Since January 2013, Iuliana has been the Director of Centrul de Informare în domeniul Drepturilor Omului (Human Rights Information Center - CIDO) a non-governmental and non-partisan organization for the promotion of human rights and democracy in the Republic of Moldova. CIDO works on a range of human rights issues in Moldova, focusing primarily on the rights of women, LGBT individuals, ethnic and religious minorities, and the right to education for vulnerable groups. Along with the management of CIDO’s projects and activities, Iuliana works to develop and maintain key advocacy relationships with national and international organizations and agencies including United Nations agencies, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission. Iuliana’s current work focuses on the implementation of Moldova’s National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) and analyzing prog- ress made on the NHRAP for an alternative report to be submitted in advance of Moldova’s review before the Universal Periodic Review in 2016. Previously, Iuliana held positions with the National Youth Council (which held the secretariat for an informal Non-Discrimination Coalition) and served in an advisory position with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In 2011, Iuliana presented an alternative report on discrimination in Moldova to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on behalf of the Non-Discrimination Coalition. In addition to her duties at CIDO, Iuliana serves as the Project Coordina- tor for the National Partnership for Equal Rights project with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Ini- tiative in Moldova, focused on strengthening the capacity of LGBT and human rights groups in the country.
Founder, Youth for Justice
Nina Gelashvili became a human rights advocate after witnessing the injustices taking place in her home country, Georgia. She joined Human Rights Priority, a Tbilisi-based non-governmental organization, in 2009 to advocate for the rights of internally displaced persons as a result of the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. She investigated and documented human rights violations in Georgia and prepared cases heard by the European Court of Human Rights, specifically on the violation of the right to freedom of assembly and expression, prohibition of torture and right to property. In 2011, Nina co-founded Youth for Justice – Georgia, a non-governmental organization that advocates for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Georgia. Youth for Justice represents victims of human rights violations before domestic courts, and if need be, before the European Court of Human Rights. Through litigation, advocacy and monitoring, Youth for Justice brought about significant changes in national legislation and contributed to the creation of important precedents. Presently, prisoners’ right to health is the main priority of Youth for Justice. It seeks to address overcrowding and lack of medical care in the penitentiary system of Georgia. Youth for Justice recently received funding from the Open Society Foundation-Georgia to identify problems in the penitentiary system and provide recommendations, as well as provide legal assistance to prisoners who suffer from serious or incurable diseases. In 2012, Nina interned at the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) in London. As an intern at ICPS, Nina undertook substantive research and assisted governments and other relevant agencies to develop appropriate policies on prisons and the use of imprisonment. Nina holds an MA in Theory and Practice of Human Rights from Essex University and a BA in Law and Politics from the University College Roosevelt, the Liberal Arts and Science College of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She also holds a BA and an MA in Sociology from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in Georgia.
Founder, Most Mira
Kemal Pervanic, a survivor of the Omarska concentration camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was one of nine human rights activists in the 2012 Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) at ISHR. As a part of HRAP, Pervanic engaged in workshops on ethics and compliance, effective organization management, and professional fundraising; audited three courses and two seminars; and gave talks at educational institutions in New York City including Columbia and John Jay College. Pervanic plans to incorporate the skills he acquired through HRAP to further develop Most Mira (Bridge of Peace), an organization that he founded in 2005. Most Mira hosts annual arts festivals for five to 14-year-old youths of diverse backgrounds in Prijedor, Bosnia. These community-wide events have worked to bridge the gap between the Serbian and Muslim communities in Bosnia.
His overarching search for collective reconciliation and forgiveness in Prijedor began with his personal experience as a detainee in the Omarska camp, established by Serbian forces to contain primarily the Bosnian Muslims. A concentration camp often compared with those of the Nazis, Omarska remained in Pervanic’s memory as a place of physical torture and uncertainty of survival. Even more grueling for Pervanic, however, were the challenges to his mental stability. Engraved in his mind was the realization that he would not be returning home, as he witnessed his village on fire and engulfed in smoke. Guards tortured and terrorized prisoners who watched the village burn or even looked around to prevent them from escaping. Perhaps the most striking and grueling experience for Pervanic was the fact that some of these guards were none other than his former classmates and teachers—they were not faceless enemies. “I was released but not free,” Pervanic commented as he recollected his experience of seeking psychosocial support in the face of social risk and stigma. His experience in the Omarska camp and the violence he witnessed shaped the lens through which he perceived the world around him. Although he was physically free from torture, he could not simply dismiss the impact the concentration camp had in shaping his life.
What is needed to alleviate this problem, Pervanic said, is a common experience, a community-wide act rather than mere speech. This philosophy, in fact, serves as the basis of Most Mira, which brings youth of the divided communities together to create and perform works of art and dance, providing the participants and the audience an opportunity to learn about and develop understanding between each other. Perhaps most importantly, Most Mira’s communal festivals not only showcase collective effort and cooperation but also represent acts of reconciliation—the willingness of both communities of divided Bosnia to put aside past conflicts and come together. In Most Mira’s annual events, the children of former guards at the camp—Pervanic’s classmates and teachers—participate alongside Muslim youths. The Most Mira events allow people to face their “enemies” and to reconnect with former friends and family members. To this day, Pervanic personally embodies this mission, as he visits the houses of friends who were previous guards and drinks coffee with them, developing even stronger relationships and breaking down potential fears and discomforts.