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Addressing the opening of the Summit at the United Nations in Geneva, Chair of the Philippines Human Rights Commission, Chito Gascon, spoke of the need to fight oppression. "An attack on human rights is an assault on democracy… it is important for us to clearly draw the line and to speak out against human rights violations whenever we see them… We should draw on the courage of women who marched on the streets of Washington DC and San Francisco… we must push back", he said.
Mr. Gascon who is also a member of LI's Human Rights Committee and former President of the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LI full-member), delivered a powerful testimony of the ongoing oppression of fundamental human rights in the Philippines by President Duterte at the public opening of the Summit at the Geneva Conference Center the day after saying: "31 years ago we toppled a brutal dictator and ushered in democratic institutions in the Philippines. However, the Philippines case is an example of how quickly democratic institutions can be undermined if we don't continue to draw the line. President Duterte has killed over 7000 suspects of drug crimes to date without due judicial process. The Justice Department is yet to file a single case in Court against any of the perpetrators of these crimes. "
Outgoing OSCE – The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors (Svenska Folkpartiet, LI full-member) also addressed the Summit during the duration of its two days, throwing a spotlight on to some of the worst violations of fundamental freedoms around the world. "It is important for Liberal International to join forces with the civil society when it comes to promotion and advancement of human rights and this Forum is a perfect example. I hope that other political internationals will do the same. We must prevent further conflicts from irrupting but prevention cannot be effective if atrocity crimes continue. It is time to stop the conflict cycles and this can be done only by respecting human rights."
Commissioner Thors also presented the 2017 Geneva Summit Courage Award to the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who is currently residing as a refugee in the UK having been forcefully removed from power and tortured in his country. Bestowing the award she said: President Nasheed, you have many names but the most striking one is the Mandela of the Maldives. You have been arrested, tortured and imprisoned on numerous occasions for your political beliefs. We sincerely hope that democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights will be welcomed once more in your country."
Head of LI Human Rights Programme, Tamara Dancheva, presented the 2017 Geneva Summit Women's Rights Award to Shirin, a freed Yazidi sex slave of ISIS, who received the award " not just because she is victim but because she has the courage to speak on behalf of all those who will never get the chance to speak for themselves.
Giving a voice to the voiceless, LI HRC Member Medard Mulangala told the Geneva Summit that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) elections are Africa’s moment… the time of the strong man is gone. What we need are strong institutions." Mulangala who is also a Vice-President of the Africa Liberal Network (ALN, LI cooperating organisation) further called on the international community to get behind people in the DRC citing the recent political success in Gambia.
This year's summit saw the largest-ever Liberal International delegation, with representatives from Africa, Asia, and Europe.
The full recording of the Summit is available on the official YouTube Channel of the event and can be accessed by clicking on the image below: