With at least ten rural workers and leaders killed in 2019 and increased violence against human rights defenders, fuelled by hate speech from the highest levels, there seems to be little to celebrate in the State of Para on Human Rights Day 2019. This 9 December, Front Line Defenders Protection Coordinator, Ivi Oliveira, accompanied one of our partners in Brazil at the reception ceremony of the Medal Paulo Frota by the Legislative Assembly of Para (ALEPA), which recognised individuals and organisations for their work in defence of human rights in the state.
In October last year, I had the privilege of meeting Damian Gallardo for the first time. It is a name I heard many times since 2013, when he was arrested in the middle of the night in his home in Oaxaca; since then Front Line Defenders – with many others – supported him and his family and campaigned for his release. I met him in what had been his home for five years, a high security prison outside Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco.
Last week I attended the court hearings on case of Oyub Titiev, the head of the Human Rights Center Memorial branch in Grozny who was absurdly charged with drug possession. I first met Oyub Titiev in 2009 after our common beloved colleague Natalya Estemirova had been abducted and assassinated.
A few days before my friend Fatima* boarded a plane back to Bahrain last month, she sent me an blank email with no subject line. Attached was a PDF file labelled “RISKS.” It listed nearly twenty dates on which she had been threatened, harassed, interrogated, banned from travel, or watched her brothers be thrown in prison in retaliation for her human rights work.
Le Dinh Luong is a Vietnamese HRD who advocated on behalf of victims of the 2016 Formosa factory pollution incident, which resulted in the loss of livelihood and sometimes life of thousands of Vietnamese fishermen and farmers. In August, he was found guilty of "carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” and sentenced to 20 years in prison, with an extra 5 years of house arrest afterward.
The European Union is currently developing Guidelines on the Right to Water. Human rights defenders protecting their communities’ access to water around the world face lethal risks for their work, and their expertise must be central to the EU’s proposed Guidelines.
A guest blog by Afro-Brazilian HRD Heloisa Helena Costa Berto, from correspondence to Front Line Defenders Americas Protection Coordinator (published at request of the HRD, translated from Portuguese)
Good morning, I know you have nothing to do with this, but I have to express myself. I need to make a complaint about how public bodies treat people who thinks differently. I am looking for rights, not only mine, but for a community, defending and denouncing injustices.