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Blog de jimloughran
We arrived at 21.30 last night after 18 hours on the road. I have a feeling that our intrepid photographer Kieran has a stash of compromising photos of me asleep during the 7 hour stop-over in Atlanta, book in one hand, coffee in the other, sound asleep and drooling... not a pretty sight!
On the way in from the airport, the protagonist of our up-coming documentary Yuri Melini, Director of CALAS, gave us a potted history of Guatemala. While the country became independent in 1821, there was no noble war of independence like in Bolivia but a political deal in which the Spanish Governor simply became the President and the colonial elite, who governed every aspect of the political and economic life of the country remained in situ.
Tomorrow morning Mary Lawlor founder and Executive Director of Front Line Defenders and I are heading off to Guatemala to make a documentary about the situation of human rights defenders told through the eyes of one man - environmentalist Yuri Melini .
Mexico: Adam Shapiro reports on the killing of women in Chihuahua - 56 women have been killed so far in 2012.
I flew into Chihuahua, Mexico after the sun had retreated behind the rolling hills to the west. After dark, this city of almost a million people becomes a different place. Lucha, an extraordinary human rights defender was waiting for me in the arrivals lounge bio Brief Bio of Lucha,
I was surprised she was alone. But then again, she is a veteran of the war here - that is what she called it, "La Guerra".
This evening I am writing from my hotel in Guatemala City, where my mission partner Annalisa Mauro, of the International Land Coalition, and I have just been making our own dinner.
Report from Honduras where human rights defenders face threats from the state, narco-traffickers, land owners
I am just back in Tegus after three days at the International Encuentro in Tocoa, Aguan with participants from Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador.
Amidst the destruction and abuse going on in Syria, Anthony Shadid, a friend, died in an effort to tell the story of what is happening to people under fire. Anthony was in there without approval of the regime, and died tragically from an asthma attack when heading for the border with Turkey (this touches me personally on another level, as I suffer from asthma too).
After the “Arab Spring” the struggle for human rights continues. As Front Line Defenders publishes its 2012 annual report Andrew Anderson analyses some of the main threats facing human rights defenders around the world.
On 30 January 2012, Uzbek dictator Karimov, in power since 1990, celebrated his 74th birthday. As is usual under authoritarian regimes, the president's birthday in Uzbekistan is an occasion for the grateful population to demonstrate its loyalty and gratitude in well orchestrated events reported by the state-owned media.
Adam Shapiro in Bahrain - "She can’t recall how many times she has breathed in the tear gas of the riot police or hid in a home"
It is Friday night in Bahrain. The interior of the franchise coffee house is the same as it is anywhere in the world, with necessary local flourishes added for flavor. In addition to standard fare cappuccinos and cakes, are added Shish Taouk wraps and other such efforts at appealing to a local palette. But that is where any similarity ends between this coffee house and its sisters in New York, London or Dubai.
At tables scattered throughout the cafe, there are hushed conversations over coffee whilst smartphones and laptops are being held and everyone tries to keep an eye on what is going on outside. Across the street, two riot police SUV are parked in an empty lot off a roundabout adjacent to a Bahraini village with their headlights fixed on the first row of homes. One policeman in full riot gear stands outside the vehicle and stares ahead, monitoring the flow of cars into the village.
Back inside the café, Zainab Al-Khawaja conducts her work as a human rights defender and opposition activist on the front lines.
The drive out to the military court building took us on a main road bypassing villages and eventually newly built apartment buildings.
We were about 20 minutes outside of downtown Manama, and heading to a military base in order to visit with Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, father of Zainab Al Khawaja who was driving fast in the hope of getting to see her father. We were late on the road because Zainab was at the appeal hearing of her husband who was sentenced to a 5-year prison term.
At the military court building, Abdulhadi and his 13 other co-defendants are brought into two rooms where family members are allowed to spend 3 hours with them every two weeks. They are allowed to bring clothes, books, food and other things to the men, most of which is permitted to be taken back to the prison. When Zainab and I arrived, colleagues from other human rights organizations had already tried to get in to see Abdulhadi but had been turned away. I checked in with the military police guards and headed to the door where Zainab was waiting. She opened and I rushed in in front of her, and headed straight for her dad, standing at the front of the room.