Brazil: Ensure justice for Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips and act to protect Indigenous rights defenders

Portuguese

Authorities in Brazil must thoroughly investigate the brutal murders of Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Phillips in the Javari Valley (Amazonas state) and act to protect Indigenous territories and defenders, global civil society alliance, CIVICUS said today.

Pereira and Phillips went missing on 5th June as they returned from a reporting trip on the Itaquaí River, in the northern Amazonas state. The response of the Brazilian authorities to their disappearance was slow, and initial search efforts were largely led by Indigenous defenders of the União dos Povos Indígenas do Vale do Javari (UNIJAVA). Late last week, authorities confirmed that Pereira and Phillips’ bodies were found after a suspect confessed his involvement in the crime. The pair were ambushed by members of an illegal fishing operation in protected areas of the Javari Valley, which Phillips had reportedly photographed a day earlier. 

These devastating killings are not an isolated event as Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries for land and environmental defenders. At least 20 environmental defenders were killed in 2020, according to Global Witness. These attacks reflect the Bolsonaro government neglect toward Indigenous territories and his administration’s active effort to dismantle Brazil’s environmental governance institutions. Shortly before his killing, Pereira had spoken to a journalist about Bolsonaro’s efforts to undermine Brazil’s Indigenous affairs agency (FUNAI), of which he had taken unpaid leave after being sidelined for leading a successful operation against illegal mining inside Yanomami territory. Maxciel dos Santos, another Indigenous protection agent, was shot and killed in the Amazonas state in September 2019. The murder remains unsolved three years on.

Bruno Pereira was a civil servant who formerly headed the effort to protect Indigenous peoples who live in voluntary isolation. He had recently been working directly with Indigenous peoples of the Javari Valley on the protection of their territories through UNIVAJA. Dom Phillips was a British journalist who lived in Brazil for over a decade, and whose reporting increasingly focused on the Amazon rainforest and environmental issues. He was conducting interviews and research for a book about the rainforest’s protection.

We stand in solidarity with Indigenous rights defenders and the families of Pereira and Phillips as they demand justice. Today, environmental groups, Indigenous organisations and civil servants have scheduled protests in front of FUNAI buildings. CIVICUS joins their calls for a thorough investigation to hold all perpetrators accountable. Inquiries must also be made into the role of the Brazilian State in allowing criminal networks to operate with impunity, enabling attacks on Indigenous territories and human rights defenders. We call on the international community to express their support for environmental and Indigenous rights defenders in Brazil, and the journalists’ whose important work shines a light on the risks they face.

The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Brazil as obstructed. 

Background

In his electoral campaign, President Jair Bolsonaro vowed to “end all activism in Brazil.” Since he took office in 2019, Indigenous communities and environmental and land rights defenders have become increasingly vulnerable to attacks, as the government emboldens criminal groups that engage in illegal logging, mining, land grabbing and other activities. Other widely documented attacks include public vilification of CSOs, criminalisation of activists and attempts to monitor critics and discredit the media.

 

Egypt: Mohamed El-Baqer: 1000 days of arbitrary detention

Arabic

Human rights defender Mohamed El-Baqer must be released immediately and unconditionally, stated 19 human rights organisations. His detention is arbitrary, aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights work and is only putting his life and psychological well-being at serious risk.

 

Open call to all international actors: Do more to stop internet shutdowns shrouding torchings and killings in Myanmar

Content note: this statement contains references to violence, murder, and potential war crimes.

 

India: Joint statement on the deteriorating health of G. N. Saibaba in Nagpur Central Jail

Seven human rights organisations expressed concerns about the deteriorating health of the activist and Delhi University professor Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba in Nagpur Central Jail, Maharashtra State, and called on the Indian authorities to provide urgent access to health care.

 

European Commission work programme 2023: the need to include the development of a European Civil Society Strategy

 CIVICUS joins call to the European Commission for the development of a European Civil Society Strategy


Ms Ursula von der Leyen President of the European Commission

cc: Ms Vera Jourova Vice-President of the European Commission

Mr Didier Reynders Commissioner for Justice

We, civil society organisations acting at local, national and European level, call on the European Commission to include in the work programme of 2023 a proposal for a European Civil Society Strategy1.

Civil society organisations, such as citizens’ associations, NGOs and public benefits foundations, and human rights defenders are instrumental to make effective the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union and the rights proclaimed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, on a daily basis, both at European and national level.

Our action strives to leave no one behind and is crucial in the area of culture, social care, education, health, anti-corruption, environment, anti-discrimination and much more.

We intervene as democratic antibodies when rights, democracy and the rule of law are under attack.

Our role is key to build public spaces, upscale participatory democracy and channel citizens’ participation.

Our rapid mobilisations and recommendations have been and are essential in the context of the multifaceted crises affecting our societies which each time exacerbate the many vulnerabilities people are confronted with, such as the financial crisis in the early 2010s, the COVID-19 pandemic, the humanitarian crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the environmental catastrophes resulting from the climate emergency.

Unfortunately, evidence from the field2 shows growing obstacles and attacks affecting civil society’s ability to act in full capacities and independence, as research3 and the findings of the European Commission rule of law report4 confirm. As a result of these attacks, our collective European future is jeopardised. 

The ongoing measures and actions taken at the European level in support of civic actors’ activities have mostly been limited in scope and impact. It is now urgent to provide an overarching solution to fill the gaps of existing policies and mainstream positive practices.

The call for a civil society strategy has been a long-term demand of CSOs at European and national level5. This demand is now supported by a European Parliament resolution on the shrinking space for civil society in Europe (2021/2103(INI)) voted with a large majority on 8 March 2022, and recommendation 36.8 of final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe6

We urge the European Commission to consider all this, and in consequence to give substance to the mandate of the Vice President of the European Commission for values and transparency and resources for carrying out a regular, open and transparent civil dialogue - along the provision of Article 11 of the Treaty - and safeguard civil society space by developing, in cooperation with CSOs and human rights defenders, a comprehensive European civil society strategy before the end of the current five-years term.

We remain at your disposal to discuss the overall content of such a strategy, and the steps to be started immediately.

For further communication, you can contact the initiators of the letter: Civil Society Europe (Carlotta Besozzi, ) and European Civic Forum (Alexandrina Najmowicz, ).


 1 European Civic Forum, TOWARDS VIBRANT EUROPEAN CIVIC AND DEMOCRATIC SPACE, The case for a European civil society strategy and preliminary reflections on the gaps, challenges and opportunities to be addressed (2022).

2 European Civic Forum, Civic Space Watch report 2021 - ACTIVIZENSHIP #6 (2022); Civil Liberties Union for Europe, Bringing human rights and Article 2 values to life: the roles, challenges and solutions for civil society (2022); Civil Society Europe, Contribution to 2022 Rule of Law Report (2022); CIVICUS, People Power under attack 2021 (2022): European Youth Forum, Safeguarding civic space for young people in Europe (2022).

3 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Protecting civic space in the EU (2021); Civic space – experiences of organisations in 2019 (2020); Civil society space: views of organisations (2018); Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU (2018).

4 European Commission, 2020 Rule of law report - Communication and country chapters (2020); 2021 Rule of law report | European Commission (2021).

5 Including though CSOs joint statement Civil Society on the Frontline - 5 points for EU action 2019-2024 (2019), Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, Recommendations for a Comprehensive European Policy and Strategy on Civil Society (2022), final output of the Civil society convention for the future of Europe (2022), Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE)’s Advocacy brief on an European strategy for civil society: recognition, inclusion, protection (2022), HRDN Submission to the European Commission in the framework of the 2nd Annual Rule of Law Review Cycle (2021).

6 Conference on the Future of Europe, Report on the final outcome (2022), p.79.

 

SIGNATORIES

 

Zimbabwe: Release abducted activist Obert Masaraure immediately

CIVICUS calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to immediately release Obert Masaraure, an activist and human rights defender. Obert is the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), which works, among others, to defend the labour rights of teachers. 

 

Philippines: Government must stop judicial harassment against human rights groups

CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, is alarmed by the ongoing judicial harassment against members of three human rights groups that have been accused of perjury for seeking legal protection from the Supreme Court against government harassment and intimidation.

 

Kazakhstan downgraded as civic freedoms deteriorate

Russian / Русский

  • Failure of authorities to independently and impartially investigate the Bloody January' 2022 protests, when 200 people were killed and thousands injured
  • Widespread allegations of arbitrary detentions of peaceful protesters, torture and ill-treatment and due process violations in connection with the January events
  • The January events used as a pretext by authorities to target civil society activists, opposition supporters, and journalists

Kazakhstan has been downgraded from Obstructed to Repressed  by the CIVICUS Monitor. A repressed rating is the second worst a country can receive and indicates that fundamental civic freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, are severely restricted. 

The CIVICUS Monitor is a research collaboration tool that rates and tracks respect for fundamental freedoms in 197 countries and territories; rating changes are conducted after a thorough assessment of the state of civic freedoms in the country and come after regular monitoring.

Kazakhstan has been downgraded to ‘repressed’ due to widespread violations of the  freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression  during the ‘Bloody January’ protests and in their aftermath.  

“This downgrade comes on the heel of the rapid decline in civic space seen following the January events and is a culmination of a longer-term trend in which civic freedoms have deteriorated in Kazakhstan. It reinforces our concerns about the situation there,’’ said Aarti Narsee, Civic Space Research Officer at CIVICUS. 

In January 2022,  peaceful protests over a sharp increase in fuel prices began in Kazakhstan's Mangystau region and spread to other regions, with thousands of people voicing demands for broader social and political change. Under circumstances which remain unclear, protests escalated into violence. Security forces responded with excessive and lethal force to the protests and the subsequent unrest, and as a result of these events, over 200 people were killed and thousands injured. 

Authorities detained over 10,000 people, including people who were peacefully protesting in connection with the January events. 

Over 5,000 criminal cases have been initiated relating to these events. The CIVICUS Monitor and its research partners International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) are seriously concerned that those charged with rioting and other criminal offences following the January events include activists believed to have been targeted in retaliation for their peaceful and legitimate civic engagement. Additionally, there are widespread allegations of due process violations and torture and ill-treatment of people detained, with eight detainees having died in custody, according to official information.

We are particularly concerned about the failure of authorities to independently investigate the ‘Bloody January’ events, with the investigation process initiated by the government lacking impartiality. While  President Tokayev has vowed that all allegations of abuse in detention will be investigated, authorities have also failed to carry out thorough, impartial and effective investigations into such allegations and to adequately protect victims. It is of further concern that there have been reports about acts of intimidation and harassment of civil society actors working to document and assist victims of violations.

“The authorities must investigate all violations reported in connection with the January events, in full accordance with international standards, and hold accountable all those responsible for unlawful detentions, excessive use of force, torture and other abuses. The authorities must not obstruct civil society efforts to document violations and assist victims but should instead cooperate with such initiatives in the interests of promoting access to truth and justice,’’ said Brigitte Dufour, Director of IPHR.

The CIVICUS Monitor, IPHR and KIBHR are also concerned that the right to peaceful assembly is continuously being restricted in Kazakhstan. The revised law on assemblies, adopted in 2020 de-facto retains the requirement to obtain advance permission for holding assemblies, although it formally provides for a notification procedure. Peaceful protests are regularly dispersed, with protesters being detained and penalised.

Journalists continue to work at the risk of intimidation and harassment, including politically motivated legal cases. During the January events, media workers faced a series of harassment, including physical attacks perpetrated by security forces and non-state actors, resulting in several journalists being injured and one person affiliated with a media outlet being killed. None of those responsible for these attacks are known to have been held accountable.

Authorities have increasingly cracked down on opposition movements, including the two banned movements, the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan and the Koshe (Street) Party, and the unregistered Democratic Party of Kazakhstan. People affiliated with these groups are being detained, questioned and prosecuted because of their peaceful exercise of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly. In a high-profile case, Democratic Party leader Zhanbolat Mamai is currently  facing spurious criminal charges believed to have been initiated to penalise him for his opposition activities.

The continued pattern of persecution of government critics runs contrary to President Tokayev’s recent pledges to create ‘’a new Kazakhstan’’ and promote ‘’political modernization’’.

“If the authorities truly want to create a new Kazakhstan, they should stop persecuting civil society activists, opposition supporters, independent journalists and others who criticise the government and demand democratic and social change. They should release all individuals recognised as political prisoners by human rights groups, and drop the cases against those charged in retaliation for their legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms,’’ said Yevgeniy Zhovtis, Director of KIBHR.


CIVICUS MONITOR CIVIC SPACE RATINGS:

 OPEN NARROWED OBSTRUCTED  REPRESSED CLOSED

 

Kazakhstan is now rated Repressed  by the CIVICUS Monitor. There are a total of 50 countries in the world with this rating (see all). This rating is typically given to countries where civic space is heavily contested by power holders, who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights (see the full description of ratings).

*** IPHR and KIBHR cooperate with the CIVICUS Monitor on the preparation of regular updates on civic space developments in Kazakhstan.

 

Bangladesh: Arbitrary de-registration of prominent human rights group Odhikar another blow to civil society

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are extremely alarmed by the decision of the government to arbitrarily revoke the registration of Odhikar, a leading human rights organisation in Bangladesh. This move is another blow to civil society and human rights defenders who have been facing systematic repression by the Sheikh Hasina regime.

 

Thailand: Government must immediately and unconditionally drop royal defamation charges against youth activists

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Asia Democracy Network are alarmed by the ongoing judicial harassment against youth pro-democracy activists in Thailand for exercising their rights to expression and peaceful assembly.

As the State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Thailand should guarantee an enabling environment for the public, including human rights defenders and activists, to convey their legitimate criticism instead of criminalising them. 

Two youth pro-democracy activists, Netiporn 'Bung' Sanesangkhon and Nutthanit' Bai Po' Duangmusit, were detained on 3 May 2022 after the Court revoked their bail for their involvement in conducting two polls on the monarchy in February and March 2022. Their requests for bail have been denied.

Recently, the Court granted bail for two other youth activists facing royal defamation charges (Section 112 or Lese Majeste). Activist, Tantawan 'Tawan' Tuatulanon, was granted bail on 26 May 2022 but ordered to wear a monitoring device and not leave her house premises without a court order. Tawan is known for her affiliation with the pro-democracy Draconis Revolution group, continuously advocating to abolish Section 112 (Lese Majeste). She was detained in March 2022 for questioning the monarchy in a live streaming broadcast on social media and faces five counts of resisting officers in the execution of their duty, violating the Computer Crimes Act and royal defamation. While she was initially given bail it was revoked on 20 April 2021 after the police claimed that she had attempted to commit a similar offence following a Facebook post commenting about a royal motorcade and going near the motorcade. Following the prolonged detention by the Court, she went on a 30-day hunger strike. On 20 May, the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court denied her bail again after prosecutors said they had just received a case file.

The other activist, Sophon 'Get' Surariddhidhamrong was arrested on 1 May 2022 for giving a critical speech during a protest march in the Ratchadamnoen area 10 days earlier. He was denied bail by the South Bangkok Criminal Court and was in a hunger strike for 22 days before the bail granted on 31 May. He faces two other royal defamation charges for his speeches in the Chakri Memorial Day Protest in April and the Labour Day rally on 1 May. Despite being granted bail, the royal defamation charges against Tawan and Get remain.

The cases add to the long list of prosecution under Section 112, which the Thailand Prime Minister revived in 2020 after not being used for three years. Statistics from the Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR) have revealed that at least 190 individuals had been subjected to royal defamation charges between 18 July 2020 and 30 April 2022. At this time, apart from the activists mentioned, at least 5 others are still detained awaiting trial - namely Weha Sanchonchanasuk (since 10 March), Kataporn (since 10 April), Kongphet (since 10 April), Parima (since 11 April) and Pornpoj Chaengkrachang (since 11 April). Also, two activists, Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Sombat Thongyoi, who have sentenced to imprisonment are currently in the appeal process.

The royal defamation charges are not the only law the Thailand government has used to stifle fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Other draconian provisions used include sedition charges under Section 116, charges under the Emergency Decree, charges under the Public Assembly Act, Computer Crime Act, and Contempt of Court, to name a few.

The prolonged pre-trial detention under the royal defamation charge violates Thailand's international human rights obligation under the ICCPR. Article 9 of the Covenant stipulates the State Party's obligation to conduct a trial on criminal offences within a reasonable time. Detention for those awaiting trial should not be mandatory for all defendants charged with a particular crime. Further, the state is obligated to re-examine if the pretrial detention has to be continued, whether it is reasonable and necessary for lawful purposes in the light of possible alternatives. The arrest or detention of legitimate activities of exercising guarantees rights, such as freedom of expression, is considered arbitrary.

Our organisations call for the immediate and unconditional release of these activists and for the government to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for Thai people to express their opinion without fear of reprisal. This includes abolishing provisions and laws, including on royal defamation and sedition charges which are often used to stifle critics.


Civic space in Thailand is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor 

 

Malaysia: Two years on, still no protection & accountability for Rohingya HRD Zafar Ahmad from harassment and threats

We, the undersigned organisations, are deeply concerned about the situation of stateless Rohingya refugee and human rights defender Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, President of Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization (MERHROM), who has been vilified and has received death threats since April 2020 after he was falsely accused of demanding Malaysian citizenship and equal rights for the Rohingya in Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Hong Kong: Chow Hang Tung remains in detention for one year since her arrest

Today, we mark a year since the arrest of human rights defender and lawyer Chow Hang Tung.

 

UAE: Release all prisoners of conscience now

Joint letter calling on the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to intervene immediately in favour of the release of prisoners of conscience.

Your Highness,

We, the undersigned organisations, write to you to urge Your Highness to release prisoners of conscience in UAE prisons and to address this issue decisively.

We appeal to Your Highness as President of the United Arab Emirates to treat the issue of prisoners of conscience as a high priority and consider it an urgent humanitarian situation that requires your direct and immediate intervention.

Your Highness- the absence of such policies, rooted in human rights standards, is a stain on the country’s international reputation and runs counter to the Emirati government's image of the UAE as a country that believes in the values of tolerance and openness. It is the primary responsibility of Your Highness to uphold constitutional principles by putting an end to all human rights violations.

We call on Your Highness to assume full moral and legal obligations and to work for the respect of human rights. Therefore, we appeal to you not only to release all prisoners of conscience in UAE jails but also to ensure that such violations will not be repeated.

Pending their release, we hope that Your Highness will work to demonstrate your commitment to human rights and compliance with international standards for prisoners by granting prisoners of conscience their rights, such as medical care and regular family visits, and ending all forms of violations they are being exposed to.

With great respect and appreciation

Signatories

  1. ALQST for Human Rights
  2. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
  3. CIVICUS
  4. Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre
  5. Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor
  6. European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights
  7. FEMENA
  8. Geneva council for rights and liberties
  9. Gulf Centre for Human Rights
  10. HuMENA for Human Rights and Civic Engagement
  11. International Campaign for Justice and Human Rights
  12. International Centre for Justice and Human Rights
  13. MENA Rights group
  14. Skyline International for Human Rights

 

Ethiopia: Civil society calls for the immediate release of detained journalists

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS calls on the Ethiopian authorities to immediately release 11 journalists and media workers arrested and detained since May 19 in Amhara state and the capital Addis Ababa for doing their work.

 

Guinea: Civil society calls for the lifting of a ban on assemblies

The decision made by Guinea's transitional authorities to ban public demonstrations in public spaces for the duration of the transitional period seeks to undermine further the right to protest and prevent Guineans from expressing their views about issues affecting them. 

 

Madagascar: Drop all charges against environmental rights defender Jeannot Randriamanana

Ahead of the next appeals hearing in the case involving Malagasy environmental human rights defender Jeannot Randriamanana scheduled for 14 June 2022, the global civil society alliance CIVICUS calls on the authorities to drop all charges against him and stop persecuting human rights defenders. 

 

The DRC: CIVICUS calls for the immediate release of journalists Patrick Lola and Christian Bofaya

CIVICUS calls on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) authorities to immediately release journalists and activists Patrick Lola and Christian Bofaya, arrested for doing their job. Patrick and Christian have been arbitrarily detained without charge for five months in the central prison of Mbandaka, the provincial capital of Equateur.

 

India: Chronology of harassment against human rights defender Khurram Parvez

Khurram ParvezHuman rights defender Khurram Parvez, 44, is the Programme Coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) which is a coalition of various campaign, research and advocacy organisations based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir which monitor and investigate human right abuses. He is also the Chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD) a collective of non-governmental organisations from ten Asian countries that campaign on the issue of enforced disappearances.

Khurram has documented serious human rights violations in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, including enforced disappearances and unlawful killings. He was detained in November 2021 and is accused of being in contact with individuals linked to a Pakistani militant group. He is facing multiple charges  under the Penal Code and draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (UAPA), related to conspiracy and terrorism, which CIVICUS believes have been trumped up by the authorities because of his activism.

He has faced systematic harassment to advocate against human rights violations in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. In September 2016, the Indian authorities arrested him a day after he was barred from travelling to Switzerland to attend the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. He was charged under the draconian Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows detention without charge for up to two years. He was released after 76 days in detention.

In October 2020, nine simultaneous raids were conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the houses and offices of several human rights defenders, non-governmental organisations and newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir - including the house of Khurram Parvez.

2021

22 November 2021: Officials from the National Investigation Agency (NIA), assisted by the local police, conducted raids on the house of Khurram Parvez and the JKCCS office in the city of Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, for approximately 14 hours. Parvez’s mobile phone, laptop, and several books were seized. On the evening of the same day, Khurram Parvez was taken for questioning to the premises of the NIA in Srinagar. At around 6pm, his family members received a phone call from NIA officers who requested them to bring him clothes. Upon arrival at the premises of the NIA they were given an arrest memo for Parvez, which was issued on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the NIA on 6 November 2021.

According to the arrest memo, Khurram Parvez faces charges of “criminal conspiracy”, “waging war against the government of India”, “punishment for conspiracy to wage war against the government of India” (Sections 120B, 121, and 121A of the Indian Penal Code, respectively), and “raising funds for terror activities”, “punishment for conspiracy”, “recruiting any person or persons for commission of a terrorist act”, “offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation” and “offence of raising funds for terrorist organisations” (Sections 17, 18, 18B, 38, and 40 of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), respectively).

24 November 2021: Khurram Parvez was taken to New Delhi where he remained detained under NIA’s custody.

30 November 2021: Appeared at the NIA court.

2 December 2021: United Nations human rights experts expressed concern over the arrest of Khurram Parvez under the stringent UAPA anti-terror law and called for his release. They said: “We are concerned that one month after Mr. Parvez’s arrest, he is still deprived of liberty in what appears to be a new incident of retaliation for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender and because he has spoken out about violations.”

4 December 2021: Khurram Parvez appeared before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court in New Delhi, after 12 days under NIA’s custody. Judge Parveen Singh extended his detention for another 20 days and ordered that he be transferred to the Tihar maximum security prison, in New Delhi.

25 December 2021: Judicial custody extended for 30 days until 21 January 2022.

2022

24 January 2021: Judicial custody extended for 40 days. His family was barred from meeting him due to COVID-19.

12 February 2022: The court extended his judicial custody for a further 40 days.

24 March 2022: An NIA Court extended his judicial custody for 50 days.

27 March 2022: The NIA carried out another raid of the residence of Khurram in Srinagar.

13 May 2022: The NIA filed a charge sheet against Khurram Parvez and seven others before the NIA Special Court in New Delhi. He was charged under Sections 120B and 121A of the Indian Penal Code (“criminal conspiracy” and “punishment for conspiracy to wage war against the government of India”, respectively), Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (“taking gratification, in order, by corrupt or illegal means, to influence public servant”) and Sections 13, 18, 18B, 38 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) (“unlawful activities”, “conspiracy”, “recruiting any person or persons for commission of a terrorist act”, “offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation” and “giving support to a terrorist organisation”, respectively). 

In the chargesheet the authorities accused him and others of supporting a Pakistan based proscribed militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to fund and recruit operatives for providing support in planning and execution of terrorist activities in various parts of India including Jammu & Kashmir.


India is rated 'Repressed' by the CIVICUS Monitor.

 

Algeria: Global Campaign urges authorities to lift restrictions on civic space

CIVICUS joins 37 other organisations today in announcing a 10-day campaign against the increasing government repression of individuals and groups defending human rights in Algeria.

A year ago, Algerian authorities shut down the “Hirak” pro-democracy protests in most of the country. Since then, the number of unfounded terrorism prosecutions has soared, problematic amendments to the Penal Code were adopted, legal actions were initiated against civil society organisations and opposition political parties, and the crackdown on human rights defenders and the media has intensified, while authorities have continued to obstruct independent unions’ registration and activity. 

#NotACrime is an online campaign aiming to draw attention to the ways in which Algerian authorities have increasingly attempted to stifle dissenting voices and independent civil society. Launched by 38 Algerian, regional and international organisations, the campaign will be conducted between 19-28 May on the organisations’ respective social media accounts.

The campaign calls on Algerian authorities to end their repression of human rights, immediately and unconditionally release those detained solely for the peaceful  exercise of their human rights and allow everyone to freely enjoy their rights. Those suspected of responsibility for grave human rights violations should be brought to justice in fair trials, and the authorities should provide access to justice and effective remedies for victims. The campaign calls on all individuals, organisations and relevant parties to contribute in collectively demanding an end to the criminalisation of the exercise of fundamental freedoms in Algeria, using the #NotACrime hashtag. 

At least 300 people have been arrested since the beginning of 2022 (as of 17 April) for exercising their right to free expression, peaceful assembly or association, according to Zaki Hannache, a human rights defender, though some have since been released. Arrests and sentencing of peaceful activists, independent trade unionists, journalists and human rights defenders have continued unabated, even after the protest movement was shut down. Algerians jailed for their speech have repeatedly carried out hunger strikes - El Hadi Lassouli since 3 May for instance - above all to protest their arbitrary imprisonment. According to the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), these figures underrepresent the reality because many cases are not communicated due to fear of reprisal.

The death in detention of Hakim Debbazi on 24 April, after he was placed in pretrial detention on 22 February for social media postings, shows what is at stake when people are detained  simply for exercising their human rights. 

While international scrutiny has remained scarce, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in her update to the Human Rights Council on 8 March 2022 , expressed concern over "increasing restrictions on fundamental freedoms" in Algeria and called on the government "to change course." Ahead of the examination of Algeria’s human rights record in November by the UN Human Rights Council, within the Universal Periodic Review process, the undersigned organisations express serious concern and hold Algerian authorities responsible for the dangerous backsliding in Algeria, notably in the rights to express one’s opinion, assemble and associate peacefully, and share and access information. 

The campaign will extend until the anniversary of the death of Kamel Eddine Fekhar, a human rights defender who died in detention on 28 May 2019 after a 50-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment for expressing views critical of the government. He had been charged with undermining state security and inciting racial hatred. On 11 December 2016, a British-Algerian journalist, Mohamed Tamalt, also died in custody following a hunger strike during his imprisonment for Facebook posts deemed offensive by the authorities. Algerian authorities have failed to adequately investigate both of their deaths.

Exercising the fundamental freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and defending human rights is #NotACrime. 

Signatories

  1. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France)
  2. Action for Change and Democracy in Algeria (ACDA)
  3. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
  4. Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH)
  5. Amnesty International 
  6. ARTICLE 19
  7. Autonomous General Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA, Algeria)
  8. Autonomous National Union of Electricity and Gas Workers (SNATEG, Algeria)
  9. Autonomous National Union of Public Administration Staff (SNAPAP, Algeria)
  10. Burkinabè Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CBDDH)
  11. Burundian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CBDDH)
  12. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) 
  13. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
  14. Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden)
  15. Collective Action-Detainees (Algeria)
  16. Collective of the Families of the Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA)
  17. Confederation of Trade Union Workers' Commissions (CCOO, Spain)
  18. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 
  19. DIGNITY - Danish Institute against Torture
  20. Euro-Mediterranean Federation against Enforced Disappearances (FEMED)
  21. Euromed Rights
  22. Free Algeria
  23. Front Line Defenders
  24. General Confederation of Labour (CGT, France)
  25. Human Rights League (LDH, France)
  26. Human Rights Watch 
  27. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  28. International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles
  29. International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)
  30. Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CIDDH)
  31. Justitia Center for Legal Protection of Human Rights in Algeria
  32. MENA Rights Group
  33. Public Services International (PSI)
  34. Riposte Internationale (Algeria)
  35. Shoaa for Human Rights (Algeria)
  36. Syndicate Union – Solidaires (France)
  37. Tharwa N’Fadhma N’Soumer (Algeria)
  38. Trade Union Confederation of Productive Forces (COSYFOP, Algeria)

 Civic space in Algeria is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor 

 

Cambodia Should Scrap Rights-Abusing National Internet Gateway

We, the following 32 human rights organisations, call on the Cambodian authorities to revoke the Sub-Decree on the Establishment of the National Internet Gateway (NIG).

 

Sri Lanka: Security forces must exercise restraint and protect the right to protest

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, calls on Sri Lankan security forces to refrain from using excessive force and prevent further deaths and injuries amid increasing violence around protests and guarantee a safe and enabling space for peaceful protesters to voice their concerns.

 

ASEAN: Decision on humanitarian assistance on Myanmar must include all related parties

Decision on humanitarian assistance on Myanmar must include all related parties to avoid aid weaponisation by the junta

We, the 765 undersigned Myanmar regional and international organisations, are gravely concerned by the outcome of the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar that puts the military junta in control of humanitarian aid distribution in Myanmar. Our organisations believe that this decision will enable the military junta to weaponise humanitarian aid to gain legitimacy and commit more human rights atrocities against the people of the country. 

We urge ASEAN to redirect course in the informal meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers that is being held ahead of the ASEAN - US Special Summit and meet with the National Unity Government (NUG), Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and local civil society organisations to develop cross-border humanitarian assistance delivered by a trusted local humanitarian and community-based organisation.

We are dismayed that the meeting initiated and held by Cambodia as ASEAN Chair 2022 on 6 May 2022 only engaged with the Myanmar junta’s Task Force led by the State Administration Council (SAC). The meeting excluded the presence of the National Unity Government, formed by elected representatives of the 2020 elections and civil society and EAOs. Under the pressure of the Myanmar junta, the regional bloc also disinvited the United Nations Special Envoy to Myanmar, H.E. Noeleen Heyzer, to the meeting, despite a false claim made by the Cambodian government indicating her presence was among the stakeholders that attended. 

We are concerned that ASEAN, under the Cambodia Chairship, while opening its door to the military junta, has been continuously reluctant to engage with the NUG and other related parties, in direct contradiction to the Five-Point Consensus (5PC) agreed by the ASEAN, which calls for inclusive dialogue. We previously condemned the visit made by Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia and the current ASEAN Envoy to Myanmar, undertaken without agreement from other ASEAN leaders, to meet with the junta leader but not with the NUG and detained President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civil disobedience movement, and ethnic armed groups. Five months after Cambodia’s ‘rogue diplomacy’, ASEAN continues to be exclusionary. 

We are alarmed by the regional bloc’s decision to allow the military junta-led Task Force to make decisions on how aid is delivered to Myanmar through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre). Given the junta’s ongoing attacks against aid workers and civilians, we are appalled that ASEAN continues to regard the military junta-led Task Force as capable of delivering aid to all communities in Myanmar, including EAO areas. Junta’s promises are politically motivated promises that should not be trusted given the non-compliance record of the junta to the ASEAN 5PC after over a year since the agreement was made. 

The decision of ASEAN to forge ahead with its plan to deliver humanitarian assistance with the Myanmar military junta-led Task Force ignores the calls made by the people of Myanmar and civil society organisations worldwide that urge the international community to prioritise the provision of cross-border humanitarian aid through local civil society and humanitarian organisations without the junta’s intervention. We reiterate our position that no meaningful solution will be generated by ASEAN if the regional bloc keeps excluding all related parties, namely the NUG, UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, and civil society. The decision will only bring regress and risk ASEAN aiding and abetting the military’s atrocities on the ground.

We noted that ASEAN Foreign Ministers are holding an informal meeting today on 11 May 2022, prior to the ASEAN – US Special Summit in Washington DC, to discuss the implementation of ASEAN 5PC. We urge the ASEAN and its leaders to:

  • Immediately review and reconsider the decision made in the Consultative Meeting on ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar
  • Immediately and effectively suspend the military junta and its representatives from any strategic meeting of ASEAN for its non-compliance to the 5PC, particularly pertaining to the provision of humanitarian aid
  • Conduct dialogue with the NUG and EAOs, and local civil society organisations to develop cross-border humanitarian assistance delivered by trusted local humanitarian and community-based organisation 
  • Conduct dialogue with the UN Special Envoy to synergise efforts to address human rights and the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar
  • Review and amend the role and appointment mechanism of the ASEAN Special Envoy so that the mandate can assure its representation for ASEAN and effective coordination with all stakeholders in support of the will of the people of Myanmar. 

Lastly, we specifically call on the ASEAN founding members, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, to move beyond the 5PC as it has failed to bring progress. The leaders must prove their commitment to upholding the will of the people of Myanmar to achieve peace and democracy and to hold the military junta accountable for grave human rights violations.  

For more information, please contact Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice, .

List of Signatories

The signatories list below includes the following 451 organisations and 314 Myanmar organisations that have chosen not to disclose their names.

  1. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  2. 8888 New Generation (Mohnyin)
  3. Aa Linn Eain Literary Force (Japan)
  4. Academy Zenith (Education)
  5. Action Against Myanmar Military Coup (Sydney)
  6. Active Youths (Kalay Myo)
  7. Ah Nah Podcast - Conversation with Myanmar
  8. All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress (AASYC)
  9. All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
  10. All Burma Student Democratic Front - Australia Branch
  11. All Religions Strike Column
  12. All Sagaing Township Basic Education Students' Union
  13. All Schools of Aungmyaythazan Township Strike Group
  14. All Young Burmese League (AYBL)
  15. Alternative Solutions for Rural Communities (ASORCOM)
  16. ALTSEAN-Burma 
  17. Anti-coup Forces Coordination Committee (AFCC)
  18. Anti-Dictatorship in Burma - DC Metropolitan Area (ADB-DCMA)
  19. Anti-Myanmar Dictatorship Movement
  20. Anti-Myanmar Military Dictatorship Network (AMMDN)
  21. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  22. Asia Democracy Network
  23. Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
  24. Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
  25. Asian Dignity Initiative
  26. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  27. Asian Resource Foundation
  28. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) 
  29. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP)
  30. Association of United Nationalities in Japan (AUN-Japan)
  31. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  32. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
  33. Auckland Zomi Community
  34. Aung Myay Tharzan Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  35. Aung Pin Lal Main Strike Group
  36. Australia Burma Friendship Association, Northern Territory
  37. Australia Karen Organisation
  38. Australia Karen Organization WA Inc.
  39. Australia Myanmar Doctors, Nurses and Friends
  40. Australia Myanmar Youth Alliance (AMYA)
  41. Australian Burmese Muslim Organisation
  42. Australian Chin Community (Eastern Melbourne Inc)
  43. Australian Karen Organisation (AKO)
  44. Back Pack Health Workers Team
  45. Bago Basic Education Students' Union
  46. Bamar Community Tasmania
  47. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) 
  48. Bank Trade Unions Federation of Myanmar - BTUFM
  49. BEHS-1, Hpa-An Basic Education Students' Union
  50. BEHS-1, Mandalay Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  51. BEHS-11, Aungmyethazan Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  52. BEHS-24, Mahaaungmyay Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  53. BEHS-4, Mandalay Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  54. BEHS-8, Aungmyethazan Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  55. Best Friends Forever Group
  56. Blood Money Campaign
  57. Burma Action Ireland
  58. Burma Campaign UK
  59. Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
  60. Burma Lawyers’ Council (BLC)
  61. Burma Medical Association 
  62. Burman Suomalaiset (Finland)
  63. Burmese Canadian Network
  64. Burmese Community Development Collaboration (BCDC)
  65. Burmese Community in France
  66. Burmese Community Support Group (BCSG)
  67. Burmese Community, Australia
  68. Burmese Friendship Association
  69. Burmese Medical Association Australia (BMAA)
  70. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  71. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  72. Burmese Women's Union
  73. Campaign for a New Myanmar
  74. Canberra Karen Association
  75. CDM Support Team Mandalay
  76. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia 
  77. Chanayetharsan Basic Education Students' Union
  78. Chanmyathazi Township People Strike Group
  79. Chin Community of Auckland
  80. Chin Community of Western Australia Inc.
  81. Chin Community SA
  82. Chin Community Tasmania
  83. Chin Human Rights Organization 
  84. Chin MATA Working Group
  85. Chin Resources Center
  86. Chin Youth Organization (Matupi)
  87. Chin Youth Organization, Australia 
  88. Citizens of Burma Award (New Zealand)
  89. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participations
  90. Co-operative University Student Strike Group 
  91. Coalition of Mandalay Engineers 
  92. Colorful Spring
  93. Combat Support Corps-Japan (CSC-Japan)
  94. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
  95. Committee Representing Mandalay Region Hluttaw
  96. Cooperative University Student Strike Column 
  97. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
  98. CRPH Funding Ireland
  99. CRPH Support Group, Norway
  100. CRPH, NUG Support Team Germany-Deutschland
  101. CRPH/NUG Support Group Australia
  102. Daik-U Basic Education Students' Union
  103. Daung Sit Thi 
  104. Dawei Basic Education Students' Union
  105. Dawei Youth’s in Japan (DYJ) 
  106. Dawei Youths' Revolutionary Movement Strike Committee 
  107. Defense of Human Rights & Public Service, Pakistan
  108. Democracy for Burma
  109. Democracy for Myanmar - Working Group (NZ)
  110. Democracy Movement Strike Committee - Dawei 
  111. Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization
  112. Democratic Youth Council
  113. Demoso Basic Education Students' Union
  114. Dragon Dawn (Charity Organization)
  115. Education Family Strike Group
  116. Educational Initiatives Myanmar
  117. Equality Myanmar
  118. Ethnic Youth General Strike Committee (Mandalay)
  119. European Karen Network
  120. Falam Community, Australia 
  121. Family Private School Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  122. Federal FM Mandalay
  123. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  124. Federation of General Workers Myanmar 
  125. Federation of Workers' Union of Burmese Citizens (in Japan)
  126. Federation of Workers’ Union of the Burmese Citizens (Japan)
  127. Free Burma Action Committee - Chico
  128. Free Burma Action Committee (Central Valley)
  129. Free Burma Action Committee (Sacremento)
  130. Free Burma Action Committee (San Francisco & Bay Area)
  131. Free Rohingya Coalition
  132. Freedom for Burma
  133. Future Light Center
  134. Future Thanlwin
  135. General Strike Committee of Nationalities 
  136. Generation Wave
  137. GenY For Revolution - Japan (GenY)
  138. Global Action For Myanmar Peace and Federal Democracy
  139. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
  140. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution (Japan)
  141. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution (Korea)
  142. Golden Heart Organization
  143. Grass-root People 
  144. Helping Hands for Burma (H2B)
  145. HER (Art, Recycling Center)
  146. Hinthada Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  147. Hlaing Thar Yar Basic Education Students' Union
  148. Hope For Youth - Kyushu Japan
  149. Hopin Basic Education Students' Union
  150. Human Rights Foundation of Monland
  151. India For Myanmar
  152. Indonesian Legal Aid Foundations (YLBHI)
  153. Industrial Training Centre (ITC) Family Sydney
  154. Info Birmanie
  155. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  156. Inter-Faith Strike Column
  157. Interfaith Youth Coalition on Aids in Myanmar (IYCA-Myanmar)
  158. Interim Teachers' Union -Thanlyin Technological University 
  159. International Campaign for the Rohingya
  160. International Karen Organisation
  161. International Society of Myanmar Scholars and Professionals (ISMSP-MM)
  162. Japan Myanmar Future Creative Association (JMFCA)
  163. Joint Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (JACDB)
  164. Justice 4 Myanmar - Hope & Development
  165. Justice For Myanmar
  166. Justice Movement for Community-Innlay
  167. Kachin Affairs Organization - Japan (KAO Japan)
  168. Kachin Association Australia
  169. Kachin Association of Australia WA Inc.
  170. Kachin Human Rights Watch
  171. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
  172. Kanbung Youth (Matupi)
  173. Kanpetlet Land Development Organization
  174. Karen Community in Netherlands (KCNL)
  175. Karen Community, Australia 
  176. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
  177. Karen Human Rights Group
  178. Karen National League Japan-KNL
  179. Karen Peace Support Network
  180. Karen Swedish Community (KSC)
  181. Karen Women’s Organization
  182. Karenni Federation of Australia
  183. Karenni Human Rights Group
  184. Karenni National Society (KNS) Japan
  185. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  186. Karenni Society New Zealand
  187. Karenni/Kayah Community
  188. Katha Basic Education Students' Union
  189. Kayan Internally Displacement Supervising Committee 
  190. Kayan Rescue Committee
  191. Kayin Community Tasmania
  192. Keng Tung Youth
  193. Khanthar Farmers Network
  194. Khumzup Local Development Committee
  195. Kobe Myanmar Community 
  196. Korean House of International Solidarity (KHIS), Korea
  197. Kyaukse Basic Education Students' Union
  198. Kyaukse University Students' Union
  199. Kyauktada Strike Committee (KSC)
  200. Labor Union Federation
  201. Labutta Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  202. Land in Our Hand (LIOH)
  203. Langkho Basic Education Students' Union
  204. Lashio Basic Education Students' Union
  205. Latsinu Women Agency
  206. Launglon Basic Education Students' Union
  207. League For Democracy in Burma (L.D.B Japan)
  208. Letpadan Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  209. LGBT Union Mandalay 
  210. LGBTIQ Strike Group
  211. Loka Ahlinn
  212. Los Angeles Myanmar Movement
  213. Magway People's Revolution Committee 
  214. Mahaaungmyay Township People Strike Group
  215. Mandalar College Students Strike Group
  216. Mandalar University Students Union
  217. Mandalay Alliance Coalition Strike Group
  218. Mandalay Based University Student Unions 
  219. Mandalay Civil Society Organization 
  220. Mandalay Computer University Student Union 
  221. Mandalay Engineers Group
  222. Mandalay People Strike Group
  223. Mandalay Poets’ Union
  224. Mandalay Private Universities Students Union
  225. Mandalay Regional Youth Association
  226. Mandalay Technology University (MTU) Students Union
  227. Mandalay Universities, Degree and College Teachers and Staffs Strike Group
  228. Mandalay University Alumni Strike Group
  229. Mandalay University of Foreign Languages Students Union
  230. Mandalay Wholesale Centers Strike Group
  231. Mandalay Women Strike
  232. Mandalay Youth Strike Group
  233. Matu Chin Community, Australia
  234. Matu Forum Committee
  235. Matu Women Association
  236. Mawkmai Basic Education Students' Union
  237. Mawlamyine Basic Education Students' Union
  238. Medical Family Mandalay (MFM)
  239. Meikhtila Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  240. Metta Campaign - Mandalay
  241. Midwifery Training School Students Union (Mandalay) 
  242. MIIT Student Strike Column
  243. MilkTeaAlliance Calendar Team
  244. MilkTeaAlliance Galleries
  245. MilkTeaAlliance Malaysia 
  246. Minbu Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  247. Mindat Chin Community
  248. Mindat Community, Australia
  249. Mindat Emergency Response Team (MERT)
  250. Minority Affairs Institute - MAI (Myanmar)
  251. Mizo Community, Australia
  252. Mogaung Basic Education Students' Union
  253. Mohnyin Basic Education Students' Union
  254. Mon Families Group
  255. Mon National Council
  256. Mon Youth For Federal Democracy
  257. Monywa Basic Education Students' Union - ABFSU
  258. Monywa People Strike Steering Committee 
  259. MRJ (Maraja)
  260. Mudon Basic Education Students' Union
  261. Muslim Youth Network
  262. Muslim Youths Association 
  263. Mya Taung Strike Group
  264. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability
  265. Myanmar Buddhist Community of South Australia
  266. Myanmar CDM Association
  267. Myanmar Community Coffs Harbour (MCC)
  268. Myanmar Community Ireland
  269. Myanmar Cultural Research Society (MCRS)
  270. Myanmar Democracy and Peace Committee (Australia)
  271. Myanmar Democratic Force in Denmark
  272. Myanmar Democratic Movement (MDM)
  273. Myanmar Development Support Group (MDSG)
  274. Myanmar Diaspora Group (Finland)
  275. Myanmar Emergency Fund (Canada)
  276. Myanmar Engineering Association of Australia (MEAA)
  277. Myanmar Engineers - New Zealand
  278. Myanmar Global Support Foundation
  279. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  280. Myanmar Institute of Information and Technology (Mandalay) Students Union
  281. Myanmar Labour News
  282. Myanmar Medical Online Campus 
  283. Myanmar Nationalities’ Support Organization - Japan (MNSO)
  284. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
  285. Myanmar People Residing in Canberra
  286. Myanmar Professionals Association Australia (MPAA)
  287. Myanmar Railway Division (3) CDM Staffs Strike Group
  288. Myanmar Student Association Ontario (MSAO)
  289. Myanmar Students' Association Australia (MSAA)
  290. Myanmar Students' Union in New Zealand
  291. Myanmar Youth and Student Association, Japan-MYSA
  292. National University of Arts and Culture 
  293. National Youth League for Politics and Leadership 
  294. National Youth Organization
  295. Netherlands Myanmar Solidarity Platform
  296. Network for Advocacy Action
  297. Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
  298. New Rehmonnya Federated Force
  299. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  300. New Zealand Karen Association
  301. New Zealand Myanmar Ethnics Council
  302. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  303. No (12) Basic Education Middle School Student Union 
  304. No (7) Basic Education High School Alumni Strike Group
  305. No.12 Basic Education Middle School (High Branch) Basic Education Students' Union
  306. Northern Spectrum Youth Association
  307. Nursing Training School Students Union (Mandalay)
  308. Nursing University (Mandalay) Student Union 
  309. Nyaunglebin Basic Education Students' Union
  310. Okinawa Myanmar Association
  311. Olive Organization
  312. Open Development Foundation
  313. Overseas Mon Association - New Zealand
  314. Padaung Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  315. Pan Pa Wash People Strike Column
  316. Paramedical Technical University (Mandalay) Student Union 
  317. Patriotic War Veterans of Burma (PWVB)
  318. PEC Private School Basic Education Students' Union
  319. People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Korea
  320. People’s Hope Spring Revolution (PHSR)
  321. Perth Myanmar Youth Network
  322. Phayagye Peace Strike Column
  323. Phayagyi Peace Strike Group 
  324. Private pre school Teachers’ Association 
  325. Progressive Voice
  326. Pyay Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  327. Pyigyidagon Strike Group
  328. Pyin Nyar Nan Daw Private School Basic Education Students' Union
  329. Pyin Oo Lwin Basic Education Students' Union
  330. Pyinmana Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  331. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
  332. Queensland Kachin Community (QKC)
  333. Queensland Myanmar Youth Collective (QMYC)
  334. Queensland Rohingya Community
  335. Red Campaign Nirvana Exhortation Group
  336. Remonya Association of WA (Mon Community)
  337. Representing The Arrested People Strike
  338. Revolution Tokyo Myanmar (R.T.M)
  339. Rohingya Action Ireland
  340. Rohingya Women Webinar Series
  341. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  342. Saga Myanmar Overseas Student Association
  343. Saitama Pamphlet Campaign (SPC)
  344. Sangha Union Strike Group
  345. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women on the Border Areas
  346. Save Myanmar - USA
  347. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  348. SEA Junction
  349. Sein Pan Strike Column
  350. Seinban Strike Group
  351. Seven Star
  352. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  353. Shan Community in Japan (SCJ)
  354. Shan MATA
  355. Shan Women Development Network
  356. ShizuYouth for Myanmar
  357. Shwe Chin Thae Farmers Network
  358. Shwe Minn Tha Foundation (Myanmar)
  359. Shwe Youth Democratic Alliance (SYDA)
  360. Sintgaing Basic Education Students' Union
  361. Sisters 2 Sisters
  362. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  363. Skills for Humanity
  364. Southcare Medical Centre
  365. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expressions Network (SAFENET)
  366. Southern Youth Development Organization
  367. Southerner News Agency
  368. Spring Revolution Interfaith Network (SRIN)
  369. Spring Revolution Myanmar Muslim Network (SRMMN)
  370. Spring University Myanmar (SUM)
  371. Strike Column of Representatives of Arbitrarily Arrested People
  372. Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB)
  373. Students for Free Burma (SFB)
  374. Support for Myanmar
  375. Support Group for Democracy in Myanmar (The Netherlands)
  376. Swedish Burma Committee
  377. Sydney Friends for Myanmar Unity
  378. Ta'ang Legal Aid
  379. Ta’ang Women’s Organization 
  380. Taekwando Sport Association 
  381. Taekwondo Federation
  382. Tai Youths Network Japan (TYNJ)
  383. Taiwan Alliance for Myanmar (TAM)
  384. Tampawadi People Strike Group
  385. Tanintharyi MATA
  386. Tanintharyi People’s Voice
  387. Taunggyi Basic Education Students' Union
  388. Technological Teachers’ Federation (TTF)
  389. Technological University (Yadanabon Cyber City) Students Union
  390. Technological University Mandalay (TUM) Students Union 
  391. Tha Pyay Nyo Periodical 
  392. Thapaynyo News Letter
  393. Thaton Basic Education Students' Union
  394. The Institution of Professional Engineers Myanmar
  395. Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar Organization
  396. Twitter Team for Revolution 
  397. U.S. Campaign for Burma
  398. Uakthon Local Social Development Organization
  399. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  400. United Myanmar Community of South Australia 
  401. University of Computer (Mandalay) Students Union
  402. University of Dental Medicine (Mandalay) Students Union
  403. University of Medical Technology (Mandalay) Students Union
  404. University of Medicine (Mandalay) Students Union
  405. University of Nursing (Mandalay) Students Union
  406. University of Pharmacy (Mandalay) Students Union 
  407. University of Traditional Medicine (Mandalay) Students Union
  408. University Youth Prayer Committee (YUPC)
  409. US Advocacy Coalition for Myanmar (USACM)
  410. VEC Private School Basic Education Students' Union
  411. Victorian Burmese Care Community (VBCC)
  412. Victorian Myanmar Youth
  413. Vietnamese Women for Human Rights
  414. Voice For Justice (VFJ)
  415. We Love Motherland-MM (Malaysia)
  416. We Pledge CDM (Australia)
  417. We Support (Japan)
  418. Western Australia Myanmar Democratic Network
  419. Wetlet Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  420. Winemaw Civil Society Network
  421. Women Activists Myanmar
  422. Women Advocacy Coalition Myanmar (WAC-M) 
  423. Women Alliance Burma 
  424. Women’s League of Burma 
  425. Wundwin Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  426. Yadanabon University Students Union
  427. Yadanapone University Student Union (Ya. Ta. Ka. Tha) 
  428. Yadanar Foundation
  429. Yangon Medical Network 
  430. Yedashe Basic Education Students' Union-ABFSU
  431. Yokohama Pamphlet Campaign (YPC)
  432. Young Changemakers Community
  433. Youth Poets’ Union
  434. YUOE Debate Club
  435. Zabuthiri Basic Education Students'       Union-ABFSU
  436. Zo Community, Australia
  437. Zomi Association Australia Inc.
  438. Zomi Community Queensland
  439. Zomi Community South Australia
  440. ခိုင်မြဲသစ္စာဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေး ကော်မတီ
  441. ပြည်သူ့ရင်သွေးနွေဦးတော်လှန်ရေး
  442.  ပြည်သူရင်သွေးနွေဦးတော်လှန်ရေး(ဂျပန်)
  443.  မြင်းခြံလူထုလှုပ်ရှားမှုကော်မတီ
  444.  မြန်မာ့ ဖက်ဒရယ်ဒီမိုကရေစီ အောင်နိုင်ရေးအဖွဲ့ပေါင်းချုပ် - ကိုရီးယား
  445.  မြန်မာ့ ဖက်ဒရယ်ဒီမိုကရေစီအောင်နိုင်ရေးအဖွဲ့ပေါင်းချုပ် (MFDMC)
  446. ရေအေးမိတ်ဖက် ဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေးကော်မတီ
  447. အနာဂါတ်အလင်း ဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေးကော်မတီ
  448. အလင်းရောင်ပန်းတိုင် ဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေးကော်မတီ
  449. အလင်းသစ္စာဖွံ့ဖြိုးရေးကော်မတီ
  450. အလင်းသစ်ပရဟိတ
  451. အားမာန်သစ် ဖွံ့ဖြိုးကော်မတီ

 

Myanmar: Regional bloc must move beyond the failed consensus

One year on, since adopting the Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its member states have not achieved any progress in addressing the human rights and humanitarian crisis perpetrated by the military junta.

 

India: Human rights defender Khurram Parvez marks 150 days arbitrarily detained on baseless charges

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Amnesty International condemn the way in which the authorities have targeted and harassed human rights defender Khurram Parvez through the misuse of the justice system, 150 days on, from his arbitrary detention. Our organisations call on the government of India to immediately and unconditionally release him and drop the baseless charges that have been brought against him.

 

Human rights situation in Africa: a special focus on shrinking of civic space

CIVICUS statement at the 71st Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

 

Spotlight on Cameroon: Reverse the suspension of journalists

CIVICUS condemns the decision by Cameroon's National Communications Council to suspend journalists Séverin Tchounkeu (CEO) and Cédrick Noufele (Editor-in-chief and presenter), who are working with the privately-owned broadcaster Equinoxe TV for one month.

 

Hungary: Orbán and Fidesz party election victory spells further concerns for civic freedoms 

  • ‘Biased and unbalanced news coverage’ during election favouring the ruling party
  • Civil society face orchestrated smear campaigns 
  • Government passes decree which bans independent journalists from accessing hospitals

Global alliance CIVICUS and the Civil Liberties Union for Europe are concerned about civic freedoms in Hungary following Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz Party’s landslide victory in April’s parliamentary elections, which were declared free but not fair. 

A new research brief provides a snapshot of the recent decline in civic freedoms under the Orbán government which has repeatedly targeted civil society, independent journalists and LGBTQI+ rights.

The government has politically captured key media regulatory bodies resulting in diminishing space for independent media to operate, with the public media sector now a de facto mouthpiece of the government.  The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found that the elections were not fair as there was “biased and unbalanced news coverage” in favour of the ruling party.

Threats to LGBTQI+ rights have continued unabated, with the government passing several laws that restrict and target these rights. Although the results of the government’s referendum on its ‘anti-LGBTQI+ propaganda’ law, which took place at the same time as the election, was declared invalid, 16 LGBTQI+ rights CSOs who campaigned against the referendum have been fined by the National Election Committee. 

In the build up to the elections, Magyar Nemzet, a leading pro-government daily online site,  published secret recordings of interviews which were aimed at discrediting civil society and independent media and reshared by the Hungarian government. Similar methods were used to  smear civil society activists critical of the government during the previous general elections.  

“During his victory speech, the Prime Minister took a moment to pinpoint his enemies which include civil society, bureaucrats in Brussels and the Ukrainian President. This is a clear signal that Orbán and his party will only continue to diminish civic freedoms. There is no doubt that attacks on civil society, independent journalism and LGBTQI+ rights will worsen in the coming years,” said Aarti Narsee, Civic Space Research Lead, Europe, CIVICUS.

The government has also continuously attempted to intimidate civil society. Although it repealed the Lex-NGO foreign funding law, which was found in violation of EU law, it introduced a new bureaucratic measure which requires the State Audit Office to report annually on the financial status of certain NGOs. 

Surveillance of journalists is a tactic used by the government in an attempt to silence dissent, while denying independent media access to press conferences and information has become commonplace. The government recently went over a Supreme court ruling to pass a decree so that it can decide on press and media accreditation for journalists to access hospitals. It has repeatedly used the pandemic as a pretext to restrict access to information on COVID-19 for independent media. 

“A pluralistic media landscape and a healthy  civil society guarantee citizens' access to reliable information about public matters. The Orban government has been doing everything in its power to undermine or eliminate both. By dominating most of the media landscape and trying to silence independent voices, the governing Fidesz party hopes to cement its power for the coming decades to dismantle democracy and cover up widespread corruption,” said Orsolya Reich, senior advocacy officer, Civil Liberties Union for Europe.

The European Commission has triggered its new rule of law conditionality mechanism which could see it cutting funds to Hungary. We call on the commission to act swiftly against Hungary through this mechanism. 

“The European Union must stand up for the rights and principles enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and introduce strategies and legislation capable of reversing the democratic decline in Europe. It must design a well-thought-through European Media Freedom Act with strong guarantees and enforcement mechanisms, and a European civic space strategy capable of empowering democratic voices,” said Reich.

Hungary is currently rated Obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor. There are a total of 43 countries in the world with this rating (see all). This rating is typically given to countries where civic space is heavily contested by power holders, who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights (see full description of ratings). Hungary is one of two countries in the European Union with an Obstructed rating, the other is Poland.


More information

Download the Hungary country research brief here


Interviews

CIVICUS:
Civil Liberties Union for Europe :Orsolya Reich,  

 

 

Malawi: CIVICUS calls for the immediate release of activist and journalist Vitus-Gregory Gondwe

CIVICUS calls on the Malawian authorities to immediately release Vitus-Gregory Gondwe, a journalist and activist based in Malawi, for his work that exposes government corruption and urges  Malawian authorities to act against individuals involved in corruption. 

 

Zambia: Immediate drop-off trumped-up charges on Journalist Eric Chiyuka

CIVICUS calls on the Zambian authorities to immediately drop all the charges against journalist and activist Eric Chiyuka.

 

Bangladesh: Stop Reprisals Against Victims, Activists

Bangladesh authorities have responded to US Treasury Department sanctions on the notoriously abusive Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) by retaliating against victims’ relatives, human rights defenders and their families, and human rights organizations, twelve organizations said today.

The US imposed the sanctions on the paramilitary unit and several of its current and former officials on December 10, 2021 in response to credible and widespread allegations of serious human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances.

Since the sanctions, credible sources have confirmed that the RAB and National Security Intelligence (NSI) have been making threatening phone calls to victims and human rights defenders, summoning them to their local offices, and visiting their workplaces and homes in the middle of the night.

In one case, the RAB and intelligence agency harassed a relative of a human rights defender from mid-February to early March 2022, accusing them of involvement in “anti-state activities” for supporting families of victims of enforced disappearances. Another human rights defender said that RAB officers visited their home at midnight while their children were asleep to interrogate them about the sources of funding for their work with families of victims of enforced disappearance. RAB officers then visited this activist’s workplace, threatening them by saying that “hiding information will invite more troubles to yourself.”

The government has also targeted human rights organizations. A leaked government circular apparently signed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam on January 25 appears to show that the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office were tasked in response to the sanctions with monitoring foreign funding to several human rights organizations.

The government uses draconian laws and the courts to harass human rights defenders for their work. On February 18, Zohurul Haque, a journalist and Patkelghata Press Club president, was arrested under the abusive Digital Security Act (DSA) for allegedly posting statements critical of the government and police on Facebook. On February 27, the Dhaka Cyber Tribunal framed charges against a cartoonist, Ahmed Kabir Kishore, and a journalist living in exile, Tasneem Khalil, in a case filed under the DSA for allegedly spreading rumors and partaking in anti-government activities.

Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, leaders of Bangladeshi human rights organization Odhikar, are facing trial based on trumped up charges at the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka. In February, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, expressed her concerns over this case, citing the court’s failure to uphold fair trial guarantees and its lack of transparency.

Odhikar’s application for renewal with the Non-Governmental Organization Affairs Bureau had remained pending since 2014, severely inhibiting its ability to conduct human rights monitoring and reporting. But after years of inaction, in early February, soon after the sanctions were passed, the agency sent Odhikar a letter requesting specific information and documents, including the names and addresses of everyone killed extrajudicially and disappeared between 2009 and 2021.

On March 14, UN human rights experts expressed their concern that reprisals against human rights defenders could discourage and deter human rights work. They said in a statement that Bangladesh should “immediately cease reprisals against human rights defenders and relatives of forcibly disappeared persons for their activism and co-operation with international human rights bodies and UN mechanisms.” Human rights organizations have also urged Bangladesh to respond to the UN’s concerns and for the UN to ban anyone who has served with RAB from deployment in peacekeeping operations.

Bangladesh should immediately cease harassment and reprisals against victims of human rights violations, human rights defenders, and their families, the groups said. Instead, the government should focus its efforts on ensuring full accountability for the serious human rights abuses that persist in the country.

The groups are:

Amnesty International

Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development

(FORUM-ASIA)

Asian Network for Free Elections

Capital Punishment Justice Project

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Eleos Justice

Human Rights Watch

International Federation for Human Rights

(FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders)

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

World Organisation Against Torture

(OMCT, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders)

 

Slovenia: New research on the state of civic freedoms ahead of elections

SLOVENIAN

New research on the state of civic freedoms ahead of Slovenia's parliamentary elections - journalists & civil society facing restrictions

  • The ruling SDS party has interfered & undermined the work of the Slovenian Press Agency and the largest public broadcaster, RTVSLO
  • Budget cuts have targeted organisations and media critical of the Prime Minister’ Janez Janša’s government
  • COVID-19 used as a pretext to restrict protest rights & the work of civil society

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS and the European Civic Forum are concerned about the ongoing decline of civic freedoms in Slovenia under Prime Minister Janez Janša’s government.  

Ahead of Parliamentary elections on 24 April, the government has stepped up its political interference in the public broadcaster, while anti-government protesters and independent journalists continue to  be harassed.

Our latest research brief released today highlights how in the last two years under Janez Janša’s government, civic freedoms are deteriorating. In December 2020 the CIVICUS Monitor downgraded the country’s civic space rating from ‘open’ to ‘narrowed’ signalling the  decline. In June 2021 the country was also placed on the rights index's periodic Watchlist, a roundup of countries where a rapid decline in civic freedoms has occurred. The fundamental civic and democratic rights of freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and association are under attack ahead of the elections.

Since Janša came to power in March 2020, Slovenians have staged weekly, spontaneous cycling anti-government protests. The government has responded by intimidating protesters, with the State Prosecutors Office bringing cases against so-called organisers of unannounced or unregistered protests to recover the costs of police intervention. Jaša Jenull, a prominent protester at the anti-government protests is facing fines amounting to over 40,000 Euros.

“These repressive practices have wider repercussions beyond targeted activists. For example, administrative courts are now kept busy with reviewing these unlawful fines, reducing their capacity to work on other cases. State resources which are being deployed to enforce disproportionate pandemic restrictions and silence dissent could have been used to address people’s needs which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and initially triggered ongoing protests,” said Giada Negri, Research and Advocacy coordinator for the European Civic Forum.

The current government has ramped up its political interference at public broadcaster RTV Slovenia (RTVSLO). In March 2022 RTVSLO staff staged protests over the appointment of Igor Pirkovič as acting editor of the public broadcaster’s web portal Multi Media Centre (MMC), who was previously paid by the government as a screenwriter of state celebrations. The MMC’s editorial board claims that Pirkovič is biased in favour of the ruling SDS party and believes that he was brought in to change the portal's pre-election reporting in favour of the ruling coalition. Last year, the appointment of Director General Andrej Grah Whatmough at RTVSLO sparked a series of editorial and programming changes, which were approved by RTV SLO’s Programme Council, an editorial decision-making body which has been infiltrated by the ruling SDS Party. 

Prime Minister Jansa has used the current Ukraine crisis as an excuse to attack RTVSLO’s political debate channel Tarča for its coverage of the war against Ukraine, accusing it of playing “Putin’s Agenda”. This led to the Programme council reprimanding RTVSLO journalists and announcing that it would now only be using BBC News coverage on the Ukraine crisis. 

“While Jansa has condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, at home he is adopting Putin style tactics through repeated political interference at the public broadcaster RTVSLO and vilification of independent journalists. His government has increasingly harassed peaceful protesters and slashed funding to civil society. The European commission must take action to ensure that repressive measures against journalists and civil society are redressed,” said Aarti Narsee, Civic Space Research Lead Europe, CIVICUS.

Slovenia is rated "Narrowed" on the CIVICUS Monitor. 40 other countries have this rating including Romania, Italy and South Korea (see all). The narrowed rating means that while the state generally allows individuals and civil society organisations to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of association, violations of these rights also take place.


More information

Download the Slovenia country research brief here. Also available in Slovenian here.


Interviews

To arrange interviews, please contact Aarti Narsee, CIVICUS European & Central Asia Civic Space Researcher  and 

 

 

Sri Lanka: Lift restrictions on fundamental freedoms and investigate violations

CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, is alarmed by the declaration of a state of emergency in Sri Lanka, the excessive use of force by the Sri Lankan security forces against protesters and restrictions on internet access following widespread demonstrations in the country.

There have been anti-government protests since early March 2022 as the country suffers its worst economic crisis in decades. Demonstrators accuse the government of mismanaging the economy and creating a foreign exchange crisis that has led to shortages of essentials such as fuel, cooking gas, milk powder and medicine.

Hundreds of protesters marched outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private residence on 31 March 2022. The peaceful protests turned violent when security forces deployed tear gas and water cannons leaving at least 50 injured. Dozens of protesters were arrested and some ill-treated. Eight journalists who were covering the protests were allegedly assaulted by security forces.

On 1 April 2022, a state of emergency was declared by the president in an effort to quell the protests. It allows authorities to arrest and detain suspects without warrants, and this severely restricts fundamental rights such as the freedoms of expression and assembly. Under the state of emergency, the authorities imposed a nation-wide 36-hour curfew. Despite this, thousands of protesters, including students, continued to take to the streets. According to reports at least 600 protesters were arbitrarily arrested on 2 and 3 April.

“Sri Lanka’s clampdown on civic space with the imposition of a state of emergency is extremely worrying. We urge the government to refrain from deploying violence against protesters and instead respect and protect peoples’ rights to peaceful protest. All those detained arbitrarily must be released and all abuses by security forces must be investigated and punished,” said Josef Benedict, Asia Pacific Researcher of CIVICUS.

The government has restricted internet access and social media platform for nearly 15 hours under the pretext of maintaining public and social order. On 2 April 2022, Thisara Anuruddha Bandara, a youth activist who actively promoted the #GoHomeGota social media campaign to oust the president - used widely during the protest - was arrested for allegedly ‘exciting disaffection’ against the president under Section 120 of the Penal Code. He was granted bail a day after.

“The government must halt any restrictions on internet access, including to social media platforms, which is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression and information guaranteed by the constitution and under international human rights law. The authorities must also drop the charges against youth activist Thisara Anuruddha Bandara immediately,” added Josef Benedict.

CIVICUS has documented how the Rajapaksa administration has led an assault on civic space and fundamental freedoms since the President assumed power more than two years ago. There have been ongoing attempts to prevent and disrupt protests. This included imposing a ban on all protests under the pretext of COVID-19, arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters and activists using the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), as well as criminalising dissenters. In March, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, similarly reported to the Human Rights Council that ‘the Government’s response to criticism has constricted democratic and civic space’.

As the party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Sri Lankan government has the duty to respect, protect and fulfil fundamental freedoms enshrined under the treaty. This includes the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Any use of force must only be the minimum amount necessary, targeted at specific individuals, and proportionate to the threat posed.

The protests and escalating economic crisis has led to the resignations of 26 ministers in the current cabinet leaving only the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the prime minister.


Civic space in Sri Lanka is rated as obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor

 

Civil society expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemn Putin’s War

We civil society organisations, including national umbrella bodies from across the world, stand united in our condemnation of Russia’s military aggression toward Ukraine in gross violation of international law. We deplore the targeting of civilian populations and infrastructures by Russian forces, which amounts to war crimes.

 

Indonesia: Intimidation against human rights activists exemplify narrowing civic and democratic space

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is highly alarmed by the Indonesian authorities' decision to name human rights defenders Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar as suspects in a defamation case for speaking up about human rights violations connected to corporate crime in Papua allegedly linked to government officials.

 

Hong Kong: Police must drop order against human rights group to shut down its website

 

CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is disturbed by a formal letter issued by the Hong police to UK-based human rights group, Hong Kong Watch, to shut down its website for allegedly violating a national security law.

 

Egypt: End arbitrary detention, Free them all

Arabic

Twelve Egyptian activists have been on hunger strike since early February 2022 in protest of their prolonged pre-trial detention at Tora Prison Complex. Among them, Abdelrahman Tarek (Moka), Ahmed Maher (Rigo), Galal El Beheriy, and Walid Shawky started hunger strikes to protest their unlawful imprisonment. On 8 March, Walid Shawky ended his hunger strike. Their health is at risk as their physical condition further deteriorates. The undersigned organisations call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the aforementioned individuals, as well as all of the many other individuals currently held in detention for peacefully exercising their right to free expression.

 

Indonesia: Release Victor Yeimo and hold perpetrators of human rights violations in Papua accountable

CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, and Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are gravely concerned by the ongoing prosecution of human rights defender Victor Yeimo.

 

Singapore: Jolovan Wham’s sentencing highlights repressed civic space

The sentencing of Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham highlights the increasingly repressive space for activists and human rights defenders in Singapore, said the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Think Centre in a joint statement today.

 

Unified and coordinated international response a must in face of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine

Read the statement in Russian

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and calls for a swift, unified and targeted international response on Russia.

 

Mexico: Investigate the killing of human rights defender Francisco Vazquez

The brutal assassination of human rights defender Francisco Vazquez in Morelos, Mexico, by unidentified armed men should prompt the authorities to hold those responsible accountable and put a stop to these senseless acts of violence against human rights defenders and others, global civil society alliance, CIVICUS said today.

 

Sudan: Free women detainees!

CIVICUS joins civil society groups in calling for the immediate release of Sudanese women human rights defenders in detention, and accountability for the crimes committed against them.

 

Tanzania: Reversal of Ban on Four Newspapers a step in the right direction

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS welcomes the decision of Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan to lift the ban on four newspapers – Mwanahalisi, Mawio, Mseto, and Tanzania Daima – that was imposed by the late President John Magufuli between 2016 and 2020.

 

Cambodia: More arrests and increased harassment of striking NagaWorld union activists

Image NagaWorld protesters

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) are gravely concerned about the escalation of harassment against the NagaWorld union members and further arrests this week by the Phnom Penh police under the pretext of violating a pandemic law. We urge the government to release the detained activists immediately and unconditionally, and to further respect the right to peaceful assembly of the workers in Cambodia.

 

Turkey: CIVICUS joins call for the release journalist Sedef Kabaş

We join the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) and other press freedom organisations and journalists in calling on Turkey to release senior journalist Sedef Kabaş.

 

One Year after the Illegitimate Military Coup in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Joint LGBTIQ+ Civil Society Statement

We will never forget. It has been a year since the violent and illegitimate occupation of the democratically elected government by Myanmar's military junta on 1 February 2021. This was at a period when the people were at their most vulnerable, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It was and still is a grave and utter betrayal of the public will and trust and a sheer disregard of democratic institutions and values.

In the past 365 days, we have been witnessing accounts of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, criminalisation, arbitrary detentions, illegal arrests, torture, violent reprisals, and sexual and gender-based violence committed against pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders.

This junta has fueled a humanitarian crisis that continues to impose fear, escalating violence, and destroy innocent lives throughout the country. Bombings of villages identified as centres of the opposition had resulted in killings of civilians and humanitarian workers and triggered gross internal displacement of communities. The crisis continues to escalate and has spilt across its borders as thousands have fled and sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

We are appalled by the junta's disregard of socio-economic and health emergencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as curtailing supplies of oxygen and medicines, arresting doctors and medical personnel, and leaving thousands to die without medical help.

We will always remember. The sheer tenacity, bravery and courage of LGBTIQ+ persons who were and are at the frontlines fighting for democracy, dignity, and freedom will forever be commemorated and ingrained in our collective memory. Despite repressive conditions, our LGBTIQ+ siblings have tirelessly campaigned both online and offline in pursuit of reclaiming democracy and urging for a global action to condemn military-led atrocities. We are deeply moved by various forms of creative resistance such as flash mobs, the waving of rainbow flags, the march of drag artists that had become symbols of peoples' solidarity and strength.

This military junta and their supporters have blood on their hands. We deeply regret that many have been separated from their loved ones and have lost their lives amid the struggle. Data reported by Myanmar's National Unity Government (NUG) in June 2021 revealed that at least 12 LGBTIQ+ people were shot to death, while hundreds more were detained, arrested, and severely tortured based on their SOGIESC. Many are currently in hiding to escape retaliation.

We stand firmly in solidarity. As long as Myanmar is unfree, democracy in Southeast Asia will never move forward. We commit our continuous support for efforts to reclaim and fortify human rights, freedoms, peace and democracy in Myanmar. Human rights and freedoms, particularly of LGBTIQ+ peoples, can flourish only if the people are recognised and respected as the rightful sovereign of the country. As such, we strongly deplore the military junta as an illegitimate force that is unworthy of any recognition.

We urge the UN to step up and impose necessary sanctions and actions against the junta. Min Aung Hlaing, the rest of the military leadership, their political allies, and their families should be made accountable for the atrocities they committed.

We urge all governments, the UN, and the entire international community to recognise Myanmar's National Unity Government (NUG) immediately and assure urgent unified response to provide unified assistance for putting Myanmar back on the path to democracy, the restoration of fundamental freedoms such as on information and expression, and guarantee the prevalence of peace and prosperity. While Myanmar is in crisis, we urge the international community to open up its borders, facilitate safe passage, and create domestic conditions to guarantee safety and dignity for all Myanmar persons seeking refuge.

We urge ASEAN, especially the government of Cambodia in its capacity as the Chair of the regional bloc, to fully implement its Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar: an immediate cessation of violence, constructive dialogue with all stakeholders especially marginalised and ethnic groups who are excluded from political processes, provision of humanitarian assistance, and the appointment and unhindered visits of an ASEAN Special Envoy to facilitate constructive dialogues with all stakeholders.

To our Myanmar LGBTIQ+ queerblings both in the country and abroad, you are not alone in this struggle. We are with you until and after democracy is fully regained in your beloved country.

 

In solidarity: List of Organizational Signatories

Regional Organisations

APCOM Foundation

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)

Equal Asia Foundation

ILGA Asia

Initiatives for International Dialogue

International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)

Intersex Asia

Pan Africa ILGA

RFSL

SHAPE-SEA

Youth Voices Count

Cambodia

CamASEAN Youth's Future (CamASEAN)

Indonesia

Arus Pelangi

Cangkang Queer

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

ESBISQUET

Komunitas Sehati Makassar

GAYa Nusantara Foundation

Malaysia

JEJAKA Malaysia

Justice for Sisters

People Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos)

People Like Us Hang Out! (PLUHO)

SEED

Nepal

Blue Diamond Society

Netherlands

Filipino LGBT Europe

Pakistan

National Forum of Women With Disabilities (NFWWD)

Philippines

Asexual Support Philippines

Bisdak Pride

Camp Queer

Care for Queers

Galang Philippines

Iloilo Pride Team

Intersex Philippines

Kapederasyon LGBT Organization

LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas

Lakapati Laguna

LGBT Bus

LGBTQ Plus Partylist

LGBTS Christian Churches

Metro Manila Pride

Mindanao Pride

MUJER-LGBT Organization, Inc.

Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement (PFTM)

Side B Philippines

Society of Trans Women of the Philippines (STRAP)

Transmasculine Philippines

UPLB Babaylan

Youth for Change

Youth for YOUth Organization

Singapore

My Queer Story SG

Thailand

Free Gender TH

Manushya Foundation

Mokeluang Rimnam

Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project

School of Feminist, Thailand

Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) Thailand

TaiPride

The LinQ

V-Day Thailand

Timor Leste

ARCOIRIS Timor Leste

 

This statement was also signed by 4 organisations from Myanmar who opted not to be identified due to security reasons.

Individual Signatories

50 Individual Activists from the following countries: Australia, Cambodia, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

Myanmar: Hold the junta accountable

Human Rights Defenders call on ASEAN and the international community to hold the junta accountable for grave human rights violations and atrocity crimes in Myanmar.

 

Global Call to Join a Diplomatic Boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

  • Beijing Olympics Begin Amid Atrocity Crimes
  • Global Groups Call for Action on Rights Concerns

     

Egypt: Quash Verdicts and Stop Unfair Trials by Emergency Courts

We, the undersigned organisations, call on Egyptian President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi to immediately quash the verdicts against seven arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, activists and politicians.

 

India: Ongoing targeting of activists under anti-terror laws for their protests against citizenship law

India jail

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are deeply concerned about the ongoing harassment of 18 human rights defenders under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in reprisal for their advocacy work against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019. Thirteen of those arrested under the UAPA are currently in Rohini, Tihar, and Mandoli jails, New Delhi. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the human rights defenders arrested, and the dismissal of all charges against them.

 

Amendments on the Media Services Act of 2016 of Tanzania

Global civil society alliance CIVICUS welcomes the commitment by the Tanzanian authorities to review the restrictive Media Services Act of 2016 and create a more enabling environment for media outlets and journalists. The proposed review presents a key moment to address long-standing deficits in existing media legislation. It has the potential of opening the space for media actors to exercise their fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.

 

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