Good evening Ladies and Gentleman.
|Amnesty International visiting Mayor's Parlour|
My name is Andrew Muir and whilst welcoming you tonight as Mayor of North Down I do not hesitate in joining others in saying I am Troy Davis standing together with you as a fellow member of Amnesty International to remember Troy and others who have been denied the Right to Life and other fundamental Human Rights.
I joined Amnesty International a number of years ago and am delighted to welcome Amnesty International to the Town Hall and the Mayor’s Parlour tonight.
The work you undertake is extensive and extremely valuable. From writing letters to campaigning on key issues of concern such as Human Trafficking and organising events such as the annual Christmas Greetings Cards campaign I feel both proud and grateful to have you here tonight.
Life as a Human Right defender isn’t easy and can often feel like a lonely place in the face of criticism but, despite this you continue, raising awareness and striving to keep people alive, free from persecution, discrimination and intolerance.
Locally we look outwards and live under the European Convention of Human Rights cast in the shadow of the horrors inflicted during the Second World War to ensure the evils perpetrated across Europe never occur again. Incorporated into Domestic Law in 1998 via the Human Rights Act I value these legal protections and as a Councillor always review policies and decisions to ensure compliance with the Convention.
Our challenge must however be to ensure this approach prevails in all bodies and all states signed up to the Convention. The patchy implementation of European Court decisions by some signatories should be a serious cause for everyone. From 90% in the late 1990s the cumulative compliance rate has dropped to below 50% with Russia and Ukraine some of the worst offenders. Whether by locking up Pussy Riot activists or threatening to arrest gay tourists it’s time Human Rights were once again made Universal from Warsaw in the East to Wexford in the West.
As John F Kennedy once remarked “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”.
Working as One we can enhance rather than diminish the rights of men and women across the world whether through a simple letter or a concerted campaign each time we speak out against injustice momentum grows towards a fairer globe that cherishes life and the right to speak out and live freely.
I look forward to working with you over the year ahead as Mayor. Whether by personally sending letters to leaders across the world in support of people facing persecution or supporting your Greeting Cards campaign I will stand up and speak out for the reasons set out by Martin Niemöller when he spoke
“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me.”