This International Women’s Day, Meet Five Courageous Women Human Rights Defenders.
By Emily Walsh, Human Rights Defenders Campaigner for Amnesty International USA.
Ana Miriam, Hanan, Idil, Narges and Ni Yulan live in different corners of the globe, but they have something in common — they are persecuted just for defending human rights.
In every region of the world, women human rights defenders face harassment not only because of their activism, but also because of their gender. Today, we publicly acknowledge the significant role women human rights defenders play, and demand that they receive protection from attacks, smear campaigns, harassment and imprisonment.
Here are just a few of the communities that benefit from the work of these five women:
· People who have been thrown out of their homes to make way for construction projects in China
· Families seeking justice for their loved ones who have been ‘disappeared’ by officials in Egypt
· Members of the Lenca Indigenous community whose land and environment is threatened by corporate mining interests in Honduras
Today, you have a chance to stand with each of them and to support their work:
IDIL ESER, TURKEY
Idil Eser is the Director of Amnesty International Turkey. She was at a routine workshop this summer when officials stormed the building and imprisoned Idil for nearly four months. She was charged with belonging to “an armed terrorist organization” and now faces up to 15 years in prison — just for her human rights work!
But Idil has stayed strong throughout this ordeal. The courtroom burst into applause when she stood up during her trial and said, “I don’t have anything to regret. I just did my work as a human rights defender.”
Idil was released on bail on October 27th, and was back at work in Amnesty’s office by October 30th.
Even though she still faces 15 years in prison, she is determined to stand up for human rights. Will you stand with her?
NARGES MOHAMMADI, IRAN
Narges Mohammadi is an award-winning advocate for women’s rights and a vocal opponent to the death penalty. She has already spent 6 years in prison, and faces an additional 16 just for her peaceful work defending human rights.
Narges has serious health problems, including a neurological disorder which causes seizures, and is not able to get the medical help she needs in prison. Narges is also the mother of 10-year-old twins, whom she has not seen in more than two years.
In a statement from prison last year, Narges said, “Here I am…in my own homeland… imprisoned for the crime of being a human rights defender, a feminist, and an opponent of the death penalty.”
Narges Mohammadi is paying a high price for her courageous commitment to defending the human rights of others. By helping release Narges, you can support her return to doing critical human rights work safely.
NI YULAN, CHINA
Ni Yulan has braved years of violent harassment for standing up for people evicted from their homes by lucrative construction projects. She was among thousands whose homes were demolished leading up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The government has tried to silence Ni Yulan for nearly 20 years by repeatedly arresting her.
She was once beaten so badly while in detention that she now has to use a wheelchair. Her family has been put under surveillance, threatened, and evicted from home after home.
After being forced to sleep on the streets, Ni Yulan and her husband now live in temporary housing within constant sight of the police.
Still, Ni Yulan has no plans to stop helping people stand up for their rights. She says, “We will not yield to this pressure because we will not be able to survive in this world if we don’t defend our rights.” Now, it’s our turn to stand with her.
HANAN BADR EL-DIN, EGYPT
Hanan Badr el-Din is a brave leader working to bring justice for people who have been “disappeared” by Egypt’s security forces.
Hanan’s husband “disappeared” in July 2013. She last saw him on television, wounded at a hospital after attending a protest. But when she went there, she couldn’t find him. She searched police stations, prisons and morgues, but no one could tell her what had happened to him — he had been “disappeared” at the hands of Egypt’s security forces.
Hanan did not give up. Instead, she co-founded a group determined to find the truth behind these “disappearances”, and is now a leading voice in the search for Egypt’s “disappeared”.
Because of her leadership, she’s been arrested and could face at least five years in prison. Demand that authorities release Hanan!
ANA MIRIAM ROMERO, HONDURAS
Ana Miriam Romero is a member of the Lenca Indigenous movement (MILPAH), a community that fights to protect their environment against powerful corporate and government interests that would exploit the land.
Ana Miriam, along with other members of MILPAH, braves smear campaigns, death threats, and even physical attacks just for their peaceful work.
Ana Miriam was 3 months pregnant in 2015 when armed men stormed her house and beat her up. The following January, her house was burned down. Then, in July, men threatened to kill her colleague.
Still, Ana Miriam and all of MILPAH have vowed to continue their struggle. Her colleague said, “We have no weapons, we have no money, but we do have a voice and […] that has enabled us to make real progress.”
Add your voice to Ana Miriam and MILPAH’s movement, and help make sure that they’re protected from these vicious attacks.
To learn more and join the movement, visit www.amnestyusa.org/hrds.