Tag Archives: dignity

Human Rights Day, Seventy Years On

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This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The Declaration, and the commitment of UN Member States to affirm and implement its principles, has resulted in the dignity of people uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid in the treaty regime built upon the Declaration. It is both an aspirational, visionary document and a set of standards that permeates international law.

The Declaration articulates a vision that has been built upon and used to extend rights and protect people around the globe. In a world where exploitation and violation are so strong, we can be grateful for the many ways in which the Declaration has had an impact. Its successes are many.

At the same time, violations of international law and human dignity are perpetrated in many countries. In a report released on Friday, a team of experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council noted that:

Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.

The report expressed concern that an “upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia seen in countries of asylum, at a time of rising forced-migration” is “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”

UN News notes that :In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, the UN is urging people everywhere to “Stand Up for Human Rights”.

One way to do that is to  choose a place in the world where human rights are abused (including in the United States of America) and become informed. Take one action today that affirms and celebrates the worth and dignity and rights of others.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Death Penalty, Human Rights, United Nations

Decent people

I oppose the death penalty for a number of reasons. Andrew Stroehlein, European Media Director of Human Rights Watch, expressed one of the most important reasons in these terms:

You don’t reject the death penalty because the criminals are decent people. You reject the death penalty because you are decent people.

 

 

Our position on the death penalty says as much about us and our characters as it does about the person and the character of the person facing the death penalty.

Brian, the wife of my friend Bruce Reyes-Chow,  was murdered at his place of work in 2008. In the wake of the execution of Kelly Gissendaner and the four executions (Richard Glossip’s execution was stayed until Nov. 6 due to questions about the lethal injection drug that would have been used) scheduled between now and October 7, Bruce shares some “Thoughts on the Death Penalty and Remembering Brian.” He writes in part:

We are that family who has lost a loved one and we do not believe that the death penalty is right, just, or humane. Did the killer of Brian extend the same compassion, justice, or humanity, no. Are there times when rage and sadness manifest themselves into wanting revenge, certainly. But we also know that responding to evil with evil, hate with hate, and murder with murder pays no honor to the person that Brian was or to the world that he hoped we would become.

So for the very reason that so many scream. “Death! Justice! Vengeance!” in honor of the person who has been lost, even in the midst of our own rage, sadness, and our own yearning for retribution, we plead, “Life! Compassion! Dignity!” in honor of the person we lost.

Our position on the death penalty says as much about us and our characters as it does about the person and the character of the person facing the death penalty.

I am honored that Bruce and his family have chosen to be friends with me.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Friends

17 March – each year, every year

I speak for no others,
only for myself.
For me, this day has
nothing to do with
green beer or
green rivers or
green clothing,
this day has nothing to do with
pinching me or kissing me;
my bad jokes aside,
this day has nothing to do even with Jameson.
Today is a day
to remember oppression
to honor resistance
to recognize that, despite the efforts of
systems of race and racialization
to separate us,
struggles for dignity and justice,
freedom and equality,
human rights and humanity
are inseparably linked:
none of us are free until all of us are free.
for that reason, in that spirit, and in my own fashion,
I mark this day, and each 17th of March.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Fitzgerald, from County Cork, on my mother’s side.

See you along the Trail!

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights, Ireland

Stand with Jagjeet Singh against religious discrimination

Sign a petition to the Mississippi Department of Transportation officials calling for an investigation into their treatment of Jagjeet Singh.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that officers of the Mississippi Department of Transportation harassed Jagjeet, an observant Sikh, calling him a “terrorist” and then arresting him when he refused to remove his turban.

The judge who heard the case compounded the discrimination. According to the ACLU, ” he ordered that Jagjeet be removed from the courtroom and said he wouldn’t let Jagjeet return until he removed ‘that rag’ from his head.”

The United Sikhs have filed a complaint on Jagjeet’s behalf about Judge Rimes with the Department of Justice, the ACLU notes.

Concerned for the actions of the transportation officers, the ACLU has created a petition to Commissioner King and Director McGrath of the Mississippi DOT.

The petition asks: “Investigate and discipline the MDOT officers for their unacceptable treatment of Jagjeet Singh, and train officers on religious diversity so violations like this don’t happen again.”

I believe that all people and religions should receive respect and be treated with dignity. I signed the petition. You can too.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights