UN Watch hosts Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

Geneva, Switzerland – On February 25th, the 2014 6th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, organized by UN Watch, co-sponsored by twenty-two other human rights groups including Citizen Power for China (CPFC, aka Initiatives for China), was held in the Geneva International Conference Center across from the United Nations. The Summit was opened by Professor Irwin Cotler, MP of Canadian Parliament, and a world voice for human rights.

The 6th Geneva Summit, organized by UN Watch, is a civil society forum designed to inform and enhance the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council. Renowned dissidents, formal political prisoners, rights activists and experts gathered to urge an end to impunity for rights abusers, support pro-democracy dissidents world wide, and issue a call for action. Arranged by UN Watch, conference speakers, including Dr. Yang Jianli and Mr. Chen Guangcheng, engaged the day before in a closed-door dialogue with diplomats to the UN from thirteen democratic nations, including Canada, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Israel, and Australia.

Mr. Chen Guangcheng receives the 2014 Geneva Summit Courage Award

The summit awarded Mr. Chen Guangcheng, the renowned self-taught “barefoot lawyer” who escaped China nearly two years ago, the 2014 Geneva Summit Courage Award. Mr. Chen Guangcheng held hands with his wife, Ms. Yuan Weijing, as he received the tribute. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Chen shared his brutal experiences as a human rights defender inside China, concluding with the English-spoken words, “I will not stop until China is free, democratic, and respects human rights for all.

Tibetan Parliament Member, Ms.Tenzin Dhardon Sharling speaking on Tibetan issues.

Tibetan delegate Ms. Tenzin Dhardon Sharling, the youngest Parliament Member of Parliament for Central Tibetan Administration, expressed at the summit her appreciation to the democracies opposing China’s election to UN Human Rights Council last November. Ms. Sharling further called for increased awareness on the countless self-immolation cases arising from Tibet.

Dr. Yang Jianli speaking on Geneva Summit. Liu Xia’s photo is displayed on screen

 Dr. Yang Jianli delivered the case of Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s wife, Liu Xia’s house arrest to the summit, emphasizing the importance of international support to prisoners of conscience. With his hair shaved in support of Liu Xia, Dr. Yang further urged the gathered diplomats to assist Dr. Wang Binzhang, a dissident serving a lifetime prison term, in any way possible. He challenged the U.N. and democratic governments to resolve, rather than merely manage, the essential problem of human rights. In conclusion, Dr. Yang brought up two questions for UN and international communities. First one is whether the international community, especially the UN, and varies democratic governments, approach human rights abuses an issue to manage or a problem to resolve? Second question is can the international community, as a whole, take the moral commanding heights in dealing with China and other dictatorships by initiating engagement rules or a code of conduct on the International Bill of Human Rights, which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and International Covenant on Economic Social and Culture Rights?

Dr. Yang Jianli speaking at Geneva Summit. To the left is Dr. Wang Binzhang’s poster.

 The summit concluded with issuing the 2014 Geneva Summit Outcome Declaration.