|GENEVA, February 19, 2019 — A coalition of 25 non-governmental human rights groups announced today that Felix Maradiaga, a leading opponent of the Daniel Ortega administration in Nicaragua, will share his story at the 11th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on March 25-26, 2019, which opens at United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, seat of the UN Human Rights Council.
Maradiaga heads Nicaragua’s Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies and has denounced government oppression in testimony before the Organization of American States.
When Nicaragua’s youth took to the streets to protest against government policies in April 2018, the Ortega administration falsely accused Maradiaga of financing violent demonstrations through his think tank work.
Since then, the administration has labeled Maradiaga a public enemy and has called for his arrest.
“I understand that what the regime wants to do is make me quiet. So my strategy is to be loud,” said Maradiaga, who has survived three assassination attempts by Ortega sympathizers.
Maradiaga has been an active voice against the government’s crackdown on civil society groups, including the government’s recent shutdown of nine prominent human rights organizations and its widespread intimidation of journalists.
“We have never seen in Nicaragua, and probably in the history of Latin America, such levels of shutdown and repression,” said Maradiaga.
Maradiaga joins dissidents, activists, victims, and relatives of political prisoners from countries including China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, who will testify on the human rights situations in their countries. See presenters here.
The acclaimed annual conference is timed to take place in Geneva on the heels of the UN Human Rights Council’s annual March session.
“It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, which for the 11th year in a row will be organizing the annual event together with 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 UN to address critical human rights situations around the world,” said Neuer.
Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, Internet freedom, and the persecution of human rights defenders.
Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at www.genevasummit.org.
Admission to this year’s March 26, 2019 summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program and schedule information, visit www.genevasummit.org. The conference will also be available via live webcast.
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