Five years Shelter City Utrecht event: inspiring words and premiere of the documentary about Caroline Rucah

On Wednesday October 13, we celebrated the five year anniversary of Shelter City Utrecht. During the evening we shined light on the human rights defenders that came from all over the world to Utrecht to join the Shelter City programme. Also, we premiered the documentary about the current Shelter City guest, Caroline Rucah, whereafter they shared their experiences in leading an organisation that fights for human rights for LBQT persons.

Inspiring opening

Inez de Boer, director of Peace Brigades International – the Netherlands (PBI), kicked off the evening with her speech. Afterwards, Co-Mayor of Utrecht Linda Voortman emphasised the importance of the commitment to human rights during her powerful speech about the Shelter City programme and elaborated on the establishment and cooperation of the Shelter City project in Utrecht. Afterwards, the director of Justice and Peace the Netherlands Sebastiaan van der Zwaan underlined the strong partnership relations between the organisations making up the Shelter City Utrecht Programme.

Co-Mayor of Utrecht Linda Voortman
Director of Peace Brigades International – the Netherlands
Moderator of the evening and project officer Shelter City Utrecht Lizzy van Dijk

Director of Justice and Peace Sebastiaan van der Zwaan

Compilation video of all the Shelter City Utrecht guests

Five years ago, Shelter City Utrecht started as a concrete and accessible way to support human rights defenders in danger. Through the programme 19 human rights defenders have been put at the centre in Utrecht so far. They deserve to be put at the centre given the fundamental role human rights defenders play in the protection of human rights and the construction of fair and peaceful societies. They often risk their lives to stand up for what they believe in, holding states to account and pushing for human rights to be respected, protected and fulfilled. The short compilation video portrays all these 19 Shelter City Utrecht guests. Watch it here!

Premiere of the Shelter City documentary

Later in the evening it was time for the premiere of the Shelter City documentary about the current Shelter City guest Caroline Rucah. Caroline is the Executive Director of Western Kenya LBQT Feminist Forum. In the documentary Caroline shares their experiences on what it is like to be a queer person in Kenya and to be leading an intersectional feminist movement, with all the risks involved. Such an inspiring, fierce womxn! The documentary was made possible thanks to documentary maker Lidewij Meijer of Jumping Jackdaw. The documentary was screened publicly for the first time this evening. This Shelter City documentary can now also be watched online on Youtube:

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Discussion and Q&A

After the premiere, moderator Lizzy van Dijk talked to the current Shelter City guest Caroline Rucah. Caroline talked amongst others about how they were inspired to become a human rights defender, what the current situation is in Kenya with an eye on LGBTIQ+ rights and how they experienced the time in the Shelter City programme. This was followed by a lively discussion with questions from the audience. At the end of the evening, those present wrote on a LGBTQI+ flag to show their support to Caroline and their team.

A successful evening

First of all, we would like to thank everyone who participated in this evening. First of all we would like to thank Shelter City guest Caroline Rucah for sharing their impressive experiences and stories. In particular, we would also like to thank Co-Mayor of Utrecht, Linda Voortman for her inspiring speech and director of Justice and Peace Sebastiaan van der Zwaan for the strong partnership and his beautiful words. We would also like to express our special thanks to Lidewij Meijer of Jumping Jackdaw for realising the documentary and to the Utrecht Library for providing the location. Furthermore, we are grateful to our partners and friends from Human Rights Utrecht, SIM Institute of human rights, the UAF and all others who contributed to this wonderful event.

The volunteers of Peace Brigades International – the Netherlands
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