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Category: Events

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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.

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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.

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EventsHuman Rights DefendersUK Authorities

Torture in Turkey: Parliamentary event on multilateral sanctions with Baroness Kennedy

 

In the panel held in the British Parliament, crimes of torture and countermeasures involving state officials in Turkey were discussed. On Monday 26th of June 2023, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws hosted an event in UK Parliament in collaboration with The Arrested Lawyers Initiative and Human Rights Solidarity.

The event covered ‘The Deterrence Potential of Multilateral Sanctions for Human Rights Abuses in Turkey’ to discuss Impunity, torture, and ill-treatment in Turkey in relation to Magnitsky Sanctions from the United Kingdom. Speakers, Kevin Dent KC, Sarah Teich, Natalia Kubesch, and Michael Polak, presented at the event on their work against this issue and encouraged the public to raise awareness on the current political situation in Turkey and the UK’s benefit to help.

Baroness Helena Kennedy

The state of emergency in Turkey marked the beginning of gross human rights violations, including widespread torture facilitated by the adoption of impunity provisions, enforced disappearances and mass detention on an industrial scale. According to official figures, more than 600,000 people have been detained by the police on overly broad terrorism charges, while more than 100,000 have been remanded in custody. Between 2016 and 2021, more than 310,000 people were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist organisation. Since 2016, more than 1,600 lawyers have been detained, and so far, 551 lawyers have been sentenced to 3,356 years in prison on terrorism-related charges, mostly for
membership in terrorist organisations.

In September 2020, The Arrested Lawyers launched the Turkey Human Rights Accountability Project in response to the ongoing rule of law violations and imprisonment of lawyers, activists, journalists and academics on trumped-up charges. Prominent British barristers Kevin Dent KC and Michael Polak, who both attended the event. An extra step was made towards the Canadian Government, authored by Mr Dent and Mr Polak, as well as Ms Sarah Teich.

Significant Quotes:

Baroness Kennedy: “Turkey has been brought in front of the European Court of Human Rights and the court found defiance of rule of law time and again. At this point in time, the Council of Europe is weighing the possibility of taking action against Turkey.”

Michael Polak: “Sanctions work better when multiple countries are involved.”
“We provided the Foreign Ministry a well studied 500 pages long evidence file. Two years passed over our submission and every other month I am sending them an email and asking, did you read it. No response.”

Sarah Teich: “There are things we can learn from the UK and there are things they can learn from Canada. Multilateral learning is as good as multilateral sanctions.”

Kevin Dent KC: “This sense that you cannot sanction a friendly country has to be overcome. When I speak to people who are critical of Turkey’s human rights records, they say it is too complex to have sanctions on nationals of Turkey.”

Natalia Kubesch: “The fact that nationals of friendly countries avoid sanction gives a message of hypocrisy and that some lives matter more than others.”

Sarah Teich, Michael Polak, Kevin Dent QC, Beatrice Travis (London Advocacy, Moderator) Natalia Kubesch

Key Points made in the event:

• The event covered case submissions made to the governments of the UK, US, and Canada, detailing first-hand accounts of torture present in Turkey.

• The UK has a close security and diplomatic relationship with its Turkish counterparts. Turkey is a NATO member, a formal ally of Britain and has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1950. Turkey is also a close trade partner to Britain, with the UK being the second biggest importer of goods from Turkey.

• This context creates significant diplomatic sensitivities, impacting the UK government’s willingness to impose targeted human rights sanctions Turkish officials, in the fear that it could jeopardise future relations. Instead, the UK’s
government’s preference to date has been to raise any concerns pertaining to the human rights situations in Turkey bilaterally, at the ministerial level on an ad hoc basis.

• The case of Turkey demonstrates that even established democracies face the risk of sliding into authoritarianism and instability if they fail to confront emerging abuses and allies to do not hold them to account.

• There is a demand for action from governments who are yet to respond despite it being nearly two years since submissions to the UK and Canada:

• These sanctions are about visa arrangements and asset freezing.

• Sanctions can also provide an important symbolic form of accountability by expressly recognising the harm suffered by victims and calling out perpetrators for their involvement in the abuses: sanctions can convey strong signs of disapproval by condoning, and explicitly demanding changes, to the
targeted individuals’ or entities’ behaviour. Specifically, sanctions enable states to send a statement “that this will not stand”, deterring others from engaging in similar conduct.

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EventsImmigration Committee

15-mile march for refugee rights

Members of the activist group United Bridges and some Human Rights Solidarity volunteers marched for refugee rights on 24 June.  The event, organised as part of Refugee Week, started in Battersea Park in London and continued for around 15 miles along the Thames Path, ending at Cutty Sark in Greenwich.

Batuhan Karakus from the march team commented on the protest as follows:

The March for Human Rights, held on 24 June 2023, was a transformative event that brought together people from diverse backgrounds to advocate for refugee rights and promote solidarity. The event allowed us to engage in meaningful conversations about human rights, artificial intelligence, and child development. Throughout the march, we listened to first-hand accounts of courage and resilience from refugees, which deepened our understanding of their challenges.

Discussions on the intersection of human rights and artificial intelligence provided valuable insights into how we can harness AI for the betterment of society while safeguarding human dignity and equality. The march’s success was measured not only by the number of participants but also by the impact it had on raising awareness and fostering empathy.

We are committed to continuing this vital work and invite everyone to join us in our efforts to create a world where human rights are protected, and every individual is valued and respected.

Thank you for being part of this inspiring journey.

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Council to EuropeEventsHuman Rights Defenders

2nd Strasbourg meeting for justice: Letter to the Council of Europe and the ECtHR

 

We came together for the second time in Strasbourg to reiterate our call for justice against rights violations in Turkey. Nearly 3 thousand people who have been subjected to rights violations in Turkey met in Strasburg, France, where the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe are located, and demanded urgent justice.

The second ‘Strasbourg Justice Meeting’ and ‘justice march’, the first of which was organised last year, was held today. The march protested against the silence of European political structures and legal institutions in the face of rights violation applications from Turkey.

Organised by a number of European human rights organisations including Human Rights Solidarity, the demonstration included a concert and various theatrical performances. Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party in the UK, also made a speech on the stage, supporting the protesters and criticising the ECHR for delaying its decisions. Famous NBA player and activist Enes Kanter and Norwegian theologian Dag Aakre took the stage and expressed their demands for justice.

Approximately 3 thousand people who left Turkey due to severe human rights violations they suffered in Turkey for about 10 years gathered on All de la Robertsau Street, where the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Council of Europe are located. Wearing yellow t-shirts and carrying yellow balloons and banners, the crowd expressed their demands for justice in front of the Council of Europe and the ECHR buildings after 12.00 pm. “Justice delayed is not justice! Victims are here, where is the court?” they chanted. Since no one from the Council of Europe greeted them, the victims left a letter with their demands at the door. The group then continued their march and stopped in front of the ECHR to present their letters to the officials of the institution.

LETTER TO THREE IMPORTANT EUROPEAN NAMES

Yasemin Aydın and Rumi Unal, representatives of the Peacefull Actions Platform, which represents hundreds of thousands of people whose rights have been violated, presented a letter addressed to three names holding important positions in European institutions. During the presentation of the letter, a theatrical performance was staged criticising the ECHR for issuing its judgements too late. A prison cell on wheels representing people who have been imprisoned for years also took place during the march.

The letter read as follows:

“Inhumane practices against all opposition groups in the country continue unabated. These widespread and systematic violations have been characterised as ‘crimes against humanity’ by the relevant UN bodies. Once again, no progress has been made on the more than three thousand educational institutions, thousands of legal associations and at least $32 billion in private assets confiscated after 15 July. Tens of thousands of women, the elderly, the sick and hundreds of babies under the age of six are still being held in prisons for political reasons. Dozens of people continue to be arrested on hollow charges on an almost daily basis. The hope of thousands of people systematically subjected to gross human rights violations is that the Council of Europe and the ECtHR, which have the authority to take binding decisions on Turkey, will enforce the law. It is essential that these institutions take their legal position on these acts of crimes against humanity without further delay and fulfil their obligations immediately. We are grateful for some of the judgements of the ECtHR during this time, which have been a breath of fresh air for the victims of political repression. However, we expect the Court, as soon as possible, to stop ignoring the fact that more than half a million people are being persecuted simply for exercising their fundamental rights, such as subscribing to a newspaper, having a bank account or sending their children to legally operating schools, joining a religious chat group or using a mobile communication app.”

INJUSTICES HIGHLIGHTED

As in the previous year, this year, as well as foreign guests, people who have been subjected to rights violations in Turkey and their families made speeches at the Justice Gathering. Melek Cetinkaya, mother of Taha Furkan Cetinkaya, a military student who was released after 6 years in prison, lawyer Elif Buyukozturk, teacher Halit Tonbul, teacher Gonca Kara who lost her two children Gulsum and Mustafa in the Aegean Sea, academic Salih Hosoglu, Nesrin Kisi, wife of torture victim Zabit Kisi, were among the speakers.

march-for-human-rights-refugees
EventsImmigration CommitteeNext Events

Join us for a march for human rights and refugees

We look forward to welcoming you to the march for refugee rights on 24 June with our partner United Bridges. Join us for an empowering march along the Thames Path, advocating for human and refugee rights on the 24th of June 2023 in London during Refugee Week.

The march begins at 10 am at the Peace Pagoda, a symbol of peace and harmony in Battersea Park.

We have a limited space for 40 participants, so don’t forget to register for this transformative march as we strive for a world where every individual’s rights are respected. Together, we can make a difference.

For more information about the march, please click here: https://refugeeweek.org.uk/event/march-for-human-rights/

If you want to participate in the march, click here to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/march-for-human-rights-tickets-654034584047 

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EventsImmigration CommitteeProjects

‘Humanity Cartoons’ competition was finalised

The ‘2nd International Migration Cartoons Competition’ organised by Time to Help UK, one of our solution partners, has been concluded. The first 6 works that ranked in the competition with cash prizes were announced on the website named ‘Humanity Cartoons’ (www.humanitycartoons.com). The website also featured the top 20 winning works.

The owners and countries of the first 6 cartoons selected by the jury consisting of Kianoush Ramezani, Christina Sifianou, Fawzy Morsy, Safaa Odah are as follows: Gustavo Fernando Caballero Talavera (Mexico), Ali Miraee (Iran), Vladimir Pavlik (Slovakia), Luc Descheemaeker (Belgium), Hamit Gış (Turkey), Alireza Pakdel (Iran). A total of USD 3,300 will be awarded to these artists.

In addition to the winning cartoons, 100 works that passed the first evaluation stage are planned to be exhibited in the UK and other European countries. Starting on 20 June, the Refugees Week will be organised in two different ways: ‘travelling’ or ‘fixed’ exhibitions. Fixed exhibitions will be held in halls or galleries, while travelling exhibitions will be carried out by volunteers in the streets and squares of some big cities.

The competition, which was organised to draw attention to the ‘refugee problem’, which is among the most important agendas of the world, started on 1 March 2023 and ended on 15 May. During this period, 768 professional or amateur artists from many countries sent a total of 1,278 cartoons. Of the works drawn by the artists, 674 were found to meet the announced criteria of the competition. The 100 works presented to the selection of famous cartoonists were determined by a committee of experts.

The first one was organised by Kimse Yok Mu Association

The first edition of this contest was organised in 2016 by Kimse Yok Mu Association, a humanitarian aid organisation based in Turkey. Nearly 1,200 artworks from different countries participated in the contest, with Cuban cartoonist Hernandez Guerrero coming first, Constatin Pavel from Romania coming second and Italian Alessandro Gatto coming third. The 120 selected cartoons were to be exhibited in Athens, Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Cologne, Brussels and Paris. The first exhibition was opened in Athens, but the plan was left unfinished as Kimse Yok Mu Association was unlawfully shut down after the coup attempt on 15 July 2016. The managers and employees of the association that organised the competition became refugees.

HRS, together with Time to Help UK, one of the partner organisations of Kimse Yok Mu Association in Europe, set out to complete the unfinished plan. Stating that they want to benefit from the power of the art of cartooning and at the same time support those working in this field, the organisation delegation explains their aim as follows: “We want to shed light on migration issues in general, the problems in the asylum and refugee integration systems of Western societies and contribute to a better understanding of the problems faced by migrant communities.”

Yusuf Kar: People leave their homeland to survive

Yusuf Kar, General Manager of Time to Help UK, stated that they see it as a historical responsibility and debt to continue such a meaningful project in an environment where the world is discussing asylum seekers. Reminding that nearly 100 million people have been displaced against their will, Kar said: “As an organisation that provides humanitarian aid to African and Asian countries, we are well aware of the conditions that lead to forced migration. As a last resort, people leave the land of their birth in order to sustain their lives. However, they are not welcomed in the countries they take refuge in for different reasons.” Emphasising that the problem carries the danger of growing even more, Kar said, “For a solution, the problem must first be recognised. We believe that the competition we organised will serve this purpose.”

Pointing out that they plan to exhibit 100 cartoons selected among the works participating in the competition in different centres of the world, Yusuf Kar said that they expect support from all institutions and groups that are sensitive to the issue. Reminding that they can share materials and ideas with those who want to open an exhibition, Kar asked those who are interested to contact them.

Hamza Mazlum: The most important problems are legal and administrative

Hamza Mazlum, Executive Director of Human Rights Solidarity, stated that ‘forced migration and refugees’ is one of the issues they focus on. Noting that hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers around the world are facing great problems, Mazlum reminded that international law has sufficient infrastructure to protect refugees and asylum seekers. Stating that the 1951 Geneva Convention and many other international texts and judicial decisions have clear and unambiguous provisions on the subject, Mazlum made the following assessment:

“However, in practice, states can ignore these rules and take very serious actions against the law. I think that since the interests of governments do not coincide with the rights of asylum seekers, the issue has completely turned into a struggle between civil society and states. In order to find a solution, the international community needs to defend the rights of asylum seekers as a whole. We are working with international organisations to overcome these problems, but the issue should also be well understood by civil society. I believe that the exhibition of the works of the cartoon contest in different centres will create an important awareness on this issue.”

Mazlum invited all organisations working in the field of human rights to establish a partnership to organise an exhibition for ‘Humanity Cartoons’. While emphasising that they can provide all kinds of support in this regard, he said that they are also open to making a joint programme.

 

palestine-nakba
EventsYAct Committee

The Nakba is not a memory; it is a continuous uprooting

HRS Youth Committee members supported the “Freedom for Palestinian people” march organised in London on the 75th anniversary of NAKBA.

ASIYE BETUL

Saturday May 13th saw dozens of protests take place across the UK, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba. 10,000 people were marching in central London showing their stance against the illegal and inhumane oppression and displacement of Palestinians. People of all ages marched together from the BBC Portland Place building to Parliament square, as proof that the younger generation will not forget and forgive the 75 years of humanity crimes and injustices.

 The Nakba, is a period of ethnic cleansing, colonialism, and dispossession that started with the establishment of Israel in 1948. It resulted in the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians and the disappearance of more than 500 towns and villages off the map.

Nakba, meaning calamity and catastrophe, signalling the destructiveness of the date, was remembered by Palestinians and thousands of people on its 75th anniversary.

Last Saturday, my friends from Human Rights Solidarity and I joined the march and showed our solidarity with the Palestinian people. Alongside protesters, we chanted calling for the end of the apartheid and occupation, and claimed that Palestine will be free ‘from the river to the sea’.

 We were reminded of Mahmoud Darwish’s words ‘The Nakba is not a memory; it is a continuous uprooting’.

 Nakba is the present. Nakba is now the Nakba, with all the significance that using the word in Arabic entails, rather than just another disaster like so many others. It is an act of resistance against the ongoing displacement of Palestinians, and proof of the existence and validity of the Palestinian territory and its people. History, more than ever, serves as resistance and the reminder of the catastrophe brought with the formation of a nation.

 End Apartheid. Free Palestine. 

 

nakba
EventsJustice CornerNext Events

You are invited to the Palestine rally on the 75th anniversary of NAKBA

We are waiting for all our volunteers for the march and rally organised by ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ for Free Palestine. May this year marks the 75th anniversary of the NAKBA, a process of ‘ethnic cleansing, colonisation and dispossession’ in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled and more than 500 towns and villages were wiped off the map. The NAKBA is characterised not only as a historical event, but also as a process of oppression through ‘territorial colonisation, apartheid and military occupation’ that has continued for the last 75 years.

Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) supports the march and rally for a ‘Free Palestine’ organised by the ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ and some human rights organisations. The Palestinian people need our solidarity more than ever. We invite all HRS volunteers to join us in this meaningful event.  

Date: Saturday, 13 May 2023
Time: 12.00 pm
Location: BBC, Portland Place W1A, London

HRS-at- united-nations-for-women’s-rights
EventsReportsUK AuthoritiesUnited NationsWomen’s Rights

HRS at United Nations for women’s rights

Human Rights Solidarity organised two panels at the CSW-67 conference held at the United Nations, where women’s issues were discussed. From March 6th-17th, HRS attended the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 67 conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City where representatives of UN Member States. Civil society organisations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York to discuss progress and gaps in women’s rights and their status in society, with a focus on innovation, technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

HRS engaged in various panels, discussions, and networking opportunities held both in the UN and by participating NGOS and global companies eager to help the women’s movement, while also hosting their own event: Women Power in the World Economy with special guest speakers Dr Virginia Valian and Dr Jenna Carpenter. The event took us through the past, present, and future of women in the workforce, economy, and STEM through both a lens of social psychological factors and female empowerment in male dominated sectors.

The event was greatly successful, and the HRS members gained valuable experience and knowledge from the insightful panels and the powerful women they met from within the UN and around the world.

Key takeaways:

  • Funding girls’ education supports the mission to end poverty long-term and to bring women into the workforce
  • Enabling access to technology and the digital world to all girls and women will increase access to education, help, and the ability to share experiences and struggles with others

How we can help:

  • Education: Advocate for equitable education, encourage, create, and join a course for digital literacy
  • Urge national and local governments to guarantee a network of support for women with localized organizations and leaders
  • Call on nations to work with localized communities to address gender gaps in schooling collaboratively and commit resources.

You can read our detailed report on these meetings in the section below:

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