Act Now – Human Rights Defenders are Under Attack

In December 2018 Alice Mogwe – Human Rights Defender and prominent Anglican – became the first person from civil society to address a High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
She now calls Anglicans to action.

Democratic values are under threat. In their place we are seeing the rise of authoritarianism, unaccountable governments and businesses, systemic corruption, inequality and discrimination, over-exploitation of natural resources, and religious and political extremism.

Human Rights Defenders are working for the protection of the dignity of all persons but they are often forgotten, under-resourced, discredited, discriminated against, criminalized, arrested, tortured, disappeared – and their NGOs closed down. Recently such attacks have broadened in scope and have reached alarming levels, especially within the context of countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. This has resulted in an increasing shrinking and closing of independent civil society space.

In 2017, 312 Human Rights Defenders in 27 countries were killed for their peaceful work. They were mostly engaged in defending land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights – often within the context of mega projects and extractive industries. Their names are mostly rarely remembered, but they join over 3500 Human Rights Defenders have been killed over the last 20 years

Human Rights Defenders working for the protection of the dignity of all persons are often forgotten, under-resourced, discredited, discriminated against, criminalized, arrested, tortured, disappeared – and their NGOs closed down. Such attacks have broadened in scope and have reached alarming levels, especially within the context of countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. This has resulted in an increasing shrinking and closing of independent civil society space.

The State has the duty to protect is campaigners for a better world, but instead the State remains the main perpetrator of violations against Human Rights Defenders, either directly or in complicity with non-State actors. If change is to come States must break the cycle of impunity by holding perpetrators to account for attacks against human rights defenders. Killings, criminalisation and smear campaigns must stop.

But who will challenge the States?

Anglicans worldwide can challenge their states and support Human Rights Defenders.

We ask all Anglicans to raise the profile of those who struggle to find a voice and empower those who seek justice and peace and are protecting the fragile environment. We especially ask our Bishops and prominent leaders to take a lead in speaking out.

We call upon all Anglicans to honour and protect Human Rights Defenders.

Make this Litany part of your prayers and then live out your commitment:

We honour activist Human Rights Defenders who work to protect the environment and those who, confront corporate greed to preserve the collective rights of their community to the land.

We honour activist Human Rights Defenders who are being criminalised, delegitimized and defamed for their work in saving lives at sea and protecting migrants.

We honour activist Human Rights Defenders who are criminalised, tortured and jailed for exercising their freedom of expression and opinion, especially through social media.

We honour activist Human Rights Defenders who are silenced for calling for free, fair and transparent elections and pursuing peaceful, democratic transitions

We honour activist Human Rights Defenders, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex defenders and women Human Rights Defenders – who advocate for the right of all to live free and equal in dignity and rights

            Lord, in your mercy, let us be your activists. Amen

In December 2018 Alice Mogwe became the first civil-society representative ever to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. She is a prominent and lifelong Anglican and member of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network.
Mogwe is Director of DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights. She has also facilitated conversations between Anglicans and was on the facilitation team at the 2011 Primates’ Meeting.

Watch the video here. Start from 45 minutes in.

Alice Mogwe’s features in Chapter 2 of Living Reconciliation – the book on reconciliation recommended by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Archbishop of Canterbury.