Conference on Human Rights in Challenging Times

Conference on Human Rights in Challenging Times

Conference on Human Rights in Challenging Times
Conference on Human Rights in Challenging Times

The Conference on Human Rights in Challenging Times will be held as part of the Human Rights Platform Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the Human Rights Platform Association.

The conference will consist of four main sessions titled 'Monitoring Human Rights Violations in Prolonged Conflicts', 'Peace Building and Human Rights Activism', 'Racism, Refugees and Discrimination', and 'Hate Speech Against Freedom of Expression. The Conference will provide a forum for discussion and learning for experts working in the field.

Date: 10 December 2022 (Saturday) 
Time: 09.15 – 16.30 
Place: Merit Nicosia - Reha Arar Meeting Hall, 9th Floor

✅ Participation is free. 
✅ Simultaneous translation in Turkish and English will be provided throughout the conference.

09:00 - 09:15: Registration
09:15 - 10:15: Opening Speeches

Keynote Speakers

Emine Çolak
Emine Çolak is a London trained Lawyer/Barrister and has been practising at the Turkish Cypriot Bar since 1982. Since then, she has also trained and worked in mediation, negotiation, facilitation and conflict resolution. She has extensive experience in defending cases on civil liberties, political and human rights and is behind several important precedents set in the Turkish Cypriot courts. She has also been an NGO activist for decades in the fields of reconciliation, fundamental human rights and was instrumental in the formation of specific NGO’s to work in gender equality, refugee, patients and LGBTQ+ rights. She is a founder and was also Chairperson for 10 years of the Turksih Cypriot Human Rights Foundation. Emine worked directly in the preparatory stage of the Annan Plan before the referendum in 2004, coordinating teams negotiating the treaties and laws to be attached to the comprehensive settlement. Emine Çolak is a member of Women Mediators across the Commonwealth Network and a member of its Steering Committee as well as being a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and a co-founder of its Cyprus Antenna.

Achilleas Demetriades
Achilleas joined the firm in 1988. He has developed a broad practice that includes intellectual property, competition law and human rights, representing both national and international clients and has over 30 years’ experience in representing clients before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). He litigates human rights cases both before the Cyprus Courts as well as the ECtHR and the UN Human Rights Council. He has also been active in proposing and lobbying for legislation to implement human rights related amendments and has given lectures and contributed to a number of papers on Human Rights. Between 2015 – 2021 he served as the Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the Cyprus Bar Association. Moreover, he is a founding member of the NGO TRUTH NOW in Cyprus. He is a European Patent Attorney, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and has a keen interest in intellectual property matters, acting only on behalf of rights-holders and preparing and executing anti-piracy plans. He also advises on pharmaceutical regulatory matters and assists startups, was heavily involved in the drafting and enactment of the Patents Law in 1998 and is a founding member of the Copyright Association in Cyprus. Achilleas is frequently asked to speak on copyright issues as well as on human rights matters, particularly with regard to the property and missing persons issues arising from the Cyprus Problem. He is married to Yvonne Asprides and have two sons, Alexandros and Paris.

10:15 - 11:15: First Session

1st Session: Monitoring of Human Rights Violations in Prolonged Conflicts

Moderator: Fezile Osum
Fezile Osum graduated from the Law Faculty of University of Kent and holds an Human Rights Law (LLM) degree from İstanbul Bilgi University. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Central Lancashire and her research involves conflict-related sexual violence and transitional justice mechanisms. She previously involved in civil society projects concerning anti-trafficking, refugee rights and gender equality. Her current role in the Human Rights Platform is Anti-Trafficking and Refugee Rights Programme Coordinator, under the project funded by the EU.


Dilan Elveren
Dilan Elveren is the General Coordinator of the Democracy, Peace and Alternative Politics Association (DEMOS). She graduated from Middle East Technical University (METU), Department of Sociology and continues her master's degree in the same department. Her research focuses on sacred sites, Alevism, social peace and social memory from an inclusive gender perspective. As of August 2022, through various activities at DEMOS, she continues to work to ensure that women, LGBTI+ and youth become active actors in possible peace and transition processes and to support their participation in these processes.

Samir Kazimli
Samir Kazimli born in 1982 in the Fuzuli district of Karabakh, Azerbaijan. From 2000-2004, Kazimli acquired a bachelor’s degree in journalism in Baku. From 2000-2011, he worked as a journalist in several newspapers. Since 2011, Kazimli started working in the field of Non-Governmental Organizations as a human rights defender. Kazimli has mainly been involved in the defence of violations of fundamental freedoms - freedom of assembly, association, and freedom of expression. He has also worked on election observation. At the same time, He has taken part in the protection of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and in compiling lists of political prisoners. He has worked in the Alliance for the Protection of Political Freedoms, Election Monitoring and Democracy Center Public Unions. Since 2017, Kazimli has been working as the deputy chairperson of the Institute for Citizen Rights. The Institute for Citizen Rights is a non-profit, impartial, non-governmental organization that promotes transparency and accountability in government, the rule of law and responsible society, and supports democracy, good governance and fair elections through increasing citizen participation.

Prof. Dr. Ali Dayıoğlu
Ali Dayıoğlu is Professor in the Department of International Relations, European University of Lefke, Northern Cyprus. He researches and writes on the Turkish-Muslim minority in Bulgaria and Greece, the non-Muslim minorities in Turkey, and on nationalism, minorities, and Islam in Cyprus.

Zaid Shuabi
Zaid Shuaibi is a Palestinian activist. Currently he is the Coordinator of the Field Research Unit at ALHAQ, the first Human Rights organization in the Middle East since 1979.His work concentrates on monitoring and documenting human rights violations against Palestinian people living under Israeli colonial regime. He holds an MA in International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),UK, where his research focused on China and East Asia relations with Israel and its effect on the region, as well as a BA in Public Administration from Birzeit University, Palestine. Zaid previously served as the BDS National Committee Outreach Officer in Palestine and the Arab World. He led many grassroots campaigns to hold perpetrators accountable and seek justice to Palestinians against the violations. 

11:15 - 11:45: Coffee Break
11:45 - 12:45: 2nd Session

2nd Session: Peace Building and Human Rights Activism

Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dilek Latif
Dilek Latif is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Cyprus International University. She obtained Ph.D from Middle East Technical University on ‘Peace building in Ethnically Divided Societies – The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina’. She was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding Programs of the California State University, and a research fellow at Boston University and the US Institute of Peace (USIP) as part of the Cyprus-America Scholarship Program. Her research interests are in the area of conflict resolution and peace studies, focusing on humanitarian action, peace building and reconciliation strategies in divided societies. Her research has been published on these issues in several international edited volumes and peer reviewed journals.

Prof. Dr. Hubert Fausmann
Professor Hubert Faustmann obtained his PhD in History from the University of Mannheim (1999). He is currently a Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Nicosia, where he has worked since 1999. Additionally, he is the director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Cyprus office since 2011. He was the editor in Chief of the refereed journal The Cyprus Review from 2006 until 2016. He co-writes the annual reports about Cyprus for the Political Data Yearbook of the European Journal of Political Research. He is also editor and one of the authors of the monthly FES Cyprus Newsletter. Professor Faustmann is an expert on British colonial Cyprus and post-independence Cypriot history and politics. His research also focuses on Hydrocarbon politics in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as the relationship between state and society where he focuses on Political Culture, Clientelism and Political Patronage. He is the author of Divide and Quit? British Colonial Policy in Cyprus 1878-1960, (MATEO (EBook), 1999) and is the editor/co-editor of several volumes, including: When the Cemetery Becomes Political, Dealing with the Religious Heritage in Multi-Ethnic Regions (Münster/New York, Waxmann, 2020); The Role of Education in Multicultural Cyprus (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017); An Island in Europe: The EU and the Transformation of Cyprus (I.B. Tauris, 2011); Reunifying Cyprus: The Annan Plan and Beyond (I.B. Tauris, 2009); The Government and Politics of Cyprus, (Peter Lang, 2008); Britain in Cyprus: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism 1878-2006, (Bibliopolis, 2006). He has published numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Erçakıca 
Mustafa Erçakıca, born in Famagusta on 03.06.1990, completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in the field of law at Eastern Mediterranean University. He completed his doctorate in Galatasaray University Social Sciences Institute Public Law Doctorate Program. He was a visiting researcher for six months at the University of Florence and two months at Sorbonne University. He currently works at the Faculty of Law at Cyprus International University and teaches courses related to international law. He has articles published in various peer-reviewed journals and three books.

Andromachi Sophocleous
Andromachi Sophocleous is a political theory graduate and a political analyst by profession. Besides being one of the founders of UniteCyprusNow movement, working for reconciliation and the reunification of the island, she has also been active in the Cypriot civil society for years. She has been working on projects seeking to generate discussion and critical thinking among locals about the country's complex political problem. As a political analyst she is providing political insights and research for international and local clients. Her current fields of expertise lie on the Cypriot political sphere and the rise of the far right, the local media setting, the Cyprus problem, and natural gas developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. In her research, she has looked , among others, into hate speech in the Cypriot political system and the local media setting in relation to the Cyprus problem. She is also co-producing Nicosia Uncut political podcast at Island Talks, a trilingual podcast station of Cyprus.

12:45 - 13:45: Lunch Break
13:45 - 14:45: 3rd Session

3rd Session: Racism, Refugees and Discrimination

Moderator: Deniz Altıok
Deniz holds an LLb degree from University of Kent and an MSc degree Global Governance and Policy Analysis from University of West of Scotland. She has been working very closely with refugees and asylum-seekers as their legal advisor under the ‘’Strengthening Asylum in Cyprus’’ project from 2018 to 2022, which is implemented with the partnership of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cyprus and the Refugee Rights Association. She is currently the Project Coordinator of EU funded “Better Together” project at Refugee Rights Association which is focusing on awareness raising, advocacy and fundraising about refugees, combatting human trafficking and racism. Deniz has an expert knowledge on the legal framework, administrative mechanisms and available services for refugees and asylum seekers in the north and over 4 years of experience in advocacy for the promotion of refugee rights and LGBTI+ rights. Deniz is also the Secretary General of Queer Cyprus Association which is also a member of the Human Rights Platform.

Ashraf Saleem
Ashraf Saleem is the current president of VOIS Cyprus and a masters student in Healthcare Organizations Management. He did his bachelor in Psychology and is interested in organizational psychology, social psychology and current mental health practices. He has been involved in civil society work since 2015 and believes politics and speaking up against injustice is a basic human right and should be everyone's norm. He is a 23 years old Arab from Syria, and he loves nature and hiking.

Aimen Nabhani
Human rights and environment activist from Yemen. I work in cultural mediation and interpretation for the Refugee Rights Association under the UNHCR-funded project “Strengthening Asylum in Cyprus". We work against the shortcomings and violations of the universal right to seek asylum. I study International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law online at the University of Leiden. Over the past 8 years, I have engaged in a variety of youth-led initiatives and civil society organizations that work on human rights, peacebuilding, and environmental protection issues at local and international levels. The study of law, conflict resolution, and climate change are all areas where I find my passion.

Prof. Dr. Shenel Husnu 
Dr Shenel Husnu is a professor of social psychology in the Department of Psychology at Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), Cyprus. Shenel obtained a BSc in Psychology and MSc in Social Psychology from Middle East Technical University, Turkey and then a PhD at the University of Kent, UK in Group Processes and Intergroup Relations where she was also an assistant lecturer. Shenel also taught at the University of Derby, Department of Psychology for a year before moving to EMU. Shenel teaches undergraduate and graduate courses including the psychology of prejudice, gender issues in psychology and social psychology. Her research interests cover group processes and intergroup relations, focusing mainly on prejudice, sexism and heterosexism with an emphasis on prejudice reduction techniques. Her work has been published in international academic journals such as Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, European Journal of Social Psychology and Sex Roles. Shenel is a chartered member of the British Psychological Society, a member of the Turkish Psychological Society, European Association of Social Psychology and Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

14:45 - 15:15: Coffee Break
15:15 - 16:15: 4th Session


4th Session: Freedom of Expression vs Hate Speech


Erman Dolmacı
Erman is doing their PhD in University of Cyprus on Gender Studies and they worked in various projects implemented by Queer Cyprus Association. Currently they are working as a LGBTI+ Rights Programme Coordinator in Human Rights Platform. Beside their professional career Erman had nearly 10 years of LGBTI+ activism experience starting from their bachelor years in Turkey. They also volunteered in the non-governmental organizations such as Morel LGBTI, Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfı, Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation and Positive Think Initiative. Erman defends the intersectionality of the struggle in areas such as veganism, anti-militarism, feminism, ecology and LGBTI+ activism.

Didem Eroğlu
After completing her bachelor's degree in communication at Eastern Mediterranean University, Didem Eroğlu worked for a while in different institutions in Cyprus and Turkey in the field of public relations and media. Then, with the opening of the European Union Program Support Office in northern Cyprus in 2006, he worked as the local coordinator in TAIEX technical assistance department in different fields such as environment, agriculture, statistics and green line trade. In 2011, she completed her graduate program in Environment and Development at the University of Reading, UK and returned to the island. She has worked both voluntarily and professionally for over 10 years in different fields such as youth, sports, art and media studies in civil society. Today, Didem Eroğlu is one of the founding members of the Civil Society Initiative Association, which works on the development of civil society, which is indispensable for democracy, and the creation of a enabling environment, and her voluntary work in this field continues. She also works as the Democratic Rights Program Coordinator at the Human Rights Platform.


Ayşemden Akın
Ayşemden Akın graduated from EMU Journalism Department in 2005 with first place. During her student life, she worked for the school's Gündem Newspaper. After her graduation, she worked as a reporter in Ecoside, the first economy magazine of the north. In the same year, she started to write weekly articles in YeniDüzen Newspaper. In 2007, she worked as a news chief in the team at the establishment of Star Kıbrıs Newspaper. At the end of 2011, she went to England for three months for language training. Akın wrote a column in Afrika Newspaper. Akın started to work as the Editor-in-Chief of Star Kıbrıs Newspaper. Akın became the target of nationalists because of an article she wrote, she was demoted and resigned. In 2012, she assumed the responsibility of the press office of the Republican Turkish Party. After nearly nine years of tenure, she resigned from her job and founded the independent internet newspaper "Bugün Kıbrıs" with her friends. Akın is the winner of the Kutlu Adalı Press Award in the "Best News" category. She is also among the founders of the Third Community Forum, which works for a united federal Cyprus.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Özker Kocadal
Dr. Özker Kocadal is an assistant professor of international relations at Cyprus International University. He holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Exeter. His main research focus is mediation and peacebuilding in intrastate conflicts, and his more recent and secondary area of research is international migration and hate speech towards migrants and other minorities.

Yakup Kadri Karabacak
Karabacak completed his undergraduate education at Uludağ University Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of International Relations. During his student years he started to contribute at İnsan Hakları Derneği in Bursa.  From 2009-2017, Karabacak worked as the field manager of the  Türkiye Küçük Millet Meclisleri Project initiated by the Düşünce Suçu(!?)’na Karşı Girişim. He still continues to work on civil society activities within the scope of DSKG and Kamu Harcamaları İzleme Platformu.