Rights of transgender people voiced by United Nations and High Commission of Canada

For the first time in Pakistan, the rights of transgender people were raised from the platform of United Nations on the eve of Human Rights Day. The day-long event, jointly organized by the UN Information Centre and the High Commission of Canada, brought together transgender activists, government representatives, parliamentarians, diplomats and UN experts.

The event featured two panel discussions. The first panel focused on education and economic empowerment for the transgender community. Speaking in the panel, trans community representative Maya Zaman said, “Education is the only way forward to enhance the potential of the community and have their valuable contribution to the economy.” Continue reading

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘Pakistan: No Place Like Home’

‘Pakistan: No Place Like Home’ is a passionate documentary that tells the story of a young man who leaves his village hoping to make a better living abroad.

In the remote Pakistani village of Hakimwala, farmers battle a deadly pest that is ruining their cotton crops. Many are unable to buy the pesticide and face mounting debts. The elders of the village encourage the young men to travel abroad to earn a better pay and help lift the village out of poverty. Continue reading

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘Non Assistance’

Since 2011, thousands of people have been seeking refuge in Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. The governments have responded by criminalizing the refugee influx. Walls are being built, crossings are made illegal and people are forced to put their lives in danger again. In the context of general indifference, individuals try to bring a little humanity into this unprecedented crisis by helping the refugees in different ways. Some charter boats to save the shipwrecked. Others host them on land, and yet others file criminal complaints against States for having failed to provide assistance to people in danger.

The documentary titled ‘Non Assistance’ screened at the United Nations Information Centre on 8 December shows that not only is it possible to save migrants at sea, but it is also necessary today to address migrations differently.

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘Kumu Hina’

Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams, and a young girl can rise to become a leader among men. United Nations Information Centre, in partnership with the High Commission of Canada, hosted the screening of documentary ‘Kumu Hina,’ which features the real story of Hina Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian transgender.

The screening of ‘Kumu Hina’ was a rare occasion, which brought together transgender activists from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Haripur, Lahore and Peshawar to raise voice for their rights. The documentary screening was preceded by two panel discussions. The first panel focused on education and economic empowerment for the transgender community, while the second panel revolved around healthcare and protection.

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Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘The True Cost’

Screened at the Embassy of Germany in Islamabad on 7 December, ‘The True Cost’ is a story about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. ‘The True Cost’ is a ground-breaking documentary that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider who really pays the price for our clothing. Continue reading

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘The Land of the Enlightened’

‘The Land of the Enlightened’ is a complex and occasionally opaque documentary set in Afghanistan. The film was screened at the Embassy of Belgium in Pakistan on 6 December as part of the human rights film festival.

A gang of Afghan kids from the Kuchi tribe dig out old Soviet mines and sell the explosives to children working in a lapis lazuli mine. When not dreaming of the time when American troops finally withdraw from their land, another gang of children keeps tight control on the caravans smuggling the blue gemstones through the arid mountains of Pamir. In this seamless blend of fictional and documentary form, we experience a stunning cinematic journey into the beauty of war-tormented Afghanistan. Continue reading

Networking lunch hosted for persons with disabilities

United Nations Information Centre, Islamabad, in partnership UN Women and the Royal Norwegian Embassy held an event to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This networking event provided community representatives, diplomats and colleagues from the UN family an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Pakistan and voice their ideas for the future. Those who attended the event included the head of Pakistan’s Para Climbing Club Suleman Arshad, who has a visual impairment, and Abia Akram, the first Pakistani and the first woman with a disability to become Coordinator for the Commonwealth Young Disabled People’s Forum. Continue reading

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘Lampedusa in Winter’

The Italian “refugee island” of Lampedusa is in the firm grip of winter. Tourists have left. The remaining refugees fight to be taken to the mainland. As a fire destroys the worn down ferry that connects the island to Italy, Mayor Giusi Nicolini and the local fishermen struggle for a new ship.

A tiny community at the edge of Europe is engaged in a desperate struggle in solidarity with those who many consider the cause of the European refugee crisis: the African boat people. Continue reading

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘A Walnut Tree’

“I can’t take it anymore! This is no life. I have to return home!” cried the old man bitterly.

“But you cannot. You will be killed there. You will be dead,” argued the son.

“I am as dead here as I would be there,” replied the old man.

This dialogue captures the essence of ‘A Walnut Tree’ – the emotional and psychological trauma faced by the internally displaced persons of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan torn by war. Continue reading

Human Rights Through Cinematography festival: ‘El Rayo’

After spending thirteen years in Spain, Hassan is jobless and decides to go back home to Morocco. He invests all his savings in a second hand tractor and takes to the road. At the end of the road awaits his family and a new life in his village. The film ‘El Rayo’ captures a real journey played by a real man who travels from town to town meeting with unforgettable characters and overcoming obstacles. Continue reading