On 10 December 2023, in Café Morgal, we organised the first Human Rights Cultural Festival and did not choose the date randomly. In fact, it was a birthday party for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December, exactly 75 years ago. Although we are not contemporaries of its birth, we see the merits of the Declaration in everyday life, whether it is the right to free expression, to travel, or to enjoy judicial protection against injustice.
At the opening of the festival, members of the Centre Lucie Nechvátalová and Dominika Šudová guided us through a quiz on human rights. Do you know, for instance, which important woman is a co-author of the Declaration? The quiz was followed by a debate with human rights experts Ľubomír Majerčík, Zuzana Vikarská, and Jiří Novák. For example, we looked into these issues:
- What brought the speakers to their interest in human rights?
- How do we stand with human rights education in the Czech Republic?
- What is the attitude of Czech courts to strategic litigation?
- And which book on human rights should we find under the Christmas tree?
Then, after rearranging chairs and tables and switching off the lights, the whole café plunged into a gloomy atmosphere of the trial of Leopold Hilsner, embodied by the play “Hatred” by the Faculty Theatre Company. Even though the performance reflected one historical, almost forgotten event, it showed that its message is relevant also to the present. It is so because demons of fear, prejudices, and desire for revenge are hidden in every society, even in every one of us. Institutionalised evil in the form of pogroms of Jews during the Holocaust is a good example of what an ordinary (otherwise decent) human is capable of. For this reason, it is important to commemorate the timeless human rights document, which clearly and without hesitation, in its very first article, proclaimed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
We wish the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all the best for its 75th birthday once more, and we look forward to our second human rights festival next year.