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Defending freedoms

Defending freedoms

The City of Paris is a worldwide symbol of human rights, individual rights and freedom of the press. This is a privilege but also a responsibility: that of promoting these values where they are scorned.


Pushing for freedom
In this era of globalisation, cities are among the rare pertinent strongholds of active democracy. This is why the City of Paris is particularly sensitive to initiatives which strive towards increasing freedom and strengthening fundamental rights. Some examples of the recent commitments made by City Hall are as follows:

Fostering dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority


At its level, the City of Paris is strongly committed to promoting Israelo-Palestinian dialogue: awarding the Françoise Seligmann prize for 2004 to Yasser Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin, for instigating the Geneva initiative for peace in the Middle East, inviting young Israelis and young Palestinians to the City Hall, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, organising concerts by the Orchestre de la paix (Peace orchestra) made up of musicians from the two countries, etc.

Paris also wants to contribute to creating opportunities to consider issues and express opinions regarding current strategic challenges.

The Paris Council has adopted clear stances


- Support for Safiya Husseini and Amina Lawal, sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria

- Against the death penalty at the time of the 1000th execution in the United States

- For the liberation of imprisoned Algerian journalists

- For ceasing proceedings against Orhan Pamuk, one of the most eminent secular Turkish writers, who denounced that the Armenian genocide is not recognised by Turkey

- For the liberation of a French journalist, a Belgian journalist and their Laotian interpreter imprisoned in Laos in 2003

- Support for those who are deprived of freedom through photos displayed on the front facade of the City Hall and the Place de la République: Frédéric Nérac, journalist and reporter cameraman who disappeared in Iraq; Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, journalists, then for Florence Aubenas, journalist, and her guide Hussein Hanoun, all four taken hostage in Iraq; Ingrid Bétancourt, a French-Colombian, taken hostage in the Colombian jungle, through the signature of petitions for her release during the Paris Plage event.

- Asylum was granted to writers persecuted throughout the world, when Paris joined the International Parliament of Writers chaired by Salman Rushdie, in November 2002.

- The City of Paris paid tribute to Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, and Layla Zana, the Kurdish Member of Parliament who was imprisoned in Turkey.

Defending freedom of the press

Beyond its symbolic image of freedom, Paris wants to remain a sanctuary for those who are in danger merely for doing their job.

From July 2002, Paris City Hall wanted to show significant support to the "House of Journalists" for the setting up of a temporary facility for foreign refugee journalists and journalists seeking asylum in France. This commitment has become a reality as a building owned by City Hall has been made available at 35 rue de Cauchy in the 15th arrondissement.

Citizens of honour of the City of Paris


Five people have been voted Citizens of honour by the Paris Council since the beginning of the term of office. They are five men and women who fight for democracy, human rights and freedom.

2005: Hauwa Ibrahim. This Nigerian lawyer volunteered to defend more than sixty women sentenced to death by stoning in her country. 
2004: Aung San Suu Kyi. Her peaceful fight for democracy in Burma led to long-term imprisonment. She has been under house arrest for almost ten years in Rangoon.
2003: Iouri Bandajevski. This Bylorussian professor was sentenced in his country in 2001 for having spoken about the authorities "inertia" to face the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe on the population.
2002: Ingrid Betancourt. The FARC, the Colombian guerrilla organisation, kidnapped this French-Colombian Member of Parliament in February 2002. Since then, Paris City Hall has been in constant contact with her family and support committee. 
2001: Mumia Abou Jamal. This American political prisoner and former journalist has been on death row since 1982. By supporting him, Paris continues its fight against capital punishment.



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