Review of 2021, women’s rights festival, and all the latest campaign news – newsletter 21 December 2021

Posted on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

Dear SupporterMany thanks for your support over the past year – as we outline in our end-of-year review, you have helped our work to continue to remake the case for fundamental human rights, in solidarity with other groups and on an expanding range of issues. In short, lots done in ’21, lots more to do in ’22.

There was big news on 9 December (Genocide Prevention Day – the anniversary of the adoption of the UN Genocide Convention in 1948). Delivering the judgment of the Uyghur Tribunal, Sir Geoffrey Nice found proof beyond reasonable doubt that China is committing crimes against humanity, torture, and genocide (by prevention of births) against its Uyghur Muslim minority.

We are calling on the UK government to act urgently on its commitments under Article 1 of the Convention to ‘prevent and punish’ genocide. We will also step up our campaign to label February’s Beijing Winter Olympics ‘the Genocide Games’ – to counter China using the games as a propaganda tool in the same way as the Nazis used the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

“A fantastic programme” “Brilliant webinar” “Incredibly powerful session … thank you for all the work you are doing”  –  just three of the many comments our New Horizons Festival of Women’s Rights drew from women who attended one or more of its 30-odd sessions. Women’s rights is a new area of work for René Cassin, and the festival – with contributions from MPs Jess Phillips, Margaret Hodge, and Caroline Nokes, lawyer Harriet Wistrich, and Uyghur campaigner Rahima Mahmut  – has put us firmly on the map.

This is another new workstream for René Cassin, as we seek to improve socio-economic justice through highlighting Article 25 of our namesake, Monsieur René Cassin’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Article 25 calls for rights to “… food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services …”, so it was fitting that our 47-page Human Rights Shabbat resource pack timed to mark International Human Rights Day (10 December, the anniversary of the UDHR’s adoption in 1948) looked at this most basic of rights. Timely and vital too, given that 1.7 million children are facing ‘very low food security’ in the UK today.

As we so tragically saw with the deaths of 27 people in The Channel last month, children are on the front line of the refugee crisis too. Which is one of the reasons why we have been so active in opposing the ‘Anti-Refugee Bill’, as the Nationality and Borders Bill rightly became known. Despite widespread opposition, the size of the government’s majority has made this inhumane Bill unassailable. Thank you to all who contacted their MPs to press our message – “As Jews, we must protect the human rights of those making perilous journeys to flee persecution as we once did”.

We will continue to campaign for a better asylum system. And to support asylum-seekers who, because they are prohibited from working, risk falling prey to modern slavery. In February, we are running two workshops for synagogues hosting asylum drop-in centres – enabling them to spot the signs of modern slavery (20 February) and advising on how to offer help (27 February).

On 14 December, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab announced a government consultation on scrapping the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights. Our long-held view is that the Act helps ordinary people in their everyday lives – something we reiterated through social media and on our website.

If you are in any doubt about the significance of the Human Rights Act, watch our film Sunrise, not Sunset – the tale of how a daughter uses the Act to re-unite her parents after their local authority placed them in separate care homes.

Last month saw the first meeting of the latest cohort of our Ambassadors’ Programme – our leadership-orientated initiative to equip university students and sixth-formers with the knowledge and skills to advocate in support of marginalised communities.

Our 17 new Ambassadors were impressed with the session – commenting: “really valuable information, delivered extremely well”, “inspiring and motivational”, “Fantastic” and “It was such a privilege to hear a Uyghur speak and to learn her perspective”. This sets a high bar which we plan to clear with the next sessions in the new year.

René Cassin has recently opened new workstreams on women’s rights and the right to food – crucial issues made more urgent by the pandemic, the recent cut in Universal Credit, and the sharp spike in energy prices. And we continue to highlight China’s genocidal repression of its Uyghur Muslims, along with campaigning in support of humane immigration policies and the Human Rights Act, and against hate speech and modern slavery.

None of this would be possible without the help of our supporters. Please make a donation today to ensure a Jewish voice for human rights is heard loud and clear –

Thank you again for your support over another busy and momentous year. Without that support none of our vital work would be possible. As always, please do get in touch with me if you have any comments or questions about that work – [email protected]. I would very much welcome your thoughts.

Wishing you a safe and happy 2022.

With best wishes

Mia Hasenson-Gross
Executive Director

René Cassin is a registered charity, number 1117472