Issue 528

UN Watch’s Geneva rights summit draws world attention, spotlights Boko Haram, ISIS, China, Cuba, France, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tibet, Turkey, Venezuela

COURAGE AWARD GOES TO RAIF BADAWI, WOMEN’S RIGHTS AWARD TO IRANIAN JOURNALIST MASIH ALINEJAD

Covered in Le Monde, The Guardian, CNN, Deutsche Welle, Toronto Star, France 4, Swiss TV

GENEVA, Feb. 24, 2015 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch today led a coalition of 20 NGOs in giving a rare UN platform to the Nigerian girl who jumped off a truck to escape from Boko Haram, the student leaders of the Hong Kong umbrella protest, and courageous dissidents and victims from China, Cuba, Iran, Tibet, Pakistan, Turkey, North Korea and Venezuela.

The 2015 Geneva Summit for Human Rights, which opened yesterday in a packed UN chamber below the Human Rights Council, concluded today in an adjacent conference center before an audience of 500 human rights activists, diplomats, journalists and students.

The summit aims to place critical human rights situations on the world agenda days before foreign ministers gather on Monday in Geneva to open the annual session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Worldwide media coverage focused on the Nigerian girl who escaped the Boko Haram kidnapping (“Bring Back Our Girls”); a memorial to the murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists by two of their Paris colleagues, Philippe Val and Caroline Fourest; and the bestowal of awards to jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, and to Masih Alinejad, creator of a viral Facebook page that allows Iranian women to show hijab-free photos of themselves.

Notable speakers also included:

· Alex Chow & Lester Shum, Student leaders of Hong Kong protest movement
· Pierre Torres, French Journalist held hostage by ISIS for 10 months
· Yeon-Mi Park, 21-year-old North Korean defector
· Il Lim, North Korean defector and former slave laborer
· Ashiq Masih, Husband of Asia Bibi, Christian mother of five on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy
· Dicki Chhoyang, Foreign Minister of Central Tibetan Administration
· Maria Corina Machado, Venezuelan opposition leader persecuted by Maduro regime (by video)
· Yang Jianli, Former Chinese political prisoner, survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre

Canada, the Czech Republic and the U.S. co-sponsored yesterday’s UN opening session. Some 15 governments also met privately with the dissidents and victims at a meeting hosted by the Canadian Mission in Geneva.

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