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2012/11 - Human Rights

Guest Speaker: Robin from Amnesty International

Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, containing 30 articles.

Brief history of human rights

Israel regarded themselves as God’s chosen people - justified in treating other people badly. Jesus taught about a loving father in heaven.
Paul taught about there being no division between different people.
Magna Carta - to curb the powers of the king against the powerful barons; however this did establish many ‘habeas corpus’, still in place today.
Enlightenment - at the trial of escaped slave James Sommersett, a judge declared that ‘nothing in the laws of England allowed slavery’.
Thomas Payne published ‘The Rights of Man’, causing much upset amongst the upper classes.. President Lincoln freed all slaves during the American Civil War (as a way to win the war)..
Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luthor King Jr).
31 years of global war - WW1, Spanish Civil War, WW2 - lead to United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights. Pushed through by Eleanor Roosevelt.
The forgotten prisoners article in 1961, resulted in the creation of Amnesty International.

Practical actions we can take

Read through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from time to time (or the Children’s friendly version - We Are All Born Free)

Organise a ‘Greetings Card Writing’ evening (or immediately after a church service, one Sunday) - booklet of prisoners to write to. More details here - amnesty.org.uk/write

Writing letters does make a difference - emails have less impact than personal letters, but can be sent in urgent situations and are far better than sending nothing at all. Take a look at the current priority actions.

All cases are well researched, so it ‘gets under the skin’ of the authorities, that people from the other side of the world know all the details of the case. Remember that dictators are insecure - cannot stand criticism.

Maybe consider going along to one of the Sheffield Amnesty (or on Facebook) group meetings or join Amnesty International UK.

Reviewing actions with each other every so often and holding each other accountable for doing those actions (e.g. you said you were going to write 3 letters this month, have you written them?).

Having some letters to write / sign at future One-Step meetings.