Youth Make Human Rights a Reality in Taiwan
Students in Chuang Ching School in Taiwan learn their 30 human rights from YHRI audiovisual presentation.
When Taiwan Vice President Victor Siew met with Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) Founder and President Mary Shuttleworth in 2008, topping the agenda was the potential of YHRI’s programs to help quell domestic violence, including child abuse—major social issues in Taiwan.
What followed was the launch of a broadscale Youth for Human Rights campaign in that nation, including the showing to 480 elementary schools the educational film The Story of Human Rights and public service announcements on each of the 30 human rights. By June 2009, instances of child abuse had dropped 23 percent, from 8,200 in 2008 to 6,373.
Today, however, Taiwan’s social landscape is marred by yet another violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 3—the right to life, liberty and security of a person.
In the wake of schoolyard bullying by gangs—with school officials turning a blind eye—the kids took matters into their own hands, galvanizing a movement to fight back. Their weapon of choice: widespread distribution of the Youth for Human Rights booklets What Are Human Rights? and The Story of Human Rights. Presenting the history of fundamental rights from ancient times until today, as well as a simplified version of the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these booklets have taught all 30 basic rights to thousands of Taiwanese young people in language they can easily grasp.
YHRI Taiwan then flanked these actions with petition drives outside the schools and in and around the cities of Kaohsiung and Taipei. Obtaining support and signatures from adults to make human rights education mandatory brought parents and teachers on board the Youth for Human Rights agenda.
The campaign has since moved into schools, with events where students watch The Story of Human Rights film along with the 30 PSAs and discuss ways they can use these rights and show respect for the rights of others. With a multi-city bike rally coinciding with International Human Rights Day and more than 1,200 students at a time embracing YHRI’s message at Kaohsiung’s large public schools, the human rights campaign drew attention from national media.
Next, the word went out in daily publications, with coverage in Epoch Times, Liberty Times and United Daily News. News of the movement then went airborne with free-time TV slots on Taiwan National, Chong-Tien National, Formosa Television, Public Television and nearly every cable station.
As of today, the Youth for Human Rights initiative has reached 4 million people in Taiwan, with YHRI energetically continuing its grassroots campaign across the nation so all Taiwanese people learn their human rights and demand them.