Today: Historic Multicultural Gathering on Racism and Persecution to be Held During Durban Review Conference


Geneva, April 22, 2009 — Today, in middle of a U.N. conference racism and intolerance, one thousand NGO activists are gathering to hear a diverse coalition of non-governmental organizations, including Jewish, Christian and multicultural groups, will join hands to speak out on what they see as dire threats of racism, persecution, anti-Semitism, and intolerance that plague our globe.

Vatican advisor Father Patrick Desbois and British MP Denis MacShane will open the conference, while French human rights icon Bernard-Henri Lévy will give the closing address.

Also speaking will be:

Professor Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP, former Justice Minister and human rights hero
Philippe Val, outspoken editor of France’s Charlie Hebdo
Dounia Ettaib, Muslim women’s rights activist
Louis George Tin, Gay rights activist
Ester Mujawayo, Tutsi genocide survivor
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, activist for children’s rights in Iran, member of Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and a former Miss Canada
Gibreil Hamid, a Darfur survivor and activist for genocide victims, president of Switzerland’s Darfur Peace Development Center

Topics will range from “Old hatreds: lessons from the past” to “Human Rights and anti-racism in the 21st century.”

Victims such as Ester Mujawayo of Rwanda will speak about their own experiences of racism and discrimination and why it is so important that we bear witness and take action against current and future acts.

“It is not enough that we pass resolutions and talk about these tragedies,” says Ester Mujawayo, Rwanda Genocide Survivor and speaker on tomorrow’s panel. “The genocide in my country was preventable — and as long as the United Nations sits in this conference and does not address the real crises, history is doomed to repeat itself.”

Organized by more than 20 national and international NGOs, the Conference Against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution will put a spotlight on critical situations and issues of racism and intolerance that deserve to be on the agenda of the official Durban Review Conference.

It will be a chance to hear from leaders of diverse religious denominations speaking toward a common goal, on the need to address and rid our future of racism, discrimination and persecution in all its forms.

“I am looking forward to the Conference against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution,” said Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, one of the organizations sponsoring tomorrow’s event. “It’s vital that we give a voice to the millions of victims—women, gays, and other minorities, from Darfur to Iran—who are being ignored by Durban II, and that we discuss them in a serious fashion where people can hear the truth, and hopefully take action.”

The Conference on Racism, Discrimination and Persecution will be held in Geneva, and is open to all who wish to participate and discuss.

What: Conference Against Racism, Discrimination and Persecution

Who: Bernard-Henri Lévy, Father Patrick Desbois, Irwin Cotler, Philippe Val, Dounia Ettaib, Louis George Tin, Dennis MacShane, Ester Mujawayo, Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Gibreil Hamid

Where: Theatre du Leman, Quai du Mont-Blanc 19

When: April 22, 2009, from 9:30 to 13:30


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