Australian, French missions screen documentaries under 10-day Reel Film Festival Abolition of death penalty, child labour two major themes highlighted in films


Zubair Qureshi

High Commission of Australia and Embassy of France on Wednesday organized two separate events though under the same banner and for the same purpose i.e. to highlight human rights issues through documentaries under the 10-day Human Rights Reel Festival.
The 5th edition of the annual film festival is being organized by the United Nations and the European Union in the run-up to International Human Rights Day (Dec 10).
The documentary “Guilty” screened by the Australian high Commission at the UN Information Centre in the ILO building showed the trauma suffered by the death penalty convicts as well as their families.
A pin drop silence descended in the auditorium as the story of Myuran Sukumaran, an Australian executed in Indonesia for drug smuggling in 2015 unfolded.
In the brief introduction prior to its screening Australian High Commissioner Dr Geoffrey Shaw said it took Australia almost the entire 20th century to abolish death penalty.
“Australian states and territories gradually abolished the death penalty over the course of the 20th century. In 2010, Australian government passed a law that prevents any Australian state or territory from ever reintroducing the death penalty,” he said.
To a question Dr Shaw commended Pakistan government’s imposition of moratorium on death penalty hoping the first step that might lead to complete abolition of the death penalty.
“Australia encourages every country to join us in ending the death penalty in all circumstances for all people,” he said.
Executive Director Justice Project Pakistan Sarah Belal also spoke on the occasion and informed that in Pakistan there were around 33 crimes that were punishable with death penalty. Anchorperson Amber Shamsi on the occasion gave examples of two brothers Ghulam Sarwar and Ghulam Qadir who were released by the Supreme Court in 2016 but it was found they had been executed a year before in 2015.
The Franco-Italian documentary ‘Iqbal: The Tale of a Fearless Child’ was screened at French Culture Centre by the Embassy of France.
The film is an award-winning film based on the story of a Pakistani boy ‘Iqbal’ who helped over 300 bonded children live a normal life and delivered speeches against child labour throughout the world.
Welcoming the guests on the occasion, French Ambassador Dr Marc Barety said the film was a moving and poetic tale, an apt demonstration of the fact that ‘you cannot jail freedom; you cannot jail idea.’
He also spoke high of the film director Michel Fuzellier, who has decades of experience as director of animated commercials and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed animated feature films.
Besides members of civil society, human rights activists children of Preparatory School Islamabad (PSI) also attended the event. A question-answer session on human rights in general and children rights in particular also followed the screening of the documentary. Eminent children rights activist Valerie Khan replied to the questions of the audience.