Our aim is for everyone in the network of Human Rights Houses to first and foremost be the micro societies that we aim to live in. Where the values of democratic decision-making, appreciation of an individual and their dignity, respect to all, openness, diversity, responsibility, tolerance, cooperation and non-discrimination are fully respected. At House Treff 2022, everyone gathered shared how these values are tested in times of crises and agreed that adhering to them is as important as ever.
Daiva Petkeviciute, Human Rights House Foundation
This year’s House Treff*, the second of its kind, came at a very significant moment in the history of the network of Human Rights Houses. It is the first in-person meeting of the network since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, and since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The event united 19 participants from 10 Human Rights Houses representing 9 countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucasus.
House Treff 2022 focused on discussing the impact of these crises on good governance of organisations and well-being of staff, and how the network of Human Rights Houses can meet these and other common challenges facing human rights defenders in our region.
Uniting in solidarity for colleagues facing unprecedented crises
Among the world events that shaped the subject matter of House Treff 2022, was the human rights crisis in Eastern Europe, namely the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the massive and renewed crackdown on civil society in Belarus since 2020.
Participants of House Treff were able to come together for several events in solidarity with their colleagues from these two countries.
On 21 September 2022, the network of Human Rights Houses and members of the public stood in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and Belarusian civil society.
Participants of the peaceful demonstration, held in front of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, show their support for the people of Ukraine paying for their freedom with their lives, as well as call for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus who are behind bars for their legitimate human rights work.
Photos from the demonstration can be found here.
The demonstration was co-organised by Human Rights House Foundation, Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv, Human Rights House Crimea, Viasna, Belarusian Association of Journalists, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, and Barys Zvoszkau Belarusian Human Rights House.
On 20 September 2022, the Barys Zvoszkau Belarusian Human Rights House organised an evening of solidarity with political prisoners in Belarus. Together, participants of House Treff called for the release of their friends and colleagues behind bars, along with all other political prisoners in the country.
House Treff 2022 was co-funded by the European Union and implemented by Human Rights House Foundation as a part of the STRONG Civil Society project.
House Treff was started in 2018 and was designed to bring staff and representatives of Human Rights Houses together to discuss common challenges facing human rights organisations. Through interactive group work and sharing, participants are able to establish greater connections, help each other address common challenges and identify collaboration opportunities.
*“Treff” is a Norwegian word for a nice and informal meeting.