Firstly, thank you to all our long-standing and new supporters for helping us raise over £40,000 during our Summer Big Give campaign. These precious funds will help to support human rights defenders from around the world, and particularly from Afghanistan and Iran from where we are receiving an unprecedented increase in requests for assistance.
People like Bahar*, a human rights defender from Iran, forced into exile in a neighbouring country:
“I received a threat letter issued by the Taliban to my family demanding that I and my brother be handed over. When my family refused they were placed under house arrest. When my brother was escaping aiming to flee the country, he was caught on the way to Kabul by the Taliban and still he is disappeared. We do not know whether he is alive and killed by them.”
PoC provided two emergency hardship grants to assist Bahar*, his wife and children for basic living costs while they are in exile.
“Let me convey my heartfelt gratitude to you and all who work tirelessly to secure the life of individuals like me. And to all those great souls who provide their unconditional support for the great cause of your organization. You may not get to see the smile you put on all of our faces, but know for sure that all you doing has a tremendous impact on our happiness.”
*Pseudonym used to protect his and his family’s identity
The bill, which was passed by Parliament on 17th July despite widespread UK and international criticism, will be devasting for many prisoners of conscience who have been forced to flee their countries for their and their families’ safety.
The people who PoC supports often have no choice but to try to enter the UK and other countries “irregularly”. This legislation strips away their rights under international law to seek refuge in the UK, and in the words of the United Nations:
“For decades, the UK has provided refuge to those in need, in line with its international obligations – a tradition of which it has been rightly proud. This new legislation significantly erodes the legal framework that has protected so many, exposing refugees to grave risks in breach of international law,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi
“In addition to raising very serious legal concerns from the international perspective, this Bill sets a worrying precedent for dismantling asylum-related obligations that other countries, including in Europe, may be tempted to follow, with a potentially adverse effect on the international refugee and human rights protection system as a whole,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk .
It is therefore more vital than ever that PoC provides more hardship and family reunion grants to yet more prisoners of conscience.
BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal
Please listen to Radio 4 on Sunday 3rd September at 07:54, later that day at 21:25 or on Thursday 7th September at 15:27 to hear our appeal, presented by Mandira Sharma, a former beneficiary and now Senior Legal Advisor at the International Commission of Jurists and serving on our Trustee Board.
All donations up to £20,000 will doubled thanks to generous matched funds provided by three of our supporters. You can listen to our previous appeal, presented by John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, in 2019 here –https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0004l83
An Early Heads-Up
Our annual Christmas Big Give campaign will run from 28th November to 5th December. This is a chance for gifts to be doubled by the kind matching funds provided by PoC supporters.
Further details on these appeals will be provided in the coming months.
As ever, thank you for helping to uphold human rights across the world.