Ref. :  000038513
Date :  2015-08-12
Language :  English
Home Page / The whole website
fr / es / de / po / en

Time for the world to protect and value its young human rights defenders

By Clara Fok and Sara Vida Coumans, Youth Coordinators at Amnesty International,

Keywords : 


There’s a deep irony that today, as people around the world mark International Youth Day, hardly any attention will be paid to the shrinking space for young human rights defenders who increasingly find themselves on the receiving end of government repression.

In recent years, helped by the connective power of social media, the world has witnessed the growing force of young people fighting for and defending their rights and shaping their communities. Young people are mobilizing the masses to hold governments accountable by calling on them to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.

Of course, young people have always played a key role in social movements where they have a huge stake. But now they are increasingly taking on leadership roles in peaceful protest movements and driving change. Young people are not just taking a back seat and swiping away on their gadgets, but are organizing sit-ins, protests, occupying public space, and directly holding talks with governments. They are not waiting to be told what to do.


"Young people are not just taking a back seat and swiping away on their gadgets, but are organizing sit-ins, protests, occupying public space, and directly holding talks with governments. They are not waiting to be told what to do."

Clara Fok and Sara Vida Coumans



This has come at a price. Unfortunately – and too frequently – states respond to young people’s peaceful civic engagement by beating and locking up youth activists.

Take Myanmar, for example. More than 100 student leaders, including human rights defenders and activists, are facing jail time for protesting against the new National Education Law. Among them is Phyoe Phyoe Aung, the 26-year-old leader of one of Myanmar’s largest student movements. On 25 August she’ll turn 27, but it looks likely she will spend her birthday behind bars and faces an unjust and lengthy prison sentence after she was arrested in March following a violent police crackdown on largely peaceful protests.

Many more across the country continue to be harassed and intimidated in what appears to be a systematic clampdown on the student movement.

This should come as no surprise – the Myanmar authorities have a long history of repressing student-led movements, which they fear will trigger wider calls for political change and threaten their grip on power.

On the other side of the world, things are no different. In June, the security forces in Angola arbitrarily arrested 15 youth activists for participating in a meeting where they peacefully discussed politics and some of the concerns they have regarding the government of President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for the past 36 years. They have been accused of planning to disrupt public order and posing a threat to national security. Even young activists who were not in the meeting were accused of being part of it. They are all being held in solitary confinement far away from their homes, making it very hard for their loved ones to visit.

Efforts to secure the release of the activists were severely punished. On 22 July, five people who tried to visit them were detained for nine hours and a few days later a peaceful protest calling for the release of the 15 was violently repressed.

Such heavy-handed responses are not unique to Myanmar and Angola. Everywhere – from Turkey to Venezuela, the United States to Egypt – young human rights defenders have been thrown behind bars for fighting for their rights.

Society does not always welcome the acts of resistance by young human rights defenders. As noted by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, “general perception of youth in society, also conveyed by established media outlets, often point to their young age and lack of maturity as grounds for not giving them a say in public affairs. Youth and student movements are seen as troublemakers rather than serious actors that can fruitfully contribute to public debate”.

But denying young people a seat at the table limits opportunities to engage in debates about the progressive realization of human rights. Even when young people are allowed to participate, it is often meaningless or tokenistic, because it is widely assumed that they are there to learn and develop, rather than to equally contribute to solutions. This age-centric approach becomes a vicious cycle – very little room is given for young people to actively participate and shape the agenda, while policy makers fail to effectively address the barriers young people face to accessing basic human rights.


"Even when young people are allowed to participate, it is often meaningless or tokenistic, because it is widely assumed that they are there to learn and develop, rather than to equally contribute to solutions. This age-centric approach becomes a vicious cycle."

Clara Fok and Sara Vida Coumans



We need to take a step back and reflect on what this means for how states react to young people when they are peacefully engaging with society in a bid to create a space for them to participate in decisions that affect their lives.

If governments are serious about the lives of young people, they must ensure that young human rights defenders can claim and exercise their rights freely and without fear.

It is true that meaningful youth civic engagement will not happen overnight and it takes time to create productive inter-generational partnerships that are based on trust. But governments can take the first step by immediately and unconditionally releasing all the human rights defenders detained for peacefully exercising their rights.

This piece was originally published by IPS News.

Rate this content
 
 
 
Average of 5 ratings 
Rating 3.00 / 4 MoyenMoyenMoyenMoyen
Same author:
 flecheTurkey: Almost 130,000 purged public sector workers still awaiting justice 
 flecheUN: Decisive action needed to ban killer robots - before it’s too late
 flecheL’inefficacité de la peine de mort contre la corruption
 flecheEU: States push to relax rules on exporting surveillance technology to human rights abusers
 flecheHonduras. Les personnes arrêtées durant les manifestations post-électorales ne bénéficient pas des garanties d'une procédure légale
 flecheCameroon: Anglophone regions gripped by deadly violence
 flecheAustralia: Healthcare rollbacks put refugee lives and health at risk
 flecheQuand l'Iran cache ses crimes
 flecheThe abuse of solitary confinement in Egypt’s prisons
 flecheWe run the world - 8 kick-ass women standing up for our rights
 flecheNigeria: Amnesty activists uncover serious negligence by oil giants Shell and Eni
 flecheSyria’s Eastern Ghouta: They Fight for Life. We Fight for Them.
 flecheMyanmar: Crimes against humanity terrorize and drive Rohingya out
 flecheUSA: Return to bigoted anti-Muslim travel ban would cause immeasurable harm
 flecheLe commerce des armes
 flecheThe Death penalty in 2016: Facts and figures
 flecheAmnesty International Report 2016/17. The state of the world's human rights
 fleche‘Politics of demonization’ breeding division and fear
 flecheSyria: Secret campaign of mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya Prison
 flecheDangerously disproportionate:
The ever-expanding national security state in Europe

 flecheThe point of no return: The human rights of indigenous peoples in Canada threatened by the site C dam
 flecheRefugees Welcome Survey 2016 - The Results
 flecheDeath sentences and executions in 2015
 flecheLa peine de mort dans le monde
 flecheQatar: Abuse of World Cup workers exposed
 flecheConnection Denied: Restrictions on Mobile Phones and Outside Information in North Korea
 flecheAmnesty International report 2015-2016
 flecheAmnesty International Annual Report 2015/2016 (summary report)
 flecheIran : grandir dans le couloir de la mort
 flecheTaking stock : The arming of Islamic State
 flecheLes enfants qui travaillent pour nos smartphones
 flecheLes femmes réfugiées risquent agressions, exploitation et harcèlement sexuel lors de leur traversée de l’Europe
 flecheMexico: Gross incompetence and inertia fuel disappearances epidemic
 flecheGuantanamo : symbole de l’impunité américaine
 flecheFrance: New law threatens to make emergency measures the new norm
 flecheIrak. Des décennies de commerce irresponsable des armes alimentent les atrocités de l'État islamique
 flecheRefugees endangered and dying due to EU reliance on fences and gatekeepers
 flecheAngola. La répression des droits humains éclipse la commémoration de l’indépendance
 flecheTurkmenistan: Thousands evicted ahead of Asian Martial Arts and Indoor Games
 flecheNiger Delta: Shell’s manifestly false claims about oil pollution exposed, again
 fleche"We had nowhere else to go": Forced displacement and demolitions in northern Syria
 flecheCatastrophic moral failure as rich countries leave millions of refugees to cruel and uncertain fates
 flecheSolving the world's refugee crisis
 flecheCuba at a human rights crossroads as Pope Francis prepares to visit the country
 flecheYemen: Bloody trail of civilian death and destruction paved with evidence of war crimes
 flecheIran’s ‘staggering’ execution spree: nearly 700 put to death in just over six months
 flecheGlobal arms control treaty at risk of becoming a damp squib
 fleche3 reasons why the Mediterranean death toll has dropped dramatically
 flecheGreece: Humanitarian crisis mounts as refugee support system pushed to breaking point
 fleche7 ways the world has changed thanks to Edward Snowden
 flecheTwo years after Snowden governments resist calls to end mass surveillance
 fleche'Mandela Rules' on prisoner treatment adopted in landmark revision of UN standards
 flecheLampedusa: L'Isola Bella's shadow of death
 flecheBahrain: Hopes of reform crushed amid chilling crackdown on dissent
 flecheAfghanistan: Their lives on the line: Women human rights defenders under attack in Afghanistan: Executive Summary
 flecheDeath penalty 2014: Alarming rise in death sentences as governments resorted to capital punishment to combat crime and terrorism
 flecheGlobal opposition to USA big brother mass surveillance
 flecheNigeria: Satellite images show horrific scale of Boko Haram attack on Baga
 flecheAmericas: Violence on the rise against those defending human rights
 flecheChina: Activist faces « subversion » charge for supporting Hong Kong protests
 flecheIsraeli forces displayed ‘callous indifference’ in deadly attacks on family homes in Gaza
 flecheFlowers for Anna – Russia’s offensive on media and the truth
 flecheThe death toll in the Mediterranean rises
while Europe looks the other way

 flecheMediterranean migrant boat shipwrecks highlight need for EU action
 flecheMexico: Shocking rise in reports of torture and ill-treatment as authorities turn a blind eye

 flecheAfghanistan: Urgent inquiry needed after new US airstrike increases civilian death toll

 flecheGruesome evidence of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq as Islamic State moves to wipe out minorities
 flecheChina: Death row inmate freed after six years of trials and appeals

 flecheMali: Children paying a high price in ongoing conflict
 fleche“They use a strategy of fear” Protecting the right to protest in Brazil
 flecheSenegal: Human rights of communities trampled in 'Gold Rush'
 flecheQ&A: The Central African Republic’s human rights crisis
 flecheReport 2013: World increasingly dangerous for refugees and migrants
 flecheArms control and human rights
 flecheGlobal campaign targets rape in conflict zones
 flecheChina: Rise in forced evictions fuelling discontent
 flecheForum urbain mondial : les dirigeants doivent mettre fin aux expulsions forcées
 flecheThe state of the world's human rights
 flecheA compromised future: Children recruited by armed forces and groups in eastern Chad
 flecheDeath sentences and executions 2011
 flecheLes oubliés du Forum mondial de l'eau
 flecheFrance: urgence dans la lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes
 flecheThe state of the world's human rights
 flecheMoyen-Orient et Afrique du Nord : actualité en 2011 et 2012
 flecheMortalité maternelle : une femme meurt chaque minute…
 flecheReport 2011: Amnesty International at 50 says historic change on knife-edge
 flecheDeath penalty in 2010: Executing countries left isolated after decade of progress
 flecheReport 2010: Global justice gap condemns millions to abuse
 flecheDeath penalty report for 2009 : China must end secrecy surrounding sentences and executions
 flecheComment: The call from the Swiss minaret
 flecheWomen, violence and poverty - breaking out of the gender trap
 flecheUN vote on Goldstone report a defining step for accountability
 flecheWorld's biggest arms traders promise global arms treaty
 flecheIsrael rations Palestinians to trickle of water
 flecheThe Unheard Truth: World leaders must change debate on poverty and human rights
 flecheGovernments sign up to defend economic, social and cultural rights
 flecheEconomic crisis reveals deeper human rights problems
 flecheSummit of the Americas fails to address human rights
 flecheCruel, discriminatory, unfair and degrading – the death penalty in 2008
 fleche"Fuelling conflict: Foreign arms supplies to Israel/Gaza"
 flecheUN review must deliver on human rights
 fleche60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Time to Deliver
 flechePresident-elect Obama: 100 days to demonstrate commitment to human rights
 flecheHuman rights violations in cities around the world
 flecheArms Trade Treaty could fail without human rights
 flecheThe State of the World's Human Rights 2008
 flecheSixty years of human rights failure – governments must apologize and act now
 flecheSecrecy surrounds death penalty
 flecheSecrecy surrounds death penalty
 flecheUN examines human rights in member countries
 flecheWhat human rights legacy for the Beijing Olympics?
 flecheGovernments must take action to end violence against schoolgirls
 flecheRwanda abolishes death penalty
 flechePeople’s Republic of China: The Olympics countdown – one year left to fulfil human rights promises
 flecheReport 2007: Politics of fear creating a dangerously divided world
 flecheChina: The human cost of an economic ‘miracle’
 flecheChina: the human cost of the economic "miracle"
 flecheSchluss mit Guantánamo!
 flecheEU muss Führung in der internationalen Menschenrechtspolitik übernehmen
 fleche"Bosnie-Herzégovine: Les Roms et le droit à l'éducation"
 flecheIraq: Amnesty International deplores death sentences in Saddam Hussein trial
 flecheRecognition of the Human Rights of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is Long Overdue
 flecheAmnesty International launches global campaign against internet repression
 flecheSoudan : Protéger les civils du Darfour
 flecheInternational Criminal Court: New strength in the fight against impunity
 flecheAmnesty International Report 2006
 flecheDeath Penalty: 20,000 on death row across the world
 flecheGuantánamo Bay - a human rights scandal
 flecheReject Attempts to Legitimize No-Torture Promises
 flecheNigeria: Claiming rights and resources Injustice, oil and violence in Nigeria
 flecheCôte d'Ivoire - Un avenir lourd de menaces
 flecheThe International Day of the World’s Indigenous People: Dispossessed and in Danger - Time to make the rights of indigenous peoples a reality
 flecheUN reform: Comments and recommendations on second Draft Outcome Document for September summit
 flecheMorocco/Western Sahara: Justice must begin with torture inquiries
 flecheMyanmar: Arrests of political activists increase as Aung San Suu Kyi turns 60 under house arrest
 flecheLe coût humain de la «forteresse Europe» : des demandeurs d’asile détenus et expulsés au mépris des règles d'équité
 flecheNepal: A human rights crisis fuelled by irresponsible arms exports
 flecheUzbekistan: Only an independent investigation will reveal the truth of recent violence
 flecheReport 2005: A dangerous new agenda
 flecheUzbekistan: New clampdown fears as independent investigation urged

 flecheAmnesty International and Anti-Slavery International call on European States to Ratify the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking
 flecheEurope: Migrant workers denied fundamental rights
 flecheUSA: New Amnesty International report on USA’s "war on terror" detentions
 flechePress Freedom Day: Human rights in the Blogosphere
 flecheLes Roms sous les feux des projecteurs européens
 flecheAmnesty International's Views on the Proposals for Reform of the UN's human rights machinery
 flecheCuba: 71 prisoners of conscience continue to be imprisoned for expressing their ideas
 flecheNew report from the Stop Violence Against Women campaign and the Control Arms campaign: Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA
 flecheBeijing +10: No rollback on rights
 flecheWorld Social Forum: Building solidarity
 flecheChina: Horrific New Year
 flecheSudan: Those responsible for indiscriminate Port Sudan killings must be brought to justice
 flecheCouncil of Europe: Recommendations for better protection of trafficked persons
 flecheSudan: North-South peace deal leaves future of human rights uncertain
 flecheIran: Women are terrorized
 flecheSudan: Time running out for two million affected in Darfur
 flecheSudan crisis
 flecheWomen's lives and bodies -- unrecognized casualties of war
 flecheCouncil of Europe: One more chance to enhance the protection of human rights of trafficked persons
 flecheArming the perpetrators of grave abuses in Darfur
 flecheSudan: New report shames countries and companies cashing in on slaughter by selling arms
 flecheAlbania: Disability and the right to marry
 flecheCumbre Unión Europea-Rusia: Amnestía Internacional publica testimonios de la cerciente persecución que sufren los defensores de los derechos humanos en Chechenia
 flecheCEDAW: Women's undeniable right for protection
 flecheViolences sexuelles : un urgent besoin de réponses adéquates
 flecheUSA: Call to presidential candidates to commit to ending torture
 flecheUSA: New report on 'war on terror' calls for Bush and Kerry to tackle 'made in America' torture
 flecheAfrica Human Rights Day
 flecheColombia: "Scarred bodies, hidden crimes": Sexual Violence against women in the armed conflict
 flecheColombia: Women's bodies used as a battleground
 flecheLas exportaciones de armas de la UE amenazan la seguridad mundial
 flecheHuman Rights Must Begin at Home: Amnesty International's Recommendations to the Irish EU Presidency
 flecheDeath Penalty: Cases and developments 2003
 flecheAmnesty International, Oxfam, IANSA Control Arms Campaign Media Briefing: key facts and figures
 flecheAfghanistan: No justice and security for women
 flecheIraq: The rights of Iraqi people must not be sidelined on the altar of political agendas
 flecheNigeria: Amina Lawal's death sentence quashed at last
 flecheYemen: United against rights
 flecheWorld Social Forum: All human rights for all, to make another world possible
 flecheForum économique mondial et Forum social mondial
13
SEARCH
Keywords   go
in 
Translate this page Traduire par Google Translate
Share

Share on Facebook
FACEBOOK
Partager sur Twitter
TWITTER
Share on Google+Google + Share on LinkedInLinkedIn
Partager sur MessengerMessenger Partager sur BloggerBlogger
Other items
where is published this article: