Human Rights Day 2016

In cooperation with the Embassy of Switzerland and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Sarajevo Film Festival will host the Human Rights Day for the eight year in a row.

As part of the activities marking the Human Rights Day, to be held on Tuesday, August 16th 2016, Sarajevo Film Festival will organize a special programme, featuring a screening of the film AMONG THE BELIEVERS directed by Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi, as well as a panel at the Meeting Point Cinema. The topic of this year’s Human Rights Panel is CAN WE FIGHT VIOLENT EXTREMISM WITH EDUCATION?

Long underfunded and entirely disintegrated, Pakistan's system of public education has been further devastated by militant violence in recent years. Although it has never been satisfactory, for the past decade the educational system in Pakistan has shown further decline with parallel educational systems (public, private and madrassas), a lack of access to quality education, inadequate government investment, corruption and a lack of institutional capacity. With 43% of illiteracy and 17.2% of the total population living below the poverty line, it remains clear that for many Pakistanis, an education is still considered a privilege, especially in the rural areas. According to the annual Pakistan Education Statistics report for 2014-2015, a staggering 24 million Pakistani children are out of school, laying bare the state of education in a country where around a quarter of the population is believed to be under 16. These are the children who became the most vulnerable targets of indoctrination, identity-construction, and value changes by various extremists groups.

AMONG THE BELIEVERS — the latest documentary by film-makers Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi is a painful reminder of the critical ideological battles that currently divide Pakistan. For members of a foreign audience, it is an insight into the plurality of a country that is too often and too conveniently buried under monolithic stereotypes of extremism, backwardness and violence. The film gives an insight into madrassas across Pakistan run by controversial cleric and leader of Lal Masjid mosque in Islamabad, Maulana Abdul Aziz, accused to have close ties with jihadi groups. Besides showing the threat of fundamentalist ideologies, the film addresses the failure of the State in providing basic necessities such as food, economic security and education to its population, creating a vacuum for people like Maulana Abdul Aziz to build their case on.

Keeping in mind that Pakistan has suffered the most attacks on educational institutions in recent decades, it is quite clear that secular education remains one of the biggest threats to thriving extremist propaganda. Education is a unique service – not only because it involves a country’s most precious resource, its children – but also because, by increasing human capital, it strengthens the society not only in the present, but in the future. Therefore, the real battle against terrorism and extremism in all its form begins in our classrooms.

How can we combat violent extremism through education? Can new ideas defeat ideologies? How can educational curricula be updated to improve quality and remove divisive and discriminatory narratives, as well as include broader teaching on peace, pluralism and tolerance? What is the role of religious leaders in preventing radicalization and violent extremism? Should religion be taught in schools? – these are some of the questions that will be addressed at this year’s panel debate organized within the Human Rights Day of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Competition Programme – Documentary Film of Sarajevo Film Festival showcases films inspired by various aspects of human rights. By marking this special day we aim to further emphasize the importance of film as a significant and powerful medium for the promotion of human rights. The films and topics chosen each year for marking the Human Rights Day provide an opportunity for panel participants, the audience and the media to discuss pressing issues currently faced by individuals or communities in the world.

Last but not the least - the Human Rights Award, awarded to a film in the Competition Programme - Documentary Film that best deals with human rights issues will be given at the official awards ceremony of the Sarajevo Film Festival Its prize of 3.000 Euros is provided by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. 

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