Text: Aktivism

Information in English

BRAVE - Campaign for Human Rights Defenders

Today, people across the world are taking enormous risks to stand up for our rights. They could be teachers, students, political opponents, factory workers, journalists, lawyers or so many others.

But they’re being harassed, tortured, jailed and even killed – just for daring to speak out for what’s right. Without their courage, our world would be less fair, less just and less equal. We must stand with human rights defenders worldwide – and do all we can to keep them safe from harm.

We can find the spark of courage in all of us to speak out for what’s right. We can tweet. We can protest. We can write letters. We can be a witness. And together we can act as one alongside human rights defenders, to fight injustice and build a fairer world.

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Vitalina Koval

Vitalina Koval has been central to the LGBTI community in Ukraine. She helped set up a community centre - a safe space for LGBTI people within the growing hostility of the country

In March 2017, Vitalina took part in the International Women’s Day March in Ukraine. She was attacked by a dozen young men, who charged at her and other protesters – tearing up their posters and shouting threats. Shaken up, Vitalina went to the police and filed a complaint. The police never got back to her.

Determined not to let this stop her activism, Vitalina wanted to attend the 2018 Women’s March. But she was worried – what if she was attacked again? She went to the police in advance this time, and they assured her the protesters would be well protected. But just as the march was coming to an end, two men and four women from far-right group, ‘Karpatska Sich’ threw red paint all over Vitalina. Her eyes began to burn immediately.

“I felt pain, shock and fear: "I could go blind!". People tried to provide the first aid immediately. They gave me tissues, and water to wipe the paint. It didn't help. These long minutes it hurt and I couldn't get the thought that I could lose my sight out of my head.”

On arrival at hospital, doctors confirmed that Vitalina had chemical burns, but luckily her eyesight was intact. Still covered in paint, Vitalina headed straight to the police station. When she arrived, her attackers were sat by reception after being detained. The police officer made Koval state her home address – loudly - within earshot of her attackers. She felt scared and unsafe. Since the march, Vitalina’s friends have received threatening messages and even been followed home. Vitalina decided to organise an ‘anti-violence’ protest, but most of her fellow activists decided not to go, for fear of their safety.

“I felt upset and sad that our system works like this. The police have no sense of justice.” - Vitalina Koval

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Atena Daemi

Atena Daemi is an anti-death penalty campaigner and a women’s rights activist serving a seven-year prison sentence in Iran for her peaceful activism. Handing out anti-death penalty leaflets and criticizing Iran’s execution record on social media.

In 2014, aged 26 years, Atena was blindfolded and arrested outside her home. For the first 28 days of her detention, she was held in a cell infested with insects and with no toilet. She said her interrogators offered to grant her easier access to the toilet in exchange for her “co-operation”. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of Atena’s mistreatment.

Later, while serving her seven-year prison sentence, Atena was moved – secretly and unlawfully – to a prison where guards harassed her and encouraged other inmates to attack her. While on hunger strike in May 2017, she coughed up blood, suffered severe weight loss, nausea, vomiting and kidney pain. She now urgently needs specialized medical care, including for a gum condition, which is not available inside prison.

Despite all this, Atena refuses to stop fighting.

These arrests, detentions, threats and intimidations are the sacrifices we need to make to gain our freedom and rights… we should never stop resisting or standing up against oppression. No victory comes easily, and no injustice lasts forever. – Atena Daemi

Atena is an inspiration to human rights defenders in Iran and around the world. And she’s also a regular young woman, who loves nature and spending time outdoors. She must be freed

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Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan & Aziza al-Yousef
Since May, at least 12 leading human rights activists in Saudi Arabia have been detained without charge. Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef were all imprisoned on 15 May and today (23 August) marks 100 days since their detention.

Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef have faced accusations in state-aligned media which include forming a “cell” and posing a threat to state security for their “contact with foreign entities with the aim of undermining the country’s stability and social fabric”. Amnesty International understands that the three women may be charged and tried by the country’s notorious counter-terror court, which has been used in other instances to try human rights defenders and deliver harsh prison sentences.  

So far, a total of 12 human rights defenders have been detained: eight women and four men.

The crackdown began shortly before Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving in the country. Many of the activists detained campaigned for the right to drive and the end of the repressive male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia for many years.

“Saudi Arabia must release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally, and end the draconian crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.”

Amnesty International is today mobilising its supporters worldwide to stand with the detained human rights defenders. As part of the campaign, Amnesty International supporters are gathering in multiple cities around the world to protest outside of Saudi Arabian embassies. They will be putting pressure on the Saudi Arabian authorities, as well as their own governments, to take action to secure the release of the women human rights defenders and all prisoners of conscience who have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights in Saudi Arabia.

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