Global Reporting at the Swedish Forum for Human Rights 2012


Susanna Wasielewski Ahlfors and Jana Fralova from Global Reporting were in Gothenburg during the Swedish Forum for Human Rights 2012 where they led discussions about development cooperation for culture and the situation in the Ethiopian Ogaden province. The Swedish Forum for Human Rights is an annual event with dialogues, debates, workshops and seminars.

Susanna moderated a seminar about the role of culture in development cooperation, organised by the National Theatre and the publishing house Ordfront. It was an hour of interesting discussion about the strong force of culture that can contribute to social change, how the perception about the role of culture has changed and how much has the state’s development aid for cultural projects has declined over the past few years. In the panel were Ida Burén from Intercult, Rani Kasapi from the National Theatre and Nisha Besara from the Postcode Lottery’s culture foundation.

Jana led a discussion with the Ethiopian Abdullahi Hussein Ali, who revealed earlier this year that the film evidence against the two Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye was fabricated. Abdullahi told about the serious crimes committed in the Ogaden province and how he decided to leave his job as a state employee in Ethiopia and seek asylum in Sweden.

Jana Fralova also spoke at the TEDx-event held during the Swedish Forum for Human Rights. The topic was identity and human rights and Jana chose to highlight a complex issue – a Belarusian identity.

– Every third citizen in today’s Belarus identifies themselves as Soviet citizens, even though the Soviet Union had collapsed more than twenty years ago. At the same time, more and more Belarusians see themselves as Europeans and wish to highlight the European heritage.

There are several arguments for why one should put on the human rights eyeglasses when discussing the Belarusian identity, says Jana.

– The Belarus state propagates an active pro-Russian cultural policy while the independent Belarusian culture is stifled. For example, there are several blacklisted Belarusian-speaking musicians who are not allowed to perform in front of an audience, and the Independent Writers Union is being harassed.

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