Reopening of Human Rights Artwork in Twickenham

R&T Amnesty member Sarah Wills – who spearheaded our celebration of the re-unveiling of Twickenham's artwork to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights – now writes about her experience of the event: 

“The people came, they listened, they empathised...

This then was the scene as the re-unveiling of the artwork dedicated to human rights took place on Saturday 3rd May in Twickenham. The work was commissioned by local United Nations Association and Amnesty groups, together with support from Richmond Borough's Arts Service and originally unveiled in 2010. Sadly, it was subsequently vandalised, but fortunately sufficient funds were found to repair it in time for this second ceremony.

Eloquently introduced by John Reekie, that gentle but doughty champion of many a worthy cause, the re-unveiling showcased the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights.

He pointed out that today, more than ever, these rights must be safeguarded from their attempted vilification by those who seek to remove such protection from the most vulnerable in society.

This theme was exemplified by the school children who had worked with local artist Sam Haynes, to design and create the artwork. They observed that it is “the little people of the world who get kicked around.” Sam Haynes cleverly incorporated this idea into a striking and original piece of work, featuring tiny metal figures with arms poignantly outstretched in pleading hope, only to be blown hither and thither by powerful forces beyond their control.

Then, Dr Vince Cable, Twickenham's MP, contributed his thoughts by emphasising the importance of preserving human rights and reminding us of the consequences for mankind if these rights are not observed. As an example, Dr Cable cited the recent barbaric execution in Oklahoma of Clayton Lockett, when the use of experimental drugs led to shocking consequences; he went on to note that the USA still refuses to sign up to international agreements banning their use.

Richmond's Deputy Mayor Stephen Speak reminded us that it was knowledge of the abuses of human rights, carried out during the second world war, which led to the commissioning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1946, and the work of drafting it, led by the redoubtable Eleanor Roosevelt, who will always be remembered for her human rights advocacy.

Brian Jackson, Chair of Twickenham UNA, then reiterated salient points from the Declaration and their implications for the benefit of all mankind.

Our final speaker, barrister Dermot Main Thompson compellingly propounded the indisputable importance of the various clauses in the human rights bill and challenged the validity of spurious objections to them.

During the event, supporters had the pleasure of hearing the mellifluous voice of local tenor Michael McLaughlin, as well as that sweetly sung signature song, Labi Siffre's Something Inside So Strong, from Odette Adams and the Songbirds Community Choir.

A fitting finale indeed, to an inspiring event.”

R&T members are extremely grateful to Sarah Wills for her hard work organising this very successful event.

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