UN Watch Statement to 25th Session of UN Human Rights Council, delivered by Kelsey Truman, 14 March 2014.
Human Rights Council Must Listen to the Victims
Thank you, Mr. President. Today we ask: How can this Council protect the rights of the Universal Declaration — the right to life, to equality, to freedom of religion and speech, the right to be free from torture and slavery?
One way is by recognizing the heroes who inspire activists the world over for the cause of human rights.
That is what UN Watch did just a few weeks ago, across the street, at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights. For the sixth year in a row, we organized this annual civil society forum, together with twenty other non-governmental human rights groups from around the world.
Hundreds of dissidents, activists, diplomats, journalists and students participated, helping to place urgent situations on the world agenda. The summit heard from courageous dissidents and activists, many of them former political prisoners, who embody the founding human rights virtues of the United Nations.
Julietta Lopez of Venezuela delivered an urgent message from her nephew, jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. [Venezuela interrupted on a point of order, and attacked UN Watch; the chair defended the speaker's rights and gave the floor back to UN Watch.]
Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen examined women’s rights in Pakistan. Biram Dah Abeid spoke of his struggle to end slavery in Mauritania.
Naghmeh Abedini pleaded for the release of her husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is in jail in Iran for exercising his freedom of religion. Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who tried to defend women in China from forced abortions, received the Geneva Summit Courage Award.
Finally, Annick Cojean from Le Monde spoke of her recent book , which documents how thousands of women and girls, including students on campus, were violently raped, over decades and on a systematic basis, by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
We urge everyone to listen to her testimony, which is available at www.genevasummit.org, especially the many countries who, during the Council’s UPR review of Libya, had praised Gaddafi’s record on women’s rights. These include Belarus, DPRK, Iran, Jordan, Myanmar, Qatar, Sudan and Yemen.
Mr. President, When this Council listen to these courageous voices, and take action for victims worldwide?