Human Rights Defenders of the Month: Anastsia Nambo and Is’haq Abubakar

Anastsia Nambo and Is’haq Abubakar were awarded the Human Rights Defender (HRD) Award 2018, given out annually by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K) and the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders (WGHRD). This award recognises HRDs who have conducted extraordinary work to promote and protect human rights in Kenya.

Anastasia Nambo

Anastasia Nambo was selected as award winner due to her extraordinary human rights work as an environmental activist in her local community in Mombasa. Since 2009, she has become a well-known and strong human rights figure in her community. When a metal refinery was established in Uhuru Owino slums in Mombasa, without the consent of the community, she initiated active advocacy and lobbying to close the refinery. Her efforts, together with other community members, culminated in the metal refinery being shut down in 2014.

While fighting for the human rights of the people of Uhuru Owino slums, she faced verbal attacks and anonymous threats, in addition to people attempting to break into her home. Her home was later demolished due to her advocacy initiatives against the refinery. The human right attacks she faced forced her to flee to Uganda for a while, for her safety.

Despite the challenges and violations faced, Anastasia continues to stand up for her rights, and the rights of the people in her community. She is dedicated to continue her resilience and to advocate for human rights, while encouraging others to follow her path to ensure that human rights are upheld.

Is’haq Abubakar

Is’haq received the award due to his outstanding human rights work in the organisation, Save Lamu. The organisation, located at the island of Lamu, fights for the island community and environment, in the onset of the LAPSSET project – a regional project between Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan aimed at linking the three countries to each other, and to the rest of East Africa. Additionally, Is’haq is the founder of the organisation Lamu Coastal Indigenous People’s Rights for Development.

Through his work in Save Lamu, Is’haq sensitises the community on the environmental impact of the LAPSSET project, and protect the indigenous community during the process. He further represented the interests of the community by seeking legal redress through an environmental petition filed on human rights violations associated with the LAPSSET project. In addition to being an active HRD at local level, he engages closely with NCHRD-K and other Kenyan human rights platforms.

Is’haq has faced vast threats and harassment due to his human rights work, including from governmental officials. Yet, he continues to promote the rights of the people of Lamu, and push for justice and legal accountability for the environmental damages caused by LAPSSET. He is committed to protecting the environment and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, in addition to encouraging and enhancing the efforts of HRDs in Lamu, and their ability to speak freely and stand up against violations by duty-bearers.

See more HRDs of the Month

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Faiza Abdi Mohamed

The Somali activist Faiza Abdi Mohamed has promoted human rights in her home country for a decade, which has made her a target of verbal abuse, threats, and arbitrary arrest, forcing her to flee Somalia and seek exile in Uganda. Yet, she remains extremely vocal about human rights violations in her country. “I’ve lost so many of my friends due to cruelties, so I can’t keep quiet,” she says.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Omot Agwa Okwoy

In Ethiopia, land grabbing and villagisation has resulted in severe human rights abuses, however, being vocal about these abuses can be extremely risky. Omot Agwa Okwoy, our human rights defender of the month for December 2019, has fought for land rights and the rights of indigenous people in the Gambella region in Ethiopia for almost 20 years – leaving him with visible and invisible scars.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Brenda Kugonza

Brenda Kugonza has fought for women’s rights in Uganda for more than 13 years, and is currently the Executive Director of Women Human Rights Defenders Network-Uganda (WHRDN-U). “As a defender, you lose friends and family members – they don’t want to be associated with someone who brings them shame. We are viewed as women with bad manners and I struggle daily with discrimination,” she affirms.

Human Rights Defender of the Month:  Gladness Hemedi Munuo 

Gladness Hemedi Munuo is a journalist and an award-winning gender activist from Tanzania, with more than 20 years of human rights and media experience. “Shrinking space and crackdown on media causes huge problems in Tanzania – to me it’s a thing that needs serious and immediate action,” she stresses.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Moses Kabaseke

Moses Kabaseke, a talented hip-hop artist and activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was forced to flee to Uganda in 2013 – at only 16 years old. Kabaseke, known by his stage name Belidor, has produced music since he was a child. “I use music as a weapon – music has power. I use music to promote human rights.”

Human Rights Defender of the Month (August 2019): Alaa Satir

As an inspiring activist, illustrator, and graphic designer, Alaa Satir uses her art as a tool to promote women’s rights and justice in Sudan. “The challenges that we, women, have faced in Sudanese society have been enormous – we have been the main casualties of Omar al-Bashir’s regime,” Satir says.

Human Rights Defender of the Month (July 2019): Gladys Mmari

Gladys Mmari is a driven Tanzanian human rights defender (HRD), and the founder of MAFGE (Male Advocacy For Gender Equality) – a non-governmental organisation (NGO) focused on women empowerment through educating both women and men. “So much of the work that I do is cultural conversation. We have grown up talking about these issues among women, but now, I have to work with men as well – making it more challenging,” Mmari stresses.

Human Rights Defender of the Month (June 2019): Beatrice Githinji

Beatrice Githinji is a Kenyan human rights defender (HRD) and peace ambassador, advocating for land rights. Her dedication to land rights is based on the historical injustices faced by many local communities, where land grabbing is a major, long-standing concern. “Many HRDs are losing their lives over land rights issues,” Githinji stresses.

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