The Youth Future Project in Stockholm
The first event Hate against #femdefenders – How to be a women’s rights defender inspite of death threats was arranged by the Organization Kvinna till Kvinna, a Swedish NGO, which supports woman in conflict areas and received the Right Livelihood Award in 2012. After speeches from the Swedish Foreign Minister, the Secretary General of Kvinna till Kvinna and woman rights activists from Albania, Armenia and the Philippines, the current Right Livelihood Award Laureates Asma Jahangir from Pakistan talked about the hate and violence, which she experienced for her work a woman’s rights activist. Jahangir told the audience with much wisdom and humor how there are many moments when you almost want to stop fighting (for example when your own daughters are threatened) but that you should never give in.
The afternoon of the same day we spent at the lecture Shrinking Space for Human Rights Defenders in Asia, where Basil Fernando, a human rights activist from Sri Lanka, who also received the Award this year, talked with Asma Jahangir about the difficulties of their work. Jahangir emphasized that since 9/11 the number of human rights violations in the name of the war on terror rose noticeable. In the subsequent movie Unjust by Josefina Bergsten the work of human rights activists from Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka was portrayed. The fight of widows from assassinated human right activists for compensating justice showed the desperate situation in corrupt and repressive countries. But moreover the movie gave hope that local movements and international solidarity can create a public awareness which brings the responsible persons to justice.
Saturday afternoon we went to the public lecture of the laureate Bill McKibben from the climate protection network 350.org in the Kulturhuset. 350.org is a global movement which coordinates protests in almost every country of the world and succeeds in the divestment of public institutions in fossil fuels. According to the founder Bill McKibben it does not depend on the government which is in power but on a strong civil movement to make a change.
In the evening the documentary Citizenfour was shown in the Södra Teatern. Laura Poitras accomplished to make a tremendous thrilling movie about the exposure of the global surveillance by the NSA although the scandal was still present to all. During the subsequent panel discussion Daniel Ellsberg, who receive the Right Livelihood Award in 2007, talked about the analogies between his situation and Snowdens. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon-Papers in 1971, which unveiled the real intention of the US-government in the Vietnam War. Furthermore Sara Harrison, the WikiLeaks member who accompanied Snowden from Hongkong to Moscow, Wolfgang Kaleck as one of Snowden lawyers and Ewan MacAskill, who met Snowden in Hongkong as a journalist of the Guardian, talked about their work with Snowden. This evening made it once more clear to us how important it is to save your own data with sensible passwords and cryptographic technique. But again Ellsbergs question to what extend a country can be democratic if the government knows all about their judges, journalists and citizen made us think.
On Sunday we met two young people, who came with their family to Stockholm to see the Award ceremony, and told them about the Youth Future Project.
On Monday morning we took part in a discussion between Alan Rusbridger, the chief-editor of the Guardian and Peter Wolodarski, the chief-editor of a big Swedish Newspaper. Rusbridger reported how vigorous the Guardian was criticized for their collaboration with Snowden. From a certain point the New York Times had to continue with the disclosures because the US-American press law is more liberal and the US-government is unable to prevent publication, differently to Great Britain. What is more he stressed right in the beginning that it is wrong to mistake the interests of a government with national security.
And then the long awaited evening came! The Award Ceremony in the Swedish Parliament was the highlight of our journey to Stockholm. The most exciting was the acceptance speech of Edward Snowden live via Skype; it was fascinating to hear him speak to you personally and he was rewarded for that with standing ovations which lasted several minutes. With regards to the content it was Bill McKibben who held the best speech since it was both, critical and activity-orientated. We got the opportunity to introduce us to all the laureates and tell them about the Youth Future Project. At the buffet afterwards and at the after show party we got an impression which people stand in context with the Right Livelihood Award.
To bring our trip to Stockholm to a close we went to the RLA office on Tuesday and met with Steffi Geilhof, our contact person, to talk about the cooperation between YFP and RLA and about possible challenges for the future.
Altogether we got on our train home with the heads full of new thoughts but also exhausted. We would like to thank the RLA for the opportunity to go to all these events and especially to the Award Ceremony.
Alessa, Frieder, Lena and Mascha