Brave: Amnesty International laucnhes new campaign to protect human rights defenders worldwide

2017 2017-05-18T11:06:21+0300 2017-05-18T11:10:35+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

"Today, people across the world are taking enormous risks to stand up for our rights. They could be teachers, students, political opponents, factory workers, journalists, lawyers or so many others. They could be you, your friend or your relatives.

But they’re being harassed, tortured, jailed and even killed – just for daring to speak out for what’s right. Without their courage, our world would be less fair, less just and less equal. We must stand with human rights defenders worldwide – and do all we can to keep them safe from harm.

We can find the spark of courage in all of us to speak out for what’s right. We can tweet. We can protest. We can write letters. We can be a witness. And together we can act as one alongside human rights defenders, to fight injustice and build a fairer world," Amnesty International said in a press-release after laucnhing a new campaign to protect human rights defenders worldwide.

"People who speak out against injustice are under attack. Governments, companies, armed groups, groups advocating hate and discrimination and others in power are doing all they can to shut them up and close their work down.

They portray those who challenge them as criminals, terrorists, unpatriotic, corrupt or even “foreign agents”. Then the attack goes further – smearing reputations, locking people up and even using violence to silence dissent.

At the same time, unions are disbanded and newspapers are closed down. Social media is banned. Digital activity is unlawfully monitored. And peaceful protestors are met with violence. Speaking out for human rights has become difficult and dangerous.

But that’s why we need human rights defenders more than ever. They’re brave enough to speak up for free speech. Challenge racism and sexism. Condemn torture. And ultimately hold our leaders to account."

"We want a world where people can speak out for what’s right without being attacked, threatened, jailed and more. Countries need to put laws in place which keep human rights defenders safe from harm, and scrap repressive laws, for example which attack free speech.

They need to release people who have been locked up just for challenging injustice. And they need to stop using spurious charges such as national security as an excuse to silence those who disagree with them.

Law makers, business leaders, government officials and other influential people should also make a public pledge to speak up for the brave, everywhere. By recognising human rights defenders as committed, courageous people creating a fairer society, we can protect them from further attacks."

"What we are witnessing today is a full-frontal assault by governments, armed groups, corporations and others on the right to defend human rights. In 2016, at least 22 countries saw people killed for peacefully standing up for human rights. In 63 countries, they faced smear campaigns. In 68 countries, they were arrested or detained solely because of their peaceful work. In 94 countries they were threatened or attacked," Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General, said in a foreword to the report HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS UNDER THREAT – A SHRINKING SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY, which is now available for download at the organization's website.

Against this backdrop, Amnesty International is launching a Global Campaign calling for human rights defenders to be recognised, protected and able to operate in a safer environment. The campaign’s name is: Brave.

"Now more than ever, we need people bravely standing up against injustice and those who undermine human rights in exchange for a false promise of prosperity and security. We all have the power to challenge poisonous narratives and fight against injustice. Together, we can make a difference. Let’s support the brave, join the brave, protect the brave, defend the brave, and be the brave," Mr. Shetty said.