January 2018

Dos de cada tres activistas asesinados el año pasado eran latinoamericanos

Source El País

Author: Felipe Sánchez

Al menos 212 defensores de derechos humanos fueron asesinados el año pasado en América Latina, según un informe de la ONG Front Line Defenders, con sede en Dublín (Irlanda). El documento, difundido a principios de mes y presentado la semana pasada en castellano, señala que la mayoría de crímenes en la región corresponde a Colombia y Brasil, que juntos registran 156 víctimas (73,5%). La suma de este tipo de asesinatos en el continente representa más de dos tercios del total mundial registrado por la organización internacional (312).

Una protesta contra la visita de Judith Butler en São Paulo, el 7 de noviembre.
Una protesta contra la visita de Judith Butler en São Paulo, el 7 de noviembre. N. ALMEIDA AFP-GETTY

La particularidad del caso colombiano está en que mientras la guerrilla de las FARC entregó las armas el año anterior como parte de los acuerdos de paz con el Gobierno de Juan Manuel Santos, las bandas criminales y paramilitares se han desplegado para perseguir y asesinar a líderes sociales, principalmente en las regiones en las que operaba el grupo. Naciones Unidas registra hasta el pasado 20 de diciembre 105 asesinatos de defensores de los derechos humanos en el país sudamericano; el 59% de estos perpetrados por sicarios.

“La violencia contra los defensores de derechos humanos se intensificó a la par de las crisis políticas y económicas en Venezuela, Brasil, Guatemala, Paraguay, Honduras y Argentina”, remarca el informe de Front Line Defenders, que cuenta con la ayuda de una red de organizaciones sobre el terreno para recolectar los datos de cada país.

Venezuela es el caso más emblemático entre los enumerados por la organización. El país sudamericano vivió una ola de protestas entre abril y julio contra los ataques del régimen al Parlamento, de mayoría opositora, en la que hubo más de 120 muertos, según la Fiscalía. La ofensiva antidemocrática del régimen de Nicolás Maduro desembocó en el establecimiento, en agosto, de una Asamblea Constituyente conformada únicamente por el chavismo que usurpó las funciones del Parlamento opositor.

“En Brasil se produjo un aumento de la violencia y de la participación [en esta] de las fuerzas de seguridad del Estado”, afirma el documento sobre el segundo país con el mayor número de asesinatos en la región junto a Colombia. “En mayo, 10 defensores pacíficos del derecho a la tierra fueron abatidos a tiros por la policía en Pau-d’Arco [Estado de Pará, en la región amazónica]. Seis semanas después, un testigo de la masacre que se había escondido también fue asesinado”, agrega el texto, que apunta a los activistas en favor de los pueblos indígenas y la defensa de la tierra como las principales víctimas del país.

Ola ultraconservadora

El informe alerta, sin embargo: “La violencia […] se ha extendido a otros sectores e incluye ataques en áreas urbanas, por ejemplo, contra defensores de derechos humanos que trabajan en las favelas de Río de Janeiro o grupos LGBTI en Curitiba”.

Con respecto a este último punto, el diagnóstico de la ONG coincide con el ascenso de una ola ultraconservadora en el gigante sudamericano que incluye intentos de agresión contra la filósofa feminista estadounidense Judith Butler o el boicot de una exposición artística sobre género y diversidad sexual en un museo de Porto Alegre.

Front Line Defenders también llama la atención sobre el caso de México, que a pocos días del fin de 2017 amenazaba con cerrar su año más violento en dos décadas. “El 2017 también fue testigo del mayor número de asesinatos de activistas ambientales y periodistas registrados en [el país] en los últimos años”, subraya el informe. Y agrega: “La aprobación en diciembre de una nueva Ley de Seguridad Interior que permite la intervención de las fuerzas armadas en asuntos de seguridad pública es particularmente preocupante por la ambigüedad de la redacción, su probable implementación arbitraria y sus posibles efectos negativos en la protesta social”.

La región más peligrosa del mundo

Asesinatos. 212 defensores de derechos humanos fueron asesinados en 2017 en Latinoamérica, el 67,9% del total global (312), según la ONG Front Line Defenders.

Colombia. Este es el país con el mayor número de víctimas; registraba hasta el pasado 20 de diciembre 105 asesinatos de activistas, según el recuento de las Naciones Unidas.

Disminución. La cifra de 2017 es levemente menor a la de 2016, cuando la organización registró 217 crímenes de este tipo en la región (77,2% de la cifra mundial, 281 asesinatos).

Distribución. En 2016, el número de asesinatos de activistas se repartió así: Colombia (85), Brasil (58), Honduras (33), México (26), Guatemala (12), El Salvador (1), Peru (1) y Venezuela (1).

Guatemala: UDEFEGUA denuncia los procesos de criminalización de los/las defensores/as de derechos humanos

“Desde el 2004 hemos intentado mantener un registro de un fenómeno que no se acota en el espacio y en el tiempo sino que permanece como una agresión constante similar a la de la desaparición forzada”. Source: La Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos

 

UDEFEGUA empezó a denunciar los procesos de criminalización a partir del año 2004, cuando el fenómeno que estaba, previamente, asociado con el abuso del delito de Usurpación Agravada en contra del movimiento campesino tiene un cambio substantivo tanto en sus modalidades como en el objetivo de su actuar.

Entre el 2004-2005 empieza a emerger de nuevo la figura penal de terrorismo y asociación ilícita tanto en las denuncias judiciales no fundamentadas como en las acciones públicas de difamación. Eso destapa una nueva dinámica de criminalización que se extiende como un cáncer a toda expresión de defensa de derechos humanos y libertades fundamentales. En los últimos años, la denuncia permanente de diversos movimientos sociales, organizaciones y defensores/as de derechos humanos ha permeado tanto las actividades nacionales e internacionales de denuncia de la situación guatemalteca.

La criminalización ha retado también a UDEFEGUA no sólo como víctima del proceso sino como organización que atiende a personas y organizaciones criminalizadas. Desde el 2004 a la fecha hemos intentado mantener un registro de un fenómeno que no se acota en el espacio y en el tiempo sino que permanece como una agresión constante similar a la de la desaparición forzada.

Asimismo, hemos tratado de denunciar los mecanismos pseudo – legales utilizados para mantener a una persona en proceso penal de forma indefinida. Hemos visto como el fenómeno no se detiene con la denuncia, sino muchas veces se profundiza como es el caso de los policías que denuncian penalmente a la ciudadanía antes de que estos, en acciones valerosas, puedan denunciar los vejámenes en su contra.

De esa cuenta, cuando observamos en las audiencias públicas de la Comisión Interamericana que los números de defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos criminalizados variaban mucho entre los denunciantes y que el estatus del criminalizado era poco claro, decidimos realizar una sistematización y actualización de los casos denunciados ante UDEFEGUA entre el año 2012 al 2017.

La sistematización genera un número alarmante de personas criminalizadas pero también vuelve a arrojarnos la dificultad que existe para actualizar la situación legal de las personas. A diferencia de otras sistematizaciones, la impunidad en torno a la criminalización se empieza a romper con algunas sentencias o decisiones judiciales que absuelven a los defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos. Sin embargo, a pesar de la claridad de los tribunales y juzgados de llamar a que se detenga la práctica, encontramos que el Ministerio Público sigue utilizando esa herramienta y una buena parte de Jueces siguen privilegiándola como respuesta ante la defensa de derechos humanos.

Un caso paradigmático es el de Abelino Chub Caal quien fuera acusado por hechos ocurridos en una comunidad cuando él no se encontraba en el lugar y que fuera individualizado por su labor de mediación en varios conflictos territoriales en El Estor, Izabal. La acción fiscal y judicial inicial le colocan en prisión preventiva y con un proceso de investigación abierto en su contra. La Fiscalía General interviene para garantizar una investigación imparcial a través del cambio de fiscalía que conoce el caso. La investigación establece, al momento de la acusación, que no hay hechos que incriminen al defensor en delito alguno. El juez decide no aceptar la posición fiscal y ordena ampliación de investigación y sostiene la prisión preventiva bajo el argumento de que así se evita que belino Chub ‘organice más invasiones a fincas’. La ruptura de la imparcialidad del juez permite el traslado del caso a otro juzgado; sin embargo, el tiempo pasa y Abelino sigue preso.

La sistematización arroja que situaciones similares han sido enfrentadas por varios defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos mientras purgan prisión preventiva; y, en su mayoría, es la situación que enfrentan la mayor parte de denunciados como consecuencia de su labor como defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos.

Philippines: Probe concludes killing of Mindanao tribesmen was massacre

Human rights activists protest the killing of tribal people in Mindanao during a demonstration in Manila. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Source UCA News

Bong Sarmiento, Koronadal
Philippines

Gunfire during which eight people were slain only came from troops, investigation by church, rights groups claims

Eight tribal people, who reportedly died in an armed clash with Philippine troops in Mindanao last month, were killed in a massacre, according to an independent investigation conducted by the Philippine church and human rights groups.

In its report, the fact-finding mission rejected claims made by the military that the victims were communist guerrillas who died after an armed encounter with troops near Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato province on Dec. 3.

Dr. Benito Molino, a forensic expert who was part of the investigation, said at least 300 empty and live shells from M14 and M16 rifles were recovered from various sites where soldiers apparently fired their weapons.

“Based on physical evidence … it appears that there was no clash,” said Molino.

Lita Wali, sister of slain tribal leader Victor Danyan, said all the gunfire came from the soldiers. “We heard gunshots and my brother rushed out to see what’s happening,” she told members of the fact-finding team.

“He was gunned down. There was no exchange of gunfire,” said Wali. She admitted, however, that her brother was carrying a homemade gun.

Sister Susan Bolanio, executive director of the Oblates of Notre Dame’s Hesed Foundation, said Danyan was the target of the attack for being vocal in a tribal people’s claim over a contested piece of land.

“He was deliberately targeted to silence dissent in the area,” said the nun whose foundation has helped organize local tribal communities against mining and logging incursions into tribal lands.

Danyan was chairman Tamasco, a tribal group formed in 2006 to reclaim 1,700-hectares of ancestral land that was planted with coffee by an agri-industrial company.

The organization was also protesting the entry of coal mining operations on their ancestral land.

Aside from Danyan, his sons Artemio and Victor, son-in-law Pato Ceraldo, and his neighbors in Datal Bonlangon Samuel Angkoy, Mating Balabagan-Bantal, Toto Diamante, and Toto Danyan were also killed.

The villagers have since fled to nearby areas.

“We will continue the fight to reclaim our ancestral land even with the death of my father,” said Danyan’s daughter, Tarcela, who was also the wife of Pato Ceraldo. “Right now, we want justice for all the victims,” she added.

The military, however, claimed that the Dec. 3 encounter resulted in the taking over of the “largest [communist] guerrilla base” in the area.

Military spokesman Captain Arvin Encinas, said a firefight erupted around noon of Dec. 3 when communist fighters opened fire on patrolling soldiers near a “terrorist cave hideout” in the village of Datal Bonlangon.

The firefight also resulted in the wounding of five tribesmen, including an eight-year-old child, and the displacement of at least 200 villagers.

Members of the independent fact-finding mission have issued a statement calling on the Philippine government to conduct a thorough probe into the incident and for the military to withdraw troops in the area.

 

 

More than 300 Activists Murdered in 2017: Front Line Defenders Launches Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders At Risk

Press Release

  • More than 300 Activists Murdered in 2017: Front Line Defenders Launches Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders At Risk
  • Más de 300 activistas asesinados en 2017: Front Line Defenders lanza un informe anual sobre los defensores de los derechos humanos en riesgo
  • Mais de 300 ativistas assassinados em 2017: Front Line Defenders lança relatório anual sobre defensores de direitos humanos em risco

Cover - 2017 Annual Report

Dedicated to the more than 300 human rights defenders murdered this year, the Front Line Defenders Annual Report on Human Rights Defenders At Risk opens with two pages listing the names of the deceased. Launched today in Dublin, the report details the physical attacks, threats, judicial harassment, and smear campaigns used by state, non-state, and corporate actors to hinder the work of peaceful human rights defenders (HRDs) around the world.

In 2017, 312 defenders in 27 countries were killed for their peaceful work, according to data collected by Front Line Defenders. More than two-thirds of these, 67% of the total number of activists killed, were defending land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights, nearly always in the context of mega projects, extractive industry and big business.

Of the cases tracked, only 12% of all murder cases resulted in the arrest of suspects. Impunity for acts of violence against HRDs continues to enable an environment of frequent killings, said the organisation, as does a chronic lack of protection for HRDs at risk. Of the cases for which data on threats was collected, 84% of murdered defenders received at least one targeted death threat prior to their killing.

“Around the world, defenders continue to tell us that police and government officials refuse to respond to requests for protection following death threats to activists,” said Executive Director Anderson, speaking at the launch of the report in Dublin. “Killings almost always occur following a series or pattern of threats, indicating that if preventive action were taken by police, and threats against defenders were taken seriously by authorities, HRD killings could be drastically reduced.” – Executive Director Andrew Anderson

In addition to the high rate of murders in 2017, criminalisation remained the most common strategy used to hinder the critical work of HRDs. In 2017, thousands of activists were detained on fabricated charges, subjected to lengthy, expensive and unfair legal processes or sentenced to long prison terms.

In a number of countries, authorities accused HRDs of “waging war against the state” and “secession,” charges which carry the death penalty. In the Middle East and North Africa, HRDs faced charges relating to terrorism, state security and espionage. In Vietnam, the government staged a systematic campaign against bloggers, academics and citizen journalists in 2017, with activists arrested, charged, labeled “enemies of the state” and given jail terms of up to ten years and addiiton time under house arrest.

The report also highlights that international pressure on governments who target HRDs is critical. In 2017, six HRDs in Sudan were detaiend and put on trial for “conspiracy to conduct espionage and intelligence activities in favour of foreign embassies” and “waging war against the state.” Three of them were detained for almost a year; two were tortured. Following an extensive campaign of domestic and international pressure, however, all six received a presidential pardon in August.

In many cases reported by Front Line Defenders, both judicial harassment and physical attacks were preceded by defamation and smear campaigns at the local level. Women human rights defenders around the world are increasingly reporting hyper-sexualized smear campaigns and defamation, which aim to limit their activism by eroding local support networks.

In response, according to Executive Direction Andrew Anderson, Front Line Defenders is working to promote HRD security with a range of protection programming. In addition to risk management and digital protection trainings, advocacy at the national, international, and EU level, emergency relocation, and nearly 500 protection grants provided to activists at risk in 2017, Front Line Defenders also works with HRDs to devise visibility campaigns to counteract the defamation and smear campaigns that put them at risk.

For more information or to speak with Front Line Defenders, please contact:
Erin Kilbride
erin@frontlinedefenders.org
+353 85 863 3655

Russia: Historian Arseny Roginsky who recovered the names of the millions executed under Stalin and others, has died aged 71

Source: The Guardian

The Russian

The Russian historian Arseny Roginsky, who has died aged 71, made it his mission to record and recover the names of the millions who had been imprisoned or executed under Joseph Stalin and subsequent Soviet leaders. In 1988 he helped to found Memorial, one of the first independent human rights organisations allowed to be established after Mikhail Gorbachev started to liberalise Soviet politics.

A soft-spoken scholar of great intellectual courage, Roginsky argued that remembering the past with empathy and accuracy was crucial to the construction of a civilised society. It was not enough to build monuments. Every persecuted individual’s fate had to be discovered and made known.

The impetus for his life’s work came partly from his own family history. Roginsky’s father, Boris, an electrical engineer and Talmudic scholar from Leningrad, was twice arrested and sent to labour camps. On his first release he was confined to internal exile in the remote northern village of Velsk in the Archangel region, where his son Arseny was born.

Re-arrested, Boris Roginsky died in detention in 1951 but it was not until 1955, when Arseny was nine, that his mother was informed her husband was dead, allegedly of a heart attack. For four years she had continued to send him food parcels without being told it was a waste of time and resources.

Arseny studied at the University of Tartu in what was then the Soviet republic of Estonia. He graduated from the history and philology faculty in 1968, the year in which Soviet tanks and troops invaded Czechoslovakia to crush a movement trying to reform communism. It was a formative experience which also radicalised several intellectuals who later became Gorbachev’s leading advisers. One of Roginsky’s classmates was the poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya, who was arrested for demonstrating in Red Square against the invasion.

Roginsky described himself later as a child of 1968. Less provocatively than Gorbanevskaya, but equally bravely, he moved to Leningrad and started interviewing survivors of the labour camps and creating an archive on the pattern of what the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was doing separately for his book The Gulag Archipelago. Roginsky’s official jobs were as a bibliographer at Leningrad’s main public library and a teacher of Russian language and literature in evening schools. In his spare time he founded an underground group called Memory (Pamyat), and from 1975 to 1981 edited its collections of historical works. They were circulated privately and illegally in what was known as samizdat (self-publishing), and from 1978 they were smuggled out of the Soviet Union and published abroad.

The KGB searched Roginsky’s flat in February 1977 and again in March 1979. Although they found nothing, he was fired from the evening school where he taught. Two years later he was offered the choice of forced emigration or detention. He chose the latter and was sentenced to four years in camps for “the production and sale of forged documents”, and “for transferring materials abroad to anti-Soviet publications”.

On release he found himself swept up in the liberalisation of the media and the lifting of censorship – glasnost – ordered by Gorbachev. A longtime admirer of Russian radicals from the 19th and early 20th century, such as the People’s Will movement and the largely rural Socialist Revolutionaries, Roginsky compiled a book in 1989 called Memories of Peasant Tolstoyans, the 1910s-1930s.

As glasnost accelerated, his academic work soon took a back seat to public organising. Roginsky joined with friends, including the physicist Andrei Sakharov, in creating Memorial, known officially as the Historical and Educational, Human Rights and Humanitarian Society, Memorial. From 1998 he was chairman of its board. Memorial had many achievements. Apart from getting a monument to repressed Soviet citizens erected near the KGB’s headquarters in Lubyanka square in 1991 (a massive piece of stone from the Solovetsky islands, where several camps used to be located), Memorial helped to discover numerous sites of mass graves of repressed citizens in and around Moscow and other cities. But its wish for the state to create a publicly funded library and archive of repression and government-sponsored crimes has never been fulfilled.

Under Vladimir Putin’s more authoritarian leadership, several Memorial branches in different Russian cities were raided and the organisation was forced to register as a “foreign agent” in 2014 because it received funds from abroad – a step described by Roginsky as a “huge blow”. But, in a sign of the complexity of current Russian politics, Roginsky took a seat on the presidential commission overseeing the building of the Wall of Sorrow, a massive monument to victims of Soviet repression. Putin unveiled it in October. Although some human rights activists called Putin hypocritical and sneered at the project, Roginsky welcomed it. “A monument on behalf of the state is necessary because the state must clearly say terror is a crime,” he told a Russian news website.

Taken ill a year ago, Roginsky moved to Tel Aviv for cancer treatment, and retreated from public activity.

He is survived by his second wife, Yekaterina, and their son, Aleksandr, and two children, Boris and Asya, from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

All his life Arseny Roginsky worked relentlessly to preserve the memory of victims of political terror in the Soviet Union. One of his last projects called “the last address” consisted in putting memorial signs on buildings in Russian cities indicating the names and personal information of persons who had been living there and who were arrested before disappearing in Soviet camps.

Front Line Defenders would like to convey its sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Arseny Roginsky.

Arseny Borisovich Roginsky, historian and human rights campaigner, born 30 March 1946; died 18 December 2017

You can read the original article here