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2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk

EMIL KURBEDINOV RECEIVES
2017 FRONT LINE DEFENDERS AWARD

Emil Kurbedinov Receiving FLD Award

Defending human rights activists and political prisoners is some of the most dangerous work a lawyer can do in Crimea. After years taking on these risky cases, Crimean Tatar lawyer Emil Kurbedinov was awarded the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk on 26 May 2017 in a ceremony at City Hall in Dublin.
 

Crimean Tatar Activist Wins 2017 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk - Press Release

Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea's Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.

Following on continuing requests from Crimean Tatar HRDs in Ukraine to increase their visibility, the Award generated more than 10 unique articles in Russian and Ukrainian media. Top English-language media outlets in Ukraine, Hromadske International TV channel and The Kyiv Post, also ran features on the award winner, as did ATR Channel, a Crimean TV station popular with Crimean Tatars, which moved to Kiev following pressure from the Russian authorities. The Award also garnered print, online, radio, and broadcast television coverage in seven languages (English, Russian, Ukrainian, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic). In Ireland, RTE and the Irish Times both ran features on the prize and the winner. Reuters issued a wire piece covering the winner, which made both the international Reuters "Big Ten" and "Top Stories" on the day of the event and has been republished dozens of times globally. Al Jazeera Media Network broadcast a segment featuring talks by the winner, Emil Kurbedinov, and Front Line Defenders Executive Director Andrew Anderson.

Upon his arrival in Ukraine, dozens of people, including journalists and activists, were waiting for Emil Kurbedinov at Borispyl International Airport. “It was the warmest welcome from colleagues and friends. People who I did not even know came up to me and congratulated me with the award”, said the defender.

Emil believes that the much needed international attention the Award brought to the plight of Crimean Tatars and human rights activists in Crimea has already improved his safety at home. “When I left the police were initiating a criminal case against me. But since my return from Dublin, no one has called me and no one has talked to me about it”, said Emil.

At the ceremony in Dublin City Hall, Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, presented the Award to Emil.

These are the heroes, and often the unsung heroes of our societies.
- Michael O'Flaherty

Andrew Anderson, Front Line Defenders Executive Director, introduced the organization and the significance of the award, while paying homage to the 5 finalists (see below).

We live in dark times. It seems we are assailed daily with fresh atrocities. Welcome to a celebration of the courage of those who bring light and love to our world.
- Andrew Anderson

Denis O'Brien, Chairman of the Board of Directors, welcomed the audience, including members of the diplomatic corps and government officials to Dublin City Hall.

Given annually, the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk honours the work of human rights defenders who - at great personal risk - courageously make an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights of their communities.

Finalists Announced for 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk - Press Release

2017 Finalists:

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Emil Kurbedinov, Crimea/Ukraine

Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea's Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.

Pham Thanh Nghien

Pham Thanh Nghien, Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger Pham Thanh Nghien spent four years in prison for her work publicising violations against and defending the rights of relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols. Following her release, she was kept under house arrest, during which time she spearheaded numerous human rights campaigns and co-founded the renowned Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network. Nghien has had her home raided, been blocked from attending medical appointments, had a padlock placed on her door from the outside, and been refused a marriage certificate. Nghien has also survived numerous physical assaults aimed at stopping her powerful, peaceful work uncovering and publicising human rights violations in Vietnam.

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Nonhle Mbuthuma, South Africa

Nonhle Mbuthuma has persisted in her struggle for land and environmental rights in South Africa's Eastern Cape despite assassination attempts, ongoing death threats and the murder of her colleague. She is a founder and current member of the Executive Committee of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, formed to unite community members in five villages of the Amadiba Tribal Authority region opposing destructive mining projects. In July 2016, Nonhle and other activists successfully forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project to withdraw, but threats to activists continue as the community now fears the project will continue with funding from local “front” companies.

Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Kuwait

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli is currently imprisoned for his peaceful activism on behalf of Kuwait's stateless Bedoon and other minority communities in Kuwait. The term Bedoon, meaning “without” in Arabic, refers to the community of stateless persons, native to Kuwait, who are prohibited from obtaining any official state documents including, but not limited to, birth, death and marriage certificates. Abdulhakim is currently serving a one-year prison sentence and faces deportation upon release. Throughout his imprisonment, he has protested and staged hunger strikes against the inhumane and unsanitary conditions in the Anbar 4 prison facility, where he has also been subjected to solitary confinement.

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Francisca Ramírez Torres, Nicaragua

Human rights defender Francisca Ramírez Torres' children were attacked in attempt to stop her powerful work advocating against a destructive inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Francisca is the coordinator of the Council for the Defence of Land, Lake and Sovereignty, which educates communities on their rights, campaigns for the repeal of laws allowing land-grabbing. The proposed canal would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples, without respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent. Francisca has been detained, harassed, and had her home and family attacked for her peaceful resistance to this destructive canal project.

 


About the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:

The annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honour the work of a human rights defender who, through non-violent work, is courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.

The Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender's work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security.

In 2014 the Al-Jazeera Media Network became the global media partner for the Front Line Defenders Award, giving much wider coverage of the ceremony and of the defender's work to a global audience.


The previous winners of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk are:

2016 - Ana Mirian Romero, Honduras

2015 - Guo Feixiong, China

2014 - SAWERA, Pakistan

2013 - Biram Dah Abeid, Mauritania

2012 - Razan Ghazzawi, Syria

2011 - Joint Mobile Group, Russian Federation

2010 - Dr. Soraya Rahim Sobhrang, Afghanistan

2009 - Yuri Melini, Guatemala

2008 - Anwar Al-Bunni, Syria

2007 - Gégé Katana, Democratic Republic of Congo

2006 - Ahmadjan Madmarov, Uzbekistan

2005 - Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Sudan