This year’s theme is: SPEAK UP STOP DISCRIMINATION.
Today, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a statement including the following words:
“We owe the progress we have made to the enormous efforts of hundreds of thousands of largely unsung heroes, known collectively as human rights defenders.
Human rights defenders come from all walks of life, ranging from princesses and politicians, to professionals such as journalists, teachers and doctors, to people with little or no formal education. There are no special qualifications. All it takes is commitment, and courage. …
On this Human Rights Day, I call on Governments to acknowledge that criticism is not a crime, and to release all those people who have been detained for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms to defend democratic principles and human rights.”
In Somerville,we are fortunate enough to have several official volunteer-led commissions to protect our civil and human rights. There’s the Fair Housing Commission, the Women’s Commission, the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, the Office of the LGBT Liason, and the Human Rights Commission (the HRC).
I and fellow Somerville resident Ashraf Hegazy are the co-chairs of the HRC. The only other HRC Commissioner is John Robinson. Nine vacant seats are waiting for other Somerville residents to volunteer a little time each month to help promote and protect our human and civil rights. They say the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, so we ask you to help remain vigilant with us. Please join us at our upcoming monthly meeting in January and/or at Somerville’s MLK Day Celebration. To learn more about any of the commissions, email Sonja Darai, Director of Somerville Commissions at SDarai@somervillema.gov
Of course you do not need to be a commissioner to promote and defend human rights. One very exceptional and dedicated human rights champion is Somerville’s own Eileen Feldman who inspired me to write this post. She is an out-spoken advocate for the rights of people with physical and mental challenges. Since each of us may now or one day find ourselves with such disabilities, Eileen is fighting for all of us. This unsung heroine blogs under the name eila.
Please share your thoughts in the comments.