Ambassador Alfred Moses, former special counsel to President Carter, U.S. ambassador to Romania, and special presidential envoy for the Cyprus conflict, addresses the 7th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.
Hillel Neuer: The work that the Geneva Summit does for the past seven years in giving a platform to voices and victims around the world has been the result of the guidance and inspiration and vision of ambassador Alfred Moses who from the day one when I started at UN Watch said “go out there speak and call things out as they are.” It’s gotten us into a lot of trouble at the United Nations, needless to say, but it’s thanks to Alfred that we’re here today. Thank You Alfred.
Amb. Alfred Moses: Thank You Hillel. What Hillel didn’t tell you was that that was a while back when many of the people here including our most recent honoree weren’t attending Human Rights conferences. Well, we made progress.The past year was not a year of progress, it was a year of horror. Let me repeat. A year of horror.
No victim of that horror caught the public’s attention quite like Raif Badawi who cannot be here because he’s in prison in Riyadh. He’s been sentenced to a thousand lashes: 50 a week for 20 weeks. He was caned in a public square in Saudi Arabia in January. He’s not been caned since because his health is such as if he were caned again, he might not survive. His wife is not here. She is in Canada with young children. What we have is a barbaric attack when someone whose act was one of calling for open discussion, a call for expression of liberalism, simply to debate, explain, and educate people as to what choices there are, and to extol the virtues of respect for the individual and to process which isn’t an asset to the Government of Saudi Arabia.
As you all know Saudi Arabia is a member of the Human Rights Council. And as a member of the Human Rights Council, it is obligated to uphold human rights, but they are only words. Indeed, Saudi Arabia does not uphold human rights. Not on behalf of women – you heard a little bit about that a few moments ago – not on behalf of those who do not adhere the Wahabi view of Islam.
The progeny of that extremism is visited in Nigeria, it is visited in Syria, is visited in Iraq. And unless the Muslim world and Islamism, as an ideology and religion, understands the futility of the denial of human rights, we’ll be back here again lamenting the horrors that have been visited upon persons who should be free, should be able to express their views, hold their heads high and stand for what is essential for all of us: human dignity. No ideology and no religion, no state actor has the right to deny that fundamental human right; not in the name of a religion, not in the name of the state.
And that is the great battle that’s going on – who will survive that battle, what ideology will have to take second place to human freedom. We don’t know today, but if we’re not vigilant in that struggle, we know the outcome will not be the outcome that we seek. We are not truly witnesses; the people you serve them today are the real witnesses, they’re the sufferers. We’re only those who’ve come here to acknowledge that others are far braver than we and are deserving, not only of our recognition, but of our adulation, for they are the true heroes. We’re only those who come to applaud their courage.
And so it is that this year, we give the Geneva Human Rights Summit Award for Courage to a gentleman who cannot be here, Raif Badawi. We’re going to give it in the name of Raif. We’re going to give it to his close friend, his associate who is here with us today. She’s representing him and the family. We’d like to ask Dr. Elham Manea to come up, please.
7th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, UN Opening, February 23, 2015