There is no shortage of challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. These challenges are made even more difficult when external forces, such as the recent YouTube video, fuel anger, resentment and tragic violence. Unfortunately, we don't hear enough about the incredibly inspiring work of organizations promoting human rights and non-violent democratic advocacy in countries like Tunisia.
Earlier this year I
traveled to Tunisia to observe a training session for our New Tactics in Human
Rights work. It was a different situation for me because I typically facilitate
trainings with human rights defenders from around the world so they can be more
strategic and tactically effective in their work.
Bodour Heyari and Nancy Pearson at the workshop in Tunisia.
|But the leaders of this session were two people from Lebanon
I had trained (one man and one woman) so they could lead these workshops in the
Middle East. This is all part of the New Tactics Middle East North Africa (MENA)
initiative that began in 2009 to support and encourage human rights defenders
in the region.
The workshop was conducted in Arabic (with a bit of French
thrown in), and our New Tactics MENA Senior Translator and Project Assistant,
Bodour Heyari, provided outstanding whispering translation. But the sense of
energy and enthusiasm among the defenders didn’t need to be translated.
The participants, including artists, journalists, students,
lawyers and others, are energetic and enthusiastic about their work. They are bursting
with hopes for their country, but at the same time, they are realistic about
the incredible challenges and dangers they face.
After the five-day training the New Tactics program manager
Kate Kelsch and I left filled with hope and admiration for the men and women
who are on the leading edge of societal change in Tunisia.
We are continuing our partnership with the Arab Institute
for Human Rights in Tunisia, with plans for another workshop in late October. We
hope you’ll join us in supporting these courageous individuals.
With warm regards,
New Tactics in Human Rights Training Manager
P.S. Learn more about New Tactics in Human Rights and join the online
community on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you to Open Society
Foundations – MENA and the Human Rights Division of the
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their support of our work.
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