Standing Up For The Brave

12 May 2017, 15:08 UTC | Worldwide
© Giles Clarke/Getty Images Reortage


Human rights defenders are being attacked, tortured, jailed and even killed – just for daring to stand up for our rights.

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. They could be you, your friend or your relatives.

But they’re being harassed, tortured, jailed and even killed – just for daring to speak out for what’s right. Without their courage, our world would be less fair, less just and less equal. We must stand with human rights defenders worldwide – and do all we can to keep them safe from harm. 

© Pierre-Yves-Brunaud/Picturetank

We can find the spark of courage in all of us to speak out for what’s right. We can tweet. We can protest. We can write letters. We can be a witness. And together we can act as one alongside human rights defenders, to fight injustice and build a fairer world.

“If they don’t kill you, they ruin your life.”

Alberto Escorcia, a Mexican human rights defender

Brave is an ordinary person with a heart. Brave is speaking out for others. Brave is standing up against injustice.


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.

© Guillaume/POLI

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.

They portray those who challenge them as criminals, terrorists or ‘foreign agents’.


281 people killed in 2016 for defending human rights, up from 156 in 2015

75%+ of killings of human rights defenders in 2016 were in the Americas

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

International Region: