China, Syria, Turkey, Cuba, Pakistan Scrutinized at Virtual Geneva Rights Summit

Rayhan Asat, a Uyghur activist who was one of the speakers today at the virtual 2021 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, testified about her brother Ekpar Asat who was abducted by Chinese authorities.

GENEVA, June 7, 2021 — China, Syria, Turkey, Cuba, and Pakistan were among  governments that came under scrutiny today at an annual assembly of dissidents and former political prisoners who have been oppressed by some of the world’s worst abusers.

The 13th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, organized by a cross-regional coalition of 25 human rights groups, and being held virtually for the first time, takes place ahead of the June session of the UN Human Rights Council, in a bid to place urgent situations on the world agenda.

Waad Al-Kateab, a Syrian refugee and award-winning documentary filmmaker, spotlighted the Assad regime’s abuses.

Uyghur rights activist Rayhan Asat and exiled Hong Kong dissident Nathan Law called out China’s assault on Uyghurs in Xinjiang and democracy in Hong Kong.

Pakistani rights activist Gulalai Ismail, who fled the country after authorities falsely accused her of sedition for her advocacy, received the Geneva Summit’s 2021 International Women’s Rights Award.

Cuban political performance artist Tania Bruguera was supposed to speak at today’s event, but the conference announced that she was unable to join because government forces shut down her internet. Since November 2020, Bruguera has been repeatedly detained, interrogated and put under house arrest for her artwork and activism critical of the regime.

China, Cuba and Pakistan are members of the UNHRC, and their abuses typically go ignored there. The Geneva Summit hopes that today’s powerful testimonies will mobilize pressure upon the council to address the plight of the victims.

Program | Facebook photo album | Transcripts | Videos 

Day 1: Testimonies from 13th Geneva Summit


Authoritarianism and Political Dissidents with José Gabriel Ramón Castillo

José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, Cuban human rights activist, who was expelled from the University of the Orient in 1993 after founding the first human rights organization in the Eastern region of the island, and was arrested and tortured in the 1990s, addresses the 1st Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and

Press Freedom

“We The Journalists” with Yavuz Baydar

Yavuz Baydar, Editor-in-Chief of Ahval, a Turkish independent online news and podcasts site, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On the threat to journalism:  “We the journalists are more than ever before alienated, demonized, targeted, threatened, forced

Press Freedom

The Pen and the Sword with Asli Erdoğan

Asli Erdoğan, renowned Turkish novelist imprisoned for more than four months following the summer 2016 coup attempt, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On repression in Turkey before and after the coup: “I still have burn marks