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Human Rights Day: Our turn to make noise for human rights defenders

Human rights defenders (HRDs) put their lives at stake to defend ourrights in court, on paper, on the street, before the powerful or behind closeddoors. Today, on the occasion of the InternationalHuman Rights Day, OMCT celebrates, thanks them and makes noisearound their plight and achievements to ensure their greater protection.

"We have decided to put up around our offices the portraits of allthe fallen defenders," said Hina Jilani, OMCT's President, who isbased in Pakistan."Now all the wallsare covered."

An estimated 3,500 human rightsdefenders have been killed around the world because of theirpeaceful work defending the rights of others since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declarationon Human Rights Defenders by consensus two decadesago. In many cases, these killings have been carried out by State agentsor with the collusion of State officials. Most cases have not led to anycharges or convictions. In recent years, the number of killings and thenumber of countries in which they take place have done nothing but rise. Manykillings are not even legally documented. Yet pervasive impunity is preciselywhat normalizes the killings and perpetuates them. The repressionof land and environmental rights HRDs continues to increase,and violations are especially serious or systematic in contexts ofconflict, crisis or political transition. The fight againstterrorism is an easy excuse for most States who do not hesitate to invokesecurity threats when in fact the real threat is opposition to the interests ofthe powerful.

The seven HRDs from Honduras, Mexico,Sri Lanka, Belarus, the Russian Federation, Guatemala that OMCThas interviewed in the framework of its #MakeNoise4HRDs social media campaign didnot hesitate: they have taken considerable risks and made huge sacrificesfor the sake of protecting the rights of others. It is our turn todefend HRDs by letting the world know how much they sacrifice for defending ourrights and how much we owe them. The one thing thateffectively protects HRDs is raisingawareness about the risks they run for us. And if not, at least their message willstill carry on being heard.

Joinour campaign: watch these stories and post them using #MakeNoise4HRDs.

Ruki Fernando(Sri Lanka):

YuriMelini (Guatemala):

AlbertoXicoténcatl Carrasco (Mexico):

Dina MeetabelMeza Elvir (Honduras):

ShahindaIsmail (Maldives):

Maksim Kurnikov(Russia):

OlgaKaratch (Belarus):

OMCT wishes to thank the Republic and Canton of Geneva for its support. Its content is the sole responsibility of OMCT and should in no way be interpreted as reflecting the view(s) of the supporting institution.


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