The Miriam Shlesinger Memorial Human Rights Action Update October 29-November 5

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, 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”.


Although there has been little easing of the pandemic we nonetheless turn our attention to other burning needs. We still encourage you to support Doctors without Borders who are fighting the virus in the places with the greatest need of support.

This week we call your attention to Smile,an NGO that promotes cleft palate surgery. The mission”

One Goal: To Give Every Child the Chance to Smile

Smile Train is an international children’s charity that supports 100%-free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care for children globally. Our sustainable model empowers local medical professionals to provide cleft care in their own communities.

before and after


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.

You can help prevent genocide, put an end to logging and mining on tribal lands, and stop government violence and oppression.

A major calamity for indigenous people is the lack of respect for their basic human rights.Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. We fight for tribal peoples’ survival. We stop loggers, miners, and oil companies from destroying tribal lands, lives and livelihoods across the globe. We lobby governments to recognize indigenous land rights. We document and expose the atrocities committed against tribal people and take direct action to stop them. Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected.

This week we call your attention to


The Sentinelese

The Sentinelese are an uncontacted tribe living on North Sentinal Island, one of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. They vigorously reject all contact with outsiders.

Survival International lobbies, protests and uses public pressure to ensure their wish to remain uncontacted is respected.

If not, the entire tribe could be wiped out by diseases to which they have no immunity.

Act now ↓   Donate →


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.

You can download this book

Look for these logos:

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 to call for an end to child exploitation in cocoa



Urgent Action Victory! Shaman Released from Psychiatric Detention

Siberian shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev was released from psychiatric detention on 22 July after his defense team succeeded in their request for a psychological and psychiatric examination on 21 July. Aleksandr Gabyshev was targeted for his open criticism of the authorities and spent more than two months arbitrarily deprived from his freedom.


On 22 July, Siberian shaman Aleksandr Gabyshev was released from the Yakut Republican Psychoneurological Dispensary where he was forcibly placed on 12 May. His defence team managed to obtain a psychological and psychiatric examination of Aleksandr Gabyshev on 21 July and after that the medical commission of the Yakut Republican Psychoneurological Dispensary decided to discharge him.

Aleksandr Gabyshev was targeted for his open criticism of the authorities. In 2019 he became known for starting a walking journey from Yakutsk, in east Siberia, to Moscow where he promised to “purge” Russian President Vladimir Putin from Kremlin. His journey was unlawfully halted by police in September 2019 and he was forced to return to Yakutsk.

On 12 May 2020, riot police accompanied by several medics forcibly entered his home and took him to the Yakut Republican Psychoneurological Dispensary purportedly because he refused to be tested for COVID-19. According to his lawyer, Aleksandr Gabyshev was forced to sign a consent form to be hospitalised for observation for two weeks. Aleksandr Gabyshev tested negative for COVID-19 and on 29 May, he requested to be released. Instead, a medical commission was promptly formed that concluded that he posed a “danger to himself and to others”. The Director of the Dispensary sought approval from the Yakutsky City Court to extend Aleksandr Gabyshev’s confinement and argued that his patient “suffers from over-valuing of his personality” and that he had expressed ideas intended “to harm the government.” On 2 June, the court approved the forcible and indefinite hospitalisation of Aleksandr Gabyshev.

Aleksandr Gabyshev’s forcible hospitalisation at a psychiatric hospital was a case of punitive psychiatry and an egregious violation of his rights to liberty and to freedom of expression. Amnesty International welcomes his release from indefinite psychiatric detention which is believed to be a result of the international pressure and the visibility given to the case.


Urgent Action Victory! LGBT+ Activist Victoria Biran Released

On 11 October LGBT+ activist Victoria Biran was released after two weeks in detention. Victoria Biran was detained on her way to the Women’s March in Minsk on 26 September and sentenced on 28 September to 15 days of administrative detention for intending to exercise her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.


Belarusian LGBT+ activist Victoria Biran spent two weeks in detention under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences (‘Violation of the procedure for organising or holding mass events’) and was released on 11 October. She was arrested on 26 September on her way to the Women’s March in Minsk and sentenced on 28 September to 15 days of administrative detention.

According to her friends, when Victoria Biran was arrested and brought to a police station, a law enforcement official gave her a list of names and asked her to point out LGBT+ activists. However, later police claimed that they had had no knowledge of Victoria Biran’s LGBT+ activism and had not even noticed her large rainbow flag.

Victoria Biran was first brought to the detention centre on Akrestina street where she was placed in an overcrowded cell, in which some women had to sleep on the floor. On 29 September she was moved to the prison located in the town of Zhodino.

While Amnesty International welcomes Victoria Biran’s release at the end of her 15-day administrative detention, Victoria Biran did not commit any offence and was only intending to exercise her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and should not have been arrested or detained in the first place.


Urgent Action Update: 12 Hongkongers Formally Arrested

Twelve Hongkongers arrested on 23 August 2020 by the Chinese coast guard were formally arrested on 30 September – two for allegedly organizing people to cross the border between Hong Kong and China and the other 10 for allegedly crossing the border. Having been detained for more than 45 days without access to their families and family-appointed lawyers, the 12 individuals remain at imminent risk of torture and other ill-treatment.



Urgent Action Update: Activists Released but Charges Still Pending

On 29 and 30 September, a Niamey Court senior judge granted the provisional release of activists, Maikoul Zodi, Moudi Moussa and Halidou Mounkaila. However, the fabricated charges against them – which are in connection to their demands for accountability in a protest in March 2020– are still pending. They therefore remain at risk of wrongful conviction and arbitrary detention. Amnesty International urges the Nigerien authorities to immediately drop all charges against them.



Urgent Action: Activist Once Again Detained on Bogus Charges

One month after his release, pro-democracy activist Oumar Sylla, alias Foniké Mengué, has once again been arrested and arbitrarily detained. He was riding a motorbike with a friend to mobilize protesters on 29 September when he was arrested by police officers in plain clothing in Matoto municipality in the Guinean capital, Conakry. He refused to follow the police officers because they failed to present an arrest warrant. Nevertheless, they brutally carried out his arrest which resulted in him sustaining injuries to his hand and finger. He has since been held in Conakry prison on fabricated charges. Oumar Sylla is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.



Free union leaders and activists

After rigged elections, followed by extreme violence by security forces against peaceful protesters, Siarhei Charkasau and his co-workers joined a strike at JSC Belaruskali potash fertilizer producer to peacefully demand freedom, democracy and respect. Siarhei is an employee of Belaruskali and vice chair of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BITU), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union. Over the last two months Siarhei has been convicted three times for participation in an unauthorized public event in Soligorsk, where miners of Belaruskali had declared a strike to protest against the rigged elections. Since then, dozens of activists and strike committee members at Belaruskali have been prosecuted, threatened, fined and deprived of benefits at work for their activities. Siarhei and three of his comrades, BITU members Pavel Puchenia, Yury Korzun and Anatol Bokun are in prison now. One sentence has followed the other while they were still serving their sentence.

Please join the protest

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