Job Sikhala Highlights Zimbabwe’s Struggle at Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy




Job Sikhala attending the UN Human Rights Conference in Geneva.
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GENEVA,– At the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday, the 2024 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy commenced, shedding light on the human rights abuses in China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela.

Supported by a coalition of 25 human rights groups, the event featured powerful testimonies from dissidents and activists exposing the harsh realities under these authoritarian regimes.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Job Sikhala shared his harrowing experience of challenging Zimbabwe’s government and campaigning for democracy. Detailing his 595 days of arbitrary detention on politically motivated charges, Sikhala remarked,

“I am deemed to be committing a crime just by talking to you today. It’s no wonder millions of Zimbabweans have fled persecution abroad. They desperately want to come home to live in a free and democratic society.”

Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian academic who endured 804 days in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, highlighted Iran’s use of hostage diplomacy. Reflecting on her imprisonment, Dr. Moore-Gilbert said, “My fellow prisoners would beg me to speak out if I was freed, and I promised them that I would use my voice to draw attention to what the brutal regime in Iran is doing to its own people. Never has the Iranian people’s desperate cry for freedom been clearer.”

In the midst of a significant legislative push in The Gambia to repeal the anti-FGM law, women’s rights activist Fatou Baldeh, a survivor of FGM, delivered a compelling speech on the urgent need to retain the law.

Her impactful address served as a prelude to her receiving the 2024 Women’s Rights Award at tomorrow’s main event. “There is no doubt in my mind that if we act collectively and swiftly, we can save the FGM law in The Gambia. Yes, the challenges are huge. But as the late Nelson Mandela once said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done,'” said Baldeh.

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Iran International television anchor Pouria Zeraati and the publication’s executive editor Aliasghar Ramezanpour testified about becoming targets of the Islamic Republic regime due to their fearless reporting on human rights violations, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s rights in Iran. The publication will be awarded the esteemed Courage Award tomorrow at the summit’s main event.

The summit will continue tomorrow, featuring an opening address by former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and more stirring accounts from dissidents, political prisoners, and global activists.