Tag Archives: Martin Ennals Award

China: Yu Wensheng: Beijing is trying to wipe out human rights lawyers


More than six months after he was released from a Chinese prison, prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng talked about his experience in the Chinese prison for the first time with a foreign media outlet. He is pessimistic about the prospects facing human rights lawyers in China and he thinks support from the international community is critical to the community.

Chinese human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng was released from prison in March, after being imprisoned for four years under “inciting subversion of state power.” More than six months after his release, the experience in prison remains vivid to him.

“The 82-day detention under ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’ made me feel like dying might be my way to end all the miseries,” he told DW. “If they fed me poisonous wine during that time, I would drink it without any second thought. It’s really hard to describe the situation I was in.”

Since 2012, China has implemented “residential surveillance at a designated location,” targeting dissidents and activists. According to Yu, the window of the secretive place would be completely covered up, making it hard for him to distinguish whether it was daytime or nighttime. Several police officers would take turns to interrogate him at 6 or 7 a.m. every morning, and the interrogation usually lasts 17 or 18 hours.

“I would be interrogated in a metal chair for 17 or 18 hours every day, and my hands would be handcuffed to the chair,” he said. “The walls and the toilet bowl in the room would be completely covered by foamed plastics, and I later learned that it was to prevent the detainees from committing suicide, as the experience during RSDL would usually make detainees want to die. It was the same for me.”

“When I was sleeping, usually three police would surveil me and when I went to the bathroom, police would be inside and outside the bathroom,” he added.

After spending 82 days under RSDL, Yu was transferred to a detention center in Xuzhou in May 2018, and he spent the next 33 months there. According to him, police used pepper spray against him and the recurring issue with his teeth couldn’t be treated properly, causing him to lose three teeth in the end.


Crackdown on human rights lawyers increased under Xi Jinping

Some experts think Yu’s experience in the prison over the last four years reflects the large-scale persecution of human rights lawyers in China. Teng Biao, a Chinese legal scholar in the United States, says the “709 Mass Arrest” in 2015 affected almost all active human rights lawyers in China, and the mass arrest caused a serious loss in the community.

“These lawyers were either warned, banned to leave China or interrogated, while many of them were arrested or sentenced,” he told DW. “Apart from the imprisoned human rights lawyers, the Chinese government also revoked the licenses of many lawyers or forced them to not take on human rights cases.”









https://www.dw.com/zh/%E4%BD%99%E6%96%87%E7%94%9F%E8%AB%87%E7%8D%84%E4%B8%AD%E8%89%B1%E8%8B%A6-%E6%86%82%E7%B6%AD%E6%AC%8A%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%AB%E9%81%AD%E5%8C%97%E4%BA%AC%E6%B8%85%E9%9B%B6/a-63291467 (MANDARIN)

Human rights lawyers in China say spaces for activism are shrinking as they mark the sixth anniversary of the 709 crackdown


Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the “709 crackdown,” but some of the human rights lawyers that were arrested back then were still serving jail sentences. Additionally, while many of them have been released, the government has revoked their licenses, which makes it hard for some of them to raise their families.

While many human rights lawyers arrested during the “709 crackdown” have been released six years after the mass arrest, Yu Wen-sheng, who was the defense lawyer for several of them in 2015, is still serving his jail sentence at the Nanjing prison.

According to his wife Xu Yan, he has multiple health problems, including trembling and powerlessness in his right arm, which causes him to lose the ability to write, brush his teeth or pick dishes with chopsticks with his right arm. Additionally, he also suffers from high blood pressure, spine issues and kidney stones.

“In fact, his health condition isn’t really good and usually, he would already qualify for compassionate release, but the prison hasn’t approved my application for almost a year,” she said.

Xu said even though she continues to demand the prison to take Yu Wen-sheng to doctors for treatment, authorities at the prison have only taken him to the doctor twice in more than three years.

“He’s only been to the doctors twice in more than three years and the authorities still haven’t allowed him to get dental implant surgeries for the four teeth that he has lost,” she said. “If he fails to get dental implants for too long, it will start affecting his ability to eat food and other teeth nearby might start to get looses too.”

When the Chinese government initiated the “709 crackdown” six years ago, they arrested and detained hundreds of human rights lawyers, activists and their family members across 23 provinces in China. Yu Wen-sheng became the first lawyer to openly sue the government for the mass arrest on July 30.









https://www.dw.com/zh/709%E5%A4%A7%E6%8A%93%E6%8D%95%E5%85%AD%E5%91%A8%E5%B9%B4-%E7%BB%B4%E6%9D%83%E5%BE%8B%E5%B8%88%E7%94%9F%E5%AD%98%E4%B9%8B%E8%B7%AF%E8%A2%AB%E5%A0%B5%E6%AD%BB/a-58212501 (CHINESE)

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Burma: A network of concerned lawyers and academics has signed a Statement in Support of the Myanmar Legal Community


Burmese community protests Myanmar military coup – AsAmNews

During Myanmar’s gradual process of democratization since 2011 there has been increasing cooperation between the Myanmar lawyers, judges, legal academics, and judges with the global community. Throughout this time, many legal experts have worked with Myanmar professionals in developing the rule of law, strengthening institutions and legal education. People working in the Myanmar legal system have led this process and real change was underway. However, all this work was disrupted, and potentially destroyed, because of the military coup on February 1, 2021. Since the coup many Myanmar professionals have been reaching out to the international community to express their willingness to fight peacefully for the democratic legal system they are building, and to ask for support in doing this.

This Statement, signed by over 350 legal professionals across the world, expresses grave concerns about the treatment of lawyers by the Myanmar military regime since the coup on 1 February. Myanmar lawyers cannot represent their clients, because there is no cooperation from the police and the courts have ceased to function. Lawyers have been denied access to people who are detained. Some lawyers have been arrested without warrant. Students have been arrested and lecturers threatened.

The Statement calls for justice, and repercussions for those involved in the illegal attacks on the legal community.



Around 350 academics and human rights advocates pledged their support and raised their voices against authoritarian rule and democratic backsliding in Burma/Myanmar. We continue to stand with the people and resist any more harms against them and the spirit of democracy! #whatshappeninginMyanmar #StandWithMyanmar.


Burma: Rights lawyer Robert Sann Aung charged with treason, in hiding




China: China’s Repression of Human Rights Lawyers Will Leave ‘No One Left Standing’


Lawyer Daniel Wong is escorted by police outside his office in Hong Kong

After months of petitioning, Xu Yan just saw her husband for the first time in three years. A prominent human rights lawyer in China, Yu Wensheng was seized by a dozen police officers, including a SWAT team, on a January morning three years ago, when he left his apartment in Beijing to walk his 13-year-old son to school. Yu, who was nominated for a prominent international human rights award this week, had represented some of the 300 lawyers and activists rounded up in a massive crackdown in China in 2015. Hours before his arrest, he had written an open letter calling for constitutional reform.

After two years in detention without access to his family or lawyers, Yu was sentenced to four years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power.” His wife was only informed of the verdict of the secret trial, which began in May 2019, in a phone call from the prosecutor’s office more than a year later. So when the authorities finally allowed her to visit last week, the news came as such a surprise, her mind went “completely blank,” as she wrote on Twitter.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, they spoke only through a video call. But to her shock, Yu, who showed up pale, bald and in shackles, was in poor health. He has trouble eating with four of his teeth missing, and he could no longer write, as his right arm constantly trembles from nerve damage. “I had no time to cry. The cruel experience in the past three years has taught me that crying is of no use,” she said in a long account of the visit posted on Twitter. Speaking quickly to make full use of the 25 minutes they had, she told him that the world is concerned about his fate and that foreign diplomats have pledged to help. During their brief conversation, she learned that Yu is only offered water for breakfast, and that the prison has no heating, although the temperature plunges below freezing in winter.

For the few Chinese human rights lawyers who are not behind bars today, life is still grim—a constant tussle with the authorities that comes with grave consequences. Last Wednesday, attorney Lu Siwei, who represented Yu, was dragged by force into a hearing in Chengdu, where his license was revoked for “making inappropriate remarks online.” His legal counsel, along with supporters and foreign consulate staffers, were all barred from observing the proceedings. Some were taken to police stations and held until the hearing was over.

Lu was hired by the family of Quinn Moon, one of the 12 Hong Kongers caught by the Chinese coast guard last year while trying to flee to Taiwan. But like other legal counsel, he was never able to meet his client, who was ultimately represented by a government-appointed lawyer instead. Ren Quanniu, another lawyer assisting one of those 12 detainees in Hong Kong, faces a similar trial to strip him of his license. Although the trial’s date has not been confirmed, the verdict has all but been decided already. “At this rate of crackdown, there will be no one left standing,” Ren told me in an interview.

But this close-knit circle of Chinese human rights lawyers isn’t only facing threats of disbarment and incarceration; Chinese authorities have also stepped up scrutiny of their daily activities, making simple things such as supporting each other during their trials impossible.






China: Imprisoned Chinese rights lawyer in poor health: wife


Cheng y sus compañeros Li Yongze y Wu Gejianxiong fueron arrestados el 22 de julio de 2019 y sus familias no han vuelto a verles. (EFE)

A Chinese lawyer nominated for a top human rights award is in poor health after years in prison, his wife told AFP Tuesday.

Yu Wensheng was detained in Beijing in January 2018 in front of his young son just hours after he wrote an open letter calling for constitutional reforms, including multi-candidate elections.

He was tried in secret and sentenced to four years in prison last June for “inciting subversion of state power”.

“His physical state is very poor. His right hand is deformed and trembles so much that he cannot write,” his wife Xu Yan told AFP.

Yu was nominated Monday for the Martin Ennals Award, which organisers hope will shine a light on abuses in authoritarian states.

Xu said her husband’s nomination “not only supports and honours (him), but is also an encouragement and affirmation to other human rights lawyers and defenders”.

China has seen a dramatic crackdown on civil liberties and freedoms since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012, with hundreds of human rights lawyers and activists detained in recent years.

Yu was known for taking on a number of high-profile rights cases, including the defence of fellow lawyer Wang Quanzhang, who was among more than 300 legal professionals and activists arrested in a July 2015 crackdown.

He also became well known for suing the Beijing government for the city’s chronic air pollution.

Yu’s defence lawyer Lu Siwei had his legal license revoked by authorities last week after handling several sensitive human rights cases.










https://information.tv5monde.com/info/droits-humains-une-photographe-un-avocat-et-une-militante-des-droits-des-femmes-l-honneur (FRANCAIS)



https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/premio-d-humanos_activistas-de-china–a-saud%C3%AD-y-turkmenist%C3%A1n-nominados-al-premio-martin-ennals/46296170 (ESPANOL)

Turkey: Rights lawyer Eren Keskin receives Martin Annals Finalist Award

May 9, 2019

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Human rights activists, diplomats, and the media gathered at at the Human Rights Association (IHD) headquarters in Ankara at a ceremony to present the Martin Ennals Finalist Award to Eren Keskin who is banned from travel. She spoke about the declining human rights situation and noted the importance of international solidarity with the human rights movement in Turkey. The ceremony was widely covered in the Turkish press.

(Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders Facebook, 10/05/19)

Martin Ennals Award Finalist Eren Keskin honoured in Ankara

Eren Keskin


https://www.gazeteduvar.com.tr/gundem/2019/05/09/eren-keskine-martin-ennals-odulu-verildi/ (TURKCE)

http://www.realitehaber.com/2019/05/09/martin-ennals-odulu-alan-keskin-tecrit-kaldirilsin/ (TURKCE)

http://www.diken.com.tr/ozgur-gundem-davasinda-avukat-eren-keskin-ve-gazetecilere-ceza-yagdi/ (TURKCE)

http://www.ville-geneve.ch/actualites/detail/article/1550066758-abdul-aziz-muhamat-recoit-prix-martin-ennals-2019/ (FRANCAIS)

Turkey/Martin Ennals Award: Breaking news: Ennals Award announces its 3 finalists for 2019

October 24, 2018

Eren Keskin (right), a Turkish human rights lawyer was nominated on October 24 2018, along with an Afro-Colombian activist and a Sudanese refugee, for the annual Martin Ennals Award . Picture: AFT/OZAN KOSE

The following three Human Rights Defenders have been selected as Finalists for the 2019 Martin Ennals Award:

Eren Keskin (Turkey)

Eren Keskin is a lawyer and human rights activist. For more than thirty years, she has struggled for fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey, especially for the Kurds, women and the LGBTI+ community.Within the context of the worsening human rights situation in Turkey, Keskin is once again at the centre of intimidation attempts.  As part of a solidarity campaign to support the Özgür Gündem newspaper, Keskin held the title of “editor-in-chief” of the newspaper from 2013 to 2016, when it was closed by the authorities.On 30 March 2018, she was convicted and sentenced to 12.5 years in jail for having published articles deemed to have “degraded” the Turkish nation and “insulted” the Turkish president.  She is currently free while the case is appealed. She stated: “To defend human rights is not easy in our territory.  I am being prosecuted with 143 charges for my solidarity with an opposition newspaper in the context of freedom of expression. International awards and solidarity have “protective” characteristics and reassure those of us in repressive societies. It also it gives us a morale boost and helps our motivation for the struggle. Thank you for not forgetting us. Your solidarity and protection mean so much. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/05/26/eren-keskin-human-rights-defender-from-turkey-receives-2018-anna-lindh-prize/]

Breaking news: Ennals Award announces its 3 finalists for 2019









https://www.evrensel.net/haber/364290/avukat-eren-keskin-martin-ennals-odulune-aday-gosterildi (TURKCE)

https://www.voaafrique.com/a/turquie-colombie-et-soudan-en-lice-pour-le-prix-martin-ennals/4626974.html (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eren_Keskin (FRANCAIS)

http://lepersoneeladignita.corriere.it/2018/10/24/premio-ennals-2019-ecco-i-finalisti/ (ITALIANO)

https://canal1.com.co/noticias/nacional/lider-social-colombiano-es-nominado-a-premio-internacional-de-derechos-humanos/ (ESPANOL)


Syria: Regional: On International Women’s Day, GCHR honours women’s rights defenders in the Gulf and neighbouring countries

March 8, 2018

On International Women’s Day, marked annually on 08 March, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) honours Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in the region and beyond. While remembering those who passed away, we celebrate those who continue the struggle. We stand in solidarity with their efforts while renewing our commitment to provide any possible support to WHRDs in the Gulf region and neighbouring countries to carry out their activism.

In 2018, women all over the world are still demanding their basic rights to equal participation and representation politically, socially and economically. Despite experiencing a severe backlash from state and non-state actors and other components of society, WHRDs and feminist groups and their organisations are becoming stronger. Demanding their rights, challenging stereotypes and raising awareness through physical and online campaigns.

Women continue to be at the forefront of human rights struggles in areas of conflict such as Iraq, Yemen and Syria. They are continuously being subjected to other layers of discrimination, segregation and gender-based targeting to weaken their determination, increase their vulnerability, shake their confidence and threaten their security. However, this has never succeeded in deterring them from defending their rights and the rights of others.


In Syria, and precisely from Eastern Ghouta, Razan Zaitouneh, the head of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC), winner of the 2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the 2011 Anna Politkovskaya Award of RAW in WAR (Reach All Women In War), remains enforceably disappeared for the fourth year, along with her three colleagues from VDC, including WHRD Samira Al-Khalil.




http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2018/03/01/syrie-on-n-a-observe-aucun-tir-sur-les-couloirs-humanitaires-depuis-leur-mise-en-place-dans-la-ghout_1633148 (FRANCAIS)

http://www.lemonde.fr/livres/article/2017/10/26/a-la-recherche-de-razan-zaitouneh-icone-syrienne_5206070_3260.html (FRANCAIS)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razan_Zaitouneh (FRANCAIS)

http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=238488 (ESPANOL)

Egypt/Prix Martin Ennals: Egypte: Mohamed Zaree,lauréat du «Nobel des droits de l’Homme», risque la prison

October 13, 2017

Mohamed Zaree

Le juriste Mohamed Zaree, fervent défenseur des libertés d’expression en Egypte, a remporté le 10 octobre 2017 le prix Martin Ennals, l’une des plus prestigieuses récompenses dans le domaine des droits de l’Homme. Le lauréat n’a pas été autorisé à se rendre à Genève pour recevoir sa distinction.

Mohamed Zaree, directeur du bureau égyptien de l’Institut du Caire pour les études sur les droits humains (CIHRS), n’a pas le droit de quitter le territoire égyptien depuis mai 2016. L’activiste égyptien est sous le coup d’une enquête judiciaire qui pourrait lui valoir une lourde peine. «Les chefs d’inculpation dont je fais l’objet suffiraient à m’envoyer en prison pour 25 ans», explique-t-il dans une vidéo diffusée lors de la remise du prix Martin Ennals. C’est sa femme qui a fait le déplacement en Suisse pour réceptionner le prix décerné par une dizaine d’organisations internationales comme Amnesty ou Human Rights Watch.

Les ONG sous pression 
Mohamed Zaree, 34 ans, est accusé de bénéficier de fonds étrangers. Sous la pression des autorités, le siège de son organisation de défense des droits de l’Homme a été transféré à Tunis en 2014. L’activiste égyptien a choisi de rester dans le pays pour mener le combat de la liberté malgré les menaces de mort et les intimidations. Une nouvelle loi promulguée en mai 2017 par le président égyptien Abdel Fattah al-Sissi impose des restrictions sans précédent aux ONG.




http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/french-foreign-policy/human-rights/events/article/human-rights-bestowal-of-martin-ennals-award-10-10-17 (ENGLISH)

http://www.martinennalsaward.org/hrd/mohamed-zaree/ (ENGLISH)