The Human Rights Day Call to Action on Behalf of Unjustly Persecuted PeoplePublished: Dec 10, 2022 Reading time: 6 minutes
Joint Statement of the Speaker of the Czech Chamber of Deputies Mrs. Markéta Pekarová-Adamová and People in Need on the Occasion of Human Rights Day.
On this year’s Human Rights day, we are faced with an uncomfortable reality: in 2022, the state of human rights across the world has deteriorated. As existing global conflicts have intensified and new ones have emerged, individuals caught in the middle of these conflicts have felt the loss of their basic human rights. Rights that we, as citizens of a democratic country, are free to practice daily without fear. People across the world have been persecuted for fighting against human rights infringements on themselves and their fellow citizens, as well as simply protesting the aggression of one nation against another. As a result, this year, the number of falsely persecuted individuals has reached a record high.
A threat to human rights anywhere is a threat to human rights everywhere. That is why I believe that it is my duty as a speaker of the house to uphold these rights.
On the occasion of Human Right Day, I have joined efforts with the organisation People in Need (Člověk v tísni) to bring attention to these injustices. People in Need is one of the largest non-government organisations in central Europe, and annually it organises human rights projects in 22 world countries. Moreover, it manages projects in the Czech Republic as well, namely one of the world's largest human rights festivals One World (Jeden Svet) and the One World in Schools (JSNS) educational program within the framework of which it has prepared a new podcast series The same stories, only different names.
People in Need and myself have selected six brave activists from the countries of Belarus, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Vietnam. The list is by far not complete, but it serves as an important example of the group of authoritarian regimes that are tightening their grip across the whole world. The reasons for persecution range from expressing anti-war opinions to fighting climate change. In other words, they have been stripped of human rights which we, as Czech citizens, are free to practice every day.
I am proud to partner with People in Need and bring you six cases of people who are unjustly persecuted, and together we turn to you to help us fight for their freedom. We have provided a short summary as well as links to petitions for their release and letters of support. Authoritarians have stripped these brave people of their rights to free expression, so we ask that you exercise yours on their behalf. Those who have dared to stand up in their defence and face unjust persecution deserve not only our sympathy but, most of all, our help. Previous generations of Czechs also faced a long battle for human rights in this country, and this list shows us that the fight they fought is not over.
Siarhei Pliashkun, Yuriy Selvich, Belarus
On March 10, 2022, the Belarusian investigative committee announced the initiation of a criminal case for preparation for an “act of terrorism” against two local residents of Mazyr, 34-year-old Siarhei Pliashkun and 44-year-old Yuriy Selvich.
According to the investigation, the men rank among the so-called “rail movement”, civilian volunteers who plan to destroy the military equipment of the Russian Federation during its movement on the territory of Belarus. So far, at least 11 individuals have been accused of such acts.
Siargei and Yuryi never performed any such activity. However, if convicted, both men face up to 20 years in prison.
Stand up for Yuriy Selvich: HERE
Stand up for Siarhei Pliashkun: HERE
Dmitry Talantov, Russia
Dmitry Talantov is a Russian human rights lawyer; he has been detained and held in pre-trial detention since June 2022 merely for expressing anti-war opinions on his Facebook account. If charged, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Dmitry has been the lawyer for several individuals persecuted by the Russian regime. His tireless fight against prefabricated charges pressed against numerous Russians–including the journalist Ivan Safronov charged with high treason– has made him a recent target of Russian propaganda and persecution.
Stand up for Dmitry Talantov: HERE
Katherine Bisquet, Acuartelamiento 27N, Cuba
Writer, poet, and journalist Katherine Bisquet has had a long and successful career. She has published poetry notebooks; her articles have appeared in magazines such as Vice, El Estornudo, Hyperallergic, Hypermedia, and Rialta Magazine. She was one of the organisers of the #00 Biennial 2018 in Havana. In 2020, she was selected for the writers' residency Can Serrat Primavera, Barcelona.
Since 2020, Katharine has been the target of harassment, coercion, illegal deprivation of liberty (suffering house arrest for 65 days), psychological torture, illegal detention and threats of prosecution by Cuban state security. This treatment came after she barracked at the headquarters of Movimiento San Isidro in November 2020, where, together with other artists and activists, she went on a hunger strike to demand the release of rapper Denis Solis, unjustly imprisoned for political reasons.
In September 2021, Katherine was forced into exile in Europe. It is estimated that more than 800 people are currently imprisoned or disappeared for peacefully demonstrating in Cuba.
Stand up for Cuban activists: HERE
Majid Tavakoli, Iran
Majid Tavakoli is an Iranian student leader, human rights activist, and a political prisoner. In the past, he was arrested several times for his human rights activities. He ranks among thousands of Iranian citizens arrested during the Iranian protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. His wife has confirmed that he has recently been severely mistreated in his Iranian jail.
Tavakoli is the laureate of the 2009 Homo Homini award that People in Need dedicates to human rights activists who contribute to human rights improvement in their countries.
Stand up for Iranian activists: HERE
Ngụy Thị Khanh, Vietnam
Most Europeans think of Vietnam as an ideal holiday resort for an exotic vacation. However, the country currently ranks among the most oppressive regimes in the world. It uses various criminal charges – such as tax evasion — to target non-criminal activities of free-minded individuals.
Nguy Thi Khanh is an ardent opponent of Vietnam’s reliance on coal power and the winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018. She was arrested in January on tax evasion charges: for failing to pay a 10% tax on the U.S. $200,000 prize money associated with the Goldman prize.
In Vietnam, environmental protection falls within the category of suspicious activities, and there are many activists persecuted for their activities. Nguy Thi Khanh´s case is just the tip of the iceberg of repression faced by Vietnamese citizens if they dare to disagree with the official line of the Vietnam Communist Party.
Stand up for Ngụy Thị Khanh: HERE