Dissidents, Ex-Political Prisoners Organizing Geneva Rights Summit

Havel & Walesa co-chair; Dissidents to call for internet freedom; 25 NGOs co-sponsor

Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy (http://www.genevasummit.org/)

GENEVA – On March 8-9, 2010, to enhance the annual session of the UN Human Rights Council, renowned dissidents, rights activists and experts will come together in Geneva, Switzerland, to urge action against rights abusers, boost democracy dissidents worldwide, and issue a call for internet freedom.

The second annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, to be held at the Geneva International Conference Center, is organized by a global civil society coalition of 25 human rights groups, including UN Watch, Ibuka, Freedom House, and Burmese, Tibetan and Zimbabwean organizations (see list below), with support from the Canton of Geneva.

Co-chairing the summit’s honorary committee are two of the world’s most recognized former dissidents: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa and playwright Vaclav Havel, the former presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic.

The two-day schedule features more than 20 action-oriented presentations and skills-building workshops, exploring a variety of topics, with the objective of advancing the struggle of dissidents against state repression, internet freedom, and reform of the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council.

Speakers will include former political prisoners from around the world, including Rebiya Kadeer, champion of China’s Uighur minority and Nobel Peace Prize nominee; Nestor Rodriguez Lobaina, Cuban dissident; Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident, winner of the 2008 Human Rights Watch Award; Donghyuk Shin, survivor of North Korean prison camps; and Phuntsok Nyidron, the Buddhist nun from Tibet who served 15 years in jail for recording songs of freedom.

The Geneva Summit will also feature eminent governmental and intergovernmental advocates for human rights, including Massouda Jalal, the former Afghan Minister of Women Affairs and first female presidential candidate; Italian MP Matteo Mecacci, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Rapporteur for democracy and human rights; and Jan Pronk, the former Special Representative in Sudan of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Last year’s summit, covered by CNN, AP, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal, brought together former political prisoners Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt, Ahmad Batebi of Iran, José Gabriel Ramón Castillo of Cuba and Soe Aung of Burma, along with many other well-known rights activists and scholars.

Admission to the March 8-9, 2010 conference is free, and the public and media are invited to attend. For accreditation, program and schedule information, please visit http://www.genevasummit.org/.

Global Civil Society Coalition
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma
Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina (CADAL)
Darfur Peace and Development Center
Directorio Democratico Cubano
Fondation Genereuse Development
Freedom House
Freedom Now
Genocide Watch
Global Zimbabwe Forum
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l
Ingénieurs du monde
Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY)
International Campaign to End Genocide
International Association of Genocide Scholars
Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme
Respekt Institut
Stop Child Executions
Tibetan Women’s Association
UN Watch
Zimbabwe Advocacy Office

UN Watch