By Ehlayna NapolitanoStaff Writer
On Monday December 10, 2012, in honor of International Human Rights Day of Solidarity, an event sponsored by Women of Action, Center for Civic Engagement and OSLA was held in the Multipurpose Room East of the Student Center. It was held from 3 to 6 pm and served to educate attendees about human rights violations and campaigns advocating prevention of these violations.
“The event was designed to promote the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ campaigns and to have information on other human rights groups,” Ariel Flajnik, President of Women of Action and Fellow with the Center for Civic Engagement, said.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers are a group of Afghani college students working for peace in Afghanistan.
“We seek non-military solutions for Afghanistan and do not work for the benefit of any political group or religion,” their website, www.ourjourneytosmile.com, states.
The event covered many different topics, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a document adopted by the UN after World War II, in order to prevent “atrocities like those of that conflict happen[ing] again,” according to www.un.org.
Its 30 articles reflect what the UN accepted as basic human rights that are “equal and unalienable rights of all members of the human family.” (www.un.org) These were posted in the room, and also read aloud in a slideshow comprised of various members of WOA reading 11 of the 30 articles aloud. Additionally, WOA as a group recorded Article 26, on human rights education, as part of a larger international effort.
“The Afghan Peace Volunteers asked friends [from] Global Day of Listening to record articles to put in an international, Multilanguage video,” Flajnik said.
Furthermore, there was a sign-up for the petition for the Two Million Friends Campaign, which, according to Flajnik, asks civilians to stand in solidarity to commemorate two million civilians killed by nearly 40 years of ongoing war and conflict in Afghanistan.
“It’s…to get people aware that two million civilians were killed in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and continue to be killed by drone strikes,” Cheyanna Sullivan, freshman member of WOA, said.
Furthermore, the Afghan Peace Volunteers head up another campaign to petition the UN for a multilateral ceasefire in Afghanistan, which would mean a removal of both NATO and US troops from the region
“The event, because it was International Human Rights Day of Solidarity, was [also] a kickoff to waiting to hear from the UN about the multilateral ceasefire,” Flajnik said. This coincides with a larger effort in New York for peace; from December 10 to 21, a group of demonstrators will be fasting solid foods and standing across the NATO Headquarters in New York, according to Flajnik, in an effort to increase awareness and educate the public, as well as stand in solidarity with the effort.
Despite a somewhat low attendance, the members of Women of Action remain hopeful that the campus’ awareness of these human rights issues will continue to expand.
“I think it’s really hard to get college students to care about things that aren’t immediate,” Sullivan said. Flajnik said that she expected a somewhat low attendance, as the event was scheduled to be canceled until Flajnik and WOA decided to take the event and expand it to cover more international and local peace organizations.