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Front Line Defenders Andrew Anderson reflects on the outcome of the elections. "Given the controversy in Kenya about foreign commentators' distorted versions of the elections it is with some trepidation that I write down some reflections as a "mzungu" who flew in for only a few days".
Front Line Defenders is currently undertaking a Cycle For Protection speaking tour of Ireland. With a team of 20 cyclists Front Line Defenders founder and Executive Director Mary Lawlor is leading the intrepid team from Dublin to Kilkenny to Carlow to Cork to Limerick and now Galway.
Mary is joined by Olga Sadovskaya from the Nizny Novgorod Committee Against Torture and Farai Maguwu from the Centre for Research and Documentation in Zimbabwe where he works documenting the horrific human rights abuses in the diamond fields of Marange.
Farai and Olga will be speaking at public meetings to raise awareness of the human rights situation in their respective countries.
Today in Galway - 3pm in the Human Rights Centre of UCG and tomorow at 12.00pm in the Earl of Rosse Theatre in Athlone IT - I hope you will be able to join us.
I spent yesterday travelling with Farai from Cork to Galway and as we drove along through the Irish countryside a tale of incredible courage and terrible violence unfolded.
Two years ago Farai had travelled to Europe to speak to the European Parliament about the rapes and killings perpetrated by the army in the diamond fields.
Adam Shapiro reports from Kyrgyzstan where he met Kahdija Askarov wife of jailed human rights defender Azimjan Askarov.
Khadija Askarov lives in her and her husband’s home in Bazaar Korgon, in an area of town devastated during the inter-ethnic clashes in 2010. The town, and parts of towns all over southern Krygyzstan, is still being rebuilt with some help from UNHCR, but mostly from efforts within the Uzbek community.
Honduras: El Servicio de Seguridad Nacional no pueden acudir a una reunion por no tener gasolina en su coche
Defensor de derechos humanos LGBT Donny Reyes habla aquí de lo sucedido cuando un pistolero intentó assassinarlo cuando caminaba en coche hacia su trabajo en Tegucigalpa, Honduras. La Unidad de Derechos Humanos del Servicio Nacional de Seguridad no pudieron asistir a la reunión prevista para el día siguiente por no tener gasolina en sus coches. No habian pagado su cuenta.
Honduras – Police fail to respond to attempted killing of LGBTI human rights defender Donny Reyes because they have no petrol
LGBTI human rights defender Donny Reyes describes what happened when a lone gun man tried to kill him on his way to work. "On 5 July I was leaving my home in Tegucigalpa when I spotted a man on a motor cycle on the corner who was obviously watching the house. He was about 150 netres away. This wasnt the first time I have been tracked like this so I spotted him straight away and tried to act normally.
Razan Ghazzawi, winner of the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award talks about the arrest of Sryian blogger Hussein Ghrer
Hussein Ghrer was detained on 16-2-2012 in a raid on Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression’s office in Damascus by Air Force Intelligence – Mazzah branch. This is Ghrer’s second arrest; he was detained on 24-10-2011 and released on 1-12-2011 on bail and is still on trial.
Today was a 5am start as we flew up to Flores in the Petén region of Guatemala to visit the national park and see exactly why the protection of the environment is such a vital issue here and why it has inspired such total dedication from Yuri (Melini).
It's one of those windy-up planes with propellers and there is a short intake of breath when we see it on the runway. "The Adventures of Biggles" come to mind!
It's a short, one hour flight and we fly in over pristine forest, huge lakes and finally reach what looks like a miniature version of Venice, the island town of Flores.
It is much hotter here than in Guatemala City and by the time we reach the hotel for breakfast we are already in a lather. Sitting on the terrace of the hotel, looking out over the lake it is hard to believe that this semi-paradise is also a place where human rights defenders have been attacked and killed and where, according to one source, many people don't need to work because they have made their money trading in stolen archaeological artefacts.
We drive up to the access point into the park and there, because we are with Yuri (Melini) we are ushered through as guests of the Director.
After meeting the community in Peronia, we received a message that there were some people in the village of San Rafael who had been receiving threats because they were challenging the policy of a mining company who they felt were trampling over their rights. We arrived to a small village in a very beautiful area with lots of trees and green fields, surrounded by mountains... the kind of place that should be a haven of tranquility.
We went to the house of Oscar, who has been the target for a series of threats and he explained to us what had been happening.
He started by setting out how we, as humans, resist or challlenge something that is unknown to us or that has not been explained properly. It is our nature, he explained.
Recently a mining company has been given a licence to mine for gold, lead, silver and zinc in the area, and already the company has started the preliminary work.
Yesterday we went to Peronia, one of the new shanty towns that have sprung up around Guatemala City to accomodate the more than 1 million people who travel into the city everyday to work. Slums where a family can pay 30 Euro for one room with limited water and sanitation. The community here in Peronia have been badly affected by a sand quarry which has essentially removed one of the local mountains.
In 2008 Yuri (Melini) received a call from a local priest, Fr. Elias stating that the community were under pressure because of their resistence to the quarry. Children were getting sick because of the constant dust, sore throat complaints were on the rise, the food was always covered in dust and the lorries were up and down the street all the time. In addition, the woods, where people had been able to send their children to play and which were a resource for the whole community, were simply being eliminated.
Yuri helped them with legal and communications advice and moral support.
You will be astonished by the positive effects of jetlag - most unusually for me, I was up at 5am this morning writing this blog which then festered for sometime in my draft email folder due to the dodgy internet connection. I suspect that the jet lag will have its revenge later in the day however.
Yesterday's first call was a visit to the office of the environmental organisation CALAS. A small, pretty house in a nice suburb with wrought iron gates, bougainvillea plants on the walls and an armed guard holding an AK 47 standing in the doorway. This security is provided by the state for the organisation, though Yuri Melini's personal protection detail has in fact been reduced by half in recent times.