The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update, October 31-November 4

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012) a great friend and human rights defender


Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.


This week we turn our attention to Charity Navigator that helps us donate intelligently and effectively. Charity Navigator is supported by individual donations,which is essential for preservation of their independence and integrity. Please send them a donation.


Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming.

A major calamity for indigenous people is eviction from their lands because of economic desires of outsides, such as the eviction of the Bushmen in Botswana because of the discovery diamonds in their reserve.


We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

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Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and raise your voice against the importing of palm oil linked to forced labor and environmental destruction.



Urgent Action Victory! Tunisian Activist Acquitted of All Charges

On 19 September 2019, a court in Tunis acquitted 18-year-old activist Maissa al-Oueslati of all charges after facing trumped-up charges that could have resulted in her imprisonment for up to 4 years. On 4 September 2019, the police arbitrarily detained Maissa al-Oueslati and her 16-year-old brother, for filming a protester threatening to set himself on fire in front of a police station. They were interrogated without a lawyer, in a blatant violation of Tunisian law and international human rights law.


On 19 September 2019, a court in Tunis acquitted 18-year-old activist Maissa al-Oueslati of all charges after facing trumped-up charges that could have resulted in her imprisoned for up to 4 years. Her brother who is facing similar charges of “insulting a public official” and “refusing to comply to orders” will appear in court on October 30 2019 for a separate hearing. During her hearing, a team of five human rights lawyers made the case for the arbitrary nature of her detention and the several procedural breaches made throughout the process including interrogating her without the presence of a lawyer.

Maissa and her 16-year-old brother were both arbitrarily detained on 4 September 2019. A police officer snatched Maissa’s phone and twisted her arm while she was filming his colleagues beat up a protester who had threatened to set himself on fire. Her younger brother rushed towards her and begged the officer to let her go. The police officer pushed the teenage boy on the ground and proceeded to handcuff Maissa al-Oueslati and her brother. In the police station in Jbal El Jloud, police officers interrogated the two siblings without the presence of a lawyer or a parent, as required by Tunisian law for minors. Later that night, Maissa al-Oueslati and her brother were transferred to Bouchoucha detention centre in another part of Tunis where they spent the night.

Maissa’s case received the support of several human rights organizations in Tunisia and abroad. Her case was a strong reminder of the continuity of impunity for police forces in the country. To date, no investigation has been opened to hold the police officers suspected to be responsible for the abuses to account. Following this successful result, Maissa spoke to Amnesty International: “all my respect and love for standing by me”. “I never imagined I would get this much support” She was overwhelmed with the amount of support she had received from activists, many of whom are Amnesty International’s members who showed up at the court the day of the hearing and held signs with supporting messages outside the courthouse. She admits never having imagined to be arrested, but this incident made her determined to continue to carry out her activism for positive change in Tunisia.


Urgent Action: Researchers Who Denounced Electoral Fraud at Risk

On 24 October, Edgar Villegas, systems engineer and analyst, denounced irregularities in Bolivia’s general elections of 20 October on public TV. His study done with other academics pointed to large discrepancies between the preliminary count and the final electoral results that gave victory to incumbent president Evo Morales. Following the TV interview Villegas, his family, and Mónica Ximena Galarza, the journalist who interviewed him, were intimidated. These incidents happened in a wider context of repression by the authorities in response to social protests following the election results.



Urgent Action: Human Rights Defender and Blogger Detained

Uzbekistani blogger and human rights defender Nafosat Olloshkurova was violently detained on 23 September while monitoring and filming police handling of a peaceful protest. She was sentenced to 10 days in administrative detention and on 26 September she was placed in psychiatric detention. There are serious concerns for her well being.



Urgent Action: Medical Doctor Found Alive But Tortured

On 19 September 2019, Dr Peter Magombeyi, a medical doctor, was found alive and disoriented, dumped about 33 km out of Harare in a placed called Nyabira. Dr Magombeyi was abducted on the night of 14 September 2019. He said he was held in a basement where he was tortured. There are fears that he was injected with an unknown substance by his abductors. The government accused him of faking the abduction and tried to prevent him from seeking medical treatment outside the country. Fears are that he may be arrested and charged for “faking an abduction” upon his return.



Urgent Action: Repression Against Demonstrators

Since 18 October, thousands took the streets in Chile in response to a metro fare hike in its capital city. The demonstrations broadened to reflect people’s anger over living costs and inequality. The President decreed a state of emergency, enabling the army to police demonstrations and impose a curfew. Initial accounts report several deaths, massive detentions, and scores of people tortured or ill-treated. We call on the president to address the demands behind the protests and respect the right to peaceful assembly and expression.



Urgent Action Update: Over 130 People Remain in Detention

After one year and a half since the beginning of the crisis in Nicaragua, at least 130 people continue detained, among them is Maria Guadalupe Ruiz Briceño (22), a student imprisoned after she participated in a July 2019 protest. We urge the Nicaraguan authorities to immediately release and drop all charges of those detained solely on the grounds of their exercise of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.


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