Human rights organization WITNESS celebrated its Annual Focus For Change Benefit Thursday night at ArtBeam, raising funds to support its programs to train and equip people worldwide using video in their fight for human rights.

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, executive director and WITNESS co-founder, musician, human rights advocate Peter Gabriel
Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, executive director and WITNESS co-founder, musician, human rights advocate Peter Gabriel

Hosted by WITNESS co-founder and renowned musician Peter Gabriel, the evening honored human rights defenders around the world who often risk their lives to share stories of courage.

“Video technology has not only changed the world, it has given us more ways to be courageous,” said Gabriel. “That’s true for the young woman in Hong Kong, as well as for the young man in Ferguson, Missouri or Gaza, each with his or her own camera. And WITNESS is making courage more effective, ensuring that video and the people who hold these cameras can deliver on their potential for change.”

Citizen journalists working inside Syria, like Rami Jarrah and his Activists News Association, were given special acknowledgment. Rami and citizens like him, have turned to video to shape stories like his report about women giving birth during the conflict, inspiring empathy in a world fatigued by war images.

WITNESS has been there to support them. In Rami’s own words (delivered on his behalf by WITNESS’ Raja Althaibani): “By providing expertise around how to make safer and better media, WITNESS has been a steadfast partner to hundreds of activists who are getting these essential stories out while working under horrific risk. For this we are deeply grateful.”

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, Executive Director of WITNESS, reiterated the organization’s dedication to activists like Rami, and emphasized its strategic role in making sure that videos can be used not just to expose abuses, but to end them.

Source: PR Newswire

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