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.
At the end of March, I visited environmental and land rights defender Máxima Acuña de Chaupe at her home in the Cajamarca region of Peru. The next nonfiction graphic novel we are producing is about environmental and land rights defenders challenging and at risk from resource extraction companies. Máxima is confronting Newmont Mining (US) and its Peruvian counterpart, Yanococha Mining, which are trying to remove her from her land to build a huge gold mine, known as Conga.
On 27 September China will co-host with UN Women a “Global Leader's Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment” in New York. Chinese President Xi Jinping will address the gathering, as will Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. The event will mark 20 years since the Beijing Declaration and is intended to place 'gender equality, women's rights and women's empowerment at the centre of the global agenda'.
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.
The following guest blog by Peace Brigades International volunteer Niamh Ni Bhriain, a former Frank Jennings Intern with Front Line Defenders, describes a visit to human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo in prison