June 13, 2019
Latest news from Brussels :
Following decisions were taken
1-International Coalition has been formed for Endangered Lawyers by the gathered international lawyer organizations in this Meeting on 13th of June 2019 in Brussels
2-the country Pakistan has been chosen to focus on for the Day next year 2020:
3-4 there have been different countries proposed for 2021:
Speech by international coordinators: Hans and Symone Gaasbeek Wielinga
Dear all, very dear colleagues,
May I wish you a warm welcome today ,in this meeting!!
I would like to thank especially my colleagues Yves Oschinsky and Aurore Lebeau – and their organisations – for their hospitality and for their efforts to receive us here today in Brussels.
We are very glad that you came here today with so many, representing many International Lawyer and Bar organisations, all in solidarity with our threatened colleagues abroad.
Lawyers for lawyers will be in the meeting on line
Lawyers rights watch Canada is also following our meeting
Some months ago Symone – my wife and colleague – and I decided that we would come back as Coordinator, after having left the project a year ago (for several reasons). As you know the woman behind the man is always very important…!
Especially Symone supports me a lot and she makes it possible to continue the coordination.
This year, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer project exists already 10 years, a couple of years longer than the Foundation Day of the Endangered Lawyer, which was erected to support this important work!!
The foundation also focuses on creating worldwide awareness about the harassment of lawyers ,on interesting the youth /young lawyers for this problem of persecution of their human rights colleagues and to ask support for our endangered colleagues at European and International Institutions
The Foundation has a lot of moral strength, but there is almost no financial funding for the work.
In the past years – from the start – our lawyer office has given good financial support and has paid a lot of the costs.
Symone and I are very glad that we are again supported strongly by the voluntary Board members of the Foundation and by a few other volunteers.
Also the Board members and my brother and cousin have decided to continue supporting the project and to restart the website…!
I want to take you back for a short moment to the Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2019.
I was very impressed by the lawyers in Madrid who – on the Day of the Endangered Lawyer last year – organised a meeting to commemorate the five lawyers and their assistants, who had been killed in 1977 in Atocha in Madrid on the 24st of January… One minute of silence was observed in memory of the murdered colleagues.
In 2019, the Day was celebrated in 25 cities and our Turkish colleagues strongly supported the Day. Even in Istanbul, there was a big demonstration.
However, in 2018 the Day was organized in 35 cities, so 10 cities less were involved last year, in 2019!
For me this makes clear that the coming time – from today on – we have to invest real energy and real networking to make the coming Day as big a success as in 2018…!!
Our mutual task is to make the next Day of the Endangered Lawyer in 2020 a big success!!!
Reports of the cities
I was informed that in many cities more than three or four lawyer organisations and Bar organizations ,were working closely together to organise their manifestations in their cities. This good cooperation between sometimes very different lawyer groups is very encouraging and special…
However, only half of the 25 cities involved have sent us reports about what they organised last year, about their actions and about handing over the petitions.
For example, London and Berlin informed us very well and in Berlin the action was even on the NDR television. The action in London was published in the magazine ‘Socialist Lawyer’ in February.
From many other cities we also received good reports, like Brussels, Paris and the Netherlands.
NB —-Request to the cities which did not send their reports of 24 january 2019—!!!
However, from at least 10 cities, we have not had any or only very little news, no pictures, no reports, no petitions.
So we are not even aware how successful the Day might have been in these cities and we do not know if they contacted any Turkish authorities or ambassadors with petitions.
I really hope that next year we will, like in the years before, receive good feedback and communication to the coordinator.
Of course, the feedback from all the cities is also very important to continue the follow-up work with the countries which we have chosen in the past. As coordinators we have to be aware of what discussions were held, or which colloquia, what conclusions were drawn, which contacts there were with ambassadors or authorities from Turkey, in all the involved cities.
The same applies to the Press releases and publications.
All information gathered on the Day for Turkey while demonstrating and giving petitions and having meetings in all the 25 cities, will be put together -on the website of the foundation – and could be also used as a base for the fact finding mission which will be organised after the summer this year to visit the detained Turkish colleagues and to investigate the persecutions Of these lawyers.
As you see, it is still very important and useful to receive even a short report from all the cities which have not made the report yet. Then we are able to make a compilation of all the actions and publications of the 24th of January 2019,on the website .
To make the Day of the Endangered Lawyer a success in 2020, it is also necessary to involve already well in advance all your press contacts or make new press contacts, because press coverage is part of the success of this worldwide project…! And please also use your social or commercial networks like Facebook to communicate your actions!
Tweets and twitter went last year very well also in Turkey…
Often, people ask questions about follow-up contacts with the countries on which we focused on the past Days of the Endangered Lawyer. I will inform you on this, starting with:
The Foundation is still in close contact with lawyers in Honduras, where the situation has deteriorated very much and very quickly in the last years…!
Many lawyers had to flee the country and some of them are also trying to get into the USA as a political refugee.
Yesterday Carmen Elisa Pinto was killed in her car while she was driving .
The Foundation, in collaboration with other organisations, has just organised a successful fact-finding mission to the Philippines, which was also well-supported by the Union International des Avocats, the UIA. I joined the mission as you may know, and we investigated the many murders of lawyers, prosecutors and judges;
You can find the preliminary findings on the website of the foundation:
Also you find info in this report about the inciting role of President Duterte in these killings .
This week again a prosecutor Josephine Larranzo Olivar -39 years -was killed.
Since Duterte came into power -2 ½ years ago- 39 lawyers ,judges and prosecutors have been killed
After the last Day of the Endangered Lawyer focussed on Turkey, the Foundation, together with the European Democratic Lawyers, sent a file to the Lawyers for Lawyers organisation in which Selçuk Kozağaçlı and – indirectly – his colleagues were nominated for the Human Rights Award. Because this nomination was successful, the Lawyers for Lawyers Award was assigned to Selçuk and his colleagues…In their absence …! And received by their colleague Ceren Uysal.
She also asked for new strong support from our organizations for observers for the next trial on the 10 th of July against the same lawyers group.
The latest numbers from Turkey of this week are : 1546 lawyers persecuted ,599 lawyers arrested ,311 sentenced to 1967 years in prison …!!
The great thing is that at this moment, all of you who are present here, are very active, together with your organisations – in your own way and with your own means – to support the endangered lawyers, in many, many countries and in many different ways!
All our work complements each other’s work. All our different organisations – together here – can and will be very strong.
In support of the endangered Iranian lawyers, this year very good cooperation can be seen…
This year the IDHAE – which is a partnership of many big European Bars and Human Rights Institutes – has awarded the Ludovic Trarieux Prize to Nasrin Sotoudeh. I was happy to be part of that jury meeting last year. The French colleagues gave Nasrin Sotoudeh huge publicity all over France. In many French cities, which followed up each other, an enormous billboard was hung – in a kind of relay (or relais, as they say in French) – from the buildings of each Bar association.
So the human rights prize ceremony is supported and maximised by the follow-up action with the billboards!!!
The Coming Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2020
And now about the choice for next year. Until now the co-organiser AED (European Democratic Lawyers) has not made a final choice yet for a country. The Foundation is today open to all your ideas.
On the other hand, for the coordinators the logistics are also important. In the last 10 years we have experienced that it is very important to have very good contacts and networks in the chosen country to make the Day a real success…!
In many possible countries like Cameroon, Russia, Azerbaijan, our networks are not sufficient at all.
The real success for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer will be that in the country itself there will also be a lot of manifestations, like in Turkey. This happened last year when we focussed on Turkey, but also in earlier years in many Turkish cities there were manifestations for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer… On the other hand, in Egypt and Colombia, there wasn’t any echo, any resonance. There was not a lot of connection.
The International Association of People’s Lawyers, IAPL, let’s say Stuart Russell’s organisation (who could not be present today), has proposed Pakistan for next year’s Day. IAPL has sent us a well-motivated request to choose Pakistan, which was already spread to all of you on the mailing list in April. If you don’t have a copy, I brought some for you!!
We have used the last months to try to find contacts in Pakistan and to create a network to get good information about the situation of the Pakistani lawyers and also to get the Day organised in Pakistan itself… I also asked some of your organisations if they have contacts over there.
For the moment I can say, I wrote to seven or eight lawyers over there, in Pakistan, and I now have already 4 enthousiastic contacts with colleagues in Pakistan, which I hope will be good.
Unfortunately, my very good contact Asma Jahangir died last year in Lahore as a result of a stroke. She was far too young… Jahangir has won a lot of human rights prizes and she devoted her entire life to human rights, women’s rights, religious rights, et cetera.
As for Pakistan, I want to add that the actual situation in Pakistan is very dangerous for lawyers. I mention the constant persecution of Christians and their defending lawyers, the attacks in Quetta on lawyers with many deaths… And the constant attacks on lawyers who defend minority groups.
Beside the Christians there are 5/6 other religious minority groups which are constantly harassed !!
If you might want to choose for Pakistan – which we prefer as Foundation – we need all your help to continue networking with Pakistani lawyers. So you would support us a lot by asking your contacts for help and cooperation ,and by asking them to incite their colleagues in Pakistan ,to organize mabnifestations /meetings in Pakistan on the 24th of January.
As we said, the Day has to be well prepared with press contacts and networking and the Day 2020 can only be a success with our mutual and joint efforts!!
Hans en Symone Gaasbeek
Coordination – Foundation Day of the Endangered Lawyer
Over 70 traders booked for clashing with lawyers in Pakpattan