Children Can Tell You About Human Rights

Children Can Tell You About Human Rights

By Philippa Rayment
Epoch Times Staff
  Created: Feb 15, 2010  Last Updated: Nov 27, 2010

MELBOURNE—The 61st Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was celebrated at a special event in Melbourne. The celebration was revealing about our children, about our multicultural community and about hope for the future. Philippa Rayment reports.

What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Why is it important? Children from several primary schools around Melbourne can tell you. These 10 and 11-year-olds expressed their knowledge of human rights through an exhibition of their art at the Kingston Council offices in Melbourne on December 10.

The theme this year was based on articles 3, 4 and 5 of the Declaration— “Everyone’s right to life, liberty and security, no torture or inhuman treatment.”

The guest speaker was Jennifer Zeng, author of Witnessing History, a book about the persecution she endured for practising Falun Gong in China. Introducing Jennifer, President Denis Cowden of Kingston Human Rights said: “In June 2000, Jennifer, a tertiary educated young mother, was condemned without trial to undergo re-education in one of China’s notorious forced labour camps. Her crime was simply that the authoritative regime disapproved of her peaceful spiritual beliefs.”

“Everyone’s right to life, liberty and security, no torture orinhuman treatment.” 

Jennifer spoke about the inhuman treatment and physical torture that she endured for over one year. But it was also a story of courage in the face of extreme hardship and many people had tears in their eyes when she finished speaking.

The children listened to Jennifer’s horrific experiences and learned the value of courage, respect and kindness, and the triumph of the human spirit against great odds. They shared their views on human rights.

An 11-year-old, Kimberley Petterson, was awarded first prize in the poster competition.
“I drew the two people and they’re holding up a flame for warmth. And I drew our world because that’s what it should be, warm and happy.”

The 2nd prize winner, Lucille Watterson, created a poster about breaking the chains of slavery and torture. “There is a white hand and a brown hand trying to make peace in the world.”

Art teacher Liz Spenser talked about the importance and value of this event. 
“The school I work in only has two Anglo Saxon families. We’re a third Asian, a third Polynesian and the rest come from everywhere round the world.”

To explain the concepts of freedom and human rights to children who are not familiar with the Australianlifestyle was quite difficult, she said, so she was very pleased with the childrens’ posters.

“To get these [artworks], I think it is just brilliant and even if they are more general, it’s great they’re thinking about something beyond their own daily life”.

For her artwork and understanding of the rights of human beings, one of her students, Nathalie Phon, won 3rd prize.

The judge of the artworks, Julianna Turcu, said that the children took their work seriously. It was not so much about creating a work of art, but of representing the values of human beings as well.
Kingston Councillor Rosemary West found Jennifer really inspiring. “When you see someone like Jennifer who really fights and suffers, who has suffered and fought for liberty, I think it is very inspiring for all of us and just reminds us how precious our liberties are, and how important it is that we preserve them.”

She said how great it was to see the kids really thinking as shown in their artwork. 
“If the kids are growing up with that message really you hope that will be the generation who will be prepared to defend their liberties as Jennifer has done.”

Rosemary also thought that a question from the girl who won the prize was really interesting. She asked: “Why do the people work for the Government. Why don’t the people who support Falun Gong just stand up?”

“Well, of course,” said Councillor West. “That question was really an interesting one because we also know that in a totalitarian regime, all you need is 5 per cent of the people armed and you can keep the rest of the population down. That can happen in many countries and who could have expected that a leader like Gorbachev would emerge to undermine that totalitarian regime in Russia? I guess we just have to hope something like that happens in China.” 


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