“Happy Human Rights Day?”  Is that what we say?

“Merry Human Rights Day?” That doesn’t sound quite right either.

“All the best for Human Rights Day?” “Remember on Human Rights Day?”

I don’t think there is a universal greeting for the 10th of December when we recognize human rights and human rights defenders around the world.  I want one – well at least for this year.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is profiling over a dozen human rights defenders, including the Venerable Luon Sovath, on Human Rights Day this year. It’s great to have a human rights defender working on forced evictions recognized in this way. As I type, the UN’s video featuring the Venerable is having technical problems – but hopefully these will be fixed soon.

Specifically for Human Rights Day this year, our partner LICADHO produced a video where the Venerable speaks personally about how he uses video to fight for the rights of his community in Chi Kreng District and other communities across Cambodia. It’s a great interview!

It has been a busy week for the Venerable.

Dr. Pung Chhiv Kek, founder and president of LICADHO, and the Venerable were special guests at our Focus for Change Gala this year. Both Kek and the Venerable spoke at the event. I was backstage, so I did not see the standing ovation when it started- I heard it first. Cheers came from the 400+ audience immediately after their personal stories about how LICADHO and communities at risk of forced evictions are using video to document and to advocate for their rights.  Here are excerpts from their speeches:

Dr. Pung Chhiv Kek speaks at the WITNESS' Focus for Change Benefit Dinner & Concert 2010

“When you see with your own eyes a community that has been robbed of its land, that has been violently attacked, and that has nowhere to go – you cannot argue with this injustice.  We believe that through video, minds can be changed and justice can be won.”
– Dr. Pung Chhiv Kek

The Venerable Luon Sovath at WITNESS' 6th Annual Focus for Change Gala

“Communities facing forced eviction are now using cameras in their struggle.  We have been threatened, but we won’t stop – because these images tell the truth.”

– The Venerable Luon Sovath

Everyone went home that night wearing a krama, a traditional Cambodian scarf, as a sign of solidarity with communities resisting the take over of their land, homes and livelihood through forced evictions.

We won’t forget the Venerable reminding us that “See it. Film it. Change it.” is more than a catch phrase – but a call to action. That’s a good message for all of us on this Human Rights Day – it will be mine!

LICADHO has produced some powerful and influential advocacy videos over the past two years – including video about the forced evictions in Dey Krahorm, Borei Keila, Group 78, Boeung Kak Lake, Kampong Speu, and others.  Some of this footage came from community representatives throughout the country, who were trained by LICADHO to document forced evictions for its local and national advocacy work.

3 thoughts on “What do we wish each other on Human Rights Day 2010?

  1. About human rights, and the systematic loss of democratic rights, even within so called democracies. I think we should re-name Human Rights Day as( Mandela-Luther King) day in memory of how 2 great men stood up against all the odds, and acheived historic victories for both democracy and human rights. Even though sadly, one was deprived of his life, whilst the other for the majority of life, was deprived of his liberty Yet both are eternal symbols of human rights and democracy, and further this should be an annual celebration giving hope to all the oppressed as to what can be acheived with resolve and determination!

  2. I want to celebrate Human Rights Day. Although terrible infractions are still occurring, humanity has achieved so much through the courage of many important leaders and their followers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *