruction. a known ‘butcher’ of activists. Knowing that rebel groups are present in those communities much of the time. villages have been militarised. displacement of unwilling villages and trumped-up charges against their leaders are notably on the rise. long-time RMP-NMR colleague Joel Q. Its new commander is a former associate of General Jovito Palparan. And so we side with the smallholder farmers. Across Mindanao where extractive industries are booming.2 Timothy 3:12 In the effort of the rural poor of Mindanao to resist aggressive ‘industrialisation’ characterised by extractive and destructive projects. This coincides with the reorganisation of army officials in the 4th Infantry Division of the army. “ FROM THE RANKS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ALONE. the state security forces use the accusation that we are rebel supporters to intimidate us and hinder us from doing our human rights work. fisher folk. we will not be cowed. with the rural poor. Because our love is not just talk. an island in the south of the Philippines touted as the ‘Land of Promise’ because of its bountiful resources. much less convicted. they are being extra-judicially killed. Be faithful unto death. Mindanao is ironically punctuated by poverty and resource-based conflicts. attacks are continuing in Mindanao against those of us working for land rights and access to resources. I needed clothes and you clothed me. and we will go on with our human rights work.” . The members of the Rural Missionaries will not cease in journeying with the rural poor. and for the promotion of the civil and political rights of the rural poor. With the intensification of campaigns against activists under this new set-up. where church people are respected. together with other support organisations. Military detachments are set-up in communities to monitor peoples' activities. While being a home to more than half of the estimated mineral wealth in the Philippines. especially indigenous communities. I was sick and you looked after me. it is something real and active. We lend them the integrity of our religious habits and veils in their struggle. I was a stranger and you invited me in. and I will give you the crown of life. and for 10 days you will have tribulation. was threatened with legal charges. away from the eyes of the international media and human rights organisations. From the ranks of indigenous peoples alone. I no longer report to the office and I have been forced to transfer my base to another city. MSM Rural Missionaries of the Philippines PHILIPPINES I AM A RELIGIOUS NUN WORKING FOR THE RURAL POOR IN THEIR struggle for dignity and fullness of life in Mindanao. SOMOGOD.

In 2002. We have learned from history that conflicts between superpowers only cause pain through war and other forms that do not promote peace. Gangjeong villagers carried out a village vote which revealed overwhelming opposition to the construction. through communication and coexistence.“ 50 Gangjeong Village Association REPUBLIC OF KOREA DONG-KYUN KANG I AM DONG-KYUN KANG. and a protester whose arm was broken as the police broke a human chain which had been made to prevent the delivery of explosives for blasting rock. The police even suppress religious ceremonies in front of the construction site. UNESCO designated the island a World Natural Heritage site. in order to secure sea-lanes for shipping. and the suppression of villagers' human rights has reached an extreme. However small the villagers' voice is. because of a stronger power. I hope our cry for peace and human rights touches everyone's heart around the world. stating that such events obstruct business or violate traffic laws. also known as the island of peace. over seven hundred people have been arrested and taken to the police station. Biosphere Reserve and Global Geopark owing to its exceptional beauty. by selecting a very small minority of villagers who were in agreement with the construction. Furthermore. a resident who fell from a six metre embankment. However. we know that the Jeju naval base issue cannot be solved by Gangjeong villagers alone. Jeju civil society and Jeju residents have continued the campaign despite the pressure and lies claiming that the construction is beneficial for the local area. Now. ‘Oppression’ is the only word that can describe the action of demanding that those who are protesting against the naval base abide by the law. The island was considered one of the top islands in the world where humans and nature live harmoniously. The government then started masking the project as if it were for tourism development appropriate to Jeju's character. Some say that peace without power cannot be kept. War destroys nature and annihilates human rights. hence. The current Jeju naval base project can be said to be a result of conflict between the USA and China. Please join us in our dream to preserve and leave the beautiful nature. and continuing the project under a new name. while simultaneously covering any wrongdoings of those who are destroying the democratic constitutional order and taking away the rights of villagers. and inviting them to a general meeting to accept the project. THROUGH COMMUNICATION AND COEXISTENCE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . The government then took only 20 days to decide on Gangjeong as the naval base site. peace. Furthermore. as a village bank account that had been accepting donations is now under investigation under the Act of the Regulation of Donation Collections. The campaign against the naval base is being strangled from the financial side as well. which is threatening peace and human rights. This was done secretly. The government mobilises over one hundred police annually to suppress villagers' freedom of assembly and association. Gangjeong was decided on as the site for the naval base by the government. eliminating their property rights. I believe this issue will be resolved smoothly when each one of your voices join together to stop the world from fighting. I wish for the Jeju naval base project at this small village of Gangjeong. Jeju Island is located in the furthest southern part of South Korea with a population of nearly 600. 25 people have been imprisoned. to be nullified.000. During these events. and does not permit any rallies. our resistance is to the government's violations that forced compulsory purchase on villagers. thereby. deceiving the residents of Jeju. WE STRONGLY BELIEVE PEACE MUST BE PROTECTED BY PEACE. This village has been in strife as a result of the ongoing construction of the Jeju naval base for seven years and I have been campaigning against the building of this naval base and exerting every effort to restore the community of Gangjeong. THE MAYOR OF A SMALL FARMING AND fishing village called Gangjeong on the southern coast of Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Moon who fell from a seven metre high seawall. In 2007. and that the US Government is responsible for its construction. and started a huge campaign against the base. over four hundred cases have been sent for judicial process unnecessarily. many people have been injured. including Fr. under the pretext of protecting and defending this treasure island. We strongly believe peace must be protected by peace. Our resistance is to the government's business being carried out while depriving people of their democratic rights. So. peace gained through power is not long kept. Gangjeong villagers. restricting freedom of expression and denial of religious rights. human rights and long-standing traditions to our descendants. The base is designed to accommodate a US aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine. the Government of the Republic of Korea unexpectedly announced the building of a naval base on Jeju Island. a 'Civilian-Military Complex Port for tour beauty'.

we have to continue our fight. we discovered that they were killed by M-16 guns. At this time. a local mafia led by a local politician brought local militia with full weaponry to the area. On 18 August 2012. However. After this incident. and we didn't have access to roads. and there were death threats to the community leaders. I am not able to travel much since I might be the victim of an assault.TEERANET CHAISUWAN Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand THAILAND IN 2002. we were living in houses built from bamboo. Members of the group were shot at. Proper construction items were usually destroyed by local mafia so we had to resort to building basic houses. In order to protect the rights of our communities. Krabi and Nakorn Srithammarat provinces were rented by large companies to plant palm trees. so we had more enemies as a result. and if we built new houses. In 2007. after their contract had ended they continued to occupy the land and did not return it to the government. The government came up with a policy that we could continue to stay on the land. “ WE SET UP A 24-HOUR SECURITY ROTA FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS AS UNARMED GUARDS. they would be destroyed by the tractors.30am. They came with a tractor and destroyed 40 houses belonging to the members of the community. He was digging a fishing pond by his house when assailants shot him with a shotgun and M-16 guns. On 19 November 2012 at around 7. we travelled to demonstrate in front of the Government House in Bangkok to demand action on the killing of our member. They started to be harassed and intimidated. After our own investigation. a colleague of mine at the Southern Peasants Federation. OCTOBER 2013 51 . their vehicles were destroyed and a human rights defender who sat in the car was injured. The Southern Peasants Federation protested in front of the Government House once again calling for justice and for security to be provided for the community. It is risky. WE SET UP BARRICADES AROUND THE COMMUNITY DUBLIN CASTLE. We set up a 24hour security rota for community members as unarmed guards. Two women human rights defenders from our community Ms Pranee Boonrak and Ms Montha Chookaew were killed while travelling to the local market on a remote road away from the village. We were not allowed to buy construction items. but I have to work to survive. No concrete action was taken. the companies continued to intimidate us and we would regularly hear gunshots. provided a small budget to help the 40 households whose houses were destroyed and gave compensation to the family of the human rights defender. we travel in groups. started to sell the lands to local businessmen in the community. In 2009. I continue to work as a farmer in the community so that I can live and feed my family. Somporn Patpoom. to bring the perpetrators to justice and to distribute the land to the farmers. This NGO demanded that the provincial government investigate this but there was no action by the local government. They did a thorough study and came to know that large areas of land in Surat Thani. Sometimes I have to work alone. We destroyed palm trees and distributed the land to different families. In 2010. There were only four or five households in the area who continued to fight for their rights. this was only stated in the government document. landless farmers came together to protest at the Surat Thani Provincial Hall to demand that the government redistribute those lands to landless farmers. In 2003. there were three rounds of gunshots. We set up barricades around the community. more people moved in to make use of the land. a group of farmers affiliated with the Southern Peasants Federation went to make use of the land which was rented by Jiew Kwong Jiu Company. The villagers continued to remain in the area. was assassinated. This NGO was interested in understanding the dynamic of Thai and multinational companies and their involvement in renting lands in the southern part of the country. As a result. The government promised that they would take action but nothing has happened. 120 households started to move out of the area as a result of the intimidation and harassment. the community continued to face harassment and threats. a joint venture between Malaysian and Singaporean companies. In mid-2009. However. The community has had to create its own security. After that. together with local mafia. Approximately 120 families went to the area to make use of the land to build their homes. We lodged a complaint at the police station but no action was taken by authorities. THERE WAS AN NGO THAT CAMPAIGNED AGAINST THE Kaeng Krung Dam in Surat Thani Province in the southern part of Thailand. When we travel out of the community. electricity or clean drinking water. the company. There was a resolution by the Thai cabinet in the same year that these lands would have to be provided to the villagers. We have to thank Front Line Defenders for supporting us through their security grants programme to purchase solar cell equipment which helped us in increasing our security.

In the past few years. wiretapped my telephone. detained me. WIRETAPPED MY TELEPHONE. and so contribute to the protection of civil and political rights in Vietnam. After we had posted our clip on Youtube and Facebook. my friends were stopped at the airport when they tried to travel to Dublin. As a human being I am fearful of being assaulted and I am concerned that my work could threaten the life and safety of my wife and parents. especially when it has acted arbitrarily. metre. A CITIZEN JOURNALIST IN VIETNAM.000 to 2. Philippines. Since then. I’m not a professional journalist. about 5. helped farmers to raise their voice. I think our group of citizen journalists has helped delay the land grabbing plan. I am lucky that my family understand what I am doing. SEIZED MY CAMERA AND COMPUTER AND ASSAULTED ME MANY TIMES WITH MULTIPLE INJURIES SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . Although many farmers didn’t accept the deal the government carried on with the confiscation of land to deliver it to the investors. Among others. although the authorities kept saying that this clip had been faked and made by hostile forces. The police has kept me under surveillance day and night.000 riot police clashed with the protesting villagers. If I was in Vietnam I would surely not have the possibility to attend this conference. and get in touch with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations and non-governmental organisations. I’m now temporarily staying in Manila. more and more people use the Internet to spread information about police brutality. THE POLICE HAS KEPT ME UNDER SURVEILLANCE DAY AND NIGHT. Our group of reporters were hidden by villagers for days before the start of the land grabbing operation. resulting in the authorities stopping the crackdown against farmers and land confiscation action for one year. although we have done nothing other than report the truth to the people by means of our keyboard and the Internet. A few days later the two reporters confirmed that they were the victims beaten by the police as shown in the clip. exposed the assault against journalists and broken the censorship of media for a short period of time. We are now trying to form a nationwide network of citizen journalists to report quickly and timely and to soften the surveillance by the police. Let me give you an example of what I have done in response to a land grabbing project to build luxury residential houses near the capital Hanoi in 2012. to avoid being persecuted by the Vietnamese Government. The Vietnamese Government is assuming that these photos and video clips posted on the Internet have obstructed it’s activities.000 US dollars per sq. The Vietnamese Government has slandered us as hostile forces having cooperated with foreign states and disturbing the development of the country. Dozens of villagers were injured and arrested.“ 52 Journalist VIETNAM NGUYEN LAN THANG I AM NGUYEN LAN THANG. metre whereas the building company would sell it later for 1. a blogger identified the victims as reporters from VoV. On 24 February 2012. On a whole. I take photos and make films about demonstrations. I’m an activist working for the promotion of civil society and the protection of human rights in my country. and that no one had been injured. Today in Vietnam. The next day the state owned broadcaster Voice of Vietnam (VoV) and newspapers reported that the action had been successfully conducted and no incident had occurred. we randomly filmed a scene where two observers were savagely beaten. We are trying to mobilise public opinion. the government’s land grabbing actions and police action to disperse peaceful meetings on human rights. However I will continue to share work with my friends because I do think that the threat against a person will be reduced if there are many persons to shoulder it. DETAINED ME. pursuing them to their housing zone and beat them indiscriminately. seized my camera and computer and assaulted me many times with multiple injuries. many state-friendly newspapers are daring to expose the government’s wrongdoings. Some newspapers then changed their passive stance and defended their colleagues bravely. The villagers there were forced to accept a compensation price of 6 US dollars per sq.

Amongst those arrested was the one for whose team Oleg did not live to work for – presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov. If you strive for the observation of human rights and freedoms in the dictatorship. in Dublin. who was abducted and killed. I didn’t even try to answer the question of why I was arrested. Only at the end of July did the next in a series of courts free me from serving my punishment further. human rights defenders and simply objectors are all thrown in prison.IRYNA KHALIP I LIVE IN THE VERY CENTRE OF EUROPE. Yuri Zakharenko. the dictator arrested almost all of the presidential candidates. who all fight for human rights in different countries. was a high-ranking police officer and a former minister. Oleg was the founder of the most popular and brave internet media in Belarus. The dictatorship imprisons and kills regardless of profession. for human rights. Along with Sannikov I. three months before the arrest. In Belarus journalists. one who has not broken the law. when I was arrested and put into the KGB prison. Because I am a journalist who writes about reprisals against dissidents? Because I am the wife of a politician who dared to pose an insolent challenge to this dictatorship? Because I am an opposition activist? This is all completely irrelevant. politicians. three months later. THAT MEANS THAT THERE IS SOMETHING AMISS IN THE WORLD DUBLIN CASTLE. Victor Gonchar. because it is impossible to remain ‘above the fray’ in a dictatorship. WHO ALL FIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. and I was given permission to go abroad. If you don’t accept it. I hope that together we will be able to change the world for the better. don’t rule out death. If you accept it. who was abducted and killed. Regardless of their professional affiliation. Either you fight for the rule of law and the constitution in the country. Nikolai Avtukhovich. On 19 December 2010. Today is very important for me. At the very least they will ask “Why?” but I didn’t even ask. that means that there is something amiss in the world. have gathered here.150 kilometres and hundreds of years . OCTOBER 2013 53 . or you accept the dictatorship and become part of it. sinking more deeply every day into your own lies. He was killed right before the start of the 2010 presidential campaign. on the day which has the nice name of the presidential election day. who is in prison. who is in prison. you have few options. and then under house arrest. When I ended up in prison. A normal person. was also arrested. Yes. And all of this is happening just 150 kilometres from the European Union. Oleg was due to become a key figure in the team of the opposition presidential candidate and his old friend Andrei Sannikov. human rights defenders. when. you can then live peacefully. is an entrepreneur. is a politician. I am very glad to see you all. public figures. who was abducted and killed. Anatoly Krasovskii. If you are unlucky you are killed. Nikolai Statkevich. his wife. and therefore we are geographically close but hundreds of years apart in terms of time. was a businessman. charter97. this is a peculiarity of dictatorial regimes – journalists are forced to become activists in the opposition. How could I have been surprised. He was not to find out that. MY HOME IS ONLY 150 kilometres from the European Union . And they are also killed or abducted regardless of their job. I knew: for no reason other than the fact that I am a journalist. but also by the state structures. Dmitri Zavadskii. was a politician. I had been ready for it for a long time. as it turned out. Ales Belyatskii. At the same time I am perfectly aware that if so many of us. was a journalist. who is in prison. As before. If you are lucky you are put in prison or deported. my colleague and friend Oleg Bebenin was found dead? His murder was clumsily made out to be a suicide. will never interpret an arrest as something they deserve. is a human rights defender. Oleg Bebenin was killed in September 2010.because my country is separated from the EU not only by a state border. HAVE GATHERED HERE. Before this I was first in prison. who was abducted and killed. “ Journalist BELARUS AT THE SAME TIME I AM PERFECTLY AWARE THAT IF SO MANY OF US. prison or deportation.org. I wasn’t even surprised. For the first time in three years I have been able to come here and speak. A medieval feudal dictatorship has cast Belarus back to the time of the inquisition. The only criterion is a civil position.

And also to thank you for the support that we feel in Belarus from human rights defenders all over the world. at this gathering. He cannot meet them. but its short history is an everlasting chain of persecution. After the United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised that the closure of our organisation was a violation of our right to freedom of association. And today I can talk of it with pride and I can thank all my colleagues who remained faithful to their convictions and their work. calls from the KGB. He cannot speak today in front of his colleagues. we tried to register three times. I want to finish my speech on a positive note. But in order to achieve that we have to work hard and we are ready for that. Ales Bialiatski’s arrest was aimed not only at isolating the most famous human rights defender in the country. since in Belarus there is a criminal article related to activities carried out on behalf of an unregistered organisation. COURTS. Of course. courts. threats of potential criminal persecution. many things from its Soviet past remain intact including the social order and attitudes to human rights and human rights defenders. As Ales himself has said. On 17 January 2011 I was celebrating my birthday in the office and the KGB came to search the office once again. “I am exactly in the place where human rights defenders should be in such horrible circumstances”. My own experience is closely related to the history of my organisation. arrests. And I would like us. but also at making a preventive strike against all the other human rights defenders in Belarus.TATSIANA REVIAKA “ 54 Belarussian Human Rights House BELARUS IT HAS BEEN 22 YEARS SINCE MY COUNTRY GAINED independence. working illegally significantly limits our capacity. without any hard feelings. but they also use this situation to discredit us. without results. FORCED EMIGRATION AND SMEAR CAMPAIGNS SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . all dressed up in party clothes and jumping out of the window. PRISONS. confiscation of the office and possessions. It has been over two years since the founder of my organisation and one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Belarus was imprisoned. prisons. ARRESTS. our office was searched five times. Unfortunately. financial checks for the past ten years (including checks of our relatives). Our human rights movement is relatively young. Ales Bialiatski was the head of the human rights centre “Viasna” and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). This is not easy. This is how activism and the influence of human rights defenders is appreciated in Belarus. to talk more of those colleagues who are imprisoned in all of our countries. But so far we have only received warnings from the Prosecutor’s office. all our equipment was confiscated and searches were carried in our colleagues’ apartments all over the country. The most difficult time for all human rights defenders in Belarus was from 2010 to 2011. BUT ITS SHORT HISTORY IS AN EVERLASTING CHAIN OF PERSECUTION. Being a human rights defender in Belarus is a choice for which you pay a big price. I would like their names to be mentioned so that they feel that the solidarity from their colleagues is stronger than any prison bars. We survived questionings. The authorities do not want to see human rights defenders strong and that is why they neglect their UN commitments. During that time. My colleagues and I found ourselves to be illegal. It was not funny at the time. work dismissals. I want to tell you about the “birthday of a human rights defender”. All of my colleagues live under threat everyday. It is the personal choice of each of us. And I really think that the time will come when we will think of all the hardships and difficulties we had to go through. But they did not achieve their aim of scaring and silencing human rights defenders as they hoped these measures would shut us up. In August 2011. At the end of October it will be exactly ten years since the human rights centre “Viasna” was closed down by the court. While they were blocking the door and the windows from both sides ten of our workers jumped out of one of the windows taking a computer with them. OUR HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT IS RELATIVELY YOUNG. but now two years later we all think of it with a smile. Prior to that it had formed part of the Soviet Union. WORK DISMISSALS. forced emigration and smear campaigns. So far the authorities avoid real legal persecution under political charges. Once more I would like to express solidarity and support to all those colleagues who are imprisoned right now for their professional activities all over the world.

some of us faster than others. Four months have passed. All of us who are not conforming to the typical gender norms are targeted on the streets. not to mention the terror in their hearts. “ THEY WERE ALL BRUISED. barely able to separate us. who to turn to? The only thing that gives me hope is that there is readiness in the community to continue the fight. But there is still no justice. We kept hoping. threatening to “show me. without much success. spat and shouted at. public figures and the government. I sometimes fail to believe that the bus managed to pull through and we got out of there alive. Womenʼs Initiatives Supporting Group GEORGIA Looking back. the court hearings are constantly postponed. a dirty lesbian. an issue “too sensitive to talk about”. when my friends and I were planning to hold a peaceful rally dedicated to the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. For the first time in my life I found myself surrounded by thousands of young men gesturing and spitting with hateful excitement. Openly promised. We still remain somewhere in between. the Georgian Orthodox Church kept spreading homophobia (and all sorts of other phobias) unhindered and supported by media. For many years. my friends started running and crying “They’re coming! They’re coming!” and we saw crowds of people rushing towards us. HOMOPHOBIC ATTITUDES IN GEORGIAN society kept increasing despite the legislative improvements and ever-growing support and influence of Western countries. beaten and chased. THREE OF THEM HAD CONCUSSION. We kept hoping even after we saw the police.who to trust. most of whom are my dear friends. SCRATCHED AND SHOCKED WHEN THEY GOT OUT OF THERE. none of us were surprised that tens of thousands of people came out to “save the holy land of Georgia from the sodomites” on 17 May 2013.NATIA GVIANISHVILI FOR MANY YEARS. A group of activists. but while our bus was also trapped in the crowd my partner and I looked at each other and thought that we would certainly face one … no. they cannot push us back into some dark corner and pretend that lesbian. This readiness is a reward for me as an activist. what a real man is” and the bus walls and windows separating me. who broke the windows of the vehicle and kicked. They were all bruised. lead by priests ready to tear us to pieces. With this. seemed so thin and fragile. That day. For many years we have been trying to mainstream our rights into women’s rights. The hostility is heavy in the air. the police did the only thing they could do – put us on the buses especially prepared for this occasion. The political speculations blaming us for provoking the crowd’s anger. I was not harmed physically. my partner and my friends from this crowd. and the church’s ever-growing influence over civil life. in light summer uniforms without any riot gear. The investigation started late. gay and transgender people do not exist in Georgia. With the equipment they had. our rights became even more of a stone that political parties would throw at each other. because the government promised. We are still a “special group that is better off kept away”. Georgian LGBT activists hoped that the government would fulfill its positive obligation to protect our freedom of assembly. when we did not even get a chance to hold up a single poster.000 or more ‘good Christian’ churchgoers. minority rights and the human rights agenda. two possible outcomes: rape and death. Ever since Georgian independence. homophobic hate speech has been used by politicians to discredit their opponents and as our visibility grew. continue and there is very little support from the society. bisexual. scratched and shocked when they got out of there. We keep talking about it and we are all very confused . from 10. approximately 100 activists. NOT TO MENTION THE TERROR IN THEIR HEARTS DUBLIN CASTLE. conservative politicians and priests. OCTOBER 2013 55 . Three of them had concussion. Then all of a sudden. punched and pulled people who were inside. We were evacuated. this readiness is the sign that no matter how hard they beat us. were trapped in their bus among the raging crowds.

This role too should be recognised and supported. However. an informal group of between 200 and 300 people assembled in front of Serbia’s National Assembly after the ban was announced. According to Serbian media. They seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights as well as the promotion. when a gay association was attacked and up until now. The next parade was organised nine years later in 2010. when again more than 5. I include the following in our programming. Serbia.000 counter-demonstrators caused riots. With this organisation. the government banned the 2011 and 2012 parades. combatting the culture of impunity which serves to cloak systematic and repeated breaches of human rights and fundamental freedoms. the situation there is not very different to the situation in Kosovo. national and international level to create an understanding of the risks and challenges in the Kosovo-specific context. However. human rights defenders can play a key role in helping to draft appropriate legislation. including Kosovo. The defenders themselves have increasingly become targets of attacks and their rights are violated in many countries. Some good examples of those risks and challenges were put forward during a recent conference in Belgrade. it has been impossible to organise a gay parade in Kosovo. Working for an organisation that supports LGBT rights in Kosovo has presented various risks and challenges. They advocate and mobilise by peaceful means. As part of the consultation process. tried and tested way of establishing a better level of protection for human rights. although the parade did not happen. stating that they could not guarantee the safety of the participants. Human rights defenders can assist the government of Kosovo in promoting and protecting human rights. sometimes putting their own lives at risk. social and cultural rights. 6. The social implications of both the parade and its cancellation led me to realise that “Pride” is not just about LGBT people. groups and organs of society that promote and protect universally-recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. The principle of allowing room for independence of mind and free debate on government policies and actions is a fundamental. the parade was cancelled. IT IS ALSO ABOUT FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . and several extremist groups announced their intentions to oppose and disrupt the proceedings. However. Human rights defenders are those individuals. as we saw at the end of 2012. the government of Kosovo should not see this as a negative. Following these events. Up until now. again due to possible violence and without any governmental guarantees for safety. to defend the rights of others. seeking remedies for victims of violations through the provision of legal. Being in the Balkans.500 riot police were instated to protect the event. In 2013. Belgrade’s first “Pride” was organised in 2001 and was subsequently cancelled due to the violence which erupted. It is also about freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The work of human rights defenders often puts forward criticisms of government policies and actions. psychological. documenting violations. protection and attainment of economic. I also work on main-streaming the human rights culture and information on human rights defenders at a regional. It is important to ensure the safety of human rights defenders and protect their rights. and in helping to draw up national plans and strategies on human rights. as we have also seen in Serbia and other parts of the Balkans. no charges have been brought.ARBEN FEJZA “ 56 Center for Equality and Liberty KOSOVO I WORK AS A PROJECT COORDINATOR FOR THE CENTER FOR Equality and Liberty (CEL) – a new organisation founded in August of 2013 to support the LGBT community in Kosovo. Being a project coordinator with CEL. medical and other support. THE SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF BOTH THE PARADE AND ITS CANCELLATION LED ME TO REALISE THAT “PRIDE” IS NOT JUST ABOUT LGBT PEOPLE. and the position of a human rights defender could not be more obvious. this progress is only achieved at a high price. I work as a human rights defender.

Human rights defenders face threats. WHICH INFRINGES ON THE INTERESTS OF THE TRANSNISTRIAN BUSINESS ELITE. More recently the ruling business elite of Transnistria has been implementing a scheme of “legal” grabbing of peasants’ lands. is oppressed and persecuted.to send a mission to the Transnistrian region with a permanent mandate to work on human rights.12 billion US dollars worth). contrary to all legal principles was privatised by the local ruling business elite. any human rights activism.a movement of peasants in defence of their social and property rights. Yet. where the ruling business elite established its own rules and order without any accountability to the international community. freedom of association etc) on the one hand. the European community. NATO. The persecution of human rights defenders is happening on the back of intensive manipulation of the population of this region. do not have access to a legal defence. the OSCE. and the oppressed groups of the population that I am defending. more than half of the population of the Transnistrian region (circa 750. The human rights defenders. The collapse of the Soviet Union and further Russian policies on the post-Soviet space created a region in Moldova . etc. I AM THE HEAD OF A grass-roots human rights movement in Transnistria .Transnistria .4 hectares and for the vast majority of them this was their only source of earning a living.the Council of Europe. More than 70. OCTOBER 2013 57 . endless administrative persecution as well as fabricated criminal cases. has resulted in the mass migration of the population from the Transnistrian region to different countries. Since 1990. Under these circumstances.where the legal systems of Europe do not function. freedom of speech. in reality it is not the conflict which is “frozen” in the region. but human rights that are “frozen”. The property of the former USSR. and it is worth mentioning that these people who have left are the working population. I would also like to say that I am deeply thankful to the UN expert on human rights Mr Thomas Hammarberg. and the oppression of dissent on the other. Joanna Kurocz from Civil Rights Defenders.Republican Social Movement for Defence of Property and Social Rights of Peasants MOLDOVA MY NAME IS STEPAN POPOVSKIY. A new law was adopted regarding these lands which in fact strips the peasants of their land rights. which infringes on the interests of the Transnistrian business elite. the European Union . ANY HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM. which was left on this territory (not less than 10 . Since 1992 there has been a regime in the Transnistrian region of Moldova. The Transnistrian “justice system” is fully controlled by those in power. as well as Ms. The absence of basic human rights (free elections.000 people) has left the region for good. with alleged threats from the “West”. freedom of assembly.000 peasants lost their lands of 3 . I am calling on intergovernmental organisations . for their efforts to stop the fabricated criminal case against me. The European politicians call the Transnistrian region an area of “frozen” conflict. STEPAN POPOVSKIY “ UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. IS OPPRESSED AND PERSECUTED DUBLIN CASTLE.

“ 58 Invatur RUSSIAN FEDERATION ANDREI BULANOV & RAFIK ROGANYAN THE NGO ‘INVATUR’ HAS BEEN WORKING IN THE AREA OF defending the rights of people with disabilities in Russia since 1995 . This type of work is not as visible as other areas of human rights work. Our blind lawyer meets his visitors alone. Practically all of the staff of our organisation have some form of disability. including the rights of disabled people with intellectual disabilities. which was signed by Russia back in September 2008. There are no mass campaigns with large numbers of participants. In cases where the organisation’s activities in relation to rights advocacy contradict the economic interests of a developer. and people with limited ability find it more difficult to get jobs. family life and social benefits. Officially. or a civil servant. The conditions under which a person in a wheelchair cannot leave the house for years are comparable to conditions of torture. Prison administrators are by no means always amenable to monitoring from outside. and the rights of disabled prisoners. are being brought into line with it. it can be said that this activity is risky. Another problem is the absence of stable funding for rights programmes. owner of a public establishment. Sometimes safety is compromised in order to save money. and there have been cases of provocations and our activities being obstructed. albeit slowly. Existing laws are also coming into accordance with worldwide democratic norms. but the problems of people with disabilities are no less severe and no less significant than universal problems. nobody is against giving equal rights to people with disabilities. builders try to cut costs when adapting buildings for people with disabilities. The most important thing is to create an environment and conditions that are convenient and comfortable for people with disabilities to participate in anything anywhere. employer. There are no direct threats and attacks in our work. This approach is based on the UN Convention.their right to education. work. and we have to make long journeys in our own manually-operated cars. We hope that this process is not going to slow down. But in reality. and ratified in 2012. and the laws. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT AND CONDITIONS THAT ARE CONVENIENT AND COMFORTABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO PARTICIPATE IN ANYTHING ANYWHERE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . The area of the rights of prisoners with disabilities is especially difficult.   The issue of disability is an issue of unequal opportunities.

it has to be a part of a transnational movement of solidarity. a women’s rights activist. demonstrations. OCTOBER 2013 59 . debates. Avrora. Russia. we had our own group called the Rainbow Column. Today. When the Russian Parliament was discussing the infamous ban on the so-called propaganda of homosexuality. it is a great pleasure to be here and to see so many people from all over the world who are fighting for similar causes. similarly any struggle for justice anywhere in the world cannot be confined to national borders . Just as our struggle for LGBT rights in Russia cannot go on without joining the struggle of other marginalised and oppressed groups in the country. we cannot rely on the independence of our courts who are often biased and take a pro-government stance. as well as to provide true support to those people who continue fighting against violations of the economic and social rights of the working people. It is alleged that she hit one of the policemen when they were detaining and pulling her towards the police van. we have managed to remain vocal in the streets of Moscow by joining other public events and marches such as the demonstrations against fraudulent elections or the general civil protests against the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin. when it comes to justice for activists and human rights defenders. they blame the LGBT activists for provoking violence. We have managed to incorporate LGBT demands into the general human rights movement in Russia and to show that discrimination of any kind is a form of controlling society and imposing an antidemocratic agenda. Unfortunately. It is particularly alarming to see that the police did not try to prevent this violence. We have also been behind the March for Equality.MY NAME IS IGOR YASSIN. During the large-scale demonstrations against the strengthening of authoritarian rule in Russia. contrary to what they are supposed to do. Very often they dismiss our complaints and. we have faced many challenges. we organised multiple pickets and demonstrations against the proposed bill. and that is why I really think the Dublin Platform can be of benefit for all of us. a campaign for equal rights for both women and LGBT people. I personally have been assaulted by right-wing thugs several times. media appearances and actions of solidarity with other oppressed groups such as migrants and women from disadvantaged backgrounds. She was facing criminal charges for this alleged assault on the policeman and in order to protect her freedom she had to flee Russia. Due to our work and visibility. AND I AM AN ACTIVIST FOR LABOUR rights. I belong to the Rainbow Association . marched holding rainbow flags and pro-LGBT signs through the streets. who are always ready to resort to physical violence. was forced to leave the country. Avrora was detained during a demonstration on International Women’s Day on 8 March. When we in turn try to file lawsuits against these neo-nationalist thugs. This was our way of mainstreaming the LGBT struggle into Russian politics and of demonstrating the cross-section between women’s struggle and the LGBT struggle against all forms of discrimination and for more visibility. an active supporter of the March for Equality and one of our allies. “ Rainbow Association RUSSIAN FEDERATION IGOR YASSIN WE HAVE MANAGED TO INCORPORATE LGBT DEMANDS INTO THE GENERAL HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA AND TO SHOW THAT DISCRIMINATION OF ANY KIND IS A FORM OF CONTROLLING SOCIETY DUBLIN CASTLE. Even though local authorities often find excuses to ban LGBT demonstrations or to immediately dismiss our demands to hold rallies.the largest LGBT group in Moscow. which together with tens of thousands of other dissatisfied citizens. even though it was happening in front of them. the police and courts rarely show understanding. women’s rights and LGBT rights in Moscow. We are trying to reach out to the labour unions and to express our solidarity. The Rainbow Association is active in Moscow to create and empower the LGBT community from within by establishing support groups and to reach out to a wider audience through public activities. The pickets were often attacked by right-wing supporters.

projects and initiatives. We have gained experience with the youth from different parts of Serbia and the region. social. they are responsible for creating a climate of fear and hatred. peace building. Youth Center CK13 is a unique place offering more than 30 programme activities a month. with programmes directed towards youth from different social backgrounds and minority groups such as the Roma or LGBT community. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING A CLIMATE OF FEAR AND HATRED SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . the Kosovo conflict. With the beginning of 2013 the situation got even worse. CK13 was regularly attacked and no investigation was carried out by the police. CK13 has been a victim of a number of attacks since we started our work in 2007. At the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. After the 2012 elections. As at other times when CK13 was threatened. youth violence and human rights violations. and unfortunately the attacks continued to happen. CCTV cameras on the building of CK13 have constantly recorded the attackers. It is researching right-wing extremism in our society. which has a high degree of social and political engagement with young people. the rise of nationalist and fascist organisations reflected the situation in Serbia. including concerts. outdated or misinterpreted information. OUTDATED OR MISINTERPRETED INFORMATION. Although all of these organisations are misleading the public by issuing mostly false. traitors and foreign mercenaries. (anti)racism. To the two people present in the office at the time. Now we can anticipate situations that are potentially risky such as times of political instability.“ 60 Youth Center CK13 SERBIA VIŠNJA ŠIJAČIĆ YOUTH CENTER CK13 IS A NON-PROFIT AND ALTERNATIVE educational and cultural centre in Novi Sad. workshops and panels etc. (anti)-fascism and (anti)-nationalism. when Kosovo declared independence for example. texts and photos that we received through email. films. stickers and newsletters left for us in the mail. ethnic and cultural dialogue and non-violence. but the police and the city and regional administration are not doing anything to prevent this. the young man said “It won’t be good for you if you continue to post these posters”. It is active in dealing with issues related to the Yugoslav Wars. ALTHOUGH ALL OF THESE ORGANISATIONS ARE MISLEADING THE PUBLIC BY ISSUING MOSTLY FALSE. These actions have not only been directed towards CK13. Although CK13 was not on this list. Since 2012. or the days around the Belgrade Pride Parade. we called the police. These organisations started spreading the word about “enemies of the Serbian people”. human rights. CK13 has several different social and political programmes. and we have gathered all the related material including posters. This led to a situation were new attacks on CK13 were made possible. They considered the attacks on CK13 to be crimes that would be prosecuted privately. CK13 informed the police about these actions. CCTV recordings etc. On 23 March 2012. Another organisation “Srbska akcija” (“Serbian action”) published their first letter calling for the lynching of CK13 and its anti-fascist work. they put a poster about it on CK13’s door. An organisation named “SNP Nasi” started making lists of NGOs and media which were considered anti-Serbian. an unknown young man entered the premises of CK13 holding torn posters against the rehabilitation of the Chetnik leader Draza Mihailovic (after World War II. but we continue to be perceived as a threat to them. Mihailovic was tried and convicted of high treason and war crimes). a climate of fascism.

was subject to an inspection by members of the Ministry and the Department of Justice on how its activities conformed with its statutes and to Tajik legislation. “ IN 2012. Amparo went beyond the statues of the organisation by launching its internet site. These arguments were not taken into account by the court. Amparo was liquidated by a decision of the city court of Khudjand. which is a gross violation of the statues and of the Tajik law ‘on NGOs’. Its members included more than 35 young human rights defenders and eight human rights coalitions. These were: The director of the organisation acts in violation of the Tajik law ‘on NGOs’. of the chairperson of the organisation. It uncovered cases of bullying. IT UNCOVERED CASES OF BULLYING. the Department of Justice of the Sogdi oblast’ gave notice of the liquidation of the organisation. being a regional organisation. with five complaints in particular presented. Amparo’s office.Defending and promoting the rights and interests of vulnerable children – orphans. In the same year. Moreover. and finally the lessons on the rights of conscripts were carried out with written permission from the executive organ of the Sogdi oblast’. On 25 October 2012. DEATH AND SUICIDE IN THE TAJIK ARMY DUBLIN CASTLE. it did not receive a copy of the inspection report and the inspection was carried out in the absence of senior staff. without the according decision at a general meeting. children from impoverished families or one-parent families.250 people received free consultations at Amparo’s public clinics.000 copies. It reregistered in 2007 in accordance with the new law ‘on NGOs’ of the Republic of Tajikistan. the organ which inspects the NGO should give a period of a month to correct mistakes.Defending the rights of conscripts and servicemen and strengthening of civic monitoring of the armed forces. .Supporting and promoting of youth initiatives and activation and advancement of young people’s legal consciousness. On 28 June 2012. It developed and published more than 25 types of publication on human rights with an overall output of more than 15. Amparo was a members’ organisation. in the court Amparo noted that it was not notified of the inspection. in particular. In 2012. carries out its activity beyond the borders of the Sogdi oblast’. Amparo was the only human rights organisation in Tajikistan which carried out systematic monitoring of how human rights and freedoms are observed during the conscription of citizens and the carrying out of military service. Amparo carried out monitoring of inhuman behaviour in the Tajik armed forces for the first time. the organisation.000 people took part. The main areas of Amparo’s activities were: . More than 1. AMPARO CARRIED OUT MONITORING OF INHUMAN BEHAVIOUR IN THE TAJIK ARMED FORCES FOR THE FIRST TIME. OCTOBER 2013 61 . the fact that the organisation’s activities beyond the borders of the Sogdi oblast’ were in fact carried out by Amparo’s partners. where ‘various types of article’ are published. the demands to liquidate the NGO was a ‘disproportionate measure’ and according to the legislation. . without advance notice. changed its legal address and did not re-register its new address in the Sogdi oblast’ Department of Justice. It carried out more than 200 training sessions on human rights and legal issues.DILRABO SAMADOVA Association of Young Lawyers ʻAmparoʼ TAJIKISTAN THE ASSOCIATION OF YOUNG LAWYERS ‘AMPARO’. including 800 soldiers on compulsory military service. the court of cassation of the Sogdi oblast’ upheld the ruling of the Khudjand city court without any changes. death and suicide in the Tajik army and represented the interests of conscripts and servicemen in a preliminary court enquiry. The day after the inspection. particularly in the town of Dushanbe. On 14 February 2013. WAS FORMED in 2005 by young lawyers in Tajikistan. in which more than 4. it was registered at the Department of Justice as a regional (oblast’-level) NGO. Amparo carried out lessons on the theme ‘The rights of conscripts and servicemen’ for 9th – 11th grade secondary school pupils without the appropriate permit. Amparo made the arguments that the Department of Justice did not have the right to carry out an inspection of how the organisations’ activities conformed with Tajik legislation (only organs of the public prosecutor’s office has the right to do this according to the law ‘on NGOs’). disabled children. children in foster homes. Amparo. It also took an active part in writing alternative reports to the treaty bodies of the UN and the Universal Periodic Review.

For declaring my conscientious objection I was imprisoned in a military prison for 17 months.000 young soldiers have committed suicide as a result of the pressures they face in the military barracks. approximately 2.“ 62 Conscientious Objector TURKEY HALIL SAVDA I SALUTE ALL OF YOU COURAGEOUS PEOPLE ATTENDING THE 7th Dublin Platform with my faith for freedom and justice in the world. Standing and being amongst you has increased my courage. I want to thank Front Line Defenders once more for inviting me to meet with you. I am working for the recognition of conscientious objection in Turkey and I also campaign for an end to compulsory military service. I am grateful to Front Line Defenders for giving me the opportunity to meet you. and that this is disguised as suicide. the oppressed and the defenders of virtue. I have been taken into custody and prosecuted many times in the course of my human rights work. I declared my conscientious objection because I am a defender of peace. justice. Human rights. military service is compulsory. I believe in the justice of non-violence and peace. I believe it is important to eliminate these violations for the overall improvement of human rights and freedoms. the pressure they endure and the treatment they are subjected to in Turkey. I was prosecuted in Turkey for protesting against the pressure facing Israeli conscientious objectors and for making a statement in solidarity with them. freedom and justice are my only purpose. I have told you my personal story because this is an accurate picture of what human rights defenders face. The European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regard conscientious objection as a fundamental human right. democratic and free world is only possible in the absence of all military organisations and compulsory military service. I was physically tortured and put under immense psychological pressure. Hundreds of thousands of youths face human rights violations as a result of this practice.000 deserters. I have paid too high a price for it. For defending the fundamental human right to conscientious objection and criticising the military system I also have trials pending under Article 318 of the Turkish Penal Code for alienating the people from military service. I was sentenced to five months imprisonment. I always try to live in this way and make others live in this way as well. The rights of conscientious objectors are disregarded by the government. A just. thousands of young men have been tortured. there have been 1. I am going to tell you my personal story because I believe it carries a good picture of the human rights record in Turkey and that it will give you a good idea of the difficulties human rights defenders face. Tens of conscientious objectors have been imprisoned. and cannot avail of many rights as a result. I am going to tell you my personal story.000. PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS ARE THE ROAD SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . and I was held in prison for 50 days in 2012. I have and will always stand with the victim. All men who turn 20 must serve in the military and the right to conscientious objection is not recognised by the Government. It is strongly believed that some of these men were murdered. and furthermore. despite being party to the European Convention on Human Rights and a member of the UN fails to meet with these obligations. tortured or are facing the risk of imprisonment. In this context. an anti-militarist and a human rights defender. I declared myself a conscientious objector in 2004. In the last decade. There are many who have suffered my situation. One million young men have deserted the military service. but the Turkish government. equality and peace. but no pressure has broken my courage. My motto is that there is no road to peace and human rights. According to a statement made by the National Defence Minister. In Turkey. This offence of “alienating the people from military service” is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and to the relevant conventions of the UN. MY MOTTO IS THAT THERE IS NO ROAD TO PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS. peace and human rights are the road.

Houses of transsexuals and effeminate gay sex workers are raided arbitrarily by law enforcement officers (police). LGBT individuals in Turkey cannot come out to their families. If a transsexual individual wants to undergo a sex reassignment surgery. Transsexuals and effeminate gays cannot get employment. Unless. The reason for this escalation is the absence of any code in the Constitution against hate crimes. I AM A TRANSSEXUAL KURDISH woman. Furthermore. they work in a very insecure environment and are exposed to every kind of danger. Transsexual individuals who undergo sex reassignment surgeries illegally can encounter many setbacks with regards to their genitalia. to big cities. hate crimes towards LGBT individuals have increased exponentially. In recent years. That is to say. Unfortunately. some transsexual individuals resort to illegal sex reassignment surgeries. as these sex workers do not have a trade union. Due to these gender-specific identity cards. LGBT individuals are exposed to every kind of attack. and therefore attacks against LGBT individuals are on the rise. orders pecuniary fines under the “misdemeanor legislation” from transsexuals and effeminate gays. The sentence of the person who commits a hate crime is at the discretion of the judiciary (judge and prosecutor). Besides. their families either disown them or kill them by way of so-called “honour killings”. Transsexual individuals have to live with a friend who has rented a house or leave the town they were born and raised in. If they come out. “ Hebun LGBT Organisation TURKEY ÖYKÜ SEZER LGBT INDIVIDUALS IN TURKEY CANNOT COME OUT TO THEIR FAMILIES. insults and verbal and physical abuse. there is no law protecting LGBT individuals in the Turkish Constitution. OCTOBER 2013 63 . he or she has to file a legal action and the system stipulates that they should lack the ability to reproduce. to the big cities. I am coming from Diyarbakir (Amed). when transsexual individuals want to sign a lease. These surgeries are performed under very unhealthy and dangerous conditions. Even in the bigger cities. I will talk about the problems LGBT individuals encounter who live in South-Eastern Turkey.MY NAME IS ÖYKÜ SEZER. especially transsexuals. LGBT issues are spoken about amongst NGOs in Turkey. they tolerate this sexual harassment they will be sacked. Some law enforcement officers extort money from sex workers. after seeing the identity cards. LGBT rights are not spoken about in the parliament. the system practically encourages and promotes hate crimes. The system. However. Men have blue identity cards and women have pink identity cards. There are new Constitutional reforms being tabled however. THEIR FAMILIES EITHER DISOWN THEM OR KILL THEM BY WAY OF SO-CALLED “HONOUR KILLINGS” DUBLIN CASTLE. are often forced to work in prostitution. Turkey is becoming a conservative country. landlords charge twice as much rent to transsexual individuals. Firstly. in recent years. Most of the LGBT individuals who are disowned have to migrate to the west. The sex workers are subjected to threats. transsexual individuals in Turkey cannot find a house. IF THEY COME OUT. Most do not engage in safe sex and are exposed to many sexually transmitted infections and diseases such as HIV. The ones who manage to secure a job either have a very low salary or encounter sexual harassment from their employers. because the identity cards given by the Turkish State are coloured according to gender. and the persons who commit a hate crime are often given very light sentences. due to the long length of the trial process. because I am here on their behalf. the landlords change their minds. I am participating on behalf of Hebun LGBT Organisation. the South-East part of Turkey and I will not be talking about my own life today. Transsexuals and effeminate gays who are alienated by their families and cannot find a job. I would like to express my gratitude to Front Line Defenders for their invitation and for creating an environment as such. and have to migrate west. which includes having difficulty urinating.

Indeed.“ 64 International Coordination of Families of the Disappeared in Algeria ALGERIA MY NAME IS FARIDA OUAGHLISSI AND I AM A MEMBER OF THE National Coordination of Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (‘Coordination Nationale des familles de disparus en Algérie – CNFD). We are consumed by silence. They continue to suffer the consequences of disappearance.distress. so that it would address the Algerian authorities . has neither face nor voice. nor can we get over the pain.000 . An Argentinian writer once said. and to fight against the impunity of our torturers. fathers. to remind the authorities that they are obliged to respect our right to the truth and to justice. It was set up following the end of the civil war which ravaged my country during the ‘dark decade’. and for having given a voice to the thousands of families who like me are struggling everyday in the quest for truth and justice. More than 15 years later. On numerous occasions. and a violation of Article 7 of the Convention Against Torture. Making someone disappear is tantamount to torturing an entire family. During the Algerian civil war (1993 .20. but the disappeared die every day.” After more than 15 years of uncertainty we. brothers..000 people were arrested or kidnapped by Algerian security forces and by militias armed by the government. including being given necessary means for the most complete rehabilitation possible. OVER MANY GENERATIONS SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . “a dead person dies once. The authorities however refuse to authorise us. FARIDA OUAGHLISSI MAKING SOMEONE DISAPPEAR IS TANTAMOUNT TO TORTURING AN ENTIRE FAMILY. and not as ‘victims of the national tragedy’. families still do not know if their loved ones are dead or alive. reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. We continue to document the threats and reprisal measures. a political term which allowed the perpetrators of the crimes committed during the civil war and other authorities to be let off the hook and to not engage in a real process of transitional justice. the families of the disappeared have not benefited from a single psychological rehabilitation programme. and who like me have been struggling on a daily basis for more than 15 years to find truth and justice. we have the right to the truth. and the thousands of cases of forced disappearances. I would like to draw your attention to the manifold consequences of disappearance. I won’t be able to tell you the ending of our story. My husband disappeared 20 years ago and my daughter is now approaching 20 years old. the families of the disappeared still cannot forget. The CNFD has called on the authorities to recognise the families’ status as victims of torture. silence. justice.1998) 8. the Committee Against Torture. our grandchildren or our great grandchildren who will one day find out what happened to their fathers. and it still has a profound effect on several generations. Recognising the families as victims of torture would have guaranteed the right to compensation. struggle and engaging in the quest to find truth and justice.. as there isn’t one. These include of course material and economic circumstances. spouses. Disappearance is a throbbing pain that does not go away. over many generations. But many people like me wake up everyday thinking that if it is not us. The Human Rights Committee has recognised that the anguish and distress caused by disappearance amounts to the torture of families. the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and more recently the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth. Thank you for having given me a voice. Because truth is immortal. after years of searching. spouses and children who are now adults remain unable to grieve. anguish. In addition to the work our association does. This organisation is not authorised by the Algerian authorities. Algeria ratified the Convention against Torture in September 1989 and is obliged to guarantee the victims of torture “the right to reparation and to be fairly and adequately compensated. The CNFD is a group of mothers. and against ‘forgetting’. We continue to mobilise ourselves every Thursday in organising a sit-in at Constantine to demand that the authorities do not forget. it will be our children. Parents. faced with the authorities’ refusal to tell the truth. grandfathers or great-grandfathers. expectation. together with Alkarama. fighting against ‘l’oubli’ or ‘the forgetting’ of their disappeared loved ones. They forget the fact that as the families of the disappeared. sisters and daughters of people who have disappeared across Algeria. We are often the target of reprisal measures. but first and foremost are the psychological consequences . it leaves no trace. denial. depression.” In contrast to the families of victims of terrorism in Algeria. we have accessed the special procedures of the United Nations.in particular the Human Rights Committee. The authorities prescribe forgetting and turning the page. These psychological cycles effect the families of the disappeared and are evidenced by the progressive degeneration of their mental health over the course of time.

the elections were cancelled and Algeria entered into an unprecedented cycle of violence. Algeria moved from a state of emergency to a state of siege. All major intersections and squares are being blocked. I believe that this was a fabricated statement. in particular the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. we have entered the post-siege state. terrorise and intimidate innocent people. In conclusion. I can assure you that policies in Algeria are just time-buying attempts to avoid any popular movement within the country. We were under the attack of party leaders and pro-regime newspapers who were attempting to ruin our credibility and reputation. where those who consider organising. We were even surprised on one occasion to learn. I am here today. for the betterment of society as a whole. We saw it as a road for the murderers on both sides to escape impunity and escape the past. These courses. OMAR FAROUK SLIMANI Let us not forget as well the violations in the south by the multinational companies operating in the oil and gas fields. Now. terrorism and bloodshed which led to the declaration of a state of emergency. not to talk about the harassments or the arrests that we are facing. Blood and devastation formed our daily lives. We are currently waiting to enter the new year. We constantly move between cities to support those pursuing freedom therefore. This movement compelled the Chadli Bendjedid’s government to accept multi-party politics and to hold the first democratic elections in the early 1990s. by the authorities’ orders. unemployed youths. teach them how to deal with the police and how to employ the law for their advantage. We are not permitted to protest in the Algerian capital. that al-Qaeda in the Sahel blessed our activities in the south! It is obvious that our activities and theirs are pulling in two different directions. and even stronger than the rest of the Arab world. She praised the “reforms in the field of rights and freedoms” although I cannot blame her too much. OCTOBER 2013 65 . mercenaries who attempt to harm the country and on many occasions of being terrorists. These so-called reforms were imposed after events in the region. We are committed to peaceful struggle while they kill. via a statement by the Mauritanian news agency. and all demonstrations organised by change seekers. simply to prove Algeria’s compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants. as lawyers we decided to organise training courses for activists. Navi Pillay. which brought about the success of the Islamic Salvation Front. it is suppressed and shut-down. in order not to overload the lawyers searching for legal solutions. I think that it is our fear of our governments that encourages them to suppress us. Our fear is our weakness. I AM A MEMBER OF THE Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights and a trainee lawyer. Twenty-five years after the first popular uprising of its kind in the Arab world in October 1988. trade unionists. FOR THE BETTERMENT OF SOCIETY AS A WHOLE DUBLIN CASTLE. during her visit to Algeria last year. establishing or joining a labour union are arbitrarily dismissed and prosecuted. when the new associations’ law will be applied. and I was hurt by the statements of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights ALGERIA MY NAME IS OMAR FAROUK SLIMANI. Whenever there is a call to organise a demonstration or protest. is to take with the left hand what is offered by the right hand. In Algeria the judicial authority is in the hands of the executive authority. but an active partner in public life. Later. families of missing persons and even students and lawyers are being suppressed. as the authorities know that this time it might be more forceful than what happened in the nineties. “ OUR GOVERNMENT AND THEIR INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS SHOULD REALISE THAT CIVIL SOCIETY IS NOT THE ENEMY. The killing machine did not exclude innocent people on either side – Islamist militants and government forces – until the question arose: “Who is killing whom in Algeria?” Later. and charges against activists are just orders from the latter. Our government and their international partners should realise that civil society is not the enemy. we were accused on numerous charges including being agents in the hands of foreigners. with simple methods. Instead I would like to brief you on a more pertinent matter. a reconciliation law was enacted which many saw as the only hope to overcome the crisis. as she would not know that the Algerian plan. sometimes even before the gathering starts. When I was active with the unemployed youths. and we will discover what harassments are going to be inflicted and which associations will be dissolved due to endowments cuts and restrictions on funding by foreign embassies and international NGOs. The international community is being fooled by the Algerian authorities with regards to the alleged reforms. Ms. and the state of emergency was lifted in an attempt to fool the people of Algeria. and prevent the rise of the revolution. BUT AN ACTIVE PARTNER IN PUBLIC LIFE. as we have already gotten used to living with this fear on a daily basis. Laws in my country are nothing but ‘ink on paper’.

My most recent arrest was in September 2010. What followed were killings based on identity. I don’t think I need to explain how bad a government is when it calls on other governments accused of immense human rights violations to suppress the demands of its people for their basic rights. The same question was bouncing back and forth in my memory in search of an answer: Why do they hate us so much? The question is from Valerie’s letter in the film 'V for Vendetta': “I remember how the meaning of words began to change.” I am still looking for an answer. I WAS BROUGHT BEFORE THE PUBLIC PROSECUTION SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . yet the killers are still not held accountable and still torture people in detention centres. I still don't understand it. Since the moment of my arrest there has always been one question that has occupied my mind while crying. during the outbreak of revolutions in the Arab world. I remember how "different" became dangerous. forcing me to stand behind the door of the room for the duration of the investigation which lasted hours. This widespread persecution continues to this day. we were constantly yelled at and deprived of sleep and we endured degrading treatment. I AM A HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST from Bahrain and a defender of freedom of speech. No lawyer was allowed to attend this interrogation session. writers and journalists. He kept reading the questions and answering them by himself. In the first hearing session. although charges were not dropped. my house was raided to rearrest me and I had no choice but to go into hiding. attacking doctors. I was transferred to wait for trial and locked in solitary confinement for two months. Even when he was directing the accusations towards me he wouldn’t accept my denials. religious leaders. when they held official parties and danced on our corpses in celebration of a 'victory' over the people who were defenceless in front of an army of tanks and jet-fighters. academics. Based on these allegations. Even during family visits we were denied privacy with our families. but the judge turned it down. Their loyalty and affiliation were doubted and questioned. Later on. the regime was coerced to release us under the pressure of the discontent of the demonstrators in the streets. Five people were killed by the torturers in less than three months. Three weeks later the regime carried out a major military operation against the revolution in Bahrain bringing in the so-called GCC’s Peninsula Shield (from Saudi Arabia). while being insulted. Many were killed in the streets. How unfamiliar words like "collateral" and "rendition" became frightening. The regime went mad. We were forced to stand on our feet for long hours. Some of my family members were arrested and tortured to disclose my whereabouts while I lived in isolation from the outside world for two years. MY SAFETY AND THE SAFETY OF MY FAMILY WERE THREATENED. Only six family members were allowed in the presence of six soldiers watching us and listening to everything while continuing to threaten us not to talk about what is going on in the street or in the prison. they were not performing a duty. teachers. authors. While torturing us. I did not meet my family or friends and was trapped between four walls. why they hate us so much. they were enjoying our torment. the journalist and publisher Kareem Fakhrawi. when I was tortured and subjected to humiliation by the interrogators of the National Security Apparatus (NSA). the defence panel found the confessions invalid and asked for the interrogation session to be repeated. After calling in foreign troops. I was brought before the Public Prosecution and before entering the interrogation room. where we were exposed to daily humiliations. which is not currently allowed by the Bahraini authorities. I was threatened at gun point by an NSA Officer to 'confess’ or I would face the same torture. I cannot understand torturers’ psychology nor can I understand this world that deals with us with perfect double standards and yet sometimes asks us to clearly admit that we are worth less than citizens of other nations and do not deserve the same rights. the interrogator started to yell at me. jurists. which remain on Bahrain soil. One of them was my friend. I told the judge about the sufferings and tortures we had all experienced. I WAS FORCED TO SIGN STATEMENTS WITHOUT BEING PERMITTED TO READ THEM. I was forced to sign statements without being permitted to read them. Because we informed the judge of everything we had gone through. poets. As I entered the room. I have been arrested several times because of my activism and my concern for a space that allows freedom of expression.“ 66 Blogger BAHRAIN ALI ABDULEMAM MY NAME IS ALI ABDULEMAM. engineers. instead he wrote his own answers. while things like Articles of Allegiance became powerful. The torturer would suddenly stop and say “I will go to pray and come back to continue torturing you”. Then. Rebels and their sacred beliefs were publicly defamed on the government-owned television channel. My safety and the safety of my family were threatened. another round of pain and punishment was awaiting us when we went back to our cells. lawyers.

. I ask you.. He described the torture sessions and the masked torturers. whose father. the idea is that by defending human rights activists you're also defending their communities. arbitrary arrests. democracy and social justice. systematic torture. He calmly told me about two months in isolation. Like other defenders in Bahrain. The first letter is from imprisoned Nabeel Rajab. He tried. Two days ago. but the regime refuses to change. The Bahraini regime has realised that by arresting and silencing one human rights activist. The worst thing was when I could hear the others being tortured and I couldn't do anything". and I saw pain in my father's eyes when he told me. There was international condemnation of the widespread human rights violations which included extrajudicial killings. Human rights defender Naji Fateel. Thank you so much for listening to the voice of Bahrainis and I look forward to your kind and heartfelt actions. simultaneously we see a rise in the human rights abuses. my family informed me that I have received a summons for interrogation because I spoke about torture. Abdulhadi AlKhawaja worked with Front Line Defenders before he was imprisoned. My father's first hunger strike during this imprisonment was while he was in solitary confinement and being tortured routinely.SAID YOUSIF AL-MUHAFDAH MY NAME IS SAID YOUSIF AL-MUHAFDAH. The regime in Bahrain fears international pressure more than they care about people's rights. “ Bahrain Center for Human Rights BAHRAIN LIKE OTHER DEFENDERS IN BAHRAIN. threatened and harassed because of my human rights work. I HAVE BEEN BEATEN. In a nutshell. DEFAMED. Abduljalil Al-Singace. The regime of Bahrain decided to silence my voice from defending freedom of speech and from defending the rights of all Bahrainis for freedom.. Today I would like to share with you letters from two imprisoned human rights defenders in Bahrain. THREATENED AND HARASSED BECAUSE OF MY HUMAN RIGHTS WORK DUBLIN CASTLE. A few years back.. I ask you to stand in solidarity with the imprisoned human rights defenders in Bahrain. the list is long. Mahdi Abu Dheeb. Their solution is to commit their crimes in darkness. The second letter I share with you today is from imprisoned human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja. who previously delivered a speech at a Front Line Defenders Platform. is now sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and was subjected to severe torture because of his human rights work. My father and other defenders have dedicated their lives to defending victims. you can more easily oppress tens and hundreds of other people. to help the longsuffering people of Bahrain to regain their rights from a tyrant regime. the media and human rights organisations. educating people about their rights and exposing the crimes of the regime. about never seeing a human face. detentions and beatings. I have been beaten. it's who my father is. But it's more than just work for him. tortured and sentenced to life imprisonment. in the cell next to him. colleagues and fellow human rights defenders. Never was this more clear to me than when my father told me about his experience in military prison. But the calm disappeared. my father described to me what Front Line Defenders does. Several human rights defenders. another human rights defender. far away from the eyes of the international community. Defend one activist and you'll be protecting tens or even hundreds of other people. I have been arrested several times for doing my work and for cooperating with and reporting to the United Nations. and I could see the passion that he has for his work. my friends and colleagues. interrogations and defamation campaigns. The regime is therefore shamelessly targeting human rights activists through arrests and torture. but that did not stop the regime from severely torturing him and sentencing him to life imprisonment. "The worst thing was never when I was being tortured. including myself. were put in prison just for speaking out. defamed. after arriving in Dublin. I am addressing you from a cell in Bahrain. violations and crimes towards the general Bahraini population. where I have been imprisoned since 9 July 2012. threats. I AM ACTING VICE President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. about not being allowed to speak. defending others is not what my father does. His only demand was that they stop torturing the head of the teachers' union. My father was tortured severely until he ended that strike. and whose screams he could hear. Head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights: Dear friends. And as more activists are silenced. suffers from paralysis. The best way to achieve this is by silencing those who shed light on the human rights abuses being committed against the people of Bahrain. OCTOBER 2013 67 .

I AM UNDER CONSTANT SURVEILLANCE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . the Bedoons. This case includes charges against 56 other people who participated in the seminar “Enough playing around” for repeating the words of a former MP. She had two cases brought against her. It is not unusual for human rights defenders to face violence. who spoke at the seminar.asked the Kingdom of Bahrain to prevent me from entering Bahrain. for participating in an unauthorised demonstration and assaulting public security officials. Another colleague in the NCMV is Monther Al-Habib who was beaten and arrested on 15 October 2012 after a seminar entitled “Enough playing around”.NAWAF ALHENDAL “ 68 National Committee for Monitoring Violations KUWAIT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ARE NOT GOVERNMENTS’ FAVOURITE people. even though I am in the last year of my studies at one of the universities there. participating in and organising a protest. I WAS DENIED MY RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND THREATENED WITH DISMISSAL FROM WORK. breaching security and defamation of and insulting a public official while performing his duty. it has not affected his will to continue to fight for people’s struggle. has been subjected to physical abuse by a number of public security officials in plain clothes for monitoring a demonstration by the opposition. Human rights defenders in the State of Kuwait aren’t any different to those elsewhere. another activist and the founder of NCMV. All because of my work defending human rights in Kuwait and Bahrain. I am an independent activist. Fortunately. Those I have spoken about are subject to the same treatment. I WAS THREATENED WITH FORCED DISAPPEARANCE ALONG WITH MY FAMILY MEMBERS. Muslim Al-Barrack. and for mocking the Emir of Kuwait. whether individual or collective. The activist Hadil Bugrayss has been threatened with murder. accusing him of assaulting and insulting 17 public security officials. encroachment on the hereditary ruling system and downplaying the Emir’s authority by repeating a speech directed at the Emir of Kuwait. Though he was released. I am under constant surveillance. The case has been brought forward by the public security. They repeated his words as part of their belief of freedom of expression. was arrested and brought to trial on several charges. I was denied my right to education and threatened with dismissal from work. Possibly because we disclose human rights violations and actively campaign for justice for victims and not for governments. beat him and denied his right to have a lawyer present during the hearing. The government of Kuwait – my government . Our efforts. Authorities shot rubber bullets at our colleague Sulaiman bin Jassem of the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCMV). Our colleague Khalid Al-Hajeri. arrest and unjust treatment. He was arrested and kept in detention for seven to eight days. I was threatened with forced disappearance along with my family members. subjected to interrogation at her workplace a number of times and threatened with dismissal if she continues to defend the case of Kuwait’s stateless people. a member of The Kuwaiti Society for Human Rights (KSHR) and a human rights monitor. including gathering in a demonstration. Lately the authorities have charged him with mocking the Emir of Kuwait. for the advocacy of human rights are not welcomed by governments. Our commitment to people’s equality disturbs position-holders and keeps us in constant opposition to them. They arrested him. his charges have yet to be dropped and the case remains in the courts. Rana Al-Saadoon.

This industrial district was not concerned in the least with environmental regulations. My work began in 2000. It is a story about how my family fled Zanzibar for Oman after the coup in 1964. after the Arab Spring. and the plight of Syrian civil war victims. I have also written about the corruption of one of our Omani parliamentary members. environmental abuse and marginalised human rights cases. I was Vice President of the Omani Union of Volleyball and a member of the Omani Women’s Sports Olympic Committee. I have also taken part in a number of protests including one against the closing of the local newspaper. Writing is another outlet I use to draw attention to human rights violations. Currently my human rights work is part-time. I have attended numerous court hearings where those on trial have been accused of crimes related to freedom of speech and expression. the rise of poverty. At the beginning of 2013. “ Omani Group for Human Rights OMAN I PREPARED AND PUBLISHED A SPECIAL REPORT ON VIOLATIONS AGAINST THESE PRISONERS WHICH LED TO MY BEING BANNED FROM VISITING ALL SUCH PRISONERS DUBLIN CASTLE. I also carried the Beijing Olympic torch in 2008. demanding the rights of children whose Omani mothers were married to foreigners through field research. I was detained along with colleagues during my coverage of the strike in the Fahud desert on 31 May 2012. I prepared and published a special report on violations against these prisoners which led to my being banned from visiting all such prisoners. One such case was the severe environmental pollution in an area 200 kilometres from Muscat. I have worked with several civil society institutions. I am a member of the Yemeni-Gulf election monitoring team. I AM OMANI BUT I WAS BORN IN Zanzibar in 1965. The articles discuss taboo subjects in our society such as corruption. I started writing a series of articles under the title “Moaning of the Walls”.000 oil workers who were on strike in Yemen. For my protection I filed a number of lawsuits after these events. I am a former Director of Civil Society against Cancer and the Reading Development Centre. which led to this specific group of individuals accessing some of their deserved rights. I wrote a novel called “Returning to the Dream”. I was on the Board of Directors of the Omani Society for the Disabled and of the Noor Organisation for Blind Individuals. and getting media coverage. I am president of the Omani Group for Human Rights. human rights. women and children’s rights. I also partook in a solidarity stand with more than 4. I founded a volunteer team which is dedicated to spreading awareness of climate adversity and has also organised a number of campaigns highlighting dyslexia among children. reports. They have been posted on numerous social media websites. about human trafficking. sexual harassment and gender equality. This is associated with the Gulf Forum for civil society institutions which is the first of its kind in the Gulf. Our aim is to raise the profile and protection of human rights defenders in Yemen and the Gulf. I am an independent human rights activist. which was founded on 20 May 2012. I visited those imprisoned after the Sohar demonstrations on 22 May 2012.HABIBA AL HINAI MY NAME IS HABIBA AL HINAI. I covered it using social media. The people in this area were suffering from the establishment of an industrial district in the Sohar port. OCTOBER 2013 69 . I am also a founding member of the Women Human Rights Defender Network in the Middle East and North Africa. I was the only woman who walked in the first Green March in Oman on 17 January 2011.

that one simple person could spur the whole Arab region into action. and I want to thank you and tell you that I feel humble before you. Those with mental disabilities are considered as sub-humans in many countries and governments must not forget them. Tunisia was the first Arab country to ratify this convention. the State provided her with no medication . people with disabilities continue to be extremely segregated in Tunisia. and I am going to go back to Tunisia with a great deal of inspiration and courage. Finally I would like to add one thing nobody expected what took place in Tunisia.and I began to get discouraged. the Tunisian Organisation for the Defence of the Rights of Persons with Diabilities (Organisation Tunisienne de Défense des Droits des Personnes Handicapées – OTDDPH). Even after the revolution.not a single deaf person in Tunisia has the right to a decent state education. who in a large number of countries have no right to education. A person with mental disabilties has no legal status . I was there to talk to her about her rights. Our organisation. is essentially composed of individuals with disabilties. the police were against her. When I heard about the experiences of our friends in China and Ecuador. My experience began with a violent awakening during the Tunisian revolution. Women with disabilities continue to undergo forced abortions. I thank you all. When we started taking to the streets and saw thousands of people shouting in unison that they wanted to oust the regime. The weekend before I came here I was conducting a training course with people with disabilties. we no longer saw the danger before us . currently representing 15% of the global population and 13. People with disabilities continue to live in closed institutions where they have no life. So today. and the story of Yolanda… I would like to thank you for making me cry for three days. but she needed the bare essentials.5% of the Tunisian population. I hope that you will also bear in mind persons with disabilities in your struggle.that means that you can do whatever you like to that person and they have no right to legal recourse. but the last to apply it. And I asked myself. since human rights are universal. In fact. among whom women are recognised as being the most vulnerable. Nor can you forget children with disabilities. My experience bears no relation to what you have been through. AND ENCOURAGING ME TO MAKE EVEN GREATER EFFORTS SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS .“ 70 Tunisian Organisation for the Defence of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities TUNISIA PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ARE THE LARGEST MINORITY IN THE world. although this is not official. and encouraging me to make even greater efforts. AND THE STORY OF YOLANDA… I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME CRY FOR THREE DAYS. So don’t lose hope all change is possible. They also have no right to education . “What am I doing. am I really going to find a solution?” But when I arrived here and heard your testimonies I felt strengthened. who work on the basis of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. and I heard the story of a mother with two little girls with disabilities . IMED OUERTANI WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES OF OUR FRIENDS.we were just there to save the country. I myself am a person with disabilities. which dragged me from my bed of ignorance. we no longer saw the policemen firing their guns. these segregations remain even in the most developed countries.her husband had beaten her and divorced her.

But my fellow defenders and I can achieve nothing without real international solidarity.a secret Moroccan detention centre on the barracks of the Compagnie mobile d’intervention. hatred. through intimidation. I wanted to attract national and international attention to the systematic human rights violations that were taking place and being covered up in Western Sahara while it was under a Moroccan and international military and media embargo. In the 1990s and the early 2000s. Other defenders are unable to perform their duty properly because. assassination. As defenders we are constantly targeted by the Moroccan authorities. EL GHALIA DJIMI My experience as a human rights defender is just one example of many other stories of individuals who defend the rights of the Sahrawi people. which renders our work as defenders difficult and sometimes impossible. Dozens of Sahrawi human rights defenders are currently languishing in prisons in Morocco and occupied Western Sahara. including the right to self-determination. sentenced to prison terms ranging from several years to life. Unfortunately. along with other former victims of this inhumane practice. as part of a large group of former victims of forced disappearance and their dependants. and despite the fact that the Moroccan administrative tribunal issued a verdict in our favour. I am Vice-President of the Association Sahraouie des Victimes des Graves Violations des Droits Humains Commises par l’Etat Marocain (Saharan Association of Serious Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Moroccan State) (ASVDH) and a member of the Comité des familles des disparus Sahraouis (Committee for the Families of Disappeared Sahrawis). Ladies and gentlemen. founded ASVDH. however. all that I and my fellow human rights defenders wish for is to be able to build a genuinely peaceful and dynamic civil society that promotes democracy. impunity and disregard for our rights. the authorities still refuse to allow our association to operate as a human rights organisation and continue to block us. I want to be able to build a present in which human dignity and human rights are respected. her fate still unknown. vengence. “ IT IS TIME TO ACT AS ONE INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY TO REVEAL THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MY COUNTRY IN THE FACE OF THE REPREHENSIBLE BLINDNESS DUBLIN CASTLE. and 87 of whom were women. After I was freed in 1991 along with 324 other Sahrawis who had spent between 16 and 40 years in forced exile. blindfolded and deprived of even the most basic humane conditions . incarceration. which does not support the official position of the Moroccan State. Even though my association was established under Moroccan law and has initiated all the necessary legal procedures. a genuine struggle against silence. our task was difficult and dangerous.Saharan Association of Serious Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Moroccan State WESTERN SAHARA MY NAME IS EL GHALIA DJIMI. like hundreds of other Sahrawi people. where I was detained between 1987 and 1991. They are deprived of even the most basic conditions of a fair trial. An active civil society that would help to give rise to equality for all.I was determined to join my friends in building a Sahrawi civil society that could play a part in the promotion and protection of human rights. I decided. notably the right to self-determination and the right to empower young people in the non-violent struggle. stability and peace and protects human rights in the region. to work in the field of defending human rights. despite the fact that victims’ rights are acknowledged by the Instance Equité et Réconciliation (Justice and Reconciliation Commission) and in official government speeches before the international community. I also wanted to try and discover the truth about the fate of hundreds of missing people who remained at the mercy of the Moroccan Government. In 2005. a mother of five and was a victim of forced disappearance between 1987 and 1991. My mother has also been missing since 1984. the physical and psychological torture and the suffering that I endured with my fellow prisoners during my time in what is notoriously known as the PC-CMI . I AM A CITIZEN OF THE non-autonomous and occupied territory of Western Sahara. injustice. my friends and I. they are not permitted to set up organisations or participate in peaceful demonstrations to demand the rights of the Sahrawi people. I am 52 years old. like us. And it is time to act as one international civil society to reveal the truth – the whole truth – about what is happening in my country in the face of the reprehensible blindness and silence of the United Nations and many other international bodies. defamation. OCTOBER 2013 71 . Despite all the atrocities. fanaticism and violations of all our rights. the Moroccan State does not yet recognise our association and consequently blocks our activities. so that our children’s future is not one of distress. torture. including my own mother. following false accusations and unfair judgements. deprivation of our civil and economic rights and all forms of harassment.

radical groups belonging to The Yemeni Organisation of Reform. look initially at their political. They accused me of insulting religion . a few youths and Ahmad Saif Hashid remained after the majority had been dispersed by electric batons. He carried me between his arms. for the sake of humanity. The same ‘takfirist’ who lead this campaign. and although I was screaming at the top of my lungs. The truth is that some human rights defenders do not understand that to be a human rights defender you have to leave aside religious. shedding blood in the name of religion. he saved me from the fangs of the monstrous human. and not against him or her. In a split second. Each party has its own militias on social media. Had it not been for Ahmad Saif Hashid. Here a plainclothes officer. it has not broken me or my will. I leave all my biases aside. nor their rights which have been violated. The oppressors of the old regime came back wearing revolution gowns. who saved me. Saleh’s regime established biased newspapers with public funds. They are mobilised to rise in defence of their religion and beliefs against those “heretics and western agents. They think that the defamation against women activists will silence them. only the tyrant had changed. When I defend a human being. When the revolution began. people can be easily mobilised against human rights defenders. At that point. the violence against me is enormous. took us for questioning at the main police station. This was one of the most frightening days of my life. They intentionally defamed and accused me of immoral actions. both before and after the revolution. If you criticise a group. at the beginning of my human rights duties. On 13 February 2011 there was an abduction attempt. social and religious backgrounds and affiliations. THERE ARE STILL SOME HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS who. Because I am a woman in a conservative society ruled by fusty powers. When the soldier saw him. political or social biases.SAMIA AL AGHBARI “ 72 Human rights defender YEMEN IN YEMEN. he threw me on the ground. If you work neutrally. and he came towards me to save me. At the beginning of the year. If you do not leave these biases and differences aside. I would have been forgotten somewhere inside a dark cell or perhaps even dead. as tyranny returned in the form of revolution and religion. I fainted and awoke in Sanaa Republic Hospital. Al-Qaeda placed a terrifying video on Youtube accusing me of secularism and atheism. but I have proved them wrong. I was subjected to verbal abuse and photoshopping of my picture. rather than thinking of the basic rights of the victim. also filed a lawsuit against me on charges of insulting religion. accused me of being an agent for Israel and subsequently continued the threats and harassment against me. defamation and verbal abuse against me. Ahmad Saif Hashid heard my screams from the opposite side of the street where he was trying to save the youths from the attack. They do not look at the oppressed person as a human being. particularly fanatic religious groups.” Religion is being misused to trigger people against human rights defenders. and on several occasions I was a victim of the Al-Distoor Newspaper which was aware that a woman in a conservative society has only her reputation to protect her. nobody came to my aid. and it would be a shame to claim to be one. What’s more dangerous is that the regime is urging the people to kill in the streets. Through these campaigns they attempt to silence the voice of women by taking advantage of the low literacy rate and trying to use religious rulings to their advantage. the suppression intensified. but has convinced me to continue this struggle in a win for humanity. knocking my head against the curb. In a religious society with a low level of literacy. led a campaign of atonement. My anguish began during the reign of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime. Up until now their campaigns continue under the guise of protecting religion. Our shock was greater after the departure of Saleh and his followers. I am trying my best to be on the side of the ‘human being’. you will find yourself the subject of its followers’ attacks. instead of looking for the perpetrator. you are considered to be against them. Only myself. THROUGH THESE CAMPAIGNS THEY ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THE VOICE OF WOMEN BY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE LOW LITERACY RATE AND TRYING TO USE RELIGIOUS RULINGS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS . and that is why I have been a victim from different sides. They are always telling me “Find yourself a husband” and use demeaning words against me.only because I criticised their organisation. you cannot be a true human rights defender. It is a systematic campaign against women defenders and journalists who had been freed from their ideas. Violations continue. a masked plain-clothed soldier tried to kidnap me in the presence of rows of other soldiers and a number of citizens. I was participating in a peaceful protest by youths when central security soldiers came in full force and in large numbers and dispersed the crowd. Attacks against human rights defenders remained the same before and after the revolution. Human rights are about life and dignity.

org . Front Line Defenders would welcome any input for the agenda. the Dublin Platform would not have occurred: Irish Aid European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights Iris O’Brien Foundation Adessium Foundation American Jewish World Service Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Fairwind Foundation Foundation for a Just Society Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Dublin Hivos The Ireland Funds Lifeline: Embattled NGO Assistance Fund Oak Foundation Open Society Foundations Overbrook Foundation The Roddick Foundation Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Rausing Trust Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Tides Foundation The Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund The Violet Jabara Charitable Trust Anonymous An Post Ballymaloe Barrys Tea Butlers Carrolls Dillon Eustace Dublin Bus Inis Fragrances of Ireland Rothco The Body Shop The next Dublin Platform will take place in 2015.frontlinedefenders.Front Line Defenders wishes to offer sincere thanks to the following donors. Reports from the working groups that took place in this year’s Seventh Dublin Platform are now available on the Front Line Defenders website. Without their generosity. www.

opinions and comments in this publication are entirely the responsibility of Front Line Defenders and do not necessarily represent or reflect Irish Aid policy.org WWW. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Front Line Defenders and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.ORG The ideas.FRONTLINEDEFENDERS. Ireland Tel: 00 353 1 212 37 50 Fax: 00 353 1 212 10 01 Email: info@frontlinedefenders. Dublin.org BRUSSELS Front Line Defenders – EU Office Square Marie-Louise 72 1000 Brussels Belgium Tel: 00 32 230 93 83 Fax: 00 32 230 00 28 Email: euoffice@frontlinedefenders. .BOOK OF TESTIMONIES FROM HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS THE SEVENTH DUBLIN PLATFORM Follow Front Line Defenders on Facebook.Head Office Second Floor. This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. Blackrock Co. Twitter and YouTube DUBLIN Front Line Defenders . Grattan House Temple Road.

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