My Camera as My Gun
State repression and violent conflict lead to gross human rights violations on a daily basis worldwide. Many of these conflicts and violations barely see the light of day as they often happen in areas less of a priority to international key players. Courageous local human rights monitors struggle to collect evidence and put pressure on the international community to respond to their plight.
To limit grave violations going undocumented, the Human Rights Capacity-Building Programme (HURICAP) of Amnesty International Netherlands supports these local human rights monitors in documenting evidence. Through our network of African trainers, HURICAP offers capacity building in Monitoring, Documenting and Reporting (MDR) of human rights violations in Sub-Saharan Africa and will start doing the same with activists in the MENA region. These trainings are a longer term investment, are tailored to local needs and involve –amongst others– knowledge and practical skills on interviewing victims and witnesses, safety & (digital) security, identification of patterns of violations and dealing with stress and burnout. Such support enables local activists and organisations to become more effective in collecting reliable evidence, to expose to the world what is happening, and to hold perpetrators to account.
A good example is Sudan. Since 2012, HURICAP has been working with groups of human rights monitors in the border states South Kordofan and Blue Nile, areas that have seen five years of indiscriminate aerial attacks by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Amidst the widespread destruction of homes, clinics and crops, these local human rights monitors are trained and supported to gather evidence of these attacks that amount to war crimes. Seeing their country free from conflict is what drives them. As one monitor puts it,
“not all of us could take the gun and fight. There are so many ways that you can reach to a solution. And for me I choose to take my camera as my gun.”
With their information, including testimonies from victims and witnesses, photos and videos, the monitors expose the costs of this widely unknown conflict and manage to put it higher on the international agenda.
Please watch the short video on HURICAP’s work with these inspiring local monitors below.