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2020 Geneva Summit for Human Rights & Democracy: a Voice for the Voiceless

Iranian Activist Receives Geneva Summit Int’l Women’s Rights Award.


Jailed Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi's Family Say They Have Not Heard From Him In Over a Month.


Geneva, Feb.18 (– The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy assembles each year hundreds of courageous dissidents and human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders to shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention. The Geneva Summit is sponsored by a coalition of 25 human rights NGOs from around the world. This annual conference builds on the success and momentum of the previous gatherings, which have been widely acclaimed in the international human rights community.

2020 Int'l Women's Right Award

At the 2020 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, an international coalition of 25 human rights organizations today presented the prestigious International Women’s rights Award to Shaparak Shajarizadeh, a prominent Iranian women’s rights activist who was jailed, beaten and brutalized for removing her headscarf in public.

The Iranian activist became a leader in the “Girls of Revolution Street” and White Wednesday civil disobedience movements. In February 2018, she was famously arrested for removing her hijab in defiance of Iran’s compulsory law. That year, Shajarizadeh was named by BBC as one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women around the world.

Shajarizadeh received the 2020 Geneva Summit International Women’s Rights Award at a ceremony in the Swiss city today, where she addressed UN diplomats, human rights activists, and journalists from around the world attending the 12th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

Plea to release Raif Badawi

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for criticizing the Saudi Arabian regime online, has not been heard from in more than a month, since Jan. 14, as his family spokesperson Elham Manea explained.

During one of Geneva Summit sessions, Manea addressed the Saudi crown prince directly, pleading with him to release Badawi. “It is time to end this ordeal,” she said on Monday at a special session held at the U.N.’s Palais des Nations headquarters in Geneva. “What we need now is your compassion.”

Badawi, who ran a website on which he published criticisms of Saudi Arabia’s religious elite, was convicted in 2013 of “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” He was initially sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. The following year, his sentence was increased to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.

Other topics

Laritza Diversent was among the speakers focusing on "Fighting Authoritarianism". She is a Cuban human rights lawyer & executive director of Cubalex, a legal aid organization for Cuban citizens. Other speakers on the same topic were Rebecca Kabuo, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was counted as one of the youngest prisoners of conscience in the World, and Yavuz Aydin, a Turkish judge now in exile after being purged by President Erdogan.

Other topics in the agenda were "Confronting oppression, defending human rights", "Qatar's World Cup Slaves", "Trailblazer: Jailed for showing her hair", "Ending Child Marriage", "Supporting political prisioners", "The Hong King protests: an eyewitness account", "Reflections on the 75th Anniversay of the UN Charter", "The Abolitionist that won't be silenced" and "Venezuela: Does Maduro belong on the UNHCR?". The speakers on this topic regarding Venezuela were María Alejandra Aristeguieta, Rosa Orozco y Diego Arria.