Photo Exhibition – Shelter City Groningen: Portraits of Human Rights Defenders

Look through the eyes of photographer Daniella van Bergen Fotografie and learn about the exceptional people from around the world who stand up against violations of human rights and stand up for the freedoms of others. Whether they are journalists, lawyers, activists, artists – We call them human rights defenders.

Because of their work, human rights defenders are often subject to harassment, violence, and threats. Through the Shelter City Network programme, human rights defenders can temporarily relocate to Groningen and ten other Dutch Shelter Cities for up to three months, where they can re-energise, strengthen their capacities, and expand their network.

Official Opening – 31 May
On Thursday, 31 May at 16:00, Prof. dr. Hans van Ees, Dean of the University College Groningen, will open the exhibition in the Harmony Building. The opening ends at 17:00 with a drink and/or a visit to the exhibition. Admission is free.

About Shelter City Groningen
The city of Groningen has been a Shelter City since 2016. Together with University College Groningen, University of GroningenHumanitas Nederland and Hanzehogeschool Groningen, the municipality of Groningen has already hosted five human rights defenders from The Gambia, Palestine, Russia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

Why Groningen? The city of Groningen is traditionally tolerant and hospitable. It is a city with relaxed relationships between different population groups and a city that is prominent in preventing exclusion and discrimination. Groningen is also a city that looks beyond its borders enabling everyone from all backgrounds to develop their talents, so that they can make a lasting commitment to their own community. In Groningen, knowledge, talent, health and education come together, so that human rights defenders can strengthen their position here and get the most out of their stay.

The Shelter City initiative celebrated its 5th year anniversary in 2017. In these 5 years, the network has expanded to 11 Dutch cities that together have sheltered 66 human rights defenders from 36 countries. During the opening, partners and participants of Shelter City Groningen will also be present. For more information about Shelter City, visit or Shelter City Network.

About the Photographer
Photographer Daniella van Bergen is a documentary and press photographer. In her work, people come first. For the last two years, she has been portraying Shelter City participants. During these photo shoots, Daniella takes plenty of time to hear their stories and really get to know them. For her, these encounters mean much more than making a beautiful photo.

“For two years I’ve been able to meet these extraordinary and powerful people. People who touched my heart. Their stories – emotionally, struggling, necessary and sometimes lonely – made me realize how valuable and vulnerable my own human rights are. With my photos I want to give a voice to these important people.” (Daniella van Bergen)

The photo exhibition SHELTER CITY GRONINGEN and Shelter City Network are initiatives of the Dutch human rights organisation Justice and Peace Netherlands.

Many thanks to Gemeente GroningenUniversity College Groningen, University of Groningen and the Harmony Building (in the framework of the exhibitions organized by the Faculty of Arts – University of Groningen) for their contributions to this exhibition.

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