Russia to be Spotlighted at U.N. as Relatives of Top Dissidents Gather in Geneva to Testify
Zhanna Nemtsova is pictured above with her late father Boris Nemtsov, the former Deputy PM of Russia assassinated in 2015 for his outspoken criticism of Putin.
Activists to address human rights in Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, the Islamic State, Venezuela & more
GENEVA, Feb. 16, 2017 – A coalition of 25 non-governmental human rights groups announced today that Zhanna Nemtsova and Anastasia Zotova, respectively the daughter of assassinated Boris Nemtsov and the wife of jailed Ildar Dadin, will be will testifying in the U.N. for the opening of the 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights & Democracy, on February 21, 2017.
Nemtsova is a journalist with the German-based Deutsche Welle. As the founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and the author of Russland Wachrutteln (Wake Up Russia), she carries on her father’s legacy of pro-democracy activism. Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Russian dissident who recently fell into a coma, is the chairman of Zhanna’s Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom.
Zotova is a journalist as well, and has been leading the grassroots campaign to free her husband Ildar Dadin. Dadin is currently serving a three-year sentence for the crime of peacefully protesting Putin’s policies, such as his aggression against Ukraine and severe suppression of Russia’s LGBTQ population.
After reports emerged of torture against Dadin, he was transferred to another prison and disappeared. In January 2017, the phrase “Where is Ildar Dadin” trended on twitter in Russian, leading to released information on his situation and another prison transfer. Last week, a Russian court decision provides a new hope in the Dadin case.
Nemtsova and Zotova will use their voices at the Geneva Summit to shine a spotlight on the plight of Russian political prisoners and ensure their placement on the agenda of the upcoming 34th U.N. Human Rights Council session. This will be the first session of a U.N. human rights body with Russia on the sidelines due to a rejected bid since the U.N. was founded in 1946.
Anastasia Zotova married Russian dissident Ildar Dadin in a ceremony inside his prison cell, earlier last year.
Nemtsova and Zotova are to join some of the world’s most courageous champions of human rights: dissidents, activists, victims and relatives of political prisoners from Turkey, Tibet, Vietnam and Venezuela, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries. A high-profile North Korean defector, and a young Yazidi woman who wrote a book her being raped by ISIS terrorists, will also speak.
Mohamed Nasheed, the veteran human rights activist who was elected president of the Maldives only to be arrested and jailed as a political prisoner, will be one of the keynote speakers. Amal Clooney, his lawyer, has received death threats for defending Nasheed. See selected 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 25 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.
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.
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.
Just Released: Vietnam’s Most Famous Political Prisoner
Dang Xuan Dieu is a Catholic activist for democracy in Communist Vietnam. After 6 years in prison, he was released just last week. During his imprisonment, Dieu was a champion of civil disobedience and became the face of Vietnamese dissent.
Battling Slavery in Mauritania
Biram Dah Abeid is the founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) and the face of Mauritania’s anti-slavery movement. After his recent release from Mauritanian prison, the Christian Science Monitor named him one of five “unsung heroes” of 2016.
Yazidi teen: “I was raped by ISIS as a sex slave”
Shirin is a Yazidi teenager who escaped ISIS sex slavery in 2015. Determined to spread awareness of the horrors of the Yazidi genocide with the world, she recently published her book I Remain a Daughter of the Light.
Investigating Philippines President Duterte
Chito Gascon is Chair of the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines, and a staunch opponent of the extrajudicial war on drugs waged by President Duterte. He is leading figure in the country seeking to ensure that human rights are respected.
Uncovering Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Record
James Jonesis an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. He directed and produced Saudi Arabia Uncovered, which used undercover footage on the ground in Saudi Arabia to expose the Kingdom’s human rights violations to a national TV audience in March 2016.
Human Rights Hero, President, Political Prisoner
President Mohamed Nasheed,living in exile in Britain since 2016, is considered the Nelson Mandela of the Maldives. A lifelong human rights dissident, he 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.
Escaped Tibet to Testify on Slain Religious Leader
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
Zhanna Nemtsova is a journalist and the daughter of the late Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. An outspoken critic of Putin, Nemtsov was assassinated in February 2015. Zhanna carries on the legacy of her father as the founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom.
The Human Rights Heroes Inside Iranian Prisons
Taghi Rahmani has spent 14 years in Iranian prisons. His ailing wife, eminent human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, is currently languishing as a political prisoner. The couple have dedicated their lives to the struggle for human rights in Iran.
Bride of Russian Political Prisoner Struggles for Justice
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 reports of torture against Dadin have surfaced in recent months.
Organized by UN Watch together with a cross-regional coalition of 25 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
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