Monday, April 4, 2022

#GenevaSummit2022: Turning on the lights for the millions suffering in darkness

  The 14th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – April 5- 6, 2022

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy will begin tomorrow now for the 14th time, and needs your help. Never heard of the Summit? Here is what this gathering is about:

The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy is a major conference that shines a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention. It provides human rights heroes, activists and former political prisoners with a unique platform to testify about their personal struggles for democracy and freedom, while building an international community to take on dictatorships.

The Summit is held around the main annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, when foreign ministers gather in Geneva, to force critical issues onto the international agenda. The 14th Geneva Summit will be held on Wednesday, April 6, 2022, on the heels of the main session.

The event is attended by hundreds of dissidents, victims, diplomats, journalists, student leaders and other concerned citizens. Thousands more watch online.

The Geneva Summit is sponsored by a coalition of 25 human rights NGOs from around the world. It has been featured in media around the glove, including CNN, AFP, AP, DW, the Wall Street Journal and The Australian.

Over the past 14 years the Geneva Summit has provided a space for victims of repression from around the world. One of the countries constantly represented for its terrible human rights record over this time has been Cuba.  This year for the first time Geneva Summit speak Hamlet Lavastida will address the gathering. 

Below is a brief biography of the Cuban artist and dissident.

Hamlet Lavastida is a Cuban visual artist and political activist. He was a founder at both of Cuba’s most prominent artist-led campaign groups, 27N and the San Isidro Movement (MSI).

Lavastida was imprisoned on June 26th, 2021, as he returned from an artistic residency in Berlin. He was arrested for an unrealised idea he had shared with members of the 27N activist group, to stamp Cuban currency with subversive anti-Communist symbols.

Lavastida spent three months incarcerated in Villa Marista, the high security prison famous for holding political prisoners, and was named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in August 2021.

He was released in September on condition of exile for him and his partner, the poet and activist Katherine Bisquet. He resides in Germany.

Source: Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo will also be attending the gathering.  She has spoken in the past at the Geneva Summit in 2013 and 2016. This year also marks 10 years since her father Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and friends Harold Cepero Escalante were killed by Castro's secret police on July 22, 2012.

On April 6, 2022 the live streamed session of the Geneva Summit will begin at 10:00am Central European Time with presentations on Russia and China.  In the afternoon at 14:50pm there will be a panel on resisting dictatorship in Latin America that will feature speakers from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Representing Cuba will be Hamlet Lavastida of the San Isidro Movement.

Register for the Summit, participate virtually in this gathering, add your views, and share them over your social media platforms with the hashtag #GenevaSummit2022 and #GS22.

On January 5, 1967, then California Governor Ronald Reagan warned that we should not take freedom and democracy for granted.   

"Freedom is a fragile thing and it's never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people."

The future American President was right and #GenevaSummit2022 is correctly calling attention to complacency in democracies, and the fragility of both freedom and democratic institutions as the world faces an expanded conflagration in Ukraine, and an ascendant China backing autocracies worldwide.

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