The Hague Defenders Days 2016

Let’s celebrate and discover the rebel in you!

From 5 - 10 December 2016 Justice and Peace organised the first edition of the The Hague Defenders Days, featuring a photo exhibition, film screening, University Talk, debate and the Human Rights Ball. Around 950 people celebrated this way the International Human Rights - and Human Rights Defenders Days in the City of Peace and Justice. They met international and Dutch human rights defenders, debated about their rights, were challenged to think out of the box and exchanged their views and dancing styles at the Human Rights Ball. 

@DigitalRightsPK (Digital Rights Foundation of Nighat Dad, Winner of the Human Rights Tulip 2016)
'You live in constant fear, watch & monitoring. But the dedication in you is what keeps you moving forward.' @nighatdad @Justice_PeaceNL

Reinforcing human rights work

Every day, thousands of people around the world struggle to improve human rights in their society. They seek to bring justice, facing risks and threats caused by governments and non-state actors who are cracking down on anyone who's pressing for reforms. Since a record number of countries pass restrictive laws and curtail activity the work of human rights defenders is becoming increasingly more difficult yet important. With the The Hague Defenders Days Justice and Peace Netherlands seeks to raise Dutch awareness and support for the grassroots human rights defenders we are working with in our trainings and our temporary relocation programme Shelter City.  

Testimonial at the Human Rights Ball. By Shamim, Pakistani participant of the The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders on Security and Advocacy. (Picture by Daniella van Bergen)

Nighat Dad, winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip 2016. Justice and Peace supported the winner (in The Netherlands) by organising a tailor-made training and outreach programme.

Besides the International Days of Human Rights and Human Rights Defenders (9 - 10 December), other reasons for organizing the The Hague Defenders Days were the The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders (THTC) and the visit of the winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip Award 2016, Pakistani online women's rights activist Nighat Dad. 


So, what is a human rights defender?

In different countries and different situations these peaceful actors of change are called rebel, activist, hero, troublemaker, dissident, free spirit, idealist, radical, eccentric, revolutionary, rioter, sometimes even traitor or enemy of the state.

We are all human. We all have rights. We can all be a human rights defender.

Photo exhibition We are all human rights Defenders

From 5 - 10 December Justice and Peace showed this photo exhibition in Het Nutshuis featuring portraits of 24 international and Dutch human rights defenders made by photographers Anette Brolenius and Daniella van Bergen. The exhibition was opened by The Hague alderman Ingrid van Engelshoven, followed by speeches of BeyonG (Dutch trans gender) and the two photographers. The exhibition is available to be hosted elsewhere in The Netherlands.

"In this exhibition photographers Anette Brolenius and Daniella van Bergen remind us of two things. Their pictures remind us of  the importance of your role in keeping human right defenders on the forefront of the agenda.

At the same time they remind us of the personal costs. Both for human rights defenders who have come from abroad and Dutch human rights defenders. Pictures that will help young people learn about the experiences of human rights defenders.

Experiences that should be shared in order to protect your role in the future." (Opening speech by The Hague alderman Ingrid van Engelshoven, 5 December 2016)


Opening of the Photo exhibition We are all human rights defenders featuring pictures of international and Dutch human rights defenders by Anette Brolenius and Daniella van Bergen. 

Portraits by Daniella van Bergen

Portraits by Anette Brolenius

News article AD Haagsche Courant 5/12/2016 about the photo exhibition and Shelter City The Hague candidate Tomy from Honduras.

Outreach (film / university Tour)

The film screening Out & About and the Human Rights University Tour The Hague provided open forums for outreach and dialogue about LGBT rights and women’s rights and the dangers they face online as well as offline. During the discussion at The Hague University moderator Hassnae Bouazza brought to the surface the number of women who have been murdered worldwide because their privacy was invaded or published on the internet. After the screening of the worldwide campaign documentary Out & About a panel of Dutch and international LGBTI activists debated with the audience about the harsh situation LGBTI people and their families face in too many restrictive countries worldwide. 

"Learning about women's rights & discovering the impact of the wrong use of internet @nighatdad @Justice_PeaceNL #WeAreAllHumanRightsDefenders" (Twitter visitor)


Debate Rebels with a cause / B-Unlimited

What makes a human rights defender? Why do peaceful change makers rise and why do they persevere in spite of of the counteraction, exclusion or threats they regularly encounter? Nighat Dad, Pakistani winner of the Dutch Human Rights Tulip award 2016 and online women's rights defender, cre-activist Saskia Stolz and conflict area journalist Minka Nijhuis shared their experiences and discussed these questions, led by moderator Hassnae Bouazza. 

"A society that has access to as much information as possible is by definition a more democratic society." (Minka Nijhuis)

"I hate indifference. People didn't react to my disturbing Facebook message about the torture of a 6 year old Syrian kid, but they reacted when I drew the boy and made T-shirts with this drawing. Art is a weapon to open eyes." (Saskia Stolz, Power of Arthouse)

"Let's be honest: it is an adventurous life!" (Minka Nijhuis)


Party / Human Rights Ball

On International Human Rights Day the office building of Justice and Peace, Het Nutshuis, was the scene of the Tulip Award ceremony and the Human Rights Ball. A full house of Dutch and international people, students, human rights defenders, politicians, NGO, University and Ministry staff celebrated the human rights values, diversity, tolerance and an open mind! 

We are all human rights defenders!

(Pictures by Daniella van Bergen)

Writing postcards to human rights defenders

Testimonial by Femke Sleegers, The Hague Fossil Free

Spicy music by DJ Socrates


Postcards for the human rights defenders

The The Hague Defenders Days were sponsored by the Municipality of The Hague and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.