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: 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.”

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Andrew Gole

Andrew Gole’s journey to become a human rights defender (HRD) was sparked by a small request: in 2015, a human rights organisation reached out to the trained software engineer about a digital security training. “I didn’t know much about the HRD eco-system or about digital security as an environment on its own,” Andrew says. “So, I did some research, and realised digital security support is just the basic support I used to provide in an internet café.”

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Onesmo Olengurumwa

Protecting human rights is Onesmo Olengurumwa’s passion. When his secondary school lacked access to water and was threatened with closure, Onesmo successfully rallied his fellow students together and protested for their right to education. While at university, he was the human rights association’s president. Becoming a human rights defender was not really a conscious choice, but just the natural course of Onesmo’s life.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Malab Alneel

Malab Alneel was only 20 when Sudan’s revolution started in December 2018, but she knew it was the moment to get involved: “I grew up in a house that was very political. All of my sisters are activists, my parents are very involved. Activism has always been there. But for me it started with the revolution. It just felt like a time for change.”

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