Samstag, September 23, 2006


opening address

Dear Ladies and Gentleman,

The European Youth forum is an umbrella organisation of almost 100 National youth councils and International Non-governmental youth organisations. Representing our members interests means that in this campaign we have to show where fundamental Human rights of young people in Europe are violated today.
This means that I am the Turkish boy in Germany, I am the Roma in Slovakia, I am the Lesbian in Russia, I am the Muslim in the Netherlands, I am the blind person in Bulgaria, I am the teenage mum in the Uk, I am the unemployed in Portugal and I am the Human Rights activist in Belarus.
This is the diversity of our membership and this is the diversity that we want to celebrate with this campaign.

This Event is the first European wide activity of the “all different – all equal” for diversity, Human Rights and participation campaign and it could be a historic meeting. There are almost 300 people from the Russian civil society here and around 100 people from other European countries. For a country that has been repeatedly in the media for Human Rights violations holding this event is a courageous step. If we all together here dare to discuss issues that make young people in Europe scared, that make us violent or depressed, then we can make a change.

Final declarations have never changed the world, but we all together here, we can. This meeting will indeed be a historic one, if our conclusions will actually be implemented, will become alive and relevant. It will not change anything if this is about nice phrases and lip service. The relevant question is - are we going to live up to what we discuss here? Will this be a platform for discussions with impact?

To achieve something we have to address difficult challenges for Europe today. But we also have to challenge our own stereotypes – our internalised Racisms, our own homophobia, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, our daily Sexism. I sincerely believe that we need to use this opportunity to question our own preconceptions and scrutinize the systems that we are living in.

I am confident that the workshop time can be used for this but I can only remind all of us, that the work for diversity, Human Rights and participation does not stop once the workshops end. There is no specific time of the day where discriminations happen and where people are excluded and equally so we have to stand up for Human dignity and social inclusion all the time. Please use the coffee breaks and the evenings as well as the workshops to share experience and to confront yourself with your own simplistic assumptions and dare to raise critical questions.

This campaign is not putting a hierarchy in discrimination, it points out clearly that any acceptance of humiliation must be eradicated. Non of our governments represents equally the people living in the given country, active participation and a vital civil society will be the first step to change this imbalance. Seeing so many engaged and motivated people here gives me the inspiration to continue working for social change and the trust that this change can happen.

In 10 years time – when we remember this campaign
Will security arguments still limit the freedom of assembly and freedom of movement?
Will a young gay still be too scared to come out in school?
Will people still be hostile because someone has a dark skin?
Will it still be impossible to use the underground with a wheel chair?
Will being a woman still be responsible for a lower income?
Will being Muslim still be equalled with being a terrorist?

We do not know jet. In fact I think no one of us knows the answer. There is a lot of work ahead of us, so lets start working.

I liked the opening of this speech and have added it to the quote database of our Campaign website. You have some very good and some very bad campany there :)

(You are in the "International Solidarity" part)
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