Guinea, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates
, Middle East & North Africa

Martin Ennals Award honours courageous human rights defenders from Burma, Guinea and UAE

Three prominent human rights defenders from Burma, Guinea and the United Arab Emirates have been honoured for their courageous work in the face of great personal risk, with the announcement of the Final Nominees for the Martin Ennals Award 2015.

(Geneva) – Three prominent human rights defenders from Burma, Guinea and the United Arab Emirates have been honoured for their courageous work in the face of great personal risk, with the announcement of the Final Nominees for the Martin Ennals Award 2015.

Robert Sann Aung, a human rights lawyer from Burma, Asmaou Diallo, a victims’ rights campaigner from Guinea, and Ahmed Mansoor, a blogger and human rights activist from the United Arab Emirates, were short-listed for the prestigious award by a jury comprised of representatives of the international human rights.

‘The provision of free or low cost legal advice and representation to the poor contributes significantly to them being able to understand, exercise and vindicate their human rights,’ said ISHR Director Phil Lynch in reference to the work of Robert Sann Aung.

‘Robert’s ongoing commitment to defending the rights of peaceful protesters, promoting corporate accountability for human rights violations, and protecting communities from unjust land acquisitions, despite having been imprisoned, tortured and disbarred in connection with this work, is inspiring,’ Mr Lynch said.

Accepting the nomination, Mr Sann Aung said, ‘I feel humble and extremely honored to be nominated for this prestigious award. This nomination conveys the message to activists and human rights defenders who fight for equality, justice and democracy in Myanmar that their efforts are not forgotten by the world’.

In reference to Asmaou Diallo, who has been honoured for her work to seek accountability for the perpetrators, and justice for the victims, of an attack on peaceful protesters in Guinea on 28 September 2009, resulting in the death of over 150 people, including Ms Diallo’s son, Mr Lynch said, ‘This nomination honours Asmaou Diallo’s commitment to seeking justice rather than revenge, not just in relation to her son but in relation to the massacre of over 150 people and the rape of over 100 women.’ 

Ms Diallo has established l’Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du 28 septembre 2009 to advocate for accountability for the massacre and to provide holistic services and support, such as trauma counselling and legal representation, to the victims and their families. 

Accepting the nomination, Ms Diallo said, ‘This final nomination encourages me to continue my fight for the protection and promotion of human rights in Guinea. I trust that this award will have a positive effect on the legal cases concerning the events of the September 28, 2009, and will be a lever for all defenders of human rights in Guinea.’

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on the final nominee, Ahmed Mansoor, Mr Lynch said, ‘Ahmed Mansoor is a prominent human rights defender and blogger, providing vital, credible and independent information regarding the human rights situation in the UAE. His critical work to document, expose and advocate in relation to cases of arbitrary detention, torture and other violations has come at great personal cost, including Mr Mansoor being imprisoned and subject to travel bans’.

According to Mr Lynch, the situation confronting Mr Mansoor is emblemetic of the increasingly restrictive environment within which many human rights defenders operate. ‘Regrettably, the trend in many Gulf States is towards worsening restrictions on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, with bloggers and activists frequently imprisoned for exercising these rights and anti-terror and national security laws increasingly used to criminalise their work’.

‘Around the world – from Burma, to Guinea, to the UAE – human rights defenders face threats, attacks and reprisals for their work. The work of these defenders is crucial to foster democracy, promote accountability and uphold the rule of law. ISHR calls on all governments to recognise, respect and protect human rights defenders and to provide a supportive and enabling environment for their important work,’ Mr Lynch said.

The Martin Ennals Award is conferred annually to highlight the work of human rights defenders and provide protective publicity to defenders at risk. The Martin Ennals Jury comprises representatives ten of the world’s leading international human rights organisations:

  • Amnesty International
  • EWDE Germany
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Human Rights First
  • Human Rights Watch
  • HURIDOCS
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Further information about the Martin Ennals Awards, including biographical information and videos about the Final Nominees, is available at http://bit.ly/1DYqlFn

The Final Award will be announced at a ceremony in Geneva on 6 October 2015.

Contact: Phil Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights, on [email protected] or + 41 76 708 4738 

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