Human Rights First honored human rights defenders from Russia and Sudan at its annual human rights awards dinner in New York on October 21. The dinner is an opportunity to recognize the courageous work of leading human rights defenders, but just as importantly, it enables Human Rights First to bring the concerns of these human rights leaders directly to policy makers at the United Nations and in the U.S. government.
Ludmilla Alexeeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group and a renowned Soviet era dissident, made clear in her remarks and meetings that human rights defenders in Russia today face new restrictions and new threats to basic freedoms. She urged the international community to support vulnerable Russian human rights defenders like Stanislav Dmitrievsky, who is on trial in Nizhny Novgorod for exposing human rights violations in Chechnya.
Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Chair of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) brought his firsthand experience of the continuing human rights crisis in Darfur to the attention of high level U.N. officials, including High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Lakhdar Brahimi. Human Rights First is now following up to ensure that Dr. Mudawi’s call for a new international political initiative to resolve the Darfur conflict results in action from the U.N. and the U.S. government.
Our distinguished visitors reminded us once again how vital the work of human rights defenders is in so many countries, and how much they need your support. Thank you for your continuing participation and interest in the Defender Alert Network.
With best wishes,
In its new report Karimov’s War: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Uzbekistan, Human Rights First describes how over the last decade President Karimov has misused concerns over security to undermine respect for basic rights and freedoms. The May 13 massacre in Andizhan was part of a much broader pattern of oppression in the name of counterterrorism that has characterized President Karimov’s long rule. Those who have tried to report on this oppression – including journalists, lawyers, monitors, and activists – have themselves been jailed, tortured, and accused of supporting terrorists.
In its report, Human Rights First calls on the international community to send a more unified message to Uzbekistan seeking an international, independent investigation into the violence in Andizhan and making all agreements with Uzbekistan contingent on verifiable improvement of its human rights practices.
In October many of you contacted your Members of Congress to ask them to sign on to a letter urging the Indonesian president to release the report. As a result of efforts by activists like you, almost 70 representatives signed the letter, which was then sent to President Yudhoyono. At a press conference in Jakarta, Munir’s wife Suciwati said, “The letter from the U.S. Congress is part of the international support pouring in, providing sympathy and urging the Indonesian government to solve the case of Munir’s murder.”Read the Letter from Congress to President Yudhoyono
Government Repression in Cuba IncreasingSince a further government crackdown in July 2005, repression and acts of intimidation against human rights activists and their families have been increasing in Cuba. A succession of hostile and often violent acts against peaceful government critics – including human rights defenders, independent journalists and democracy advocates – has been carried out by government-instigated civilian mobs.
Among those under attack are members of the Ladies in White, relatives of unjustly imprisoned activists who campaign peacefully for humane prison conditions, basic rights, and the release of their family members. The Ladies in White were recently awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize for human rights by the European Parliament.
HRF views pressure from Europe as helpful in promoting human rights in Cuba. Following the July crackdown, HRF sent a letter to the European Union urging unequivocal support for wrongfully imprisoned human rights defenders in Cuba. We welcome the response of the EU. HRF also recently took part in a joint conference of European and U.S.-based NGOs and government officials to advance trans-Atlantic cooperation in human rights promotion on the island.
Read Human Rights First’s statement before the IV Summit of the Americas on the situation of human rights defenders in the Western Hemisphere.
After being transferred to Milad Hospital on July 17 to receive urgent medical treatment following an international outcry from supporters like you, Akbar Ganji was returned to Evin Prison on September 3. Since his return to prison, Mr. Ganji has been held incommunicado and credible reports of serious ill-treatment and torture have emerged. Take Action >>
Earlier this month the Syrian government released 190 political prisoners, among them Mohammed Raadoun, president of the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria. Mr. Raadoun spent over 5 months in jail. Thank you to all the members of the Defender Alert Network who urged for his release.
Human Rights First welcomes her release, but is concerned for the dozens of other human rights defenders who remain in detention and are subject to torture or other forms of mistreatment in Uzbekistan. Take Action >>