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Stand by for Transmission: IOHR Launches first Human Rights TV channel

A packed Frontline Club, the mecca for journalists and activists alike, in central London on Tuesday night saw the International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) marking its one-year anniversary as well as its new partnership with This joint venture will produce the very first human rights TV channel and launch human rights web-TV content on an interactive platform, airing in January 2019.

IOHR might be a new human rights organisation, but it is truly representative of the 21st century and how to engage audiences whilst bringing human rights issues into people’s lives and into their homes. As well as TV, content will also be displayed on SoundBox Units, PCs, tablets and mobiles to give maximum coverage. The reach is a remarkable – 20 countries across Europe, Australia, Latin America and the Middle East.

On the collaboration Sylvain Thevenot, Managing Director of Netgem UK ltd said: 

“We are very pleased to work with the International Observatory of Human Rights to raise awareness of human rights issues. At Netgem, we believe that Technology Innovation should serve a purpose: over the last 20 years, we have always delivered more ways for TV viewers to expand the range of content they can enjoy.”

The award-winning BBC presenter Yalda Hakim, who presents the flagship news programme Impact, hosted the panel event that evening.  She was in talks with Valerie Peay, director of IOHR and Trish Lynch, the IOHRTV chief correspondent. 

Journalism and human rights can go hand in hand, as seen in Peay’s career with an extensive journalism background, working for Newscorp, to becoming the founder and director of a pioneering human rights organisation. Replying to Hakim’s question about the connection between these two areas. Peay said:

“It’s about press freedom as I have worked in media and I have a lot of friends who are journalists. When you see what’s happening in places like Turkey in Myanmar, locking up journalists and attacks on journalists. Over the years we had some fascinating conversations with the exiled journalists, who are here tonight, from Turkey so it was a no brainer to start to focus on press freedom […] With media you start to interview people and you find incredible stories and you realise that there’s a world that you can make a difference in from advocacy from telling people’s stories it’s a 30 second social media video it’s a tweet, or it’s a full-scale hour programme, there’s lots of options.”

It is really inspiring when going to a live panel discussion and seeing the passion and focus of the presenter and the panellists wanting to use their time and skills for the greater good. In the discussion one could see the conviction and the absolute, no holds barred attitude that positive change can and will happen. The content on IOHRTV reflects this attitude created by a team of human rights professionals and award-winning journalists with diverse backgrounds.

Lynch is also a journalist and worked as a former CNN and Sky News presenter. Hakim asked her about the fast pace of daily news and moving into the human rights sector.

“I think the wonderful thing for me was that it wasn’t just about the headline, the report, or the interview, yes it was all of those things, but it was also about a whole lot more. When we do the interview, we then follow it up on our social media. We now have social media in 10 different languages, which is phenomenal. We also have our online TV and our, soon to be, new platform and our partnership with Netgem. But then we take those stories on the road to local governments, to the parliament here in Westminster, and to parliaments around the world. We are now regulars at the United Nations. We have been hosting events all around the world and the results that we’ve had have been quite phenomenal.”

Hakim replied, “essentially this is a platform to give a voice to the voiceless.” So, what might this content look like? The incredibly comprehensive content available on IOHRTV and on starting January 2019 are as follows: 

NGO Focus is a talk show dedicated to showcasing the work of non-governmental organisations. The first episodes feature interviews with Save the Children, Refuge, Tern, Reset, and Care International.

#NotBornARadical is IOHRTV putting the focus on the terrorism dominating our headlines stories from the frontline including interviews with reformed Al Qaeda and ISIS members, and a series of interviews, including with an American former hostage who was kidnapped by Al Qaeda and held for two years in Syria. 

#BeARefugeeSponsor is heartfelt content focusing on portraying the agony millions of refugees endure worldwide. IOHRTV cameras travel to suburbs in the UK to get a glimpse of the reality of the individuals and groups who have sponsored Syrian refugees escaping the horror of war. What are governments like Canada, the UK and others doing to deal with the unprecedented displacement?

Violations of International Law, programming that captures the real-life stories of dual-citizens unjustly jailed in Iran, the Rohingya genocide, Yemen: the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and more eye-opening narratives that give a voice to the voiceless.

Advocacy in Education sees Trish Lynch moderating a panel discussion, held at the Sorbonne University in Paris, with families of jailed Turkish journalists and a separate discussion in the UK parliament about ill-treatment of dual-citizens jailed in Iran and used as bargaining chips. IOHR hosted a conference at King’s College in London on de-radicalisation bringing together experts on counter-terrorism from 10 nations, the UN, and the EU. In Germany, the IOHR team brought together the top experts on women in religious extremism and right-wing extremism.

Power of the People gives you the opportunity to watch the IOHR ambassadors, supporters and staff take to the street with their cameras to capture the word on the street: be it tens of thousands of protesters demonstrating against President Trump’s visit to London, or the UK calling a second vote on Brexit—voices of freedom.

In fact, the IOHR Ambassadors, a group of young students interested in human rights, attended the Frontline event and participated with the attendees in the production of a video campaign that will be launched worldwide to promote human rights causes and the values of the IOHR.

The panel discussion was followed by a mesmerising musical performance by Zayn Mohammed, an award-winning, multi-instrumentalist composer and guitar player, who played an Arabic and Persian piece on his oud. 

Overall, the evening had all the elements that would make a journalist and activist extremely excited, at a venue created to raise awareness about our world. We live in an age where we are more connected than ever before and yet although there have been major improvements for human rights globally, there is still a continuous fight to defend those rights. IOHR’s concept of the first TV channel for human rights is a landmark accomplishment. Because in order to transgress echo chambers and preaching to the converted, it is imperative to have one accessible place where the stories of human rights abuses and successes can reach a widespread audience. We need to connect to those who are unaware and inspire budding activists who can help to make change to our world not next year, not next week and not even tomorrow, but right now. Good things are coming in 2019, so stay tuned.

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