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Global Defenders


Commissioned as a permanent installation in the atrium of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia, the Global Defenders Mural creates a new set of cultural heros for our time. This mural signifies a global movement of champions fighting side-by-side for human rights. From Burma’s exiled defenders and the Egyptian revolution leaders to the emergence of civil society in Russia, these previously disparate movements are now seen as a united front fighting for human dignity and freedom. 

Captions, listed left to right

1 These five HIV positive Burmese children were orphans or were sent by their parents to a safe house run by the Social Action for Women, where they could receive treatment and protection.

2 Kyaw Htet, 22, is a former motorcycle mechanic in Prome. Like many young people in Burma, he faces an uncertain future. Burmese youth have limited opportunities and little access to education, especially if the family has any association with the political opposition.

3 Democratic Voice of Burma broadcast journalists Thiri Htet San, 30, a former newscaster in Burma, and Moe Zin, 34. The DVB is a satellite radio and television news service with highly professional reporters who risk their lives to report and record events inside Burma.

4 Harn Lay, 44, is Burma’s best-known satiric cartoonist, and a former rebel soldier. Lay fled to Thailand following the 1988 protests and ensuing crackdown in Burma. When asked if he could go back to Burma, Lay joked, “I will not stay free for long. If they sentence me to one year per cartoon, I will have to serve more than one thousand years in prison.”

5 Victor Bodunov and his mother, Valentina. Victor is active in Best Buddies Russia, a volunteer movement that creates friendships for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Victor has starred in several productions of the “theater of the naïve,” an acting program that engages people with disabilities.

6 Zaynap Dzhamberkov, 51, is the mother of a “disappeared” man from Chechnya.

7 Young members of Russia’s growing antiracist movement, Antifa, who protest against the spread of racism in Russia.

8 Jawad Nabulsi was wounded in the eye with a lead pellet while protesting in Cairo during the revolution in 2011. He now volunteers for organizations that help the underprivileged in Egypt.

9 Gasser Abd El Razek with his son, Khalil Gasser Abd El Razek. Abd El Razek is a human rights advocate, member of the board of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, and country director for Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance Egypt.

10 Nazly Hussein, 27, is an Egyptian activist who participated in the Tahrir Square protests in 2011, with her mother, Ghada Shabender. She took her mother with her to the Tahrir protests.