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:
Our free basketball school we organised with the aim of making the lives of immigrant and refugee youth easier begins. The basketball school, which we initiated in order to facilitate the lives of migrant and refugee youth and contribute to their adaptation to the country, is starting. ‘Hoops for Hope: Empowering Refugee and Immigrant Youth Through Basketball’, we will provide basketball courses to 100 immigrant youth living in London for 10 months.
The project will start in July 2023 and end in May 2024, during which time participating young people will receive basketball training at least twice a month. 2-day basketball camp will be organised during the Human Rights week in December. All trainees will be offered meals on training days. In addition, travelling expenses and sportswear will be provided for a certain number of students who cannot afford it.
Hoops for Hope: Empowering Refugee and Immigrant Youth Through Basketball is a new project aimed at supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged youth immigrants living in Greater London. Our focus is on providing basketball sessions that will help them to overcome barriers to accessing relevant services, reducing social isolation, and improving their physical and mental well-being.
We have extensive experience working with immigrant communities and have observed that many youth immigrants are struggling with a lack of social interaction and sports activities, resulting in social isolation and health problems. Many of them are also facing financial constraints or a lack of connection with their community, which limits their ability to access relevant services and opportunities.
We have been helping vulnerable and poor asylum seekers and immigrants who contacted us to seek help upon their advocacy, community and social needs, and legal process. We observe that many immigrant youth are struggling with a lack of social interaction and sports activities. As a result, many are experiencing social isolation and health problems. We are receiving inquiries from their parents who would like to have opportunities for engaging in social activities such as sports and social gathering.
The project will run for 10 months starting in July 2023 and will consist of supervised basketball sessions and two intensive basketball camps during refugee and human rights weeks. Our focus is on serving youth immigrants from Greater London, especially those living in highly populated, diverse, deprived, and multi-religious parts of Enfield, Westminster, Haringey, Harrow, Barnet, and Brent.
The beneficiaries of our project will be youth immigrants who are facing social and economic challenges, including a lack of access to relevant services and opportunities for social interaction and sports activities. By participating in our basketball sessions, these youth immigrants will have the opportunity to improve their physical and mental well-being, make friends, and become more engaged with their local community.
The impact of our project will be significant, as it will help to reduce existing structural inequalities and future social issues for immigrant communities. By providing a safe and supportive environment for youth immigrants to participate in basketball, we aim to improve their self-esteem, confidence, and social skills, which will have positive ripple effects in their personal and professional lives.
Through this project, we also aim to promote social inclusion and foster a sense of community among youth immigrants living in Greater London. By connecting them with each other and with local resources, we hope to help them feel more integrated and supported, thus contributing to a more cohesive and resilient society.
Project Registration: “Hoops for Hope: Empowering Immigrant Youth Through Basketball
The final report of Baroness Casey’s investigation into the London Police Department (Met) was made public in late March.
Commissioned by Mayor Sadiq Khan in response to the murder of Sarah Everard, the report reveals disturbing findings about the culture and practices of the Metropolitan Police.
The review found a culture of sexism and harassment within the Met, and many female officers and staff reported their experiences of harassment and sexism. These behaviours were often ignored or rejected by senior leadership, creating a toxic environment for women in power. The report also highlighted insufficient education on gender and race issues; many officials and staff did not have sufficient knowledge of how to handle cases involving women and minority groups. This has led to bias and discrimination in the handling of cases.
Additionally, the report noted a lack of diversity in leadership within the force, with senior leadership being predominantly white and male. This led to a lack of diversity in decision-making and policy development, which further perpetuated biases and discrimination within the force.
To address these issues, the report made several recommendations. One of the key recommendations was a cultural overhaul, with the men’s club needing to develop a comprehensive plan to address the sexist and discriminatory culture within the club. The report also recommended better training for members on issues of gender and race, with mandatory training required for promotion and advancement within the club. The report called for a more efficient and transparent disciplinary process, with stricter penalties for members found guilty of misconduct. Finally, the report recommended that the club take active steps to recruit and promote more women and minority members into leadership positions.
In conclusion, the final report of Baroness Casey’s review paints a concerning picture of a men’s club in need of significant reform. However, the report’s recommendations provide a clear roadmap for how the club can begin to address these issues and create a more equitable and just institution. We must work together to dismantle the exclusive culture of the men’s club and create a more inclusive environment for all members.
Women volunteers of HRS participated in the Million Women Rise (MWR) March on the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD). The action in London took place on Saturday, March 4th, to increase participation. The participants protested against the violence against women and the pushbacks during the march, which started at Duke Street and ended at Trafalgar Square. HRS participated in the march with the concept of a refugee boat and two female mannequins symbolising a refugee woman and her daughter. The concept underlined the fact that women and girls are traumatically affected by pushback incidents even more so than men.
HRS’s concept was a response to a most recent shipwreck, which ended with the drowning of 62 refugees, 12 of them children, on a boat that sailed from Turkey toward the European Union. Refugee boats leaving Turkey often face pushback by Greek authorities. Since 2021 252 people have died as a direct result of pushback policies. 126 of these deaths took place on the Turkish Greek border. Reports suggest that more than 17.000 people died en route and within Europe between 2014 and 2021 while trying to reach their final destinations in a European country. “Pushbacks are not only causing deaths but also creating a political culture that normalises the use of force against asylum seekers and leaving them to die in unsafe waters. These policies will not diminish the number of refugees. They will only force the refugee waves to change form. The next generation will face climate migration on a much larger scale. Governments should stop pushback policies once and for all and see through that the responsible are held accountable,” said Merve Aslangoren, the Chairperson of HRS.
HRS is a registered charity operating in London and has been participating in the Million Women Rise marches for the third time this year. HRS promotes human rights with a particular stress on refugee rights and the rights of the future generations.
While the British government was planning to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, we organised a travelling exhibition at the famous London landmarks to remind the public of the difficulties refugees face on World Refugee Day, on the 20th of June.
While the decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was an extensive discussion in the British Parliament, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, on the 20th of June, we organised an exhibition known as the ‘Exhibition in Exile’ of cartoons drawn by world-renowned artists to draw attention to refugee problems. It was a travelling exhibition at famous London landmarks to remind the public of the difficulties refugees face.
The exhibition hosted a selection of the 120 best cartoons selected initially from among 1,200 submissions to a global cartoon contest organised by KYM (Kimse Yok Mu) in 2016. In addition to these cartoons, the cartoon was carried by 25 volunteers, most of whom were also refugees, with successful refugee stories to raise awareness. We moved the cartoon through the British Parliament, Parliament Square, Victoria Tower Garden, and Westminster Bridge.
One of the cartoons in the exhibition was by Oleksiy Kustovski that describes how refugees travel thousands of miles alone, carrying their whole lives in a small suitcase. It is sometimes a mother and child, sometimes an unaccompanied child or family, who are fleeing to safety from the dangers of their birth country.
Xavier Bonilla drew the lives lost at sea while fleeing to safety. People are desperately getting into the dangerous waters despite not knowing how to swim, and sometimes the weather conditions or pushbacks don’t let them continue their journey. Only a small number of people survive in a sinking dinghy.
When we told the people who viewed the exhibition what difficulties a refugee went through, we immediately met with their support and their interest became an absolute source of motivation for our new projects.
This August, me and my activist friends found each other in a state of despair and overwhelmed by the events happening throughout the year. It wasn’t only a disgraceful year for our government, which would send asylum seekers to Rwanda if they had not been stopped by activists, lawyers and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). But also for British law and human rights. Also, as immigrants who have faced injustices by the state and knew what it was like to be alienated and discriminated between our communities, we knew we could never stay silent to another person facing the same thing. And we decided it was time to take action.
We stood in Trafalgar square with our “Justice Wall”, a 1.8-meter tall wall made out of fabric, where we promote free speech and demand all human rights. This time our Justice Wall was themed after asylum seekers and refugees still facing discrimination by our Home Office and Government. We aimed not only to demand their justice but also to deliver messages of support and solidarity to them. Central London, especially Trafalgar square, which is located near Soho and Westminster, was the perfect location.
We had children coming up to our wall and leaving welcoming messages for asylum seekers, toddlers drawing hearts and people hand to hand (which was my absolute favourite part of this project), tourists leaving messages of solidarity in their own languages, and many supportive messages such as “Do not dare give up” and “You are loved, and welcomed”.
This project might not sound like a very big deal at first, but for me, it was London and the people of London showing their true faces. It was London telling us that, despite its government, we are welcome, and If there we were in a place of danger and discrimination, the people of London would not stay silent and stand up for us. An act of solidarity on its own.
Injustices may rise, but we will not prevail. The names of those who do injustice will be forgotten, but our strength and solidarity will always be remembered. So will we 🙂
We are once again in front of the Turkish Embassy in London!
We would love to have come here for celebration of Turkey’s EU membership, or of an international success of a Turkish team. But we are here for a reason that shames us all: We are here to protest the human rights violations the Turkish regime has been perpetuating.
We are here to protect the most basic human rights of living free lives, freedom of travelling and the right to have a fair trial.
Today is the anniversary of enforced disappearance of Educationist Orhan Inandi.
On this day last year, Orhan Inandi was forced to get off his car and was forcefully dragged to a van. His wife Reydan Inandi alarmed the world.
Orhan Inandi’s students and many Kyrgyz citisens called for a stop to his possible extradition to Turkey. Believing that he was kept at the Turkish Embassy in Bishkek, many camped around the embassy, protesting and demanding his immediate release.
Some of you were with us in protesting exactly here, in front of the Turkish Embassy.
For more than a month neither the Kyrgyz nor the Turkish authorities said anything about whereabouts of Orhan Inandi despite all calls from the United Nations.
Only after 37 days, the Turkish President stated that the Turkish intelligence had brought him to Turkey.
The Kyrgyz Government, which had previously awarded Inandi with a medal of honour was also complicit in this crime.
Orhan Inandi was tortured. He was forced to become an informer. He declined. His right hand was kept in strappado. He has been in jail for a year now and his right hand is still not fully cured.
Turkey’s Erdogan Regime has already become a mafia regime.
Every other day we hear another story of torture coming from Turkey.
This government kidnapped more than 100 educationists from around the world.
More than that number have forcefully disappeared within Turkey.
Sunay Elmas, Ayhan Oran, Yusuf Bilge Tunc, Gulistan Doku, Hurmuz Diril, Mehmet Bal…
These are only a few of the people who has gone missing for months and even years.
The Turkish Government is doing nothing to find them.
Because the perpetrator is the government.
In Turkey pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, ill and elderly people are arrested every other day.
Innocent girls are tortured under the pretext of investigation.
None of these are acceptable.
We reject all of these illegalities.
Turkish courts are not upholding the country’s laws, constitution and international obligations.
Erdogan has openly declared that he does not recognize the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
In fact, the European Courts decisions on Selahattin Demirtas and Osman Kavala have not been implemented.
How? And why the democratic word does not do anything to stop this?
The compromises given to the dicta regime in Ankara invites for more illegalities.
Today, this regime is asking for extradition of journalists and academics who have sought asylum in Sweden and Finland in return for unblocking these countries’ NATO membership.
Europe: Erdogan takes this courage from the concessions you gave to him as the guardian of Europe’s borders against immigrants.
Our governments are complicit in Erdogan regime’s crimes.
You cannot become truly democratic in London while blinding yourself to the human rights violations in Turkey.
We are a bunch of people here in front of the Turkish embassy – what we are doing is in fact the responsibility of all human rights organizations, of all democratic institutions of the world.
We are asking immediate release of Orhan Inandi and all other victims of enforced disappearances all around the world.
We are asking information on the whereabouts of other missing people who have gone missing while under state custody.
We support the basic human right of living free from arbitrary detention and unnecessary state intervention into one’s life.
We support the right to a fair trial for Orhan Inandi and for all other inmates in Turkish prisons.
Thank you very much for being with us and supporting this cause today.
This year’s Million Women Rise march, themed against male violence was on the 5th of March. Exactly a year after the violent murder of Sarah Everard. The march started in front of the Charing Cross police station and ended in front of the New Scotland Yard. These locations were crucial to the protest, because as Sabrina Qureshi, the founder of Million Women Rise, said, despite the fact that we pay for the police to keep us safe and protect us, there are still to this day, multiple incidents of the police violence against women. The police continues on to ignore occasions of abuse of women. In short, the police keeps failing women.
Male violence cases have been surging since the start of the pandemic, and despite all attempts to improve the system, few women can find a remedy in it.
As the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of Human Rights Society we decided to place a male embodiment of all news coverages of violence against women inside a cage. This was symbolising both the source of violence against women, and the kind of freedom we women would enjoy had this source been neutralized.
The male mannequin character had newspaper clippings covering male violence cases such as “I killed 17 women” and “Violent ex stalked women” around his body. This physical demonstration was one of the highlights of the whole march and got a lot of attention from many media outlets such as the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent.
This was our turn to say “Stop!” This was our turn to ask for justice, to claim back our long lost safety, right in front of those who deny us from it.
We asked them to “Stop the violence!” and “Stop the rape!”
Because women have had enough; because there will be no peace if no justice is delivered.
It was a cold Saturday in London indeed. We raised our banners up to the sky under 4 degrees Celsius, while our hands and legs were shivering. We embraced each other in order to keep warm; in order to keep safe.
The march ended with a rally in front of New Scotland Yard. Speakers and campaigners stood up against male violence and highlighted how racism, xenophobia and homophobia were the main causes of police brutality against women. The campaigners highlighted that “Enough is Enough” and women will not tolerate any more violence against themselves.
I was very honoured to be able to recite my poem “On Womanhood” during the rally. I expressed my worries on how while “boys will be boys, girls never get to be girls”. It was a moving experience for me to have amazing, inspiring and shivering women listen to me and support me by their ovations. I also received a few hugs from strangers by the end of my performance. It was truly an unforgettable moment.
With these feelings still warm and alive in my heart, I leave you with the poem:
To be born into womanhood is to be born neck-deep into guilt.
It means to be a house haunted by shame.
It means to be a daughter, a mother and a sister – before a person, because boys won’t care unless you compare them to their birth givers.
It’s getting your screams and cries ignored, it’s getting your right to justice avoided – Because women bleeding doesn’t bother men unless it’s from periods.
To be a woman is to grow up earlier than boys, It’s getting told what girls do and don’t.
It’s being so aware that you are a girl, you forget you’re human.
It’s having to accept when your mother says “boys will be boys, that’s what they do”,
Is that what boys will be? Will boys be boys?
Will boys be rapists? Murderers?
Will boys be abusers and predators?
Boys will be boys.
Boys will be boys, and girls will never forget to look behind themselves when they’re alone at night. girls will be girls instead of women, because even that is too much for a boy to grasp. a woman becomes a girl when her hands bleed from clutching her keys too tight.
a woman becomes a girl in a boy’s eyes.
Boys will be boys. But, will girls be girls? Will girls be alive?
Girls never get to be girls, women never get to be women.
And today we will stand and scream and make noise, for those who never got the chance to have a voice.
We’ll stand for the women in war. We’ll stand for the women of Ukraine, For the women of Palestine, the women of Syria, the women of Sudan!
For the women unlawfully detained!
Raise your voice for the Uyghur women of China getting ethnically cleansed!
For the women of Iran, the women of India, the women of Africa!
For the women whose rights are ignored!
Raise your voices for the women of Pakistan, the women of Spain and Brazil!
The women of the United Kingdom who were killed by the police!
For the women whose justice was never offered!
Raise your voices for the women who lost their lives to violence.!
For the women who never got their respects paid!
Let us all rise for our sisters all around the world! Let us ask for justice!
Four years have passed over the thwarted coup attempt of July 2016 in Turkey. The world is yet to hear a convincing and consistent statement of what happened that night, and who should be held accountable for the deaths of hundreds. A clarification is not provided, neither by the accusers, nor by the accused. In the meantime, half a million people continue to suffer from the ensuing persecution of dissent.