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HRE USA NEWSLETTER                                                              DECEMBER 2015
To promote human dignity, justice, and peace by cultivating an expansive, vibrant base of support for Human Rights Education (HRE) in the United States.

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Address Bias on Human Rights Day  

December 10th is Human Rights Day and the 67th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s a good day to take stock of the human rights climate of our schools, our communities, our nation and our world.

One challenge to universal respect for human rights and human dignity is the fear-based stereotypes about Muslims, about Islam, and about refugees from parts of the world where Islam is the dominant religion. The fears arise from genuinely scary events – the bombings in Paris, the shootings in San Bernardino. They also arise from the sensationalization of these events by media, by politicians using fear to build their support base, and sadly, from some religious leaders who skip over the compassionate teachings of their own religious traditions to demonize other religions. 

We all know that children are affected by this climate of fear and stereotype. We have the opportunity as educators to help them weed through the hype and misinformation they may be hearing and to apply the universal principles of human rights, human dignity and respect for difference that is the core teaching of the human rights tradition. 

So, this Human Rights Day, maybe it’s time to face the issue of Islamophobia head on – help your students to explore their own uncertainties and to look for honest, respectful answers to their questions.

On Human Rights Day, help students reject islamophobia and bias. Please check out the links below, explore our educational resources, and download HRE USA's recent Human Rights Here and Now Bulletin on refugee and migrant rights in Europe featured below.  
 •  Combatting Anti-Muslim Bias (Teaching Tolerance)
 •  Debunking Stereotypes about Muslims and Islam (Teaching Tolerance)
 •  Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education (UNICEF, OSCE)
Human Rights Here and Now Bulletin: Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe

The UNHCR reports that in 2015 almost 800,000 asylum seekers and migrants have risked their lives to reach Europe by sea, overwhelming both governments and humanitarian agencies. The majority are fleeing Syria and Afghanistan, but they also come from Iraq, Pakistan, Congo, Bangladesh, Somalia and other countries. A human rights perspective can clarify some of the issues at stake in this complex human crisis and help to assess recent calls to reject some refugees from asylum in the USA. 

The latest edition HRE USA's periodic bulletin - Human Rights Here and Now - takes a close look at the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and provides background information, resources and lesson plans to help human rights educators address this contemporary human rights issue.
 HRE and Climate Change

The 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is presently underway until December 11th.  For the first time in 20 years of UN negotiations, the conference will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
Civil society will play a big part in the conference with stakeholders or "observers" split into nine constituencies.  A total of 360 French and international civil society organizations will come together to explore and participate, through 120 stands, around 20 interactive educational exhibitions, almost 340 conferences and more than 60 film screenings. 

Andrea Cohen, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Iowa in Human Rights Education and member of HRE USA, is attending as a representative for HRE USA and the Iowa United Nations Association. Her trip is funded by the Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. Andrea’s specific agenda is HRE so she is hoping to connect with human rights organizations, advocates, and educators, and to gather materials that are of use to promoting a human rights framework and climate change in formal and non-formal educational settings.
>> Follow Andrea's blog about her experience

Andrea was also interviewed by her local CBS station along with 4 other University of Iowa students who are also attending the conference - watch the interview here.
Stanford Human Rights Jobs List

As a service to the community, Stanford University's WSD HANDA Center for Human Rights and International Justice periodically publishes a list of Human Right-related jobs, internships, fellowships, and other opportunities. The Center does not endorse the items listed. If you want to receive regular updates about opportunities like these, please directly subscribe to the HANDACenter list at the link below. 
PaliHi Screens Salam Neighbor

More than 500 Palisades High students saw a screening of the new refugee documentary, Salam Neighbor, hosted by the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF) chapter on November 20.
The PaliHi activists have focused their attention this fall on the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since World War II. Screening Salam Neighbor provided an opportunity to share their campaign for refugee rights with fellow students and teachers.
The documentary tells the story of the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. Established in 2011, the camp has nearly 90,000 residents who have fled from war-torn Syria and over half of are children under 18.
STF members told their audience, "In the wake of the recent Paris attacks and the continued barbarity of ISIS and other terrorist groups, we need to remind people in our local communities that refugees are victims of this war as much as the Parisians are." This is one key message that the film strives to tell, and from the way that many students and teachers reacted to the screening, the message resonated.
In addition to the screening, the Pali STF members set up a mock refugee tent to help other students learn more about the refugee experience. The Pali school cafeteria provided lentil soup, which STFers gave out in small portions as an example of what limited rations are like in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad. Although the news is focused on Syrian refugees, STF aimed to remind everyone that the refugee crisis spans all corners of the globe.

Peter Jebsen is a sophomore at PaliHi and Heather Odell, a student at Pepperdine University, is the STF intern adviser.

To read the full article, please see page 29 of the December edition of the Palisade News
>> Learn more about the Salam Neighbor Film
Racism on Campus: College Students Organize for Racial Justice

This was the semester the Black students at the University of Missouri had had enough. Racism was virulent on the campus, and the administration was doing little or nothing to curb it. In one incident, a drawing of a Black woman who had been lynched was tacked to Black female student’s dorm door; in another a swastika was smeared in feces on a college building wall.
Comprising seven percent of the student population, the Black students organized themselves. They held rallies and marches. Other students joined them. They demanded change now. Black graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike.  Inspired by the Ferguson protests, the students wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts, and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Bianca Zachary, president of the National Education Association Student Chapter at the university, has been in the thick of the revolt. “It’s one thing to read about activism and entirely another to go out there and actually do it. I expect I will be an activist for the rest of my life. I also believe being an activist will make me a better teacher.”