1 October 2019
Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders at Risk Opened by Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, TD, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet
[Dublin, Ireland] Simon Coveney, TD, Ireland’s Foreign Minister, and Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, opened the 2019 Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders by welcoming over 120 human rights defenders (HRDs) from more than 80 countries and calling for greater protection and support for HRDs at risk. Front Line Defenders Executive Director, Andrew Anderson, said that five human rights defenders were prevented from traveling to Dublin – Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan), Oyub Titiev (Russia), Said Boudour (Algeria), and Michel Matos (Cuba).
The opening ceremony featured a testimony by Bahraini woman human rights defender (WHRD) Ebtisam Alsaegh, who was finally able to leave Bahrain and attend Dublin Platform years after first being invited. Bahraini authorities have repeatedly arrested, detained, tortured, sexually assaulted and subjected to Ebtisam travel bans for her outspoken condemnation of human rights abuses in the Gulf country, including her detailed reports of the sexual violence she personally endured in custody. Speaking in Dublin, she called for an immediate end to gendered and sexualized attacks against women human rights defenders around the world.
Over three days, human rights defenders will share tactics and strategies for their protection and security, while learning from each other about their struggles, protests, resistance movements and victories. On Thursday evening, the HRDs will march in a procession to Christchurch Cathedral as part of the “Set Them Free” campaign, calling for the release of HRDs facing multi-decade prison sentences around the world. The campaign includes former Front Line Defenders Protection Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Bahraini HRD Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, now serving a life sentence for his role in the peaceful pro-democracy uprising of 2011.
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