In several Latin
American countries, religious leaders often take on the roles of community
leader and human rights defender. As a result, these leaders often face
harassment, intimidation and even violence at the hands of state and non-state
actors. Over the next few weeks CSW will be presenting interviews with
religious leaders working in the region to highlight their experiences on the
frontlines of freedom of religion or belief.
Otto is a Protestant
pastor working in Tuluá, Colombia.
“If you say anything you will end up like those two…
It was a Sunday morning, everything was normal, but it was a day in which our lives would change.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: “We left the city and did not return””
Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre es un defensor de la Libertad de Religión quién fue detenido arbitrariamente el 12 de julio por agentes de seguridad del estado después de abandonar la sede de las Damas de Blanco en La Habana, donde había estado documentando violaciones de la libertad de religión o de creencias (LdRC). Pasó una semana detenido, durante los primeros cuatro días fue completamente incomunicado y no podía contactar su familia o amigos.
El 19 de julio Ricardo fue liberado. En esta
entrevista habla de su experiencia, y explico por qué va a seguir defendiendo
la LdRC a pesar de su encarcelamiento reciente.
Click here to read this post in English.
de los defensores de la Libertad de Religión y creencias en Cuba (LdRC) es un
camino largo, que pasa por las desilusiones (cuando los afectados se niegan a
denunciar) y por la represión gubernamental, cuando la policía política
persigue, acosa, hostiga y encarcela a los que tratan de hacer valer los
derechos humanos. Pero al final del camino está el agradecimiento sincero de
los que vieron sus casos resueltos y la convicción profunda de que Dios
respalda cada paso que damos llevando esperanzas, como ovejas en medio de lobos
de Mateo 10:16).
Izaguirre is a Cuban religious freedom defender who was arbitrarily detained on
Friday 12 July by state security agents after leaving the headquarters of the
Ladies in White in Havana where he had been documenting violations of freedom
of religion or belief (FoRB). He spent a week in detention, the first four days
of which he was completely incommunicado and unable to make or receive contact
from family or friends.
On 19 July Ricardo was
released. In this interview he details his experience, and explains why he will
continue to stand up for FoRB in Cuba despite his recent imprisonment.
Haz clic aquí para leer este blog en español
“The work of defenders of freedom of religion or belief
(FoRB) in Cuba is a long road which includes disappointments (when victims
refuse to report their experiences) and government repression, as political
police persecute, attack, harass, and imprison those who try to uphold human
rights. But the sincere gratitude of those who see their cases resolved, and
the profound conviction that God supports every step we take, bringing hope, like
sheep surrounded by wolves (Matthew 10:16)
is what can be found at the end of this road.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: Ricardo Fernández Izaguirre”
The Ladies in White are a Cuban peaceful protest movement comprising the wives and other female relatives of jailed dissidents. Last year CSW interviewed their leader, Berta Soler, about her experiences, and the challenges facing Cuba:
“My activism really got started in 2003 when the government took [imprisoned] 75 men and one woman just because they defended the Declaration of Human Rights.
I and the other Ladies in White are women who are prepared, very well prepared, and aware that we are in a struggle for the freedom of political prisoners and for respect for human rights in my country. And we, the Ladies in White and I, are very conscious that in my country we need freedom and rights, especially for the men and women who are in prison just for demanding this and promoting and defending the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: Fighting for freedom as long as it’s necessary”
Over the past month CSW has been speaking with HRDs across South Asia to find out what it means to be a FoRB defender in the region. Today, International Human Rights Day, we present a guest blog post by Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.
“Human rights defenders are those community and religious leaders, journalists, activists, lawyers, trade unionists and others who take on the plight of the most marginalised in their society. These defenders of human rights represent people in the face of oppression, violence and harassment, doing what they can to hold perpetrators to account, and uphold the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), among many other resolutions that states across the world are committed to upholding. Many of these defenders face the same intense persecution as those they seek to defend, with many facing threats and risks of violence, torture and even death on a daily basis.
That is why, this year, I joined calls to award the Nobel peace prize to the global community of human rights defenders – especially as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders on 10 December.
As the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, I believe that this declaration must be given foremost importance amongst the international community moving forward, with regards to the protection and sanctity of all human rights worldwide. Indeed, this year the recipients of the Nobel peace prize were human rights defenders Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, further proof that the work of HRDs worldwide helps to bring about lasting change, peace and reconciliation.
Continue reading “FoRB on the Frontlines: It’s Time to Defend the Defender”