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Women human rights defenders speak out through storytelling and art

6 December 2011
Commonwealth events to commemorate World Human Rights Day on 10 December

A week of events to highlight human rights issues in the Commonwealth began yesterday with the testimony of Ugandan activist Marjorie Nshmere Ojule.

Her account of why she fled Uganda and then her experience of seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, was read by Christine Bacon, Artistic Director of Ice & Fire, a theatre company which explores human rights stories through performance. Ms Ojule answered questions about her brutal ordeal at the hands of police in Uganda followed by her harrowing experience seeking asylum in the UK.

Nita Yawanarajah, Adviser and Head of Good Offices Section, Political Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat who chaired the event, said the week would raise awareness on the work of human rights defenders in the Commonwealth. Yesterday’s event sought to raise awareness on the issue of the rights protection of asylum seekers.

The theme of the week is ‘Women Human Rights Defenders: Agents of Change within Commonwealth Communities’.

The line-up of activities include an art exhibition from women artists in the Commonwealth, a docufilm on the plight of women who have been branded witches in Ghana, a cultural event and a roundtable on the issue of forced marriage.

Karen McKenzie, Acting Head of the Human Rights Unit at the Secretariat informed that these events also serve as part of their human rights mainstreaming and awareness raising activities in compliance with the Commonwealth Secretariat Strategic Plan.