Write for Rights updates
Sometimes it feels as if we only hear bad news as we are all waiting for life to return to normal. We thought it would be a good idea to bring you some better news, where our work in Amnesty has born fruit. For the past several years we have spent time over the Christmas and New Year period joining the Write for Rights Campaign and in 2018 our contribution added to the 5,912,113 actions around the world, for more information see www.amnesty.org.uk
Write for Rights 2018: a brief summary of the 2018 Campaign Report
Our Human Rights Defenders
NONHLE MBUTUMA – SOUTH AFRICA
Nonhle Mbuthuma is a human rights defender from the Amadiba Community in South Africa and a spokesperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC). She has been vocal in her opposition to a titanium mining licence being awarded to an Australian company against the wishes of her community. As a result, she has been threatened, intimidated and harassed mainly by police and unknown people.
Nonhle remains at risk of threats and harassment. Despite there being no official government response to the campaign thus far, Amnesty is confident that continued global pressure will yield positive results in terms of increased protection for Nonhle and the respect for her community’s right to say no to mining on their land.
GERALDINE CHACON - VENEZUELA
Geraldine Chacon, 25, is a passionate and dedicated young activist. She has spent years helping to improve people’s lives by educating people in some of the most impoverished areas of Venezuela, about their rights.
This human rights defender and Amnesty International member was detained on 1 February 2018, when armed officials of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service showed up at her home and threw her behind bars. She spent four months not knowing how long she would spend locked up in terrible conditions, incommunicado and with severely limited access to food and water. She was never charged with any crimes but was conditionally released.
The ultimate goal of the campaign was to get the Venezuelan government to close the case against her. Our solidarity objective was fully met. Geraldine and her mother, Natividad, received thousands of solidarity messages, mostly via email, and more than 29,000 solidarity actions worldwide. They stated that the support they received through these messages helped them push through hard emotional moments and expressed how each message injected hope and joy into their lives.
PAVITRI MANJHI – INDIA
“Our lives are dependent on our land and forest and we will fight for our rights. We are struggling, we are fighting for our land and we will continue to fight for the same” – Pavitri Manhj
Pavitri Manjhi is part of an Adivasi (Indigenous) community in Chhattisgarh state who are allegedly being forced to sell their land to make way for two private power plants. As a village leader, Pavitri was instrumental in mobilizing Adivasi communities and setting up a community group, “Adivasi Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Sangarsh” that leads local actions against the alleged unlawful dispossession of their land by the two private companies.
Asmita Basu, Programmes Director of Amnesty India pointed out:
“It is unfortunate that the Chhattisgarh police have failed to look into the allegations made by the Adivasi villagers and refused to register FIRs on their complaints. These Adivasi men and women have a constitutional right to access justice, which has been denied for far too long. They are facing grave human rights abuse and it is the duty of the police to protect them and prosecute those who are responsible for the wrongful dispossession of their land.”
GULZAR DUISHENOVA – KYRGYZSTAN
“Ten years ago, I had no dreams and now I’ve lost count of the many things I want to achieve. I want to learn to drive a car, I want my sons to go to university, I want to improve the quality of my translations and I want to keep taking dance classes. And I want everyone in Kyrgyzstan to lead an active life and have dreams about their future. Everyone. With no exceptions!” - Gulzar Duishenova, December 2018
20 December 2018, Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament passed in first reading a law on the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). On 14 March, the President signed the ratification of the CRDP into law paving the road to the effective inclusion of hundreds of thousands living with disabilities in the social and economic life of Kyrgyzstan.
Gulzar told us how the solidarity messages received were an amazing support. She explained that she has grown as a human rights defender and reinforced her alliances. The fight to end to years of discrimination will not be over with the ratification of the CRPD: the authorities must allocate the necessary resources, set an implementation timeline and persons with disabilities must be at the front and centre of any action that the government takes to implement the Convention. The first big step in the right direction has been finally taken and Gulzar and other disability rights defenders are here to stay.
ATENA DAEMI – IRAN
Campaigning on Atena’s case inside Iran was challenging given that contact with Amnesty International has been cited as “evidence” of national security offences against human rights defenders.
Despite this, the campaign had a regional and international reach, and was a major source of moral support for Atena and her family. The global mobilization on Atena’s case is likely to have pressured the Iranian authorities to grant Atena access to some of the medical care she requires.
We believe that the international pressure had translated into positive effects on the case of Atena. Though Atena remains imprisoned, she has been granted access to some of the specialized medical care she required outside of prison, including dental exams and surgery. We are hopeful that her increased exposure as a result of the W4R campaign will compel the authorities to provide her with the ongoing medical care that she needs, including periodic scans.
NAWAL BENAISSA – MOROCCO
Amnesty’s work on Nawal Benaissa’s case greatly contributed to increasing international visibility on Nawal’s activism as well as the Hirak el Rif movement at large. On many occasions, Nawal has thanked Amnesty International’s members and the Moroccan Amnesty section specifically, for their interest in her cause and their solidarity towards the peaceful Hirak el Rif movement. However, despite a worldwide mobilization on her case, the appeals court in Al Hoceima upheld the conviction of Nawal, confirming her 10-month suspended prison sentence with a fine. Moreover, according to Nawal, Moroccan authorities are still harassing her, and she believes that they will continue to harass her and all those who stand up and fight for their rights.
Although the campaign has not yet achieved its objectives, Nawal Benaissa believes that Amnesty's work on her case has empowered her and consolidated her determination to keep defending human rights in her community. .