In times when most needed, important voices are being suppressed. Human rights defenders such as Geraldine Chacón, Nawal Benaissa, and Nonhle Mbuthuma are three brave women fighting for human rights and freedom, but sadly have to face consequences such as death threats, harassment, and arrest. This is something that should not, and can not be accepted.
Nonhle Mbuthuma is a human rights defender actively working to shut down a mining project, aiming to mine on ancestral South African land which belongs to Nonhle and her community. The Pondoland region in South Africa is rich in natural resources, and in 1996 a representative of the Australian mining company, Mineral Resource Committee, visited the region and expressed views for wanting to mine titanium. Should the company be allowed to do so, around 5,000 people could be forcibly evicted and lose their homes and livelihoods.
Nonhle is the spokesperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) that together with the villagers in the region try to stop the company. In March of 2016 Sikhosipho Radebe, former president of the ACC was shot, shortly after Sikhosipho found his, Nonhle’s, and another member’s name on a hit-list. The perpetrators remain unknown, and authorities are unwilling to investigate the threats against Nonhle. Since the formation of the ACC Nonhle has survived a murder attempt, received death threats, and been continually intimidated. Despite this, she remains determined to fight for her community and the land they rely on.
Geraldine Chacón started her campaigning as a youth leader when she was only 14 in Caracas, Venezuela. She started an Amnesty youth network dedicated to helping individuals at risk of imprisonment and persecution. Since then, her activism has only grown. Today, Geraldine works with the FEC (Fundación Embajadores Comunitarios) running education programs for the impoverished youth in Venezuela, educating youngsters about leadership and human rights among other things.
Unfortunately, Geraldine now finds herself in the need of the same help she has given: in February she was arrested by Venezuelan Authorities and she consequently spent four months in prison. She was later released conditionally, not being able to leave the country and facing a risk of being sent back to prison. The reason for being arrested is according to court records for having connections to a group, in turn, being associated with groups critical to the Venezuelan regime called ‘’Resistencia’’. However, Geraldine and her Lawyer have made it clear that the only connection between the FEC and Resistencia is one of her former employer.
Nawal Benaissa is active in a protest movement urging for social justice and better healthcare in northern Morocco. Sadly, Nawal is a victim of Morocco’s repressive clampdown against the movement: not only has she been arrested several times, but also sentenced to 10-months in prison and a fine, on charges of ‘’protesting in an undeclared demonstration’’, ‘’insulting law enforcement officers’’ and ‘’incitement to commit criminal offences’’. Nawal is simply standing up for the people in northern Morocco, trying to create a better and safer existence for the inhabitants of the region. Because of this she’s been repeatedly harassed and intimidated.
Enough is enough. Brave and important voices defending our rights and striving for a better world are getting silenced. If you want to help make a difference – you can! On Tuesday the 27th of November, Amnesty at KG will host a wonderful event where you will have the chance to use your voice and make a change. We will mainly be writing letters to authorities suppressing and intimidating the human rights defenders mentioned above, and all you will need to do is sign your name. Of course there will be pyssel and fika for that extra little coziness, and there will also be a little tattoo station where you will be able to get your very own, amnesty exclusive temporary tattoo (gnuggis). Feel free to join us in 2519 on the 27th of November at 14:30. Amnesty KG will be there and we will be more than happy to join you for a chat or tell you more about Geraldine, Nawal or Nonhle.
Also, if you’re really excited and can’t bear the wait – you can take action on the 26th of November as well! We will be having a petition signing for Nawal Benaissa by the cafeteria between 11-13. Writing your signature will take little of your time but make a big difference. Toughen up, and RAISE YOUR VOICE. Hope to see you there!
By Victoria Genders via Amnesty KG
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