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1968: Year of Human Rights

The United Nations General Assembly had designated the year 1968 as the International Year of Human Rights.

To many on the streets of Derry/Londonderry in 1968, the designation seemed ironic. Derry Housing Action Committee took care to put a question mark after the slogan "1968 = Year of Human Rights", painted on their placards for the civil rights march in the city on October 5 1968.

This was 'The Day the Troubles Began' according to the title of a fascinating documentary screen on BBC NI television this evening (rerun from Monday).

It sets the Northern Ireland protest marches in the context of their times – increasing agitation for equal votes, jobs and hosuing at home, combined with the inspiration of nonviolent action and civil disobedience from further afield - primarily Paris and the US, but also London, Prague and even Mexico.

As well as featuring contemporary news footage from Northern Ireland (40 years seems so long ago when screened in black and white) and abroad, the producers delivered interviews not just with the likes of Eamonn McCann and Ivan Cooper, but also Jesse Jackson and Tom Hayden, as well as some (occasionally strained) international comparisons and analysis by their 'historical advisor', Dr Simon Prince.

Anyway, the programme is available for viewing or download throughout the UK on BBC iPlayer until Monday 13th. I thoroughly recommend it.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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