A close-up during Human Rights Day Event. 10 December 2012. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré

Human Rights Commemoration Day

By Mariya Zheleva

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” This year, the Human Rights Coalition will be hosting its fifth annual Human Rights Commemoration Day event on Saturday, December 10, 2016, from 8:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. at Fresno State’s North Gym to discuss the increasingly pressing issue of the refugee crisis.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares the most basic fundamental rights to all human beings of all countries, ethnicities, genders, races and religions. Within its 30 articles, this declaration establishes equal and inalienable rights, which its founders created in order to build peace, freedom, and justice during such a violent and confused time.

With the ending of World War II, came a time of social instability caused mainly by the brutalities of the Holocaust. The declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt serving as a driving force behind it.

This document exemplified a vision of hope for millions of people around the world seeking to create an environment of peace and love. It gave citizens a chance to hold their governments accountable for their natural-born rights during a time of global division and fear.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of 30 articles outlining each individual’s basic freedoms as a global citizen of the world. Its overall message translates to this: everybody has the right to life, liberty and equality before the law; everybody has the right to economic and social security, and everybody has the right to express and participate in their cultural life.

The Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley aspires to project this document’s message clearly to the people of Fresno County. Established in 2012, the Human Rights Coalition has aimed to educate and inspire those within the community to join them and help spread the message of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The coalition has brought together faith leaders, scholars as well as peace and human rights activists, forming a steering committee of approximately 20 members. Its ultimate goal would be to bring people from all walks of life together in efforts to work towards a global society of equality, peace, justice and freedom.

The coalition has brought on keynote speaker Dr. Robert P. Sellers, the Board Chair of the Parliament of World Religions, along with several other expert speakers representing organizations like the Palestine Freedom Project, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM), Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Fresno Center for New Americans.

This commemoration event is sponsored by numerous groups within the community, with remarkable support from leaders of faith and social justice groups. The Human Rights Coalition encourages and invites the public to attend this free event as a way for citizens within Fresno County to gain both a global and local perspective on the refugee crisis.

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Mariya Zheleva is a junior at Fresno State studying Mass Communications & Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations. She is also an active member of the Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley and a member of the planning committee for our Human Rights Commemoration Day event.

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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