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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Erasmus+: Equality for All

Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) hosted a 6 day project between the 14th November and 21st November 2015, called “Equality for All”.  In “the city of Peace and Justice", The Hague, 24 young people from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Romania, Spain, Ukraine and The Netherlands came together to participate in the mobility of youth workers project. 

Behind the name, “Equality for All”, stands the purpose to increase the capacity of youth workers and leaders in developing effective rights-based advocacy strategies for their organisations. The theme this time was Young people from the LGBT Community and the challenges they face in their home countries.The overall goals of the project were:
  1. to increase the capacity building of youth workers in developing a rights-based advocacy strategy for their organisations, with particular focus on issues faced by LGBT youth
  2. to explore possible partnerships to organise future projects focusing on improving the quality of youth work in promoting and protecting LGBT rights under Erasmus+ umbrella.

    Presenting and discussing the LGBT situation in Romania

To reach the objectives the organisers put together a list of activities are based on methods of non-formal learning. These activities included: group discussions, role plays, debates, round table with guest speakers, thematic evenings, case studies, presentations and workshops. During these activities the participants had a chance to receive trainings from some of the leading LGBT organisations, human rights defenders and other stakeholders in the Netherlands such as: COC Haaglanden, Gale Education, University of Amsterdam, Leiden University and Utrecht University.

Skype roundtable with leading human rights defenders

Developing an effective advocacy strategy enables youth workers to influence policy makers and other relevant stakeholders in order to fulfil the rights of LGBT youth, which was reflected in the core topics of the trainings:
  1. Identification and analysis of problems
  2. Mapping of stakeholders
  3. Creating advocacy action plan
  4. Choosing method to advocate
Presentation given by GALE Education 
Furthermore, during the workshop sessions covered various topics such as: international human rights instruments and mechanisms (such as UN’s human rights mechanisms) and LGBT education and anti-discrimination measurements in schools. 

Gathering ideas for educating children in schools about the LGBT rights and anti-discrimination measures 

The proposed working methods and sharing of best practices allowed the participants to not only learn more on advocacy strategies but about the tools that are adopted by leading LGBT organisations in The Netherlands and human rights defenders from different countries. And of course there was room for intercultural evenings where participants could learn about different cultures while having a nice chat in a more unofficial environment.

Participants enjoying snacks during the Intercultural evening

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A look back at the Human Rights situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh lies between India and Myanmar in South Asia. It is a country with a vibrant society and a parliamentary democracy. The country’s population is around 158 million[1].

There are many fundamental aspects that define a state, such as: the country’s economic and political situation or as in this opinion piece will discuss the human right situation. As the quote in the beginning of the article states: “Human rights is a universal standard”.

The work of local civil society organisations is essential in human rights documentation as they are the frontline workers who advocate for promotion of human rights and they shed light to the stories of the victims and survivors.  

As an example, for the past couple of years the Ain O Salish Kendra (a legal aid and human rights organisation, hereinafter: ASK) has held an annual press conferences where they shared the main results of their annual reports on the human rights situation in Bangladesh. I base this analysis on information taken from ASK’s documentation of newspaper articles and their own sources reflecting human rights violations and articles reporting on the earlier mentioned press conferences. 

This year one of the news articles said that the human rights situation has worsened in 2015. The question immediately rises: Compared to what? 2014? Or is there a bigger picture which allows us to look back for years?

Between 2013 and 2015, several articles highlighted different areas of human rights which showed that every year another field showed dramatic changes. Based on their report in 2015, there were several areas where there were significant deterioration, for example: repression on religious minorities, freedom of expression, violence against women and political violence.  I would like to highlight the following areas:

Violence against women and children is showing a growing tendency, especially in the field of sexual harassments. From 2014 to 2015 there was almost a 40% growth in the cases of domestic violence. It is also important to mention that acid attacks (ca. 35 cases) were highlighted during the press conference in 2015.

In terms of communal violence there are great differences from year to year. In 2013, there were 278 houses attacked, burnt or destroyed and then next year the number of similar cases 761. However, in 2015 there was a significant decrease in the number of reported cases down to 104.

Based on available numbers it is clear that there are serious human rights violations which need to be addressed. The local human rights organisations like ASK work hard to gather information and data that can be presented for the general public and organisations on a national and/or international while also advocating for the improvement of the human rights situation.

Below you can find a table which includes data gathered from articles and ASK’s HR monitoring reports. 

Political Clashes
848 [i]
664 [ii]
Communal violence
Houses: 278
Businesses: 208
Temples: 495 [iv]
Houses: 761
Businesses: 193
Temples: 247[v]
Houses: 104
Businesses: N/A
Temples: 213[vi]
Violence against journalist
Deaths: 3
Assaults/ Harassments: 342[vii]
Deaths: 3
Assaults/ Harassments: 239[viii]
Deaths: 2
Assaults/ Harassments: 244[ix]
Violence Against Women
Rapes: 812
Deaths: 87
Domestic Violence: 385[x]
Sexual Harassment: 182[xi]
Acid attacks: 44[xii]

Rapes: 707[xiii]
Deaths: 68
Domestic Violence: 488[xiv]
Sexual Harassment: 146[xv]
Acid attacks: 48[xvi]

Rapes: 846[xvii]
Deaths: 60
Domestic Violence: 373[xviii]
Sexual Harassment: 205[xix]
Acid attacks: 35

Forced disappearances
Deaths in jail custody
Mob beatings (Deaths)