Blasphemy and Honor Killings with Philippe Robinet

Philippe Robinet, Director General of Calmann-Lévy Books and founder and President of Kero Books, addresses the 4th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.

Full Remarks

Hilel Neuer

[…] by Monsieur. Philippe Robinet, who has come to us directly from Paris. Before I pass the microphone off to Philippe – just to say that what Philippe does in his life is the Geneva Summit in book form. Phillipe’s mission is to take compelling human rights stories and to bring them to the world in the form of books. And he has done this for many victims. And That is really what we’re trying to do here; give a voice to victims through the summit and that is what Phillipe does. And now as the CEO of Éditions Kéro. Merci Philippe.

Philippe Robinet

Good afternoon, I’m going to be speaking in french. So if you need interpretation in English, do plug in. And I’d like to thank the interpreters for their help. 

I wanted to wish all of you a hearty welcome this afternoon. This morning was very enriching. We hear a number of testimonies and I think we were all struck in particular by North Korea. We know very little about this country. And this situation is – the country is very far off and remote and now we realize how much we have to fight and struggle. And we, book publishers, who think we can try and make people aware of a certain number of realities, well that we can help people move forward. Well I want to assure you that we will continue to work in this area and convince people that it is not a closed country [where] we cannot do anything. That we can try and take pictures of the situation there. And that we all need to focus more on the human rights situation in North Korea. So our sessions will continue till the end and I have the honor to present on blasphemy to you and honor crimes. 

Now, when we talk about blasphemy laws and honor killings – when I heard about this first, I thought it was something rather remote, again, and it wasn’t very frequent. But all you have to do is look at the numbers and the actual reality and hear people’s testimonies. And then you realize that honor killings is not something that happens far off or not very common. It is something that is increasing and it is moving and growing in Europe. So we will be talking about these two terrible realities and we will have two women at the podium who will talk to us about their experiences out in the field. Who have been fighting for years so that this law on blasphemy be repealed and so that honor killings should be put to an end so that 15 million people, women, who have been killed, will end. 

My hope –  both of these will be dear to my heart because they gave me the honor of giving me their text and have asked me to publish their books. You will be hearing Jacqueline Thibault, who founded the Fondation Surgir in Lausanne. And she is very involved in fighting against violence against women through her foundation, which now has a special consultative status at the ECOSOC in New York. She is a member of the NGO conference since 2008. The foundation known as Surgir works against forced marriages, women who are burned to death in India, and women who die due to honor killings. She has been accompanied by two other people from Pakistan. Two people who will be speaking to us about the situation there, this couple. Please kindly do not take pictures or film for security reasons. And those of you who know anything about honor killings know that these crimes are not time-bound. And so, she is in danger, even here at this place so near to the United Nations. So we’re trying to keep her anonymous and keep this confidential. I have great admiration for Madam Thibault and she has won the Legion of Honor, and she is wearing it today. 

And before she speaks, Anne-Isabelle Tollet will be speaking. She lived in Pakistan. She is a journalist and one of the journalists who helped us look at the world and understand how it works. She worked for France24 in Pakistan, went to the place where Bin Laden was killed. She was the first to reveal a certain number of atrocities for us committed on behalf of this law that we will be discussing. She has been very committed for all these years. She went there with her two children. She wanted her two children to attend Pakistani schools to know what the situation was like there. They were there for five years and she met a woman that you have all heard of, Asia Biby; a young Pakistani woman who was sentenced to death under this law and she is in prison as we speak. And we received a message from her husband this morning that I would like to convey to you explaining to you that it is very important to hear Anne-Isabelle Tollet. 

Because as a wife and a mother, a mother of five children, Anne-Isabelle Tollet will have to leave because she will be at the Human Rights Council right after. And then we will have the pleasure to hear Jacqueline Thibault and then the Pakistani couple.  

I would like to thank you. I now give the floor to Anne-Isabelle Tollet.  

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