Premier Lecture Series: "The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights"- Irene Khan

Monday, November 2, 2009 - 7:00 PM
CIGI, 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Canada
Nov 2

About the lecture:

Despite economic growth in almost every corner of the world over the last decade, upwards of two billion people still live in poverty. In her recently published book, The Unheard Truth, Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan claims that economic solutions alone cannot end the problems of poverty. Poverty is first and foremost a problem of human rights.

During her lecture, Ms. Khan will present her argument, enriched by her own personal experience, that poverty entraps people into a vicious cycle of deprivation, insecurity and exclusion. She argues that the foremost challenge is to empower people who are excluded by poverty, and makes an urgent plea for action to uphold human rights in the fight to end poverty.

About Irene Khan:

In August 2001, Irene Khan became the first women, the first Asian and the first Muslim to head Amnesty International’s million person strong human rights movement.

Khan’s focus - like Amnesty International’s - has been to put people first. “Human rights violations are not committed against the ‘other side’ but against a mother, a sister, a brother, a son,” she says. “Our challenge is to [stand] in solidarity with the victims, to know their names, their faces, their identities, their stories.”

Born in Bangladesh, Khan has worked in many countries for the rights of refugees and displaced persons.

Since joining Amnesty, she has traveled the world to bear witness to the experiences of those whose basic rights have come under attack - and to voice an alternative vision to the new “war on terrorism.”

Lighting Human Rights Day candles with Afghan refugee children in Pakistan on December 10, 2001, Khan said that “The world does not need a war against ‘terrorism’, it needs a culture of peace based on human rights for all.”

Listening to the stories of injured Palestinian and Israeli civilians in the spring of 2002, she stressed that “There is no excuse for human rights abuse, whether in the name of security or in the name of liberation.”

Throughout her travels, Khan has pointed to governments - China, Egypt, Zimbabwe and others - that are using the “anti-terrorism” bandwagon to violently stifle political dissent. And each time her fundamental message has been clear and unequivocal: “No cause can justify the abuse of human rights.”

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