Dear HIM friends!
The war in Ukraine has made the unimaginable true: violence and war crimes have returned to Europe. We all feel deeply affected, and also helpless. What to do against the senseless destruction?
Stories of a war
Albina's story. Albina and her mother escaped from Kharkiv and ended up in Nuremberg after a dramatic escape. You can find the story here.
Bella's story. Bella came to Germany from Russia as a child. She helps refugees. Her once dissenting grandmother has gradually fallen for Russian propaganda.You can find the story here.
Oleksiy's story. Oleksiy fled with his wife one day before the Russian attack on Ukraine began - he was warned by his employer. Since then, his feelings have fluctuated between guilt, relief and hatred. You can find the story here.
Olga's story. Olga Marivna and her family were surprised by the war while on vacation. Actually, they wanted to travel on to Canada, but ended up staying with a Berlin helper. You can find the story here.
Yulia's story. Yulia and her two children fled from the Dnieper region in southern Ukraine. The Zaporish nuclear power plant is also located on the Dnepr River. When the Russians started bombing the nuclear power plant, they decided that Yulia, daughter Sasha (18) and young son Vanya (3) should flee to safety. They fled via Lviv and Poland to Moers near Duisburg. The children miss their father, their friends, their lives. You can find the story here.
Katerynas & Oleksandr's story. Oleksandr was arrested by the security forces of the so-called People's Republic after the beginning of the armed conflict in the Donbas in 2018 on the border of the separatist region, tortured and deported to Russia. He has been detained as a political prisoner ever since, and Kateryna is fighting for her husband's release. You can find the story here.
Oksana's & Natalia's story. You can find the story of the escape to Hamburg here.
Vlad and Oleg's story: 16-year-old Vlad is captured while fleeing from the Russian army. His father tries for 90 days to free him. You can find their story here.
Ukrainian culture - why we fight so fiercely. Natasha Tkachenko is a Ukrainian gallery owner and art manager. We asked Natasha Tkachenko to contribute to Ukrainian Culture. You can find the story here.
From the photo studio to the front: When there was still peace in Odessa, in normal life, Vlada (29) and her husband Konstantyn (30) photographed happy wedding couples, laughing children and jubilarians at family celebrations. Since February 24, everything is different. The war changed everything. The city, the people and also the two photographers themselves. You can find the war in pictures here.
Anastasia's story: Anastasia lost her husband Roman in the streets of Mariupol. With her two children, she fled Ukraine to escape the war. Her story 'Bombs on Mariupol - Death on the Open Road' can be found here.
Mariya's story: Mariya describes the desperate situation of her family during the first two months of the Russian occupation of Mariupol, her escape from the city and the terrible experiences in a so-called filtration camp. Her story can be found here.
Albina and Oleksiy: In our first 'Stories of a War' we talked to Albina and Oleksiy, who both had to leave their home country right at the beginning of the Russian war of aggression. We have now asked both of them to talk to us again and asked them how they have fared in the last few months. You can find this story here.
Who we are and what we do
We are a group of socially committed professionals from a broad range of backgrounds. We are based in Hamburg, a German port-city with a long history of engagement with the world. Every member of our team is passionate about supporting human rights beyond our small community. Our mission is to raise awareness and provoke debate on a broad spectrum of human rights issues. We aim to support important causes currently in the public eye, as well as those receiving too little or no attention.
Our Salons and Newsletters feature experts who provide in-depth perspectives on human rights in a variety of cultural and political contexts. Our goal is to facilitate meaningful, personal dialogue that informs, educates and challenges all participants. Previous guest-speakers and interlocutors include:
• Dr. Felix Heiduk, Southeast Asia expert of the "Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik" (German Institute for International and Security Affairs)
• Marlehn Thieme, Lawyer and President of German World Hunger Aid
• Irina Sherbakova, member of the board of the human rights organization 'Memorial' in Russia
• Kai Strittmatter, Author and Journalist (2019, Salon ‘China – The invisible dictatorship)
• Dr. Cyrill Nunn, German ambassador to Iraq (2019, Salon ‘Iraq’)
• Dr. Ben Wagner, Director of Privacy & Sustainable Computing Lab at the University of Vienna (2018, Salon ‘A.I. and Human Rights’),
• Prof. Dr. Ruediger Frank at the University of Vienna and Board President of the Vienna Institute for East Asian Studies (2018, Salon ‘North Korea’)
• Frigate Captain Alexander Gottschalk, Navy Spokesperson (2017, Salon ‘The German Navy in Libya’).
How many slaves work for you? This is the question of the 2021 HIM award winner Justin Dillon and his IT company "FRDM" (which stands for "Freedom") are investigating. His goal is to uncover and combat modern slave labor. For this he received the Hamburg Prize for Human Rights, endowed with 10,000 euros. From the Hamburg's Bucerius Law School, we awarded the prize for the first time live online to the musician, activist and CEO from California.
In times of fake news, it is not always clear whether truths or lies are being spread. In his keynote speech, Claus Kleber reported on his time in the U.S., on the rise and election of Donald Trump, which were accompanied by twisted facts and falsified images. What are assured truths, where do lies and propaganda prevail? And what can they lead to? On this, Kleber quoted the sharp-tongued philosopher Hannah Ahrendt: " ...A people that can no longer believe anything can no longer decide on anything...You can do whatever you want with such a people." Authoritarian states like China are proud of such tranquility in their country. And of their economic achievements, which they export to the world via the new Silk Road. They consider the West and its democracies to be a fragile system, doomed. Against this, it is necessary to defend our values. To the motto of the evening, "The truth finds its way," Kleber therefore added the phrase "But not by itself" to his talk. "The times demand commitment," the ZDF anchorman emphasized.
Awards have gone to:
- Thorn: Digital Defenders for Children (www.thorn.org/spotlight)
- Operation Collateral Freedom (www.rsf.org/en/collateral-freedom)
- The Uncensored Playlist (wwww.uncensoredplaylist.com/de)
In 2018, the prize was titled 'Unlearn the hate! - How the peace of tomorrow arises in children's minds'. The keynote speech was held by Ahmad Mansour.
Awards have gone to:
- Jiyan Foundation (Iraq)
- Street Children Aid (South Sudan) Projects
In 2017, Dr. Asfa-Wossen Asserate accepted our award on behalf of three Africa-based NGOs which work to provide education and professional training in Ethiopia and Nigeria.
• PTOJECT-E (Ethiopia) • LikeMinds Project (Nigeria)
• Wild Coffee Project Kaffa, (Ethiopia)
In 2016, we created an annual award to recognize smaller, high-impact community initiatives that directly support people whose lives and human rights are endangered – whether as refugees, political activists, children, or victims of conflict and sexual violence. In 2016 facing the migration crisis we awarded three Hamburg based organizations, who have rendered outstanding services in terms of education, training and professional integration of refugees.
We support a small number of human rights and refugee organizations with direct donations and with mentorship on fundraising strategy, communications and project development. Our support is time-limited, with the ultimate objective of helping them be independent and reach project sustainability. Past successes include:
• Studydock - Room for learning, a supportive study space for young refugees aged 16 and up, to help them prepare for examinations and apprenticeships
• Hamburger Atlas für Flüchtlingshilfe (Hamburg Atlas for Refugee Aid), a constantly upddated, web-based directory of organizations engaged in a broad spectrum of refugee aid. With over 300 clicks per day, this guide has developed into a vital networking tool for professionals, activists and those seeking help regarding social and cultural integration and finding access to basic supplies and services. To find out more, click here.
Currently, we actively support:
• Bettermakers, a video platform which streams content created by high-school students in collaborative workshops about social and political interactions in their communities. A goal of the project is to prevent radicalization and extremism among youth (www.better-makers.de).
We founded ‘Hamburger Initiative für Menschenrechte’ (HIM) in 2011, after several years of providing support to Human Rights Watch. In 2012 and 2013, our team worked closely with the Hamburger Stiftung für Politisch Verfolgte (Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People), a foundation whose president is always Hamburg’s mayor, and which supports people who find themselves in life-threatening situations as a result of advocating for democracy, freedom and human rights in their native countries. Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People enables grantees to spend one year in the safe haven of Hamburg. HIM organized several panel discussions, talks and readings, and an exhibition in Hamburg’s historic City Hall titled ‘5 x Hamburg und zurueck’ (5 x Hamburg and back), featuring five Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People grantees. In addition, we raised funds to provide a one-year extension to the scholarship for Syrian author Rosa Yassin Hassan, who found herself unable to return to her native country. Moreover, we actively supported various projects and initiatives by enhancing communication, exchange and monetary donations. Our activities have steadily expanded in the past years.
Account for donations
The Hamburg Initiative for Human Rights (HIM) is a registered association that exclusively pursues charitable purposes. Your donations and funding go directly into our work and the projects we support. Our office and staff costs are covered by our own membership fees. If you would like to donate for a specific project, please indicate this purpose during the transfer. Your donations to HIM are tax deductible: A simple proof (bank statement) up to 200 Euros - on request and with higher amounts, we also issue donation receipts.
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