N O I T I B I H X E O T PHO TERNATIONAL PORTRAITS OF IN
ERS N RIGHTS DEFEND AND DUTCH HUMA
S PHOTOGRAPHER VAN BERGEN LA EL IUS EN DANI EN OL BR TE ET AN
FENDERS. MAN RIGHTS DE CAN ALL BE HU VE RIGHTS. WE HA L AL WE N. MA WE ARE ALL HU
The photo exhibition We are all human rights defenders is an initiative of Justice and Peace Netherlands. This Dutch human rights organization actively promotes respect for human rights, human dignity and social justice all over the world. For more information: www.justiceandpeace.nl All portrayed human rights defenders come from the network of Justice and Peace. The international human rights defenders are former participants of the The Hague Training Course (THTC) for Human Rights Defenders on Security and Advocacy and the Shelter City network. www.sheltercity.nl
N O I T I B I H X E O T PHO ERS N RIGHTS DEFEND AND DUTCH HUMA L NA IO AT RN TE PORTRAITS OF IN
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AMALA (45) DEFENDS CHILDREN’S AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN SOUTH SUDAN Photographer: Anette Brolenius
‘I stand for the universal declaration of human rights‘ “Over the years we have made a gradual shift from a development approach to a rights – based approach in addressing and protecting the community, and particularly women who suffer various forms of violations, discrimination and gender based violence in the UN camps. Since I am religious committed, the poor and vulnerable people are my number one priority. Especially in South Sudan, where humans are being treated as animals. Through trainings and healing sessions I provide assistance to children and women whose rights have been violated.” Amala has succeeded to train more than 3000 women and 600 children in South Sudan. “We have to take action. Millions of children remain uneducated, while the victims of domestic violence are constantly increasing.” People of South Sudan face great human rights violations, since they haven’t had peace for the last 7 decades.
BEYONG (30) RAISES THE VISIBILITY AND RECOGNITION OF BICULTURAL TRANSGENDERS Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“When I was 18 I thought I was gay, because I had feelings for men. I didn’t know about gender. During my internship at COC I met transgender people and realised: I never had the feeling I was a man. A lonely and harsh period started. I had to rediscover myself and learn to love myself, while at the same time managing and meeting the expectations and discriminations of people around me and in society. People need to get used to something different, even in Dutch society which is considered to be progressive. As soon as I can tell my story to people, they tend to understand me better. I don’t want to do this only for myself. It’s not about me, but about a whole community of transgenders who struggle to be seen and accepted. I want to be their voice and help them to accept themselves and to be recognized by society.”
VITALY (30) ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS DEFENDER IN RUSSIA
Photographer: Anette Brolenius
‘Do what you believe in and believe in what you are doing’ Most people would characterize him as a silent personality, who doesn’t wish to attract too much attention. Vitaly indeed, is a silent rebel who has dedicated all his efforts to help environmental human rights defenders worldwide and preserve the planet’s safety. He has been doing this since a very young age, being 18 years old when he first got involved in this path. “I started reading for the first time about environmental and nuclear activities while I was still at school. As soon as I realized the damage we cause to our planet I thought, “I need to do something from my side too”. It used to be a period of orientation until I got where I am now and decided to focus and adjust my work on environmental activities that can affect everyone. The world we live in can actually become terrible. I experienced and realized this in different occasions and couldn’t close my eyes for this ever since. However this doesn’t mean necessarily that we have to risk everything and struggle for the impossible. If we do small and stable steps, the change will follow. Peace and non-violent activities have been the cornerstones of my work. If I had to suggest something, that would be something that we use every day, at any time. It makes our day more beautiful and helps not only ourselves and the work we do, but also the people we work with. What is that? ‘A Smile’”. In Russia not only environmental rights are being threatened but also our freedom of speech. Our work is getting more and more difficult, especially the last few decades.
KOFI (45) DEFENDS WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN THE GAMBIA Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
‘Being a human rights defender and struggle for your rights is nice and actually pretty exciting. It demands though lots of strength, power and courage. Especially in The Gambia where people are so restricted’ “Since I was a child I remember myself questioning everything. I was doubting my society, the way people behaved and the way people were being treated. Nature gave us eyes to see, hands to touch, legs to walk and a brain to think. Why we cannot think without borders? Why don’t we have the permission to support our beliefs and express any of our thoughts? Soon I realized that something was wrong. During my studies I decided to participate in political student groups. The more I read, the sooner I realized my life’s purpose, and thus I started being more active by helping women and children who were being discriminated. All humans should be free and I want to struggle for our rights. It is a feeling which has never stopped growing and maturing inside me. This is how I started being a human rights defender and since that time I have never rested”. THE GAMBIA Kofi has been a human rights defender in The Gambia for over 20 years. He struggles to preserve and increase women’s and children’s rights. The majority of Gambia’s population is Muslim. A large part of them is fundamentalist and considers children and women as inferior creatures. In The Gambia the government doesn’t want its population to be empowered and thus people can’t claim their rights. They have neither freedom of speech nor freedom of expression.
ANDRIANA (25) RIGHTS IN PAPUA
Photographer: Anette Brolenius
‘I love working with other people and together fighting for peace.’ “Every time I go back to my hometown, in Papua, a feeling of sadness floods me. Violence is everywhere. Seeing so many people suffering, including children and women, makes me want to cry. When others suffer, I feel their pain and I suffer along with them.” Andriana preserves women’s and children’s rights by providing assistance to those whose rights have been ignored by the Indonesian authorities. For her, being a human rights defender, is a way to bring justice and peace in Papua. “It is a gift for me to visit different villages in Indonesia, where I can educate people on human rights and discuss their concerns. Every day I listen to so many stories. What I have learnt is that Indonesian women are in the most vulnerable position. They deal with great financial and social issues, including domestic violence.” “I am a woman of Papua too and I consider it our duty to stand up for our rights and not be afraid to speak in public to claim our freedom. Although, too many people haven’t been reached by our message yet, I remain optimistic. I believe that things will change and one day the people of Papua will live in peace and prosperity”. In Papua the government considers women and children a secondary priority, thereby enabling social discrimination towards them.
FEMKE (42) ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDER IN THE NETHERLANDS Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
‘I like to call myself a climate activist. When you are an activist you should be bountiful. Do what you can do as a human and follow your heart. In life we are supposed to take responsibility not only for ourselves, but also for our surroundings, both people and environment. Together we can stop global warming, before it stops us.’ “I had been asked to wear a dress and play with the waves. It was just me, the sky and the sea. While I was looking towards the factory in the distance, the image of the melting ice caps suddenly appeared in my mind. I got frightened, upset and simultaneously strengthened to be part of the climate movement!” Femke works as a voluntary campaigner at Fossil Free The Hague. She is a member of a ‘climate movement’ which encourages people to become more active and believe in their own powers. “I hold on to what I want to accomplish in a friendly way and not by being aggressive. We are all linked by a common feeling, we want to change our world”. She admits, “I wasn’t like this in the past. I was convinced that the government would take care of issues like climate change and as a citizen I was doing my ‘duty’ like most of us do. Then I thought, is this enough? The more I read, the sooner I discovered that our world is suffering. I could no longer stand with crossed arms. I quit my job and became a member of Fossil Free. People are afraid to sacrifice. In reality though, changing your habits is undoubtedly enriching.” In the Netherlands we can claim our rights. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other law. We are the change we have been waiting for.
XAVIER (36) DEFENDS YOUNG VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN D.R. CONGO Photographer: Anette Brolenius
‘I am a man who dreams of change, an activist for an open society. A man who campaigns for society to transcend ethnic, regional, and other affiliations’. “I chose for human rights because I was outraged about what happened in my region, Ituri, between 1999 and 2004. A bloody conflict between ethnic communities took place, under the eyes of those supposed to protect the population. This conflict has caused the death of more than 500,000 people, and countless internally displaced people. The security forces entrusted to protect the population also committed abuses against civilians. Appalled by this, I took the decision to defend human rights. In 2006, while some government forces buried alive, raped and committed other exactions against women. I chose to side with the victims. I documented cases of human rights violations and provided them assistance before the Military Court of Garrison of Ituri, which has led to the condemnations of some of those responsible. However, the Congolese State never offered reparations”. Xavier defends victims of human rights violations in general, victims of sexual violence, children in conflict with the law, and children who have suffered and witnessed abuse in Congo. In all areas of the Democratic Republic of The Congo, the human rights record remained poor with numerous serious abuses committed. Unlawful killings, disappearances, rapes and tortures increased the last few years and the transitional government took few actions to punish the violators.
VOIN SVETA (32) DOCUMENTS WAR CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN THE ZONE OF ARMED CONFLICT IN EASTERN UKRAINE AND CRIMEA Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“The protests of Ukraine in 2013 developed into a violent civil war - revealing medieval practices in contemporary Europe. What has happened has to be documented, to show that the victims are not anonymous people. To realise that one person is the sweet girl you know from the library.”
BERNADETTE (49) SUPPORTS VICTIMS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN D.R. CONGO Photographer: Anette Brolenius
“I provide assistance to women and children who have been victims of sexual harassment. My work can be very dangerous in DRC. Very often I have been subjected to death threats, just because I was helping vulnerable communities.”
ANONYMOUS (34) TARGETS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN PAKISTAN Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
His wish to be a good journalist and make unprejudiced radio broadcasts and reports resulted in a nightmare for him and his family. One night in 2015 forty paramilitaries intruded his house to take him to jail. He was beaten and interrogated for hours. Thanks to many colleague journalist, starting a social media campaign, he was released. He makes radio reportages about forced marriages, chained children learning Islamic texts in Koranic schools and disappeared and killed persons. His search for the real story doesn’t make him popular with the authorities and the military apparatus. “Being a journalist in Pakistan is dangerous. Everybody knows.”
SAMUEL (37) UGANDA
IS A LGBT ACTIVIST IN
Photographer: Anette Brolenius
Uganda is one of the most dangerous places to be gay: those in the LGBT community are fired because of their sexual orientation, refused treatment in hospitals and are victims of abuse.
YOLANDE (38) STANDS UP AGAINST PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION IN THE NETHERLANDS Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“I have transformed my vulnerability into militancy. To reveal this hidden discrimination I have become the face of other mothers in the same situation.”
TOMY (34) HUMAN RIGHTS JOURNALIST IN HONDURAS Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“Being a human rights defender is extremely satisfying. But first, you should take into serious consideration such a decision”. Tomy works as a human rights activist and a journalist in Honduras. For several years, she denounced human rights violations and got engaged in the defense of women’s rights, freedom of speech or land rights of indigenous people. She accompanied different social groups and movements, like the Tolupanes indigenous people, farmers, and also students. Journalists and human rights defenders in Honduras continue to suffer threats, attacks and killings. Between 2010 and 2014, forty-three journalists were murdered. Most of the time, the authorities fail to investigate and prosecute the crimes, even though the government enacted a law to protect human rights defenders and journalists in May 2015. Tomy also faces threats. Harassments on social media, surveillance or persecution are her routine, imposing a heavy psychological and physical burden on her. “I have no hope, only desperation for Honduras. But I won’t give up my work.” Graffiti: Karski & Beyond (adress: Laakweg The Hague) www.beyondgraffiti.nl
NIGHAT (37) IS AN INTERNET ACTIVIST AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS DEFENDER IN PAKISTAN Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
Nighat aims to counter gender based harassment that impact individuals’ rights. She founded an organisation which focuses on educating people, especially women, on how to respond to online harassment. In 2016 Nighat won the Human Rights Tulip award of the Dutch government.
JAN ACCOMPANIES ASYLUM SEEKERS IN THE NETHERLANDS Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“What troubles me, is how a person who has been kept in prison in The Netherlands for forty months, separated from his wife and three children, is now all of a sudden deported back to Rwanda. We all know he will have to appear in court, where he won’t have a fair trial.”
CHIGOZIE (30) ADVOCATES FOR YOUTH AND HEALTH DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA Photographer: Anette Brolenius
As a lawyer Chigozie focuses on peace promotion, health development and gender - human rights protection among Nigerian youth and women, through capacity research, advocacy and documentation.
ANNA (49) HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER IN INDIA Photographer: Anette Brolenius
Anna is involved in litigations on childrenâ€™s rights and training programmes for villagers and tea plantation labourers.
RASHID (31) PRESERVES LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCE RIGHTS IN GHANA Photographer: Anette Brolenius
â€œI am a peacebuilder. My work is to train and empower communities to build a culture of non-violence and to set up alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in communities that have a high rate of tribal and ethnic division. My aim is to assist the role of young people in building peace around the world.â€?
ANONYMOUS (47) ADVOCATES FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE AND CHILDREN’S PROTECTION IN AN AFRICAN COUNTRY Photographer: Anette Brolenius
“I am convinced that my work is very important because it contributes towards building a society that respects the rule of law and values peaceful co-existence. I realize that my fellow countrymen resort to violence whenever there is a dispute and I would like to play a role in ensuring that we embrace peaceful means of resolving our conflicts”.
IRINA (63) PROTECTS THE RIGHTS OF PRISONERS IN RUSSIA Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
â€œWhen I look back I realise that I have contributed to a change. Underground prison cells without windows are not being used anymore. The cells are less crowded. Above all, the prison guards are aware of human rights and are more careful during their work. These successes make me thrive.â€?
JEAN BAPTISTE (41) PROMOTES AND DEFENDS PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN RWANDA Photographer: Anette Brolenius
“I have never tolerated injustice and impunity. My aim is to provide assistance and advocacy to marginalized communities, by educating the population on human rights and promoting peace in general”.
MUSA (61) DOCUMENTS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“For the work I do I have spent time in prison and have had to run for my life multiple times. I have even been targeted by rubber bullets. Sometimes, the Middle East feels like hell. However, even in hell you can improve the lives of the people.”
OLIVIER (29) WORKS ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN D.R. CONGO Photographer: Anette Brolenius
With the rise of international organizationsâ€™ interest in his region he decided to take an active role and it is by becoming a lawyer that he was able to provide access to justice for the most vulnerable.
MERIAM (19) BLOGS FOR FREEDOM FOR MUSLIM GIRLS IN THE NETHERLANDS Photographer: Daniella van Bergen
“I had so many questions about Islamic guidelines and the pressure on girls in our community and I found so many different answers... So I started a blog for girls like me.”
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS Anette Brolenius, Documentary and portrait photographer
Anette Brolenius has a background in diplomacy and focuses on social and current political issues, with a particular interest in matters related to human and women’s rights, emancipation and background stories on (post)conflict situations, often bringing attention to persons who fight injustices, violence and oppression. Her black and white portraits belong to a series featuring 85 participants of successive editions of the The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders on security and advocacy organized by Justice and Peace. “During my visit to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, I met many victims of sexual violence and other human rights violations. They shared their horrific stories of gross violence and abandonment, but also of strength and bravery. In many cases, the victims did not dare to bring the crimes committed against them to the attention of the police or other authorities for fear of reprisals. So, who do you turn to? At times of crises, human rights defenders are often the last recourse for victims of human rights violations. The defenders often pursue justice under difficult circumstances. In many countries they are subject to threats, harassment, defamation, restrictions on their freedom of expression and movement, detention or worse.
This exhibition is a tribute to those who tirelessly and unselfishly put themselves in harm ways to defend the rights of others – a tribute to the human rights defender.” Daniella van Bergen, Social documentary and press photographer
Daniella van Bergen worked for years as a social documentary and press photographer. Her work is published in newspapers and magazines. In addition, she photographs for many NGOs. In her work people come first. With her work she brings social issues to light by taking you into the souls and stories of the portrayed people. Her colorful pictures belong to two series. One features international human rights defenders under threat who temporarily stayed in one of the Dutch Shelter Cities to recover, be trained and to build their international network. The other series was made for this exhibition featuring Dutch human rights defenders. “During my meetings with these strong and hopeful people they dropped their masks and let me see behind them. They were frank, honest and emotional. They dared to go back in memories they would rather forget; loved ones who they had lost; constantly on the run; being separated from loved ones, violence, betrayal and despair. These stories aren’t just stories from other countries. Courageous advocates for human rights are active in this country as well.
These people have changed my life, not only as a photographer, but also as a human being. My heart and my ears have always been open to others – to our common humanity... But with my photography and this exhibition I hope for now and forever to be a voice for such powerful people.”
COLOFON The photo exhibition We are all human rights defenders has been developed by Justice and Peace Netherlands. Pictures: Anette Brolenius and Daniella van Bergen Design: Urban Emotions Prints: Zwaan Fotografie & Presentatie The exhibition consists of 8 big and 16 medium sized portraits*. These fine art prints are mounted on gator foam with metal frames. With the portraits come 2 opening boards on gator foam with metal frames, 24 testimonials printed on polystyrene (PVC) and a polystyrene text board about the photographers. *For this folder, some of the portraits have been cropped. More information If you are interested in this exhibition or want more information, please contact us: email@example.com or 070 â€“ 763 14 99.
From 5 - 10 December Justice and Peace showed this photo exhibition in Het Nutshuis featuring portraits of 24 international and Dutch human...