Human rights advocate killed in Ethiopian Airlines crash



Democracy and human rights advocates are mourning the loss of Josefin Ekermann from the East Africa Regional Office of Civil Rights Defenders, the Stockholm-based  international human rights group.

Three Austrian physicians. The co-founder of an international aid organization. A career ambassador. The wife and children of a Slovak legislator. A Nigerian-born Canadian college professor, author and satirist. They were all among the 157 people from 35 countries who died Sunday morning when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya. Here are some of their stories, The Associated Press adds:

The Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders,* an international human rights group, said employee Josefin Ekermann, 30, was on board the plane. Ekermann, who worked to support human rights defenders, was on her way to meet Kenyan partner organizations. The group’s executive director, Anders L. Pettersson, says “Josefin was a highly appreciated and respected colleague.”

“Josefin will be deeply missed by all of us, and our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time,” he added.

Josefin was known as the architect of the Defenders’ Database, an online global reference for human rights defenders.

She recently wrote Empowering Cuban Human Rights Defenders through trauma relief, an article for Medium on an innovative strategy to provide psychosocial rehabilitation and empower Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), a joint initiative of  Civil Rights Defenders’ Latin American Department and the Trauma Relief Program at the Art of Living Foundation in Bogotá, Colombia.

Civil Rights Defenders recently reported on Cuba’s intensifying crackdown on human rights defenders,  drawing on testimony from four of Cuba’s most renowned democracy activists; Tania Bruguera, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Rosa Maria Payá, and Antonio Rodiles.

Josefin also featured in Swedish film-maker Mikael Wiström’s documentary Storm in the Andes, which juxtaposes the drastically different yet interconnected stories of two women driven to make sense of the Peruvian Civil War of 1980-2000 and its effects on their families, Claire Green reported.

*A partner of the National Endowment for Democracy and the World Movement for Democracy.

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