Remarkable human rights defenders risking it all for justice


September 14, 2016

Around the globe, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things to promote and protect human rights, and the Fund was set up to support these individuals and be a lifeline to them in times of need. In the face of powerful adversaries, and with minimal resources, frontline human rights defenders are forced to be innovative. This work is extremely dangerous, and many groups, who often work without basic security measures, routinely find themselves at risk of attack, and even death. In the last year alone, our frontline partners have suffered office raids, arbitrary arrests, rape threats, and assassination. Despite the harrowing nature of these events, they tell stories of immense courage, bravery and dedication.

Prominent Burundian activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa is no stranger to these risks and has suffered years of harassment for his fight to expose corruption and brutality of the Burundian government. In August 2015, Pierre was shot in the face and neck by a masked assassin as he left his office. While fighting for his life, the Fund for Global Human Rights supported his urgent repatriation to Belgium and the emergency treatment that ultimately saved him. With Pierre safely out of the country, the assassins killed both his son and his son-in-law within two months. Despite this unbearable tragedy and his ongoing recovery, Pierre refuses to give up his work denouncing high-level human rights abuses in Burundi. He continues to work from his hospital bed in Belgium and is awaiting the day when he can return to Bujumbura to continue pressing for justice.

The Fund has countless stories around the world of courageous activists like Pierre Claver that put their lives on the line every day to challenge injustice and abuse. From Gustavo Castro in Mexico, who was the sole witness to the assassination of Honduran environmental activist Berta Caceres (pictured above), to Ethiopian activist and journalist Yared Beyene who has been forced to leave everything he knows to work in exile in Kenya, and journalist Hossam Baghat, who was detained by military police in Egypt simply because he had published an article online about military officers plotting a coup. At the Fund for Global Human Rights, we stand for justice and seek to unlock the power of activists and their communities as they work tirelessly to define, demand, and defend dignity.