04. Social Well-being and Mental Health for Human Rights Defenders in the Eastern Partnership Region

Torsdag 14 november 2019 10:30 - 12:00 Operan

This session embraces the mental health problems and social well-being of human rights defenders and activists in the whole Eastern Partnership region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), and will highlight a few examples from some cases where poeple in the region have experienced especially high level of oppression and risks towards their work as human rights activists or journalists. For instance, LGBTI activists in Caucasus are very vulnerable due to the strong position of the Orthodox Church and conservative values. Moreover, independent journalists and activists in Belarus are suffering from serious safety threats and risks due to the restricted media freedom, which highly impact their mental health and social well-being.

Regardless of the topic they fight for, human rights defenders all share common challenges due to restrictions of fundamental freedoms and democracy and their right to health support needs to be addressed and emphasized. Therefore, this session will aim to highlight the critical developments of mental health problems and hampered social well-being among this group and address concrete examples of how one can support these health threats in terms of preemptive and proactive measures. The focus of this session goes well in line with both the topic of the Human Rights Days this year as well as the priorities of the new strategy for Swedish international development support with an increased focus on democratic processes in the Eastern Partnership region. 

The aim of the session is four-folded. Firstly, this session will showcase the scope of the health concept and how important it is to include the perspectives of mental health and social well-being when addressing health related issues. Secondly, the seminar aims to highlight current health challenges and risks for human rights defenders in general, and in the EaP region in specific. Thirdly, it will aim to address what steps that needs to be taken to limit and/or stop these mental health problems to grow. Finally, the session will aim to increase the knowledge among mental health problems and social well-being as a consequence of repressive states with a lack of freedom of speech and un-fulfilled human  rights. 

 Mr. Najmin Kamilsoy - PhD student at Charles University in Prague doing research on civil society and grassroot activism in the EaP region. Kamilsoy has actively been helping activists and former political prisoners by assessing their needs and to receive rehabilitation outside Azerbaijan. For his efforts to protect human rights and support pro-democratic initiatives in Azerbaijan, he has been awarded the Gratias Tibi Award of People in need in Prague 2019. 

Ms. Hasmig Tatiossian - has an academic background in International Relations, Human Rights and Conflict Transformation and is originally from Armenia but currently living in the US. She has organized various workshops with activists in Armenia tackling the issue of mental health by equipping activists with Tools and coping mechanisms to deal with trauma, mental health and social well-being. 

Mr. Franciak (Franak) Viacorka - is the vice president of the digital communication network and is currently working at U.S Agency for Global Media and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Belarus and has conducted trainings on digital communication and new media for activists and journalists from Europe and the US. For his activism and journalist work in Belarus, he was multiple times jailed by the regime of Alexandra Lukashenka. Franak's activism in Belarus has been chronicled by documentary filmmakers and recognized by many international organisations. 

The event is created based on cooperation between members of the Swedish Civil Society Network for EaP and Russia. The organisations involved are; Forum Syd, Sveriges Belarusier and United Nations Association of Sweden which all have long and strong cooperation with the EaP region.


Forum Syd, Svenska FN förbundet och Sveriges Belarusier


Demokrati, Hbtqia+, Jämlik hälsa, Jämställdhet, Psykisk hälsa



Prioriterade målgrupper

Civilsamhälle, Intresserad allmänhet, Media