The second session of 2018 Aurora Dialogues in Armenia started with Alice Greenwald, President and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, greeting the audience. She introduced a session of inspiring one-to-one conversations between members of the Selection Committee and the 2018 Aurora Prize Humanitarians and reflected upon the source of inspiration they can may become for all of us. “We might imagine ourselves in their circumstances. We might ourselves become emboldened, because if they are able to do these things, perhaps we are too,” said Ms. Greenwald.
The conversations started with Selection Committee Member Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and Former Foreign Minister of Australia, interviewing Prajwala co-founder Sunitha Krishnan. Mr. Evans congratulated the 2018 Aurora Humanitarian on her success and asked her to list a few specific achievements she was especially proud of. “You have been described as a pocket dynamo, the tiny powerhouse from Hyderabad who since the establishment of Prajwala has achieved some really fantastic things,” said Mr. Evans. Sunitha Krishnan talked about prevention measures and slowly changing the mentality of people. “We have prevented several thousand children from being inducted into prostitution and sex trafficking. We have also engaged with men and boys, and I think this is something that has become quite successful,” she confirmed.
The second conversation featured Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, and the 72 founder Friar Héctor Tomás González Castillo. “It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to talk to you about you work,” said Ms. Robinson as she inquired about the personal motivation of the 2018 Aurora Humanitarian in his activity, especially when it comes to working with the LGBTQ community. “Within the vulnerable people there are some persons and groups that are much more vulnerable than the others. Those are women, children, and members of the LGBTQ community,” said Father Castillo. He also explained that people from the LGBTQ community faced oppression and violence both from the authorities and family members, making them especially defenseless.
The participants of the final conversation were Lord Ara Darzi, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at the Imperial College London, and Rohingya rights advocate Kyaw Hla Aung. Lord Darzi asked the 2018 Aurora Humanitarian to give some historical background to the conflict in the Rakhine state in Myanmar. Mr Aung has explained that the Rohingya Muslims have been living there or many generations but were now being prosecuted and discriminated against. “We are living there since decades and decades. Our forefathers and their forefathers are also from this Rakhine land,” he stressed out. In conclusion, Lord Ara Darzi has thanked Kyaw Hla Aung for his work and said it was a privilege to meet him. “You’ve shown a lot of bravery, which is not an easy thing to do,” Lord Dari added.
On June 9, 2018 the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative hosted the third annual Aurora Dialogues in Armenia, entitled “Inspire, Empower, Impact.” The conference was made possible by the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and through the collaboration with the Global Perspectives Initiative (GPI). Additional information about the first and third sessions is available here and here.