This week’s #AddaQuote comes from Marian Wright Edelman talking of the value of our everyday actions. Let’s make 2018 the year of new ideas and renewed commitments for a hopeful world.
This week’s #AddaQuote comes from writer and activist Arundhati Roy about the disturbing trend of governments manipulating and stifling creative voices.
UNICEF published a report this week on the abuse and hardship suffered by women and children attempting to make the journey from Africa to Europe. The Central Mediterranean migrant route from North Africa to Italy, one of the most dangerous in the world. In 2016 alone, 181,000 people attempted the journey; an estimated 1 in 40 died along the way. So far this year over 300 have perished.
UNICEF found that half of the women and children they interviewed reported being sexually assaulted and raped on their journey. They also reported beatings and physical abuse by the smugglers and people traffickers who control the route. The main route involves attempting to cross from Libya, where many people are first held in unofficial detention camps run by the traffickers and where they are kept in inhumane conditions. Unless action is taken to ameliorate the drivers of this route, we will continue to stand and bear witness as more children suffer the same fate.
South Sudan has today declared a famine that could put one million lives at risk. Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen famously found that famines are not caused by lack of food, but by lack of entitlement to food: the causes of famine are political, not environmental. In order to prevent a humanitarian disaster and genocide on the scale of Rwanda the international community must act. The world’s youngest state may soon become the world’s greatest shame if action is not taken to prevent genocide.
This week’s #AddaQuote by Sen reminds us that famines are never unpreventable.
This week’s #AddaQuote from Eleanor Roosevelt, reminds us of the folly of thinking short-sighted, antagonistic policies will keep our societies safe. Safety is guaranteed through the prevention of violence and war, not by sowing their seeds.
Quotation for this Monday evening: Sandra Day O’Connor’s words on the power of individual action, which resonate more strongly now than ever. Why not check out her 2013 interview with the Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2013/12/sandra-day-oconnor
Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks out about the dangers of demagogues and xenophobia in Europe and America: https://opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/zeid-ra-ad-al-hussein/demagogues-and-populists-must-be-challenged-un-high-commissio
Our #AddaHumanRightsProfile for this week is Asma Jahangir, Pakistani human rights advocate and lawyer.
Born in 1952 in Karachi, Jahangir has led a renowned career both in Pakistan and on the world stage. She grew up in a politically active household, with both of her parents fighting against oppressive political and societal structures in Pakistan. Her father made himself persona non grata with the dictatorial regime of the time with his outspoken views, and was imprisoned on a number of occasions, while her mother fought against the traditionally restrictive roles of women.
Jahangir received her degree in law in 1978. Two years later she cofounded with two partners the first all-female law firm in Pakistan. She used her position to advocate for women’s rights, helping to form the Women’s Action Forum to agitate against discriminatory laws, in particular the Hadood Ordinances, whereby women who were raped were liable to be prosecuted for adultery. In 1986 she helped to found the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and served as its secretary general. She has also held a number of positions with the UN, promoting justice and equality on the world stage.
Jahangir was awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 1995, recognising her work promoting and defending women’s rights in Pakistan. In 2014 she was awarded, along with Edward Snowden, the Right Livelihood Award. She continues to work promoting human rights both in Pakistan and abroad, remaining a leading figure in the fight for women’s rights and equality.
Today we are profiling Sean MacBride, Irish lawyer and statesman, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and founding member of Amnesty International.
Sean MacBride was born in France in 1904. His parents, Maud Gonne and John MacBride, were prominent Irish revolutionaries, involved in many key events in the Irish struggle for independence. MacBride moved to his family home of Ireland in 1916, where as a teenager he took part in the Irish War of Independence of 1919-21. MacBride became a leading figure in struggle for a sovereign Irish republic, serving as Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army. However, in 1939 he turned away from the use of armed force, and over the next decade he practiced as a defence barrister in Ireland. His experience of representing prisoners faced with the death penalty led to a lifelong opposition to and advocacy against the use of capital punishment.
MacBride had an illustrious international career promoting human rights. He was a founding member of Amnesty International in 1961, and served as its International Chairman. He also served as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chairman of UNESCO. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 and the Lenin Peace Prize a year later, recognising his work promoting human rights around the globe. Following his death in 1988 MacBride is remembered as a staunch protector of human rights, and is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s greatest international statesmen.
Check out his Nobel Lecture here:http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1974/macbride-lecture.html
Our #AddaHumanRights profile for this week is Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni human rights activist and winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
Tawakkol Karman was born in the city of Taiz in south-west Yemen in 1979. Coming from a professional Yemeni family, she grew up in during a volatile time in Yemen’s history. The country was reunified north and south in 1990, but suffered violence and political instability after, including a civil war in 1994.
These events formed the backdrop to Karman’s childhood. She went to University in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, before embarking on a career in journalism. She used journalism to promote human rights in the country. In 2005 she co-founded the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains, in order to promote the freedom of a traditionally state-muzzled press.
Before the Arab Spring in 2011, Karman had for many years organised a protest movement to combat government repression and promote social justice in Yemen. After the Revolution in 2011 she became a leading figure, encouraging and helping women to become involved in peacebuilding in the country.
Karman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 32, then the youngest person ever to receive the award. It was presented in recognition of her work in promoting women’s rights and safety in Yemen, ranked as the most unequal country for women by the WEF. Karman continues to promote human rights and social justice in Yemen today.
Check out her interview after winning the Nobel Peace Prize here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvIQi5jhryk
PC: Chatham House