Front Line News Archive

Russian Federation – The burning of the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny after threats and an attempted attack on human rights defenders working in Chechnyaposted on: 2014/12/13

Today, on 14 December 2014, at around 1 p.m. several armed men entered the apartment of the Joint Mobile Group located next to their burned office. They refused to identify themselves but later said they were from Leninsky district police department of Grozny. They forcibly searched the premises and two members of the JMG, Sergey Babinets and Dmitry Dimitriev. They had no warrant and provided no explanations except pointing out that Babinets is suspicious "because he has a beard." The policemen seized the mobile phones of the human rights defenders leaving them out of connection and without legal representation for around one hour and a half. Two computers of the JMG and CCTV cameras have been also seized. The human rights defenders were released at approximatively 2.30 pm.

On 13 December 2014, three unidentified armed men tried to enter the office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny. This followed a demonstration against the Joint Mobile Group and its head Igor Kalyapin which took place in Grozny that morning.

Bahrain: Award Winning Repression - EU gives human rights award to non-independent public institutions while the state jails and tortures human rights defenders posted on: 2014/12/17

Front Line Defenders is deeply disappointed with the awarding of the Chaillot Prize to two Bahraini national institutions, the Interior Ministry Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), amidst a flagrant and widely reported crack-down by the Bahraini government on independent civil society organisations and human rights defenders. According to Ambassador Kulach, the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, which also covers Bahrain, the prize was presented to the two Bahraini institutions on the basis of their “constructive engagement” where they “exposed violations and cases and were committed to investigating those claims thoroughly”.

UAE - Fear that Anti-Terrorism Law will be used to curtail human rights and target human rights defendersposted on: 2014/12/16

A coalition of international NGOs is seriously concerned about the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Law in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that was approved by President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in late August 2014. The coalition calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) to act to ensure that the legislation is not used as a tool to target, imprison, harass, intimidate and impede the work of human rights defenders in the UAE, particularly as human rights groups were among those named as terrorist organisations by the authorities in November.

The Gambia - The work of LGBTI rights defenders threatened by new anti-gay Billposted on: 2014/12/16

As the European Union currently debates whether to cut off an additional EUR 150 million of development aid to The Gambia because of a lack of progress on human rights generally and the recent clampdown on LGBTI rights in particular, Front Line Defenders reiterates its serious concern for the safety and security of LGBTI defenders in the country.

On his 44th birthday, wife of Chinese HRD Tang Jingling appeals for his freedomposted on: 2014/12/16

Tang Jingling is currently in detention in China on charges of 'inciting subversion of state power'. Part of the evidence that will be used against him will likely include his possession of books on non-violent, civil disobedience, including From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp. It is probable that he will be tried soon.

Joint Letter: Concern on the situation of human rights defenders from the Transnistrian regionposted on: 2014/12/15

Front Line Defenders and five other human rights organisations have issued a joint letter to the authorities of Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine regarding the situation of human rights defenders in the Transnistrian region.

Update: Thailand – Legal cases against Surapan Rujichaiwat and other Wang Saphung community leaders droppedposted on: 2014/12/12

On 8 December 2014, Tungkum Limited Company (TKL Company) withdrew eight legal cases against 33 villagers, including human rights defender Mr Surapan Rujichaiwat, who are members of the land rights group Khon Rak Ban Koed (KRBK). According to the agreement signed by TKL Company and KRBK on 4 December 2014, the cases against the 33 land rights defenders were dropped based on a conditional exchange between TKL Company and the KRBK group members.

Update: Bahrain – Zainab Al- Khawaja sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in two separate court hearingsposted on: 2014/12/11

On 9 December 2014, human rights defender Ms Zainab Al- Khawaja was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment by the First Lower Criminal Court in Manama for "sabotaging properties belonging to the Ministry of Interior" and "insulting a public official". Five day earlier, on 5 December, she was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and fined 3,000 Bahraini Dinar (approx. 6,400 Euro) for "tearing up a photograph of the King".

Update: Vietnam – Appeal court to rule on conviction of Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang who was sentenced to three-years' imprisonmentposted on: 2014/12/11

On 12 December 2014, Dong Thap Province Appellate Court in Vietnam is expected to examine the sentence of human rights defender Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang who was sentenced earlier this year to three-years' imprisonment under Article 245 of Vietnam's Criminal Code for “causing public disorder”.

"Panic Button" app for human rights defenders included in the Nominet Trust 100posted on: 2014/12/11

Panic Button, a mobile app designed to allow human rights defenders (HRDs) and other activists to use their phone as a discreet alarm device, has been included on the 2014 Nominet Trust 100, a list of the world's best digital innovations for social change.

Muzzling Dissent in the Euro-Mediterranean Regionposted on: 2014/12/10

In a new report released to coincide with Human Rights Day, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) rings the alarm on the stifling of the right to assembly in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Mr Eamon Gilmore TD meets jailed human rights defender Azimjan Askarov in Kyrgyzstanposted on: 2014/12/10

On 9 December 2014, on the eve of international human rights day, former Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Eamon Gilmore TD travelled to Kyrgyzstan where he was the key note speaker at an OSCE meeting on the need for the regional protection of human rights defenders in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. During the visit Mr Gilmore visited jailed Kyrgyz human rights defender Azimjan Askarov who is serving a life sentence after an unfair trial during which he was brutally tortured.

HRDs Among Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Thinkers of 2014 posted on: 2014/12/09

"Human Rights Defenders are golden people who shed light on the darkest corners of the world. Their invincible spirit helps us all rise up and be counted."
- Mary Lawlor
Executive Director
Front Line Defenders

In its publication - A World Disrupted: Leading Global Thinkers of 2014, Foreign Policy magazine listed a number of human rights defenders in the Advocates section. Front Line Defenders has reported and advocated for 4 of these HRDs - including the 2013 Front Line Defenders Human Rights Defender at Risk Award winner, Biram Dah Abeid (Mauritania).

Syria: No word on four abducted activists; A year on, no information on Douma Four posted on: 2014/12/09

Joint Public Statement

The prominent Syrian human rights defenders Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wa’el Hamada and Nazem Hamadi - the Douma Four - remain missing a year after their abduction, 57 international and regional rights organizations said today. The four were abducted in Douma, a city near Damascus under the control of armed opposition groups. They should be released immediately, the groups said.

Open letter to the president of Azerbaijan from Irish writers and journalists concerning the detention of Leyla Yunusposted on: 2014/12/08

Dear Mr. President,

We, the undersigned writers, journalists and advocates for the right to freedom of expression, submit this letter to highlight our growing concern for the deteriorating physical and psychological health of Azerbaijani human rights defender Ms Leyla Yunus.