Biram Dah Abeid to receive the 2020 Geneva Summit Courage Award
On 17 February 2020, Mauritanian politician and anti-slavery advocate Biram Dah Abeid is set to receive the 2020 Geneva Summit Courage Award for his “extraordinary courage in fighting slavery in Mauritania, in the defense of democracy and human rights.” Mr Dah Abeid, a long-time activist, has been the recipient of several awards for services to human rights and democracy promotion, such as the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, as well as an Honorary Doctorate from the Catholic University (KU) Leuven, Belgium.
As the founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA-Mauritania), Dah Abeid has devoted many years to the cause of abolition in one of the last countries in the world where widespread slavery is practiced.
These activities have brought him frequently to heads with the Mauritanian authorities, because of which he has served a number of stints in prison in Mauritania for his anti-slavery activities, demonstrations and protests. Moreover, thanks to his efforts, both domestic and international awareness of the issue of modern-day slavery and the lack of education and opportunities for those of the traditional slave class in Mauritania (known as Haratin) is growing.
Following his illegal detention for over a year, in 2016 Mr Dah Abeid defiantly proclaimed:
"I will do everything possible to demonstrate that slavery, racism and torture are set up as a system of management by a small entity around a very corrupt head of state."
In 2019, he declared that he would run as a candidate in the 2019 presidential election, where he managed to gain 18.58% of the vote.
The Geneva Summit is sponsored by a coalition of 25 human rights NGOs from around the world. This annual conference builds on the success and momentum of the previous gatherings, which have been widely acclaimed in the international human rights community.
On the eve of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s main annual session, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy assembles each year hundreds of courageous dissidents and human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders to shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention.
Each year, one of the human rights activists addressing the Geneva Summit is selected for special recognition. Previous laureates of the Courage Award include Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.
Photo by Jefunky