Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ana Taban

Ana Taban, which means ‘I am Tired’ in Arabic, was established in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya out of frustration of South Sudanese artists with several issues related to the civil war in the country. This was after another conflict broke out at the Presidential Palace in Juba a few months after the signing of a peace deal. The group members lost a lot to the conflict, including colleagues, friends, family members, and homes, as some were displaced. They were weary of going through the same things again.

“We questioned why we were putting ourselves through this situation again. We also realised we had a certain influence as artists, and thought, how do we make good use of our influence to help our country?”

Jacob Bul, Co-Founder and Media Coordinator of Ana Taban Tweet

The founders later launched the initiative in Juba to use different forms of art that resonate with South Sudanese to create awareness on issues related to conflict and human rights. Ana Taban was involved in drafting the current peace agreement and is quite active in disseminating the contents of the document.

Ana Taban has faced various challenges since its inception. The members of the organisation are subjected to smear campaigns, arrests while peacefully exercising their right to protest, harassment, and intimidation by security forces, including cancellation of some of their events. The smear campaigns led to distrust of the organisation by state authorities, which frustrated registration in South Sudan.

“When we launched Ana Taban in Nairobi, an article was written spreading misinformation on our group. The article alleged that it was a youth movement based in Nairobi, Kenya that was tired of the South Sudanese government, and supported by the Ethiopian government. However, this was not true,”

Furthermore, like most human rights organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their work as they have been forced to cancel some of their activities. Moreover, there has been a general shrinking of civic space in the government’s fight against COVID-19, which has further made Ana Taban’s work difficult. “We have been forced to cancel Hagana Festival, one of the biggest festivals in Juba,” says Jacob Bul, “The festival encourages people of South Sudan to take ownership of their country and hold the government accountable.”

Jacob believes that solidarity is vital in promoting and protecting human rights. Solidarity across the region can amplify voices of groups like Ana Taban and other human rights defenders in South Sudan.

“If anything happens to somebody in South Sudan, colleagues in other countries like Uganda and Kenya can be amplify their voice and get together to fight for that individual. Solidarity is one major thing that I wish we all have as people involved in the fight for human rights within the region,”

What keeps the organisation going despite all the challenges they face is the innate sense of responsibility to fight for a just society where the human rights of South Sudanese are upheld and respected. The organisation continues to grow, and more youth are inspired to join the cause.

“The fight for human rights and attaining a just society is a fight that will not end. The generation before us fought for the independence of this country, and we attained it. It falls on the current generation to ask themselves how we contribute to nation-building?”

Follow Ana Taban on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to learn more about their work.

 

See more HRDs of the Month

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ana Taban

Ana Taban, which means ‘I am Tired’ in Arabic, was established in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya out of frustration of South Sudanese artists with several issues related to the civil war in the country. This was after another conflict broke out at the Presidential Palace in Juba a few months after the signing of a peace deal.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Jaqueline Mutere

Jaqueline Mutere’s motivation to establish Grace Agenda was a response to the post-election sexual violence of 2007 and 2008 in Kenya. Additionally, as a survivor of sexual violence which resulted into conception of a child, and following the experience of other survivors, Jaqueline identified the need to form an organisation that advocates for reparations for survivors of sexual violence.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ocen Ivan Kenneth

Ocen Ivan Kenneth is a Program Director at Foundation for Development and Relief Africa (FIDRA), with more than 10 years’ experience working in the human rights field. Ivan’s ambitions for change focus on building inner peace, defending human rights and empowering local communities using theatre and storytelling. He creates a space where people from the community share their personal stories of trauma and resilience as well as identify mechanisms of healing.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Sandra Aceng

Sandra Aceng is an outspoken and energetic woman human rights defender (WHRD). She is a gender and ICT researcher and policy analyst for Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) where she coordinates the Women ICT Advocacy Group, advocating for internet access for all. In addition, she writes on various platforms such as Global Voices, Freedom House, and Impakter Magazine. Her regular contributions to Wikimedia Uganda often focus on profiling WHRDs, female politicians, and journalists.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Chantal Mutamuriza

Chantal Mutamuriza does not wait for problems to be solved. When the Burundian woman human rights defender (WHRD) encounters a problem, she will seek a solution there and then. When hundreds of thousands Burundians had to flee from political unrest in 2015, many of them were stranded in refugee camps with little economic opportunity or access to education. In her problem-solving spirit, Chantal felt compelled to act: she quit her job to put her skills and network to use and founded the NGO Light For All.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Foni Joyce

Foni Joyce has engaged in humanitarian work since the age of 20, when she joined a refugee student organisation to amplify the voices of refugees. Originally from South Sudan, Foni grew up as a refugee in Nairobi, Kenya, but she makes it clear that ‘refugee’ is merely a legal definition: “I firstly define myself as a human being who has been uprooted.”

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Meskerem  Geset Techane

Meskerem Geset Techane has fought injustice since she can remember: as a child she was known to stand up for herself and others, whether against bullies, teachers, her parents or church. Fighting injustice and promoting human rights is a common theme in the lawyer’s life. “It’s a passion, promoting human rights is not something you choose to do for a living or as a career opportunity. It’s more of a calling for me.”

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