A mural portrait of Vitali Safarov, the Jewish-Georgian human rights defender and activist killed in Tbilisi in 2018, now adorns a facade of the Hague University of Applied Sciences alongside faces of student climate movement figure Greta Thunberg and assassinated Honduran indigenous activist Berta Cáceres.
The 25-year-old can be seen on the large work by artist duo Karski & Beyond, painted on an outside wall of the university after the project originated at one of their sessions involving students.
Started in an initiative by Justice & Peace, a human rights organisation, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the declaration of universal human rights, the creative project pays tribute to the activists for their commitment to "climate, freedom and equality", the university said.
Thunberg, a teenage climate activist who has become widely acknowledged for inspiring school student strikes on climate change, and Cáceres, an indigenous leader on environmental concerns who was killed in 2016, are the other two personalities seen in the artwork.
The mural outside the Hague university showing portraits of Safarov, Thunberg and Cáceres. Photo via Hague University of Applied Sciences.
[The mural] is a tribute to three people who show that it is really possible to make a difference" - Hague University of Applied Sciences
Safarov worked for the Tbilisi-based Center for Participation and Development as well as the Tbilisi Shelter Initiative, a project for providing human rights defenders from across the South Caucasus with a safe space in the Georgian capital.
Involved in activism around equality and multiculturalism since 2013, when he worked as a trainer in a camp for children in Georgia, he was stabbed to death in Tbilisi on September 30, 2018.
Two young men were sentenced to 15 years for the killing in June 2019, with witnesses telling the court Safarov was stabbed by one of them while the other held the activist from behind.
The judge dismissed the prosecution's allegation of ethnic intolerance in the case, a decision in disagreement with a group of international observers and Safarov's family who argued that themes used in the altercation that ended with the fatal stabbing showed otherwise.