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PEOPLE WATCH GUILHERME OSINSKI highlights the stories of human rights defenders under attack

Tharindu Uduwaragedara


Tharindu Uduwaragedara, a journalist from Sri Lanka, uses social media to cover human rights abuses. Uduwaragedara has been harassed for his work and subject to surveillance by security and intelligence officers. At the end of June, Criminal Investigation Department officers headed to his mother’s home to request Uduwaragedara’s presence for an inquiry in Colombo. The explanation given was that this was happening due to the content shared on his YouTube channel, where Uduwaragedara frequently condemns the policies adopted by Sri Lanka’s government.

Bolot Temirov


Human rights defender Bolot Temirov has recently become one of the main targets of Kyrgyzstan’s government. A few months ago, he was stripped of his Kyrgyz citizenship after his passport suddenly appeared as invalid in the database of the National Registration Agency.

Temirov reports on corruption. Before losing his passport, Temirov was accused of forgery of documents, illegal crossing of state borders and drug-related crime in what looks like a concerted campaign by authorities to silence him. If he is convicted, he could face up to 15 years in jail.

Maryam Karimbeigi


Since 2009, human rights defender Maryam Karimbeigi has been striving to bring justice for the families of those murdered in peaceful protests in Iran. She began this journey when her brother, at the age of 26, was killed by Iranian police in 2009.

Karimbeigi defends the rights of political prisoners and campaigns against solitary confinement. On 14 June, she was sent to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

In August, Karimbeigi was sentenced to three years and seven months. She was also fined and sentenced to 74 lashes as she had alcoholic drinks at her home.

Justyna Wydrzyńska


Justyna Wydrzyńska is part of a group called the Abortion Dream Team, founded in 2016 with the purpose of supporting women looking for abortions. She’s also behind Women on the Net, the first online forum in Poland to support those in search of abortions, contraception or sex education. In April, she was accused of “helping in the performance of an abortion”, based on Article 152.2 of the Polish Penal Code, along with the “possession of unauthorised drugs”. Her hearing will happen in October. If found guilty she’ll be sentenced to three years in prison.

Ink spot

THIS CARTOON BY PalestinianJordanian artist Emad Hajjaj, well known in the Middle East for his cartoons featuring Abu Mahjoob – a character representing the Jordanian man in the street - was inspired by the 12 August attack on author Salman Rushdie as he prepared to give a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State in the USA.

In August 2020, Hajjaj was arrested in Jordan under the country’s cybercrime law for publishing a caricature criticising the Israel–United Arab Emirates peace agreement, showing the crown prince of Abu Dhabi holding a white peace dove on which is painted the Israeli flag.

Hajjaj has won the Dubai Press Award twice for best Arab cartoons and is considered one of the 500 most influential figures in the Arabic world, according to Arabian Business Magazine.


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