Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Human Rights Day thank you

Seven years ago, at the UN Church Plaza in New York City, a group gathered to celebrate the official launch of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights. Here's a photo of the Founders" Pledge, which says, "In honor and memory of our family members taken from us by homicide, the undersigned join together to form Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights. In the name of victims we pledge to work to end the death penalty in all countries of the world."

It was, of course, a deliberate choice to launch MVFHR on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In our first mailing shortly after the founding ceremony, we wrote:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that sets forth the most basic principles regarding the value of human life and the way human beings ought to treat one another, was inspired by victims, demanded by victims. It grew out of the suffering of millions of civilians murdered under the brutal regimes of the Second World War, and its adoption on December 10, 1948 was a way to honor the loss of these lives, and an attempt to give meaning to the loss, by asserting that such violations are neither moral nor permissible under any nation or regime.

Now is the time to raise our voices again and insist that violations of human life in the form of the death penalty or other state killings are not permissible under any nation or regime. It is time to call for the abolition of the death penalty because the only way to uphold human rights is to uphold them in all cases, universally.

We believe that survivors of homicide victims have a recognized stake in the debate over how societies respond to murder and have the moral authority to call for a consistent human rights ethic as part of that response. Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights is the answer to that call.

Now as we observe International Human Rights Day today, in 2011, we extend our deepest thanks to all MVFHR's members and supporters who have helped answer that call and who have accomplished so much in these seven years.

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