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DECEMBER 7, 1998   10:51 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
Roberta Sklar at 212-907-1331
 
National 'In Your Hands' Campaign to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights Dec. 10
 
WASHINGTON - December 7 - On December 10, thousands of concerned citizens around the country will mark the 50th Anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights. From Hawaii to Bangor, Maine, Americans will demonstrate their strong support for human rights by participating in citizen actions, community dialogue and celebration.

Many exciting activities -- from vigils and town hall meetings to tributes and interactive video teleconferences -- have been planned by widely diverse organizations with the support of a broad array of sponsors. Taking place throughout this anniversary week, these events represent a high point of the IN YOUR HANDS campaign, launched December 1997 and sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. These events present Americans across the social spectrum opportunities to take actions that will help eradicate human rights violations where they live and around the globe.

William J. vanden Heuvel, president of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute said, "On the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we rededicate ourselves to the protection of human rights. As Americans we have a responsibility to help end human rights abuses at home and abroad. Each person can make a difference. As Eleanor Roosevelt stated: The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities."

An historic national celebration to be held in New York City will be at the center of the day. A national Town Hall Meeting will take place at the Community Church of New York, 40 East 35th Street, New York City, on Thursday, Dec. 10, from 2:30-4 p.m. Human rights defenders from throughout the United States will join nationally recognized leaders to speak out at the meeting on key human rights concerns.

Caroline Kennedy will open the program. Other noted spokespeople who will participate include William J. vanden Heuvel, president of the Roosevelt Institute; John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO; Mary Robinson, United Nations high commissioner for human rights (invited); Felice Gaer, director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Charlotte Bunch, director, Center for Women's Global Leadership; and Roosevelt family members. Personal testimonies about violence against women, hate crimes, discrimination and immigration issues, women's rights, workers rights and freedom of expression, will highlight the ongoing effort to advance human rights protections at home and abroad.

The New York City Town Hall Meeting will be broadcast live via satellite to Town Hall meetings and gatherings around the nation. In addition, several cities accessing the meeting will then conduct inter-city, interactive discussion through cyberspace.

The 50th Anniversary celebration extends to the international level. On Dec. 10, Anne Roosevelt, granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt, will lead a commemorative event in Paris, which is where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.

Completed in 1948 as a response to the atrocities of World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlined for the first time a clear and comprehensive vision of the basic human rights that all people have, simply because they are human. The human rights expressed in the Universal Declaration encompass the rights of women, children and workers; freedom from discrimination, torture, political imprisonment, and religious persecution, freedom from want, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.

Important human rights issues affecting a wide range of communities will be confronted at local town hall meetings. Human rights concerns in the United States include racial and other forms of discrimination, hate crimes, and violence against women, among others. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still vitally important for advancing and protecting human rights today. Across the nation the IN YOUR HANDS campaign calls for:

  • President Clinton to convene a White House Conference on Human Rights in 1999.
  • U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
  • The arrest and prosecution of indicted war criminals worldwide.
  • Strengthening U.S. support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

------ A summary of local events follows. For more information, visit the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute web site at www.udhr50.org . To arrange interviews or attend the New York City event contact Roberta Sklar at 212-907-1331.

-- "The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

----- FACT SHEET

Communities all across the United States will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on Dec. 10. Following is a summary of the many exciting events that are planned and supported by a broad array of organizations and sponsors. Thousands of Americans will participate. These significant activities, taking place simultaneously, represent the culmination of the extensive, year long IN YOUR HANDS campaign, sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. The extent of these celebrations demonstrates the strong commitment millions of Americans have to diverse human rights issues and to eradicating violations of human rights at home and around the globe.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Town Hall Meeting/Annual Human Rights Day Dinner. Featuring Father Peter G. Young, founder of innovative prisoner treatment program, speeches from Eleanor Roosevelt, a "Tell the President" bulletin board, and discussion groups. Contact: Dennis Karius, United Nations Association, 518-456-5791.

BEND, Ore. -- Rally, march and celebration featuring candlelight walk from City Hall to Riverfront Plaza. Contact: Phil Randall, Amnesty International Chapter No. 610, 541-388-1793.

BOSTON, Mass. -- Town Hall Meeting, "50 Years of Human Rights: Has the United States Kept its Promise?" highlighting women's rights, health care, and child labor. Speakers include former Ambassador Dessima Williams, Professor Emeritus at CUNY Jack Geiger, and International Labor Rights Fund Executive Director Pharis Harvey. Contact: Barbara Ayotte, Physicians for Human Rights, 617-695-0041.

CALABASAS, Calif. -- Educational program will feature the grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Rita Maran, head of Human Rights Advocates. Contact: Deborah diCesare, Soka University of America, 818-878-3778.

COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho -- Signing ceremony with local leaders and rededication of the UDHR. Keynote speaker is Bill Wassmuth, a leader in the fight to end hate crimes in the Pacific Northwest. A response panel of activists will discuss Mr. Wassmuth's presentation. Contact: D. Tony Stewart, North Idaho College Lecture Series, 208-769-3325.

DENVER, Colo. -- Live video of national New York Town Hall Meeting, panel discussions of local human rights themes moderated by representatives of Peace Jam, the Colorado Lawyers Association, Metropolitan State College of Denver, and the NAACP. Contact: Julie Imada, Peace Jam Foundation, 303-455-2099.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Readings, music, a panel of speakers on the theme, "What the UDHR Means to their Community," and a tribute, "About Eleanor Roosevelt. Contact: Dorothy Paul, Iowa Division, United Nations Association, 319-337-7290.

JANESVILLE, Wis. -- Town Hall meeting with keynote address "Protecting Children's Rights" by Susan Kilbourne, Public Interest Law Scholar and activist with Childrights International Research Institute and the American Bar Association. "Rights Expo" will offer displays presented by children's rights groups. Allied events will be broadcast on local public access TV channel. Contact: Judi Kneece, Hedberg Public Library, 608-758-6612.

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Town Hall Meeting, all day Dec. 5 carries the theme, "Get Up, Stand Up for Human Rights." Keynote address by Lennox Hines, legal representative in the U.S. for Nelson Mandela, and workshops on political prisoners, women's rights, children's rights, sexual orientation rights, workers' rights, and human rights education. On Dec. 10 there will be a viewing of the national New York Town Hall Meeting. Contact: Don Tilley, Prairie Peace Park,402-466-6622.

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Town Hall Meeting with the theme, "Violence and Human Rights." Letter-writing campaign for ratification of the Women's Rights Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and proclamations from the Governor and from the Montclair Town Council. Contact: R. Lawrence Turnipseed, Montclair Chapter, United Nations Association, 973-235-0261.

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- National centerpiece event of IN YOUR HANDS campaign, sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Event will be broadcast live via satellite to dozens of other townhall meeting sites. Participants include United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson (invited), President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, Caroline Kennedy, Jonathan Demme, and other notables from arts, entertainment, labor, and politics. Contact: Michael Cooper, Roosevelt Institute, 212-907-1343.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Town Hall Meeting presenting many prominent guest speakers, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Readings of UDHR Articles by Girls Scouts, and a commemoration of the life and work of the late John George, a local African-American activist for human rights. Contact: Lee Ratcliff, Oakland Human Relations Commission, 650-871-5855.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Town Hall Meeting featuring interactive videoconference with other U.S. cities, proclamation ceremony honoring U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, and panel discussions on torture, war crimes and genocide, persecution of Christian minorities, and the rights of women and children. Large attendance expected. Contact: Wayne Jacoby, Global Education Motivators, 215-248-1150.

PORTLAND, Maine -- Two vigils, a dramatic presentation and a reception. Allied activities are planned for Augusta and Bangor; a coalition of groups will hold press conferences announcing an "Economic Bill of Rights" for Maine. Contact: Thesil Morlan, Amnesty International USA, 207-832-6863.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Town Hall Meeting featuring resolutions and endorsements, music by Simmons Rose and Emilio Zapata, grandson of Mexican land reform leader Emiliano Zapata, an interactive play by students, speeches by human rights leaders, and an online signing of Amnesty International's "World's Biggest Book." Contact: Steve Freedman, City of Portland, 503-823-5136.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Town Hall Meeting, Dec. 9. Themes include racial equality, violence against women, environmental rights, and welfare reform. Contact: Daniel A. Strasser, Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, 914-229-5302.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Town Hall Meeting focusing on freedom from discrimination. Dr. William Jones of the Florida Commission on Human Relations will be the keynote speaker. Many mayors will be asked to sign proclamations honoring the UDHR. Contact: Paul V. Yingst, Tampa Bay Chapter, United Nations Association, 727-345-4280.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Town Hall Meeting with guests including Gracia Pick, American Jewish Committee and Dr. Alice Hayes, President of the University of San Diego. Breakout sessions, videos, readings, workshops, an interactive video teleconference linked with other town meetings, and a local issues panel. Contact: Gary Rotto, American Jewish Committee, 619-546-8777.

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