LOS ANGELES – Raising awareness on human rights violations in Sudan, Mr. Ramy Makar, Deputy Country Director of the International Humanitarian Services addressed University of California (UCLA) students on Thursday, opening their eyes to the inhuman treatments and degrading conditions under which many Sudanese live every day. This presentation was organized by the UNICEF Chapter of UCLA in partnership with Youth for Human Rights International.
According to the UN, there has been an estimated 300,000 deaths as a result of disease, famine and attacks in Darfur villages and 2.5 million displaced people.
“Evil exists. I have shaken hands and talked with people on a daily basis that have been responsible for the death of many. There were citizens who were killed and whose noses, ears or tongues were cut just because they supported another political party,” declared Ramy.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to life, the right to seek a safe place to live, freedom of thought, freedom of expression and many other rights, nevertheless these are just words in the air, as can be seen in the thousands of Sudanese displaced, women and girls being raped, thousands persecuted because of their religious beliefs, and not to mention the ones being threatened and killed because of their political views.
“Sadly, we have found that many people who have been victimized didn´t know what their rights were or that they had rights at all,” declared Michele Kirkland, Executive Director of Youth for Human Rights International. “Knowledge is power. Knowledge itself does away with ignorance and complacency, which are our true enemies. Therefore it is vital to educate people on what their human rights are. I appreciate what groups such as UNICEF and people like Mr. Makar do to raise awareness of the situations involving human rights violations, to bring about action in the community”, continued Michele.
To bring this point home, students were presented with the state-of-the-art film, “The Story of Human Rights”, which enlightens people on what human rights are, past and present.
Finally, after the breath-taking speech of Mr. Makar, which outraged and made some shed tears, students were further encouraged to take action, inviting them to visit Sudan and get more informed about what is happening. This was followed by Michele’s commentary about never underestimating what they can do, no matter how small the action might be and most importantly knowing their human rights.
Since its foundation in 2001 Youth for Human Rights has worked tirelessly to educate youth in their human rights, turning many into advocates for tolerance and peace.