Long overdue, a review of the Human Rights Day events in Seattle I attended.
December 10 was Human Rights Day, honoring 59 years since the UN adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At long last, following the horrors of WW II, declaring the idea that human rights were for everyone, everywhere “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, birth, or other status.” These are the rights Amnesty International works tirelessly to defend.
First, on December 6, at Town Hall, was the city’s Seattle Human Rights Day 2007. Awards were given to Save Darfur Washington State, CASA Latina, and Paulina Lopez from the Red Cross’s International Service Program. Kenji Yoshimo, a Professor of Law from Yale, and author of Covering: the Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights was the keynote speaker covering both the discouraging and encouraging trends of recent Supreme Court decisions. A lot of interesting questions, including how to apply the human rights framework to homeless people now being subjected to sweeps by the city (and having all their belongings thrown away). I took a lot of photos.
I was a little disappointed this year’s Human Rights Day was relegated to the smaller room downstairs at Town Hall, when it was in the beautiful and spacious Great Hall last year. It does seem to me there must be a better way to get the word out, especially to the various human rights, civil rights and other progressive groups in the community. Someone only posted it to Group 4 the day before (and it should definitely be on our radar).
Then on Human Rights Day itself, December 10, AI Group 4, OUTfront Seattle, and AI Puget Sound held a Write-a-thon at Kaladi Brothers Coffee. We hand wrote letters to government officials in various countries from write-a-thon actions and sent holiday cards to prisoners of conscience and human rights organizations facing danger. Writing letters is still one of our most basic and successful strategies in freeing people. In fact, Coquette Nsinga, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the people we were to write on, was already freed before December 10:
Coquette Nsinga and her mother were released from the Centre Pénitentiaire et de Rééducation de Kinshasa (CPRK), the central prison in Kinshasa, on 22 November 2007. Since her arrest, over a year ago, Amnesty activists have written letters on her behalf. Thanks to everyone who took action!!