AFT President Randi Weingarten on Human Rights Day

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WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Human Rights Day:

“As we mark the 70th anniversary of Human Rights Day, we note the escalating crises both here in the United States and abroad that threaten the rights of human beings to live safely and peacefully. One only need to look at the cruel and inhumane treatment of the children and refugees who have been caged and attacked with tear gas at the U.S.-Mexico border to know that as global citizens, we have a long way to go before every world community affords all people respect, dignity and impartial justice.

“The principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remind us that all humans are born free and equal; have the right to life, liberty and security; and shall not be subject to torture or to inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. As educators, healthcare professionals and public employees, we vow to stand up for those ideals, and to fight against injustice and cruelty whenever we see it, here at home and around the globe.

“Earlier this year, the AFT filed formally a complaint with the United Nations Human Rights Council to protest the treatment of refugees at the southern U.S. border and the indefinite separation of immigrant families on American soil. Today, more than 60 human and civil rights organizations have joined the complaint, and more than 25,000 individuals have co-signed our petition, including educators from around the world, calling for the immediate reunification of and justice for those families. We also continue to provide a host of classroom resources for educators and their immigrant students here in the United States in the face of increasingly hostile anti-immigrant rhetoric from the White House.

“Threats to human rights take many forms: from hate speech and racism and anti-Semitic violence in churches and synagogues and on college campuses, to the murdering of U.S. journalists abroad, to sexual assault and harassment against women, to the bigoted banning of immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries, to the separate and unequal treatment of black and brown children here in the United States, whether they’re detained at the border or attending schools that lack the resources for school nurses and updated textbooks. Today, we commit to honoring diversity as a strength, teaching tolerance and acceptance for all human rights, and creating a world where no person has to live in fear.”