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Category: Committee

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 2022

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  

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

BlogWomen’s Rights

Marching for Women’s Rights in London

Marching for Women’s Rights in London

By Asiye Betül

This year’s Million Women Rise march, themed against male violence was on the 5th of March. Exactly a year after the violent murder of Sarah Everard. The march started in front of the Charing Cross police station and ended in front of the New Scotland Yard. These locations were crucial to the protest, because as Sabrina Qureshi, the founder of Million Women Rise, said, despite the fact that we pay for the police to keep us safe and protect us, there are still to this day, multiple incidents of the police violence against women. The police continues on to ignore occasions of abuse of women. In short, the police keeps failing women.

Male violence cases have been surging since the start of the pandemic, and despite all attempts to improve the system, few women can find a remedy in it.

As the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of Human Rights Society we decided to place a male embodiment of all news coverages of violence against women inside a cage. This was symbolising both the source of violence against women, and the kind of freedom we women would enjoy had this source been neutralized.

The male mannequin character had newspaper clippings covering male violence cases such as “I killed 17 women” and “Violent ex stalked women” around his body. This physical demonstration was one of the highlights of the whole march and got a lot of attention from many media outlets such as the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent.

This was our turn to say “Stop!” This was our turn to ask for justice, to claim back our long lost safety, right in front of those who deny us from it.

We asked them to “Stop the violence!” and “Stop the rape!”

Because women have had enough; because there will be no peace if no justice is delivered.

It was a cold Saturday in London indeed. We raised our banners up to the sky under 4 degrees Celsius, while our hands and legs were shivering. We embraced each other in order to keep warm; in order to keep safe.

The march ended with a rally in front of New Scotland Yard. Speakers and campaigners stood up against male violence and highlighted how racism, xenophobia and homophobia were the main causes of police brutality against women. The campaigners highlighted that “Enough is Enough” and women will not tolerate any more violence against themselves.

I was very honoured to be able to recite my poem “On Womanhood” during the rally. I expressed my worries on how while “boys will be boys, girls never get to be girls”. It was a moving experience for me to have amazing, inspiring and shivering women listen to me and support me by their ovations. I also received a few hugs from strangers by the end of my performance. It was truly an unforgettable moment.

With these feelings still warm and alive in my heart, I leave you with the poem:

On Womanhood

To be born into womanhood is to be born neck-deep into guilt.

It means to be a house haunted by shame.

It means to be a daughter, a mother and a sister – before a person, because boys won’t care unless you compare them to their birth givers.

It’s getting your screams and cries ignored, it’s getting your right to justice avoided – Because women bleeding doesn’t bother men unless it’s from periods.

To be a woman is to grow up earlier than boys, It’s getting told what girls do and don’t.

It’s being so aware that you are a girl, you forget you’re human. 

It’s having to accept when your mother says “boys will be boys, that’s what they do”,

Is that what boys will be? Will boys be boys? 

Will boys be rapists? Murderers?

Will boys be abusers and predators?

Boys will be boys

Boys will be boys, and girls will never forget to look behind themselves when they’re alone at night. girls will be girls instead of women, because even that is too much for a boy to grasp. a woman becomes a girl when her hands bleed from clutching her keys too tight. 

a woman becomes a girl in a boy’s eyes.

Boys will be boys. But, will girls be girls? Will girls be alive?

Girls never get to be girls, women never get to be women. 

And today we will stand and scream and make noise, for those who never got the chance to have a voice.

We’ll stand for the women in war. We’ll stand for the women of Ukraine, For the women of Palestine, the women of Syria, the women of Sudan!

For the women unlawfully detained!

Raise your voice for the Uyghur women of China getting ethnically cleansed!

For the women of Iran, the women of India, the women of Africa!

For the women whose rights are ignored!

Raise your voices for the women of Pakistan, the women of Spain and Brazil!

The women of the United Kingdom who were killed by the police!

For the women whose justice was never offered!

Raise your voices for the women who lost their lives to violence.!

For the women who never got their respects paid!

Let us all rise for our sisters all around the world! Let us ask for justice!

EventsExecutive Committee

Justice Wall: Celebrating Human Rights

DATE: 10 December 2021

PLACE: Opposite of Number 10, Downing Street

COMMITTEE: Executive Committee

We celebrate our rights on the 10th of December every year on the occasion of the UN Human Rights Day. We demand justice for those who cannot speak up for themselves and whose voices are not heard. To make sure our voices are heard, we showed up opposite Downing Street with an 8m long banner wall and asked people to write their views on justice and current human rights violations around the world. We’ve seen people demanding justice for Uyghurs, Latin Americans, Palestine, Kurds, Turks, Libyans, Afghanis, Belarusian, women and transgenders. This project showed us the importance of true solidarity for human rights. We supported our Justice Wall with Instagram broadcasts at different times throughout the day.

Here are a volunteer’s words on their experience at the Justice Wall:

“ It was phenomenal, and one of my first interactive events (other than protests). I feel like us being in the frontier and socially interacting people in public and getting to see their reactions live was energetic and hyping!! It let us remember what we are doing, and what we can do. I truly believe it was a huge motivator as well as an amazing and inclusive project.”

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

Dear friends,

Before we get started, I would like to celebrate our rights. Mine, yours and all of ours! Happy day human rights day to us!

We have united here today to observe and  celebrate the day of our rights, the day of  the rights that make us who we are and the rights that should be available for all of us. While doing so, we demand justice for those whose rights are being violated, those whose voices are being silenced. We remind you that we will not forget the rights that some have forgotten.

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, and has been celebrated every year since then.

But Dear friends,

How much have these rights been applied since then? Why can’t all humans reach those rights?

Isn’t it strange that some rights are still being violated while we’re sat here celebrating them? Isn’t it strange that there’s a genocide happening in front of our eyes in China? Isn’t it strange that we’re building walls, putting out immigration bills? That there are journalists arrested in Brazil and Turkey? Isn’t it so strange that our rights are still being violated, in this very day?!

As we stand here with our wall of Justice, we will ask for the long awaited justice! We will not only ask for ours, but everyone’s rights! And we will let this wall be proof, of all those whose rights are denied and forgotten.

Because rights are only human, when they apply to all of us.

Because we are only human, when we fight for rights.

Dear Friends!

Happy Human rights day!

Let us celebrate our rights! Let us fight for our rights!

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!