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December 11, 2013

ADL Stands with Fasters for Immigration Reform

In Washington, DC, ADL marked Human Rights Day by joining civil and human rights partners in a solidarity vigil with activists who are fasting to urge Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

“Immigrant rights are human rights,” ADL Washington Director Stacy Burdett told the fasters and their supporters gathered in a tent opposite the U.S. Capitol.  The “Fast4Families” participants—who abstain from all food, except water — have been encamped on the National Mall since November 12th.

They have been joined by thousands of community fasters at events across the country in an effort to elevate the urgent need to fix an immigration system that is ripping apart families and forcing immigrants to live in fear.  A “who’s who” of civil rights and political leaders have visited Fast4Families to lend their inspiration and support: from President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Biden to Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights iconDolores Huerta.

In June, ADL welcomed Senate passage of an immigration bill (S.744) that includes a path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants but the House of Representatives has yet to follow suit. Use ADL’s online Action Center to contact your Member of the House of Representatives to urge them to act now for fair and humane immigration reform.

December 10, 2013

Promoting Human Rights on the 65th Anniversary of the Historic Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first ever global assertion that “all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.” The world celebrates annual Human Rights Day on December 10th each year.  This December, ADL honors the UDHR’s 65th anniversary by continuing to fight for the rights enshrined in that momentous declaration and by teaching new generations of children to learn about the principles it reflects.

Eleanor Roosevelt holding the Human Rights Declaration

Human Rights Day has particular meaning for ADL because anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jews was the touchstone for the creation of some of the foundational human rights instruments in the aftermath of the Holocaust.  ADL is committed to educating youth about the lessons of the Holocaust and how bigotry and exclusion can lead down a slippery slope toward unspeakable atrocities, and our web site features a short list of books for children on the UDHR and how it relates to the rights of children globally.

ADL is engaging activists in protecting the rights championed by this historic document whether it is by protecting the right of all children to an education, freedom of religion and belief for all, or freedom to associate and to seek asylum from persecution. This month, our priority human rights issues have put the spotlight on:

Today, through our activism and raising awareness, we honor the spirit of the moving words of, one of the UDHR’s authors, Eleanor Roosevelt, who asked:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

 

— Eleanor Roosevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech delivered on the tenth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

 

 

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July 31, 2013

Remembering the Hate Crime Victims at Oak Creek – And Acting

Update – August 5, 2013: ADL has joined a coalition of groups urging the White House to also take steps to address religious-based violence and discrimination.

On August 5, 2012, six Sikh worshippers were killed, and four others wounded, by a white supremacist skinhead at their Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  The shooter then turned his gun on himself.  Less than a week after the tragedy, US Attorney General Eric Holder. Jr.  participated in a memorial service for the victims, stating that the crime was “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.”  sikh-temple-shooting-oak-creek-anniversary

Now, one year later, we observe the anniversary of this tragedy, honoring the memory of the victims by elevating the fight against discrimination and hate crimes – and by working to ensure that all places of worship will be safe.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, our nation has experienced a disturbing number of backlash attacks against Muslim, Sikhs, Arabs, and South Asians.  In fact, the first bias-motivated murder after 9/11 was Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona. 

After the Oak Creek Gurdwara murders, ADL Chicago/Upper Midwest Regional Office Director Lonnie Nasatir participated in a program in Oak Creek with the US Attorney and FBI officials to show support for the community and ADL professionals across the country reached out to Sikh organizations to provide resources on how to keep their community institutions safe.

ADL has been the national leader in promoting improved hate crime data collection by law enforcement authorities.  Since 2008, the League has supported requiring the FBI to collect and report specific data on hate crimes directed against Sikhs, Arabs, and Hindus.  

The murders at Oak Creek provided additional impetus to make this change.  And the issue was examined and promoted in September 19 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights hearings on “Hate Crime and the Threat of Domestic Extremism,” to which the League submitted comprehensive testimony. 

Working with Congressional champions, like Rep. Joseph Crowley, the League helped to coordinate a coalition effort to urge the FBI to include these new hate crime data categories as part of the Bureau’s annual hate crime report prepared under the 1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act.   In May, an FBI Advisory Policy Board recommended that the Bureau take this action.  

As we commemorate the first anniversary of the tragedy at Oak Creek, we can take some solace in knowing that our communities have done something positive to address that horrific incident.  Collecting specific data on hate crimes directed against individuals will increase public awareness, encourage victims to report these crimes, and expand existing engagement and relationships between law enforcement authorities and these communities. ADL has joined a coalition of groups urging the White House to also take steps to address religious-based violence and discrimination. 

Our attention now turns to working with the FBI and local law enforcement officials to provide training and education on these crimes.

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