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Civic space under attack! – We stand with the people of Myanmar and Palestine in their struggle against oppressive systems

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” (Desmond Tutu)

We, the undersigned African human rights organisations, strongly condemn the most recent developments restricting the work of civil society organisations in Palestine and executing activists in Myanmar. Under the cloak of counter-terrorism laws, human rights organisations and democracy activists have become the target of an attempt to silence the civic space and its fight for human rights.  

The raid of the offices of six Palestinian human rights groups by Israeli security forces on 18 August 2022 and their illegitimate declaration as terrorist groups by Israel constitutes a new low in the state’s attempt to undermine civil society organisations operating in Palestine. In Myanmar, the executions of two democracy activists illustrate the utter disregard for human rights by the military junta. Both democracy activists were sentenced to death based on counter-terrorism laws and executed at the end of July 2022. Since the coup in Myanmar from 1 February 2021, the oppressive military regime has arrested 14,500 people and killed more than 2,000 people. The trend of undermining and suppressing those who stand up against human rights violations by an oppressive regime is appalling and unfathomable. 

As African civil society organisations, we are deeply concerned by these profoundly alarming attacks on civil society. This climate of fear breeds repression and calls for swift action on a bilateral and multilateral level. As many of the undersigned organisations understand and comprehend the daily risks and threats that our colleagues in Myanmar and Palestine face, we stand united with the people and organisations in Palestine and Myanmar. 

We call on the international community, the United Nations, and the African Union to apply all possible means under international law to end the tyranny of oppressors in Palestine and Myanmar. Those responsible for breaches of human rights and international law must be held to account. The abuse of counter-terrorism laws to restrict civic space must stop. The work of activists, human rights defenders and civil society organisations in Palestine and Myanmar is indispensable to provide a bare minimum of protection. We further call on the international community for targeted and determined action to restore the protection of the civic space. In times of chaos and tyranny, a functioning civil society’s innate sense of protecting those in need has become a beacon of justice, accountability and humanity. 

African Human Rights Organisations

  1. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) – South Africa
  2. Educating Girls and Young Women for Development (EGYD) – Zambia
  3. Sinatsisa Lubombo Women Empowerment NGO – Eswatini
  4. Forum Mulher – Mozambique
  5. Zambia Deaf Youth and Women – Zambia
  6. Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) – Eswatini
  7. Botswana Trans Initiative – Botswana
  8. Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) – Malawi
  9. Young Feminists Movement Namibia (Y-Fem) – Namibia 
  10. Banana Club – Botswana
  11. Voice of Hope Trust (VHT) – Namibia 
  12. Human Rights institute of South Africa (HURISA) _ South Africa 
  13. Centre for Conflict Management and Women Development Affairs (CECOWDA) – Malawi
  14. CBOs Coalition for Human Rights and Good Governance – Malawi
  15. Centre for Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa – Reginal 
  16. Disability Rights Watch (DRW) – Zambia
  17. The Centre for Human Rights & Social Advancement (CEFSAN) – Nigeria
  18. Savie asbl NGO PGEL LGBTIQ – The Democratic Republic of Congo
  19. Legal Resources Foundation – Zambia
  20. The Rock of Hope Eswatini (ROH) – Eswatini
  21. Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria – South Africa
  22. Southern Africa Women Human Rights Defenders Network (SAWHRDN) – Regional 
  23. Swaziland Domestic Workers Union (SDWU) – Eswatini
  24. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) – Zimbabwe
  25. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS(BONELA)  – Botswana
  26. Mwatumwaya Rehabilitation Centre – Botswana
  27. Centre for Human Rights & Social Advancement (CEFSAN) – Nigeria
  28. Youth Advocates for Change (YAC) – Zambia 
  29. African Humanitarian Law Initiative (AIHLI Legacy) – Regional 
  30. The People’s Matrix (MATRIX) – Lesotho 
  31. Queer Worx – Lesotho 
  32. Intersex Community of Zimbabwe (ICoZ) – Zimbabwe
  33. Disabled Women in Africa (DIWA) – Regional 
  34. Centre for Community Empowerment and Development – Malawi
  35. Seinoli Legal Centre – Lesotho
  36. Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) – Zimbabwe 
  37. Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities – Eswatini
  38. TransSwati – Eswatini
  39. Disability, HIV and AIDS Trust (DHAT) – Zimbabwe
  40. Rural Empowerment Fora (REF) – Zambia
  41. Zambia Disability HIV/AIDS Human Rights Programme (ZAMDHARP)- Zambia
  42. Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) – Lesotho
  43. Sexual Rights Centre – Zimbabwe
  44. Tanzania Trans Initiative (TTI) – Tanzania
  45. Transbantu Association Zambia (TBZ) – Zambia 
  46. Community of Women Living with HIV – Lesotho
  47. Trans Research Education Advocacy and Training (TREAT ) – Zimbabwe
  48. Art and Global Health Center Africa (ArtGlo) – Malawi)
  49. Namibia Diverse Women’s Association (NDWA) – Namibia
  50. Nyasa Rainbow Alliance (NRA) – Malawi
  51. Black Queer DocX – Botswana 
  52. Eswatini Network of Young Positives – Eswatini
  53. Eswatini Youth Inspires – Eswatini
  54. Gender Dynamix – South Africa 
  55. Iranti – South Africa
  56. Nassawiyat – Morocco
  57. Pan Africa ILGA – Regional 
  58. Barali Foundation – Lesotho
  59. Reformar – Mozambique 
  60. Desk for Social Development of the ELCRN (DfSD-ELCRN)
  61. Arquivo de Identidade Angolano (AIA) – Angola
  62. Tanzania Community Empowerment Foundation (TACEF) 
  63. Women’s Alliance for Equality Limited – Zambia
  64. Springs of Life – Zimbabwe
  65. Success Development Trust of Zimbabwe (SDTZ)
  66. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) – Uganda 
  67. Legal Resources Centre (LRC) – South Africa
  68. Female Sex Workers Association (FSWA) –  Malawi 
  69. Women With Dignity (WWD) – Tanzania
  70. Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) – Tanzania
  71. ADAT Foundation – Kenya
  72. Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) – Kenya
  73. Alpha and Omega –  Kenya
  74. HealthPlus 4 Men (HP4M) – Eswatini
  75. African Legal Information Institute – South Africa
  76. Community Youth Development Trust – Zimbabwe 
  77. Kuria East Youth Empowerment Group – Kenya 
  78. Sesotho Media & Development – Lesotho
  79. CIVICUS – South Africa 
  80. Coalition Action For Preventive Mental Health (CAPMHK) – Kenya 
  81. African Young Positives Network (AY+) – Regional 
  82. Setabane Online Magazine – Botswana
  83. Lawyers Alert – Nigeria 
  84. Manna Development Agency (MADA) – South Sudan
  85. Uganda Stop TB Partnership (USTP) – Uganda
  86. The Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions – Regional
  87. Youth Watch Society (YOWSO) – Malawi
  88. Abammeli Bamalungelo Abantu – Zimbabwe
  89. Chapter One Foundation – Zambia
  90. Les Mêmes Droits pour Tous – Guinea 
  91. Council of Churches – Namibia
  92. SADC Lawyers’ Association – Regional 
  93. Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) – Nigeria
  94. Poverty Reduction Network (PORENET) – Mozambique
  95. Hope Africa – Zimbabwe
  96. Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH) – Kenya
  97. Africa Human Rights Film Festival 
  98. Human Rights Commission – Sierra Leone
  99. Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association – Zimbabwe
  100. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) – South Africa
  101. Southern African Christian Initiative (SACHI) – Namibia
  102. Ndifuna Ukwazi- South Africa
  103. Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape – South Africa
  104. Associação KUTAKESA – Angola 
  105. Prisoner Reintegration and Empowerment Organization (PREO) – Zambia
  106. Organisation for Promoting Human Rights -Tanzania
  107. Outreach Scout Foundation -Malawi
  108. Religious Youth Affairs for Peace and Dialogue – Malawi
  109. Female Commission – Malawi
  110. Queer Women’s Network QWN – Swaziland
  111. Black Sash – South Africa
  112. IVY foundation – Malawi 
  113. The Public Legal Education Organization (PLEO) – Tanzania
  114. Coalition for an Effective African Court on Human & Peoples’ Rights – Tanzania 
  115. Abammeli Bamalungelo Human Rights Lawyers Network – Zimbabwe
  116. Men for Health and Gender Justice Organisation – Botswana
  117. Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) – Zimbabwe
  118. Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) – Malawi
  119. Tanzania Voice of Humanity – Tanzania
  120. Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) – Lesotho
  121. Digital Society of Africa (DSA) – Zimbabwe
  122. Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) – Botswana 
  123. Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) – Nigeria
  124. Nigerian Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) – Nigeria
  125. Safe Place International (TDA) – Botswana
  126. Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) – South Africa 
  127. Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) – South Africa
  128. Legal and Human Rights Centre – Tanzania