Jared Genser, international human rights lawyer, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.
On the Summit’s giving a voice to the voiceless:
“What we’re gonna be doing is hearing from three people on the front lines about their own experiences in very different contexts, very different kinds of country situations. From an Islamic theocracy to a so-called democratic country, and to highly authoritarian dictatorship, secular dictatorship, in Venezuela.”
Good morning everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with you all here this morning. We have a fabulous panel, and if I can ask the panellists to come up.
I’m gonna do it slightly different than some of the other panels. I’m gonna actually speak at the end, but let me just kind of frame the conversation very very briefly.
Our panellists today are three people who have first-hand faced serious repression in various means and manners. Our panellists are Antonietta Ledezma, who is of course the daughter of imprisoned, the imprisoned Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma – I was with actually her mom Mitzi last week in Washington, making our way around and advocating for Venezuelan human rights. And although most people have been focusing on the negative things that my President has been doing, which I think there are a number of those that are concerning, last week the United States actually reversed its policy on Venezuela in exactly the right way, sanctioning the sitting Vice President of the country and meeting Lilian Tintori, the wife of my client Leopoldo Lopez, the leading political prisoner in Venezuela.
Along with Antonietta Ledezma also speaking on the panel is Chito Gascon, who I had the pleasure of spending some time talking to last night, the Chair of the Philippines Human Rights Commission, who is fighting the good fight against really extraordinary repression by the President of the Philippines. He was telling me last night there and some 7500+ extrajudicial killings since the Duterte has become President, which is obviously horrifying for a otherwise democratic country.
And then lastly is Taghi Rahmani, a former Iranian political prisoner and of course the husband of the jailed human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who is in Evin prison suffering extraordinarily right now and desperately in need of the world’s help and support.
And so the panel topic for this morning is fighting oppression and defending human rights, and what we’re gonna be doing is hearing from three people on the front lines about their own experiences in very different contexts, very different kinds of country situations. From an Islamic theocracy to a so-called democratic country, and to highly authoritarian dictatorship, secular dictatorship, in Venezuela.
So we’ll go in order of the speakers on the panel. And if I could ask each of the panellists to speak for no more than ten minutes. We’ll begin with Antonietta Ledezma.