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Category: Committee

demand-freedom-justice-for-Iranian-lawyers
CommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

We demand freedom and justice for Iranian lawyers

Lawyers in Danger Day was dedicated to Iran this year. HRS organised a protest and sent a letter Iranian Ambassador. 24 January Lawyers in Danger Day was dedicated to Iranian lawyers this year. As HRS, we organised a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in London in support of lawyers facing rights violations in Iran. Together with lawyers in Iran, we demanded justice, freedom and democracy for all their colleagues around the world. We also sent a letter to Ambassador Mehdi Hosseini Matin with our concrete proposals.

International Day of Endangered Lawyers has been celebrated all over the world on 24 January since 2010. This date was chosen because on 24 January 1977, four lawyers and a colleague were killed in Madrid and this event is known as the Atocha Massacre.

Iran is among the most dangerous countries for lawyers. Since the 1979 revolution, lawyers have been subjected to harassment and persecution. Following the protests that followed the tortured murder of Jina Mahsa Amini on 16 September 2022, the crackdown intensified, particularly on lawyers defending imprisoned protesters.

Since 2021, around 60 lawyers have been detained and hundreds have lost their licences. Most recently, Saleh Nikbakht, the lawyer for Mahsa Amini’s family, was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and “collaboration with hostile states”.

The independence of lawyers is heavily restricted by law. There is an almost complete lack of access to legal representation of one’s choice for anyone arrested and charged in connection with protests.

Women lawyers in Iran face additional difficulties. They are forced to wear the hijab in court, and some have been prosecuted for refusing to do so. Female lawyers also face particular harassment in the courtroom.

Please find below the letter we sent to the Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Mehdi Hosseini Matin:

lawyers-danger-day-dedicated-amini
BlogCommitteeHuman Rights Defenders

Why is Lawyers in Danger Day dedicated to Iran this year?

Following the protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, lawyers in Iran have faced unjust arrests and harsh sentences. On January 24th, we observe the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer, a day dedicated to bringing attention to the risks lawyers face worldwide—persecution, intimidation, and violence—simply for doing their jobs. This date remembers the tragic events of January 24, 1977, when four Spanish lawyers and their colleagues were brutally murdered in what is known as the Massacre of Atocha, a moment that deeply moved Symone Gaasbeek-Wielinga and Hans Gaasbeek. Shocked by such violence, these two Dutch lawyers embarked on a monumental journey in the Philippines in 1990, uncovering the grave dangers faced by lawyers involved in politically charged cases.

Driven by a commitment to protect their peers, Symone and Hans played pivotal roles in establishing the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer in 2009. They also founded the Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation, aiming to cast a spotlight on this urgent issue and urging governments worldwide to cease the persecution of legal practitioners.

This year, our focus turns to Iran, a country where lawyers, following the protests triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death, face unjust arrest and severe punishment. Figures like Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mohammad Hossein Aghasi symbolise the courage of those detained for defending the right to protest.

On this day, we stand in solidarity with endangered lawyers in Iran and around the world who are being persecuted simply for carrying out their professional duties and upholding human rights and the rule of law. We call on the international community to demand the release of lawyers imprisoned for doing their jobs. Our colleagues deserve to be able to practice without fear or intimidation.

International law clearly recognises lawyers’ essential role in upholding justice and human rights in any society. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers specify certain protections and rights that lawyers globally should be afforded to allow them to perform their roles without being subject to interference or intimidation. These principles assert that lawyers should not be identified with their clients’ causes or held responsible for them. It is incumbent upon governments to ensure that lawyers can execute their professional responsibilities freely, devoid of harassment or undue interference. In instances where lawyers face threats to their safety, the authorities are obliged to provide necessary protections.

Furthermore, these principles forbid any discrimination in the licensing of lawyers based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs. Ensuring access to legal representation for all individuals is a mandate. Independent bar associations, which shield lawyers from persecution and excessive limitations, must be allowed to operate without external interference.

Determining the exact count of lawyers incarcerated in Iran is difficult due to the lack of transparency. Nonetheless, it is understood that a significant number have been targeted, especially in the aftermath of the 2022 protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death. According to information from the United Nations dated June 2023, between September 16, 2022, and January 10, 2023, at least 44 lawyers were arrested for participating in the protests. While 27 of these legal professionals were freed, the remainder remain in detention.

The Iranian government should take the following steps to ensure lawyers can perform their professional duties without interference or intimidation:

Release lawyers imprisoned for convictions related to their work. Stop prosecutions and other sanctions against lawyers for actions taken ethically in their professional capacity.

Ensure lawyers are not identified with their clients’ causes. Do not charge lawyers for representing clients, regardless of the charges against those clients.

Allow lawyers to form independent professional associations without government interference.

Ensure disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are overseen independently by the legal profession, not the government.

Do not discriminate against people entering or practising law based on race, gender, religion, etc.

Protect the safety of lawyers who face threats due to their work.

Allow lawyers freedom of expression, belief, assembly, and association like all citizens.

Ensure everyone has access to legal services and lawyers of their choice, regardless of social or economic status. Fund legal aid sufficiently.

Inform accused persons immediately of charges against them and allow prompt access to a lawyer of their choice. Recognise lawyer-client confidentiality.

Allow lawyers access to information necessary to defend their clients.

Accept an independent international inquiry into the death of Mahsa Amini and other protest victims, given the questionable motivations behind prosecutions of lawyers and the need for justice.

In closing, We have included a detailed report compiled by the International Coalition for Endangered Lawyers and Iranian Attorneys, which sheds further light on the grave dangers faced by lawyers in Iran who are persecuted for fulfilling their professional responsibilities. I implore legal professionals, bar councils, human rights groups, and other associations globally to access and review this illuminating report. Please aid in spreading awareness regarding the struggles of endangered Iranian lawyers by circulating this report through social media and your networks.

BY BATUHAN KARAKUS

Lebanon Israel Palestinians
BlogEnvironmental RightsExecutive Committee

The effects of the weapons used in Gaza

White phosphorus: A destructive chemical weapon, harming beyond the battlefield. Pollutes air, soil, water, harming life and violating international law. White phosphorus is a chemical weapon [1] of war and is designed to inflict harm and destruction. Unfortunately, its impact goes beyond the immediate targets on the battlefield. When white phosphorus is deployed, it releases toxic substances into the air, soil, and water, leaving behind a trail of environmental destruction. [2]

One of the most alarming consequences is the contamination of soil. White phosphorus can persist in the ground, making it infertile and unsuitable for agriculture. This not only affects the livelihoods of those in conflict zones but also has long-term consequences for the ecosystems that support diverse forms of life.

Furthermore, when white phosphorus comes into contact with water sources, it leads to water pollution. The release of this chemical weapon can contaminate rivers and lakes, harming aquatic life and disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems. The long-lasting environmental damage caused by white phosphorus affects not only the current generation but poses challenges for future generations as well.

According to The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [3] its prohibited to use incendiary weapons like white phosphorus against civilians. Unfortunately, it has been used against civilian in the Gaza Strip on 10th of October of 2023. We, as responsible global citizens, should condemn the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war.

Another huge hazard is the release of asbestos in war inflicted areas. Asbestos is relatively safe when trapped in cement in building however poses a hazard when the building is destroyed such as demolition of buildings in Gaza. The consequences are alarming, as millions of tons of highly hazardous, asbestos-contaminated rubble are left in the wake of such destruction, presenting a long-term health threat. According to WHO expose leads to breathing difficulties and lung cancer.[4] Not only does it harm humans but animals too. Cats, dogs, and other animals can develop asbestos related illness where treatment option is limited and survival is low. [5]

Shortly, the devastating impact of white phosphorus extends far beyond the conflict area, leaving an lasting mark on both the environment and human lives. Additionally, the release of asbestos in conflict areas, poses an ongoing health threat for both humans and animals.

BY AYNUR BALKAS

 

References
[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/white-phosphorus
[2] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts103.pdf
[4] https://geneva-s3.unoda.org/static-unoda-site/pages/templates/the-convention-on-certain-conventional-weapons/PROTOCOL%2BIII.pdf
[4] https://www.preventionweb.net/blog/rebuilding-ukraine-imminent-risks-asbestos
[5] https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/107335/9789289013581-eng.pdf?sequence=1

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BlogExecutive Committee

Let’s meet in the program where we introduce our human rights activities

 

10 December is Human Rights Day and we look forward to welcoming you to the HRS Launch Programme on Zoom. Dear friends,
10 December is International Human Rights Day, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the proclamation of the UN Convention on Human Rights.
Let’s make use of this important day and make it more meaningful at a time when we are experiencing all kinds of rights violations.
As Human Rights Solidarity, which has been working in this field for 4 years, we will make a Zoom programme addressing the UK.
We will talk about what we have done so far, our goals for tomorrow, and what we can do together.
We sincerely believe that you will not leave us alone, in advance
nice we welcome you.

ZOOM LINK: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/4392126770?pwd=ZkMrOE5TMGFOTmJaQnJjenBieTExZz09#success

ZOOM LİNKİ: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/4392126770?pwd=ZkMrOE5TMGFOTmJaQnJjenBieTExZz09#success

 

breakfast
Executive CommitteeImmigration CommitteeProjects

‘Breakfast, Walk and Learn History’ project brought 20 young people together

GLA funded ‘Breakfast, Walk, Learn British History’ project begins with twenty youths exploring human rights, art, and critical thinking experiences. The ‘Breakfast, Walk, Learn British History’ project, which we have realised with the funding provided by the Greater London Authority, has started. 20 young people met at the HRS Office on 28 October and started the programme with a great breakfast. The young people had the opportunity to get to know each other during breakfast and had useful discussions at the seminar on human rights. Afterwards, the young people visited the National Portrait Gallery, where they had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about art.

The seminar in the office focused on open dialogue, critical thinking and new perspectives – no fixed truths were preached. The participants examined constructive approaches to conflict resolution and the need to develop both intellect and moral character. Themes of developing wisdom, preserving dignity, finding common humanity and creatively applying enduring principles recurred. Freedom of expression was analysed in depth, both as a fundamental right and subject to reasonable limits to protect other rights.
Executive Committee

Hoops for Hope: Empowering Immigrant Youth Through Basketball’ Project Form

Register Form (#4)

‘'Hoops for Hope: Empowering Immigrant Youth Through Basketball' Project Form 

 

To register for the project, please provide the following details:

By filling out this registration form, you can secure your place in our basketball course. This course will improve your physical and mental health, as well as provide opportunities to make friends and interact more with the local community.

For further information, please contact main office or

bg1
Articles & StatementsEducationExecutive Committee

Join us! Here are the HRS volunteer programs

Volunteer at Human Rights Solidarity for hands-on experience in human rights advocacy, research, partnerships, leadership, and community engagement, enhancing employability. As a volunteer at Human Rights Solidarity, you will be immersed in a world of human rights advocacy and learning, gaining experience in research analytical skills, stakeholder engagement and partnerships, presentation skills, events coordination, and leadership positions.

 We have a range of volunteer opportunities from Research Analysts to Partnerships Volunteers to Group Leaders for our various immigrant integration programmes. Each of these experiences will equip you with valuable skills to carry you through your future careers and lives, opening your eyes to the world of human rights and public sector work.

 These roles are perfect for any young people with a desire to create a difference, help a local community, increase their employability in the human rights and government sphere, and a passion for human rights, community engagement, and policy change.

 

AVAILABLE ROLES:

 RESEARCH ANALYST

 As a Research Analyst you will be apart of a team investigating human rights violations in a specific geographical region or a specified topic by the team leader (e.g. women’s rights, trafficking, food and water scarcity etc.). Research methods may include podcast style interviews with experts and text-based analysis. Your will collate your research into a report to be published and on occasion submitted to European Parliament. This is a perfect role for anyone looking to enhance their research and report writing abilities and gain experience in the public sector.

 PARTNERSHIPS AND EVENTS COORDINATOR

 As a Partnerships and Events Coordinator, you will engage in the creation of projects in collaboration with other NGOs and organizations to increase our impact and ability to spread awareness of human rights violations. You may be responsible for working with a team of volunteers to plan events on specific topics of human rights work, contacting speakers, organizations, and participants. This is a great opportunity for anyone passionate about events or partnerships work in the public sector and with a love for project design and management.

 INTEGRATION GROUP LEADER

 As an integration group leader, you will lead one of a selection of immigrant integration programmes we host at HRS. This may be researching and presenting at bi-weekly Know Your Rights events for young asylum seekers and immigrants, leading groups on our Breakfast, Walk, and British History and Culture tours around London, or training young athletes in Basketball on the weekends. This is a great opportunity with a passion for ameliorating society for those less fortunate.

 Join us today and become a part of the HRS family! 

Become a hero

TRAFALGAR1
Articles & StatementsEventsImmigration Committee

‘Humanity Cartoons’ in London squares

Winning cartoons from ‘2nd Int’l Migration Cartoons Competition’ by HRS and Time to Help UK exhibited in London’s key locations. The winning works of the ‘2nd International Migration Cartoons Competition’ organised by Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) and Time to Help UK were exhibited in important centres of London. 20 of the works titled ‘Humanity Cartoons’ were presented to the attention of the public in an interactive open-air exhibition held one week apart, first in Pancras Square and then in Trafalgar Square.

The exhibition, which drew attention to one of the most important agendas of the world, migration and immigration, remained in the square for more than 2 hours each. HRS and Time to Help volunteers explained the problems faced by refugees and migrants to the crowd viewing the exhibition and answered questions.

Each of the works emphasises the reasons why migrants leave their countries, the difficult conditions they are in and the human rights violations they are exposed to. They also criticise countries and institutions that make the lives of migrants more difficult instead of trying to solve the problems.

Our statement about the exhibition titled ‘Humanity Cartoons’ is as follows:

Humanity Cartoons is a joint project of Time to Help and Human Rights Solidarity. These are two registered charities in England and Wales. Time to Help is active in humanitarian aid; and Human Rights Solidarity works on human rights. Immigration and asylum is an issue where these two areas of charitable work come together.

Immigration and asylum are among the most important topics of discussion in the world today. The migration flow from East to West and from South to North is growing exponentially every year. Last year, approximately 80.000 people have applied for asylum in the UK. According to a UN report, more than 108 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2022.

This mobility brings with it economic, social and political problems. People who leave their countries at the risk of death face brand new problems in the countries they think of as ‘safe harbours’. Some are arrested, some deported and yet others lose their mental health within years of uncertainty imposed on them.

By using the language of art, we want to raise social awareness about this vital issue and contribute to the solution of this human tragedy. For this purpose, 768 artists from many countries submitted 1,278 works to the cartoon competition on ‘migration and immigration’. The wonderful cartoons you see here have been selected from these drawings.

Each of the works emphasises the reasons why migrants leave their countries, the difficult conditions they live in and the human rights violations they are exposed to. As people living in peace and prosperity, we have to think about them. Like every human being, they have the right to live freely. We should extend all kinds of helping hands to them and create the safe living conditions they need. The United Kingdom must be welcoming refugees.

humanitiy-cartoons-exhibition-pancras-square-migrant
EventsImmigration CommitteeProjects

You are invited to ‘Humanity Cartoons’ exhibition

The winning entries of the ‘2nd International Migration Cartoons Competition’ organised by HRS and Time to Help are on display. On Friday 8 September, 25 of the cartoons we call ‘Humanity Cartoons’ will be presented to the public at Pancras Square in London. You can see the cartoons drawn by important artists from different countries between 3.00-5.00 PM. The same exhibition will be on display in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 17 September.

These cartoons draw attention to the issue of ‘immigration’, which is among the most important agendas of the world, and aim to raise awareness about the violations of rights.

There are many migrants living in the UK and the number of asylum applications to the country is increasing every day. People who are looking for a safe place just to survive and who leave their countries at the risk of death face very serious difficulties.

As people living in peace and prosperity, we cannot ignore these migrants in difficult situations. Like every human being, they have the right to live and work. Being aware of this, we should extend a helping hand to migrants and provide the safe living conditions they seek.

With these feelings, we invite you to see the cartoons that illustrate the difficulties of migrants very well and to think about the solution of the problems.

Meet us at Pancras Square on Friday at 3.00pm.

report-human-rights-violations-afghanistan
Council to EuropeExecutive CommitteeReportsUnited Nations

Our report on human rights violations in Afghanistan

We present our report on ‘The Humanitarian Crisis Emerging for Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees’ to UN and Council of Europe. “The Humanitarian Crisis Emerging for Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees” is a comprehensive and deeply impactful report that examines the intricate layers of the humanitarian crisis stemming from the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan and the subsequent displacement of Afghan refugees.

This meticulously crafted report not only presents a comprehensive analysis of the evolving situation but also adds a compelling human element through an insightful interview with a former female prosecutor who fled Afghanistan. By shedding light on the multifaceted issues at hand, this report aims to contribute to a better understanding of the situation and facilitate informed decision-making by governments, international organizations, and civil society.