Home > Centre for the Study of Human Rights > Events > 2011 > Field Notes: Human Rights Defenders Speak

Field Notes: Human Rights Defenders Speak

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  • Wednesday 9 November 2011
  • Speakers: Hossam Bahgat, Tanya Lokshina, David Mepham, Elena Milashina, Heba Fatma Morayef
  • Chair: Professor Margot Light


In this 11th annual 'Field notes' event, human rights defenders from Egypt and Russia discussed their experiences, accompanied by experts from Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organisations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, it gives voice to the oppressed and holds oppressors accountable for their crimes.

Each year Human Rights Watch honours international human rights defenders for their leadership, tenacity and courage to speak out in the face of repression. For their commitment in the defence of human rights, they are presented with Human Rights Watch's highest honour, The Alison des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.


Hossam BahgatHossam Bahgat was at the forefront of the revolution that swept Egypt in January and February 2011. In this historic moment, the work of Hossam and his organization, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, is more urgent than ever. Hossam has risen to the challenge, documenting violence against protesters during the Tahrir uprising, speaking out against religious and sexual intolerance, and stepping up efforts to spur lasting institutional change and build a more rights-respecting Egypt. Human Rights Watch honours Hossam Bahgat for upholding the personal freedoms of all Egyptians.

Tanya LokshinaTanya Lokshina is a senior researcher and the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch's Moscow office. Having joined Human Rights Watch in January 2008, Lokshina authored reports on egregious rights abused in Chechnya and Ingushetia and co-authored a report on violations of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict in Georgia in the summer of 2008. Lokshina runs a column for the Russian current affairs website Polit.Ru. She is recipient of the 2006 Andrei Sakharov Award for Journalism as Civic Accomplishment.

David Mepham joined Human Rights Watch in April 2011 as the UK Director, responsible for communications and advocacy. Before joining Human Rights Watch, he spent four years as the head of policy and advocacy for Save the Children UK. Before that, Mepham was associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research and the head of its international program, where he led research projects on fragile states; human rights and corporate responsibility; R2P; China's role in Africa, and economic and political reform in the Middle East.

Elena MilashinaElena Milashina exposes the truth about human rights abuses and government corruption, as a leading investigative journalist for Novaya Gazeta, Russia's most prominent independent newspaper. Despite Russia's attempts to silence its critics and hide abuses, Elena remains outspoken, publishing accounts of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture. She also plays an active role in the independent investigation into the murder of Natasha Estemirova, a leading Chechen human rights defender abducted and killed in 2009. Human Rights Watch honours Elena Milashina for her courage to confront Russia's deeply problematic human rights record.

Heba MorayefHeba Morayef, researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division, investigates human rights abuses in Egypt and Libya. She produces detailed reports, news releases and op-eds based on her findings and conducts local and international advocacy. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Morayef worked at Amnesty International's international secretariat in London as campaigner on Libya and Tunisia. She has also worked as an attaché in the humanitarian diplomacy unit at the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, as Middle East program officer at Article 19 in London, and at UNDP's Human Rights Capacity Building Project in Cairo. Morayef holds a bachelor's degree in political science with a specialization in public international law from the American University in Cairo and a degree in public international law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She speaks English, Arabic, French, and German.

Margot Light is Professor Emeritus and Director of the Human Rights Programme in the Commonwealth of Independent States, based in the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, LSE.