I am just one human
being among many […].
I live in the present noting
down what I see”[1].
Anna Politkovskaya

On October 7, 2006, Ms. Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist for Novaya Gazetta and an untiring human rights activist, was assassinated at her home in Moscow, in the Russian Federation. Her crime: revealing publicly and tirelessly the fate suffered by the most oppressed, in particular victims of the war in Chechnya and soldiers’ mothers. This murder shattered international public opinion, but 2006 was marked by other tragic assassinations of anonymous human rights defenders. On June 26, 2006 for instance, Mr.Wilfredo Cornea, head of a peasants’ rights defence organisation in the Philippines, was murdered at his home in the Mulawin Hacienda by two unidentified individuals. On April 28, 2006, the body of Mr. Thabet Hussein Ali, leader of a health-sector trade union, was found riddled with bullets in Baghdad, in Iraq, after having been tortured. On September 13, 2006, Mr. Gregorio Izquierdo Meléndez, a leader of the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Colombia, was murdered in the Arauca region. In Thailand, Mr. Thares Sodsri, an environmental rights activist in the Rachaburi region, has been missing since December 1, 2006. It is feared that he has been murdered.

These dramatic situations represent only a tiny proportion of the cases registered by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, which has documented the situation of 1,311 human rights defenders targeted by acts of repression in close to 90 countries in 20062.

When defenders do not pay for their commitment with their own lives, their physical and psychological integrity, and freedom, are endangered. Death threats, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detentions, defamation campaigns are the daily experience of scores of men and women who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

 


[1]. See Putin’s Russia, The Harvill Press, 2004.
[2]. See statistics p. 625.

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