Participants of a panel discussion and film screening on human rights in Chattogram on Sunday expressed their strong commitment to human rights.
The event was jointly organised by the Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh, the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and national NGO Steps towards Development. The event was arranged in celebration of the 70TH anniversary of the adoption of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).The Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh, Dr René Holenstein, and the Senior Human Rights Adviser to the UN Resident Coordinator, Heike Alefsen, spoke at the event.
The Chief Executive of Nagorik Uddyog and human rights activist, Zakir Hossain, women’s rights activist from Chattogram, Jasmeen Sultana Paru, and Ismail Mintu, who represented the young Bangladeshis, took part in the panel discussion. Ranjan Karmaker, executive director of Steps, moderated the event.
The panellists talked about the relevance of human rights today, 70 years after the adoption of the UDHR, and explored key human rights topics in Bangladesh.
The event was widely attended by human rights and civil society activists from Chattogram as well as a large number of young Bangladeshis, mainly university students.
The award winning Swiss film “Sonita” featuring women’s rights issues was screened at the event, according to the Swiss mission in Dhaka.
The film depicts the struggles of Sonita, an Afghan refugee, who pursues her aspirations, overcoming various obstacles such as attempts of her relatives to make her enter into early marriage against her wish.Highlighting the important role of civil society, human rights defenders and journalists in promoting human rights, the Ambassador of Switzerland said, “Freedom of expression and press freedom are important benchmarks for human rights in any society.”
The UN’s Human Rights Adviser noted that “the importance of the Universal Declaration cannot be overemphasized: it put countries on the road to rights, sustainable development and justice for all, leading away from discrimination and violence”.
The event in Chattogram is part of an international human rights film tour in over 45 countries organised by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN country teams, the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva.