Czech capital one of more than 600 marches worldwide in solidarity with women demonstrating in Washington DC
The Prague Solidarity Rally with the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, 21 January 2017, was one of over 600 events worldwide organized to coincide with the demonstration in the American capital. That march attracted over a half a million people and organizers say the global "sister rallies" were attended by over 3 million.
Organizers in Prague say this event is just the first of many that will be organized through the Love Prevails platform. Gwendolyn Albert, a human rights activist and longtime ally of the Roma community, spoke at the Prague rally; news server Romea.cz publishes the full text of her speech here.
Gwendolyn Albert: Prague Solidarity Rally with the Women’s March on Washington
The current occupant of the White House in the United States, and those like him around the world, embody a philosophy that will take humanity back not 40 years, not 100 years, and not even 1 000 years. They would like to return to about the year 400, during the Roman Empire, when universal human rights, as we understand them today, were all but inconceivable. While male Roman citizens enjoyed privileges - unless they were slaves - women had a very limited form of citizenship, being neither able to run for office nor vote. Wealthy women were allowed to buy stuff, and that was about it.
In historical perspective, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted just a heartbeat ago, in 1948. Its birth was midwived by Eleanor Roosevelt in her role as First Lady of the United States of America. The countries in the newly-created United Nations who initially abstained from adopting the Declaration were the following: the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the People’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the People’s Republic of Poland, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Union of South Africa, and the Soviet Union.
Today, as we know, many of those countries are members of the European Court of Human Rights. It is extremely important that they remain members.
The Universal Declaration states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.” The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. The Czech Republic’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms states that “obligations may be imposed by law only if they also respect fundamental rights and freedoms”. The United States Constitution says “The right of the people to be secure… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”. However, any look at a newspaper reveals that we are a long way from seeing these rights honored in practice. There is a lot of work to do in this world.
It is extremely important that we are exercising our freedom of assembly non-violently here today, but for this assembly to be really free, it must be the case that nobody here will be subjected to any kind of official or unofficial backlash as a result of coming here today. Nobody should be harassed by agents of the state, or by the many people who imagine themselves to be vigilante agents of some community or another. Nobody should be harassed by her boss, or by her neighbors, or even by those she lives with in the same home. People do not have to agree with you, but nobody should feel entitled to punish you just for coming here.
Unfortunately in the very recent history of this country, people were quick to become each other’s censors, each other’s police, and each other’s spies. We must never forget the human cost of that, and we must never allow it to recur.
We are doing, and we will do, everything we can to make sure it is possible for everybody to assemble non-violently and express themselves without fear of backlash today, tomorrow, and the year after that, and the decade after that, and the century after that, wherever we are.
Know your rights, and use them. Humanity depends on it.
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