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EventsHuman Rights DefendersImmigration Committee

Exhibition in Exile finds refuge in Newcastle upon Tyne Church

An exhibition of immigration cartoons by renowned cartoonists which had to flee persecution in Turkey together with its organizers in 2016 found a refuge in St James’ Benwell Church of Newcastle upon Tyne. Human Rights Solidarity joined Time to Help, GemArt, Comfrey Project and Being Woman as the organizers of the four days long exhibition.

A consortium of humanitarian aid, human rights, immigrant support organizations and a local church in Benwell are hosting an exhibition of cartoons on immigration, refugees and asylum seekers and the cynical response of the industrialized world to this emerging phenomenon. The exhibition is formed of cartoons that themselves had to flee Turkey in late 2016 when the organizing humanitarian aid organization Kimse Yok Mu (KYM), then a member of the UN’s ECOSOC, was taken over by the authoritarian regime in the country. Hence, the name Exhibition in Exile.

London based Time to Help and Human Rights Solidarity and Newcastle based GemArt, ComFrey Project and Being Woman came together to bring the cartoons that had been brought to Newcastle upon Tyne by Mr Levent Eyüpoğlu, a former director of KYM and a refugee in Newcastle, to life. The exhibition will be hosted by St. James’ Benwell Church between 23 and 26 June and will be open to visitors from 10:00 am to 4 pm throughout these dates.

The exhibition will host a selection from the 120 best cartoons originally selected from among 1,200 submissions to a global cartoon contest organized by KYM in 2016. The organizers have also brought together Turkish and other immigrant musicians and artists for a series of accompanying events, including live music, various art workshops and a panel of prominent figures active in immigration related affairs.

The launching event of the Exhibition in Exile will start at 11:00 am on 23 June 2022, Thursday with a cocktail and it will be followed with a panel discussion with the participation of Mr Kerim Balci as the moderator of the panel, environmental visual artist Artep Avordno, ex-Lord Mayor and councillor Habib Rahman, Director of The Comfrey Project Eleni Venaki and academics and activists.

The Exhibition in Exile will be open to visits till 4:00 pm on 26 June 2022, Sunday, the last day of the Refugee Week 2022.

WHAT: Exhibition in Exile: An exhibition of cartoons by renowned cartoonists on immigration, refugees and asylum seekers accompanied by a panel discussion, music performance by immigrant community groups and art workshops.

WHEN: 23 June (Launching event, panel discussion and music performance); 23-26 June 2022 (Exhibition, art workshops and occasional live music)

WHERE: St James’ Benwell Church, Benwell Lane, Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 6RS

EventsWomen’s Rights

International Women’s Day March 2020

DATE: 7 March 2020

PLACE: Oxford Street & Trafalgar Square, London

COMMITTEE: Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee

The Million Women March of 2020 was the first major event volunteers of Human Rights Solidarity participated under the brand of HRS. To this day, HRS volunteers look at this event as the birthday of their organized activism.

The Million Women March of 2020 was held on Saturday, 7th of March. The event incorporated a protest march through Oxford Street and a rally at the Trafalgar Square. The volunteers of HRS participated the event with a symbolic prison cell, connoting the imprisoned women of Turkey and calling for an immediate release of mothers who are incarcerated with their under 6 children. The founding chair of HRS’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Ms Nazli Bozdemir, walked in the prison cell, with a baby in her arms, to that end.

The peak of the event for HRS was when Miss Anonymous, a masked and unnamed volunteer of HRS ascended the stage set at the center of the Trafalgar Square and shouted: Ain’t I a woman?

You can watch the touching pome of Miss Anonymous, accompanied with scenes from the march, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79AeIOYvRo4

EventsWrite For Right

Write for Rights Campaign: Stop torture against Husamettin Ugur

DATE: 9 August 2020

PLACE: Hyde Park Entrance, London

COMMITTEE: Write for Rights

Husamettin Ugur is a former judge and a former member of the Court of Appeals of Turkey who was arrested on charges of membership of a terrorist organization at the immediate aftermath of 15 July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. He was kept in the same prison cell for four years at the time of our campaign. Some six months before our campaign, five of the prison guards assaulted him. That incident unleashed a continous systemic torture against Mr Ugur. He tried to speak out many times, by sending letters and passing them to his daughters. Unfortunately, his words did not even go one step out of the prison because of the obstruction of prison management. His daughter tried to be the voice of him on social media.

As HRS we wanted to make sure that Mr Ugur, and any other inmate from Turkey, would not be subjected to torture anymore. As part of our Write for Rights Campaign, we set up a letter writing banch at the entrance of the Hyde Park and managed to get 97 letters signed and sent to the members of the parliament, by their constituents.

We received several replies from the MPs promissing to pass the information to the Secretary of State for the Foreign Office.

 

EventsWrite For Right

Write For Right Campaign: Melek Cetinkaya

DATE: 24 August 2020

PLACE: Hyde Park, London

COMMITTEE: Write for Rights

As human rights defenders we believe no activism is as valuable as the activism of the very victims of human rights infringements. Ms Melek Çetinkaya is one such inspirational, trailblazing human rights activist. She is the mother of Furkan Çetinkaya, one of the military academy students sentenced to a life term in jail for a coup that never was, and a participation that never happened. Ms Melek Çetinkaya believes in her son’s innocence and tries to make her voice heard on social media and the streets of Turkey, so that her son, who is still in prison, can be retried.

Melek Çetinkaya’s struggle for her son is disliked by the political power, which does not want its own narrative of the July 15 Coup Attempt of Turkey be challenged. Ms Çetinkaya has been detained several times while trying to use her right to peaceful demonstration. In the last occasion, Ms Çetinkaya was detained detained for the alleged crime of “praising crime and criminal activity” due to her words in a program she attended on Akit TV, where she claimed that her son and other military cadets who didn’t join to coup attemt were innocent.

To decide whether Furkan Çetinkaya did or didn’t participate the coup attempt is not the duty of human rights defenders. Our duty is to stand by a mother who is trying to enjoy her most basic right to demonstrate and ask for a fair trial. Therefore, on 24 August 2020, with eight volunteers, we were at the entrance of Hyde Park. We collected signed letters from passerbyes urging their MPs to call Turkey to release Melek Cetinkaya and stop detention of protesters.

 

EventsHuman Rights Defenders

Magnitsky Sanctions workshops

DATE: 29 March 2021 & 17 May 2021

PLACE: Zoom

COMMITTEE: Human Rights Defenders Committee

The Global Magnitsky Act is a powerful new tool for deterring human rights violations and fighting corruption. Magnistsky Act is a new form of sanctions for gross human rights violations. By sanctioning individuals who engage in the worst abuses of power, the United States hardens its own system to external abuse while extending moral support and solidarity to those whose fundamental freedoms are curtailed or denied. As it is was announced in July 2020 in the United Kingdom, there is only several people who know the details and how the application process work. Therefore, as HRS, we invited experts to a series of workshops with human rights lawyers from the UK and the EU countries.

On 29 March 2021 our instructors were from REDRESS; Leanna Burnard and Celeste Kmiotek.

Leanna Burnard is the Legal Officer for Asset Recovery and Sanctions. She focuses on REDRESS’ asset recovery and sanctions work. Leanna has an amazing background in human rights litigation. She volunteered for the Yazidis in Iraq, Palestinians in West Bank, Aboriginal people in Australia and at many other posts. Leanna has an LL.M. in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights from the Geneva Academy and bachelor’s degrees in law and journalism from Australia.

Celecste Kmiotek is a legal fellow at REDRESS. Prior to REDRESS, Celeste was a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic while pursuing her J.D. at Harvard Law. She worked on human rights abused in Bolivia and Cambodia.

The two lectured our guests on the development and application of the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

On 17 Mary 2021, our instructor was Paola Gaffurini, an advocacy officer from the Open Dialogue Foundation. Paola lectured our guests on “The EU Framework and the Future Potentials of the European Magnitsky Acts.

 

EventsWomen’s Rights

Casserole at home

DATE: 25 November 2020 

PLACE: Private Houses 

COMMITTEE: Women’s Rights & Gender Equality Committee 

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, HRS organized a CasseroleAtHome protest to raise awareness on domestice violence.  

One woman is killed every three days by a man in the UK. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives and quarantines caused many people to stuck in the same house with their abusers. This made the domectic violence records of all countries in the world even worse.  

We wanted to call for attention to domestic violence by asking people to make noise by banging pots, pans and other utensils. There are a lot of people who do not know that they are abusing their partners or are being abused by them. We aimed to shout out this ignorance.  

Our volunteering CasseroleAtHome protersters quitted their houses, armed with pots and pans, at 7.00 PM on 25 November, to bang and clang and make as much noise as possible for five minutes to remind the world of the elephant in the room; violence against women. As HRS’s response to the pandemic restrictions, CasseroleAtHome provided an opportunity to protest in isolation.  

You can watch our video call for CasseroleAtHome here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTZMpG42tl0  

Events

Cross Party Joint Letter calling the UK government

Cross Party Joint Letter calling the UK government to make human rights as a condition of improved relations with Turkey

DATE: 11 May 2021

PLACE: Online Campaign

COMMITTEE: Write for Rights

Human Rights Solidarity organized a Write Your MP campaign to support the Cross Party Joint Letter launched by Crispin Blunt MP and Hilary Benn MP, calling on the UK government to make human rights as a precondition for improving economic and political relations with Turkey. We invited our volunteers all around the UK to write letters to their members of parliament, encouraging them to undersign the joint letter. When the letter was finally sent to the then Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab by the two co-organizers, the joint letter was signed by 53 members of the parliament.

HRS hopes that this important campaing will bring about further steps towards adoption of an ethical foreign policy by the UK government.

210511 Britain’s Relationship with Turkey

Environmental RightsEventsYoutube

World Environment Day 2021

DATE: 21 June 2021

PLACE: YouTube

COMMITTEE: Environmental Rights Committee

Originally planned for 5 June, the World Environment Day, this YouTube broadcast had to be delayed to 21 June due to technical issues. Despite late, we had an amazing YouTube live event with scientist Tierra Curry and climate activist Rob Callender to celebrate World Environment Day and once again reminded each other of the importance of our environment and treating it well. The particular theme of this broadcast was what the youth could do to spread awareness on  the current climate crisis.

The program can be watched at our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGpqWxy1mnE&t=11s

Events

Write to MP- Ayse Ozdogan

Ayse Ozdogan is a critically ill woman who suffers from a rare form of cancer and was sent to prison to serve a sentence on conviction of links to the Gulen movement in early October. She is being held in prison by Turkish officials although her situation is unfit for such an environment.

This is an immense violation of both Human rights and Turkish Law and the Constitution. 

Our government has the power to change this and we believe that our MPs make the necessary intervention (as far as they can) to this kind of deeply affecting violations. Consequently, we asked our volunteers to write letters to their MPs to inform them about the situation of Ayse Ozdogan.

EventsImmigration Committee

Immigration Bill Protest

DATE: 11 October 2021

PLACE: Opposite Number 10, Downing Street

COMMITTEE: Immigration Committee  

The UK Home Secretary’s new immigration bill is simply an attack on the principles enriched in the Refugee Convention. Such a bill that criminalises refugees and asylum seekers is unacceptable in a country such as the UK that is proud to be the cradle of democracy.

Human Rights Solidarity was in front of the prime minister’s house on October 11 2022, to protest this inhumane bill and demand justice for immigrants and asylum seekers. The protest lasted around an hour and a small group of our volunteers raised their voices against the bill. We hope that our voices were heard, and that such an antidemocratic bill will not be proposed by any other official again.

Here are a volunteer’s words on their experience at the Immigration Bill Protest:

“As a group that mostly consists of young refugees and asylum seekers, it was very empowering to stand up for our own rights and our justice. I believe our efforts were deliberate and I hope our government will not repeat their same racist mistakes.”

And here is the speech HRS volunteer Asiye Betul made during the protest:

Dear Friends,

We’re gathered here today, because our government has made us come here once again – to ask for basic human rights. Because they will not put a stop to the madness that started with Brexit. The madness seems to be going towards de-ratifying the European Convention on Human rights.

Can you think of it: The British government is planning to withdraw from parts of a declaration that is accepted as the benchmark of human rights!! And that declaration is largely work of British intellectuals…

Can you see how much our country is driven away from its own values?

Can you see that while trying to claim control of our own borders, this government is creating artificial borders between us and human rights?

Dear Human Rights Advocates!

Throughout the summer Parliamentary committees worked on the so called Immigration Bill… The New Plan of Priti Patel…

All experts, all human rights lawyers and advocates told the government that this is not a New Plan; it is a Stupid Plan.

You cannot simply decide that all irregular entrants to the country are illegal or criminal…

I’m sure Ms. Patel would know that- When you’re running for your life, you don’t have time to think about paperwork – you just run.

Yet here are our politicians, here is Ms. Patel, trying to criminalise, to give penalties for those who do so.

Dear friends!

Did you know that our government considered building wave machines to deter migrant boats?

Isn’t this equivalent of saying “Drown in the sea instead of coming to my land?”

We are angry at the Greek authorities because of the pushbacks. Isn’t this an obvious form of pushback.

Hear us Priti Patel!

Nobody chooses to become an immigrant.

And your government has a share in pushing Syrians and Afghans to the edge of escaping their countries.

You contributed to the problem; you cannot escape from the solution!

We shout out loud:

Kill the bill!

Kill the bill!

You want a Global Britain? Be responsible about the rest of the Globe!

You want a flourishing economy? Utilize the human resources that will pour into our country!

You want a true democracy? Don’t be alarmed that people want to live in this country; be proud of it!

WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO ON WITH THIS STUPID PLAN

Kill the bill!

Kill the bill!