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Speeches

Political Prisoners

Opening Speech: Political Prisoners and The Legacy of Nelson Mandela with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Member of Parliament, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and international human rights lawyer, addresses the 6th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes

Iran

Imprisoned in Iran with Naghmeh Abedini

Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Iranian-American Christian Pastor, Saeed Abedini, who was sentenced to 8 years in Iran’s infamously brutal Evin Prison in 2012 for his faith, addresses the 6th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. Quotes: To Be Confirmed Full Remarks To

Saudi Arabia

Flogged for Blogging: The Case of Raif Badawi with Ensaf Haidar

Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up an online platform for open debate, addresses the 8th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On Raif Badawi’s case: 

Venezuela

Geneva Summit 2016 Courage Award with Antonietta Ledezma

Antonietta Ledezma, daughter of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, in jail on politically-motivated charges, addresses the 8th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On her father’s arrest: “The last 15th of February of 2015, 120 armed policemen smashed into my father’s

Venezuela

Geneva Summit 2016 Courage Award with Julieta López

Julieta Lopez, aunt of Latin America’s best-known prisoner of conscience, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, accepts the 2016 Geneva Summit Courage Award on his behalf and addresses the 8th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On her feelings of

Russia

Exposing Putin’s Prisons with Anastasia Zotova

Anastasia Zotova, wife of jailed Russian dissident Ildar Dadin, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. Reading letter by her husband, political prisoner Ildar Dadin, then imprisoned in the Karelia prison: “On Sept. 11, 2016, they came to

Venezuela

My House is a Prison with Antonietta Ledezma

Antonietta Ledezma, daughter of former Mayor of Caracas and political prisoner, Antonio Ledezma, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On the arrest of her father Antonio Ledezma, Mayor of Caracas: “For the longest hours of my

Iran

Iran’s Abusive Legal System with Taghi Rahmani

Taghi Rahmani, Iranian journalist and human rights activist, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On his imprisonment: “I was tortured physically many times but there are many prisoners that have suffered more than I have.” “I personally

Tibet

Arrested for Demanding a Free Tibet with Nyima Lhamo

Nyima Lhamo, Tibetan human rights activist, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On her uncle’s unjust imprisonment:  “At the time of my uncle’s arrest, I was only 12 years old. I was hopeful that he would be

Vietnam

Surviving Solitary Confinement with Dang Xuang Dieu

Dang Xuang Dieu, a formerly imprisoned Vietnamese human rights activist, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On what inspired his activism: I had witnessed injustices every day and felt like I had to do something. I looked

Vietnam

Time’s up for Autocracy with Effy Nguyen

Nguyen Trung Trong Nghia, otherwise known as “Effy Nguyen“, 22-year-old Vietnamese video blogger and son of detained Vietnamese human rights defender and pastor, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On being a political prisoner in Vietnam: “During

China

China After Liu Xiabo with Yang Jianli

Chinese dissident and former political prisoner Yang Jianli addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On China’s harassment of human rights activists: “In mid- January 2018, a Beijing–based human rights lawyer, Yu Wensheng, while walking his son to

Venezuela

Escaping Arrest in Venezuela with Antonio Ledezma

Antonio Ledezma, Venezuelan opposition leader and political prisoner who escaped in November 2017, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On being an opposition leader in Venezuela: “In January 2014 we took to the streets and a wrote

Iran

Iran: Forced to Flee with Maryam Malekpour

Maryam Malekpour, sister of Saeed Malekpour, Iranian developer serving life sentence in Evin prison on spurious charges, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On Iran’s abduction and imprisonment of Saeed Malekpour: “Our nightmare began on October

North Korea

Tortured in North Korea with Fred and Cindy Warmbier

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmbier who was tortured in North Korea, discuss with Hillel Neuer at the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy. Full Transcript Hillel Neuer: I’m joined on the stage by Fred and Cindy Warmbier, and they’re here because of their son, Otto.

North Korea

Surviving the North Korean Gulag with Kenneth Bae

Kenneth Bae, survivor of North Korean gulag and longest-held American prisoner in North Korea, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On being arrested and tortured by North Korea: “On November 3rd, 2012, I was arrested by North

Cuba

Arbitrary Arrest in Cuba with Juan Carlos Gutiérrez

Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, human rights lawyer who represents prominent Venezuelan opposition leaders and political prisoners including Leopoldo López and Juan Guaido, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On arrest and imprisonment of Dr. Eduardo Cardet: “Dr. Cardet

Political Prisoners

Political Prisoners as a Looking Glass into a Resurgent Authoritarianism with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and former Canadian Justice Minister and MP, addresses the 11th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On the threat to democracy:  “We are witnessing a resurgence of global authoritarianism on

Saudi Arabia

Why Raif is in Prison with Ensaf Haidar

Ensaf Haidar, wife of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up an online platform for political and religious debate, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.

China

Imprisoned by China with Yang Jianli

Yang Jianli, leading Chinese dissident and pro-democracy activist, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On being at Tiananmen Square in 1989: “A friend and I arrived in the square late on the night of June 3 just

Vietnam

Detained in Darkness with Nguyen Van Dai

Nguyen Van Dai, an exiled Vietnamese pro-democracy activist and lawyer who spent four years in Vietnamese prison for spreading propaganda against the state, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On lack of civil liberties in Vietnam: “Discussing

Iran

Held Hostage in Iran with Richard Ratcliffe

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of imprisoned British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was arrested in Iran almost three years ago while on holiday with her infant daughter, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.  On the arrest and

The Philippines

The Senator in Solitary with Vincente de Lima

Vincente de Lima, the brother of Philippines Senator Leila de Lima, currently in prison for criticizing President Duterte’s Drug War, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On Duterte’s assault on human rights: “Imagine a pile of corpses

Our Responsibility to Political Prisoners with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Minister of Justice and MP and founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, addresses the 12th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy — see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On Raoul Wallenberg: “One person with the compassion to care and the

Vietnam

Snatched off the Street in Vietnam with Dennis Chau

Dennis Chau, son of Vietnamese political prisoner Van Kham Chau who was detained in January 2019 while visiting the country from Australia and given a 12-year prison sentence, addresses the 12th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy — see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On learning

Saudi Arabia

Speaking out for Raif Badawi with Elham Manea

Dr. Elham Manea, Yemeni-Swiss political scientist, writer and human rights activist who focuses on the Arab Middle East, addresses the 12th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy — see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On reforms in Saudi Arabia: “It is staggering that while these winds

Political Prisoners

The Political Pandemic: Resurgent Global Authoritarianism with Irwin Cotler

Professor Irwin Cotler, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, addresses the 13th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On rising authoritarianism: “We are witnessing…a global political

North Korea

North Korea: Escape from Starvation, Torture, Persecution with Jihyun Park

Jihyun Park, two-time North Korean escapee and human rights activist who survived a North Korean forced labor camp, addresses the 13th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On life in North Korea: “North Koreans are stripped of their individuality

Russia

2021 Moral Courage Award with Daria Navalnaya

Daria Navalnaya, pro-democracy activist and daughter of poisoned and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny – winner of the 2021 Moral Courage Award, addresses the 13th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On father Alexei Navalny’s political activism: “He spent

Saudi Arabia

Tortured Just for Tweeting with Areej al-Sadhan

Sister to wrongly imprisoned Saudi aid worker Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, Areej al-Sadhan, addresses the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On the state of Saudi Arabia: “My brother Abdul Rahman al-Sadhan is currently in solitary confinement, facing a 20 year

China

Losing My Husband to China with Sophie Luo

Wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer, Sophie Luo, speaks at the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On the case of her husband, Ding Jiaxi: “I fell in love with Jiaxi the first time I met him. I’ll

Belarus

Defying Belarus’ Dictator with Tatsiana Khomich

Sister to imprisoned Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kalesnikava, Tatsiana Khomich, speaks at the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On her incredible sister: “On September 7, 2020, Belarus tried to forcibly exile my sister, Maria Kalesnikava – and they

Iran

Held Hostage In Iran with Mariam Claren

Daughter to German-Iranian women’s rights activist Nahid Taghavi, currently held hostage in Iran, Mariam Claren, speaks at the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On leaving Iran: “The last time I stepped foot in Iran, I was 2 years

North Korea

Scarred by North Korea with Timothy Cho

North Korean torture survivor and two-time defector from the regime, Timothy Cho, speaks at the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On growing up in North Korea: “I was born into a beautiful family in North Korea. My parents

Cuba

Imprisoned For An Idea with Hamlet Lavastida

Co-Founder of the Cuban dissident San Isidro Movement and recently released political prisoner, Hamlet Lavastida, speaks at the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On speaking out: “I agreed that I’d stay silent, that I wouldn’t talk about the

Nicaragua

SOS Nicaragua with Berta Valle

Nicaraguan journalist and wife to imprisoned presidential candidate Félix Maradiaga, Berta Valle, addresses the 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On Summit Alumnus Félix Maradiaga: “In 2019, my husband Félix Maradiaga stood here on this stage and said that he

Speakers

Kenneth Bae

Survivor of North Korean gulag, longest-held American prisoner

Dennis Chau

Rights activist and son of Vietnamese political prisoner

Timothy Cho

North Korean human rights activist & defector, imprisoned 4 times in North Korea & China

Mariam Claren

Daughter of jailed womens’ rights activist & political prisoner Nahid Taghavi

Irwin Cotler

International Chair of Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, former Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada

News

Posts

The Unlikely Face of Nicaragua’s Opposition

Interviewed by Dylan Rogers. After elections denounced by President Biden as a “pantomime”, I sat down with Berta Valle, the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Felix Maradiaga (GS’19)