Thousands of youth in more than 40 nations were joined by the New York Chapter of Youth for Human Rights on December 9 and 10, in educational talks about the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and airing three films which show the vital promise of educational efforts in bringing about real human rights reform.
The events, which took place at the Manhattan Church of Scientology, were in observance of the 62nd anniversary of ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They were part of a worldwide week of human rights walks, educational forums, and round tables on topics from ending discrimination, stopping human trafficking, and bringing an end to pervasive violence.
“Only if human rights are known and respected, can we bring about the dignity, opportunity and peace that each of us deserves,” said Rev. John Carmichael, New York coordinator of Youth for Human Rights.
After an afternoon of human rights lessons to groups of local students, Carmichael MC’d an evening of three films: “Walking with Life,” a documentary about Tostan International’s program in Senegal, in which human rights education brought an end to key abuses against women in villages there. (See www.rafikiproductions.com)
Then, “From the Ruins: African Human Rights Leadership,” about the Youth for Human Rights (www.youthforhumanrights.org) program in Western Africa, where young people were mobilized as effective advocates in areas which had remained devastated even when the main violence had abated.
Finally, the group watched the award-winning music video “UNITED,” and a documentary on its filming by 17-year-old Taron Lexton. The message, of what could be accomplished by unanimous agreement on the dignity and worth of the individual and their entitlement to human rights, came across with emotional impact.
Although the official events were arranged to take place during Human Rights Week, the real work continued as youth and adult leaders in the U.S. and abroad committed to forming new local groups to spread education and action even further in the coming year. Anyone interesting in being involved should see the Youth for Human Rights website.