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Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You is the new Cleveringa professor

Lawyer and human rights activist Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You is the new Cleveringa professor. She will deliver the Cleveringa lecture on 26 November on the theme of peace, justice and freedom.

Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You reacted to her appointment to the Cleveringa chair for the coming year: ‘I am extremely delighted and honoured to have this opportunity to address the themes of courage and resistance.’ 

Gonçalves-Ho Kang You (1946) studied Law at Leiden University. After graduating, she returned to her native country Suriname where she became a lawyer in the  Prime Minister’s office. She met her husband Kenneth Gonçalves there, with whom she later had a law practice.

To the Netherlands

After the military coup led by Desi Bouterse in 1980, Gonçalves-Ho Kang You and her husband both spoke out publicly about the abuses and the absence of democracy. Kenneth Gonçalves was one of the fifteen Surinamese people who were executed by the Bouterse regime in December 1982.

In 1983 Gonçalves-Ho Kang You and her daughter moved to the Netherlands because she no longer felt safe in Suriname. She worked as a lawyer, and later as State Councillor for the Council of State. She was also active for Amnesty International, National Bureau against Racism and the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission. She is now Chair of the Colonial Collections Committee, as well as holding other posts. 

Honorary doctorate

In 2015 Gonçalves-Ho Kang You was awarded an honorary doctorate by Leiden University for her commitment to human rights, especially the rights of women.

The Cleveringa lecture will be held this year on 26 November from 16.00 to 17.00 hrs., in the Academy Building. The lecture can also be followed live that afternoon on  universiteitleiden.nl.

More information about Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You and the theme of her Cleveringa lecture will follow in an interview this autumn.

Cleveringa lecture

Every year on (or around) 26 November, the university commemorates the protest speech given by Leiden law professor Rudolph Cleveringa in 1940. On that day, Cleveringa spoke out in a public lecture against the dismissal of his Jewish colleague Eduard Meijers. After the speech, Cleveringa was arrested by the German occupiers and Meijers was deported first to Westerbork and then to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he would survive the war. Other Leiden professors including law professor Ben Telders, physician Ton Barge and theologian Lambert van Holk also openly protested against the Nazis. Of these professors, Telders did not survive the war.

The Cleveringa Chair is a one-year rotating professorship that symbolises the importance of free speech and the courage to stand up to occupiers. A motto that suits the university (Bastion of Freedom) like no other. Every year, the university commemorates the victims of the Second World War – at least 663 students, staff and alumni lost their lives.

Photo: Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You at the presentation of the honorary doctorate.

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