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Protecting Human Rights

     As we read the news each day, we are shocked into awareness of human rights abuses in other countries.
     The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is 52 years old this month, may seem unnecessary to many of us who enjoy the liberties and privileges of living in the United States. News reports remind us that others are not so lucky.
     The Bahai faith builds its human rights program around its belief in the oneness of humankind. Founder Baha'u'llah said more than a century ago, "The Earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens."
     To celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights, Ventura County area members of the Bahai faith annually honor local people working to protect or enhance the rights of others. This year we honor two exceptional groups and an individual:
     * The Assistance League of Ventura County provides a special-needs preschool and kindergarten, gives school clothes to children and runs a girls club and a program for children in traumatic situations.
     * El Centrito de La Colonia has provided a model community center in the La Colonia neighborhood in Oxnard to meet the challenging needs of youth at risk. Its goal is total support of youth so they stay in school and avoid gangs, violence and drugs. El Centrito is one of many nonprofit agencies striving to prove the spiritual principle that justice is most effectively achieved through access to knowledge.
     * Judge Bruce J. Einhorn, professor of human rights law at Pepperdine University Law School, has dedicated his career to social justice. He has advocated human rights through establishing effective immigration asylum laws and bringing to justice hundreds of concentration camp guards and executioners.
     These are just a few of the many activists in our communities who are working to overcome obstacles to human rights. They exemplify how human rights begin at home with each of us finding in our hearts the ways we can contribute to taking care of each other.
     Through education and the further development of global and local systems of justice, the goals expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be realized.

©Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times
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