Human Rights: Don’t Stay Out – Stand Up

Human Rights

I attended a week long Human Rights Training session in Malta, facilitated by the European Union of Deaf Youth (EUDY). Established in 1987, EUDY is an European non-profit association, whose membership comprises of national associations of youth deaf people in Europe. They campaign to ensure that young people have access, and are empowered through communication and information in sign language. They continue to fight for equality in education, culture and employment.

To achieve this, one of their latest initiatives was to hold a ‘Human Rights Training’ session which would include two representatives from eight countries. The countries that participated this session were Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and the United Kingdom. I was fortunate enough to be chosen along with Michael Rogerson to attend the training.

The aim of the session was to train trainers on how to develop workshops and to educate young people about Human Rights. This is essential in this day and age, because if you don’t know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them?

‘Human rights cannot be defended and promoted by legal instruments alone. Human rights education – learning about, learning through and learning for human rights – is essential to make sure that they are understood, upheld and promoted by everyone.’

The concept of training trainers on an international level is efficient because it turns into an information cascade. By becoming a trainer, I am imparting information in the hope that they will in turn pass that information onto others. By having two trainers in the U.K., one in the North and one in the South, we can cover a sizeable amount of area.

One the first day, we started with a warm up, an activity where we would express our views or share our experiences on certain topics by standing in certain places that signified yes, no or not sure. Examples would be:

‘Our country is free to refugees.’

‘I have never been poor.’

‘I believe in God.’

The aim of this activity was to encourage us to speak out about things we felt strongly about, and to be assured that we were in a safe space where we could say what we wanted, without fear of being criticised or judged. This also helped us get to know each other better, and learn what our values were.

Throughout the week, we completed activities set out in the Holy Bible of Human Rights, COMPASS, and reflected on the tasks. Each activity required a different way of thinking, which I found particularly interesting. They enabled us to think outside of the box, see the bigger picture, empathise, and hone our critical thinking.

I particularly enjoyed the week for several reasons. The training itself proved invaluable and I know that it will hold me in good steed in the future, but it’s not only just that… the people in my group also played a big part. It was particularly encouraging to see a group of young people from all over Europe come together to learn how to train and empower future generations of youths. It was such a diverse group of people – some played a big part in establishing youth associations in their countries, and some at an European level. Some had no experience but were keen to learn, and some had plenty of experience and were more than happy to give advice on how to lobby, campaign and advocate.

This quote sums it up perfectly.

“I want my friend to understand that “staying out of politics” or “being sick of politics” is privilege in action. Your privilege allows you to live a non-political existence. Your wealth, your race, your abilities or your gender allows you to live a life in which you likely will not be a target of bigotry, attacks, deportation or genocide. You didn’t want to get political, you don’t want to fight because your life and safety are not at stake. It is hard and exhausting to bring up issues of oppression (aka “get political”). The fighting is tiring. I get it. Self-care is essential. But if you find politics annoying and you just want everyone to be nice, please know that people are literally fighting for their lives and safety. You might not see it, but that’s what privilege does.” – Kristen Tea.

I believe it’s important to speak out when you see or feel something is wrong, because if you don’t, how can you expect things to change for the better? It may not be instant, or happen in your lifetime, but the important thing is there must be change.

We will be holding a workshop on 19th November 2017. This workshop will be aimed at youths aged 18-35yrs. Please contact BDAY (British Deaf Association Youth) for more information.