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By Jahangir Alam Akash, For the first time, I was not in Bangladesh on International Human Rights Day. On December 10th, the whole world observes this day for human rights, even though most countries in the world do not have a good human rights situation. Last year on this day, I was in Gopalgonj and Barishal, in Bangladesh, with Hindu minorities. At that time, I was in hiding to safeguard my life from the RAB and Islamic militants, who wanted to kill me. This past year, I have missed my dear country of Bangladesh and my people, especially those who are being oppressed. My heart feels pain for them.
On December 10, 2009, I was in The Hague in the Netherlands. The Hague is a city of peace and justice. The Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) invited me to attend their International Human Rights Day programme on December 10th. They organized a very nice and effective two-day programme for human rights. I enjoyed two days with participants from different cultures from all over the world. The event was jointly organized by Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) in partnership with Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Freedom Legality and Rights in Europe, and De BRUG. The organizers facilitated an opportunity for migrant civil society representatives to discuss human rights issues affecting their communities, both in the Netherlands and in their home countries.
On the first day, December 9th, a series of workshops were organised under five different thematic areas and were attended by more than 70 participants. The workshop was opened by the representative of the City Council in The Hague, Mr. Anne Mulder. Mr. Mulder acknowledged that, “Democracy needs permanent maintenance.” Mr. Sital, Chairman of the GHRD, extended his welcome to the audience, expressing his concerns on the ongoing human rights violations among specific groups in society. Ms. Maggie Murphy from UNPO asked the delegates to consider whether they were talked about or talked to.
The workshop culminated in the compilation of a Human Rights Manifesto, outlining constructive recommendations for the Dutch government on human rights issues affecting the migrant community. The workshop was organised under different thematic areas, covering the topics of embracing diversity and non-discrimination; socioeconomic development; human rights from a gender perspective; protection of human rights defenders; and human trafficking. The outcomes of the workshop were translated into the five point Manifesto on Human Rights, signed by the representatives as an appeal to the Dutch Parliament for concrete actions.
On the second day, December 10th, the programme commenced with a colourful march from the Dutch Peace Palace to the Dutch Parliament to present the Manifesto to policymakers. In the parliament, De BRUG members were received by Mr. Ewout Irrgang, MP for the Socialist Party and an expert on development cooperation, and they had the opportunity to discuss their concerns as stipulated in the Manifesto.
Personally, I was also present when the Manifesto was handed over to the Dutch MP. The day concluded with a social evening at the IN Holland University, which included a debate with, among others, Mr. Robert Zeldenrust from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a performance by Ms. Pravieni Baboeram.
In the afternoon of December 10th, in front of the Dutch Parliament, there was a huge gathering from different human rights organizations. The road from the Peace Palace to the Dutch Parliament was full of noise, with shouts of slogans, like human rights, justice, equality, dignity, no more war, no more violence, no more women repression, no more genocide, no more discrimination, etc.
As a human rights defender, I was very much pleased after seeing the performances of the young interns and volunteers for GHRD, Petra Sjunnesson from Sweden, Ms. Aruna Soedhwa from the Netherlands, Kajal Sununan from South Africa, Mavis Maison from Ghana, Maureen Waweru from Kenya, and Qaiss Ajiz from the Netherlands. I really think that all of them understood human rights and were doing as well as any trained human rights defender. And I want to thank Jenny Lundstrom, because without her good work, the Manifesto wouldn’t be finalized. It is my hope that the Manifesto of the GHRD will be effective for global human rights. https://jaakash.wordpress.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org