Václav Havel Human Rights Prize Conference 2020
At first glance it might appear that the pandemic does not discriminate, impacting all equally. However, the struggle against the coronavirus should not obscure the urgency of the struggle for human rights, and should in no way provide a pretext or excuse for their breach. Tyrannical regimes may attempt to capitalise on, and hide behind, the period of crisis. Last year served as a warning in that respect. We need to keep a close eye on the severe crackdown on human rights in Hong Kong, the continued oppression of the Uyghurs, the Myanmar regime’s brutal pogroms against people demonstrating for democracy and the metastasis of Islamic State terror in some African states. In all these struggles for a dignified, normal life, women play an important, frequently leading, role. This makes it more than fitting that the finalists in this year’s Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize are women. All of us hope that the right to a normal life will also return when the pandemic ends. But in many countries around the world, whether Congo, Saudi Arabia or Nepal, women are unwilling and unable to wait; what they want is normal lives right now.
● 12.30 – 13.00 Live broadcast from session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
● 13.00 – 13.10 Launch of the international conference by Michael Žantovský, director of the Václav Havel Library
● 13.10 – 13.20 Keynote address from Kateřina Šimáčková, Czech Constitutional Court judge
● 13.20 – 13.30 Profiles of finalists
● 13.30 – 13.40 Interview with the laureate of the 2020 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize
● 13.40 – 14.30 Panel discussion with finalists, moderated by Michael Žantovský
THREE FINALISTS OF THE PRIZE Loujain Alhathloul (Saudi Arabia) The nominee is one of the leaders of the Saudi feminist movement. Ms. Alhathloul is a prominent womens’ rights activist known for defying the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia and for opposing the Saudi male guardianship system. She has been detained on several occasions, sentenced and has been in prison since 2018. Nuns of the Drukpa Order (Nepal) The nominee is a group of young Buddhist nuns, promoting gender equality, environmental sustainability and intercultural tolerance in their home villages in the Himalayas. They are known for their delivery of supplies to hard-to-reach villages after an earthquake struck Kathmandu in 2015. The Nuns of the Drukpa Order have also taught self-defence classes for women and biked over 20,000 kilometres to protest against the trafficking of women and girls. Julienne Lusenge (Congo) The nominee is a Congolese human rights activist who has been documenting sexual abuse and acts of violence against women in Congo. She was instrumental in obtaining the conviction of those accused of recruiting for enlisting child soldiers and as well as obtaining the convictions of hundreds of perpetrators of sexual violence against women at national level. She has been threatened for her work on several occasions.