TIRANA – On the occasion of the National Youth Day in Albania on 8 December 2022, RYCO Local Branch Office in Albania, co-organized together with its partners the concluding event of the Human and Minority Rights Academy 2022, entitled “We are here”.
The event was jointly hosted by the Albanian Human Rights Group, and Youth Voice Network of Organizations, supported by the UNFPA Albania and Regional Youth Cooperation Office. This activity was attended by the participants of the Academy 2022 and other active young people interested in the topics.
In her welcoming speech, the Head of the Local Branch office in Albania, Ms. Alba Brojka spoke about the importance of empowering young people, equipping them with knowledge about fundamental Human and Minority rights and freedoms, as well as the importance of protecting national minorities, which is a key point for the perseverance of the tolerance, cultural diversity, social inclusion and peacebuilding efforts in Albania and the whole Western Balkans region.
“RYCO has this far involved 27 000 youth in its work, you included. Nonetheless, this number would mean nothing, if RYCO wouldn’t see young people as co-owners of its activities and projects. That is why I congratulate you on finishing a journey to enrich your knowledge on human rights and minorities, wishing that this journey is a turning point for you. To conclude on this event, I would like leave you with some advices I borrowed from the historian Tymothy Snyder: to use our language for the good and not hate speech; to make the ‘face of our world’ beautiful by erasing symbols of discrimination; to stand out if you think something is wrong; and to always be courageous to act and change the situation” – Ms. Brojka concluded.
Other distinguished invitees that are closely working on Human Rights activism, also addressed the participants in the event; the Programme Analyst-Population Development and Gender at UNFPA Albania Ms. Elsona Agolli, the Executive Director of the Albanian Human Rights Group Ms. Elsa Ballauri, the Head of the Council of Europe office in Tirana, Ms. Jutta Gützkow and Mr. Erion Xhahibra from the National Committee of Minorities. Meanwhile, the Alumni of HRMA Flutura Brakaj and Armand Braho reflected on their experience of the Academy and how it impacted them as activists in society, community and beyond. In addition to that, they encouraged their peers to stay engaged and committed to important social causes.
The event constituted insightful discussions between the participants of the Academy and the invitees, focusing on the presentations of the participants’ working groups. The topics covered were Human Rights challenges and barriers that affect young people and how to address them.
Throughout the month of November, the youth were engaged in a mentorship process about researching their topics of interest, linked to Human Rights, the history and today’s challenges of Minorities in Albania, discrimination and homophobia, early marriages, youth, and civic engagement, etc.
The 8th of December is marked as an important day in Albania, in the memory of the first student protest against the communist regime held in 1990. Due to the domino effect that this protest brought to Albanian society, this day has been known for the last 29 years as National Youth Day in Albania, and it’s celebrated accordingly.