Ousted Maldives President to Headline Geneva Human Rights Summit on Eve of UNHRC Ministerial Meeting

Ousted Maldives President to Headline Geneva Human Rights Summit on Eve of UNHRC Ministerial Meeting

Also featuring prominent dissidents from Russia, Turkey, Tibet, and more

  Ex-Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was brutally arrested in 2015, and convicted to a 13-year prison sentence on 
politically motivated charges. While in the UK for urgent medical treatment in 2016, he was granted asylum.

GENEVA, Dec. 14, 2016 –  A coalition of 20 non-governmental human rights groups announced today that former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, one of the world’s most famous dissidents and former political prisoners, will headline the 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, on February 21, 2017.

President Nasheed was the Maldives’ first democratically-elected president before a 2012 coup d’etat reinstated dictatorship. He was brutally arrested in 2015, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. While in the UK for urgent medical treatment he received asylum in 2016.

Nasheed joins top-name dissidents from Russia, Turkey, and Tibet, who be shining a light on the worrisome human rights records of their home nations. See selected list of presenters below.

The acclaimed annual conference is timed to take place in Geneva days before foreign ministers gather to open the 2017 U.N. Human Rights Council session.

“It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, which for the ninth year in a row will be organizing the annual event together with a cross-regional coalition of 20 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 discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, prison camps, Internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at www.genevasummit.org.

Admission to this year’s February 21, 2017 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.

For media inquiries or to request interviews, please email secretariat@genevasummit.org

2017 Geneva Summit Presenters include:


A President in Exile

President Mohamed Nasheed, living in exile in Britain since 2016, is leader of the opposition and an advocate for democracy in the Maldives. He was violently ousted from the presidency in 2012, and made a political prisoner in 2015.


Free Tibet: Slain Leader’s Niece Speaks Out

Nyima Lhamo escaped Tibet in July 2016, leaving her daughter and mother behind, to speak the truth about the suspicious circumstances of the death of her uncle, prominent Tibetan religious leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. He was a political prisoner for 13 years until his sudden death in 2015.

Russia Today: Daughter of Assassinated Dissident Boris Nemtsov Speaks

Zhanna Nemtsova is a journalist and the daughter of the late Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of Putin, was assassinated in February 2015. Zhanna carries on the legacy of her father as the founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom.

Turkey: The Assault on Freedom of the Press

Can Dündar is a leading Turkish journalist and the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper. After he published footage of Turkish State Intelligence transferring weapons to Islamists in Syria, he was arrested and targeted in an assassination attempt. Dündar was forced into exile in June 2016, and now lives in Germany.


Jailhouse Bride Struggles for Justice in Russia

Anastasia Zotova married jailed Russian activist Ildar Dadin in a February 2016 ceremony inside his prison. Her husband is serving a three-year sentence for peacefully protesting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Zotova continues to advocate for justice as worrisome reports of torture against Dadin have surfaced in recent months.

Organized by UN Watch together with a cross-regional coalition of 20 other human rights NGOs.

On the eve of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 2017 session,
courageous champions of human rights from around the world will
unite to place urgent situations on the international agenda.

February 21, 2017
Centre International de Conférences Genève
17 rue de Varembé, 1202 Geneva

Register now:

 Interprétation simultanée en français 



Geneva Summit 2017 Courage Award with Mohamed Nasheed

Mohamed Nasheed, former President of the Maldives and Geneva Summit Courage Award winner, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On his abuse by authorities in the Maldives:  “I’ve spent the good half of my adult life in