Today: Shadow U.N. Rights Summit Opens as Dissidents Defy Dictators

Today: Shadow U.N. Rights Summit Opens as Dissidents Defy Dictators


Zhanna Nemtsova, one of today’s Geneva Summit speakers, with her late father Boris Nemtsov, former Russian Deputy PM assassinated in 2015 for his criticism of Putin.

Just-released political prisoners to urge UN to address Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran & more

GENEVA, Feb. 20, 2017 –  Dissidents, diplomats, and NGO representatives from around the world have gathered in Geneva for a two-day summit opening today aimed at giving voice to victims of the world’s worst human rights abuses.

The 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, organized by an international coalition of human rights NGOs, opens today at the seat of the UN Human Rights Council, on the eve of its opening 2017 session next week.

The summit organizers say they will focus on issues the UN session – under pressure by its powerful members – has not included on its agenda.

Former political prisoners from Cuba, Vietnam and Mauritania—including two just released last month—will join the family members of existing prisoners from Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.

A high-profile North Korean defector, and a Yazidi woman who wrote a book about being an ISIS sex slave, 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. See 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.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at www.genevasummit.org.

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.

For media inquiries or to request interviews, please email secretariat@genevasummit.org

2017 Geneva Summit Presenters

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.

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.

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 Jones is 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.

 

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.

 

Turkey: Assault on Freedom of the Press

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.

  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

Program:
www.genevasummit.org/program

Interprétation simultanée en français

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