Tag Archives: Front Line Defenders

Turkey: Released academic says detention has become common practice in Turkey

November 12, 2018

Cenk Yiğiter, an academic who had been fired from his job by the Turkish government, was released on Monday following his detention on Friday at his home in Ankara on suspicion of terrorism.

The Turkish Internet media reported that the purged academic said his detention was completely arbitrary; however, Yiğiter said such detentions have become normal in Turkey. Stating that at this point in time only critics are subject to this unfair treatment, Yiğiter said everyone should be afraid under the existing rule in the country.

Yiğiter said he did not know what he was accused of during his detention and that even his lawyer was not informed since the prosecutor imposed restrictions on access to his case, a prosecutorial authority introduced after a coup attempt in July 2016.

He urged people to keep alive their hope of defeating the darkness in the country.

Yiğiter was among 1,128 signatories of the Academics for Peace petition published in several media outlets on Jan. 11, 2016, calling on the Turkish government to halt military operations in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern part of the country, which caused dozens of civilian deaths and the destruction of vast residential areas.

He was previously convicted of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and given a suspended sentence.







https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/yazarlar/2018/11/17/bildigini-unutmak-elindekinden-olmak/ (TURKCE)


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Turkey: Hanifi Barış facing criminal investigation for insulting the Turkish President

November 15, 2018

Hanifi Barış

On 6 November 2018, academic and lawyer Hanifi Barış was notified by the Prosecutor’s Office in Bakırköy that an investigation was opened on whether he insulted the Turkish president through his social media posts. He has been summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office to give his statement between 26-28 November 2018 and may be detained following his statement. There is an ongoing investigation against the human rights defender regarding charges of creating “terrorist propaganda” for the same social media posts.

Hanifi Barış is a lawyer and academic, who has also worked on human rights, and has defended the right of his clients to represent themselves in the Kurdish language. He is a member of Academics for Peace, a group which has condemned state violence in southeastern Turkey and signed the 2016 peace petition “We will not be a party to this crime!”.

On 4 July, Hanifi Barış was arrested by the 10th Criminal Peace Judge. During his interrogation at the Prosecutor’s Office, he was accused of creating “terrorist propaganda” and questioned about his social media posts, which consisted of shared news articles and commentaries from international and local media sources. The human rights defender had not commented on the contents of the links. On 23 July 2018, Istanbul’s 29th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against Hanifi Barış on the same charges and confirmed his detention. He was released on 18 September 2018 after being held in pre-trial detention for over two months.



Hanifi Baris

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/tr/case/hanifi-baris-arrested (TURKCE)

http://gazetekarinca.com/2018/11/sayfalari-likelamak-bile-orgut-propagandasi-olarak-dosyalara-girebiliyor/ (TURKCE)

Russia: Lawyer that revealed tortures in Yaroslavl colonies gets state protection

November 16, 2018

Lawyer that revealed tortures in Yaroslavl colonies gets state protection

Irina Biryukova, the lawyer at the Public Verdict Foundation, who revealed information about torture in the colonies of Yaroslavl to the media, received state protection. The same measures were taken about the daughter of the lawyer and former prisoner Evgeny Makarov. This is reported by the Foundation.

Biryukova learned about it from the head of the investigative group of the Investigative Committee of the ICR of the Yaroslavl region in the regional court, where employee of Colony No. 1 Sipan Mamoyan challenged his arrest. Mamoyan was detained on October 31, 2018. According to the investigation, he poured water on the beaten Makarov; it was filmed. The Court of Appeal confirmed the legality of the Mamoyan’s arrest.

The video of Makarov’s torture was published in the summer of 2018 by Novaya Gazeta. 17 employees of the colony were suspended from work, 13 of them were arrested by the court, and one was put under house arrest. The FSIN began checking the colonies and the SIZO throughout Russia.

The case of torture caused a great resonance. Biryukova received threats; the lawyer left Russia for some time. Then the ICR refused to provide state protection. In September, Biryukova returned to her homeland and continued to represent the interests of the prisoners.







Mexico: Clients of disappeared human rights lawyer Ernesto Serna García acquitted

November 8, 2018


On 6 November 2018, 22 members of Sol Rojo announced that they were acquitted of the charges against them after three years of a judicial process marked by irregularities. The group was legally represented by human rights defender and lawyer Dr. Ernesto Sernas García, who disappeared on 10 May 2018, in circumstances related to this case. His work was essential to the present outcome.

Dr. Ernesto Sernas Garcia is a Constitutional Law professor at Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca. He had been legally representing the 22 members of Sol Rojo. He disappeared on 10 May 2018, just before submitting the evidence that resulted in the acquittal of the activists.

On 6 November 2018, the 22 activists members of Sol Rojo announced that they were acquitted of the charges of terrorism and carrying of explosives filed against them on 7 June 2015, when they were arbitrarily arrested for participating in a peaceful demonstration. The criminal procedures following the arrest were marked by irregularities and human rights violations of the defendants, including reports of torture in custody. Before his disappearance, Ernesto Sernas Garcia had gathered key evidence that proved the innocence of the Sol Rojo members and demonstrated the pattern of criminalisation against them.




http://oaxaca.eluniversal.com.mx/estatal/06-11-2018/organizaciones-de-oaxaca-exigen-presentacion-con-vida-de-abogado (ESPANOL)

http://consorciooaxaca.org.mx/denunciamos-falta-de-avances-en-la-investigacion-de-la-desaparicion-de-ernesto-sernas/ (ESPANOL)

http://oaxaca.eluniversal.com.mx/estatal/30-08-2018/denuncian-nulos-avances-en-la-investigacion-de-la-desaparicion-ernesto-sernas (ESPANOL)

Russia: Russian Lawyer’s Car Torched In Reprisal For Human Rights Work, Watchdog Says

November 7, 2018

Lyudmila Aleksandrova

The car of a Russian human rights lawyer who is involved in cases against law enforcement agencies has been set on fire, a rights watchdog reports.

Lyudmila Aleksandrova, whose car was set on fire on November 4 near her house in the southern city of Krasnodar, is representing the only defense witness in the case of human rights activist Mikhail Benyash, Dublin-based Front Line Defenders said in a statement.

Benyash was arrested on September 9 in Krasnodar, where he went to provide legal assistance to participants in an unsanctioned protest against Russia’s pension reform, it said. Benyash was beaten up by police and was sentenced for administrative offenses, and is currently facing allegations in two criminal cases.

Aleksandrova’s client witnessed the ill-treatment of Benyash by police officers.

Front Line Defenders said it believes that the arson attack was in a reprisal for Aleksandrova’s legal work in criminal and administrative cases against law enforcement agencies.

The group said Aleksandrova was also subjected to harassment between 2008 and 2016, and her license was withdrawn at one point following a criminal conviction for slander in connection to a complaint she sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin about police violence.

“Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the arson attack against the human rights defender Lyudmila Aleksandrova,” the group said.







November 2, 2018


Human rights defender Ezzat Ghoneim disappeared from Al Haram police station 10 days after he was granted conditional release on 4 September 2018. He remained unlawfully detained until 13 September 2018, when police officers informed his wife of his alleged release. The whereabouts of the human rights defender have been unknown ever since. Cases of enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, after courts ruling in their favor, have become a frequent practice in Egypt in recent months.

Ezzat Ghoneim is a human rights defender and lawyer focusing on the right to fair trial and enforced disappearances. Since 2014, he has served as executive director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, a human rights organisation which works on arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, freedom of expression, medical negligence and torture inside prisons.

On 4 September 2018, Ezzat Ghoneim was granted conditional release. However, Al-Haram police station refused to release him and justified the decision by stating that they were waiting for “instructions from the National Security Agency”. Even though on 13 September 2018, the human rights defender’s wife was told by police officers that her husband was released, he has not been seen ever since. The authorities are denying any link to his disappearance.






https://elnadeem.org/2018/10/11/2080/?fbclid=IwAR3Ibr95duSrV9SF1DoD8t_AAipgal1o3nnDpYrhcFFQshwvYiOxauKehAI (ARABIC)

https://www.es.amnesty.org/en-que-estamos/noticias/noticia/articulo/egipto-al-menos-19-personas-detenidas-en-una-escalada-de-la-represion-contra-activistas-de-los-der/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20181101/452682118847/una-veintena-de-detenidos-en-nueva-campana-contra-trabajadores-ddhh-en-egipto.html (ESPANOL)

http://nena-news.it/egitto-arrestati-in-una-notte-19-difensori-per-i-diritti-umani/ (ITALIANO)

ECRF, which documents enforced disappearances and the expanding use of the death penalty, has been hard hit with the crackdown. Another of those arrested three days ago is Mohamed Abu Horira, lawyer and former spokesperson for ECRF, while human rights defender Ezzat Ghoniem, the co-founder of ECRF, and Azzouz Mahgoub, another lawyer , have been forcibly disappeared since 14 September. Both were arrested in March 2018 but a court ordered their release on 4 September. However, security forces ignored the court order and instead forcibly disappeared them from prison.

In a statement published last Thursday announcing the suspension of its human rights work, ECRF cited the current climate in Egypt as incompatible with human rights work and demanded intervention by the UN Human rights Council.

(Egyptian Coordination for rights and freedoms Facebook, 04/11/18)

Urgent Statement

Egypt continues to suffer from unprecedented human rights abuses, in which both women and men are bring humiliated. The abuse has not stopped at this point, but it has now been escalated to involve all of those who defend the oppressed. At the heart of these human rights defenders is the Egyptian Coordination For Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) whose Executive Director had been arrested and his location remains unknown until now. Arrests have now extended to more ECRF members, as well as to the former member of the National Council for Human Rights
and former ECRF legal adviser team
Professor Hoda Abdel Moneim, who acts as an independent human rights defender, and some other human rights activists.

Accordingly, the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms has taken the decision to suspend its human rights work in Egypt until further notice in protest against the continued enforced disappearance of its executive director, the human rights activist and lawyer Ezzat Ghneim, and in protest against the new wave of arrests that affected a number of human rights defenders including Mrs Hoda Abdel Moneim, former member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights and Mr Mohamed Abu Huraira, lawyer and former spokesman for ECRF.

We emphasize the following:
1. The human rights climate in Egypt is not conducive to the practice of any local human rights work.
2. The continued targeting of the ECRF and other human rights activists in Egypt constitutes a premeditated crime that necessitates the intervention of the UN Human Rights Council in accordance with the official agreements signed by the State of Egypt.
3 – The suspension of ECRF activity in Egypt and the absence of any local working team until this decision of suspension is considered together with any reactions to it.

The ECRF, has conducted its legal work in a framework of integrity and professionalism, but has taken this difficult decision to suspend its work despite the critical circumstances in Egypt where human rights abuses are systematic and has exceeded all conventions and customs, in order to make the parties concerned face their responsibilities.

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) in Egypt is required, to immediately carry out its designated role, because its silence in front of the continued attack on human rights defenders is a tacit approval of these acts and suggests complicity of the NCHR in this attack.

The human rights situation in Egypt, especially with regard to the rights of detainees and human rights defenders, has been the worst in Egypt’s history in the past five years. Furthermore, the Egyptian authority has committed the most serious violations beyond all humanitarian norms including the storming of women’s homes, their detention and the arrest of their families over the past three months alone.

As we take this decision, we demand the release of all activists, human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience, starting with Mr Ezzat Ghneim and Mrs Huda Abdel Moneim. We stress that ending these unjust practices is extremely important, and even necessary to protect Egypt from the consequences of violence and tyranny.

The ECRF emphasises that it will not leave the human rights field and will continue to stand with the oppressed and be their voice for in every platform.

Egyptian Coordination For Rights and Freedoms
November 2018

محتاجين نصمم البيان ضرووى

(Egyptian Coordination for rights and freedoms Facebook, 05/11/18)

India: Elgaar Parishad case: Pune court rejects bail pleas of activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bhardwaj

October 26, 2018

Activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bhardwaj were accused of having Maoist links and were arrested in June in connection with the probe into Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon violence.

A special court in Pune Friday rejected bail applications filed by activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, who were arrested by the Pune city police on August 28 in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case, for their alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist.

The trio was arrested along with P Vara Vara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, but all five were then put under house arrest as per the order issued by the Supreme Court. The house period of four weeks for the trio ends today. Defence lawyers of Bharadwaj, Ferreira and Gonsalves said they would be filing application before the court seeking time of one week in applying before a higher court for challenging the lower court’s order.

ALSO READ | Koregaon Bhima violence case — Among the five picked for ‘Maoist links’: an editor, a lawyer, a professor

The FIR in the case, lodged by Pune resident Tushar Damgude on January 8, initially named Harshali Potdar, Sudhir Dhawale of Republican Panthers, Sagar Gorkhe, and Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap, Deepak Dhengle of the Pune-based Kabir Kala Manch. It claimed that the accused, as per the strategy of the CPI- Maoist, “mislead the Dalits and spread thoughts of violence” in their minds.

On June 6, police had arrested activist Rona Wilson, Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, former Prime Minister Rural Development fellow Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale in connection with the case.

Elgaar Parishad case: Pune court rejects bail pleas of activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bhardwaj












https://www.loksatta.com/maharashtra-news/pune-sessions-court-has-rejected-bail-plea-of-vernon-gonsalves-arun-ferreira-and-sudha-bhardwaj-accused-in-bhima-koregaon-violence-case-1778987/ (HINDI)

http://www.lokmat.com/crime/bhima-koregaon-violence-case-sudha-bhardwaj-vernon-gonsalves-arun-ferreira-may-be-arrested/ (HINDI)

https://teles-relay.com/inde-deux-militants-de-gauche-arretes-apres-que-le-tribunal-de-pune-ait-rejete-leur-demande-de-mise-en-liberte-sous-caution-inde-nouvelles/ (FRANCAIS)

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Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO)
Press Release
28th October,2018

Condemns the arrest of Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves
Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO) strongly condemns the arrest of activists and lawyers Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira by Maharashtra police on the rejection of their bail petition by the special court of Additional Sessions Judge K D Vadane in Pune on 26.10.18. In this latest episode of the sordid drama unfolding over the last one and half months, we see a completely unreasoned order by the Additional Sessions Judge which relies on the multiple unsigned and clearly fabricated letters produced by Pune police and released to the media over the last six months as evidence to find the activists prime facie guilty and reject their bail applications. The rejection order does not take into account that Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, together with Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, who are the other accused in the case, were never named in the FIR lodged regarding the Elgar Parishad held on 31.12.17 nor were they in any way involved with the organization of the Elgar Parishad. To our greater surprise, we find that the order states that based on the slogans and songs at the Elgar Parishad, the judge comes to the conclusion that war was declared at the Elgar Parishad! The order considers the record of social work and defence of human rights by all the accused but then comes to the conclusion, without any justification, that the social work is just a pretext for doing work for banned organizations and unlawful activities!
We find that unfortunately the rejection order parrots the position of the Maharashtra government, without any application of mind and helps in the process of crushing of dissent which is the ultimate objective of this entire chain of events. This started off with the violence by right wing elements against the dalit congregation on the occasion of commemorating the Bhima Koregaon war and then lead on to the arrests of activists, lawyers and academics who have been defending the rights of dalits, adivasis, minorities, peasants, workers and oppressed nationalities. On other hand, the rejection order refuses to take into cognizance that the persons who were accused in the original FIR lodged on the Bhima Koregaon violence, Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, are roaming around scotfree, and Milind Ekbote was released on bail in the case by the same Pune court. While the Maharashtra government makes no effort to bring the actual perpetrators of the Bhima Koregaon violence to justice, on the other hand it has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the Mumbai High Court order that cancelled the extension of imprisonment of Surendra Gadling, another accused in the case, under UAPA.
It is quite clear from the turn of events that it is the vindictiveness of the Maharashtra government, backed by the central government, which is trying to convey a lesson out of these accused activists, lawyers and academics to all people who express dissent and protest the undemocratic actions of the state, so that all dissent and resistance can be ultimately crushed. The bogey of “urban Maoists” which has been raised to persecute these activists is clearly aimed at camouflaging the continuous actions of the government to target and persecute dalits, adivasis, minorities and other weaker sections of society. CDRO strongly condemns these actions and demands the immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, and their co-accused who are already in jail for the last five months, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale, and the withdrawal of the false FIRs against them and all the other accused in the case.

On behalf of CDRO,
Asish Gupta,Coordinator.

Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep(Delhi).

(Facebook, 28/10/18)

On 26 October, a Pune Sessions Court rejected bail applications filed by three activists and human rights defenders. On the same day, the court also rejected Ferreira and Gonsalves’ application seeking a week’s extension of their house arrest.

The activists have a history of working to protect the rights of some of India’s most marginalized people. The Maharashtra Police’s subsequent arrest of these activists, despite failing to provide credible evidence against them, is concerning.

Keep reading 👉 bit.ly/2z8svmU

(Amnesty International India Facebook, 28/10/18)