Human Rights Weekend: Behind the Headlines
De Balie, Amsterdam, 27 January-29 January 2017
(Amsterdam) – “Behind the Headlines” is the theme of the fifth edition of the Human Rights Weekend, which takes place from 27 until 29 January 2017 at De Balie in Amsterdam. Human Rights Watch, De Balie and their partners will highlight human rights issues that did not make it into the headlines, and provide essential background information for those that did.
“We are proud to invite everyone to the 5th year anniversary of the Human Rights Weekend, with premieres of compelling human rights films and opportunities to engage with intriguing speakers,” said Anna Timmerman, Netherlands senior director at Human Rights Watch.
This year’s weekend consists of several exclusive human rights films – including one European premiere and four Dutch premieres – master classes, and panel discussions with film directors, Human Rights Watch researchers, journalists, government officials, and others.
Topics include criminal justice, unaccompanied child refugees, police militarisation, freedom of expression, sexual violence as a weapon of war, environment and human rights, schools and hospitals under attack, and Trump and human rights. The event covers a wide range of countries, from Rwanda to the United States and from Burma to Denmark.
Human Rights Watch offers four program routes for those interested in particular topics: International Justice, Freedom of Expression, Refugees, and Civilians under Attack.
Partners for the Human Rights Weekend are: De Balie, ASN Bank, PAX, Dutch Postcode Lottery, De Groene Amsterdammer, VICE, NIOD and vfonds.
Friday, 27 January – Opening Night
Bruno Stagne Ugarte, deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch, will open the program on January 27. His speech will be followed by the European premiere of the documentary The Uncondemned – the story of a group of young international lawyers, activists and victims who fought to have rape recognized as a war crime. The following speakers will join the Q&A session: Michele Mitchell (filmmaker), Sara Darehshori (Human Rights Watch, who was then: co-counsel for the prosecution) and Rosette Muzigo-Morrison (UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda).
Saturday 28 January
On January 28, the program will begin with the Dutch premiere of the documentary The Apology, which follows the personal journeys of three former ‘comfort women’ who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Eveline Buchheim (NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) will introduce the documentary.
Human Rights Watch will offer the master class Schools and Hospitals Under Attack. Worldwide, schools and hospitals and their staff, students, and patients are often the victims of attacks and the military use of these buildings, for example as barracks. The deputy children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, Bede Sheppard, will describe his research on the use of schools for military purposes and as targets, and Roos Boer (program leader, humanitarian disarmament at PAX) will talk about the impact of explosive weapons near hospitals. Both will highlight their findings and ways to reduce these dangerous situations. Han ten Broeke, member of parliament for the VVD, will shed light on what governments can do. This program is part of the “Watch Our Schools” campaign.
Panel discussions will include Trump and Human Rights, about what the election of Donald Trump as US president means for the foreign policy of the US and human rights worldwide. Panellists will be the Human Rights Watch deputy executive director for advocacy, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, and the America specialist Ruth Oldenziel.
Another panel discussion, Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War, will address rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual violence in situations of conflict. The speakers are Sara Darehshori (senior US program counsel at Human Rights Watch, former co-counsel Akayesu-case), Rosette Muzigo-Morrison (longest serving legal officer with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), Thijs Bouwknegt (researcher at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) and Edwina Morgan-Bodo (sexual violence advisor ad interim at International Committee of the Red Cross).
The Impact of Social Media on Human Rights, the third panel discussion, will explore how social media can be used as a tool for advocacy and for raising awareness of the need to protect human rights, but also for negative purposes. Andrew Stroehlein (European media director at Human Rights Watch) and Casper Sikkema (editor in chief at VICE Benelux) will share their insights. Another part of the Freedom of Expression route that day will be the documentary Tickling Giants about the battle for democracy by Dr. Bassem Youssef, a heart surgeon in Egypt who quits his job to become a full-time comedian. Egypt and Middle East specialist, Rena Netjes, will introduce the film.
The day’s programs will include two more Dutch premieres. The Heart of Nuba focuses on the war-torn heart of the Nuba Mountains of Sudan – a region being bombed by its own president – while an American doctor, Tom Catena, selflessly and courageously serves the needs of its people that are forgotten by the world. Jelena Sporin (PAX) will introduce this documentary. Chasing Asylum, the film the Australian government doesn’t want you to see, features footage from inside Australian detention camps for refugees, revealing the personal impact of sending those in search of a safe home to languish in limbo. Prior to this screening, we will listen to Merlijn Twaalfhoven and Abdelkader Benali’s short performance of the mini opera A postcard from Aleppo and Gerald Knaus (European Stability Initiative) and Judith Sunderland (Human Rights Watch) will join us for a discussion on refugee deals.
Sunday 29 January
The final day of the weekend will start with an environment and human rights themed program. Following a brief introduction, the documentary When Two Worlds Collide will be screened. This film reveals the human side of the battle for the future of the Amazon, focussing on a young indigenous leader’s fight to make the voices of indigenous Peruvians heard.
The day’s events will include one Dutch premiere. The documentary Dreaming of Denmark is the story of a young immigrant’s underground existence in Europe – being forced to leave countries in search of a home. The filmmaker, Michael Graverson, Judith Sunderland (Human Rights Watch) and Mozhdeh Ghasemiyani (psychologist) will join the Q&A session afterward.
Another documentary, Do Not Resist, shows disturbing realities of American police culture, including the militarisation of police. It asks the question: Who is it we “protect and serve”? The filmmaker, Craig Atkinson, Peter Slort (Dutch national police) and Dionne Hafiez (Control Alt Delete) will join a Q&A and panel session on police violence and racial discrimination.
The day will include two special programs. One is the master class Defending Human Rights in Repressive Countries, about documenting and advocating human rights in repressive countries, will focus on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, two countries in Europe’s backyard. Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, will lead this master class, joined by two independent activists who will share their experiences with political oppression.
Fighting for Global Justice: The Road Ahead for the International Criminal Court will describe the difficulties the International Criminal Court (ICC) now faces. A panel of experts will discuss the challenges for justice for the world’s worst crimes: Phakiso Mochochoko (ICC), Elizabeth Evenson (Human Rights Watch), Evelyn Ankumah (Africa Legal Aid) and Tjitske Lingsma (journalist and author of “All Rise”).
De Balie will close the weekend with the documentary Burma Storybook, to be introduced by freelance journalist Minka Nijhuis. This film shows resilience in a country emerging from years of isolation and dictatorship, through the eyes of Burmese poets. The Q&A session will include Mae Yway (poet), Petr Lom (director) and Corrine van Egeraat (producer).
Watch Our Schools – Photography by Human Rights Watch
As part of the weekend and the like-named campaign, Human Rights Watch is presenting the “Watch Our Schools” photo exhibition at De Balie from December 29 to February 2, focusing on the devastating impact of attacks on schools and their military use. The photographers are Bede Sheppard (Human Rights Watch), David Hogsholt, and Moises Saman (Magnum Photos).
Full program of the 2017 Human Rights Weekend at De Balie, Amsterdam
Friday 27 January | 20:00-22:15 | THE UNCONDEMNED | opening film, Q&A
Filmmakers: Michele Mitchell & Nick Louvel.
Both a real-life courtroom thriller and a human drama, The Uncondemned tells the story of a group of young international lawyers and activists who fought to have rape recognised as a war crime, and the Rwandan women who came forward to testify and win justice for the crimes committed against them. This odyssey takes the crusaders to a crucial trial at an international criminal court, which changed the world of criminal justice forever.
Opening speakers: Yoeri Albrecht (director at De Balie) and Bruno Stagno Ugarte (deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch).
The Uncondemned speakers: Michele Mitchell (filmmaker), Sara Darehshori (senior US program counsel at Human Rights Watch and former co-counsel for the prosecution on the Rwandan Akayesu case), and Rosette Muzigo-Morrison (legal officer at UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda).
Moderator: Max Christern (MOC Media).
This screening is the European premiere.
Saturday 28 January | 12:15-14:15 | THE APOLOGY | introduction, film
Filmmaker: Tiffany Hsiung.
The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former ‘comfort women’ who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten.
Speaker: Eveline Buchheim (senior researcher at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies).
This screening is the Dutch premiere.
Saturday 28 January | 13:00-14:30 | Trump and Human Rights | discussion
What does the election of Donald Trump as president mean for the foreign policy of the United States and human rights worldwide, including in areas of conflict like Syria and Yemen? Based on Trump’s positions and rhetoric during and after the election period, what can we expect? The participants will assess the potential consequences of Trump’s presidency for human rights worldwide, with special attention to migration, freedom of expression and relations with abusive governments.
Speakers: Bruno Stagno Ugarte (deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch) and Ruth Oldenziel (America specialist and professor American-European history of technology).
Moderator: Rutger van der Hoeven (foreign editor at De Groene Amsterdammer).
Saturday 28 January | 14:45-16:30 | THE HEART OF NUBA | introduction, film
Filmmaker: Kenneth A. Carlson.
Welcome to the war-torn heart of the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, an area of the world so void of humanitarian and media attention that years of war go ignored, and cries for help go largely unheard, where an American doctor, Tom Catena, selflessly and courageously serves the needs of a forgotten people, as the region is bombed relentlessly by the government of President Omar Al-Bashir, an indicted war criminal. Two things remain constant: Dr. Tom’s faith and his enduring love for the Nuba people.
Speaker: Jelena Sporin (program officer Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile at PAX).
This screening is the Dutch premiere.
Saturday 28 January | 15:15-16:45 | Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War | discussion
Widely committed and seldom denounced, rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual violence in situations of conflict have been viewed more as the spoils of war than as illegitimate acts that violate international humanitarian law. While some progress has been made to reduce, and prosecute sexual violence in war, both women and men are still targeted for rape while their attackers go unpunished. The panel will include experts to address the situation from a legal, historical, and humanitarian perspective, with special attention to the victims’ voices.
Speakers: Sara Darehshori (senior US program counsel at Human Rights Watch and former co-counsel for the prosecution on the Rwandan Akayesu case), Rosette Muzigo-Morrison (legal officer at UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), Thijs Bouwknegt (researcher at NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) and Edwina Morgan-Bodo (International Committee of the Red Cross).
Moderator: Lousewies van der Laan (advisor on human rights, democracy and rule of law).
Saturday 28 January | 17:00-19:10 | TICKLING GIANTS | introduction, film
Filmmaker: Sara Taksler.
During the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef leaves his job as a heart surgeon to become a comedian and creates the satirical show Al Bernameg – with 30 million viewers per episode. In a country where free speech is not guaranteed by law, he and his staff endure threats, protests, and legal action for their comments, and democratic change is not easily won. The team employs comedy, not violence, to let those in power know they’re being held accountable. Tickling Giants is a story of fearless revolutionaries who happen to be funny.
Speaker: Rena Netjes (Egypt and Middle East specialist).
Saturday 28 January | 17:15-18:45 | Schools and Hospitals Under Attack | master class
Feeling safe at school or in a hospital seems like the most natural thing in the world to some of us. Unfortunately, worldwide, schools and hospitals and their staff, students, and patients are often the victims of attacks and the military use of these buildings, for example as barracks. In this master class, Bede Sheppard describes his research on the use of schools for military purposes and as a target. In addition, Roos Boer will talk about the impact of explosive weapons near hospitals. Both speakers will highlight their findings and ways to reduce these dangerous situations. Han ten Broeke, member of parliament for the VVD, will shed light on what governments can do.
Speakers: Bede Sheppard (deputy children's rights director at Human Rights Watch), Roos Boer (program lead, humanitarian disarmament, at PAX) and Han Ten Broeke (member of parliament for the VVD).
Moderator: Tim Wagemakers (editor at De Balie).
Saturday 28 January | 19:30-21:00 | The Impact of Social Media on Human Rights | discussion
The relationship between human rights and social media is increasing in importance year by year. While social media can be used as a tool for advocacy and for raising awareness of the need to protect human rights, in some instances these platforms are being used for negative purposes – for example, the spread of harmful fake news and as a tool of manipulation. This special program will explore the potential for social media and obstacles to its productive use.
Speakers: Andrew Stroehlein (European media director at Human Rights Watch) and Casper Sikkema (editor in chief at VICE Benelux).
Moderator: Nienke Venema (director at Stichting Democratie en Media).
Saturday 28 January | 20:00-22:15 | CHASING ASYLUM | panel discussion & film
Filmmaker: Eva Orner.
Chasing Asylum exposes the negative impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies and explores how Australia became a country in which leaders choose detention over compassion. This film features footage from inside the detention camps, revealing the personal impact of sending those in search of a safe home to languish in limbo. Chasing Asylum explores the consequences of Australia’s decision to lock away families in unsanitary conditions hidden from media scrutiny, destroying their lives.
Speakers: Gerald Knaus (founding chairman at European Stability Initiative) and Judith Sunderland (associate director Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch).
Moderator: Botte Jellema (journalist and presenter).
This screening is the Dutch premiere.
Sunday 29 January | 13:00-15:00 | WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE | introduction, film
Filmmakers: Heidi Brandenburg & Mathew Orzel.
What happens when the thirst for power and riches takes priority over human life? The Amazon Rainforest, one of the planet’s most valuable natural resources, is being auctioned off, and its people condemned. A young indigenous leader fighting to make the voices of indigenous Peruvians heard, stands up to political leaders and is accused of conspiracy and inciting violence. Set against the backdrop of a global recession and climate crisis, this film reveals the human side to the battle of the future of the Amazon, and of an already debilitated global ecosystem.
Speaker: Françoise van Rappard-Wanninkhof (vice chair of the Netherlands Committee of Human Rights Watch)
Sunday 29 January | 13:45-15:15 | Defending Human Rights in Repressive Countries: Uzbekistan and Tajikistan | master class
What’s it like to document and advocate human rights in repressive countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, two countries in Europe’s backyard? Steve Swerdlow will offer a look behind the scenes, describing how he conducts research, advocates, and pressures abusive governments. He will talk about his personal experiences, including being deported from Uzbekistan and targeted through cartoons, and the challenges he faces in his work. Two independent activists from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan join this session to share their experiences with political oppression.
Speakers: Steve Swerdlow (Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch) and independent activists from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Moderator: Hubert Smeets (historian, journalist and co-founder Raam op Rusland).
Sunday 29 January | 15:30-17:00 | DREAMING OF DENMARK | film, Q&A, panel
Filmmaker: Michael Graversen.
For 17-year-old Wasiullah, who spent three years in asylum centres after arriving alone from Afghanistan, Denmark has become home. When his asylum application is rejected, he is forced to leave the country. Fearing for his life in Afghanistan, he makes his way to Italy, hoping that an Italian residence permit will allow him to return to Denmark. Director Michael Graversen has followed Wasiullah closely for years, giving Graversen unique access to a young immigrant's underground existence in Europe.
Speakers: Michael Graversen (filmmaker), Judith Sunderland (associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch) and Mozhdeh Ghasemiyani (psychologist)
Moderator: Marije Ligthart (Movies that Matter)
This screening is the Dutch premiere.
Sunday 29 January | 15:45-17:15 | Fighting for Global Justice: The Road Ahead for the International Criminal Court | discussion
The International Criminal Court (ICC) works in an increasingly tough landscape. Last autumn, South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia announced that they would withdraw from the ICC. Meanwhile, as the court is expanding its docket, including outside of Africa, the ICC faces persistent difficulties in securing resources and practical assistance to support its caseload and to strengthen its impact where it matters most - for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Hear from the experts about the road ahead for the ICC and the challenges for justice for the world’s worst crimes.
Speakers: Phakiso Mochochoko (head of the jurisdiction, complementarity and cooperation division at the International Criminal Court), Elizabeth Evenson (associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch) and Tjitske Lingsma (journalist and author of “All Rise: The high ambitions of the International Criminal Court and the harsh reality”).
Moderator: Jan Hennop (international justice and Dutch news correspondent at Agence France-Presse)
Sunday 29 January | 17:30-19:30 | DO NOT RESIST | film, Q&A, panel
Filmmaker: Craig Atkinson
Do Not Resist opens with shocking scenes from Ferguson, Missouri to introduce the disturbing realities of American police culture. The film shows a high-end weapons expert who instructs police departments on the need for force and intimidation; and describes small towns and cities being armed with expensive military-grade equipment and the development of face-recognition technology that makes the automated scanning of cities for wanted offenders a likely reality. Director Craig Atkinson presents a unique and powerful portrait of the individuals and institutions, each playing their part in a growing billion-dollar industry, and asks the question – who is it we “protect and serve”?
Speakers: Craig Atkinson (filmmaker), Peter Slort (diversity portfolio holder at the Dutch national police and Dionne Hafiez (Control Alt Delete)
Moderator: Absaline Hehakaya (chief of cinema at De Balie)
Sunday 29 January | 20:00-22:00 | DE BALIE PRESENTS: BURMA STORYBOOK | film, Q&A
Filmmakers: Petr Lom & Corinne van Egeraat.
Burma Storybook is a cinematic journey about resilience in a country emerging from years of isolation and dictatorship, through the eyes of Burmese poets. Poetry is immensely popular in Burma: as a means to cope with the past, and to imagine a better future. With the recent rise of the internet there are more online poets than bloggers among the young generation. The stories and poems in Burma Storybook circle around 70-year-old Maung Aung Pwint, the most important Burmese dissident poet today, who has spent more than 30 years in prison for his poetry and activism.
Speakers: Mae Yway (poet), Petr Lom (director), Corinne van Egeraat (producer) and Minka Nijhuis (freelance journalist).
Moderator: Anne-Marijn Epker (editor at De Balie).