Posts Tagged ‘theater’

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson takes the stage

April 19, 2015

Geoffrey Robertson at home in London.

Geoffrey Robertson at home in London. Photo: Kitty Gale

The Sydney Morning Herald of 17 April 2015 announces a series of public performances “Dreaming Too Loud” by the well-known British-Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. They will take place at Sydney’s City Recital Hall on 2 May, in Perth on 4 May, at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on 5 May, in Adelaide on 8 May, Brisbane on 12 May and Canberra on 13 May.

A barrister entertaining a theatre audience? Well, the introductory piece (see some extracts below) certainly makes it sound like a very interesting event and I would not mind attending if Australia were just a bit closer! Also the proceeds go to two human rights NGOs including the International Service for Human Rights.

About his own performance: “Dr Johnson’s comment after watching a performing dog walking on its hind legs: it’s not that it’s done well, it’s the fact that it’s done at all“.

It will be an opportunity to explain the importance of human rights and how Australia might better contribute to them. I can reminisce about my own visits to death row and my times with torturers, and bring the latest news from the Ecuadorian Embassy.[Robertson was Assange’s lawyer] But I can also tell tales of Linda Lovelace and Mike Tyson and the Sex Pistols, and others I have defended.  It will not be a night of doom and gloom, so long as I can suppress my tendency to talk about the Australian Constitution.

……

I have played roles in front of large audiences. During the run of Hypotheticals on the ABC, I was a man of many parts – General Bulldoza, Sergeant Doberman, Senator Gladhand, Amanda Autocue, Lester Gallop, Judge Knott, Kerry Murfax. Those names worked to avoid libel writs from the identities on whom they were based. For younger readers, incidentally, Hypotheticals were unrehearsed Socratic dialogues in which sixteen or so luminaries would sit around a horseshoe table and play themselves in imaginary scenarios of my devising. I had John Howard sit on the toilet, wondering whether to rub out the racist graffiti on the cubicle door or complain to the attendant, who was Charlie Perkins. I had George Pell give the kiss of life to a gay man, and Gareth Evans invaded Tasmania. ..

Hypotheticals was meant to challenge the 60 Minutes adage that “if it’s not visual, it’s not a story”. The important decisions in the real world are seldom set against glorious sunsets. They are made by people (usually men) in suits, with notebooks, sitting around a table in a nondescript room, with a few potted plants and a picture of the incumbent President – the momentousness of the decision is generally in an inverse relationship to the splendour of the surroundings in which it is made. Hence the Hypotheticals stage, with its table and notepads, must approximate to the workaday world, where an editor or take-over merchant or torturer selects the next victim. The object of the programme was to show how important decisions are made, in a way never revealed in studio interviews or press conferences.

Dreaming Too Loud will have neither props nor glorious sunsets. My thespian debut will be sandwiched between work assignments – an effort to reclaim the Elgin Marbles, lectures on the Armenian genocide and the defence of the former Prime Minister of Mauritius.

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/geoffrey-robertsons-dreaming-too-loud-a-barrister-takes-the-stage-20150414-1mjwtk.html#ixzz3XjvzBkwO

 

Geoffrey Robertson’s Dreaming Too Loud: a barrister takes the stage.

Louis Joinet (“Luis le Juste”) finally and rightly honored in France

March 26, 2014

It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that a great human rights defender from France, Louis Joinet, is honored with a colloque on the topic “Is sovereignty still the basis of international law?”. It coincides with the publication of his book: “Mes raisons d’Etat” [‘My reasons of state’ or better ‘How I saw the national interest].

Had he been fluent in English (he picked it up too late in life) he would have been probably one of the most famous human rights experts in the world. His nicknames range from “Louis le Juste” to “the Obstinate”. He played a major role within the French state apparatus as from the 1960s. One of the founders of the ‘Syndicat de la magistrature‘ in 1968 (sometimes called the ‘red judges’), he became the first director of the National Commission on Informatics and Freedoms [Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés]. He served five different Prime Ministers during the 1980s as advisor. It was during those days that I met him regularly to set up and run a number of Committees dealing with the military regimes in the Southern Cone of Latin America (e.g. SIJAU, SIJADEP). We travelled often to the region and on many occasions I saw returned refugees come up to Louis to embrace and thank him for the support he gave them in exile.

In the meantime during 33 years he was an expert in various UN bodies, travelling all over the world. Most pronounced was his leading role in the Sub-commission for Human Rights and the Protection of Minorities (now renamed and relegated to a research role for the new Council), where he spearheaded a great many and daring innovations, concerning many  issue including disappearances, torture, international crimes and amnesty. His popularity with (certain) States suffered, but most NGOs considered him to be a hero.

Together with his late and much-beloved wife Germaine he had a less-known but rewarding social life that includes assisting young street criminals and a passion for circus and street theater. His musical talent is illustrated in the picture below from my private collection, where he is seen playing the accordion with Argentinian Leandro Despouy watching (August 1988).

1988 Aug Subcommission party in Prevessin Louis Joinet Leandro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The colloque in Louis honor is taking place on 27  Mars  2014, 18h30, at  Université  Panthéon-‐Assas, Centre  Panthéon,  Salle  des  Conseils, in the series of lectures under Professor Olivier de Frouville.

The book “Mes raisons d’Etat. Mémoires d’un épris de justice” is published by La Découverte: http://www.editionsladecouverte.fr/catalogue/index-Mes_raisons_d_etat-9782707178459.html