[DECLARATION] Mediterranean Human Rights Defenders Declaration [DECLARATION] Mediterranean Human Rights Defenders Declaration

[DECLARATION] Mediterranean Human Rights Defenders Declaration

Defensores drets humans Al-Himaya
Defensores drets humans Al-Himaya

An open and participatory civic space is the foundation of a healthy society, where our ability to self-organise, meet together, express our opinions and protest are the basis in which our rights and freedoms are built. In a healthy society, these rights and freedoms are protected and encouraged to be exercised freely and without hindrance.

The persecution and criminalization of our work is visible and not new. It is part of a historical, constant trickle that has become more evident as our voices became louder, due to the need to document and denounce the serious violations of rights in the environment we live in. This is a commitment we continue to defend.

Today we as more than XX human rights defenders across the Mediterranean region we raise our voices. We fight against racism, including all forms of racism — such as Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-roman— and fascism, against colonial occupation, militarism, Zionism, and genocide. We fight for our land and the environment. We defend housing for all and the struggle for independence, self-determination. We fight for feminism, sexual and reproductive rights and the rights of LGTBQAI+ people and communities. And for labor rights too. From our different struggles, we are united by one common cause: the right to defend life. Our efforts are committed to uncovering the truth that those in power attempt to conceal and suppress. We are a persistent and internationally recognized body, a generation preceded by countless human rights defenders who have taught us for decades that change is both possible and inevitable.

We strongly condemn the fact that our work -which should be rightfully protected and safeguarded- is being deliberately and systematically attacked and restricted. For years, our work has been subjected to criminalization and persecution that has become increasingly sophisticated, using all means and tactics available to silence us. This repression comes in many shapes and forms: verbal threats and assaults, state sponsored mass surveillance and different forms of technology, smear campaigns, digital threats and harassment, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPS), raids and attacks on our offices, censorship, excessive administrative controls, restrictions, and cuts in funding. In some instances, these attacks end in forced exile, changing our professional career or in the worst case in assassination.

Over the last 7 months, a painful number of human rights defenders have been killed in Gaza. The increased repression connects us: Israel uses and abuses Palestine as the testing ground for repression and surveillance methods aimed at population control and segregation, technologies subsequently exported throughout the region as part of its occupation tactics. The proliferation of mass surveillance equipment, drones and facial recognition technology, increasingly present in our daily lives, reduces democratic prospects and increases authoritarian inclinations. We live in a never-ending loop, where we continue to work in the face of systematic attacks, striving to document countless and ongoing human rights violations, too many to counter them all. Our work has profound physical and psychological cost on us.

We live in a truly frightening time; one of the worst episodes in recent history. The credibility of international organizations is at stake. What is happening in Palestine is a new precedent that teaches us that no place in the world is immune or safe. We are witnessing the deterioration of the space for the defense of our rights, which is becoming increasingly closed and restricted.

From the Western Sahara to Egypt, from Lebanon to Tunisia, from Morocco to Syria, from Corsica to Italy, from Iraq to Greece, from France to Kurdistan, from Palestine to Spain, we keep on with the fight, and we make a joint commitment to continue struggling. We know that our actions have impact all over the world, question power and act as a speaker, and they empower new generations to join the defense of our rights. When the repression in the region is structured, interrelated and uses the same tools and strategies to oppress and silence us, we stand in a collective front against authoritarianism, and we advocate for the right to defend life in the Mediterranean region.

The rise of authoritarianism and the persecution we are enduring is unacceptable. They reflect a global crisis that requires a collective and immediate response. We are here, and we refuse to stand by in the face of the repression inflicted upon us. Confronted with the will to divide, separate and demobilize, we stand united, and we call upon governments to ensure our protection as human rights defenders, enabling us to continue our work and mission.

Without our hard work, our passion, dedication, and our commitment, not only would we be at risk, but also the thousands of people we are fighting for and who we support.