Category: Articles & Statements

children
Articles & StatementsBlogHuman Rights Defenders

4 June 2024: Remembering innocent children victims of international aggression

 

War zones expose children to daily dangers, denying them safety, education, food, and basic rights, necessitating urgent global humanitarian action. This year on International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression we remember the children of Gaza, Sudan, Myanmar, Turkiye, Syria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Nigeria.

Children residing in war zones around the world witness unimaginable horrors on a daily basis. It is unsafe for them to play outside, sleep at home, attend school, or go to hospitals for medical attention.

Children around the globe endure unspeakable horrors even adults find unbearable and they are innocently caught in the midst of warring parties. They are being subjected to sexual violence, and abduction and are being forced to join armed groups, all while being deprived of essential humanitarian aid.

UN Reports, in Gaza the number of children killed is higher than from four years of world conflict. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said “This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future” [1]. More than 14,000 children have been reportedly killed and thousands have been injured. If not injured or killed children are deprived of essential needs, displaced and don’t have access to water, food and medicine. UNICEF had initially reported that “Rafah is now a city of children, who have nowhere safe to go in Gaza”. On the 26th of May 2024, the tents and shelters in Rafah have now been bombed which leaves no safe place for the children of Gaza. UNICEF reports that even wars have rules and no child should be cut off from essential services in accordance with international humanitarian law [2] reflecting that this is not a war but a genocide[3].

There is a silent war and famine going on in Sudan affecting innocent children. Human Rights Watch reports a gruesome incident where RSF Forces first shot the parents in front of their children and then piled up the children and shot them. They later threw their bodies into the river and their belongings after them[4].

To mark a year of brutality against Sudanese children, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued a media statement highlighting the violations resulting in 24 million children in Sudan being at risk of generational catastrophe. Among these children, 14 million are in dire need of humanitarian support, 19 million are out of school, and 4 million are displaced, according to UNICEF, making Sudan now the largest child displacement crisis in the world[5].

Since the military coup in 2021, the armed conflict, and the suffering and cruelty continue in Myanmar. Innocent children who are too young to comprehend the chaos around them, are caught in the midst of the conflict, malnourished and deprived of essential needs. UNICEF reports that 6,000,000 children are in need of humanitarian assistance [6].

A year after the deadliest earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria, children are still feeling the effects of the tragedy. Almost 7.5 million children in Syria still require humanitarian aid. 3.2 million children in Turkiye still need essential services as families are homeless and without access to essential services, including safe water, education, and medical care [7].

The human rights violations continue in Turkiye not only affecting innocent adults but affecting innocent children. Thousands of children are growing up in prison with their parents who are only detained due to Erdogan’s dictator regime in Turkiye. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is dismantling human rights protections and democratic norms in Turkiye on a scale unprecedented in the 18 years he has been in office, said Human Rights Watch [8]. Recently, several girls under 18 were detained and subjected to psychological torture due to non-implementation of the Constitutional Court and ECHR rulings.

Ethiopia is facing multiple crises due to climate crises (flood and drought), armed conflicts, diseases and economic shocks. Floods have affected the education sector in the Somali region with the disruption of the schooling of over 66,000 children (32.3 percent girls) and damage/destruction to school infrastructure (56 out of 146 flood-affected schools). The scale of damage to the schools and the reported sheltering of IDPs on school grounds will prevent thousands of children from returning to school [9].

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the decades-long armed conflict continued to cause grave violations against civilians and children. The M23 committed more unlawful killings, rapes, other apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity in areas under their control [10]. Save the Children has reported that 78,000 children have been forced to flee their homes due to the escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)[11]. As armed conflict is a daily reality for the children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these children are facing poverty, sexual violence, being abducted, deprived of food and water and even being trained as child soldiers [12]. UNICEF’s Director of Child Protection said “I met children who survived the horrors of recruitment and use by armed groups and the unspeakable trauma of sexual violence – atrocities that no one should experience, let alone children” [13].

On 8 May 2024, Save the Children reported that children in Haiti are being forced into armed gangs due to extreme hunger. According to the UN, between 30% to 50% of armed groups in Haiti currently have children within their ranks. Save the Children’s Food and Livelihood Advisor in Haiti said “The hunger situation is so desperate our staff are hearing stories of children joining deadly gangs just so they can get food to eat” [14].

OCHA reports that in Nigeria children are at risk of forced recruitment into armed groups when unaccompanied and separated from families, especially children of those considered to be formerly associated or affiliated with armed groups. Protection concerns continue more so for women and girls, who run a higher risk of being subject to violence, abduction, rape, gender-based violence, forced and child marriage, and other violations of their rights. Children in Nigeria face malnutrition on an incomprehensible scale, 1.53 million children under five years old are expected to face acute malnutrition and about 511,800 children are expected to face severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. [15]

On this international day of innocent children victims of aggression we remember all the innocent children who, instead of crying over lost toys, are crying due to fear, destruction, and violence. These children, born into a cruel world, deserve a childhood filled with love and safety, not suffering.

BY CEYDA KEMANCI

 

Sources:

[1] Gaza: Number of children killed higher than from four years of world conflict | UN News

 

[2] Children in Gaza need life-saving support | UNICEF

 

[3] Rights expert finds ‘reasonable grounds’ genocide is being committed in Gaza | UN News

 

[4] Children ‘piled up and shot’: new details emerge of ethnic cleansing in Darfur | Global development | The Guardian

 

[5] Sudan conflict: 24 million children exposed to a year of brutality and rights violations, UN committee says | OHCHR

 

[6] Myanmar-Humanitarian-SitRep-April-2024.pdf (unicef.org)

 

[7] One year after devastating earthquakes hit Türkiye and Syria, consequences continue to reverberate for affected children and families (unicef.org)

 

[8] Turkey: Erdoğan’s Onslaught on Rights and Democracy | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

 

[9] Ethiopia – Situation Report, 10 Jan 2024 | OCHA (unocha.org)

 

[10] World Report 2024: Democratic Republic of Congo | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

 

[11] DRC: AT LEAST 78,000 CHILDREN DISPLACED AND FAMILIES RIPPED APART AS FIGHTING ESCALATES | Save the Children International

 

[12] Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Humanium

 

[13] DR Congo: Children killed, injured, abducted, and face sexual violence in conflict at record levels for third consecutive year – UNICEF

 

[14] Extreme hunger in Haiti forcing children into armed gangs – Save the Children – Haiti | ReliefWeb

 

[15] “Nigeria Humanitarian Needs Overview 2024 | OCHA (unocha.org)

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Articles & StatementsBlog

Investing in Youth: Why Civic Engagement Matters?

The decline in youth participation in politics points to a potential crisis for democracy. But can this crisis be avoided? Over the past two decades, attention has been focused on what many think is a crisis in youth civic and political engagement. This concern has been prompted by research evidence suggesting that younger voters participate less in national elections than older citizens. Additionally, there is the danger of declining voting rates among the young in one or another country over the years. Such developments are often taken as an early warning that the future health of democracy could be at risk. The concern is based on the proposition that political habits formed in youth condition lifelong patterns of political involvement; consequently, today’s disengaged youth would become tomorrow’s disengaged adults. Political and civic engagement manifest in varied forms other than electoral participation. Traditional modes of engagement include voting, working for political parties during elections, and urging others to vote.

On the other hand, there are non-traditional, dynamic modes of civic engagement: participating in demonstrations, protests, and marches; signing petitions, and contributing to political discussions using blogs and social media. In addition, civic actions such as community service, problem-solving programs, and fundraising for social causes provide another avenue of participation, which, though not political, is critical for community wellness and engagement. Diverse avenues provide young people various ways of contributing civically and politically as part of a broad spectrum of participation beyond the ballot box.

On the other hand, young people across various political systems often need more opportunities to actively engage and make an impact within the established political order. Not to mention possessing economic capital, a significant portion of young people worry about getting a job, while another significant portion is concerned about keeping their job. While grappling with these concerns, it isn’t easy to exist or turn towards mainstream politics. Even if they try to enter politics, the institutions and individuals dominant in mainstream politics need to “grant” young people space there so that they can exist in politics. We cannot enter mainstream politics and feel crushed under our country’s economic and political problems that affect our lives. Change is a mandatory way out for everyone, and I want to be one of the subjects of this change. This is where new methods and pathways begin to develop. These methods may emerge as reflections of difficulties, not requiring very robust and detailed planning. Through various youth formations and initiatives, young people practice organizing, advocacy, and demanding. These are individually very valuable internally, but at some point, we need to come together to be able to exert pressure. Coming together does not necessarily mean agreeing on everything. Just uniting on certain basic rights and freedoms is enough to create pressure. Building unity based on common basic desires is possible, and more than possible, it is necessary. The political value of youth as a voting potential has been “discovered.” Still, the real question is whether we should use this potential just for a slightly better status quo or ensure that changes break the power monopoly established political groups hold. What needs to happen is to fight for the necessary adjustments in the representation mechanism when change occurs. This will be a valuable gain for young people and all groups experiencing representation issues. We need to work to use the various practices we experience today to create pressure and force the system to change.

Also, the role of education in shaping young people’s civic engagement must be balanced. Schools that foster an environment where students can freely discuss ethical, social, civic, and political issues help cultivate a generation that is not only well-informed but also deeply engaged. Encouraging discussions around controversial topics and supporting students to express and listen to diverse opinions enriches their political interest, trust, and knowledge. Such educational practices increase the likelihood that students will participate in future elections.

Implementing democratic principles in schools, such as through student councils and representation in decision-making bodies, reinforces these lessons practically. This hands-on approach to democracy at a young age can significantly bolster student engagement.

Adopting a competence-based curriculum that emphasizes essential civic and political engagement skills is crucial in preparing students to be effective change-makers in society. Schools should concentrate on cultivating a deep understanding of politics, coupled with analytical and critical thinking skills, civic responsibility, and effective communication. These competencies are foundational for nurturing students into informed and autonomous participants in democracy.

Integrating innovative teaching methods such as cooperative learning, project-based learning, and service-learning can significantly enhance the acquisition of these vital competencies. These pedagogical strategies engage students actively and foster a practical understanding and application of their knowledge and skills in real-world settings. By embedding these competencies within the curriculum, educational institutions can empower students to actively engage in and positively impact their communities and the broader political landscape.

These competencies are crucial for local or national issues and equally vital for addressing global challenges like climate change, pollution, poverty, and human rights. In today’s interconnected world, fostering global-mindedness or a concern for humanity and the planet is essential. This global perspective is increasingly evident in young people’s civic actions, demonstrating their commitment to local communities and global well-being.

Contemporary research shows that young people with high levels of global-mindedness are more engaged in cultural exchanges, appreciate diversity, support global human rights, and participate in environmental conservation. Educational institutions are crucial in nurturing these traits by integrating global issues into their curricula, which helps students understand global challenges and the interdependence of communities.

In addition to traditional foreign language classes, schools should offer intercultural learning opportunities through student exchange programs, international video conferences, and collaborative online international learning projects. These experiences help students understand and respect cultural differences.

Schools must also encourage students to apply their global competencies in real-world contexts, such as service learning projects, internships with international organizations, or community projects with a global dimension. This helps students turn their academic knowledge into action and reinforces their roles as active global citizens.

In conclusion, the dynamic landscape of youth engagement presents many reasons for optimism. By effectively utilizing national education systems, we can bolster young people’s preparedness for active involvement in their local communities and on the global stage. This strategic enhancement of educational frameworks can nurture well-rounded global citizens ready to contribute positively to society.

BY BURAK BATUHAN KARAKUS

fight-racism-fullbleed
Articles & StatementsBlogHuman Rights Defenders

Reflecting on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established by the United Nations in 1966 to combat racial.. discrimination worldwide. It commemorates the tragic events of March 21, 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa, where police killed 69 peaceful protesters during a demonstration against the apartheid pass laws, which enforced severe racial segregation and discrimination. This day serves as a reminder of the continuous struggle against racism. It promotes activities and actions to raise awareness and find solutions for those most affected by racial discrimination. Despite the abolition of apartheid in 1991 and similar racist legislation in other countries, the fight against racial prejudice is far from over.

Racial discrimination remains a prevalent issue, as evidenced by statistics from the UK, where racially motivated hate crimes are the most reported, with racially aggravated offenses increasing by 19% to 109,843 incidents in 2021/22. This stark reality underscores the vital importance of this day in advocating for and raising awareness about the ongoing efforts needed to educate future generations and eradicate racism. The belief that some people are inherently superior or inferior due to skin color is a harmful notion that we must actively work against to ensure everyone has the freedom and dignity they deserve.

After establishing the definitional framework of hate crimes and the specific strands monitored in England and Wales, it becomes imperative to delve deeper into these incidents’ nuanced statistical tapestry and real-world ramifications. The following section provides a comprehensive dissection of hate crime data, casting light on the demographic profiles of victims, the typologies of hate crimes most frequently documented, and the profound emotional and psychological repercussions these transgressions inflict upon individuals.

This transition from a generalized overview to a granular analysis offers a more lucid comprehension of the prevailing terrain of hate crimes in the United Kingdom. It illuminates the diversity of victims and occurrences and the formidable obstacles encountered in confronting and mitigating these profoundly impactful crimes.

Within this crucible of analysis, we witness the complexities of addressing hate crimes. These complexities extend beyond legislative frameworks and encompass the arduous task of catalysing attitudinal shifts and fostering community empathy.

The definition of hate crime in England & Wales was agreed in 2007 by the Police Service, Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service, and other agencies.

Hate crime in England and Wales is defined as ‘any criminal offense which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic:

There are five centrally monitored strands of hate crime:

  • race or ethnicity.
  • religion or beliefs.
  • sexual orientation.
  • disability
  • transgender identity.

The recent ‘Hate Crime Summary’ report sheds light on the concerning prevalence of hate crimes in the UK, with racial bias being the primary motivating factor, accounting for 45% of reported incidents. Disability-related hate crimes followed closely, comprising 15% of the total cases, underscoring the multifaceted nature of this issue. Notably, the report documents a staggering 1,426% increase in gender identity-motivated incidents, soaring from 18 to 276 cases. Furthermore, there has been a significant 462% increase in reports related to sexual orientation, highlighting the evolving landscape of hate crimes in the country.

The interaction with authorities reflects the urgency and the spectrum of needs among the victims; 60% of the contacts were to report incidents or update ongoing cases. In parallel, 23% sought listening support, advice, or referrals, indicating the critical role of supportive services in the aftermath of hate crimes.

According to the report, racial motivations persist as the predominant driver of hate crimes, with incidents related to disability following as a significant concern. The pronounced rise in gender-motivated incidents by 322% signals an urgent call for attention to this growing issue.

Analysing the types of hate crimes reported reveals verbal abuse at the forefront with 287 incidents, closely followed by threatening behavior in 238 incidents. Harassment, offensive language, and anti-social behavior were also significantly reported, with 209, 132, and 98 cases, respectively. These statistics not only depict the severity of hate crimes in the UK but also emphasize the need for robust response mechanisms to support the victims and address the root causes.

In efforts to gather comprehensive data on instances of hate incidents, the report strives to include a wide range of demographic details such as age, gender, and ethnicity of those affected. This information aids in the nuanced understanding and addressing of hate incidents. However, sometimes, individuals may be hesitant to disclose such personal information, or when a report is made on someone else’s behalf, the informant may lack access to these details. Additionally, there are circumstances where it becomes impractical or insensitive to pursue these questions further, such as when a person is too distressed to communicate effectively or the conversation ends prematurely.

Among individuals who reported experiencing a hate incident and were willing to share personal information, 2% identified as transgender, with the majority identifying as female (61%) and male (36%). Our team endeavors to gather as much demographic information (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity) about those affected by hate incidents. However, there are instances where individuals may choose not to disclose such information, or the information might be unavailable if the report is made on someone else’s behalf. In situations where it is either impossible or appropriate to inquire for more details (e.g., the person is too upset or the conversation ends abruptly), no data can be recorded.

Regarding disability, 54% of individuals who disclosed information reported being neurodiverse, with autism accounting for 17% of this group. There was a significant increase in individuals reporting physical/mobility disabilities, rising by 176% (from 13 to 40 individuals).

Concerning ethnicity, 28% of the individuals who disclosed their background described themselves as coming from a white background, with 17% specifying White British. Additionally, 27% identified as having a Black background, 32% as Asian, and 5% as Mixed. Notably, there was a significant rise in reports from individuals identifying with an “Other Black Background,” increasing from 7% to 18%.

Age-wise, the bulk of individuals reporting hate incidents and willing to share their age fell within the 25 to 64 age range (74%), with those between 35 to 54 years old being the most likely to report such incidents (39%).

From a religious perspective, 38% of those disclosing information identified as Christian, and 17% as Muslim. Specifically, for faith or religious hate incidents, a majority identified with Islam (71%) or Christianity (9%).

Concerning living situations, over 75% of those experiencing a hate incident and willing to disclose this information were in some form of rented accommodation, with 36% in local authority housing, 20% in housing association properties, and 17% renting from a private landlord.

In the 2022/23 period, law enforcement agencies documented 145,214 incidents where hate crimes, as identified by central monitoring criteria, were considered a motivating factor. This marks a 5% reduction compared to the statistics from 2021/22. The historical rise in the documentation of hate crimes has been partially linked to improvements in recording practices and an enhanced awareness regarding the importance of reporting such offenses.

Since April 2015, notable increases in hate crimes, particularly those of a racial or religious nature, have been observed during significant events such as the EU referendum, the terrorist attacks in 2017, and the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. Although similar upsurges were seen in the summers before and after these events, the patterns of increase were consistent across both categories of offenses. When looking at data by Police Force Area for 2022/23, the highest incidence rate of hate crimes, considering all types of offenses recorded by the police, was in the West Yorkshire Police Force area, with 441 incidents per 100,000 people. Conversely, Dorset reported the lowest rate, with 103 incidents per 100,000 population.

Individuals who fall victim to hate crimes are significantly more likely to endure emotional and psychological distress than those affected by crimes in general. Specifically, 42% of hate crime victims reported feelings of vulnerability or a loss of confidence, a stark contrast to the 19% among general crime victims. Additionally, nearly 29% of those targeted by hate crimes struggled with sleep disturbances, compared to 13% for all crime victims. Anxiety or panic attacks were reported by 34% of hate crime victims, a figure that more than doubles the 14% reported by victims of other crimes. Moreover, 18% of those subjected to hate crimes faced depression afterward, doubling the rate of 9% seen in victims of all types of crime.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we reflect on the progress and challenges in our fight against racism. While societies have become more aware and legal frameworks have been established, individuals, communities, and groups continue to suffer from injustices and stigma perpetuated by racist ideologies and practices.

The data on hate crimes in England and Wales serve as a reminder that racism is still deeply entrenched, manifesting in violence, harassment, and marginalization. This day is a call to redouble our efforts, challenge and dismantle prejudices that fuel hate, and amplify the voices of the oppressed and marginalized.

Everyone’s encounter with racism is unique, shaped by their circumstances and intersecting identities.

On this day, we must reaffirm our commitment to creating a welcoming and diverse society where individuals of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds can live together harmoniously, free from fear of abuse or harm.

By BURAK BATUHAN KARAKUS

iwd
Articles & StatementsCommitteeWomen’s Rights

Statement on International Women’s Day

We demand an end to the killing of women, especially in Gaza, and to violence against women around the world. The main theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, which emphasises the importance of diversity and empowerment in all areas of society. This also emphasises the vital role of inclusion in achieving gender equality. A key pillar of the theme is the promotion of diversity in leadership and decision-making positions. Women, especially those belonging to underrepresented groups, continue to face barriers when seeking leadership or representation roles. As we mark International Women’s Day 2024, we reaffirm our commitment to building a world where all women are empowered, valued and included in decision-making. By working together to break down barriers and promote diversity, we can build a more equitable and inclusive society for future generations.

However, we regret to remind you that today there is another problem that is much more important than women’s participation in social life: Not being able to keep them alive. Sadly, on 7 October last year, many innocent women were killed in a terrorist attack on Israel by a group affiliated with HAMAS, which rules Gaza. In addition, HAMAS is still holding many hostages, including women. Israel responded to this attack with a very violent war. The Israeli army bombed many civilian centres, including hospitals, and unfortunately more than 9,000 innocent Palestinian women were killed in 5 months. What is more tragic is that the world, states and international organisations have failed to stop this ‘genocide’. ‘Humanity’ should not remain so helpless while women and children are being brutally killed! On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we once again make an urgent appeal to all responsible persons and authorities: Stop this massacre, this ‘genocide’ as soon as possible!

Afghanistan is in the third year of Taliban rule and women’s basic rights are being restricted day by day. Women summarise their situation as “We are alive but not living.” In 2023, the Taliban introduced new restrictions on women and girls. Some of these are as follows: Women and girls are banned from receiving education from the 6th grade onwards, and in some areas they are not allowed to attend any school after the age of 10. Women’s work in national and international NGOs was suspended. Beauty centres were closed and women were banned from using gyms. In addition, women who do not wear the headscarf, as demanded by the Taliban, are arrested. It is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Afghan women and ensure that they regain their basic rights.

In Iran, a new veiling law came into force in 2023, imposing up to 10 years in prison for women who dress ‘indecently’. Tens of thousands of women have had their cars confiscated as punishment for defying this ban. Others have been prosecuted, sentenced to flogging or imprisonment, or faced other penalties such as fines or ‘attending moral classes’. Some have been threatened with death or sexual violence. We demand that the Iranian government respect the rights of women and girls and take immediate action to stop this persecution.

Turkey has not performed well on women’s rights in recent years and the situation has worsened since 2021. Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, which it signed in 2011, by presidential decree in March 2021. This encourages impunity for crimes against women. For example, 334 women were killed by men in 2022, rising to 438 last year. In addition, for the last 10 years the Turkish government has been using ‘anti-terrorism laws’, which are not compatible with the ECHR, to silence dissent in the country. According to official statistics, nearly 100,000 women have been prosecuted under these laws since 2015 and more than 50,000 of them have been arrested. Some of those still in detention have not been released, despite the ECtHR’s ‘violation of rights’ judgement in 2023. Prisons in Turkey are overcrowded and women prisoners are subjected to inhuman treatment, including sexual harassment, strip searches and psychological torture. Sick, pregnant, infant and elderly women continue to be held in prisons in violation of the law. The international community should press the Turkish government to ensure that women and girls from vulnerable populations are provided with the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives.

The ongoing Russian occupation and war in Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on women. According to UN figures, 80 per cent of the approximately 8.5 million displaced Ukrainians are women and girls. These women are often the targets of violence and sexual abuse. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women serve alongside men in the army. Women who are not on the front line are under mental and physical pressure to care for their families and rebuild their lives. We must do everything we can to support women in Ukraine and ensure that their voices are heard.

We should not forget the impact on women of the restrictions on immigration imposed by Western countries. Many women are forced to leave home and family behind in search of a better life, only to face discrimination and hardship in their new countries. We must call on governments to do more to support these women and provide the resources they need to thrive.

On the other hand, the digital divide is greater for women and they are victimised by new forms of online violence and harassment. It is crucial to ensure that these technologies incorporate a human rights-first approach and prioritise the protection of women and girls on their platforms.

In conclusion, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we have to remember that gender equality and women’s participation in decision-making and representation mechanisms is not a privilege but a fundamental human right. We must realise that we cannot achieve equality without eliminating gender-based violence. We must also recognise that no society can reach its full potential if half of its population is left behind.

On this day, we call on governments and other national and international organisations to take immediate action to address the many challenges and injustices faced by women around the world. Only then can we build a more just and equitable world for all.

 

hrd10d
Articles & StatementsBlog

10 December: A day of solidarity with people in the grip of conflict and crisis

 

December 10, Human Rights Day illuminates our identity, reminding us of our shared humanity, responsibilities, and the poetry of existence. In the heart of winter, as we are floating on the misty ocean of our collective consciousness the 10th of December emerges as the poetry of who we are, where we did come from, where we are going.

On this day, as we commemorate and observe Human Rights Day, we understand that when we, as humanity, forget who we are and where we come from, we risk beginning to cease to exist.

We may not see the dreams that cease to exist in the narrow alleys of Gaza, but those dreams become the stars that guide us in the spectacular ocean of our collective consciousness. Even though we do not understand the agony many individuals go through in Ukraine, the nation’s resilience becomes the boat on which we float. The suffering of the Uyghur Turks in China and their plight, marked by violations of fundamental human rights becomes the mist floating on the ocean of our consciousness.

As we mark the 10th of December, this day is a call to action, an invitation to stand in solidarity with those in the throes of conflict and crisis. It is a day to affirm our commitment to the ideals of justice, equality, and dignity for all.

In the heart of winter, December 10th stands as a beacon of hope, a reminder that even in the ongoing passage of time, we can embalm the virtues of human rights into our calendar of wisdom.

Let this day be a day of reflection on who we are, where we came from, where we are going, but also of resolve – a resolve to make the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights not just a poetry, but a reality for every person, in every corner of the world.

If this day does not become a day of resolve and reflection, then we would get lost like a waterdrop in an ocean.

Israeli air strikes hit Hamas targets in Gaza
Articles & Statements

Peace is not a choice; it is the only way out

HRS supports all rights-deprived individuals, condemning terrorism and excessive Israeli actions in Gaza, urging respect for human rights and peace. As Human Rights Solidarity it is our duty to stand in solidarity with all human beings deprived of their rights.
When terrorism hits Israeli civilians, we stand with them.
When Israeli operations in Gaza surpass the limits of self-defense and cause harm to unarmed Palestinian civilians, we stand with the Palestinians.
Occupation may beget terrorism, but both deserve condemnation.
Israel is hijacked by a populist regime.
The Palestinian cause is hijacked by a terrorist organisation.
We implore both sides to respect human rights as enshrined in international conventions.
We implore third parties to help protect Gaza from a looming humanitarian crisis and to help to return kidnapped Israelis to their families.
Peace is not a choice; it is the only way out.
Occupation and terrorism should not be seen as available courses of action, even when no other clear options are seen in the horizon.

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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.

letter-un-turkish- government-repression-citizens-
Articles & StatementsHuman Rights DefendersUnited Nations

Letter to the UN on the Turkish government’s transnational repressions

 

In the letter, we expressed our deep concern to UN officials about escalation of extraterritorial repression by the Turkish government.

 

In recent years, there has been a worrying increase in cases where the Turkish government has targeted its own citizens beyond its borders. This phenomenon, characterised by harassment, intimidation, abduction and even violence against Turkish citizens residing abroad, is a direct violation of fundamental human rights and poses a significant threat to global peace and security.

The consequences of this transnational repression are far-reaching, going beyond the victims to affect the integrity of the international human rights framework. By eroding the principles of asylum, safe haven and protection from persecution, the actions of the Turkish government set a dangerous precedent that threatens the safety of individuals seeking to flee repression around the world.

We are gravely concerned by the atmosphere of fear that the Erdogan regime, further strengthened by the election results, has created against Turkish dissidents living abroad. We have written the following letter to the “Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances” and “UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism” in order to make them aware of the issue and to take the necessary steps.

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Articles & StatementsImmigration Committee

Court of Appeal: Plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is illegal

Court of Appeal, reviewing the Supreme Court’s judgement, ruled that the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was illegal. The UK Court of Appeal has ruled that it is illegal to send illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. Two of the three judges ruled in favour of this, while the other defended the Supreme Court’s ruling that Rwanda is a safe third country.

In December 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda without assessing their asylum applications was lawful.

The Court of Appeal overturned the previous ruling on 29 June, ruling that sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful unless the country’s asylum system was changed, the BBC reported.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented after the judgement: “While I respect the court, I fundamentally disagree with its conclusions. Rwanda is a safe country. The Supreme Court has recognised this. UNHCR has its own refugee plan for Libyan refugees in Rwanda. We will now ask for permission to appeal this decision.”

In the coming process, the ministers are expected to appeal the judgement at the Supreme Court.

In its judgement, the Court of Appeal said there was a “serious risk” that if the asylum seekers were sent to Rwanda, they would be returned to their home country and face persecution and ill-treatment there. Rwanda was thus ruled not to be a safe third country.

Supporters of the appeal against the Supreme Court ruling include the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), human rights lawyers, civil society organisations and a group of asylum seekers.

UNHCR, which attended the hearing, said Rwanda had committed various human rights violations against asylum seekers within its borders. These include forced return to countries where they are at risk, deportation and arbitrary detention.

Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania who crossed the English Channel in small boats from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania were among those who, together with the charity Asylum Aid, appealed the Supreme Court ruling.

Asylum Aid said the latest judgement ‘confirms the rule of law and the importance of justice’. “We are pleased that the court has ruled that the deportation process in Rwanda was unlawful on security grounds,” said Tessa Gregory, partner at law firm Leigh Day, which represented Asylum Aid. The human rights organisation Freedom From Torture called the ruling “a victory for reason and compassion”.

The Rwandan government argued that it was “one of the safest countries in the world” and was known for its “exemplary treatment of refugees”.

The judges who delivered the judgement said they agreed that the Rwandan government had given these assurances ‘in good faith’.