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Rights on the Line

Rights on the Line

Author: Front Line Defenders

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Front Line Defenders is an international human rights organization based in Ireland working exclusively for the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk.
40 Episodes
We discuss the challenges faced by human rights defenders working on gender and LGBTI issues, in light of the recent withdrawal of Turkey from the Istanbul Convention. We chat to Aslıhan Tekin, the EU Representative /Alternate Board Member of the European Women's Lobby Coordination for Turkey, as well as Yildiz Tar, Media and Communications Program Coordinator at Kaos GL, an organisation which aims to advance the rights of the LGBTIQ community in Turkey. Our guests will shed light on the pushback against gender issues in Turkey, and how the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention impacts women, and women human rights defenders, and LGBTI rights defenders and the LGBTI community.
In this episode, we discuss the findings of the Front Line Defenders Global Analysis report 2020, focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on the work of human rights defenders, especially in terms of digital security and lockdown regulations. Guests include: Ed O' Donovan, Head of Protection at Front Line Defenders; a HRD from Zambia, an HRD from the Colombian organisation ''Somos Defensores'' speaking on the killings in Colombia, and Bestang Sarah Dekdeken from the Philippines speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on indigenous rights defenders in the Philippines.
This is a special episode, produced by the Coalition for Human Rights in Development. in collaboration with Front Line Defenders. Ahead of the upcoming Finance in Common Summit in Paris, we speak with defenders in Kenya, Guatemala and India, about the human rights impact of projects imposed in the name of development From the 9th to the 12th of November, all public development banks in the world will be together for the first time ever. Over 450 finance institutions and heads of governments will meet to discuss their response to global challenges such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the flag of "sustainable development", these banks often present themselves as the world's saviours. But their investments come at a high price. Activities they finance have been linked to thousands of human rights violations. Human rights defenders who oppose harmful projects are being accused of being “anti-development” and they are being threatened, attacked and killed. Indigenous Peoples are seeing their territories being pillaged. Rural communities are being forcibly evicted. Yet, despite growing evidence about these abuses, human rights are not even mentioned in the Finance in Common summit agenda and are glossed over in the proposed joint declaration that all banks will sign at the end of the event. Once again, the voices of human rights defenders and local communities are being completely ignored.
Episodio SP 2 - Defender Derechos En Tiempos De COVID - 19 Una conversación con Sandra Patago, Front Line Defenders; Guillermo Rodríguez García. Oficial de incidencia del programa para México y centroamérica del Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL); Argentina Casanova, codirectora ejecutiva de la RNDDHMX; Waquel Drullard, facilitadore de proyectos en Artículo 19 en la oficina de Mx y Centroamérica y colabora en la facilitación del Espacio OSC en México; María Martín, coordinadora de incidencia de la IM-Defensoras; y Lesly Guerrero, encargada área legal internacional de UDEFEGUA (Guatemala). Además del fuerte impacto que ha tenido la crisis sanitaria generada por la pandemia de COVID-19 en el acceso a derechos y servicios básicos, esta ha resultado también en una profundización de la crisis democrática y de derechos humanos en la región mesoamericana. Como respuesta a la pandemia, algunos Estados de la región han implementado acciones de carácter punitivo, como toques de queda, estados de excepción o la militarización de la seguridad ciudadana, entre otras medidas contrarias a los derechos humanos de la población. En este contexto, la defensa de los derechos humanos enfrenta nuevos obstáculos y, a la vez, se vuelve más urgente que nunca. Estas son algunas de las conclusiones del brief “Defender derechos en tiempos de COVID-19: retos para México y Centroamérica” publicado el día de hoy por el Espacio OSC para la protección de personas defensoras y periodistas (Espacio OSC), Front Line Defenders, la Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (IM-Defensoras), la Red Nacional de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en México (RNDDHM), el Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), la Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos, Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), el North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), y Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED).
Hafez Omar Interview

Hafez Omar Interview


Interview with Palestinian artist and human rights defender Hafez Omar for Cypher 02:
Episode 9 - Watched & Monitored: Protecting HRDs from Surveillance - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 01:20 - Hussein Radhi, Bahrain: 01:20 - 04:38 - BIll Marczak, The Citizen Lab, Canada: 04:39 - 16:11 - Tahir Imran, Pakistan: 16:12 -30:02 - Zehida Bihorac, Bosnia & Herzegovina: 30:03 - 36:02
Episode 8 - HRDs & Wellbeing: Rest & Respite For Resiliency - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 01:50 - Abdifatah Hassan Ali, Somalia: 01:50 - 13:05 - Anna Sharyhina, Ukraine: 13:05 - 18:41 - Atziri Avila, Mexico: 18:42 -24:50 With the global pandemic continuing to impose social distancing and other changes to our lives, human rights defenders are increasingly dealing with new types of stress, on top of the regular barrage of threats, harassment and smearing, among other risks and threats. In this episode we go a bit behind the scenes with three human rights defenders to discuss how they deal with the impact of the work on their lives and wellbeing. One of the supports that Front Line Defenders offers to HRDs for their wellbeing and stress management is the Rest & Respite Programme. The programme provides an opportunity for HRDs who are exhausted, experiencing burnout or facing temporary safety issues to take some time out from their work and the stressful environment in which they are working. Front Line Defenders has been supporting HRDs on R&R since 2005, and they can be hosted for short stays in Ireland or in another location of their choosing. While the primary objective of the R&R is to take some time to rest, HRDs can also use the period of relocation to develop their personal skills and contacts in order to prepare for their continued activism in their home country and to manage the risks they face. Activities include language classes, security training, networking with other human rights organisations or public speaking about their work. Some defenders just want to spend some time with their families. Others use the time to focus on their health and well-being. Human rights defenders tell us that the time and space to reflect, the opportunity to experience a new culture and the friendships they develop, give them a new perspective and renewed energy to take on the challenges of their work on their return home.
Season 2, Episode 7 - HRDs Defending Digital Space - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 01:18 - Rabah Nouami, Morocco: 01:18 - 09:42 - Larisa Schmillevitch, Brazil: 09:43 - 22:45 - Asan 'AJ', South Sudan,: 22:46 - 29:31 - HRD, Sri Lanka: 29:32 - 39:54 In this episode of the Front Line Defenders podcast Rights on the Line, we’ll hear from human rights defenders in Morocco, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, and Brazil talk about the unique online threats to their work and when the significance of digital protection can mean the difference between life and death. Through the global pandemic, we are all making adaptations to new modes of working. Many of us are now work remotely, in different physical and emotional environments. But for those human rights defenders whose work always posed threats to their wellbeing and safety, the crisis has no doubt been abused to further repress their activities. Defending digital safety has never been more urgent. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, governments around the world have introduced and implemented sweeping restrictions on freedom of movement and freedom of assembly. Defenders cannot access their offices to communicate with one another from safer locations. Risks to the work of HRDs such as hackings, reduced or costly online access, and unprotected communications platforms, make defenders more vulnerable than ever when they depend on these tools. And, as people under lockdown are more focused than ever on their computers and phones as a sole means to communicate, online communities thrive. Hate campaigns spread like wildfire.
Season 2, Episode 6 - Hong Kong Moment This episode takes us to Hong Kong, where citizens are facing an unprecedented crisis brought on by China’s announcement that it would introduce new national security legislation to control the territory. Hong Kong saw a massive uprising of protest in 2019 against what was seen as moves by the Chinese government to infringe on the basic freedoms enjoyed in the city-state. It was the second mass movement in the decade, following the Umbrella Movement a few years before. Yet now, with the world focused on dealing with a global health pandemic, Chinese authorities are moving to consolidate power in what is seen as an existential crisis for Hong Kong and its people. Front Line Defenders discussed the situation and what it might mean for the future of human rights in Hong Kong with human rights defenders and journalists. Joining us for this episode are Mabel Au, a long time human rights campaigner, working on labour and gender rights; Lee Cheuk-yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions; Andrew Sham, Co-Founder of Civil Rights Observer; Hang Tung Chow, a lawyer and Vice President of the Hong Kong Alliance; and veteran journalist Yin Pong Lam.
Episodio SP 1 - COVID-19, Respuestas de los Gobiernos & Las Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en América Latina - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 02:52 - Sara García Gross, El Salvador: 02:52 - 07:52 - Manuela Roya, Chile: 07:52 - 15:41 - Miriam Miranda, Honduras: 15:41 - 31:04 - María Ciro: 31:04 - 40:28 Front Line Defenders presenta una edición especial del podcast Rights on the Line, enfocándose en las defensoras de derechos humanos en América Latina con el episodio completo en español. Hasta el momento, la pandemia de la COVID-19 ha afectado a América Latina en menor medida que a otras regiones del mundo, con la notable excepción del Brasil, pero esto no significa que la región esté a salvo, ni que algunas medidas que han tomado los gobiernos se ajusten bien a sus poblaciones, en particular a los grupos más vulnerables, especialmente los pueblos indígenas. El Salvador fue el primer país que aplicó las medidas más estrictas de la región para hacer frente a la crisis, pero éstas no estuvieron exentas de controversia política, ya que se produjeron poco después a un notable enfrentamiento político entre el Presidente y el Parlamento. Sara García Gross explica la situación política de El Salvador y el contexto de la respuesta del gobierno. El movimiento de protesta de Chile inspiró al mundo en 2019, en particular a través de las acciones del movimiento feminista. Entre las causas de las generalizadas protestas sociales en Chile estaban los derechos del pueblo indígena mapuche. La abogada Manuela Royo habla de la respuesta del gobierno a la COVID-19 y de cómo la situación actual podría alimentar las protestas cuando se levante el bloqueo. En Honduras, como parte del encierro obligatorio, el gobierno suspendió las garantías constitucionales, incluyendo la libertad de expresión y de reunión. Las personas defensoras de derechos humanos, periodistas y activistas anticorrupción no pudieron circular libremente para informar sobre la crisis y proteger los derechos de las y los ciudadanos. Miriam Miranda, defensora afro-hondureña de los derechos humanos y lideresa de OFRANEH, explica cómo su comunidad está respondiendo y apoyándose de forma colectiva. Apenas unos días después de que el gobierno colombiano comenzara a aplicar medidas para restringir la circulación, empezaron a circular informes sobre personas defensores de los derechos humanos que fueron asesinadas porque eran fáciles de localizar ahora que tenían que permanecer en un lugar fijo. El mecanismo nacional de protección de personas defensoras de derechos humanos anunció que reduciría las medidas destinadas a las personas defensoras, lo que aumentaba aún más la inseguridad. Maria Ciro de El Comité de Integración Social del Catatumbo - Cisca explica cómo su comunidad está respondiendo y desarrollando medidas de protección colectiva.
Season 2, Episode 5 - The COVID-19 Crisis & Prisons in Iran - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 02:02 - Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Prize Winner & Lawyer: 02:03 - 05:03 - Roya Boroumand, Executive DIrector, AB Center: 05:03 - 20:44 (including testimonies from Iranian prisoners) This episode of Rights on the Line focuses on the prison situation in Iran during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is a collaboration between Front Line Defenders and the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran, a non-governmental non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran. In its documentation of human rights defenders cases in Iran, Front Line Defenders has often drawn attention to the poor health conditions in the prisons. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has also documented these conditions, most recently in its April 2020 report, “COVID-19 Fear in Iran’s Prisons”, available on the Center’s website, The first COVID-19 cases were reported in Iran on February 19th in Qom. A month later, the annual Persian New Year celebrations of Nowruz meant that Iranians traveled extensively throughout the country as the government did not impose social distancing policies. As a result of the government’s response, compounded by sanctions and a faltering economy, Iran today is one of the global epicenters of the pandemic. As of May 11, there are almost 110,000 cases and over 6,500 dead according to official figures. Iran is among the 10 most affected countries both in terms of number of cases and number of deaths per 100,000. The government has released approximately 100,000 prisoners in an effort to improve overcrowding at prisons, but poor conditions remain. And notably, imprisoned human rights defenders have almost entirely been excluded from furlough or release. In fact, in recent weeks, Front Line Defenders has reported on cases of HRDs being summoned to report to prison to start serving prison sentences, including Shapour Ehsanirad, Nahid Khodajo and Soha Mortezaei. Sam Rajabi, who is imprisoned in the notorious Evin Prison, was returned to prison despite having tested positive at a civic hospital while receiving treatment for another serious health condition. And long-term cases, Atena Daemi, Narges Mohammadi and Nasrin Sotoudeh remain imprisoned.
Season 2, Episode 4 - COVID-19, HRDs & Government Response: Focus on India - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 04:22 - Gayatri Khandhadai, Tamil Nadu: 04:22 - 24:48 - Anindya Hajra, West Bengal: 24:48 - 37:25 - Sadam Hanjabam, Manipur: 37:25 - 50:32 - HRD, Kashmir: 50:32 - 1:08:58 India has not been hit as hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as other countries, at least not in official statistics. While undercounting might be due to lack of available testing, the steps the Indian government took, including a 21-day lockdown may have proven effective in staving off worst-case scenarios. However, that does not mean the government's response has been welcomed in the country. And the measures the Modi government has taken have been widely seen as fitting into a larger trend characteristic of its Hindu-nationalist policies. From the earliest days of the crisis, the Muslim minority has been blamed for the spread of the virus. While the blaming of minorities or marginalized groups is not unique to India, the fact that this comes so soon after the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act in December, which sparked widespread protests and attacks targeting the Muslim community, has left many suspicious of any measures the government takes in addressing the health crisis. Other minority groups have also faced rumours of blame for the spread of the virus, including the LGBT community - and especially transgendered persons. And some of the provisions of assistance for citizens announced by the government notably exclude the Muslim and trans communities due to some of the formalities and paperwork required to receive such help. In Kashmir, a lockdown was already in place when the virus arrived in India, with internet and mobile communications largely cut off since Delhi announced in August 2019 that it would revoke Article 370, which had granted Jammu and Kashmir special status or limited autonomy since 1947. Numerous political figures and human rights defenders were detained and after protests erupted, widespread arrests followed. Just as some restrictions were starting to be lifted, the COVID-19 crisis hit, and many in the territory feared that the public health crisis would be devastating in a place cut off from access to the outside world and information. And rights groups feared that more civil liberties would be curtailed under cover of the health crisis . The northeastern state of Manipur, which has effectively been ruled by martial law since the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was introduced in 1958, is not as isolated as Kashmir, but has been kept on the margins of national development. The state has a large presence of army and security personnel and civil society is under constant monitoring. With the first case of COVID-19 identified at the end of March, the state government put Manipur under lock down. In addition to concerns over civil liberties, more vulnerable and marginalized groups in the state are at great risk of devastating health and economic consequences. Front Line Defenders talked with four human rights defenders to get a picture of their work, the risks they face and the context into which the COVID-19 pandemic and the government response occurs. The last few years in India has seen an increase of attacks against human rights defenders and a deterioration of space for civil society. Now, faced with a potentially devastating health crisis, how can HRDs mobilize in the Modi era? Joining us in this episode are Gayatri Khandhadai, Asia policy regional coordinator at the Association for Progressive Communications; Anindya Hajra from The Pratyay Gender Trust based in Calcutta; Sadam Hanjabam from Ya All, the first LGBT organization in Manipur; and a human rights defender from Kashmir who will remain anonymous out of security concerns.
Season 2, Episode 3 - When COVID-19 Cleared the Streets: What Next for Social Protests in Chile, Iraq & Algeria? - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 01:38 - Interview Manuela Royo, Chile: 01:38 - 09:49 - Interview with Mariam Al-Ashbal, Iraq: 09:49 - 16:23 - Interview with Leila Chaimaa Souama, Algeria: 16:23 - 21:53 Across the globe, 2019 was the year of packed squares and swarming streets, as tens of thousands of people gathered or marched to protest against deep economic inequality, call for greater civil and political rights, speak up against rampant corruption, and fight for a better future. From Chile to Iraq, demonstrations were largely peaceful. Yet, the crackdown was brutal. Human rights defenders, who were often at the front lines of those protests – documenting violations, assisting those who were arrested or organising peaceful actions – were particularly targeted. Despite the violent repression, mass protests seemed unstoppable. But the coronavirus outbreak has now succeeded where governments had failed. Social distancing rules are forcing HRDs and demonstrators to stay home, and autocratic governments are using the covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to consolidate power, approve draconian laws and repress any form of dissent. At the same time, the unfolding health, social and economic crisis is also laying bare all the problems that were driving many of the protests across the world: issues such as corruption and inequality have never been as evident and urgent as today. In such a challenging situation, how can protest movements evolve and what role can HRDs and civil society play? In this new episode of the Rights on The Line podcast, Front Line Defenders spoke to three women human rights defenders in Iraq, Algeria and Chile to analyse current and future challenges for protest movements, but also to reflect on what can be learned from the 2019 uprisings and what can be done to keep that spirit alive.
Season 2, Episode 2 - COVID-19 & HRDs: Defending the Marginalized - China, Poland & Rohingya In Bangladesh - FLD Intro: 00:00 - 02:07 - Interview with Lu Pin, China: 02:07 - 16:03 - Interview with Karolina Wieckiewicz, Poland: 16:04 - 27:01 - Interview with Rohingya HRD, Bangladesh: 27:02 - 31:52 Across the world, human rights defenders are adapting to life under the COVID-19 pandemic and working to both continue their regular work and also to provide additional support to groups who were already vulnerable and marginalized. In this episode of the Front Line Defenders ‘Rights on the Line’ podcast, we continue to learn about the impact of the health crisis on the work of HRDs on the front lines. In China, even as the complete closure of Wuhan was still in full effect, human rights defenders and organizations reported spikes in the number of cases of domestic violence being called in to hotlines. What has now emerged as a consequence of the stay at home policy in numerous countries is that the virus has left women trapped with their abusers. We talk with feminist activist Lu Pin about what the experience in China has been and what can be expected. Another impact of COVID-19 is that with the overwhelming of health services to care for the sick, other medical procedures are delayed or inaccessible. For women seeking abortions who live in countries where such procedures are almost completely outlawed, traveling abroad is the only way to access their right to choose. Yet with travel restrictions and cutbacks in transportation services, these options are drastically reduced. Karolina Wieckiewicz from Poland joins us to talk about the situation there. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are living in deplorable conditions, where risks of waterborne and other infectious diseases are exceptionally high due to their unhygienic living conditions. There have been diptheria outbreaks and respiratory and skin diseases are common. We talk with a Rohingya refugee in a camp in Cox’s Bazaar to understand what is happening now that the COVID-19 virus is present in the country. For more information about HRDs and the COVID-19 crisis, visit Front Line Defenders website – . This podcast is available on Soundcloud, Stitcher, Apple podcasts and other podcasting platforms. More episodes assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be released in the coming days and weeks, as we offer this podcast as solidarity to human rights defenders and their struggles for justice. Music Notes: 1. "Freedom" by Yung Kartz ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. 2. "She Is For Me China" by Sobrio ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. 3. "Lynx - Picture (The Polish Ambassador Remix)" by The Polish Ambassador ( is licensed under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. 4. "wasteland" by Silicon Transmitter ( licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Season 2, Episode 1 FLD Intro: 00:00 - 02:51 Interview with Yara Hawari, Palestine: 02:51 - 12:48 Interview with William Amanzuru, Uganda: 12:48 - 26:36 Interview with Sara García Gross, El Salvador: 26:36 - 33:03 As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, and communities seek to protect themselves however they can, governments are being challenged to respond. While the vast majority of governments have not done well in initial responses, some have been transparent, direct and engaged with their citizens – and the global community. Others, particularly those with authoritarian features or tendencies, are engaged in responding to the crisis that puts political and economic interests out front, crafting policy and decree accordingly. The declaration of emergency rule in too many countries only solidifies what was already there in practice, and leaves many people scared not only of the virus itself, but what may come next when life returns to what we now call normal. Human rights defenders are responding to these challenges, as they always do – by working hard, reaching out to their communities, identifying those who are struggling or are in need or who have been left out, and trying to help. They are calling out government abuse and excess and finding new ways to communicate with each other and the outside world to challenge power. Today, Front Line Defenders relaunches its ‘Rights on the Line’ podcast, to offer another platform for the voices, perspectives and experiences of human rights defenders at risk and leading struggles for the health, wellbeing and rights of their communities. In this episode, Front Line Defenders speaks to feminist activist Yara Hawari from Palestine about the consequences of the pandemic for a population under military occupation. Then we discuss government response in the context of the environment in Uganda with the founder of Friends of Zoka, William Amenzuru. Finally, we hear from Sara Garcia Gross from El Salvador, a leading women’s rights defender about the government’s response in the context of its dark past, the rampant violence against women in the country and the current dispute between the President and the opposition. Music notes: 1. "Freedom" by Yung Kartz ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. 2. "Bazar (ID 822)" by Lobo Loco ( licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. 3. Q-Burns Abstract Message feat. Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry - "Wake Up - It's Africa Calling" by IntraHealth International is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) 3.0 International License. 4. "Cumbia Bichera (Tremor Mix)" by El Remolón ( is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) 3.0 International License.
#UDHR70 Listen to this episode of #RightsOnTheLinePodcast to hear HRDs reflect firsthand on the importance of - and limitations of - UN Declarations on the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration on #HumanRights and 20th anniversary of the Declaration on #HumanRightsDefenders.
Rights on the Line brings you a brief bulletin from Paris today where a hundred and fifty human rights defenders from across the globe have gathered for the Human Rights Defenders World Summit.
Brazilian human rights defender Pâmella Passos. Pamella spent six weeks in Dublin as part of Front Line Defenders’ Rest and Respite program earlier this summer, just months after the death of her friend and well-known human rights defender and councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was murdered in Rio de Janeiro in on the 14th of March.
On this episode we talk about elections and how they can impact human rights defenders. By looking at some of the federal elections that have taken place this year, we’ll be able to see the different and nuanced ways political changes at the national level can impact the situation for those fighting for human rights in that country. Over the next half hour we’ll be moving region to region across the globe to discuss recent elections in Mexico, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Cambodia.
Front Line Defenders boardmember Arnold Tsunga speaks from Mozambique today, to give update on the situation in Zimbabwe following Monday's presidential election. Six people have been killed by police who fired at protestors with live rounds, tear gas and water cannons. In addition to the violent response to demonstrations, there are reports of the military preemptively targeting Human Rights Defenders to prevent dissent.
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