Human Rights Day marked by peace rally in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. – International Human Rights Day was observed here Dec. 10 with a spirited march and a rally demanding peace in Afghanistan and an end to attacks on civil liberties and racist scapegoating.

Demonstrators gathered at the University of Arizona, where they painted anti-war signs and listened to music by folk singer Ted Warmbrand. After a rousing send-off by Chicana activist Celeste Espinoza the crowd of about 200 people marched two miles through rush hour traffic for a rally downtown at Pennnigton Park.

With people joining marchers along the way and dozens more greeting marchers as they arrived at the park, the crowd for the rally had grown to nearly 300.

Speakers at the rally called for peace, an end to U.S. foreign adventures, defense of civil liberties for citizens as well as non-citizens and an end to racial profiling and harassment of Muslims and immigrants.

Speaking at the rally were representatives of local peace and human rights organizations as well as Christian, Muslim and Native American religious leaders.

Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, called for a world where every day is a human rights day. Garcia urged everyone present to commit themselves to the struggle for peace.

University of Arizona Law Professor Andrew Silverman condemned the newest legislation in Congress as an attack on the bill of rights. “Our government, our president and the attorney general are calling us terrorists for what we are doing right now,” he said.

Silverman called this policy “McCarthyism of the 21st century.”

“Who pays for this war?” asked Jon Miles, president of Tucson’s chapter of Veterans for Peace. “We veterans can talk about the human costs of war ... the quality of education will suffer, university tuition will rise as will your taxes, while government services will deteriorate.”