Tag - Letter from the UNSR ( 2 )

News | Letter from the UNSR: Our fight isn’t just about closing space; it’s a ‘struggle for future of democracy’

Feb 10 2017

As my time as Special Rapporteur nears its end, I have been reflecting a great deal on my six years in the position - and just how much the world has changed since the Human Rights Council created my mandate in October 2010. Could anyone have imagined what the years 2011-17 would bring? Back then, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association were somewhat neglected in the pantheon of our most cherished rights - known, but rarely in the headlines. In the years since, they have underpinned some of the most cataclysmic political events of the 21st century: revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere; mass protests that forced out leaders in Ukraine, Guatemala, Iceland, South Korea, Burkina Faso and Brazil; citizen movements in Hong Kong, Bahrain, Malaysia, the United States; and so much more. And remarkably, all of this happened while governments everywhere were embarking upon the most comprehensive rollback of civic freedoms since the end of the Cold War: anti-NGO laws, restrictions on protests, increased militarization of police, and campaigns of violence, intimidation, stigmatization and arrests against activists, just to name a few. As Special Rapporteur, I was lucky enough to have a front row seat as these events unfolded - to witness them, to meet with the people who shaped them,... Continue reading →

News | Letter from the UNSR: Reclaiming our rights in 2016 will require creativity, courage and innovation

Jan 12 2016

There are any number of words that could be used to describe the events of 2015 - inspiring, uplifting, informative, moving, even maddening. But there is one word that cannot be used: satisfying. That is unfortunate, because the year was filled with stirring tales of courage, dedication and passion from activists all over the world: Burundi, the Maldives, Malaysia, Brazil, Bahrain, Venezuela, Russia and more. Some made lonely stands for justice in the face of daunting odds. Others stood shoulder-to-shoulder to demonstrate with tens of thousands of their compatriots. And in a few cases, some of these individuals even spurred rapid, remarkable change – as was the case in Guatemala, where protests played a key role in forcing the President to resign in the face of corruption allegations. The problem is that far too many of these stories had the wrong ending in 2015. One of Burundi’s leading activists, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, narrowly escaped assassination for standing up for his beliefs; his son and son-in-law were not so lucky. Citizens who took to the street calling for an investigation into a US $700 million corruption case against the Malaysian Prime Minister found some of their numbers arrested; yet no one implicated in the scandal has been charged. In Russia, an opposition activist was... Continue reading →