Nashville, TN (PressExposure) December 26, 2011 -- It is time human rights be made a fact. An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery worldwide today, according to the United Nations. After drug trafficking, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is the fastest growing. Of those trafficked, 80 percent are women and 50 percent are children.
Recognizing the global need for human rights education, Scientology Churches around the world sponsored the United for Human Rights (UHR) program. The Church's human rights initiative sponsors groups and activities and provides its materials to individuals, groups and government agencies in 82 nations. Since December of 2010, the Church of Scientology has reached hundreds of millions of people with humans rights information, distributing more than 2 million publications and providing educational materials to more than 45,000 human rights organizations and 4,500 educators and educational institutions.
In Middle Tennessee, the Tennessee Chapter of UHR joined forces with the local and state government as well as non-profit organizations from across Tennessee to plan the state celebration of International Human Rights Day, which occurs every year on December 10th. The Tennessee celebration was held on December 7th at the Downtown Public Library on Church Street.
The event featured an array of speakers on human rights issues including education, human trafficking and religious freedom. Mr. Avi Poster who is a community activist and former principal spoke on the need for better education, and education for everyone. Ms. Cecilia Gomez with Free for Life International spoke on the facts and figures of human trafficking in our world today and the need for a higher awareness that trafficking occurs right in our own backyard. Dr. Amir Arain of the Islamic Center of Nashville spoke about religious freedom, and the right everyone has to a religion and belief system of their own choosing.
The celebration centered around Human Rights Lifetime Achievement awards. Awardees this year were Dr. Sheila Peters who has worked with numerous human rights organizations over several decades and is now a professor at Fisk University, and Mr. Jerry Lee who served as President of the Tennessee AFL-CIO for over ten years, and is among the first to initiate this celebration in Tennessee.
A new tradition was born this year. "We introduced the Rising Advocate award, which was given to two remarkable individuals we're counting on to continue the fight for human rights," says Co-Chair of the planning committee, Rev. Brian Fesler. The Rising Advocates this year included Remziya Suleyman, formerly of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and MarQo Patton, a graduate of Fisk University who is now a corps member of Teach for America.
This event reached well beyond the 120 people who attended, as the entire event was filmed and is now being broadcast to thousands weekly on Metro Nashville's Channel 3.