Friday 9 December 2016

Activism 'critical in overthrowing dictatorships'

Ciara Treacy

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

Mary Lawlor. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography
Mary Lawlor. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

The "critical role" of defenders in states transitioning from dictatorships to democracies was the main discussion point of the Annual Front Line Defenders Lecture.

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Professor Jan Sokol, a Czech philosopher and former politician, joined Front Line Defenders, University College Dublin and Trinity College at the Royal Irish Academy for the event.

He recounted his experience of the Czechoslovakian transition to democracy and discussed his views on the necessity of "dissident" positions in transitioning states and authoritarian regimes.

"The courage and activism of a small group of dissidents was a very significant factor in my country freeing itself from 40 years of dictatorship and taking its place, to my great happiness, alongside Ireland and 24 other countries in the European Union," he said.

Front Line Defenders Executive Director Mary Lawlor said his insights "will be of huge benefit" to the organisation, which is "dedicated to protecting human rights defenders at risk who work for the rights of others and to help build civil and just societies".

Irish Independent

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