World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Dissidents & political prisoners' families gather for summit

Dissidents and political prisoners' families from around the globe have gathered in Geneva for a two-day summit that opens tomorrow at the United Nations European headquarters, aimed at giving a voice to victims of the world’s worst human rights abuses.

The 11th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, organized by an international coalition of 25 human rights NGOs, opens Monday at the seat of the UN Human Rights Council, on the heels of its main 2019 session which wrapped up on Friday without adopting resolutions on most of the countries represented by the activists, including China, Cuba, Turkey, Venezuela, Burundi and Vietnam.

The summit organizers say they will focus on issues the UN session—under pressure by its powerful members—omitted from its agenda.

Former political prisoners from China, Tibet, Turkey, Vietnam will join the family members of existing political prisoners in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries that will be announced only at the session.

The teenage children of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who live in Canada, will speak for the first time.

Richard Ratcliffe, whose British-Iranian wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been detained in Tehran for three years on trumped-up spying charges, will speak publicly for the first time since UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that he was granting her diplomatic protection—a highly rare move that elevated Nazanin’s case from a consular matter to a formal legal dispute between Britain and the one in which she remains prisoner.

In separate ceremonies on Tuesday, the summit will give its 2019 Courage Award to Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen, and its 2019 International Women's Rights Award to Nimco Ali, a Somali-born campaigner against female genital mutilation.

Diego Arria, one of the leading Venezuelan opponents to the Maduro regime and the former president of the UN Security Council, will be one of the keynote speakers, along with Michael Levitt, chair of the Canadian Parliament's foreign affairs committee. See list of presenters below.

With numerous diplomats attending, the acclaimed annual conference is timed to take place in Geneva days after the UN Human Rights Council ended its main annual session, to ensure the world does not forget critical human rights situations.

"The annual Geneva Summit, founded in 2009, has become a focal point for dissidents worldwide," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of United Nations Watch, which for the 11th year in a row will be organizing the annual event as part of a cross-regional coalition of 25 other human rights groups.

The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

"The speakers’ compelling and vivid testimonies will aim to stir the conscience of the U.N. to address critical human rights situations around the world," said Neuer.

Subjects on the program this year include political prisoners, discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, prison camps, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available here.

Admission to this year’s main session on March 26, 2019 is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Hong Kong Protest Movement

The pro-democracy protests enjoy huge support among Hong Kong’s youth, partly because the democratic systems currently at risk have only a limited time span. More>>

ALSO:

Pacific Island Forum: Australia v Everyone Else On Climate Action

Traditionally, communiques capture the consensus reached at the meeting. In this case, the division on display between Australia and the Pacific meant the only commitment is to commission yet another report into what action needs to be taken. More>>

ALSO:

For NZ, It Was May 6: Earth Overshoot Day 2019 Is The Earliest Ever

Humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. This is akin to using 1.75 Earths... More>>

ALSO:

Asylum: More Manus Refugees Fly To US But Hundreds Still In Limbo

“The US deal was never going to provide enough places for the refugees Australia has held on Manus and Nauru. There are over 1800 refugees needing resettlement,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. More>>

ALSO: