Today, The Guardian reports on the controversy surrounding the Sullivan Foundation summit, hosted by President Obiang in Equatorial Guinea, and the marring of the foundation's legacy by helping to whitewash a dictator's crimes. [more]
Today, after the death of Kim Jong Il, the Huffigton Post published a reflection by HRF president Thor Halvorssen.
As the world focuses its attention on the horrors of Kim Jong Il's rule, the Human Rights Foundation uploads three important talks given at the Oslo Freedom Forum to take you behind the regime's repressive curtain.[more]
Today, the improper.com reports how Hilary Swank's, Jean ClaudeVan Damme's, Seal's and Vanessa Mae's appeareance in Checnya on October 5th, 2011, drew heat from the Human Rights Foundation. Theimproper.com reports Swank's appeareance on "The Tonight Show". [more]
Today, the blog of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported that HRF sent a letter to the judges of Emilio Palacio's case in Ecuador, and explained how the legal report that HRF produced, concluded that the Ecuadorean state violated Palacio's freedom of expression to freely express his ideas and opinions, even if those opinions offended or bothered others.[more]
Today’s AP wire --published in The Miami Herald, CBS and ABC --reports on the actions against candidate Leopoldo López and the channel Globovisión in Venezuela. Sarah Wasserman, chief operating officer of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, said the court's decision on Lopez "sends a clear message that judicial independence in Venezuela remains an illusion." [more]
Today, the BBC reports on how repressive governments in Africa have turned to Public Relations (PR) companies for "reputation management." HRF's president, Thor Halvorssen, explains how "reputation management" can be a "euphemism of the worst sort. in many cases across Africa, it often means whitewashing the human rights violations of despotic regimes with fluff journalism. [more]
Today’s Moscow Times reports how Before the festivities, human rights groups sent letters to the stars reported to have agreed to attend, asking them to decline the invitation. Swank's manager Jason Weinberg told the HRF in an e-mail in September that the actress would not attend. [more]
Today’s Hollywood Reporter informs how HRF questioned Hilary Swank’s intentions with respect to the money she had received after attending Chechnya: “After five days of wall-to-wall criticism, this is weak, especially given that the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a warning directly to Swank through her manager on Sept. 26 -- a full 10 days before the party. We offered to brief her, but her manager cut us short and responded that Hilary had no plans to attend...” HRF’s Sarah Wasserman said in a statement. [more]
Today’s Moscow Times reports how HRF’s President, Thor Halvorssen, singled out Swank as the least scrupulous by saying her manager, Jason Weinberg, told him in a Sept. 26 e-mail that "Hilary has no current plans to attend [Chechnya president R.Kadyrov’s birthday celebration on October 5] ." [more]
Today TheWrap and Reuters report how Hilary Swank’s spokesperson confirmed that the actress will donate her personal appearance fees from the Chechnya celebration on Oct 5 to “various charitable organizations."[more]
Today’s people News reports how HRF dismissed Hilary Swank’s apology after attending Chechnya on October 5. HRF warned Ms. Swank about the delicate situation regarding human rights in the Chechen country. [more]
Today’s Foreign Policy Association extensive report condemns Swank’s attendance to Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday celebration in Chechnya on October 5 despite HRF’s e-mail. “One assumes that Ms. Swank and her celebrity pals can read. And that they have access to the internet.” Reports Foreign Policy Association.
HRF’s President, Thor Halvorssen also commented on the blog [more]
Today’s TheWrap and Reuters report how although warned about Chechen President’s human rights volations, celebrities attended Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday in Chechnya on October 5.
The report quotes HRF’s president Thor Halvorssen: "Hilary Swank obviously has the right to earn a living entertaining the highest bidder, but this sort of venality should be exposed (…)"[more]
Today’s Epoch Times quotes HRF’s president, Thor Halvorssen regarding Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday celebration in Cechnya on October 5: “It is embarrassing that Hilary Swank, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Vanessa-Mae lent their name to an event such as this. It is disheartening and shameful.” [more]
Today's TIME describes Nobel Peace prize holder Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and quotes her OFF speech:"The road to freedom is long, the cost of freedom is high [and] the fight for freedom is not for the fainthearted and the pessimists." [more]
Today's Forbes quotes chief operating officer of HRF, Sarah Wasserman on how Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez should abide by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling on Leopoldo López's case: ''The Venezuelan government finds itself in a pickle: if they reject the sentence they will be in violation of the Venezuelan Constitution. If they accept it they will have to permit a political rival they have persecuted for several years." [more]
Todayy's Ap wire -also published in quotes msnbc- quotes chief operating officer of HRF, Sarah Wasserman on how Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez should abide by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling on Leopoldo López's case: ''The Venezuelan government finds itself in a pickle: if they reject the sentence they will be in violation of the Venezuelan Constitution. If they accept it they will have to permit a political rival they have persecuted for several years." [more]
Today's Economist quotes OFF founder and HRF president Thor Halvorssen on how the United Nations and Western leaders are shying away from human rights promotion: "Thor Halvorssen,[...] calls Durban III “the last act in a tragicomedy” that demonstrates the UN establishment’s subjection to “despotic regimes which speak pretty words about human rights while they kill, torture or jail their opponents. [more]
The military prosecutor’s decision to prosecute the youth leader Asamaa Mahfouz for “insulting the military” is a serious escalation of efforts by military leaders to silence critical voices, Human Rights Watch said today. [more]
Chinese political prisoners are suing one of the world's largest technology companies, Cisco, for allegedly helping the Chinese Communist Party to monitor, censor and suppress the Chinese people. [more]
Sixteen-year-old Rukiyah Abdukadir was collecting firewood outside a refugee camp in Ethiopia when she was raped, her attack underlining the risks facing the thousands of people fleeing drought. [more]
Anna Hazare, a 74-year-old activist and one of India's most respected campaigners, was detained by police on Tuesday morning, hours before he was due to begin an indefinite hunger strike to demand tough new laws against graft. By evening about 1,300 of his supporters had been arrested in Delhi, local media said, and hastily organised demonstrations were underway across the country.
Bolivian indigenous activists have started a long protest march from the Amazon plains to the country's capital in against a government plan to build a 306km highway through a national park in indigenous territory. [more]
Tens of thousands of refugees and would-be migrants have arrived in Lampedusa since the upheavals in North Africa this year, setting off a crisis that has come close to overwhelming the tiny island. [more]
All parties to Somalia’s armed conflict have committed serious violations of the laws of war that are contributing to the country’s humanitarian catastrophe, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. All sides should immediately end abuses against civilians, hold those responsible to account, and ensure access to aid and free movement of people fleeing conflict and drought. [more]
More than 70 people were killed and dozens more were wounded Monday in a string of violent attacks around Iraq, one of the deadliest days in the country so far this year, police and government officials said. [more]
As the death count rises in Syria, calls are mounting for President Obama to denounce Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. But Syria's pivotal role in the region and fragile ethnic and religious balance are complicating the situation. [more]
“He said he was questioned by police for more than 50 times, and none of those was about the tax issue of the company, but mostly about his blog,” the associate said, adding that the police had vehemently criticized Mr. Ai for his postings. “‘How dare you say those things, you are too defiant, disobedient,’ they would say.” [more]
Seeking to reestablish his authority after England’s worst rioting in decades, Prime Minister David Cameron told an emergency session of Parliament on Thursday that the authorities would consider curfews, constraining smartphones and social networking sites, and filling some police functions with soldiers to keep more officers on the street. [more]
The lawsuit against the daily El Universo and his malicious efforts to imprison journalist Emilio Palacio and the editors of that newspaper will turn him into the defendant for the same charges once the table turns. Today, Correa controls the judiciary to a great degree, but in Latin America, especially in Ecuador, that is almost always a passing phenomenon. [more] Yemen opposition welcomes U.N. call for power transfer
August 10, 2011
Yemen's top opposition movement welcomed the U.N. Security Council's call for a transfer of power, an initiative that could end the political instability in the poverty-ridden Arab nation. [more]
It happened again today in Cuba. A group of women of the Ladies in White attended mass at the Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba and were greeted at the end of Church services when exiting the Cathedral with a mob organized by Cuban state security to insult and physically assault them. [more]
Zimbabwe's military and police are running torture camps in diamond mining areas, the BBC said on Monday, in a report that could have implications for moves to ease restrictions on the region's diamond trade. [more]
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) approved a Resolution today regarding the situation of the detainees at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The resolution urges the State to close the detention facility without delay and to arrange for the trial or release of the detainees. [more]
Lost in the tumult concerning the debt-ceiling has been a stunning development in the Russia-U.S. relationship. As U.S. lawmakers have made tentative efforts to begin to crack down on human rights violations in Russia, Russia has launched an all-out effort of intimidation. [more]
The Security Council on Wednesday broke its protracted impasse over responding to the bloody repression of the protest movement in Syria, issuing its first denunciation of the violence there since the uprising began five months ago and putting the onus on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. [more]
An ailing Hosni Mubarak, who had served longer than any other ruler of modern Egypt until a revolution toppled him in February, was rolled into a courtroom in a hospital bed on Wednesday to face charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters, offering an indelible lesson for Egypt and the Arab world in the humbling of power.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemns Vietnam’s government for taking Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Roman Catholic priest and religious freedom advocate, from his home in Hue Monday, despite his ill health which requires treatment for several strokes and an apparent brain tumor. [more]
The Arab Spring has, not for the first time in the history of Middle-Eastern protest movements, proven beyond doubt that the women of the region are willing to, and capable of, taking their equal place alongside men in society, in both their public and private lives. [more]
Last week, just outside Cuba's holiest Catholic shrine, government thugs attacked in plain daylight a group of opposition women -- beating them, stoning them and stripping them naked to the waist. [more]
A Southern California martial arts instructor suspected of being involved in a 1982 massacre during a civil war in Guatemala was arrested in Canada and is awaiting extradition to the U.S., it was reported Monday. [more]
In its annual report, Human Rights Watch condemned what it called "the Venezuelan government's domination of the judiciary and its weakening of democratic checks and balances" last year, warning that Chavez's control over judges and prosecutors has led to "a precarious human rights situation." [more]
Colombia is safer than it has been in a quarter century. But the nation continues to face serious human rights challenges as left-wing guerrilla groups and the heirs to right-wing paramilitary bands slaughter thousands and keep millions on the run, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Monday. [more]
The human rights group Amnesty International said Friday that Haitian authorities are launching a probe into alleged crimes against humanity committed during the 15-year rule of former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. [more]
New York-based Human Rights Watch called for the arrest and prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier for ``grave violations of human rights'' Monday, one day after the deposed dictator made a surprise visit to his native homeland following nearly 25 years of exile. [more]
“I do think certain values are much more conducive to peace and prosperity than others. Those values are individual liberty, democracy under the rule of law, free markets, and human rights.”
— Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Uganda: HRF Condemns Anti-Homosexuality Bill Returning to Parliament
December 10, 2012
New York (December 11, 2012)—The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill (henceforth referred to as “the Bill”) once again being brought before the Ugandan Parliament. Although same sex relations are already illegal in the country—with penalties of seven years to life in prison—the Bill would act to enforce and promote further discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation, with measures that include, among others: a legal requirement to report knowledge of “homosexual activities;” the criminalization of the “promotion” of homosexuality; the introduction of a series of new criminal offenses; and the nullification of any and all international treaties inconsistent with the Bill. [more]
134 Nobel Laureates Urge Incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to Release Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and Wife Liu Xia December 4, 2012
Citizens Petition to Chinese Government Launched at Change.Org by Archbishop Tutu
New York (December 4, 2012)—Today, HRF announced that 134 Nobel Laureates across all six Nobel disciplines wrote to incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping, urging him to immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia. Liu Xia has been under house arrest since shortly after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced her husband’s selection as the Peace Prize Laureate for 2010. The letter was released by the International Committee for Liu Xiaobo, which is comprised of six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and 15 non-governmental organizations, including HRF. [more]
DC Henchman of Kazakh Dictator Threatens HRF with Lawsuit November 13, 2012
by Thor Halvorssen
A specter haunts the president of Kazakhstan. It is what in the West we call dissent. The growing condemnation of his repressive government is turning increasingly international, revealing that Nursultan Nazarbayev is a dictator, not a democrat. And he is doing whatever he can to stop his critics. In the U.S., one of his servants, a Washington Beltway fixer of Bulgarian origin by the name of Alexander Mirtchev, has threatened to sue the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) if we don’t shut up. [more]
Chavez and Nazarbayev Celebrate Tyrannical Victory at U.N. Human Rights Council
November 12, 2012
By Thor Halvorssen
November 12, 2012
NEW YORK -- It is a good day for intolerant rulers like Hugo Chavez and Nursultan Nazarbayev, as seven countries with particularly appalling human rights records were elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council: Ethiopia, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. [more]
HRF in New York Times: Voting for U.N. Rights Council Puts Focus on Records of Panel’s Member States November 12, 2012
Those who criticize the United Nations as a toothless and dysfunctional organization often point to the membership of the Human Rights Council to make their case. China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Russia currently hold seats. The body has been a vocal and reliable critic of Israel, but has been lenient on countries like Sri Lanka, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Even the United States refused to participate in the council, until the Obama administration reversed a Bush-era policy and ran successfully for a seat in 2009. On Monday, the United States won re-election to the body for another three-year term. [more]
HRF in Foreign Policy: Nightmare Squared
November 6, 2012
By Pedro Pizano
November 6, 2012
Longing for the days of Kim Jong Il? Maybe it's time to transfer your affections to the delusional dictator of Equatorial Guinea.
On October 22, Fabián Nsue set out to do one of the things that lawyers often do: Pay a visit to one of his clients in prison.
His destination was no ordinary jail. It was Black Beach Prison, a place with a reputation so grim that it earned Nsue's home country of Equatorial Guinea the nickname of "the Auschwitz of Africa" back in the 1970s. The warden of the prison at the time was Teodoro Obiang, who went on to become the country's president. Today, after 33 years in power, he enjoys the status of the world's longest serving head of state. [more]
EVENT: HRF and UN Watch to Oppose Bids by Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Venezuela to Join Top UN Human Rights Body
November 7, 2012
UPDATE:Due to inclement weather in the New York area, the luncheon co-hosted by HRF and UN Watch will take place this Friday, November 9, instead of Thursday. The location and time remain the same.
NEW YORK (November 7, 2012)–The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) invites you to attend a luncheon at the United Nations (UN) this Friday, November 9, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, ahead of the November 12 elections of the 2013-2015 members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The luncheon will be co-hosted by HRF and the Geneva-based NGO UN Watch. [more]
HRF in the Huffington Post: Crooners and Their Dictators
October 19, 2012
By Pedro Pizano
Dictators have a long and storied love affair with the arts. The Medici family, who ruthlessly ruled Florence for generations, served as patrons to Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Hitler was fond of Karajan and Furtwangler, and Stalin had a bitter love affair with Shostakovich and Rimsky-Korsakov. Today's dictators are no different.
After all, where's the fun in being a ruthless dictator with a vast, ill-gotten personal fortune if you can't spend it on a private concert with your favorite artist? [more]
Kazakhstan: HRF Publishes An Open Letter to U.S. Leaders and Civil Society
October 17, 2012
Washington D.C. (October 17, 2012)–The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sponsored the publication of an open letter today in the Washington Examiner from human rights defenders in Kazakhstan addressed to U.S. leaders and members of civil society. The letter and accompanying educational advertisement raise awareness of the crimes of the dictator of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and mention the Magnitsky Act as a useful tool to bring to justice those responsible for the Zhanaozen Massacre, in which Kazakh state police shot and killed numerous unarmed civilians on December 16, 2011. The letter also lists the name of the officials, police officers, judges, and security agents accused by Kazakstani human rights defenders as being involved in the massacre. [more]
October 17: Join HRF in NYC for screening of A Whisper to a Roar
New York (October 15, 2012)—The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) invites you to attend a screening of A Whisper to a Roar, a new documentary film that follows the stories of pro-democracy activists struggling for freedom in Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The film will be screened on Wednesday, October 17, at 8:15pm EST at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, in New York. [more]
Cuba Video: “Ladies in White” One Year after the Death of Laura Pollán
October 14, 2012
New York (October 14, 2012) – To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the passing of Laura Pollán, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) re-releases two documentary shorts highlighting the work of the “Ladies in White,” a civil society group inside Cuba that organizes peaceful marches for freedom and human rights. [more]
China: Joint Statement by International Support Committee to Liu Xiaobo October 12, 2012
Watch Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Talk From HRF's San Francisco Freedom Forum October 5, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO (October 4, 2012)— Speaking at the San Francisco Freedom Forumbefore an audience of top innovators, international human rights activists, and fellow dissidents, Burmese democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called for a new approach to ending human rights violations around the world. In a video released today by the Human Rights Foundation of the Nobel Laureate’s speech at last week’s event, Daw Suu said that while it is important to bring attention to human rights abuses that are committed, what is most needed is to stop human rights violations from occurring and to make people understand that they should not be committing human rights violations in the first place. [more]
Venezuela: HRF Asks UN to Investigate Confessions of Former Supreme Court Justice; Publishes Report on Subordination of Judiciary to the Executive
October 3, 2012
GENEVA (October 3, 2012) – Last week, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted a petition and legal report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (UN Special Rapporteur), requesting that she send an allegation letter to the government of Venezuela regarding the state of subordination of the judiciary to the executive power in that country. [more]
Aung San Suu Kyi Meets Her Peers at the San Francisco Freedom Forum
September 30, 2012
The Burmese leader was honored for her tenacious pursuit of democracy this week in San Francisco, where she crossed paths with fellow activists from Saudi Arabia to Uganda. Andy Isaacson on her stirring acceptance speech.
Touching down in San Francisco on her whirlwind tour of the United States, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday received the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation, an organization whose board included the late Czech president, with whom she corresponded during her years under house arrest. [more]
Pakistan: HRF Submits Petition and Report to UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in Mukhtar Mai Case
September 25, 2012
Mukhtar Mai speaks at the opening press conference of HRF's flagship conference, the Oslo Freedom Forum, in 2010.
New York (September 25, 2012)—The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted a petition and legal report today to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, requesting that she send an allegation letter to the government of Pakistan regarding its failure to exercise due diligence in the case of Pakistani human rights activist Mukhtar Mai. Ms. Mai was a victim of gang rape in her rural village of Meerwala in Pakistan in 2002. In April 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted all but one of the accused in the case. [more]
HRF in the Huffington Post: An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters Regarding Their Che Guevara Merchandise September 19, 2012
Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, sent an open letter to Ted Marlow, the CEO of Urban Outfitters, regarding the sale of merchandise emblazoned with the image of Che Guevara. The letter explained the bloody legacy of this misrepresented revoutionary. After the letter went viral, Urban Outfitters removed the merchandise in question from their website. Read the letter here.
HRF Expands Focus to Include Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Singapore
September 18, 2012
New York (September 18, 2012)—In line with the Human Rights Foundation’s expansion from an exclusive focus on the Americas to promoting democracy and freedom in closed societies around the world, HRF announces its commitment to addressing authoritarianism in Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Singapore. Though the similarities between these disparate countries are not immediately apparent, each of their governments share a tactic of burying human rights violations under news of economic development as they spend on lobbyists, public relations companies, and purchase the services of former presidents and prime ministers of democratic countries. [more]
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in San Francisco to receive Václav Havel Prize; Top Innovators and Dissidents Unite at San Francisco Freedom Forum
San Francisco (September 10, 2012)—The San Francisco Freedom Forum, to be held September 28, will connect a network of international human rights advocates with a diverse Bay Area audience.
In her first trip to the United States in more than 20 years, Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will address a community of innovators and trendsetters from advocacy, business, media, policy, and technology.
Those speaking alongside her include: Russian democracy activist Garry Kasparov; Saudi women’s rights pioneer Manal al-Sharif; Pussy Riot spokesman Pyotr Verzilov; Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy; Slate editor William J. Dobson; Ghanaian economist George Ayittey; drug policy reformer Ethan Nadelmann; anti-genocide artist Naomi Natale; conflict psychologist Justine Hardy; Iranian author and former prisoner of conscience Marina Nemat; and Venezuelan journalist Marcel Granier.
Update on HRF's Equatorial Guinea Campaign
August 23, 2012
New York (August 23, 2012)—Since August 1 the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has campaigned to expose the public relations strategies employed by the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, as he seeks to whitewash his 33-year rule and 44 years of crimes against humanity. Obiang is the longest ruling head of state in the world and has been accused of crimes against humanity; however, he now seeks to brand himself as a champion of freedom and democracy in Africa. These strategies include co-opting the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, a high profile U.S. charity co-chaired by former president Bill Clinton. With the Sullivan name and Obiang’s financing, a “human rights” summit began August 20 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. [more]
HRF in The Guardian: US group draws fire for holding human
rights summit in Equatorial Guinea
August 22, 2012
August 22, 2012
By Afua Hirsch
Its president is known as one of the most despotic in Africa, his heir stands accused of
squandering millions of public funds on Michael Jackson memorabilia and the majority
of its people live on less than $2 per day.
Yet Equatorial Guinea this week finds itself in the unlikely position of playing host to a
human rights conference on how to improve life for ordinary Africans.
Russia: HRF Condemns Sentencing of Pussy Riot to 2 Years in Prison; Conviction Violates the European Convention on Human Rights
August 17, 2012
MOSCOW (August 17, 2012)—The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the conviction and two-year prison sentence against three members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot. On August 16, 2012, HRF published a legal report analyzing the case under the European standard of protection of freedom of expression and concluded that the three women’s arrest, denial of bail, and criminal trial on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to HRF, today’s conviction confirms this violation.[more]
RUSSIA: Garry Kasparov Beaten, Arrested in Moscow Outside Pussy Riot Trial
August 17, 2012
MOSCOW (August 17, 2012)—HRF chairman Garry Kasparov was arrested and beaten by police today outside the courthouse in Moscow where three members of the punk rock group Pussy Riot were convicted of "hooliganism" and sentenced to two years in prison. Kasparov remains in custody at the time of this release in a police station, where authorities await further orders.[more]
WSJ: When Putin's Thugs Came For Me
August 17, 2012
MOSCOW (August 17,2012)
By Garry Kasparov
The only surprise to come out of Friday's guilty verdict in the trial here of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot was how many people acted surprised. Three young women were sentenced to two years in prison for the prank of singing an anti-Putin "prayer" in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Their jailing was the next logical step for Vladimir Putin's steady crackdown on "acts against the social order," the Kremlin's expansive term for any public display of resistance. [more]
Russia: HRF legal report on the Pussy Riot case concludes: Punk rock band should be acquitted August 16, 2012
MOSCOW (August 16, 2012)—The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a legal report on the ongoing criminal case against three members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot. The report analyzed the case under the European standard of protection of freedom of expression and concluded that the arrest, bail denial, and criminal trial against the three women violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A district court verdict and sentence on the case is expected on Friday, Aug. 17, in Moscow. [more]
Watch Pussy Riot husband Pyotr Verzilov speaking at the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum, HRF's flagship conference, here.
Read a translation of the Pussy Riot closing statements here.
WSJ: A Human Rights Toast for an African Tyrant
August 8, 2012
Thor Halvorssen and George Ayittey write in the Wall Street Journal: "In the campaign for human rights and justice in apartheid South Africa, black American civil rights leaders were instrumental. One was Leon H. Sullivan, who enunciated the "Sullivan Principles" guiding multinational firms toward treating blacks fairly while doing business in South Africa. Why, then, is the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation today celebrating the exploits of a brutal African tyrant?" [more]
Sullivan Foundation on the Defense: Responds to Criticism with Praise of Equatoguinean Dictator
August 7, 2012
Hope Masters, CEO of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, responded yesterday to widespread criticism of the upcoming Sullivan Summit in a letter published on the Sullivan Foundation's website. Numerous human rights organizations have questioned the summit's publicly stated goals of promoting human rights and development in light of the summit's sponsorship and support from Africa's longest-ruling dictator, Teodoro Obiang. [more]
Read the full article from The Independent and here.
Read the full article from US News and World Reporthere.
HRF Urges Washington Charity to Cancel Human Rights Summit Sponsored by Equatorial Guinea’s Dictator
August 3, 2012
RUSSIA: Kasparov on Olympic Corruption in the London Times
August 2, 2012
HRF chairman Garry Kasparov writes in The Times: "From his choice seat at the Olympic Games Mr Putin will be closely watching the international reaction to his latest crackdown. It would be a real victory over Olympian hypocrisy if Mr Putin was told he must instead watch the Games from home. It is high time that the Olympic movement embraced human ideals and ended its marathon romance with dictators." [more]
Venezuela: HRF condemns the arbitrary detention of human rights author and activist July 16th, 2012
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the arbitrary detention of writer and human rights activist Gustavo Tovar Arroyo yesterday in Venezuela. Tovar was detained for five hours by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) upon entry into the country. Tovar is the author of Young People for Freedom—in which he documents the creation of the Venezuelan student movement in 2007—and Denied Skin, a book of poetry. Tovar is also the founder of the human rights organization Human and Free, which promotes non-violence in the struggle for democracy under dictatorial societies. Since 2011, Tovar has resided in the United States and Mexico, and in 2011, he was named a Senior Fellow of HRF in recognition of his human rights activism.
HRF in CBS: "US neutrality on Lugo impeachment draws criticism"
July 7th, 2012
"The U.S. position got a key endorsement this week from the New Yorkbased Human Right Foundation, a nonprofit group that was deeply involved in analyzing the Honduran coup for the OAS and was quite critical of the State Department back then. "What just happened in Paraguay is not, in any way, what took place in Honduras almost three years ago," said Javier ElHage, the foundation's legal director. He said the new Paraguayan government should be fully recognized."
Paraguay: President Lugo’s Removal is Constitutional, not a Coup June 26, 2012
NEW YORK (June 26, 2012)—Last Friday Paraguay’s congress voted to remove President Fernando Lugo from office. The entire impeachment process (or “juicio político”) was based on Art. 225 of Paraguay’s constitution and lasted only two days. The presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela rushed to describe Lugo’s removal as a coup d’état.” The presidents of Brazil and Uruguay called for Paraguay’s expulsion from Mercosur, Unasur, and the Organization of American States (OAS), in application of those organizations’ democracy clauses.After a careful legal investigation, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has determined: (1) that the presidential succession in Paraguay was constitutional; (2) that it was consistent with the OAS’s Inter-American Democratic Charter (2001), Mercosur’s Ushuaia Protocol on Democracy (1998) and Unasur’s Additional Protocol on Democracy (2010); and (3) that the new government of Paraguay must be fully recognized by the international community. [more]
Read Javier El-Hage’s full legal opinion published in the Americas Quarterly, here.
HRF in WIRED: "Democracies reject Acta, Sopa and Pipa -- but what about autocracies?"
June 26, 2012
Javier El-Hage, HRF's International Legal Director, writes for WIRED Magazine: "The failure of Acta, Sopa and Pipa was not just the consequence of enlightened politicians detecting the perils of these laws of successful campaigning by civil society organisations such as European Digital Rights, Access, or the Wikimedia Foundation. First and foremost, this was the result of the set of democratic institutions that allow critical civil society organisations to exist. But the reality is that most nations on Earth still live under governments that do not allow for criticism by civil society. These rulers do not allow for citizens to associate, to discuss the pros and cons of a particular bill or treaty without fear of persecution, let alone campaign and effectively veto the laws proposed by their governments."
HRF Elects Garry Kasparov as New Chairman
May 4, 2012
New York (May 4, 2012)—Russian democracy advocate Garry Kasparov has been elected Chairman of the board of directors and international council of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). The position of Chairman was last held by Czech playwright Václav Havel, who passed away on December 18, 2011.
"It is a privilege to be elected Chairman of an institution I have so much respect for," said Kasparov. "The Human Rights Foundation will continue the mission of our departed friend Václav Havel to promote individual freedom and civil society worldwide, and to ceaselessly expose the world's dictators and the hypocrites who coddle them." [more]
Inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent Awarded to Ai Weiwei, Manal al-Sharif, and Aung San Suu Kyi
May 2, 2012
NEW YORK (May 2, 2012)—The inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent will be awarded to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal al-Sharif, and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The three laureates will be honored at the Havel Prize ceremony at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Oslo, Norway on May 9.
An initiative of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF), the Havel Prize was founded with the support of Dagmar Havlová, Václav Havel’s widow.
"This is a magnificent way to honor the memory of Vaclav Havel—by recognizing those who, with bravery and ingenuity, unmask the lie of dictatorship by living in truth," said Havlova, a member of the prize committee. [more]
Human Rights Without Borders
April 19, 2012
By JOHN H. FUND
TOO OFTEN THE TERM "human rights" has been misused or cheapened. Take the UN Human Rights Council, which has become a standing joke because so many of its 47 member countries kill or torture their opponents. Indeed, the latest candidate for membership put up by Latin America is Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, which in February refused to vote for a UN resolution criticizing Syria's brutal killing of civilians and continues to ship oil to the Assad regime.
The Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual event organized by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, is rehabilitating the concept that people of good will can promote basic rights in all nations at all times without an overlay of ideology or hypocrisy. Indeed, at the meeting...[more]
The Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent
April 11, 2012
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to announce the creation of the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, which will be awarded on May 9 in Oslo, Norway, during the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum. An initiative of the New York-based HRF, the Havel Prize was authorized with the blessing and enthusiasm of Václav Havel's widow, Dagmar Havlová.
"We are thrilled to have the distinction of stewarding a prize that will celebrate those who engage in creative dissent, exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth. We cannot think of a more fitting way to acclaim the legacy of Václav Havel than...[more]
Leaders Unite at the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum; Stand Against Dictatorship, Censorship, and Slavery
April 6, 2012
The fourth annual Oslo Freedom Forum—to be held on May 7, 8, and 9—will bring the most daunting humanitarian issues of our time out of the shadows and into the forefront of global discussions.
In the course of the three-day event, speakers will expose repression in Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, West Papua, and Zimbabwe. They will be joined by an array of human rights defenders and activists from Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Iran, Kosovo, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United States, and several other nations.
Drawn from the fields of academia, advocacy, business, media, policy, and technology, speakers will include: Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales; Google Ideas principal Scott Carpenter; embattled Singaporean opposition leader Chee Soon Juan; Pakistani women's rights champion Asma Jahangir...[more]
The Brin Wojcicki Foundation to Sponsor 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum March 14, 2012
NEW YORK (March 14, 2012)—The Oslo Freedom Forum is delighted to announce the support of the Brin Wojcicki Foundation for the 2012 Oslo Freedom Forum. Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki established the foundation. Brin is the co-founder of Google, and Wojcicki is the co-founder of 23andMe, a leading personal genetics company.
The Brin Wojcicki Foundation has awarded $250,000 to sponsor the Oslo Freedom Forum. "We are thrilled that the Brin Wojcicki Foundation has prioritized investing in a community devoted to preserving and promoting freedom and individual rights around the world," said Oslo Freedom Forum founder, Thor Halvorssen. [more]
HRF Mourns the Loss of James Q. Wilson (1931 – 2012) March 6, 2012
James Q. Wilson, founding member of the Human Rights Foundation's International Council, acclaimed political scientist, and noted public policy scholar, died on Friday afternoon in Boston at the age of 80.
A recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, Wilson authored 14 books on criminal law, justice, morality, and politics. He taught government at Harvard University for more than 20 years, and later held positions at UCLA, Pepperdine, and Boston College.
Wilson was most famous for his work on the "broken windows" theory of law enforcement. Sparked by his 1982 article in The Atlantic Monthly, the theory argues that upholding the general maintenance of order in communities—making public repairs, cleaning graffiti, aggressively persecuting minor crimes—will cause more serious violent crime rates to go down. "Public order," Wilson wrote, "is a fragile thing, and if you don't fix the first broken window, soon all the windows will be broken." His theory was implemented by city governments in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, and triggered the swiftest crime reduction...[more]
And the Nominees for Outstanding Performance in the Service of Human Rights Are...
February 25, 2012
In advance of Sunday's Oscars we have some amusing yet interesting news. The Human Rights Foundation's ability to impact popular culture by using research and an aggressive understanding of what kind of news can raise awareness is on display in the work of notorious satirist Sacha Baron Cohen. In his diatribe against the Oscar ban, Aladeen complains that he has "already paid Hilary Swank two million dollars to be his date," and that "she will not refund a penny." This joke resulted directly from HRF's advocacy for human rights in Chechnya—specifically, our creation of a trending story about celebrities engaged in the coddling of dictators for money.
With that in mind, HRF has just revealed our nominations for Most Outstanding Performance in the Service of Human Rights, and our nominations for Biggest Human Rights Disappointment. They were published in Forbes yesterday, and in The Independent. (more)
See the slide show and accompanying article in Forbes here.
Read the follow up article on the biggest human rights disappointments of the year in The Independent: "Here's one award the stars don't want to win"here.
Review: NO ENEMIES, NO HATRED: Selected Essays and Poems by Liu Xiaobo
February 21, 2012
HRF's President reviews a recent publication of the 2010 Nobel Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, entitled No Enemies, No Hatred for Forbes Magazine : "While Beijing has done everything in its power to suppress Liu's work and his international recognition, a recent collection of essays and poems allows readers to explore his unique insight. NO ENEMIES, NO HATRED: Selected Essays and Poems [Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, January 2012] features essays interspersed with poems selected by Liu's wife. The most poignant are written to her and represent, ultimately, what the struggle is about—the choice between love and hatred. His poems converge with the academic essays, touching on critical reflections of state communist ideology, and diverging from the pedantic to instead examine the writer as a human. (more)
Update on our Hilary Swank-Chechnya Advocacy Campaign
February 17, 2012
On October 5th, Swank, along with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Seal, and Vanessa Mae, all flew to the Chechen capital of Grozny to attend Ramzan Kadyrov's extravagant 35th birthday bash. Kadyrov is a Putin-installed warlord who has ruled Chechnya like a medieval tyrant, employing rape, torture, disappearances, and murder to remain in power as head of Russia's puppet government. HRF warned these four celebrities as much, but our advice was ignored and their participation was captured on film. While the attendance fees are undisclosed, government sources state that each received a six-figure paycheck. By participating, they unwittingly legitimized and burnished Kadyrov's reputation and persona.
In the wake of this incident in a celebrity-obsessed culture, a philanthropy group launched a service to provide celebrities with the human rights records of potential employers. Swank eventually apologized on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and told The Hollywood Reporter that she would be donating the money "to various charitable organizations." Recently, the exiled Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic asked Swank to release the recipients of her donations—she declined.
Join HRF this Friday for a Staged Reading of Vaclav Havel’s “The Memorandum” January 25, 2012
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to announce that a staged reading of “The Memorandum”—an award-winning play written by HRF’s late chairman Václav Havel—is being held to benefit HRF this Friday, January 27, at the 45th Street Theatre in New York, NY, from 8:00pm to 10:30pm. Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic and a champion of human rights, passed away on December 18, 2011.
A satire of oppressive bureaucracy and the stifling of freedom of expression under Soviet domination in Czechoslovakia, “The Memorandum” is a witty depiction of an office tasked with adopting the impossible language “Ptydepe.” Havel’s provocative work won the 1967-1968 Obie Award for Best Foreign Play.
Tickets are by donation and will be available at the theatre entrance or in advance by calling (212) 246.8486. All donations will be tax-deductible. Cash, credit, or checks will be accepted. The reading will take place on January 27, 2012, from 8:00pm to 10:30pm at the 45th Street Theater, 354 West 45th Street (btw. 8th and 9th Ave.), New York, NY.
Please visit the event’s page on Facebook for more information.
HRF Denounces SOPA
HRF has joined an international network of civil society and human rights group—organized by the nonprofit group Access—and signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to reject the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) because of the dangers posed to freedom of expression by the legislation. Voting on SOPA was delayed in Congress due to unprecedented online petitioning from diverse organizations, companies, and millions of citizens. However, the threat of censorship from similar legislation is still imminent. HRF condemns any law such as SOPA that restricts freedom of expression while legislating online piracy.
Read the letter to Congress urging the rejection of SOPA, signed by HRF here.
HRF Submits Pakistan Report to UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women January 23, 2012
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has submitted a legal report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women that examines Pakistan's shortcomings in meeting its obligation to prevent violence against women.
Although Pakistan has ratified and passed legislation to eliminate violence and discrimination, women continue to be victims of honor killings, forced marriages, and rape as a form of retribution—crimes that are largely unpunished. [more]
Ecuador: High Court Confirms Three Years of Prison and $40M Fine for Journalist Critical of the President January 5, 2012
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the decision of Ecuador's highest court that upholds the prison sentence against a journalist who wrote an editorial critical of President Rafael Correa.
"Correa was elected democratically but he behaves like an autocrat. In a democracy, you don't send people to jail for criticizing leaders," said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. "The court's decision in the Emilio Palacio case sends a chill throughout independent journalism in Ecuador, and calls into question the independence of judicial power in that country," he said. [more]
Vaclav Havel, 1936-2011—HRF in Mourning for its Departed Chairman—"Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate" December 18, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) joins the millions upon millions who note with great sadness the passing this morning of Václav Havel, the Czech leader, playwright, poet, former political prisoner, and human rights activist. Havel, 75, was chairman of HRF’s Board of Directors and International Council. [more]
HRF in Forbes: "How Do We Achieve Peace?"
December 9, 2011
The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in a few hours here in the Norwegian capital. A legacy of Swedish businessman and inventor Alfred Nobel, the nobility of its aim, to reward those who strive for peace, is seldom questioned, given that the answer seems evident. Of course we should choose peace over war, life over death. But let’s take the inquiry further: What kind of peace is desirable, and how do we achieve it? [more]
Read the press release "HRF congratulates Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Liberia's Leymah Gbowee" here.
HRF announces its membership in the International Committee to Support Liu Xiaobo
December 9, 2011
On the eve of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Human Rights Foundation announces its membership in the International Committee to Support Liu Xiaobo. Consisting of intellectuals, artists, experts on China, and human rights activists—including five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates— the International Committee will inform, defend, and advocate for the release of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia, both detained in China. HRF here distributes the media advisory regarding the existence of the committee. [more]
HRF In the Huffington Post and the Daily Caller: "Uganda: A Brutal Reality Obscured"
December 7, 2011
General Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda for more than 25 years. Since taking power in a 1986 military coup, he has stacked this Central African country's voting commission with his henchmen and stolen its elections. [more]
HRF Mourns The Passing of Charles Hoeflich November 29, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is saddened by the passing of Charles H. Hoeflich, founding director of HRF. Charlie, as we knew him, died yesterday morning at the age of 97, at his home in Bedminster, Pennsylvania. [more]
HRF in the National Review Online: "Checkpoint Charlie Museum: One man’s heroic determination to fight tyranny with truth"
November 9, 2011
While there are hundreds of military museums around the world, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, or the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, is one of few memorials that expressly document the tyrannical force of dictatorship — in this instance, the Communist cruelty that operated with an iron fist thanks to a methodically conceived Iron Curtain. The museum ranks with far wealthier museums that document the horrors of fascist tyranny, such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. [more]
Read the article in the National Review Onlinehere
HRF Co-Sponsors Oxford University Press Book on “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P)
November 4, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) announces the publication of The Responsibility to Protect: The Promise of Stopping Mass Atrocities in Our Time, an Oxford University Press book co-sponsored by HRF’s Center for Law and Democracy. Written by a global team of authors, this international law volume provides a comprehensive overview of how the “responsibility to protect” developed and how it can best be applied to current and future humanitarian crises. [more]
Ecuador: HRF to High Court: Overturn $40 Million Verdict Against Emilio Palacio and El Universo
October 31, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a letter today to the magistrates of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador (NCJE), exhorting them to overturn the verdict that sentenced journalist Emilio Palacio and three executives of El Universo newspaper to three years in prison and ordered them to pay USD 40 million in damages to Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador. HRF’s letter to the magistrates was accompanied by a legal report that analyzes Palacio’s case under international human rights law. [more]
Read the letter that HRF sent to the magistrates of the National Court of Justice of Ecuador (NCJE) here
Read HRF's legal report that analizes Palacio's case under international human rights law here
Cuba: HRF mourns the passing of Laura Pollán, leader of the Ladies in White
October 17, 2011
NThe Human Rights Foundation (HRF) expresses its profound sadness over the death of Laura Pollán, founder and leader of the Ladies in White, a Cuban civil society group that organizes peaceful weekly protests in support of political prisoners. Pollán, who was 63
years old and the wife of a former political prisoner, passed away on Friday evening after suffering cardiac arrest at a hospital in Havana. In the year prior to her death, Pollán conducted two exclusive interviews with HRF, smuggled out of Cuba and published on YouTube. [more]
Watch HRF's first interview with Laura Pollán here
Watch HRF's second interview with Laura Pollán here
Watch Laura Pollán's last interview in CNN in Spanish here
Hilary Swank apologizes—Pleads Ignorance; But Will She Keep Chechen Warlord’s Money?
October 13, 2011
Earlier today, actress Hilary Swank apologized in a written statement for attending Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday celebration. "I deeply regret attending this event," Swank said. "If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone." [more]
Celebrities attend festivities of Chechnya’s human rights violator-in-chief; President Ramzan Kadyrov celebrated by Hilary Swank and Jean-Claude Van Damme
October 7, 2011
This week, Hilary Swank, Jean-Claude Van Damme and violinist Vanessa-Mae attended a party in Grozny, Chechnya, to celebrate the 35th birthday of the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. Previously, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) had sent a letter to the numerous invited celebrities--including Colombian singer Shakira--asking them to reconsider in light of the human rights abuses in Chechnya under Kadyrov. [more]
HRF congratulates Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Liberia's Leymah Gbowee
October 7, 2011
This morning Liberian human rights activist Leymah Gbowee, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their non-violent struggle for human rights and peace-building work. This past May, Gbowee was a speaker at the Human Rights Foundation’s 2011 Oslo Freedom Forum. Gbowee created a movement in Liberia to end civil war, the use of child soldiers, and the rape and abuse of women. [more]
HRF’s Response to Durban III: Partnership with “We Have A Dream” Global Summit
September 21, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is proud to announce its partnership with the We Have A Dream Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution, taking place today and tomorrow in New York.
As world leaders gather at the United Nations Headquarters to commemorate the 2001 Durban conference on racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance, the Summit—formed by an international coalition of NGOs—will be held as a parallel event. [more]
Click here to read Thor Halvorssen's OpEd published in the Huffington Post: "Durban III: A Weapon of Mass Distraction"'
HRF Welcomes IACourtHR Ruling on Case of López Mendoza, Asks Venezuela to Comply
September 19, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) welcomes the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACourtHR ) ruling in the case of López Mendoza v. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The ruling, published Friday in Spanish, determined that the disqualification of opposition politician López Mendoza violated his political rights.
The IACourtHR also asked Venezuela to lift Lopez Mendoza’s disqualification. [more]
Click here to read the amicus curiae that The HRF filed with the IACourtHR
To learn more about López Mendoza’s case, watch his speech at HRF’s annual conference, the Oslo Freedom Forum, here
Read the March 1 release “HRF Files Amicus Brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Court’s Decision Could Set Precedent for Protecting Political Rights” here
Click here to read Javier El-Hage's OpEd published in the Americas Quarterly: "Leopoldo López V. Venezuela: A Case About Venezuela"
HRF in the Americas Quarterly: "9/11: Also a Call for U.S. Leadership on the Inter-American Democratic Charter
September 9, 2011
September 11, 2001, is remembered as the day the United States received a dramatic call to lead the world in defeating terrorism. It is also the day the U.S., along with 33 nations of the Americas, signed the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) committing to the collective promotion and protection of democracy. Through ten years of costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has failed to lead the implementation of the IADC and has stood in the sidelines as democracy has eroded in the Americas. It is time to take action—a peaceful one. [more]
Click here to learn more about the OAS democracy clause.
Click here to read the letters of the “Mr. Insulza and the Democratic Charter” project.
Click here to read the report “The Facts and the Law behind the Democratic Crisis of Honduras, 2009.”
HRF in The Huffington Post: "More PR Shame: Associated Press Cooperates With Dictatorial Propaganda Machines"
August 15, 2011
Fidel Castro just celebrated his 85th Birthday. One would think that after 52 years of running a police state in Cuba, the media would accept that Castro is a brutal oppressor and tyrant. Comparable, no doubt, to any of the totalitarian despots still alive today. For example, Bashar al-Assad in Syria (41 years of dynastic tyranny) or Teodoro Mbasogo Obiang in Equatorial Guinea (31 years of bloody oppression). Yet, surprisingly, when it comes to North Korea and Cuba, one of the most trusted wire services in the world, the Associated Press (AP), cares more about business than about journalistic ethics and the truth. [more]
HRF in the Americas Quarterly: "Caudillos Can be Already Removed from Office in Honduras - Just Not the Way it Was Done with President Zelaya."
July 18, 2011
Last week, the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirmed that the June 28, 2009 forced removal of former President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya was a coup d’état. This is good news. Unfortunately, the report goes on to recommend a series of unnecessary constitutional reforms intended to allow for a legal process to remove a president from power.
Problem is: procedures for a special trial against high-ranking state officials are already clearly and unambiguously articulated and regulated in the current constitution. They just weren’t followed. Amending the beleaguered Honduran constitution again to address this phantom problem will not only fail to address the fundamental issue behind the events of June 28th, they will further confuse and weaken Honduran rule of law. [read more]
Venezuela: HRF Condemns Two-Year Sentence against Oswaldo Álvarez Paz
July 15, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the sentencing of Oswaldo Álvarez Paz for expressing opinions critical of the Venezuelan government on a television program. The sentence was read last night after a 16-month trial. In the next few days, the judge will determine whether Álvarez Paz must serve his two-year sentence in prison or on parole.[more]
Honduras: HRF Finds Truth Commission Report Conclusive and Balanced; Criticizes Recommended Reform of the Constitution
July 13, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) congratulates the Honduras Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR-H) after unveiling its report, calling it conclusive and balanced. In particular, HRF appreciates that the CVR-H based many of its conclusions on the report published by HRF after the June 2009 coup in Honduras. However, HRF criticizes the CVR-H’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the alleged absence of a presidential trial in Honduras and the necessity of constitutional reform. [more]
Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo: In a Chinese Prison but Not Forgotten
July 2, 2012 - Two years ago today, professor Liu Xiaobo was tried and sentenced to 11 years in a Chinese prison. His crime: he authored and promoted Charter 08, a manifesto that appeals for freedom of expression, democratic elections, and human rights in China.
It has been 54 weeks since the ceremony in Oslo where Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In that time, the Chinese dictatorship has tried everything to render Liu Xiaobo invisible. They refused to allow him to collect his Award—and then arrested his wife, Liu Xia, to prevent her from collecting his award. Reproduced here is the full text of his public statement in court two years ago. That speech, entitled “I Have No Enemies,” is the finest articulation of the struggle for freedom in modern China. It is also a profoundly moving declaration of the power of love against all odds. [more]
Facebook's Peter Thiel Urges Investing in Human Rights
June 20, 2011
Paypal creator and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yelp angel investor Peter Thiel explains in The Street why he supports the Human Rights Foundation and the Oslo Freedom Forum and the importance of investing in human rights.
Russian human rights activist Elena Bonner dies at 88
June 20, 2011
Elena Bonner, a pillar of the Soviet human rights movement and a speaker at the inaugural 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum, passed away on June 18, 2011, at the age of 88. Bonner leaves behind a legacy of unwavering opposition against injustice, fighting for the release of political prisoners and demanding democratic reform in Russia. She wed fellow activist and nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov in 1972, and the husband-and-wife team became a sweeping force for the advancement of human rights. Bonner accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, on behalf of Sakharov when the Soviet government prevented him from traveling, and she delivered his writings to Moscow from his exile in Gorky. After her husband’s death, Bonner continued their struggle for liberty, becoming an outspoken critic of the war in Chechnya and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin’s growing authoritarianism. Bonner received numerous human rights awards for her work, including the Rafto Prize in 1991. She is survived by two children, Tatiana I. Yankelevich of Boston and Alexey I. Semyonov of Springfield, Va.; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Watch her speech at the 2009 Oslo Freedom Forum.
Defeating Dictators; Transcending Hate; "Peace is About Action, not Kumbaya;" Human Rights Foundation Releases Oslo Freedom Forum Talks
For the first time since the event, held May 9, 10, 11 in Norway, presentations and panel discussions are available at www.OsloFreedomForum.com via YouTube. The full program will be released over the next two weeks, including talks and panel discussions from Mona Eltahawy, Shirin Ebadi, Alejandro Toledo, Zoya Phan, Leymah Gbowee, Barbara Demick, James Fallon and Belisario Betancur. Updates and announcements will be shared on Twitter and Facebook.
Founded to address today's most challenging humanitarian issues, the Oslo Freedom Forum brings together some of the world's remarkable individuals from academia, advocacy, business, media, politics, social entrepreneurship, and technology to collaborate on how best to make an impact on the world around them. The Forum draws attention to issues that matter, inspires action, and sheds light on the extraordinary work of innovators across the globe.
PR Mercenaries, Their Dictator Masters, and the Human Rights Stain
May 19, 2011
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF president Thor Halvorssen on the hiring of Western PR companies by repressive governments--like that of Bahrain--to aid in discrediting critical human rights and democracy advocates.
Cuban Blogger Yoani Sánchez Awarded CEPOS Freedom Prize in Denmark; Forbidden to Leave Cuba—Ceremony To Take Place May 5 in Copenhagen
May 4, 2011
Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez was denied permission by the Cuban government to travel to Denmark and collect the CEPOS Freedom Award—a $50,000 prize that she was granted by the independent Danish think tank, CEPOS—at the official award ceremony tomorrow night in Copenhagen. Sánchez, author of the world-renowned blog Generación Y and a speaker at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum, was nominated for the award by HRF president Thor Halvorssen, who will give the keynote speech at the ceremony in Copenhagen. [more]
A Royal Wedding Divorced of Human Rights Concerns; Dictators Will Eat Wedding Cake
April 28, 2011
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF president Thor Halvorssen about the guests invited to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Several hundred guests will be in attendance at the royal wedding service at Westminster Abbey. According to the official Royal Wedding media briefing, "all Heads of Mission in London representing countries with which the United Kingdom has normal diplomatic relations" have been invited. These include: Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince of Bahrain, the Syrian ambassador representing Bashar al-Assad, the Belarusian ambassador (representing Alexander Lukashenko), the Burmese ambassador (representing Than Shwe), Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, the ambassador of Equatorial Guinea (representing Teodoro Obiang Nguema), King Mswati III of Swaziland, and Gabriel Machinga, Robert Mugabe's ambassador from Zimbabwe. [more]
Panama Expels Journalists for Exercising Freedom of the Press; HRF: President Martinelli Must Allow Spanish Journalists Back Into the Country
April 6, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli a letter requesting that he allow journalists and human rights activists Paco Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato to return safely and immediately to Panama. HRF also published a legal report concluding that on February 28, 2011, these Spanish citizens were detained, arrested, and arbitrarily expelled from Panama for engaging in journalism critical of the government and for conducting legitimate activities as human rights defenders. [more]
Read HRF's response to President Martinelli's claims regarding the illegal expulsion of Paco Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato here.
HRF in the Americas Quarterly:Leopoldo López v. Venezuela: A Case Not About Venezuela
April 4, 2011
On March 1-2, 2011, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, an international tribunal established also in 1969 and based in Costa Rica, sat to hear the case of Leopoldo López Mendoza v. the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The case goes as follows—in 2008, through two administrative resolutions alleging corruption, the Comptroller General of Venezuela disqualified the mayor of the Chacao Municipality, in Caracas, Leopoldo López, to run for office for six years. At the time of his disqualification, López was an almost certain winner of the race for mayor of metropolitan Caracas, the country’s largest electoral district. [more]
Cuba’s Black Spring: HRF demands amnesty for Oscar Elías Biscet and all paroled prisoners of conscience; After his release, Biscet tells HRF he’s in a bigger prison now
March 14, 2011
Following the release of prisoner of conscience Oscar Elías Biscet from prison, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) demands amnesty for him and for all the prisoners of conscience of Cuba’s Black Spring who have rejected exile to Spain and have instead been released on parole in Cuba.
“I know I’m leaving a small prison for the big prison that is Cuba. Yet I’m very happy and very thankful to God, because after so many years, I go back to my wife here at home,” said Biscet during a telephone call with HRF on March 13. [more]
HRF Files Amicus Brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; Court’s Decision Could Set Precedent for Protecting Political Rights
March 1, 2011
San Jose, Costa Rica – The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Leopoldo López Mendoza v. the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. According to HRF, which is attending the public hearings beginning today in Costa Rica, the decision of the Court could make this a landmark case against the arbitrary deprivation of political rights. [more]
Read the amicus curiae brief filed by HRF with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights here.
To learn more about this case, watch Leopoldo López’s presentation at the Oslo Freedom Forum 2010 here.
HRF Partners with the Lech Walesa Institute and NYU Wagner to Present “Eye on Sudan”
February 16, 2011
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) co-sponsored a panel discussion on the recent referendum in Sudan with the Lech Walesa Institute and NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. “Eye on Sudan: Challenges After Referendum” featured a panel including Laura Heaton, writer-editor for the Enough Project; Maciej Kuziemski, electoral observer in Sudan for the Lech Walesa Institute; and Jimmy Mulla, president of Voices For Sudan. David L. Phillips, director of the Darfur Initiative at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, moderated the discussion.
The panel and open question and answer session covered the implications of the referendum on human rights and development and humanitarian aid, as well as immediate challenges that Sudan will face in a region where recent protests in Egypt and Tunisia have changed the political atmosphere. The event also featured an exhibition of exclusive photographs and reporting from the Lech Walesa Institute’s electoral observers in southern Sudan.
Read Laura Heaton's summary of the discussion in the Christian Science Monitorhere.
HRF Asks Spain to Recognize the Existence of Prisoners of Conscience in Venezuela
January 28, 2011
Yesterday, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a letter to Trinidad Jiménez, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain. The letter expresses HRF's deepest concern regarding her comments on November 2 and November 16, 2010, about the nonexistence of political prisoners in Venezuela. HRF writes to inform her about the case of Rubén González, a labor leader and prisoner of conscience of the Venezuelan government, as well as to give her a brief overview of the human rights situation in Venezuela.
Read an article in English by El Universal about the letter here.
HRF Declares Venezuelan Union Leader Rubén González a Prisoner of Conscience; Labor Organizations Join HRF in Demanding His Immediate Release
January 21, 2011
On the one-year anniversary of his imprisonment, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) declares Rubén González a prisoner of conscience and demands his immediate release. HRF’s declaration was accompanied by the publication of a legal report. “The Chávez government claims to be in favor of workers’ rights, but these do not include the rights of the tens of thousands of Venezuelans working in state-owned corporations,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “In his position as Ferrominera’s main union leader, González led thousands of workers on a peaceful strike. The government’s response was to send him to prison and begin his prosecution,” said Halvorssen. [more]
Democrat and Republican Reps Agree: Hold President Hu Accountable for Human Rights
January 19, 2011
China, human rights, and Hu Jintao's visit to Washington: an HRF interview with Congressmen Chris Smith (Republican-NJ) and David Wu (Democrat-OR) at The Huffington Post.
Fire in Oslo Over Liu's Nobel Peace Prize
December 10, 2010
The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, held today in Oslo, Norway. Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, China, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Venezuela, and Vietnam declared their rejection of the Nobel Peace Prize choice: the heroic Chinese human rights defender Liu Xiaobo. [more]
Read "Fire in Oslo Over Liu's Nobel Peace Prize" here.
Read the speech by Liu Xiaobo that was read at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony here.
United Nations: It's Okay to Kill the Gay
November 23, 2010
Today The Huffington Post published an article by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the vote of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on a special resolution addressing extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions. The resolution affirms the duties of member countries to protect the right to life of all people with a special emphasis on a call to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. For the past 10 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation as a basis on which some individuals are targeted for death. The West African nation of Benin (on behalf of the UN's African Group) proposed an amendment to strike sexual minorities from the resolution. The amendment was adopted with 79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.
Read "United Nations: It's Okay to Kill the Gay" here.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to announce that 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum speaker and Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez was awarded the inaugural CEPOS Freedom Award, in the amount of $50,000, by the independent Danish think tank, CEPOS. Sánchez, author of the world-renowned blog Generación Y, was nominated for the award by HRF President Thor Halvorssen. [more]
Video: “Ladies in White” Continue Peaceful Protest as Cuban Government Breaks Promise to Release Prisoners
November 11, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released an exclusive video interview with Laura Pollan, leader of the “Ladies in White,” a civil society group inside Cuba that organizes peaceful Sunday marches for freedom and human rights. The world-renowned group is formed by the families and supporters of political prisoners who were arrested during the “Black Spring” government crackdown on Cuban dissidents. In the video, Pollan asks for the international community to maintain pressure on the Cuban government after it failed to honor its commitment to release all the prisoners by November 7, including 12 who have refused exile into Spain. [more]
Human Rights is Big Winner in Today's Nobel Peace Prize Selection
October 8, 2010
This morning Chinese prisoner of conscience Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Liu is a writer and human rights defender who was chosen by the Nobel Committee for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." [more]
Read Thor Halvorssen's article on Liu Xiaobo, at The Huffington Post.
HRF in The Huffington Post: The Meaning of the Venezuelan Election Results
October 1, 2010
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the results of the recent Venezuelan elections. On Monday, Venezuela's electoral council announced that political opposition groups had won the majority of the votes in the election for the national assembly, Venezuela's legislature, while simultaneously announcing that Chavez's party would retain most of the seats.
Read "The Meaning of the Venezuelan Election Results" here.
HRF in The Huffington Post: Renovating the Rules of UN Backroom Diplomacy
September 24, 2010
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen and HRF Program Director S.E. Parker on the need to reform the internal structure of the United Nations and enable greater access for NGOs to government representatives.
Read "Renovating the Rules of UN Backroom Diplomacy" here.
Cuba Video: The “Ladies in White” Steadfast Until Every Political Prisoner is Free
September 1, 2010
In order to provide an accurate backdrop with regard to the announcement of the Cuban government’s release and forced exile of 52 political prisoners, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) releases an exclusive video documentary short of the “Ladies in White,” a civil society group inside Cuba that organizes peaceful Sunday marches for freedom and human rights. [more]
HRF in The Huffington Post: Taiwan Fails to Learn From Its Own History
August 17, 2010
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen and HRF Director of Institutional Affairs Alex Gladstein on Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) government and human rights. Halvorssen and Gladstein visited Taiwan in June at the behest of the country's KMT-led government. A month later, the KMT banned Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of China's Uyghur minority, from entering the country for three years. Kadeer, a human rights advocate and spokesperson for millions of China's repressed Uyghurs, was the keynote speaker at HRF's 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum.
Read "Taiwan Fails to Learn From Its Own History" here.
HRF in The Washington Post: Behind exhumation of Simón Bolívar is Hugo Chávez’s warped obsession
July 25, 2010
Today The Washington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the exhumation of Simón Bolívar carried out on July 16, under Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's orders.
HRF in The Huffington Post: Malaysia's Bridge is Falling Down
July 20, 2010
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the trial of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Ibrahim is the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and was a speaker at HRF's 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum.
HRF in The Washington Times: Venezuelans charged for statements on Twitter
July 16, 2010
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) president Thor Halvorssen is quoted extensively in an article, published in today’s Washington Times, about the case of two Venezuelan citizens charged with using Twitter to “destabilize the banking system.” Luis Enrique Acosta Oxford and Carmen Cecilia Nares Castro were both charged this week with “disseminating false rumors” on Twitter to allegedly incite a run on Venezuelan banks. Both could face up to 11 years of imprisonment, pending trial. [more]
Ecuador: Video Presentation of Former Political Prisoner Guadalupe Llori
July 8, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released a video presentation of Guadalupe Llori, former prisoner of conscience and current governor of the province of Orellana in Ecuador, in which she recounts the human rights violations she endured at the hands of the Ecuadorean government. Llori’s presentation took place this April at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum. [more]
Today The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the seizure of Diego Arria's farm in Venezuela. Arria is the former Assistant Secretary General to the United Nations and was a speaker at HRF's 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum.
HRF and Activist María Conchita Alonso to Discuss Oliver Stone's Documentary on Fox Business News Tonight
July 6, 2010
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) President Thor Halvorssen will appear tonight on Fox Business News with David Asman to discuss Oliver Stone’s new film about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, as well as Stone’s failure to acknowledge the appalling human rights record under that leader’s regime. Halvorssen will appear alongside María Conchita Alonso, a Cuban-Venezuelan actress and activist who has already expressed strong criticism over the film’s factual inaccuracies. The show airs tonight at 7:00 PM EDT, with the segment running toward the end of the show. [more]
Video on Venezuela: HRF Marks Third Anniversary of RCTV Shutdown
May 27, 2010
On the third anniversary of the shutdown of Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released a video of Marcel Granier, RCTV’s general manager, speaking about attacks endured by the independent media in Venezuela under President Hugo Chávez. Granier’s presentation took place this past April at the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum. [more]
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released videos of former prisoner of conscience Armando Valladares and world-renowned blogger Yoani Sánchez in honor of Global Cuba Solidarity Day. The videos were filmed exclusively for the 2010 Oslo Freedom Forum and are now available on YouTube. [more]
See Armando Valladares’s video, please visit here.
For more information on Global Cuba Solidarity Day, please click here.
HRF's Oslo Freedom Forum Interview with Imprisoned Monk Thich Quang Do to Screen in California’s Vesak Festival
May 20, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation’s Oslo Freedom Forum will screen its recently-filmed interview with The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do at the Vesak Festival in Westminster, California. The screening will be held on Sunday, May 23, at 11:00 a.m. PDT at the Dieu Ngu Pagoda at 14472 Chesnut Street in Westminster. The Vesak Festival is an event celebrated by Buddhists around the world, commemorating the 2554th celebration of Buddha’s birth. Thich Quang Do is the 81-year-old patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and an outspoken advocate for human rights and democracy in Vietnam. Currently under house arrest in Ho Chi Minh City, Thich Quang Do has been a prisoner of conscience of the Vietnamese government for more than 28 years. [more]
Venezuela: Political Prisoner Oswaldo Álvarez Paz Conditionally Released, HRF Calls for Dismissal of Case
May 18, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) called today for a definitive stay of the proceedings against Social Christian politician Oswaldo Álvarez Paz. After spending almost two months detained in the headquarters of Venezuela’s secret police Álvarez Paz was conditionally released from custody last week, pending a criminal trial for criticizing President Chavez and his government. [more]
Read the report written about Oswaldo Álvarez Paz's case here.
HRF in The Huffington Post
May 13, 2010
Today's The Huffington Post published a piece by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on “On Own Feet: The Centipede Children,” a children’s organization that provides humanitarian assistance to children in countries torn by violence and instability.
HRF's Oslo Freedom Forum Screens Rare Interview with Imprisoned Monk for Vietnam Human Rights Day on Capitol Hill
May 11, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation's Oslo Freedom Forum will present its recently-filmed interview with The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do at a congressional ceremony on Capitol Hill this afternoon. Thich Quang Do, the 81-year-old patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and outspoken advocate for democracy and human rights in Vietnam, has been a prisoner of conscience of the Vietnamese government for more than 28 years. [more]
Presidential Medal to Oslo Freedom Forum; Romania’s First Democratic Leader Celebrates Human Rights Conference
April 29, 2010
Romanian leader Emil Constantinescu presented the Oslo Freedom Forum with a presidential silver medal he issued in order to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Romanian Revolution that led to the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. [more]
Venezuela: HRF declares Oswaldo Álvarez Paz a prisoner of conscience of the Chávez government; Warns about the “chilling effect” of his imprisonment
April 5, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) joins numerous prominent individuals and international organizations calling for the immediate release of Oswaldo Álvarez Paz. In a letter sent to President Hugo Chávez, HRF declared Álvarez Paz a prisoner of conscience of his government. Last week, HRF’s chairman, Václav Havel, called for Alvarez Paz’s immediate release. HRF released a legal report on the Álvarez Paz case today, and warned that both the imprisonment of Álvarez Paz and the arrest of Guillermo Zuloaga could have a devastating “chilling effect” on what is left of freedom of expression in that country. [more]
Read the letter HRF sent to President Chavez here.
Read the report written about Oswaldo Álvarez Paz's case here.
Insulza Dot No!
March 24, 2010
Today, the most powerful inter-governmental body of the Americas, the Organization of American States, will reelect Chilean politician Jose Miguel Insulza as its Secretary General. After five years of inefficacy and inconsistency in applying the Inter-American Democratic Charter, Secretary General Insulza’s reelection will irreparably damage the most significant regional initiative of the last decade. [more]
HRF to Appear on CNN en Español Tonight with Patricia Janiot
March 23, 2010
Human Rights Foundation General Counsel Javier El-Hage will appear tonight on CNN en Español’s Panorama Mundial with Patricia Janiot. They will discuss the reasons behind HRF’s launch of www.Insulza.no – focusing specifically on how Jose Miguel Insulza has failed to protect human rights and democracy in the American continent during his tenure as secretary general of the Organization of American States. HRF has called for Insulza’s resignation and opposes his re-election as secretary general. The show airs tonight at 9:00 PM EDT. [more]
HRF on the Anniversary of “Black Spring:” Cuban Regime Must Release all Political Prisoners
March 18, 2010
Seven years after Cuba’s “Black Spring,” when the Castro regime imprisoned 75 independent journalists, underground librarians, and democracy activists, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) urges the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners.
“The ‘Black Spring’ anniversary is a sad reminder that nothing has changed now that the younger Castro brother is the dictator,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “In the wake of Orlando Zapata Tamayo’s death, the Cuban government has increased its harassment, arresting many advocates arbitrarily. What it should do instead is release its more than 200 political prisoners,” declared Halvorssen. [more]
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) launches www.Insulza.no, an interactive website that denounces the terrible role played by José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), in the promotion and protection of democracy in the Americas.
“We hope that Insulza.no can be a place where millions of Latin Americans, tired of watching helplessly as authoritarian governments dismantle democracy in their countries, can express their frustrations about the silence – and sometimes even complicity – of the OAS secretary general,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “We invite everyone who opposes authoritarianism and endorses accountability to visit Insulza.no and send an e-mail to the OAS representatives asking that they vote against Insulza’s reelection next week,” continued Halvorssen. [more]
OAS: HRF Calls on Insulza to Resign as Secretary General; Report Reveals Mishandling of Honduran Crisis
March 9, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) calls for the resignation of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza. Today, HRF published a 300-page legal report exposing numerous errors in judgment, gross negligence of duty, and willful complicity in the undermining of the Inter-American Democratic Charter by the OAS secretary general. HRF contends that the actions of the OAS escalated the Honduran crisis, when its duty was to resolve it. These actions included: making deceptive statements to U.S. congressmen about the OAS’s participation in Honduras; misleading both the public and member states; and disregarding information sent by the Honduran Congress before the June 28 coup d’état that deposed President Manuel Zelaya. [more]
Read “The Facts and the Law behind the Democratic Crisis of Honduras, 2009” here.
Venezuela: HRF condemns media crackdown and relaunches its campaign for press freedom in Venezuela
February 2, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the recent media crackdown in Venezuela that sent RCTV International (RCTV-I), along with other five cable and satellite TV channels (TV Chile, Ritmo Son, Momentum, America TV, and American Network), off the air last Sunday after they failed to broadcast a speech by President Hugo Chávez. In view of this new attack on freedom of expression, HRF has relaunched its Free RCTV campaign (www.FreeRCTV.com), which aims to raise international awareness about the grave situation of freedom of expression in Venezuela. [more]
Angie Harmon, Patricia Heaton, David Hunt, Jason Sehorn, and Gary Sinise join HRF’s Haiti Relief Program
January 27, 2010
Actors Angie Harmon, Patricia Heaton, David Hunt, and Gary Sinise, along with NFL great Jason Sehorn, have joined Kelsey Grammer in contributing to the Human Rights Foundation’s (HRF) emergency relief program for Haiti. 100% of donations received by the fund will go directly to a fully-operational anti-hunger initiative in the St. Clare’s community of Port-au-Prince. [more]
HRF Invites You to Join Haiti Relief for Children; Kelsey Grammer Provides Matching Grant
January 21, 2010
With a generous matching grant from actor Kelsey Grammer, the Human Rights Foundation has begun an emergency aid program that will provide donations directly to the St. Clare’s community of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through an anti-hunger initiative that is fully operational and has not been affected by the recent earthquake disaster. [more]
From a TV Set to Prison: Gustavo Azócar is “Caracas Nine” Dissident #6
January 13, 2010
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a report today detailing the case of Gustavo Azócar, a journalist and university professor in the state of Táchira who, since 2000, has been the target of a criminal investigation fraught with violations of his fundamental rights. His is the sixth case in HRF’s “Caracas Nine” campaign. [more]
Trustee Tries to Cancel The Sugar Babies Screening at the University of Miami
November 12, 2009
Tonight’s screening of The Sugar Babies at the University of Miami will proceed as scheduled despite enormous pressure from a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. One of the board's senior trustees is Alfonso Fanjul, who is also the Chairman and CEO of Flo-Sun, Inc., a sugar company featured in the film for its inhumane labor practices, which include employing children to work sugar cane fields in conditions that can best be described as modern-day slavery. [more]
Cuban Bloggers Kidnapped, Assaulted by State Security on their Way to Peace March November 10, 2009
Cuban bloggers Yoani Sánchez and Orlando Luís Pardo were abducted and battered by plainclothes state security agents on Friday, November 6. At the time, they were en route to an anti-violence march in downtown Havana with fellow blogger Claudia Cadelo and a female friend. Cadelo and their friend were taken to a police station while Sánchez and Pardo were forced into a different car and beaten. [more]
HRF's The Sugar Babies at the University of Miami November 06, 2009
The Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami will screen The Sugar Babies on Thursday, November 12, as part of its Latin American Film Series. The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with filmmaker Amy Serrano. On November 13, Serrano will also lead a round table discussion about the film and the current situation of Haitian laborers in the Dominican Republic. [more]
HRF to Appear Tonight with Robert Morgenthau on Fox Business News with David Asman September 9, 2009
Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen will appear tonight on Fox Business News with David Asman alongside fellow guest Robert M. Morgenthau, New York County District Attorney. They will discuss the alarming and growing relationship between the governments of Venezuela and Iran – governments that routinely and systematically violate human rights. The show airs tonight at 7:00 PM EST. [more]
HRF Mourns the Loss of Eduardo Mendoza
August 26, 2009
Eduardo Mendoza-Goiticoa, founding director of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), former Venezuelan Secretary of Agriculture, scientific researcher and head of the Venezuelan Institute for Immigration, died yesterday afternoon at the age of 92. Mendoza began his public service at the age of 28, when he became the youngest cabinet minister in Venezuelan history during the government of Romulo Betancourt. Mendoza’s tenure in government oversaw all work with the International Refugee Organization (which would become the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and handled the protection and resettlement of tens of thousands of refugees coming from war-torn Europe. Mendoza’s refugee program was widely considered the most successful in the post-war period. [more]
Norway Tells Cuba to Stop Attacking Human Rights Defender; Foreign Ministry Reprimands Cuban Ambassador
July 30, 2009
Norwegian dailynewspaper Aftenposten reported on July 16 that Cuba’s ambassador to Norway, Rogerio Santana, was to be reprimanded by Norway’s Foreign Minister for the third time for attacking a Norwegian government official. Ambassador Santana referred to Jan Tore Sanner, a member of Norway’s parliament, as an “insect” and as a “banana republic politician” with links to “terrorists.” Sanner had written to the Cuban Embassy expressing concern about the conditions of political prisoners and imprisoned journalists. [more]
HRF calls on the OAS to suspend Honduras' antidemocratic government
June 30, 2009
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has called on OAS Member States to apply the democratic clause and suspend the government of Honduras that forcibly overthrew President Zelaya. Pursuant to the Charter of the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the situation in Honduras amounts to a grave alteration or interruption of the democratic order, and it is the duty of the OAS to act, said HRF. [more]
HRF: OAS Perpetuates Injustice with Resolution in Favor of Cuban Government
June 5, 2009
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is profoundly concerned about a resolution passed in Honduras on June 3rd by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), repealing the 1962 resolution barring Cuba from the OAS and opening the possibility of Cuban government participation in all the OAS’s governing bodies. This decision sets an appalling precedent for the defense of democracy and human rights in the Americas. [more]
WSJ on HRF's Oslo Freedom Forum: "Human Rights Beyond Ideology
June 5, 2009
Twenty years ago, as Soviet communism was collapsing and new democracies were springing up everywhere, there were bright hopes for the spread of human rights. But while this year marks the anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling, yesterday was also the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in China, a reminder of just how unyielding authoritarian governments can be. [more]
HRF asks OAS head to cease promoting violations of the Democratic Charter
April 22, 2009
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a legal opinion and letter to José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), asking that he stop promoting the violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. His recent declarations that he “will request” that member states of the OAS “eliminate” the “obsolete” 1962 resolution that excluded Cuba from participation in the OAS show not only negligence in the fulfillment of his duties but also a blatant disregard for the democratic commitment of the OAS. [more]
Read the April 21, 2009 letter sent by HRF to Secretary General Insulza here.
HRF Co-Sponsors Venezuelan Liberty Film Festival
March 17, 2009
The first ever Venezuelan Liberty Film Festival premieres tonight in Caracas, Venezuela. The three day event is a joint collaboration among the Chacao Cultural Center, UNA — Asociación Civil Unidad Nacional (National Unity Civic Association) — and the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), and aims to inspire, educate, and encourage discussion about human freedom. The festival, which has garnered significant publicity and is oversubscribed, will consist of films about the impact of non-violent struggles in world history: Freedom’s Fury, The Singing Revolution,
and A Force More Powerful. [more]
Oslo Freedom Forum: Three-day summit will bring together world leaders to honor human rights heroes
March 13, 2009
The Oslo Freedom Forum, taking place May 18-20 in Norway, will gather some of the world’s leading minds to celebrate heroic survivors of political oppression and persecution. The conference, hosted by the New York-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation (HRF), will showcase leading authors from the pantheon of literature of survival. [more]
HRF Urges OAS Action on Violations of Legislative Independence in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela
February 26, 2009
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published today its fourth letter to Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS). Entitled “Closing Congress: Submission of the Legislative Power to the Executive in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela,” the letter and its legal analysis enumerate attacks that have severely eroded the independence of national legislatures, and denounces Insulza’s inaction to these assaults on democracy. [more]
Read the February 26, 2009 letter sent by HRF to Secretary General Insulza here.
Washington Times Front Page: The new Che movie, HRF, and the Historical Record
January 27, 2009
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) chairman Armando Valladares is extensively quoted in a review of the film Che, published in today’s Washington Times by reporter Sonny Bunch. Che, directed by Steven Soderbergh and released on January 24, depicts the life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary best known for his friendship with Fidel Castro. What the film does not depict, however, are the violent tactics Guevara used to crush opposition and dissent to Fidel Castro’s revolution—leaving behind a bloody legacy in Cuba. [more]
Tortured and Convicted in a Kangaroo Court for Capturing a Terrorist Leader: Humberto Quintero is “Caracas Nine” Dissident #5
January 16, 2009
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a report today detailing the arrest and torture of Jose Humberto Quintero, a lieutenant colonel of the Venezuelan National Guard. Quintero was detained in January 2005, by the Venezuelan government for allegedly capturing terrorist leader Ricardo Gonzalez, popularly known as Rodrigo Granda, of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). [more]
Cuba: Rights Activists Assaulted, Beaten, and Detained by Castro Government
December 11, 2008
At least 20 activists were detained in Cuba this week for planning to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). According to independent and verifiable sources inside Cuba, detainees, some of who were taken by force and beaten, include former political prisoners, human rights activists, opposition political leaders, and independent journalists.
Human rights activist and former political prisoner Lazaro Alonso (pictured), was detained this Tuesday while walking home with his wife Belinda Salas, president of FLAMUR. [more]
HRF Denounces Violations of Freedom of the Press and Asks OAS Secretary General--for the Third Time—to Activate the Democratic Clause
November 26, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published its most recent letter to Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS). The letter denounces Insulza’s inaction with regard to flagrant violations of freedom of the press in the Americas, including the shutdown of television and radio stations and government-encouraged attacks on journalists. [more]
Read the November 18, 2008 letter sent by HRF to Secretary General Insulza here.
HRF to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe: Respect the Work of Human Rights Defenders
November 7, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a letter today to President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia expressing its profound concern regarding his comments linking Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). HRF also expressed its solidarity with the Colombian people for the decades of violent conflict they have endured at the hands of the FARC. [more]
Read the November 7, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Uribe here. (Spanish only)
Bolivia: HRF Will Investigate Arbitrary Detentions and Rights Violations
October 24, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a letter today to Bolivian President Evo Morales informing him of its intention to dispatch a team of research professionals to Bolivia to investigate the arbitrary detention of at least 20 people, including opposition members and at least one journalist. [more]
Read the October 24, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Morales here.
HRF Urges the OAS to Activate the Democratic Clause: Second Letter in “The Inter-American Democratic Charter and Mr. Insulza” Project
October 15, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a letter sent to Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), denouncing his inaction and unwillingness to fulfill the mandate of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The letter highlights the most flagrant violations of human rights in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, and insists that Insulza activate the charter’s Democratic Clause. [more]
Read the October 15, 2008 letter sent by HRF to Secretary General
Bolivia: HRF Releases Report On Political Violence
October 8, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation released a 14-page report detailing the crisis that claimed 21 lives in the month of September of 2008, and left hundreds of people injured throughout Bolivia. The report was sent to Bolivian President Evo Morales with a letter outlining HRF’s concerns regarding the political violence and the repeated statements by the Bolivian head of state defending racial hatred, threatening the freedom of the press and inciting conflict. [more]
Guadalupe Llori, ex governor of the province of Orellana and a political prisoner of the government of Ecuador, was released from jail yesterday after nine months and 16 days of arbitrary and illegal imprisonment. Her release follows a September 17 ruling by the Superior Court of Justice of Nueva Loja which established Llori’s innocence. [more]
Read the letters HRF has sent to President Correa here (Spanish only).
Read the letters the Ecuadorean government has sent HRF here (Spanish only).
Read HRF's communication to the Working Group of Arbitrary Detention regarding Guadalupe Llori's case here (Spanish only).
Read HRF's resolution request to the Working Group of Arbitrary Detention here (Spanish only).
HRW Director José Miguel Vivanco Detained and Expelled for Denouncing Violations in Venezuela
September 19, 2008
The Venezuelan government’s expulsion yesterday evening of Human Rights Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco and his colleague Daniel Wilkinson indicates the Chávez administration’s growing intolerance of the increased public exposure and scrutiny of human rights violations occurring within that country. [more]
HRF Opens Chapter in Ecuador
September 17, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) celebrates the launch of a new chapter: Human Rights Foundation-Ecuador (HRF-Ecuador). Headquartered in Quito, the country’s capital, HRF-Ecuador will defend the civil and political rights of Ecuadorean citizens, research and publish its findings, and raise awareness about human rights abuses occurring in the country. [more]
HRF Presents Guadalupe Llori's Case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
September 4, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) filed a communication earlier this week with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, pleading that it activate its urgent action procedure and send an appeal to the government of Ecuador for the immediate release of political prisoner Guadalupe Llori. [more]
Venezuelan Journalist a Target of Violence and Threats: Marta Colomina is “Caracas Nine” Dissident #4
August 26, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released a report today detailing the case of Marta Colomina, a Venezuelan journalist and academic who has faced death threats and several attempts on her life over the past five years. Her case exposes the Venezuelan government’s persecution of independent journalists and continued assault on freedom of expression. Colomina is the fourth case in HRF’s Caracas Nine campaign. [more]
Read the report about Marta Colomina's case here (Spanish only).
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) launches the “Inter-American Democratic Charter and Mr. Insulza” program today with an open letter to José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), decrying his unwillingness to enforce the Charter’s mandate to protect democracy in the Americas. HRF will send monthly digests to Insulza detailing violations of human rights and democracy in the continent, with the hope that the secretary general will take note and do his job.
The letter, cosigned by HRF President Thor Halvorssen and Chairman Armando Valladares, observes that under Insulza’s watch at the OAS, the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela have acted in clear violation of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter. [more]
Read the August 20, 2008 letter sent by HRF to Secretary General
HRF Sends Letter Denouncing Ecuador's Treatment of Prisoner of Conscience Guadalupe Llori; Correa's Government Responds
August 7, 2008
Reports from Ecuador confirm that Guadalupe Llori is being mistreated and humiliated by prison custodians. Llori, who is incarcerated on unsubstantiated charges, has recently been subjected to beatings, forced labor, and exile from her family. HRF denounced the abuse of Llori and warned of potential consequences to the Ecuadorian state, in a letter sent earlier this week to President Rafael Correa Delgado. Ecuador's Minister of Justice responded to HRF's accusations by saying that Llori's human rights are being guaranteed. HRF maintains that the government is depriving Llori of her most fundamental human rights, and will continue investigating Llori's case. [more]
Ad about Llori which HRF published in the Washington Examinerhere
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: 1918-2008
August 4, 2008
The 20th century gave rise to a new literary genre: the narrative of political oppression and the testimonies of its survivors. This literature has been and continues to be instrumental in shaping humanity’s cultural understanding of history, and has enabled the world to recognize and censure the monsters and butchers in its midst.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, pioneer of this genre, died in Moscow yesterday at the age of 89. The Human Rights Foundation’s staff and directors mourn his death.
A prolific novelist, dramatist, and historian, Mr. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, for bringing the Soviet system of prison labor to the attention of the world. His masterpiece, The Gulag Archipelago, is the most influential book about the existence and horrors of Soviet political repression.
The Human Rights Foundation depends on the moral witness and on the heroism recorded in literature like that of Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s to affirm the existence of the courageous human spirit and of the redemption that is possible, even in the midst of unthinkable suffering. The world has lost one of the greatest champions of human rights. His memory will endure as an inspiration to those struggling against tyranny everywhere.
HRF Launches “Tell Chávez” Campaign for Venezuela’s Political Prisoners
July 18, 2008
HRF launched its “Tell Chávez” campaign today—www.TellChavez.com—to raise global awareness of the existence and suffering of political prisoners in Venezuela. Venezuelans are continually subjected to political persecution, imprisonment, torture and other cruel and degrading treatment for disagreeing with or opposing the government. Many of these prisoners are being held in inhumane conditions without access to medical care. Outside of Venezuela's prisons, "political inhabilitation" has been used by the government to disqualify 400 potential candidates for office including many who appear as the favorites in the upcoming November elections. [more]
HRF Mourns the Loss of Sir John Templeton
July 8, 2008
Sir John M. Templeton, renowned investor and philanthropist, died this morning at the age of 95. Sir John’s phenomenal generosity and philosophical vision have driven and continue to drive incredible human progress in the advancement of science, spirituality, and freedom.
Thanks to generous funding from the John Templeton Foundation, the Human Rights Foundation is currently organizing a conference on “The Nobility of the Human Spirit and the Power of Freedom: Testimonies to Human Dignity and Character” honoring and discussing the human rights contributions and literary works of political prisoners. HRF is privileged and honored by its association with the Templeton Foundation.
HRF, its staff, and all who benefit from its work are profoundly grateful to Sir John for his life and legacy. We mourn the loss of one of the greatest minds and most benevolent spirits of our time.
International Society for Human Rights Joins HRF in Petitioning President Correa for the Release of Guadalupe Llori July 3, 2008
The International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), based in Frankfurt, Germany, sent a letter today to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa reiterating HRF's appeal regarding the imprisonment of Guadalupe Llori, governor of the province of Orellana.
Hostages Rescued in Colombia; Colombian Government Offers the FARC a “Dignified Peace”
July 2, 2008
The Colombian government announced today the release of several hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC). The FARC is responsible for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity.
HRF urges all parties to enter into negotiations. HRF hopes the FARC leadership will accept the offer made by the government of Colombia today, for a demobilization effort that the Colombian defense minister calls a “dignified peace.” [more]
Human Rights Foundation responds to President Correa’s accusations and declares Guadalupe Llori a political prisoner of Ecuador’s government
June 18, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released a letter yesterday in response to the accusations made by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa regarding a May 12 letter from HRF denouncing human rights violations. At that time, HRF condemned violations resulting from the Tax Equity Reform Law enacted by Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly, namely: restrictions of the right of citizens to take part in public affairs and restrictions of their rights to due process and access to justice.
In his response of May 20, President Correa accused HRF of defending the “interests of Ecuador’s oligarchies and political elites.” President Correa added that HRF’s work is an act of “insolence” since it “dares” to “revise” the current Ecuadorian constitutional reform system with a “clear ideological bias.” President Correa’s letter suggests that HRF dedicate its resources to “more legitimate causes, instead of defending particular interests.” [more]
Read media coverage of HRF's response to President Correa:
Read the June 17, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Correa here (Spanish only).
Read the May 20, 2008 letter sent by President Correa to HRF here (Spanish only).
Read the May 12, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Correa here (Spanish only).
Read the March 18, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Correa here (Spanish only).
Read the February 20, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Correa here (Spanish only).
The Sugar Babies to be screened at Cine Paradiso May 28, 2008
In affiliation with the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (www.fliff.com), The Sugar Babies will be screened at their Cinema Paradiso venue from May 28-June 1, and July 5-6, 2008. "We are thrilled to present this important film,” stated Gregory Von Hausch, President and C.E.O. of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival,” our lasting desire is for this film to spur positive change for those laboring in the sugar industry as well as towards the ecological impact big sugar unleashes on our State.”
Venezuela: HRF Commemorates Freedom of Expression on the Anniversary of the Shutdown of RCTV
May 27, 2008
“Today marks the first anniversary of President Chávez’s most overt act of intolerance. The constant attacks on the media, the bullying, and the criminally violent acts of his supporters continue to stain Venezuela where journalism is one of the most dangerous professions,” said Armando Valladares, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). The Report of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States (OAS) says that “at midnight on May 27, 2007, TV channel Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) ceased its transmission, when the decision of the government of Hugo Chávez not to renew its concession became effective. […] On December 28, 2006, the president of Venezuela had declared his intention of not renewing RCTV’s concession.” After the shutdown, RCTV began broadcasting its programming via YouTube and ultimately became a cable TV station. [more]
The Sugar Babies Wins “Best Documentary” at the Delray Beach Film Festival May 13, 2008
Following its May 10, 2008 screening at the Delray Beach Film Festival, The Sugar Babies won the jury award for "Best Documentary." The film has been screened in numerous film festivals, including the Montreal International Haitian Film Festival in September 2007, where it was featured in opening night.
Ecuador: Constituent Assembly Laws Violate Numerous Human Rights Treaties
May 12, 2008
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a letter today to the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Mr. Rafael Correa, bringing to his attention human rights violations contained in the Tax Equity Reform Law (Ley Reformatoria para la Equidad Tributaria en el Ecuador) that was passed by the Constituent Assembly. [more]
Read the May 12, 2008 letter sent by HRF to President Correa here (Spanish only).
Bolivia: HRF Announces Preliminary Findings as Election Observers
May 5, 2008
In advance of a full report about the referendum for autonomy in the Province of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the Human Rights Foundation announces its preliminary findings.
HRF’s delegation, led by its Chairman Armando Valladares and by its President Thor Halvorssen, joined a group of international observers from Argentina, Paraguay, and two other non-governmental organizations from the United States. HRF’s delegation included technical assistance from HRF staff arriving from Spain and local HRF-Bolivia staff and directors. [more]
Dissident from Caracas Nine Awarded Cato Liberty Prize
April 30, 2008
Embattled Venezuelan student leader Yon Goicoechea is the fourth recipient of the Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Last November, Mr. Goicoechea was chosen by the Human Rights Foundation as one of nine illustrative cases of human rights violations occurring in Venezuela. He became Number Two of the Caracas Nine (www.CaracasNine.com).
“This is a magnificent gift from the Cato Institute to the cause of human dignity and freedom in Latin America,” said Thor Halvorssen, HRF’s president. “Yon Goicoechea is a symbol of hope and courage and this honor is the freedom equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize,” he added. [more]
HRF on Cuba in today's Wall Street Journal
April 18, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI is in the midst of the first journey to America of his pontificate, and he met with President George W. Bush this week. Hopefully this visit will reinforce the need for a joint commitment to freedom in Cuba.
The Catholic Church has taken a hardline position against right-wing dictatorships. But in Cuba, the Church has been silent – or worse – ever since 1960, when Fidel Castro expelled hundreds of Catholic priests because they alerted their parishioners of the communist danger surfacing in government circles. [more]
Ecuador Denies Opposition Politician Her Freedom; Government Dealings with FARC Reveal Double Standard March 17, 2008
Despite three court rulings ordering the release of Guadalupe Llori, opposition governor of the Ecuadorian province of Orellana, the government of President Rafael Correa continues to deny her freedom, accusing her of “terrorism.” Meanwhile, President Correa’s officials admit to having met with representatives of a terrorist organization.
“Ecuador has become a topsy-turvy land where a state governor is incarcerated on trumped-up charges of terrorism and held without evidence, while the government’s top national security official meets with the deadliest terrorist organization in the hemisphere, purportedly to establish formal relations,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF). [more]
Read HRF's most recent letter to President Correa, sent on March 18, 2008, here (Spanish only).
Read HRF's letter to President Correa sent on February 20, 2008, here (Spanish only).
The Sugar Babies on Maria Elvira Salazar’s “Polos Opuestos” March 5, 2008
Maria Elvira Salazar’s “Polos Opuestos” show this week will feature The Sugar Babies, a documentary co-produced by the Human Rights Foundation that explores the human costs of sugar production in the Dominican Republic. The show will delve into these issues and why the Miami International Film Festival pulled the film from its programming at the very last minute.
Lynching, Communal Justice, and Bolivia’s New Constitution
March 5, 2008
On January 15, 2008, Human Rights Foundation (HRF) published a report about Bolivia’s proposed new constitution. HRF sent copies of the report to President Evo Morales and other Bolivian authorities, prompting a reply from Vice Minister of Coordination with Social Movements and Civil Society, Sacha Sergio Llorenti Solis.
In Vice Minister Llorenti’s opinion, HRF misinterpreted the spirit of articles introduced in the new constitution, further expressing HRF had confused, in a “reductionist and discriminatory fashion,” communal justice and lynching. On January 30, 2008, HRF sent a reply to Vice Minister Llorenti, which has gone unanswered. Critics of HRF’s report have sided with Bolivia’s official stance. Hence HRF believes that a clarification about issues raised by Vice Minister Llorenti, Bolivian citizens, and interested parties is in order. [more]
Read HRF’s report on communal justice in Bolivia here.
Read HRF's response to Rutgers Professor Daniel M. Goldstein here.
Ecuadorian Broadcasting Association alerts HRF to possible freedom of expression violations in Ecuador February 29, 2008
In a letter dated February 28, the Ecuadorian Broadcasting Association informed the Human Rights Foundation of a proposal by President Correa’s party that would allow the government to indiscriminately revoke radio and television licenses in an attempt to control the Ecuadorian media. The government would then have the power to reissue the media concessions according to undetermined criteria. Such a proposal, if adopted, would be a clear blow to freedom of expression in Ecuador and would violate due process. The letter concludes with an invitation to HRF and other human rights organizations to help prevent such flagrant violations of human rights from occurring in Ecuador.
Read the letter from the Ecuadorian Broadcasting Association to HRF here (Spanish only).
HRF calls upon Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to uphold human rights in the detention of Guadalupe Llori
February 22, 2008
In November 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency and militarized the province of Orellana after local protests erupted over the government’s failure to complete promised infrastructure construction in the region. In response to the protests, the army raided homes in the Amazon town of Dayuma, arresting 23 protesters on charges of terrorism.
Guadalupe Llori, the prefect of Orellana, is among those still imprisoned. The government’s treatment of Llori’s case has thus far violated due process and other guarantees enshrined in Ecuador’s constitution.
In a letter sent February 20, the Human Rights Foundation reminded President Correa of the importance of upholding human rights regardless of political circumstances.
HRF in today's Washington Times: Colombia's FARC and Venezuela
February 7, 2008
The Washington Times published an editorial today by HRF President Thor Halvorssen in which Mr. Halvorssen writes about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s active support of the FARC, a rebel army in Colombia which the United States and every European government have designated as a foreign terrorist organization. [more]
Bolivian Government Responds to HRF February 4, 2008
In a letter dated January 28, 2008, the Bolivian government formally replied to HRF’s letter to Bolivian President Evo Morales regarding the negative repercussions that his proposed constitutional amendments would have on human rights. HRF’s first letter was widely circulated in Bolivia and was a frequent topic on television and in print media. Bolivian Vice-Minister Sacha Llorenti signed the response from the Bolivian government. In a television appearance, Vice-Minister Llorenti mocked HRF and its concerns. HRF’s response is included below.
The most recent development in this ongoing correspondence between HRF and the Bolivian government is HRF’s response sent on January 31, 2008.
Read HRF's original letter of January 24, 2008 here.
Read the government's January 28 response here (Spanish only).
Read HRF's response (January 31) here (Spanish only).
HRF President Thor Halvorssen writes editorial on the shooting of human rights advocate Monica Fernandez
January 21, 2008
On January 21, 2008, an editorial by HRF President Thor Halvorssen on the shooting of Monica Fernandez, a Venezuelan human rights advocate, was published by Pajamas Media, a news website that provides exclusive news and opinion 24/7 in text, video and podcast from correspondents in over forty countries.
Read the HRF press release on Monica Fernandez here.
Venezuelan government continues attack on independent media; Alberto Federico Ravell is “Caracas Nine” dissident #3
January 17, 2008
Employees and directors of Globovisión, Venezuela’s only remaining independent 24-hour news and information channel, have survived more than five years of attacks and death threats for exercising their free speech. The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) released a report this week detailing human rights violations against the people who work for the TV station.
Globovisión general manager Alberto Federico Ravell and his 430 colleagues are the third case in HRF’s Caracas Nine project (www.CaracasNine.com). [more]
Read the report about Alberto Federico Ravell's case here.
Enshrining Mob Rule in Bolivia: Communal Justice and the New Constitution
January 15, 2008
Communal justice Open Assembly held in the town of Ayo Ayo (July 3, 2004).
Lashing, crucifixion and other forms of corporal punishment would be legal in a new constitution proposed by the government of Bolivian President Evo Morales. Since 2005, Bolivia has seen a dramatic increase in such disturbing practices, including lynchings and torture, meted out under an informal system known as “communal justice.” Cases include death sentences for women accused of adultery and the beating, stoning, hanging, and burning of an elected official accused of corruption.
“Communal justice entirely disregards due process. In theory, it enables indigenous communities to address their needs in a fair and disinterested manner. In practice, it is judicial terror. It is breathtaking that the Morales government wishes to enshrine such arbitrary and barbaric practices and make them legally unappealable,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). Today, HRF published a report on Bolivia’s communal justice system. [more]
Read HRF's report on communal justice in Bolivia here
Video of communal justice practices in Bolivia (violent images—not suitable for children)
HRF Researcher Shot in Venezuela
January 7, 2008
Monica Fernandez, former judge and one of the leaders of the Foro Penal Venezolano, was shot Saturday afternoon in circumstances that, prior to a full investigation, the government of Venezuela has declared a “car robbery.” Ms. Fernandez directs the Venezuelan research division of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF).
Ms. Fernandez was kidnapped and shot at point-blank range while loading her car with plants she had bought with her fiancé, Javier Herrera. Mr. Herrera, a police officer, was shot five times while trying to prevent the attack. Mr. Herrera killed one of the aggressors; the other drove off with Ms. Fernandez. He later released her and left the car parked nearby. Both Ms. Fernandez and Mr. Herrera are hospitalized in Caracas. [more]
Francisco Usón is Free; HRF's First Prisoner of Conscience Conditionally Released
December 25, 2007
At 7:30 p.m. on December 24, 2007 in Caracas, Venezuela, the Human Rights Foundation's first political prisoner and prisoner of conscience, Franciso Usón, was freed by the judge presiding over appeals in his case.
Usón, a retired army general and former cabinet minister in the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years of prison in a maximum security jail for having uttered a statement expressing concern for human rights. [more]
One year after the death of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Human Rights Foundation reprints here its contribution made to the NRO online symposium “Pinochet Is History: But how will it remember him?” [more]
Video Highlights Human Rights Violations in Venezuela; Caracas Nine Preview Now Available on YouTube
November 30, 2007
Artists Reunite for Human Rights in Latin America; Concert Tour in New York to Stress the Plight of the Caracas Nine
October 25, 2007
The Human Rights Foundation launched its Caracas Nine campaign today to raise awareness about human rights violations occurring in Venezuela. The program focuses on nine individuals who have survived discrimination, intimidation, censorship, false arrest, imprisonment, and torture. Every few days, HRF will introduce a new member of the Caracas Nine whose case is illustrative of the human rights situation in Venezuela. The first member of the Caracas Nine is Francisco Usón, a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience since May 2004.
The Fenwicks—the legendary Afro-Celtic Yiddish Ska band —begin a concert tour this weekend in support for and solidarity with the Caracas Nine. The tour includes five stops, commencing on October 28 at the Knitting Factory concert venue in New York City and concluding on November 2 at Studio A in Miami, Florida.
Get more information about The Fenwicks’ Caracas Nine tour here.
Read an article about the Fenwicks from their Warped Tour appearance here.
Dominican Government Calls for Censorship of HRF Film on Human Trafficking
June 29, 2007
Amidst protest and volatile confrontation, HRF screened its documentary film The Sugar Babies: The Plight of the Children of Agricultural Workers in the Sugar Industry, at Florida International University on Wednesday. The documentary about human trafficking in Haiti and the Dominican Republic drew protest from both Dominican government officials and from the Fanjul family, one of the largest beneficiaries of the human trafficking depicted in the film, with a sugar empire that dwarfs the U.S. Sugar Corporation. [more]
HRF calls for an immediate end to the human rights abuses against peaceful student protesters in Venezuela
June 6, 2007
In light of the recent student protests surrounding the shutdown of RCTV, HRF communicated today with the president of Venezuela in condemnation of the excessive measures taken by Venezuelan security forces against protesters as they demonstrate for freedom of speech in Venezuela. HRF alerted the OAS, the UN, and numerous other organizations of the several human rights violations in this case, including detentions, the use of firearms, and physical violence against peaceful protesters.
Click here to view a short film on the attacks on Venezuelan media in Venezuela since 2001
Click here to visit HRF’s freedom of expression site, FreeRCTV.com
Protests in Venezuela; One Hundred High School Students Arrested; Attacks on Media Continue; Bolivian and Ecuadorian Governments Announce Media Crackdown May 30, 2007
Mass protests shook Venezuela over the last three days as people—many of them high school and university students—took to the streets to protest the this weekend’s shutdown of the Venezuelan television station Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). Severe government crackdowns included the use of live ammunition, tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and riot gear. More than one hundred minors and eighty adults were in custody of the Venezuelan police as of this afternoon. Their identities and condition are being withheld by the government. [more]
RCTV Blackout in Venezuela May 28, 2007
Despite worldwide criticism, mass protests on the streets of Caracas, condemnation by world bodies including the European Parliament, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Chilean Senate, as well as condemnation from all major human rights and press groups, the Venezuelan government today pulled the plug on RCTV, Venezuela’s last independent TV network.
Human Rights Foundation marks the sad day with its website www.FreeRCTV.com converted to a solid black screen.
RCTV Shutdown Condemned By Europeans; Chileans; and Senators Clinton, Obama, and Kennedy May 25, 2007
Two days away from the shutdown of Venezuela’s leading independent television stations, a growing coalition of condemnation has emerged. It includes the European Parliament; U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (including Senators Lugar, Dodd, Clinton, Obama, Kennedy, and McCain) and organizations as diverse as Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. [more]
HRF to OAS’s Insulza: “Do Your Job” May 23, 2007
HRF issued a plea today in the form of a letter addressed to José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, to do his job. Insulza dismissed concern about RCTV and said the matter was in the hands of the Venezuelan courts. Venezuela’s highest court ruled today that no appeals from RCTV will be accepted. RCTV will cease transmission on May 27 at midnight. [more]
Cuban-Venezuelan Actress and Singer María Conchita Alonso Defends RCTV's Right to Dissent; Joins HRF Campaign for Prisoners of Conscience May 16, 2007
María Conchita Alonso has joined the Human Rights Foundation's campaign in support of political prisoners in Venezuela. She declared today: “I am devoted to the liberation of those wrongfully imprisoned for doing nothing more than expressing themselves and those who are guilty of nothing more than fighting corruption or doing their jobs. These include Francisco Uson, a former cabinet minister and democracy activist; Humberto Quintero, a former national guardsman who captured an important leader of a Colombian terrorist organization; whistleblower Eligio Cedeño, a former banker held for his detailed knowledge of government corruption; and former captain Otto Gebauer, who was sentenced for twelve years for peaceful civil disobedience.” [more]
HRF Condemns Venezuelan Government Shut Down of TV Station, Launches FreeRCTV Website, and Brings Case to the Attention of U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-moon May 7, 2007
In a meeting today held in honor of Ban Ki-moon at the UN Association, Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen brought the escalating crisis over the impending shutdown of Venezuelan TV channel RCTV to the Secretary General’s attention, giving him a copy of a letter to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, co-authored by former U.N. Ambassador Armando Valladares. [more]
HRF Chairman Writes About Castro's Gulag in the Wall Street Journal March 5, 2007
The Wall Street Journal published an editorial today written by HRF Chairman Armando Valladares in which Ambassador Valladares reflects on his experience as a prisoner of conscience in Castro's gulag, Castro's legacy, and the relevance of that legacy for the American hemisphere today. [more]
Norway Grants Asylum to Former HRF Prisoner of Conscience February 28, 2007
Amauris Samartino, a political dissident illegally expelled from Bolivia for criticizing President Evo Morales and Fidel Castro, has been granted asylum in Norway. Samartino, a medical doctor, was detained at gunpoint in eastern Bolivia last December for remarks he had made in the local media. Prior to his expulsion, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) adopted him as a prisoner of conscience of the Bolivian government. "Although my home is Bolivia, I am overjoyed that Norway is willing to be a safe harbor for those with the temerity to express themselves freely. Bolivia is no longer a safe place for those who disagree, no matter how peacefully, with the government of Evo Morales," said Samartino. [more]
HRF Victory: Expelling Dissident from Bolivia Ruled Unconstitutional
Bolivian Court Admits Human Rights Foundation Brief and Decides for Freedom
February 2, 2007
On Friday February 2, 2007, the Constitutional Tribunal of Bolivia announced that it ruled against the government of Evo Morales and in favor of a man falsely detained and expelled from Bolivia for publicly criticizing Fidel Castro and Evo Morales. The government’s actions were outside of the law, arbitrary, and violated equality before the law, freedom of speech, and due process. HRF adopted Samartino as a Prisoner of Conscience three days after his arrest and filed a friend-of-the-court brief delineating the illegal nature of the government’s activities as well as the four international treaties violated in this case. HRF celebrates that the court decided in favor of freedom. [more]
Dissident Expelled from Bolivia for Criticizing Fidel Castro and Evo Morales
Amauris Samartino was new Government’s First Prisoner of Conscience
January 10, 2007
Amauris Samartino, a Cuban refugee who has lived in Bolivia since 2000, was expelled yesterday after having been detained for seventeen days for criticizing the Bolivian and Cuban governments. The Bolivian government’s justification for the expulsion of Samartino rested on an immigration law that was voided and deemed unconstitutional in 2001. Violations of human rights in this case include wrongful imprisonment, arbitrary detainment, forced exile, due process abuse, and undue restriction of free speech.
Beyond publishing an exhaustive report, HRF will present Samartino’s case at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States. HRF will also file amicus curiae briefs with the Bolivian Constitutional Tribunal regarding the human rights violations against Mr. Samartino and his petition to re-enter Bolivia as a permanent resident. [more]
Bolivia to Deport Cuban National for Criticism of Cuban Dictatorship and Bolivian President December 29, 2006
Since December 27, 2006 HRF has begun investigating the planned deportation of Amauris Samartino, a Cuban refugee living in Bolivia since 2000, who has criticized what he sees as Bolivia’s slide into authoritarianism. Mr. Samartino was arrested on December 23 and is currently in the custody of the Bolivian government and a legal process seems to be underway. HRF has documented numerous human rights violations by the Bolivian government in this case including kidnapping, false arrest, violations of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. A full report and campaign will begin next week. Stay tuned.
HRF Letter to President Chavez Urges The Liberation of Francisco Usón December 12, 2006
Former U.N. Human Rights Ambassador Armando Valladares, who spent 22 years in Cuban prisons, and Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen released a letter to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez declaring Francisco Usón a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience. The letter documented the violations of due process and freedom of speech rights in the case of Mr. Usón, a retired Venezuelan General sentenced to five and a half years in prison for voicing an opinion on a television talk-show.
The letter to Mr. Chavez urges the immediate liberation and exoneration of Mr. Uson and puts the government on notice about a widespread campaign of awareness including the publicizing of two attempts on Mr. Uson’s life since his conviction. [more]
Read HRF’s letter to President Chavez here (.pdf). and here (text)
Former Cabinet Minister Imprisoned for Stating an Opinion December 12, 2006
On Friday, December 1, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) began an advocacy campaign for the liberation of a man held in prison in Venezuela for voicing an opinion on a television talk-show. Francisco Usón is the first political prisoner and prisoner of conscience adopted by HRF. An executive summary and full report (.pdf, 164kb) about the case are available to the public.
HRF’s programs are designed to further global understanding of recurring threats to freedom in the Americas. Our programs provide education about what constitutes a free society, why freedom matters, and how freedom is nurtured, developed, and sustained. [more]
HRF will research and report on human rights abuses with a particular focus on prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. [more] Our Vision The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals find their purest expression in the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to worship in the manner of their choice, to associate with those of like mind, to acquire and dispose of property, and to leave and enter their countries.
Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the government of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile, from slavery and torture, and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. [more]
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