There is power in the peaceful fight for human rights, but the agendas need to be united and the groups, instead of being fragmented, need to walk side-by-side. Delivered by two icons of the struggle for democracy – Vera Jarach, of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo – Founding Line, and Kumi Naidoo, one of the leaders of the movement against apartheid and executive director of Greenpeace – this message of hope and inspiration marked the end of the 14th International Human Rights Colloquium. Jarach, in-person, and Naidoo, by video, participated on the panel “When demands are heard – Historic experiences and reflections for the future”, which brought the conference to a close.
Besides stressing that gender, color and class equality are all demands of the same struggle, Naidoo emphasized the need to restore the political engagement of the population. “Changes are only possible when the common people believe in them,” he said.
The South African activist also spoke about the current challenges for activism in a context of constant surveillance through social networks and information control by authoritarian governments.
Jarach, meanwhile, defended memory as an act of resistance. The activist pointed out that events such as the holocaust and the countless dictatorships and genocides, plus the kidnapping of her own daughter by the Argentine civil-military dictatorship, are examples of the cyclical repetition of historical errors.
“Problems are always repeated, so struggles always need to be renewed. I have an appeal: don’t abandon the public squares, create crowds,” said Jarach.
The voices of these two long-time activists, who reflected on the future of the streets, brought the 14th Colloquium to a close with a message of justice, democracy and, above all, hope. “The street is the best place in the world to stage our struggles,” concluded Jarach.
Watch the testimony of Kumi Naidoo for the XIV Conference ::