At the National Press Club in Washington DC, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) coordinated a Human Rights Day event on December 8, inviting co-sponsors from various groups to speak on behalf of human rights issues important to their organizations. The groups remembered the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations on December 10, 1948 and the inherent human rights, human dignity, respect, and social justice that all of our fellow human deserve – of any identity group and in any part of the world.
The speakers discussed the need to consistently show respect, compassion, dignity, and human rights to people in different parts of the world and in different identity groups.
R.E.A.L.’s Jeffrey Imm spoke on the need to emphasize respect, instead of arrogance, in recognizing human rights, stating that it was arrogance by those who believe that they had superior rights to others that is a key problem in human rights around the world. He urged the world to make a “declaration of love” towards their fellow human beings, and to Choose Love, Not Hate, in our lives and the lives of others in our communities, our nations, and our identity groups. Jeffrey Imm spoke of the dire situation of poverty around the world and the impact on such poverty on human rights, stating that such poverty can undermine human rights for many, including individuals in the United States of America who he was working to support. He urged people to give to charities and to people in need.
R.E.A.L.’s Jeffrey Imm also spoke on the future of human rights being defined by the example we set, and the way we treat our children. He spoke on the continuing disgrace of abuse, rape, kidnapping, and murder of children around the world, as well as by those in institutions and society who have not made chidren’s rights a priority. Jeffrey Imm urged the United States to adopt the Convention on Rights of the Child.
He also spoke on atrocities against children in the United States of America (the murder of 7 year of Jorelys Rivera, the murder of children in Texas), in Pakistan (the brainwashing of children by terrorists, the rape and murder of young girls, and the killing of Christian minority girls, including the recent killing of Amariah Masih), in Sudan and Dafur (rape of young girls, killing of children, and loss of their culture and innocence), in Balochistan (over 168 children have “disappeared” with teenage boys killed by authorities in a “kill and dump” campaign), in People’s Republic of China (the lack of concern of about a 2 year old child killed in the street, the government-sponsored forced abortions and infanticide, and the killing or abandonment of minority children such as children of Falun Gong practitioners), and in Bahrain (five children killed and hundreds of children subjected to excessive force by anti-protest authorities). Jeffrey Imm also spoke on the institutional willingness to accept such abuses of children, including an Afghan girl released from prison on the condition she marry her rapist, and the reports of child abuse at the Pennsylvania State University and other institutions in America. He also decried the so-called “honor killings” of young girls and boys by those who believe their cultural or religious views justified abuse and murder of children, and called for an end to these, noting that there were 3,000 such cases in the United Kingdom alone, according to stophonourkillings.com. He spoke of the oppression against children in the United States of America, and his own efforts to stop such abuses.
Jeffrey Imm stated that these “are all OUR children,” who “are our common bond and bridge to the future.” He suggested that in this season of reflection and gift-giving in much of the world, that we should first reach out to help the children and the less fortunate among us. He stated that our greatest gift to children from adult human beings must be in making a renewed commitment to protect our vulnerable children around the world. Jeffrey Imm stated, “We must give the gift of our courage, our consistency, and our commitment for the universal human rights and dignity to all of our children around the world…. We must set an example for our children. We must provide a beacon and symbol of hope for our children. We must show that by our words and more importantly by actions, in the United States and around the world – to our children – and to each other… We are Responsible for Equality And Liberty.”
Ahmer Mustikhan, a senior journalist and Balochistan area expert, spoke on the issue of supporting democracy and human rights for the Baloch people, and called the end to abuses against Pakistan minorities. Regarding the challenges within the Pakistan government, Ahmer Mustikhan called for the United States and the nations of the world to prevent the Pakistan military from interfering with the democratic government in Pakistan. “It is true the democratic government of President Asif Ali Zardari gave the Baloch 300 bodies in the last four or so years, but still we would support it against the military generals. Democracy does make a difference in the lives of people and we can not remain oblivious to this fact,” Mustikhan said. Mustikhan, who founded the DC-based American Friends of Balochistan and co-founded the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, also asked the world community to intervene in Balochistan on the same lines as they did in Libya to stop the genocide there and safeguard the right to self-determination of the Baloch people. He said scores of Baloch teenagers have been made victims of enforced disappearances and killed. He narrated the story of a Baloch minor boy Abdul Wahid Baloch, aka Balaach Baloch, who gained fame after his picture showing him clad in a Balochistan flag was posted on social websites last year. Ahmar Mustikhan also spoke on the issue of Pakistan minorities, including Pakistan Christians, and urged the Pakistan government to free Asia Bibi, who has been imprisoned on trumped-up charges of the “blasphemy law,” which has been used to target and oppress religious minorities in Pakistan.
Carolyn Cook, founder and CEO of United for Equality, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington DC on December 8, as part of a Human Rights Day Event, calling for a renewed commitment by Americans in support of the Constitutional rights for all American women, as part of our global human rights goals. United for Equality is a social justice enterprise seeking the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) by 2015. Carolyn stated that we must change the way people think and what we tolerate in our culture regarding the rights and dignity of our fellow Americans and fellow human beings. Carolyn spoke out against the discrimination and the efforts to deny full equality to women in America, in every aspect of their lives. She stated that we need to take our system back and make it ours. Carolyn Cook stated that United for Equality’s coalition successfully introduced a bill to the 112the session of the United States Congress calling for Congress to remove the time limit on the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.), as the United States previously had the ratification of the E.R.A. in 35 states, and it requires ratification in 38 states and by 2/3s of the House and Senate. She pointed out how previous U.S. government officials sought to halt the efforts to ratify the E.R.A. after 10 years when nearly all of the required states but 3 had ratified this Constitutional Amendment, and pointed out that women have no desire to “start over” the ratification of the E.R.A.
Carolyn Cook also spoke on the paradigm of options we have as activists and participants in defending human rights. Carolyn urged a more holistic approach towards addressing human rights as lifelong causes. She discussed lessons learned from the Occupy movement and other social activist efforts to bring change to the world. Her discussion on lessons from the Occupy movement are detailed in the YouTube video of her speech beginning at 6:36 minutes in on Part 1 and continuing and concluding in Part 2 of her remarks.
Jared Pearman, Spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Washington, DC, spoke on behalf of human rights and human dignity for the Falun Gong / Falun Dafa. He provided information about the Falun Gong as “a peaceful spiritual practice rooted in traditional Chinese culture,” which “consists of meditation, five gentle sets of exercises, and a moral philosophy centered on the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.” While pointing out that Falun Gong is not political, Mr. Pearman stated that “as Falun Gong grew in popularity throughout the 1990s, China’s communist leaders began to view the practice and its moral philosophy as ideological competition.” For the past 12 years, he indicated that “China’s rulers began a campaign to eradicate Falun Gong. Since then, like underground Christians and Tibetan Buddhists, millions of Falun Gong adherents have been denied the right to peacefully practice their faith.” Despite massive arrests, torture, killings and denial of human rights for the Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party, Mr. Pearman stated that “Falun Gong has not been crushed, and reports from China indicate that the number of practitioners is instead growing. Ordinary citizens are increasingly standing up in defense of Falun Gong and are refusing to participate in the persecution.” He called for the Chinese government and the world to recognize and defend the human rights of the Falun Gong. Mr. Pearman offered “an alternate vision of what China could be — an alternative way of conceptualizing Chinese national identity”…. that “connects with China’s moral and spiritual traditions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, and holds that the cultivation of virtue, honesty, and humanness are the true sources of national greatness.”
Husain Abdulla, leader of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), spoke on behalf of Bahrainis oppressed by government forces that seek to deny democracy. He spoke of the initial protests on February 14, 2011, of those who sought to join the “Arab Spring” movement for democracy, and the brutal oppression of the Bahrain government. Since March 2011, Husain Abdulla stated that Bahrain protesters have been subjected to torture and death. 45 were killed, over 2,000 arbitrary arrests, 1,866 cases of documented torture, 5,000 prisoners of conscience, destruction of 40 places of worship, and 3,000 fired from their jobs, 500 forced out of Bahrain, 3 on death row, 477 students expelled from universities, and 300 students had scholarships taken away — all in retaliation for the willingness to protest against the Bahrain government. He stated that over 500 doctors have been detained. He noted that Bahrain is a close ally to the United States, and he urged Americans to call for the American government to end the “blind eye” to Bahrain human rights violations.
Niemat Ahmadi spoke at the National Press Club Human Rights Day Event on December 8, 2011, to address the abuse of Darfuris and Sudanese. Niemat Ahmadi represents the United to End Genocide group. She spoke about the Genocide in Sudan which has been ongoing for over 8 years, and that have driven 4,000,000 out of their homes. Niemat Ahmadi spoke on the need for Americans to call for justice regarding Omar Al-Bashir. She noted that the efforts of Al-Bashir regime have changed their tactics and seek to use rape against women as a weapon of war against the Darfuri people. Niemat Ahmadi spoke of the continuing attacks on Darfuri cities, homes, and attempts to stop safe travel of people of African nationalities who have been fleeing to displaced persons camps. Niemat Ahmadi urged those in Arab nations seeking democracy in their nations to stand up to dictatorial Arab regimes who have supported the brutal Al-Bashir regime.
In R.E.A.L.’s Jeffrey Imm’s concluding remarks, he urged the human rights activists to continue to work together in the coming year on joint activists. He noted that after the winter comes the spring, and in the spring, he often goes to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during Holocaust Remembrance Days to participate in the reading of the names. Even if there is only one or two people there, Imm noted, there is someone to remember, and it is done simply because it is the right thing to do.
He urged human rights activists to remember that in their work of spreading hope, reaching out to offer dignity, justice, freedom, and consistent universal human rights to all. That is the vision and the mission of being collectively…
Responsible for Equality And Liberty….
Choose Love, Not Hate, Love Wins.