As a charity that exists to help people in their time of greatest need, often when they are facing destitution due to persecution, we are enormously concerned about the impact the coronavirus is having, and will continue to have, on human rights defenders around the world.
We know, for example, that 85,000 prisoners have been released in Iran – many of whom will be prisoners of conscience and will have no access to funds, food or safe accommodation – and we are hearing stories of journalists being silenced in Iran and China for their work reporting on the crisis. Meanwhile, questions are being raised about how governments are taking advantage of the situation to increase mass surveillance and reduce our human rights.
To help protect human rights defenders during this unprecedented global crisis, we are contacting our partners around the world to understand how the situation is developing in their countries and how we might be best able to support them, so that we can mitigate as many of the risks and impacts of the virus as we are able to with the resources we have available.
Here in London, Prisoners of Conscience is following government advice and we have put strict measures in place to protect our staff. Our small team is now working from home and all emails and calls will continue to be answered– albeit, in some cases, perhaps a little slower than usual. If you do contact us, please bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able to.
The global nature of this terrible pandemic is a humbling reminder of our common humanity and vulnerability. This is why Prisoners of Conscience is determined to continue the courageous people we serve and to provide emergency relief at a time when they may need us more than ever.