andrew's blog

14 March, marks a year to the day since Chinese human rights defender Cao Shunli died in custody in Beijing.

Cao Shunli was detained in Beijing in September 2013 as she attempted to travel to Geneva to participate in a training on UN human rights mechanisms. In the 52 weeks which have passed since her death, not one Chinese official has been publicly held accountable for her arrest, her treatment in detention, or the continued refusal by state security agents to allow her to receive medical attention despite her rapidly worsening health.

Who subverts the rule of law in China?

Apparently China's Communist Party apparatchik's are being told to switch their tinted glass Audis for more domestic models. Even the powerful have to look nervously over their shoulders, particularly as Xi Jinping continues his anti-corruption campaign. But you still have to wonder at how it is possible that a 74 year old human rights defender with slogans painted on sheets has been able to “destabilise and subvert” their rule.

Новая абсурдная инициатива МВД РФ

МВД России готово заплатить 3,9 млн рублей (около 65 000 фунтов-стерлингов) за возможность идентифицировать пользователей сети Tor, которая позволяет анонимно просматривать Интернет. Это еще одна, доходящая до абсурда, попытка контролировать доступ к независимой информации.

The Russian Interior Ministry is almost beyond parody

The news that the Russian Interior Ministry is offering a £65,000 prize for a way to identify individuals using the Tor network to browse the internet anonymously is almost beyond parody. It is the latest attempt to control access to independent information.

Outrageous propaganda and inconvenient truths

In a recent article in the respected Middle East web publication Al Monitor, Sarah Bin Ashoor published an article on Bahrain which severely distorted the facts of the situation. Front Line Defenders Deputy Director Andrew Anderson challenges her inaccurate version of events and sets the record straight.

Happy New Year Abdulhadi

In Scotland we have a tradition of coming together to celebrate Hogmanay. It is a time to celebrate friendship, for Auld Lang Syne, and to think of our hopes and resolutions for the New Year.

This will be the third New Year that my friend and former colleague Abdulhadi Al Khawaja will celebrate in prison in Bahrain where he is serving a life sentence for speaking out for human rights.

International Day against Torture: A Struggle We Can Win

For someone who believes in humanity the 26th of June is always difficult. I don't generally pay too much attention to the myriad of international days marking a diversity of issues, but the international day in support of victims of torture has always been that bit more poignant. The continuing widespread use of torture around the world is not only a bitter litany of individual acts of brutality, but is also a slap on the face to all of us who believe in the capacity of humanity to make a better world.

One of the privileges of working with Front Line Defenders is that I meet more and more human rights defenders who continue their work on behalf of others in the face of repression. Many of these brave people have been tortured. They are not statistics or victims, they are survivors who sustain a determination to struggle for justice and human rights.

Kenya Decides

Kenyans took to twitter in the last days before their election to criticise foreign journalists and NGOs for talking up the potential for violence. There have been multiple fairly scathing comments with the hashtag #TellCNN because of what was perceived to be a sensationalist and ill informed report.

We drove out of Nairobi on Monday morning through near empty streets except for the long lines of voters queueing outside polling stations. We drove down to Machakos where we saw calm and peaceful Kenyans queueing more than a kilometre in one central location and another polling station that was almost empty about a kilometre away. In what became the theme of the day, the dignified determination of Kenyans to vote was leavened by some frustration at the quality of organization.

It has to be said that it is a hugely complex process given that voters are expected to cope with six different ballot papers and ballot boxes: President, Governor, Member of Parliament, Senator, County Women's Representative (one MP elected in each of 47 counties from an all women list) and County Assembly representative.

Venezuela: Robin Hood has lost his lustre

Reinforced office door and CCTV at OVPReinforced office door and CCTV at OVPIt was a little strange to hear the phrase “they don't like it because they want to be perceived as Robin Hood,” during a discussion in Spanish on attempts to close down independent community groups in the barrios of Caracas.