Graduate Institute in Geneva celebrated human rights defenders with meeting and march

June 24, 2016

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council, the Graduate Institute, together with the European Union Delegation to the UN and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, held an event on 15 June to honour Human Rights Defenders across the world. [see; https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/15-june-2016-human-rights-defender-berta-caceres-academy-geneva/]

The debate, moderated by Professor Andrew Clapham, featured Human Rights Defenders Taslima Nasrin and Aida Khemiri, as well as Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

“Too many people are dying for protecting human rights,” Mr Lambrinidis said, while promising that “the EU is committed to defending the defenders.”

“There is a price on my head,” revealed Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi author and blogger who has been targeted by radical Muslim groups who have condemned her writing as blasphemous. “It’s been 22 years since I have been allowed to return to my country, not even in times of sickness and death of my closest family.”

Aida Khemiri, an LGBTI activist from Tunisia drew attention to the psychological challenge of having to lie to her friends and family for their protection. “As a Human Rights Defender, I have to live a double life. I cannot tell my family all I am doing, I have to protect them.

Following the debate, participants and panelists marched past the UN Palais des Nations to express their support to Human Rights Defenders who were not able to walk freely. The event concluded at the Ariana Museum, with a spectacular show of the Violonissima Duo, performing from a hot air balloon. A playlist with photos from the event can be found through the link below.

Source: Standing up for human rights defenders

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