44 International Human Rights Defenders: Dismiss the Case Against Thailand’s Sulak Sivaraksa

Right Livelihood Award Laureate Sulak Sivaraksa, aged 84, faces up to 15 years in jail after being officially charged with lèse-majesté relating to a speech in which he referenced the role of 16th century King Naresuan at the Battle of Nong Sarai in 1593. 44 fellow Laureates from 32 different countries are today together with representatives of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation demanding the case be dismissed in an open letter to Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai. Sivaraksa was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1995 for his “vision activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy justice and cultural integrity”.

Please see the open letter below, and feel free to reach out if you would like to speak to Mr. Sivaraska in further detail re the charges.

Many thanks and best wishes, James

Dear Honourable Minister Pramudwinai,

We are writing to you on behalf of the board, staff and undersigned Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, a Swedish charity that honours four individuals or organisations each year who have demonstrated exemplary practical solutions to the root causes of global problems. The Foundation currently has 170 Laureates from 69 countries.

Sulak Sivaraksa was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1995 for his “vision, activism and spiritual commitment in the quest for a development process that is rooted in democracy, justice and cultural integrity”.

We are deeply distressed to learn that on October 9th 2017, Ajarn Sulak was summoned to a military court by the police and was officially charged with lèse-majesté under Article 112 of the criminal code. The remarks in question relate to a speech given by Ajarn Sulak in 2014 at Thammasat University, during which he referenced the role of 16th century King Naresuan at the Battle of Nong Sarai in 1593. The Chief Public Prosecutor has required Ajarn Sulak to present himself at his office for another meeting on December 7th 2017, where he will determine whether to proceed with the case or not. If found guilty of the charge, Ajarn Sulak could face the prospect of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Ajarn Sulak did not make any statement referencing His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn, his immediate family, or his late father, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, that would constitute an offence under Article 112 of the criminal code. Instead, Ajarn Sulak was simply exercising his freedom of academic expression to comment on historical matters. Therefore, we strongly believe that these charges brought against Ajarn Sulak are unsubstantiated, vexatious and do not constitute a criminal offence under the lèse-majesté law. We, the undersigned, urge you to use your good offices to request that the public prosecutor dismiss this case immediately.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Signed by:

  1. Monika Griefahn, Chair, Board of Trustees, Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
  2. Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director, Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
  3. Prof Dr. h.c. (mult.) Manfred Max-Neef, Director, Economics Institute, Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile (RLA 1983)
  4. Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org, USA (RLA 2014)
  5. Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria (RLA 2010)
  6. Dr. Anwar Fazal, Director, Right Livelihood College, Malaysia (RLA 1982)
  7. Ruchama Marton, Founder and President, Physicians for Human Rights, Israel (RLA 2010)
  8. Chico Whitaker Ferreira, Brazil (RLA 2006)
  9. Tony Clarke, Executive Director, Polaris Institute, Canada (RLA 2005)
  10. Paul F. Walker, Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International, USA (RLA 2013)
  11. David Suzuki, Emeritus Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada (RLA 2009)
  12. Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan (RLA 2017)
  13. Dr. Raúl A. Montenegro, President, Fundación para la defensa del ambiente, Argentina (RLA 2004)
  14. Wesley Jackson, Founder and President, The Land Institute, USA (RLA 2000)
  15. P K Ravindran, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, India (RLA 1996)
  16. Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, New Zealand/Switzerland (RLA 2009)
  17. Basil Fernando, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong (RLA 2014)
  18. Swami Agnivesh, India (RLA 2004)
  19. Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares, United Kingdom (RLA 2001)
  20. Sima Samar, Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Afghanistan (RLA 2012)
  21. Bianca Jagger, Founder, President and Chief Executive, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, Nicaragua/United Kingdom, (RLA 2004)
  22. Helena Norberg-Hodge, Director, Local Futures / Ladakh Ecological Development Group, India (RLA 1986)
  23. Shrikrishna Upadhyay, Executive Chairman, Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal, Nepal (RLA 2010)
  24. Monika Hauser, Founder, Medica Mondiale, Germany (RLA 2008)
  25. Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, India (RLA 2017)
  26. Andras Brio, Hungary (RLA 1995)
  27. Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, South Korea (RLA 2003)
  28. Tapio Mattlar, Kylätoiminta / The Finnish Village Action Movement, Finland (RLA 1992)
  29. Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad (RLA 2011)
  30. Johan Galtung, Founder, Transcend International, Norway (RLA 1987)
  31. Martín von Hildebrand, Founder and Director, Fundación GAIA Amazonas, Colombia (RLA 1999)
  32. Juan Pablo Orrego, President, Ecosistemas, Chile (RLA 1998)
  33. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians, Canada (RLA 2005)
  34. Stephen Corry[1], Director, Survival International, United Kingdom (RLA 1989)
  35. IBFAN, the International Baby Food Action Network, Switzerland (RLA 1998)
  36. GRAIN, International (RLA 2011)
  37. Martin Almada, Paraguay (RLA 2002)
  38. Gino Strada, Co-Founder, EMERGENCY, Italy (RLA 2015)
  39. Asma Jahangir, Pakistan (RLA 2014)
  40. Glorene A Das, Executive Director Tenaganita, on behalf of the late Irene Fernandez, Malaysia (RLA 2005)
  41. Mozn Hassan, Director, Nazra Institute for Feminist Studies, Egypt (RLA 2016)
  42. Vesna Teršelič, Croatia (RLA 1998)
  43. Fernando Rendón, Co-Founder and Director, International Poetry Festival of Medellín, Colombia (RLA 2006)
  44. Helen Mack Chang, Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala (RLA 1992)
  45. Memorial International, Russia (RLA 2004)
  46. Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Bangladesh (RLA 1992)

[1] Signed in his personal capacity

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

HRC36 | NGOs call on Council Members to take a stand against intimidation and reprisals

HRC36 | NGOs call on Council Members to take a stand against intimidation and reprisals

All States should take a strong stand to address reprisals and to support a crucial resolution being negotiated at this session of the Human Rights Council. A weak resolution would seriously undermine the ability of the UN system to address the needs on the ground, said 50 national and international NGOs in a letter to Human Rights Council members.

Click here to read the joint NGO letter.

The resolution on reprisals being negotiated at this Council session provides a timely and much needed opportunity for the Council to take a stand on ‘worsening incidences of intimidation and reprisals’, as reported in the Secretary-General’s most recent report on reprisals. The Secretary General stressed that ‘any act of intimidation or reprisal is absolutely unacceptable’.

‘The detention of Ibrahim Metwally in Egypt en route to the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances session is a clear example of the dire need to act now and ensure that the right of all people to communicate with the United Nations is protected’ says ISHR’s Director Phil Lynch.

The resolution tabled by the core group – comprising Ghana, Hungary, Ireland, Fiji and Uruguay – calls on various stakeholders. This call was echoed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Right Defenders and by Peggy Hicks from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights during a side event on this issue last week as they urged:

  • Member States, in particular Council Members, to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms;
  • States to take measures to prevent the occurrence of intimidation and reprisals;
  • The Human Rights Council President and Bureau to address and follow up on allegations of acts of intimidation and reprisal; and
  • All stakeholders to cooperate with the Assistant Secretary General on human rights regarding the mandate assigned to him by the Secretary General.

‘It is incredibly concerning that a resolution seeking to assist the Council to take a stand on the abhorrent trend of threats and attacks against those engaging with the UN, is being challenged so strongly. It is imperative that the Council adopt a strong and substantive resolution, following positive developments in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights‘, said Lynch.

Beyond the grave impact on the life of persons concerned and their relatives, intimidation and reprisals also constitute an ‘attack on human rights, the rule of law, and the international and regional mechanisms themselves‘. This was highlighted by ISHR in a statement to the Council earlier this session, when expressing deep regret that ‘four years since the detention and subsequent death of Cao Shunli, we continue to call on the President, this Council, the Assistant Secretary General and Chin to take action on her case’.

‘Any proposal to weaken the resolution should be seen in the context of ongoing, systematic efforts in a number of States to restrict civil society space, the right to communicate with the United Nations and its effectiveness and legitimacy’, said ISHR’s Legal Counsel and reprisals focal point Tess McEvoy.

‘If this is how defenders engaging at the UN are treated, it incidates a disturbing picture of the situation for defenders nationally. We call on all Member States to take action to address reprisals at the UN level in an effort to protect human rights on the ground’, added McEvoy.

 

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action –South India- Tamil Nadu: Brutal beating and ill treatment of human rights defenders by police and denying their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to register their protest near Madurai, Tamil Nadu

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Assam: Arrest of Social activist Gyanen Chakravarty for his social media post allegedly exposing links between All Assam Students Union and Bajrang Dal in Assam

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Assam: Arrest of Social activist Gyanen Chakravarty for his social media post allegedly exposing links between All Assam Students Union and Bajrang Dal in Assam

Front Line Defenders – Urgent Appeal – India: Prominent human rights journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

Front Line Defenders – Urgent Appeal – India: Prominent human rights journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

7 September 2017

India: Prominent human rights journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead

On 5 September 2017, human rights defender and writer Gauri Lankesh was fatally shot by unidentified assailants in front of her home in Bangalore, in southern India.

Gauri Lankesh was a human rights defender and the editor of the weekly local magazine Lankesh Patrike. A fierce defender of freedom of expression in India, she was known as a fearless and outspoken journalist advocating against communal violence in the country, as well as against the violent rhetoric of various Hindu nationalist organizations. For this work, she was subjected to regular violent threats, including death threats. Gauri Lankesh also extensively wrote articles criticising the caste system, corruption and conservatism, and often spoke in defence of women’s rights and women’s safety in the public sphere.

On 5 September 2017 evening, unidentified assailants opened fire on Gauri Lankesh as she was returning home from work in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in West Bangalore, Karnataka state. She was found dead in front of her residence around 8:00pm, having received several bullet wounds to her head and chest. She was subsequently taken to Victoria Hospital in Bangalore for postmortem examination. Police have reportedly launched an investigation into the killing.

Gauri Lankesh had previously received numerous death threats online, mainly from followers of Hindu nationalist organisations. It has also been reported that she was followed by two unidentified men the previous week, however she did not report the incident to the police. On 6 September 2017, several protests were held across India, during which journalists and rights activists reported being increasingly targeted by radical Hindu nationalists.

In November 2016, Gauri Lankesh was convicted for defaming members of the Bharatiya Janata Party – the Hindu nationalist party currently in power – in articles published in her magazine in 2008 and was sentenced to six months in jail along with a Rs. 10,000 (roughly 130 euro) fine. The human rights defender was later granted bail and was in the process of appealing the verdict.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the killing of human rights defender Gauri Lankesh, which it believes is solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in India, and calls on the Indian authorities to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in India to:

  1. Strongly condemn the killing of Gauri Lankesh;
  2. Ensure that the ongoing investigation into the killing of Gauri Lankesh be thorough and impartial, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in India are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Click here for pdf version

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Tamil Nadu – Death threats and criminal charges faced by human rights defender and filmmaker Ms. Divya Bharathi and also forced to leave Tamil Nadu for her documentary film “Kakkoos” about manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu.

HRD Alert – India – Urgent Appeal for Action – Tamil Nadu – Death threats and criminal charges faced by human rights defender and filmmaker Ms. Divya Bharathi and also forced to leave Tamil Nadu for her documentary film “Kakkoos” about manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu.