Stand Up for the Brave

Together we can speak up for those who speak out for all of us

  • Campaign

Deadly, preventable attacks

Today, people across the world are taking enormous risks to stand up for our rights. They could be teachers, students, political opponents, factory workers, journalists, lawyers or so many others. But defending human rights can be a dangerous business.

Thousands of people have been killed or forcibly disappeared simply for speaking out against injustice or standing up to powerful human rights violators, and these attacks are increasing around the world.

What’s especially disturbing is that, if states had taken seriously their responsibility to protect human rights defenders, these tragic endings could have been prevented.

We spoke to families of killed and forcibly disappeared human rights defenders all over the world, and kept hearing the same thing: these people knew their lives were at risk. In many cases their deaths or disappearances had been preceded by a string of previous attacks, which authorities turned a blind eye to or even encouraged.

Many described how victims’ pleas for protection had been repeatedly ignored by the authorities and how the attackers had evaded justice, fuelling a deadly cycle of impunity. Bertha Zuñiga, daughter of Honduran environmental and Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, told Amnesty International that her mother’s work upset many powerful interests, and that an investigation still seems a long way off.

Help us protect the Brave today

Bertha Zuñiga
My mother deserves justice and it’s imperative we shed light on the conspiracy that took place. It’s fundamental if we are to prevent further killings.”

Brave is an ordinary person with a heart

SMEARS, SURVEILLANCE AND SILENCING DISSENT

People who speak out against injustice are under attack. Governments, companies, armed groups, groups advocating hate and discrimination and others in power are doing all they can to shut them up and close their work down.

They portray those who challenge them as criminals, terrorists, unpatriotic, corrupt or even “foreign agents”. Then the attack goes further – smearing reputations, locking people up and even using violence to silence dissent.

People in power portray those who challenge them as criminals, terrorists or even 'foreign agents'.

At the same time, unions are disbanded and newspapers are closed down. Social media is banned. Digital activity is unlawfully monitored. And peaceful protestors are met with violence. Speaking out for human rights has become difficult and dangerous.

But that’s why we need human rights defenders more than ever. They’re brave enough to speak up for free speech. Challenge racism and sexism. Condemn torture. And ultimately hold our leaders to account. 

Berta Cáceres, a human rights defender who was shot dead in Honduras in 2016.
I am always thinking about being killed or kidnapped. But I refuse to go into exile. I am a human rights fighter and I will not give up this fight.

BRAVE: In Numbers

281

people killed in 2016 for defending human rights, up from 156 in 2015. (Source: Front Line Defenders)

75%+

of killings of human rights defenders in 2016 were in the Americas. (Source: Front Line Defenders)

22

countries saw people killed for peacefully standing up for human rights in 2016

Let's Stand with the Brave worldwide

We want a world where people can speak out for what’s right without being attacked, threatened, jailed and more. Countries need to put laws in place which keep human rights defenders safe from harm, and scrap repressive laws, for example which attack free speech.

They need to release people who have been locked up just for challenging injustice. And they need to stop using spurious charges such as national security as an excuse to silence those who disagree with them.

Law makers, business leaders, government officials and other influential people should also make a public pledge to speak up for the brave, everywhere. By recognising human rights defenders as committed, courageous people creating a fairer society, we can protect them from further attacks.