Sunday, February 19, 2017
Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy: Venezuela, Cuba Under U.N. Spotlight as Political Prisoners Gather
Activists to address human rights in Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Mauritania, Maldives
GENEVA, Feb. 14, 2017 – A coalition of 25 non-governmental human rights groups announced today that Cuban dissident and graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado (aka El Sexto) who was just released from prison, and the daughter of the jailed Mayor of Caracas will be in the United Nations to turn an international spotlight on rights abuses by Cuba and Venezuela, at the opening of the 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights & Democracy, which takes place on February 20-21, 2017.
El Sexto, known for his provocative performance art criticizing the Castro regime, was just released from prison after spray painting “He’s Gone” in Havana on the day of Fidel Castro’s death. El Sexto was also imprisoned two years ago for painting the names “Raul” and “Fidel” on two pigs. He recently called out Cuba for sitting on the U.N. Human Rights Council while it oppresses its own people.
Testifying on the dire situation in Venezuela—another country on the U.N. Human Rights Council—will be Antonietta Ledezma, daughter of the imprisoned Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma.
On the second anniversary of her father’s arrest, Antonietta will call for his release, and for freedom for all Venezuela’s political prisoners. As a UNHRC member, Venezuela is obliged to respect the highest standards of human rights.
El Sexto and Ledezma will join some of the world’s most courageous champions of human rights: dissidents, activists, victims and relatives of political prisoners from Iran, Russia, Turkey, Tibet and Vietnam, 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 about 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.
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.
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