DIRECTOR'S BLOG

Women Human Rights Defenders in China: Twenty Years After Beijing, What's Changed?

When I arrived at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) in Beijing, Chinese authorities welcomed hundreds of foreign dignitaries and international rights groups with rainbow coloured scarves. Yet, while China hosted what would come to be known as the pre-eminent gathering on gender equality for the next twenty years, the government was also systematically disempowering Tibetan women through its repressive policies towards the Tibetan Autonomous Region. At the opening of the conference in 1995, in protest against China's silencing of Tibetan women's voices, a delegation of exiled Tibetan women gagged themselves with the silk.

Throughout the conference, Chinese security officers filmed, photographed, and followed the Tibetan women. On the third day, the activists lead a workshop on "Women and Development in Tibet," which so angered the crowd that a counter-protest erupted. My self and colleague Frank Jennings – later known to the Chinese authorities as “Black Hand” for his outspoken work in support of women rights defenders in China – tried to act as human shields while Chinese men shouted and pushed Tibetan women to the floor.

Sudan - where calling for the rule of citizenship and democracy constitutes waging war on the state

Sudanese human right defender Amin Mekki Medani is 76 years old and his health is critical. Despite this he is standing trial in Khartoum on charges of “waging war against the state” and “undermining the constitutional system” both of which carry the death penalty.

Uzbekistan – the Diplomatic Game and the Art of Betrayal

As President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan looks all set to begin his fourth and unconstitutional, term of office a lot of the media attention has focused on the fate of his daughter Gulnara. Is she or isn't she under house arrest? Did she or didn't she pocket $1 billion in bribes from telecommunications companies? But the question we should be asking is, what does the future hold for the people of Uzbekistan?

Jailed, threatened with jail or in hiding - that's the reality for the 5 finalists for this year's Front Line Defenders Award

I noticed with interest the launch of the new #idefend campaign in Geneva, “an initiative of the Delegation of the European Union to the UN in Geneva in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Permanent Missions of Brazil, the Republic of Korea and Tunisia to the UN in Geneva”. The project aims to support and protect the independence of civil society. Since then we have seen a steady procession of the great and the good having their photos taken while holding up statements declaring their support for the work of human rights defenders.

Stopping slavery in Mauritania starts with ending the persecution of those who fight it

There are some practices which however hard people try can never be justified on any basis whatsoever - and slavery is one. The act of one human being selling another for profit cannot be anything other than totally abhorrent. There is a common perception that slavery has been confined to the pages of history, however the sad reality is that today more than 30 million people are affected by slavery, more than at any time in history. After the international drug trade, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world.

Blaming the Victims in Guatemala

Following the publication of my recent Opinion Piece in The Irish Times regarding the humanitarian crisis of undocumented children arriving in the United States from Central America, a reader wrote to me questioning some of the basic facts.

Seeking Justice at the BRICS – Can Brazil Lead?

On 15 July, the 6th BRICS Summit will open in Brazil. The timing, in many ways, could not be more important for each of the 5 countries involved.

Lies and Obfuscation - the legal system in Saudi Arabia

In the space of three days last week two prominent human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia received harsh prison sentences. To any reasonable person it seems incredible that the mere fact of demanding political reform and democratic change or simply monitoring the human rights situation in your country could be construed as taking part in a plot to overthrow the state.

Tiananmen 25: More than a Symbolic Legacy

(Visit the China campaign site for more interviews with Tiananmen student leaders)

Twenty five years ago today, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) demonstrated the extent to which it would go in order to face down any challenges to its power or legitimacy.

Failure at Launch – Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe

Just when we needed the Council of Europe to stand strong for human rights, Azerbaijan is due to bring its hackneyed brand of authoritarian repression to the role of Chairman.